LA Teachers Strike is About Charter Schools and High Stakes Testing

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On Monday more than 30,000 teachers at 900 schools in Los Angeles, California, will be on strike.

 

And unlike the wave of teachers strikes last year in red states like West Virginia, this time educators are taking to the streets due to the policies of Democrats.

 

At issue are things like lowering class sizes and providing more nurses, librarians and counselors.

 

But behind these issues lies one of the most important facts about our country.

 

When you get right down to it, there is very little difference between many Democratic policymakers and their Republican counterparts.

 

You think Betsy Devos is the opposite of Arne Duncan? Wrong.

 

You think Barack Obama is the opposite of Donald Trump? Wrong again.

 

Though there are differences, those often amount to differences of degree.

 

Corporate Democrats like almost all Republicans support the same education policies – school privatization and high stakes testing – that are robbing the LA Unified School District of the funding it needs to meet the needs of its students.

 

THAT’S why class sizes have ballooned to more than 45 students in secondary schools; 35 students in upper elementary grades; and 25 students in lower elementary grades.

 

THAT’S why the district does not have nearly enough counselors, psychologists or librarians to give students the support they need.

 

THAT’S why 80% of schools don’t have full-time nurses.

 

The second largest district in the country has more charter schools than any other. The overwhelming majority of them are operated by corporate chains and have expanded by 287% over the last 10 years.

 

These are publicly funded but privately run schools. They don’t have to meet the same standards of accountability or transparency about how they spend taxpayer dollars – all while gobbling up $600 million a year!

 

That is money that parents and community members are forced to pay but about which they have very little say. It’s money that can – and often does – go right into the pockets of charter school operators without providing its full value to the students it was meant help educate. It’s money set aside for all children but given to educate merely a handful of students chosen by those same businesspeople who run these charters because they think these children will be cheaper and easier to educate.

 

That’s not Democracy. No self-respecting Democrat should support such a thing – but you’ll find luminaries from Obama to the Clintons to Cory Booker who will tell you what a great idea it is. Along with DeVos, Trump, Jeb Bush and the Koch Brothers.

 

 

LA Superintendent Austin Beutner is a Democrat, but he’s also a multimillionaire with experience in corporate downsizing and none in education.

 

According to an op-ed by President of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) Alex Caputo-Pearl published in the LA Times:

 

“…Beutner has moved ahead with what we believe is his agenda to dismantle the district. Through an outside foundation, he has brought on firms that have led public school closures and charter expansion in some districts where they have worked, from New Orleans to Washington, D.C. This approach, drawn from Wall Street, is called the “portfolio” model, and it has been criticized for having a negative effect on student equity and parent inclusion.”

 

These are policies in direct opposition to the progressive ideals at the heart of the Democratic Party. They are, in fact, bedrock Republican ideology and demonstrate the vast divide among Democrats.

 

New Democrats oppose them. Grassroots Democrats oppose them. Democratic voters oppose them. And it will be telling whether the policymakers in our halls of power will follow the lead of the people or try to shepherd the power behind the party into doing what the patricians think best.

 

That’s why this strike is important way beyond California. Whatever happens will send echoes throughout the country, because school districts from sea to shining sea are facing similar issues.

 

In the meantime, the LA Unified District has a $1.8 Billion budget surplus it can use to help meet these needs. But the solutions to the district’s woes require a long-term commitment to public education.

 

Certainly the state of California needs to increase its per pupil spending. It’s the richest state in the country, yet ranks 43rd out of 50 in this regard.

 

This would help the district raise teacher salaries to match those of surrounding districts.

 

But the root problem is a lack of ideological support among policymakers.

 

Too many Democrats inside and outside the district don’t support the very idea of public schools. They’d rather boost privatization.

 

Too many Democrats support unnecessary and harmful high stakes standardized testing which not only unfairly paints the district as a failure for the poverty of its students but forces out things of real education value like the arts and ethnic studies.

 

Too many Democrats have no problem doing this in a district that serves a majority of students of color while providing only the best for middle class white kids.

 

That’s why today the American people stand with the UTLA as they go on strike.

 

It’s why we always stand with educators – You can’t put students first if you put teachers last.

 

Democrats need to get their priorities straight.

 

It’s time to decide if they’re going to continue being Trump lite or reclaim their progressive heritage and rejoin the rest of the nation.


Still can’t get enough Gadfly? I’ve written a book, “Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform,” now available from Garn Press. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the Badass Teachers Association. Check it out!

