Published September 14, 2012
education , Friday 5 , Resistance
Tags: Chicago Teachers Union, corporate education reform, education, labor, public schools, Rahm Emanuel, standardized tests, strike, struggle, teachers
Students with signs at a rally for public education in Harrisburg. February 2012
“This is fight for the soul of public education,” says Brandon Johnson, an organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union.
One of the focal points of the Chicago Teachers Strike that began Monday is Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s demand to have teacher evaluations and pay based on students scores on standardized tests. In corporate ed. reform this is known as the “value-added” model, and it’s being pushed across the country.
Without falling into the “good teacher/bad teacher” trap or debating the need for effective teacher evaluation, I think it’s important that we ask ourselves what we actually know about standardized tests before pegging their results to the pay of millions of people. Here are some starting questions.
- Who actually writes standardized tests?
- Do the tests encompass the full range of content and skills teachers should be imparting/encouraging in students?
- Who scores standardized tests? (And how often are the scores wrong?)
- Who is profiting off test creation/delivery and all of the remediation programs schools buy to improve student scores?
- What forces outside schools stand to benefit from linking teacher pay to student test scores?
If, as I suspect is the case, most Americans don’t know the answers to these questions, we ought to start thinking a little more critically before making employments decisions based on these tests.
And finally…GO CTU!
This is a much more important fight than any sports match.
Published October 11, 2011
my writing/photos elsewhere , Resistance , United States
Tags: Common Dreams, demonstration, labor, march, occupation, Occupy Wall Street, poor people, struggle, union, working class
As I wrote in my Friday 5 post two weeks ago, the most promising thing I heard about when I visited Occupy Wall Street was participants’ efforts to make connections between the frustration that brought people there and other struggles that people have been organizing around (e.g. labor issues, access to health care, environmental hazards) throughout the country but in NYC particularly. In an article on Common Dreams today, I detailed some of how the Labor Outreach and Support working group developed the relationships with unions that led to last week’s 20,000-person march. The story also includes voices from participants describing the value of the occupied space as a place to listen to one another and brainstorm the kind of world they want to live in.
Check it out at Common Dreams.
Published April 5, 2011
class , labor , Middle East , Quote of the Week , Resistance , United States
Tags: autobiography, fear, honduras, Knights of Labor, labor, miners, Mother Jones, organizing, palestine, strike, United Mine Workers, West Bank
I’ve heard the question, “Were you scared?” a lot in the past few years. Like so many questions about my experiences in the West Bank, Honduras, et. al, I struggle to come up with an answer that fully reflects the tangle of answers coming from my brain and my heart. Lately I’ve been listening to Mother Jones’* autobiography on WMMT Radio. Ever wise with words, she had an awesome response when someone asked “Weren’t you scared?” about organizing miners at Latimer:
I’m not afraid to face anything if facing it may bring relief to the class that I belong to.
Autobiographies are an inspiring book genre! What’s your favorite autobiography?
*Mother Jones, once called "the most dangerous woman in America," was an active and effective labor organizer of the late 1800's and early 1900's. She worked for the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers.