|Keynoters Deb Meier & Nancy Carlsson-Paige|
I tried to explain to Teaching Now blogger Liana Heitin who was reposted by Edweek's Stephen Sawchuk, that it was okay that last weekend's SOS Convention was actually smaller and less celebrity-studded than last summer's march and White House rally.
Others told Liana (who I find to be an otherwise highly capable and astute ed writer) that a march and a meeting have two different purposes and that one is often smaller than the other and that SOS was fine with that.
It was also okay that Diane Ravitch, Matt Damen (and the British royals) weren't there. To their credit, Gotham Schools and several other bloggers picked up James Boutin's much more insightful post.
The always provocative Deb Meier makes the case that this year's meeting was actually more significant than our march and rally last July.
I’m still “high” from three wonderful days at SOS’s gathering in D.C. with wonderful people –morning, noon and night. We managed to even get agreement on some more substantive “planks”–filling out our agenda re schooling in America. We did one on early childhood, on labor unions, civil rights, assessment, etc. Keep in touch with SOS for the details. We agreed on a basic governing structure. We set a few key “targets” for this year–locally and nationally. A march has its values, but this was even better than last year–in terms of making me confident that we can sustain this work. Because there is no quick fix, and the powers against us are awesome. We need long-term distance runners.All this is not to downplay the organizational weaknesses of SOS, which is only in its first year as an organization. Many teachers and activists are looking to SOS to be all things. It was with this in mind that the National Steering Committee voted to take a step back from marching for a moment and try and get it's own house in order.
The panel discussion was followed by Sunday's labor workshop where attendees found consensus on the following draft resolution:
1. SOS supports the right of all teachers in every state to bargain collectively as members of the teachers’ union. We oppose the current wave of legislative efforts to ban unions or to limit their ability to represent their members inside and outside of contract negotiations including, but not limited to: rights for unions to collectively bargain; the rights of unionized teachers to due process rights; and the rights of unions to dues collection from their members.
2. SOS salutes our brothers and sisters in the NEA and AFT for signing on to the National Resolution on High Stakes Testing.
3. SOS opposes the unlimited expansion of privately-managed charter schools which bar their teachers from holding union membership so as to actively and illegally resist union affiliation.
4. SOS also supports the early attempts to organize charter school teachers into unions. Charter school unions should also have the right to affiliate with the NEA and AFT.
5. SOS stands with our union brothers and sisters in the fight for higher wages, improved working conditions, protection of their pensions, healthcare benefits, and job security (especially for veteran teachers).
6. SOS opposes the current move to replace veteran teachers (usually members of the teachers’ union) with inexperienced, lower-paid, novice teachers, such as those provided by organizations like Teach For America.
7. SOS opposes al current initiatives, especially those put forward under No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, to undermine existing collective bargaining agreements.
8. SOS supports a union position strongly opposing merit pay and value-added teacher evaluation based on student test scores.
9. Currently, all eyes are on Chicago where the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) is setting a powerful example of “fighting unionism.” SOS supports the CTU in its current contract struggle and its fight against the powerful forces of corporate school reform. If Chicago teachers go on strike, SOS will organize strike support actions nationwide. (add verbage supporting “fighting unionism.”
10. SOS believes that teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions, and we oppose the false idea that the interests at teachers and students are opposed.More to come on this.