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Thank You, Wealthy Robber Barons, for the Freedom to be a Free Rider!

 

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Wow! I now have a real choice when it comes to my union!

 

At least, that’s what the email I got from the Mackinac Center says!

 

Now that the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the Janus vs. AFSCME case, I don’t have to pay any of my hard earned cash to my union!

 

I can be a free rider! I can get all the advantages of belonging to a union – higher salary, better benefits, better safety precautions – and I can leave it to the rest of the membership to pay for me!

 

That’s amazing!

 

And what’s even more amazing is who is sending this email to me!

 

I mean the Mackinac Center is funded by Betsy DeVos and her family, the Koch Brothers, Eli Broad, the Scaifes, and the Walton family!

 

Who would have ever thought some of the richest people in the world would take an interest in my union membership!?

 

How nice of them!

 

I’m merely a public school teacher! In my more than a decade in the classroom, they’ve spent billions of dollars to weaken my profession!

 

They lobbied for education funding nationwide to be gutted so they could get another tax cut!

 

They invested in charter and voucher schools and then demanded we build more of these privatized institutions with little to no accountability so they could rake in record profits!

 

They’ve weakened education at schools serving the highest populations of students of color and then benefited when those same kids turned to crime and were incarcerated in their private prisons!

 

Instead of holding politicians accountable for inequitable funding and instead of supporting teacher autonomy, they forced high stakes standardized testing and Common Core on me and my students!

 

They demanded my administrators undervalue what I actually do in the classroom but instead evaluate me based on my student test scores – so being given struggling students means I’m somehow a worse teacher than the person across the hall with the honors class!

 

They did all that but suddenly they’re concerned about my freedom to withhold union dues!?

 

Well Golly!

 

Jeepers!

 

Gee Willikers!

 

Goodness gracious and bless my soul!

 

I must have been wrong about these fellers and these ladies all along!

 

They really DO care about little people like me!

 

Did you know that a 2011 study by researchers at Harvard and the University of Washington concluded that higher union membership encourages higher pay across the economy!?

 

It’s true!

 

They said the decline of unions accounts for as much as one-third of the increase in wage inequality since the 1970s!

 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, when union membership goes down, the wealthy make more money! Conversely, the more union membership goes up, the less money goes to the wealthy!

 

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And despite all that, the rich are concerned that I have the right to stop paying union dues!

 

I mean if I stop paying my dues and my fellow working stiffs stop paying their dues, then my union might just have to close up shop!

 

And that would mean my wages would go down!

 

But these same rich people who just sent me an email would see their investments go up!

 

They’d take home sacks of cash! So much money that they’d probably drop some and maybe I might be able to pick up a few pennies they leave on the curb!

 

Isn’t that great!?

 

You know public sector employees including firefighters and police, and teachers like me are the largest sector left of the workforce still represented by unions!

 

According to BLS statistics, 38 percent of public sector employees are represented by unions!

 

It’s true!

 

Back in 1945, union membership nationwide was at its highest rate of 33.4%! That means back then about a third of all American workers belonged to a union!

 

Last year it was down to 10.7 percent!

 

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In the intervening years, manufacturing jobs have declined, blue collar jobs have been outsourced and both political parties have passed laws making it harder to unionize and collectively bargain!

 

But thank goodness I now have the right to get something for nothing from my union!

 

That’s going to perk things right up!

 

Sure, numerous studies have shown that declining union membership is one of the major causes why middle class wages have remained basically flat! But I get to keep a hundred bucks in my pocket so everything’s square!

 

One thing worries me, though!

 

I’m not sure many union workers are going to take advantage of this new freedom!

 

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t agree with everything my union does! No one could say that!

 

I don’t agree with everything my government does, either, but I still pay taxes!

 

And I wouldn’t stop paying taxes even if I could! I like being an American citizen, and I like much of what my government provides by way of our military, infrastructure and social programs!

 

It’s the same with my union!

 

I mean I LIKE earning higher wages! I LIKE getting better benefits! I LIKE knowing I work in a safe environment!

 

And when I have a better working environment, my students have a better learning environment!

 

I doubt many of my co-workers are going to stop paying their dues just because they can!

 

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We’re not stupid! We know that if you want union benefits, you have to pay union dues! The Supreme Court can say whatever it likes! It can’t legislate passed reality!

