With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Monday, June 28, 2010

Did the Ownership Society just have a central committee meeting?

It sounds that way as the new line trickles down from society members like Mayor Bloomberg and Chicago business "reformer" Robin Steans--massive layoffs are necessary to cut budgets and also a way to get rid of union protection for teachers. In place of a contract, fire teachers on the basis of a student test score--or even better, without any evaluation at all.

Following their failed, clumsy attempt to fire the entire faculty and staff at Central Falls H.S. in Rhode Island, they now all seem to be marching to the same beat in the media. They're dragging out all their weapons at once--"merit pay," Race To The Top, and TFA, as they try and play younger teachers off against the veterans as all are forced to compete for dwindling jobs at lower salaries and benefits. It's also a way to rationalize the latest assault on unions and teacher collective-bargaining rights.

Check out Tim Knowles in the Wall Street Journal ("The trouble with teacher tenure'):
The good news is that the majority of teachers are not interested in protecting colleagues who don't belong in the classroom... The time has come to eliminate tenure. We are facing monumental challenges in our quest to provide all students with an education that will prepare them to compete in a globalized economy. By removing one of the main sources of friction between labor and management, we can focus on the substantive issues: training, evaluating and rewarding teachers to make teaching a true profession.
In case you didn't get it, "friction between labor and management" is Ownership Society code for labor unions. It's a shame in a way because Knowles has been pretty good lately on other issues. 

Here's Chicago CEO Huberman, who got the party line on Thursday. This same ABC piece has some good responses from newly-elected CTU leader Karen Lewis,
"Our reality is our contract has a specific way of showing how these layoffs need to occur but I'm saying they don't need to occur period. We can find this money," said Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers' Union, president-elect. 
and teacher Katie Hogan:
"I think they're encouraging teachers to buy into testing culture or leave the system. That's not what drives teachers. What drives teachers is wanting to help kids."

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