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Mon Dec 31, 2012, 06:26 AM


To the "Beloved Community" of Education Activists

When you speak out as a matter of conscience on issues that are important to you, it is impossible to predict the consequences. You do so because you can't look at yourself in the mirror if you don't. When I began speaking out in behalf of teachers under attack four years ago, it is because I couldn't stand to see the great teachers I worked with the Bronx being made the unremitting target of abuse by politicians and the press. Little did I know that this would link me to a national community of education activists fighting the same policies all over the country.

Now, four years later, I have dozens of new friends in almost every state in the union who have, for me at least, recreated the "Beloved Community" that the southern Civil Rights Movement held up as a movement ideal in the early 60's. The courage these individuals display in fighting top down initiatives that destroy teaching and learning, sometimes with little support in their own communities, inspires me with feelings of solidarity and love and gives me the energy to fighting on.

To all of you, whether in Florida, South Carolina, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Upstate New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Indiana, California, or the great city of Chicago, I owe a debt of gratitude for infusing my life with a new and higher sense of purpose. Please keep speaking truth to power and defend the right of all children to have an education that stirs their imaginations and builds on their strengths.


Maureen Reedy said...

Thanks Mark and Hello Fellow Education Activists,

How about joining together with Parents Across America and planning a “Public Schools Across America” event modeled after “Hands Across America” of 26 years ago?

Diane Ravitch introduced Parents Across America in her blog today ... PAA is a great group, I have been in touch with them and proposed this idea conceptually based on the event “Hands Across America.”

Here is the basic idea:

• “Preserving Public Education Across America?” “Preserve America’s Public Schools,” (any other ideas for a title?)

~ National orchestrated simultaneous summits held in each state across the country
~ Summits would be held on the same date, a weekend afternoon in each state in U.S.
~ Summits would be centrally located in each state so people could drive without having to take off work/ school or spend $ on flights/hotels, etc.
~ States could choose to join neighboring states for a tri-state summit, ie. Ohio, Michigan, Illinois
~ The purpose would be to celebrate our public schools AND share the cold, hard facts of privatization and raise public awareness that For-Profit does not mean education reform.

• Obviously a lot to plan and organize but look at all the stories we have here on Diane’s blog!

• State Superintendents (Texas), District Superintendents (nationwide), Parents, School Board Members, Teachers, Principals, Students, State Supreme Court rulings (LA) concerned citizens for the future of our children and our Democracy…

We are all protectors and defenders of our public schools as the foundation of our democracy… we could do this together.

AND… I am serious about joining me in NYC, Saturday or Sunday afternoon, Jan. 26 or Jan. 27th to get going on “Public Schools Across America.”


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Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply To the "Beloved Community" of Education Activists (Original post)
HiPointDem Dec 2012 OP
xchrom Dec 2012 #1
savebigbird Dec 2012 #2
Squinch Dec 2012 #3
Smarmie Doofus Dec 2012 #4
duffyduff Dec 2012 #6
Smarmie Doofus Dec 2012 #8
duffyduff Jan 2013 #10
proud2BlibKansan Jan 2013 #11
duffyduff Jan 2013 #12
LWolf Dec 2012 #7
polynomial Dec 2012 #5
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #9

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 09:15 AM

4. It really is a lot more dangerous than most people realize.

>>>When you speak out as a matter of conscience on issues that are important to you, it is impossible to predict the consequences. >>>

Public schools are -- for the most part--- petty bureaucratic fiefdoms in larger Darwinian bureaucratic jungles. The political philosophy of the upper echelons is less "survival of the fittest" than it is "kill or BE killed."

Think "I, Claudius".

They don't tolerate criticism or dissent easily... needless to say. This is one of the reasons why the $$$ "reformers" find the existing ed bureaucracy so useful. As long as traditional forms of corruption and dysfunction are left in tact, billionaire "reformers" will find ready-made accomplices in the ranks of building administrators and district office paper-pushers.

That leaves only real teachers to advocate for the kids. At least in the cities. In the suburbs the parents can help --- advocacy wise. In the cities ( Bloomberg in NYC is a classic example) TPTB just ignore the parents. And they can get away with it.

Harder to do that in the suburbs where the parents want to see where all that property tax money is going.

K and R and Happy New Year.

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 12:10 PM

6. The principal is god, and if by some chance you offend him or her

you are at risk of having your career destroyed on a whim. Administrative law does little or nothing to protect your rights, ditto for unions, ditto for outside lawyers.

I know of no other line of work where mere dissent or advocacy can be career-destroying, where you can be blackballed throughout the state where you work, or even across states.

Standing up for ethics like refusing to change a grade in order to pacify parents is all it takes for a principal to destroy a teacher's career. Nothing ever happens to the principal who screws up.

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Response to duffyduff (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 04:14 PM

8. NYC has an "ineligible" list which effectively blacklists certain individuals.

To my understanding, probationers ( i.e. newer, non-tenured teachers) who are "discontinued" ( ya gotta love the Orwellianisms) by a principal, for ANY reason, are *automatically* placed on this list.