 

Moreover, who would want to associate with a co-worker who refuses to pull his or her own weight!?

 

If I found out one of my colleagues was leaving it to me to pay for both of us, I’d throw a fit! I wouldn’t associate with that person!

 

If he or she came to my room asking for advice, I’d tell them to get lost! I wouldn’t eat with them at lunch, I wouldn’t chat about their day, I’d give them their walking papers, myself!

 

Frankly, the social cost would be higher than just paying your union dues!

 

So thanks anyway, Mackinac Center! Thanks anyway, Charles and David Koch! Thanks anyway, Betsy DeVos!

 

I’m sticking with my union.

 

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Like this post? I’ve written a book, “Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform,” now available from Garn Press. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the Badass Teachers Association. Check it out!

WANT A SIGNED COPY?

Click here to order one directly from me to your door!

 

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Go Ahead, SCOTUS. Rule Against Unions in Janus Case. You’ll Only Make Us Stronger

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Bwa-hahahaha!

 

The corporate owned far right has been trying to destroy labor unions for decades.

 

But this time they may have finally overplayed their hand.

 

The upcoming Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case set for a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb 26 has been billed as the final nail in the coffin for public sector unions.

 

With the pitifully weak Democrats giving up President Obama’s pick for the bench in favor of Trump’s absurd choice, Neil Gorsuch, the court has a decidedly conservative bias.

 

So court watchers expect the latest challenge to collective bargaining rights to come out in favor of the corporations and billionaires who have spent truckloads of money to ensure the little guy has less of a say in the workplace.

 

BUT! They aren’t taking into account how stupid these far right shills truly are!

 

The case comes down to this: some people working in a union job don’t think they should have to pay union dues even though they benefit from the contract negotiated by their union. They affirm that being part of a union is political speech and thus they cannot be compelled to pay – yet somehow they should be able to keep all the benefits of being in a union, anyway.

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So the union gets me a raise and better healthcare, but – even though none of my dues go to pay for political campaigns (that money is donated separately and voluntarily) – just being in a union is a political act.

 

If the court rules in favor of this position, unions would no longer be able to compel members to pay dues.

 

Pay them, don’t pay them – there’s nothing the union could do.

 

Conservatives are betting that if dues become voluntary on a person-by-person basis, at least a few members will opt out and thus weaken union finances and ability to collectively bargain for everyone.

 

But what they don’t seem to understand is that a decision like this would overturn decades of established law.

 

It would overturn mountains of legal decisions that provide the foundation for how our government works.

 

In short, how many times are we compelled to pay for things we don’t necessarily believe in?

 

Answer: every freakin’ day!

 

How much of my tax dollars go to the military? What if I don’t want my taxes used to pay for a bloated war machine?

 

How much of my hard earned money is wasted on corporate subsidies? What if I don’t want to prop up huge multinational businesses already making record profits?

 

How much of my money go to privatized schools? What if I’m against charter and voucher schools and want my taxes instead to fund fully public schools with elected boards, transparency and who have to accept all students regardless of ability?

 

If the court rules against unions, then I guess I won’t have to pay my taxes anymore – or at very least, I will have to be given the option of where my tax dollars go.

 

Not just SOME of my tax dollars – every single penny on a line-by-line basis for every single tax payer in the United States!

 

An Illinois based engineering union wrote in detail about exactly how such a ruling would change the landscape. Operating Engineers Local 150, wrote on their blog titled, “Union Busters Set Themselves Up for Janus Backfire”:

 

 

“If not bargaining is protected free speech, then bargaining will conversely be protected free speech, giving union workers new protections that we’ve never enjoyed before.  For example:

  1. Governor Scott Walker’s now infamous Act 10, the law that destroyed public sector collective bargaining in Wisconsin, will be declared an unconstitutional, content-based restriction on speech and association.

 

  1. Every state in America will now be subject to bargaining with their public sector employees, even if they didn’t previously.

 

 

  1. Local municipalities will be subject to numerous taxpayer lawsuits based upon forced contributions to lobbying groups.

 

  1. The municipal lobbying industry, currently an extremely large source of revenue for lobbyists, will be decimated as taxpayers now have a First Amendment right to demand their tax dollars are not used for lobbying or political advocacy.

 

 

  1. Public Sector pensions will be adversely affected as participants demand that their forced pension contributions are not used for corporate speech.

 

  1. Municipal advertising, tax increment financing, and all other types of tax breaks (think Foxxcon in Wisconsin) will be subject to litigation based upon taxpayers’ First Amendment rights to opt-out of this type of speech. The same burdensome calculations that are currently leveled only upon unions would become widespread.”

 

Shaun Richman, a former organizing director for the American Federation of Teachers, agrees.

 

In an article for In These Times called “How A Supreme Court Decision to Gut Public Sector Unions Could Backfire,” he writes:

 

 

“The ruling could both wildly increase workers’ bargaining power and clog the lower courts with First Amendment challenges to routine uses of taxpayer money. At a minimum, it has the potential to turn every public sector workplace dispute into a constitutional controversy…”

 

 

Frankly, this is kind of exciting.

 

In trying to stifle workers’ free speech, conservatives may unravel the statutes that have muzzled us for years.

 

A decision against unions by the Supreme Court would open the way for thousands of cases throughout the court system – challenge after challenge. Certainly conservative justices would try to staunch the tide, but they simply couldn’t stop every case – especially after such a dangerous precedent has been set!

 

The SCOTUS would be unleashing chaos on the justice system, and I, for one, hope that every workers union takes advantage of it.

 

Every individual across the political spectrum should file suit against whichever political peccadillo they want. Evangelicals can file against public schools using their tax dollars to teach evolution. Libertarians could file against having a standing army. Liberals could file against oil pipelines.

 

And on and on and on.

 

Meanwhile, those workers unions that conservatives are hoping will be destroyed will be just fine.

 

You think workers won’t pay their union dues? Some might try, but doing so will have immense personal ramifications. At very least, it will make those individuals social pariahs. Who wants to associate with someone who thinks they should get all the benefits without paying like everyone else?

 

Moreover, I don’t advocate violence against anyone, but stiffing your co-workers on your union dues is a sure fire way to get slashed tires. Do you put your lunch in a communal fridge? I wouldn’t eat that after word gets out you’re a free rider. Not unless you like to share your co-worker’s saliva.

 

Again, I’m not advocating for any of that, but it’s just the way humans behave. We don’t like paying for any other able-bodied person whose “political” decision puts our lives and livelihoods in jeopardy.

 

The end result of a ruling against unions would forever put collective bargaining rights firmly under the protection of the First Amendment.

 

It would protect all speech – including union rights.

 

So I say, go ahead, SCOTUS, make our day!

Who’s More Valuable – a Union Busting Lawyer or a Union Worker?

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There he was standing in front of me in line.

 

New gray pinstriped suit. Silk red Armani tie. White button down shirt so bleached it hurt my eyes.

 

We were waiting to board our plane to take us to Houston. Me, a public school teacher. Him, a union busting lawyer.

 

I was on my way to an education and civil rights summit. He was going to an annual lawyers conference, one of many he attends each year.

 

I got all this information not from talking to the guy. He was jovial enough but he just couldn’t contain his backstory to a single audience. He was in the mood to talk to anybody and everybody as we waited for the stewardess to tell us it was okay to board.

 

He spent most of his time talking with two representatives of the natural gas industry who had visited my home of Pittsburgh to invest in our rich deposits of Marcellus shale – and incidentally poison our environment. He also joked with another lawyer further up in line and already tipsy.

 

I listened to him yuk it up about exclusive golf courses, wine country and the presidential election (he’s a Trump supporter) and felt a warm dislike spread through my chest.

 

I looked at my faded t-shirt and jeans and wondered how it was that this guy gets so much for what he does and I get so little. Oh I get all the intangibles, but he gets… well… the money, pride and prestige.

 

There he was asking the gas guys about a good steak place for lunch in Houston. I love steak. I’d like to eat a nice, juicy steak. But I can’t afford it.

 

I’m only able to make this trip because I took the least expensive flight (coach, by the way – guess where he was sitting) and I was sharing a hotel room with a college professor who had saved up enough discretionary funds to cover the room.

 

While the attorney was dining on steak, I’d be lucky to store up a muffin or two from the hotel’s complimentary breakfast.

 

Yet there he was telling the whole world his story unafraid that someone would take offense.

 

Well, I do take offense, buddy.

 

You make your living finding ways to make it harder for me to make mine. You spend your whole day looking for legal loopholes and documented precedents to take away protections at my job, cut my pay and make me work longer hours without overtime. You eat at expensive restaurants and wear Italian leather shoes while people like me live paycheck-to-paycheck. You are nothing but a parasite.

 

Yet no one else seemed to take offense at his braggadocio. Only me. The natural gas guys clapped him on the back and congratulated him on the delicious rib eye in his future.

 

It makes me wonder why unions are so often made to seem the villain and guys like this are seen as good ol’ boys at best and merely innocuous at worst.

 

I teach young children how to read and write. I open their minds to the world around them and show them how to think critically. I raise up the weak and give succor to the needy.

 

What value does he add to society? Seriously! How does he make the world one bit better than the way he found it?

 

Yes, I am a union employee and proud of it. I collectively bargain for a fair wage. I band together with my colleagues for a middle class income so I can afford to be a teacher. I demand professionalism and autonomy so I can do the job. I seek fair treatment so I’m not constantly looking over my shoulder in case a school board member would rather give my job to one of his cousins. And if you’re going to fire me, I ask for due process – proof of wrongdoing.

 

Somehow in the eyes of the public this makes me a monster.

 

But this guy gives you nothing. He provides no return on your investment except that he stifles me.

 

He makes it harder if not impossible for me to stay in the profession. He works so I can’t support my family. He endeavors for me to be paid the minimum wage so I won’t be able to come home and help my daughter with her homework but instead will have to move on to my second or third job. He argues that I should not be considered a professional and should not be treated like an intelligent person with an advanced degree but should be a factory widget who does as he’s told. He tries to make anxiety my normal state. And he seeks to ensure I can be fired at will with no proof, no reason, just an employers whim.

 

If he achieves his ends, my students will not have a productive atmosphere in which to learn. When you weaken teachers, you weaken students. We all say to put the kids first, but you can’t do that when you put teachers last.

 

He does all this and still has the gall to boast of it aloud in public. All while I stay silent, seethe and silently rave.

 

So we got on our plane, and when we landed in Texas went our separate ways.

 

I spent the weekend fighting for children and families. He partied with his partners. As a taxpayer, you pay a lot of money for his services. I’m a bargain, a steal. You get next to nothing from him. I open the gates for the next generation.

 

And somehow I’m the bad guy.

F is for Friedrichs… and Freeloader: A Supreme Court Nightmare

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Say you’re on an airplane flying high over the Rockies.

The plane is going down.

You need a parachute.

Luckily, before you took off, all the passengers got together and pooled their money to buy them.

There’s enough for everyone. We’re all going to make it out of this alive.

People line up at the doors getting ready to jump.

Right in front of you is a lady with a sour look on her face.

“I can’t believe they’re making us pay for these parachutes,” she says.

“Really?” you reply. “Don’t you want one?”

“Sure I do!” she says. “I just don’t think I should be forced to pay for it.”

You give her a look. You can’t help it.

“But how else can they buy the parachutes?” you say.

She puts her hands on her hips and says, “There are some people on other airplanes that don’t have parachutes. I don’t think it’s fair that I get a parachute when they don’t have one.”

“You could just leave your parachute here on the plane and jump without it,” you offer helpfully.

She makes a face looking down at the parachute she’s been provided. “Will you look at this?” she says. “Mine’s blue.”

“So what?” you say. “So is mine.”

“I hate blue. I don’t want my money going to buy blue parachutes.”

“Um. At least you’ll have a soft landing.”

“A soft BLUE landing without my Constitutional rights.”

Just then a hole breaks open in the back of the plane sending air whooshing through the cabin. Oxygen masks fall from the ceiling. The plane shudders back and forth before the hole is plugged and cabin pressure returns.

A man with a similar sour expression comes forward to both of you. He is wearing a military police uniform and has a whistle in his mouth. He blows it.

“Did I hear right!?” he bellows. “Is this woman being forced to pay for her parachute!?”

“Yes,” you say after a moment. “She wants one.”

They both look at you like a third arm is growing out of your forehead.

“That’s beside the point,” the military man spits. “She can’t be FORCED to pay for it!”

By this time, a woman makes her way to the three of you from the front of the plane. She is wearing a beret and an armband.

“What’s the problem back here?” she asks.

“The problem is that this woman is being forced to pay for her parachute!” the MP says.

“Do you want a parachute?” beret woman asks the sour jumper.

“Of course,” the woman says.

“Then why shouldn’t you pay for it?”

“Because it’s blue,” she says.

“Are you kidding me?” beret woman asks. “Of course it’s blue. We got those on sale. The only way we could afford parachutes for everyone was if we bought in bulk and bought blue.”