The consequence is that that person cannot be hired by *ANY* NYC ps.... even if he/she finds a principal who *wants* to hire them.

It's amazing how few people working here are even aware of this. Even principals are unaware of it. I dealt with it a couple years back when a colleague was discontinued to make room on staff for someone's relative. The paperwork said his service ( less than one full year) was "unsatisfactory".

Barbaric shit. But apparently it's legal. The courts take the position that districts can set-up whatever criteria they want re. tenure and licensing.

My understanding , though, was that the blacklist could pertain only to a single school district. In our case the person was banned for life from the NYC system ( considered as a single district) but was eligible to seek employment elsewhere in NYS.

You're saying that people have been blacklisted *statewide*? What's the legality of that?

And the politicians wonder why we need tenure.

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 11:37 AM

10. It's not a formal blacklist unless you have had action taken on your license

However, if you are fired or "discontinued" or whatever term school districts use when they fire any teacher regardless of length of service, every single school district will ask the "weeding out" questions on the applications (have you ever resigned in lieu of a dismissal, failed to complete a contract, etc.). That is effectively blackballing teachers from careers in neighboring districts and often statewide. You will NOT make the cut even for an interview (unless, of course, you have some kind of connection with the new district).

In my previous state, there were at least six questions asking the same thing in order to weed teachers out on at least the applications of the two largest districts. These questions include if you have been denied tenure, if you failed to complete a contract, if you have ever been terminated. These effectively bar teachers from teaching in those districts; otherwise, the questions would NOT be asked.

After all, just because a district let you go for reasons having nothing to do with real misconduct doesn't mean you couldn't be a perfectly good teacher elsewhere. It's really none of any district's business if you have been non-renewed or fired.

Furthermore, many applications require you put down the name of your last principal. If that principal chooses to trash you on a reference check, you are dead in the water there.

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 11:09 PM

11. Here, they red line you which basically keeps any other district from hiring you.

They don't always have cause either.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 12:24 AM

12. Districts can always put a "no rehire" for any employee let go

Most teachers aren't fired for real "misconduct" anyway, but all a prospective employer has to do is call the district and ask if that applicant is eligible for rehire. They don't even have to call your last principal. That's one way districts can circumvent any kind of law or regulation regarding slandering former employees.

I'm on a "no rehire" from my old district even though it was the administrators who screwed up.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 10:29 AM

5. When you speak out as a matter of conscience

“When you speak out as a matter of conscience on issues that are important to you, it is impossible to predict the consequences.”
And, “the "Beloved Community" that the southern Civil Rights Movement held up as a movement ideal in the early 60's.” For me it is a memory long ago.

However, we could not predict the consequence is so true, yet it is lacking by our mainstream media and our intellectual community to recognize how serious a problem we have now. In education right now is it not a serious and curious flaw that America has to concentrate on the physical cultural, the manifestation of weapons entering into and being used in America’s educational system.

Drugs proliferate, wider assortment of language in music that by some is nothing more than modified assault in love, early childhood attractions loaded balanced in favor layered with easy street tyranny. It was always taught music define the culture. Definitively, in those young minds the consequences escape thoughts. The frequency of young men walking around in public with pants hanging off one’s ass is a strange fashion statement. No, a huge time space gap of maturity.

Form my view it looks like a new level of book burning that occurred in other cultures at other times. The so called intellectuals would possibly reject that notion, but it is highly and likely to be true.

Cut to the chase, the fix is to enhance the basics to an honest citizen because a great deal of America’s problems is due to our corrupt government leadership. Cutting off the basic safety net, or cutting education or social security is not a cure, it will destroy America. The scourges of corruption and tyranny are in those countries that suppress education especially all over Persia.

Actually from my view the citizen in good standing should be rewarded with a livable pension. That would mean if one does not steal, or murder, or commit adultery, basically a ten commandment thing likely expanded, along with extending the K12 system to a k16 or even k18 for “free” educational system should exist. Yes, did you get that? Here it is in a nut shell, all paid for by taxes. Yes, a hard horse pill one for any Republican today to take as a remedy, but is a very similar to what I feel is nothing more than an Eisenhower conservative notion, the highway of the intellectual success doesn’t have to be just concrete and sand. As Eisenhower did in the fifties America could Imagine the new pressure of goodness in the capitalism system. One would have to risk losing those pensions and educational all those rights are lost in actions that screw up the culture of what could be a good kind golden era that has the possibility to last a millennia
Can you imagine a time in America where a corporation of people compete for people to join and work together instead of people competing against each other. Americans seem to be destroying each other while in our evolutionary travels. Many are saying the government is broken, but think about it America’s educational system is the core of our government thinking, education is broken.

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Response to polynomial (Reply #5)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 01:46 AM

9. "a great deal of America’s problems is due to our corrupt government leadership." = truth.


I used to think those people who said the bigshots were deliberately destroying the culture were nuts. Now I think there's something to what they say. I'm not sure what, but market outcomes don't explain the cultural products we get. Something else is also working.

And I believe the real bigshots in the illegal drug business can be found sitting in the skyscrapers of corporate america & europe.

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