“I don’t care,” the jumper says. “I shouldn’t be forced to buy a blue parachute if I don’t want one.”

“But you DO want one,” you say.

“Not a blue one,” she responds.

“Just give it back,” you say.

“No,” she replies stubbornly.

“That’s it,” the MP says drawing his gun. “Both of you, give me your parachutes.”

“What!?” you say.

“You heard me, Flyboy!” he says opening a huge rucksack. “Everyone on this plane! Put your parachutes in this bag!”

Everyone groans but does as he commands. After all, he’s holding a gun.

“Now what?” the sour jumper says once all the parachutes have been collected.

“Now I’m going to return all of these to the store,” he says.

“Huh!?” you say.

“It’s the only fair thing to do. You’ll each have to come back to the store and pay for your own ‘chutes.”

“But we’re on a plane plummeting out of the sky!” you say.

He turns to the sour jumper. “You’re welcome,” he says. “My job here is done.”

You turn to beret lady. “Isn’t there something you can do?” you ask.

“I’m afraid not,” she says. “Even if we could go back to the store, we can’t afford to buy everyone a parachute unless everyone pitches in. And even then only the blue ones are on sale.”

The military man salutes and jumps out of the plane. After he falls an appreciable depth he pulls his own rip cord. You can see his parachute balloon open. It’s bright red.

You turn to beret girl. “Who was that guy?” you ask.

Air Marshal Alito,” she says before making her way back to the front of the plane.

The nose of the cabin dips down. The sound of rushing wind is intense.

You turn to the sour jumper. “Are you satisfied now?” you say. “We’re all going to die.”

She slumps to the ground. Her head falls off. She’s hollow. She was just a mannequin.

You sit back in your seat stunned.

You put on your belt.

“I don’t want to pay for any seat belts,” comes whining from the mannequin’s head rolling on the floor.

You kick it out of the plane.

And smile.

Before you crash.

And experience a fiery death.


 

Meanwhile on the ground, Air Marshall Alito is shaking a man’s hand. The man is from Wall Street. He just made a small fortune betting the plane would crash. His name is Koch.

He gives Alito a suitcase full of greenbacks. He turns to another man, the owner of Friedrichs’ Mannequin Manufacturing. He gives him another similar suitcase.

These suitcases contain just a fraction of the money Koch has won betting on the demise of the airplane passengers.

He is laughing.

On the suitcases it says, “Right to Fly.”

He laughs harder.

He laughs and laughs and laughs.

EPILOGUE:

You’re still dead.


 

MORALS:

Should workers be permitted to benefit from collective bargaining without paying union dues? No. Pay for what you get or turn down the benefit.

Is collective bargaining essentially political? No. It’s negotiating fair treatment. Ebay isn’t political. Neither is this.

Is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association a trumped-up case tailor-made for the five conservative Supreme Court justices to overturn existing law simply because they wanna? HELL YEAH!


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NOTE: This article was featured on Diane Ravitch’s blog.

 

 

Off the Beaten Gadfly – the Best Education Blog Pieces You Never Read in 2014

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So you’re interested in education.

You’ve read your Diane Ravich. You peruse Peter Greene’s blog with your morning coffee. You have a Badass Teachers Association jersey on under your button down work shirt and tie.

But you need something more.

Well, friend, have I got a treat for you!

Please to enjoy Gadflyonthewallblog! This is the site where all the cool intellectuals go – the folks who want an edge to fight corporate school reform.

You probably already read Gadfly’s Top 10 Posts of 2014. That wouldn’t get by a discerning customer like you. But have you seen this – Gadfly Deep Tracks?

That’s right! These are the five posts selected by the author that maybe didn’t get the page views of the popular articles but are really worth your time.

Take a look. There’s some really good stuff here!

So for your continued edification, elucidation and just plain old enjoyment, I present to you the Top 5 Gadfly Rarities:


5) RAIDERS OF YOUR LOST PENSION

Views: 50  shutterstock_pickpocket
Publication: July 22

Description: Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall and listen to a secret meeting of corporate education reformers to hear what they REALLY think? Well, here’s your chance. I came across a conservative think tank paper that outlines ways to manipulate school boards to reduce teachers pension benefits. It’s all right here: Teach for America, Disaster Capitalism, Reducing School Budgets, etc. This is a smoking gun.

Fun Facts: My first post. It’s where I got the name for my blog. I thought this was really important, but not many people saw it. Here’s my attempt to change that.


4) FORGET CORPORATIONS… UNIONS REALLY ARE PEOPLE

Views: 152  Labor-Unions
Publication: Nov. 1

Description: Why do some people hate labor unions so much? Maybe it’s because they don’t understand them. In this article I outline the philosophy behind unions and debunk many common criticisms.

Fun Facts: Strong union folks loved this. Randi Weingarten was a fan. But it never gained the audience I feel it deserves. This is important. At best, it’s a way to convince reasonable people that unions are relevant and in fact indispensable to our economy. At worst, it’s at least a good tool to use to help explain your support of unions. It’s worth noting that this article is about unions in general – not any particular union.


3) THE MULTIPLE CHOICE MIND

Views: 356  Scanning of a human brain by X-rays
Publication: July 29

Description: What’s the problem with standardized tests? What do they do to growing minds? This article answers those questions and more. The basic thesis is that bubble tests are horrible ways to help create thinkers, but excellent for creating consumers.

Fun Facts: Standardized testing is central to all corporate education reform. But few people question its purpose. I think it’s important the public understand that none of this is about education. It’s about creating a permanent underclass just smart enough to be customers at Walmart but not smart enough to question the status quo.


2) A CURRICULUM OF COMPASSION

Views: 623  05_A1CP_t400
Publication: Nov. 8

Description: This is just a simple story about a poor, damaged student who entered my class needing so much more than just an education. I got her to smile. That’s it.

Fun Facts: This girl was in my class about a third of the time last year, and only two days this year. I hope she returns someday soon. It just breaks my heart. Wherever she is I send this article out to her as a virtual hug so my readers might love her as much as I do. Sometimes that’s more important than lesson plans, etc.


1) FRANZ KAFKA AND THE METAMORPHOSIS OF TEACHER EVALUATIONS  kafka-drawing-251x300

Views: 775
Publication: Aug. 30

Description: Value-Added Measures of teachers are absurd. So I mixed them up with the master of absurdity – Franz Kafka. Thrill as a teacher wakes up in class transformed into a giant insect about to be evaluated by a reformy principal.

Fun Facts: This is one of my own personal favorites. I think if more people actually saw it, they’d feel the same. I hope you enjoy it, too.


P.S. – I stole the idea for this Top 5 list from the excellent blogger Russ Walsh. He came up with the concept of writing a list of hidden gems – not a typical Top 10 list. His Russ on Reading is well worth your time.


P.S.S. – Diane Ravich gave this article a shout out on her blog.

Fight Corporate Education Reform and Meme It!

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Sometimes words alone aren’t enough.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re arguing with someone and just not able to get your point across. You know if you could just show them the picture in your brain, they’d understand what you meant with the force of a bullet. But lacking psychic abilities, you’re reduced to the efforts of your poor twisted, tangled tongue.

That’s where memes make all the difference.

A meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Though originally coined as a term to describe genes, the expression has expanded to encompass anything that can carry ideas from one mind to another with a mimicked theme.

I know that sounds daunting, but you’ve probably seen hundreds or thousands of memes already. At least half of the images on Facebook and Twitter are memes – Grumpy Cat, Condescending Wonka, One Does Not Simply, Conspiracy Keanu and enough facepalms to break your jaw.

As a meme-maker, myself, I’ve been surprised that some of my efforts have taken on lives of their own. By no means am I a master at the art, but a few of my 50 plus memes have been surfing the Internet on their own for a year or more. I’ll go on a nationwide education organization’s Facebook page and see my little meme staring back at me. “Hi, Daddy!”

I leave you with an experiment. Here is a collection of some of my favorite creations. I’ve limited myself here to memes on the subject of education. I’ve also organized them to some degree based on subtopics.

Please feel free to browse. If you see a meme that you like – that helps make your point about the errors of corporate education reform – you have my blessing to take it. Post it on your Facebook page, in a tweet, on Tumbler, whatever you please. Send my little message off again into the great sea of interconnected webs and communication nets. Maybe one day it’ll return to me.

Happy shopping!

 

STANDARDIZED TESTING
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BUDGETS
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COMMON CORE
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TENURE

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VALUE-ADDED MEASURES (VAM)

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CORPORATE EDUCATION REFORM

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ACCOUNTABILITY

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PENNSYLVANIA ISSUES
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MISCELLANEOUS

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