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Modern School

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Member since: Sun Dec 12, 2010, 01:09 PM
Number of posts: 794

Journal Archives

Port of Longview, ILWU and EGT Agree on Settlement 0digg

The rank and file members of ILWU local 21 have agreed to a new contract with EGT at the Port of Longview, Wa, after months of brutality by local police (see here) and intransigence by EGT. (For more on the history of the struggle, see here).

According to the new contract, EGT will hire only workers dispatched from the Local 21 hall. However, workers must then vote on whether they wish to be represented by the ILWU, the Daily News Online wrote this week.

While this compromise doesn’t nix ILWU members outright, like EGT’s prior practice of hiring only non-ILWU members, it does leave open the possibility of hiring non-union workers willing to apply for work at the union hall. It prevents an automatic closed shop from existing at EGT, which would have otherwise been the case. And it also opens the door to an employer-led anti-union campaign on the jobsite and threats and intimidation to keep non-ILWU members from joining the union and to prevent a closed shop from emerging.

Ostensibly, this provision was designed to avoid violating federal labor law, which prohibits companies from designating a union before it even hires a work force. However, EGT had made earlier promises to hire Local 21 members and then reneged on the promise, precipitating the conflict in the first place. And if the company really wanted to hire ILWU members, then it would just hire them and they could call it a union after the fact. In reality, it is simply an attempt to weaken or stamp out the union influence, something ILWU members most likely felt confident they could prevent by requiring all new hires to come from their union hall.

The agreement also requires both sides to drop all unfair labor practice claims and other litigation. The ILWU would still be liable for damages from last summer's protests, which a federal judge has placed at more than $300,000. The union is appealing the amount.

One particularly curious and burdensome aspect of the contract requires the ILWU to ask all outside groups, including the Occupy movement, to refrain from picketing at EGT. However, this is not the ILWU’s responsibility. They never asked for OWS to picket or shut down ports and they have no control or jurisdiction over them anyway.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/02/port-of-longview-ilwu-and-egt-agree-on.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Feb 1, 2012, 11:21 PM (1 replies)

Passing the Buck, Or Robbing Peter and Paul?

The California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the State Board of Education, the state Department of Education and the attorney general's office all want a judge to drop a lawsuit brought against the state by the ACLU for illegally charging students to participate in classes and extracurricular activities, according to a recent report by California Watch.

It is a classic legal pissing match in which none of the parties are willing to accept responsibility, let alone acknowledge or address the actual problem: educational equality does not exist, nor has it ever existed, primarily because of inequities in school funding and a wealth gap that gives affluent students a large educational advantage over their lower income peers.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU claimed widespread instances of school districts charging parents and students exorbitant and improper fees for books, educational materials and extracurricular activities, thus denying lower income students access to many educational opportunities available to their more affluent peers, like athletics, arts and Advanced Placement classes.

While this does indeed happen and probably contributes to the achievement gap and inequality, the implications of the lawsuit are troubling and create their own problems. Forbidding the charging of fees, for example, does nothing to improve the financial status of lower income students. It does not get them to school well fed, provide for their medical needs, make sure their parents read to them as babies, or receive support at home for their academic progress. Likewise, schools that lack the resources and parental donations may be forced to stop offering expensive courses and extracurricular activities entirely. Furthermore, if the lawsuit is interpreted literally, it would forbid teachers from requiring students to purchase such basic and essential supplies as pencils and notebooks.

The state is not pushing back against the lawsuit for any of these reasons, however. Rather, they simply don’t want to be hassled or held accountable. They are placing the blame on school districts and saying it’s the legislature’s responsibility, thus passing the legal buck, but ignoring the much larger problems of the millions of students who cannot afford the materials necessary to succeed in school and the thousands of schools that cannot afford to provide these materials. Inequity between schools is thus ignored, as are inequities between students in terms of their readiness for school.

In response to the lawsuit, legislation was written by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, D-South Gate, that would have created a complaint process for parents and required audits to make sure districts were not making parents and children pay for uniforms, classroom materials and extra activities. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the measure calling it "the wrong approach," as it would have required all 1,042 school districts and over 1,200 charter schools follow audit procedures, even when there have been no complaints or evidence of a violation.

The ACLU is worried that the dismissal of their lawsuit would be a green light for districts to thumb their nose at free public education and would end any real hope for disadvantaged students to use the public schools to achieve the American Dream. However, disadvantaged students never had much hope of achieving the American Dream, let alone becoming wealthy, regardless of the quality of their schools. Very few people transcend the class backgrounds of their families and schools serve to reinforce this tendency, even without charging extra fees. The class-based achievement gap, for example, which is already present before kids enter kindergarten (see Burkam and Lee and Hart and Risely), decreases the chances that a disadvantaged student will have the requisite skills necessary to succeed in a fee-charging advanced class. Likewise, students from lower income backgrounds tend to go to low income schools which often have fewer resources, course offerings and parental donations. They are also less likely to have parents with the experience, connections and self-assuredness to get them into enrichment programs, internships and mentorships that can increase the chances of getting into an elite university or secure a high status and high paying job.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/02/passing-buck-or-robbing-peter-and-paul.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Feb 1, 2012, 11:19 PM (1 replies)

Sweatshops on Wheels: Durham School Bus Drivers Organizing With Teamsters

School bus drivers with Durham School Services in Hayward and Livermore, California (near San Francisco) are organizing with the Teamsters to fight their terrible working conditions. The 180 drivers will vote on February 17 whether or not to join the Teamsters. Since the “Drive Up Standards” campaign began in 2006, more than 32,400 drivers, monitors, aides, attendants and mechanics have joined the Teamsters according to the Sacramento Bee..

Durham drivers have complained about being forced to drive old, beat up vehicles that regularly break down on the job, lack functioning air conditioning and have holes in the floors, the San Jose Mercury News reported last week. One driver said the brakes went out on her in front of her home.

Drivers do not have paid sick leave and the health insurance offered by Durham is so expensive that many go without. As a result, drivers have no choice but to come to work when they are sick, which not only exposes students to their germs, but may also reduce their alertness and concentration behind the wheel.

Durham, the second largest provider of school bus transportation services in the United States, provides transportation to 11 school districts in northern California. Durham is a subsidiary of National Express Group, a large multinational corporation based in the UK. John Logan, who is a Professor at San Francisco State University and Visiting Research Fellow at University of California-Berkeley, recently published a report detailing National Express Group's anti-worker behavior in the U.S. and its failure to uphold international labor rights standards.

In September, National Express Group purchased Petermann Bus Company for $200 million, according to the Mercury News. Peterman drives special needs children to school in Oakland. Drivers are furious that their employer is shelling out millions to buy another bus company, but cannot afford to have replacement busses on hand when there are breakdowns. If an extra bus cannot be found, the driver is sent home and the company hires a taxi to drive the students, even though cab drivers are not fingerprinted or subjected to background checks like other school employees.
Earlier this month, school bus drivers, aides and mechanics with Durham School Services in Elgin, Illinois, voted by a nearly 2 to 1 margin to join Teamsters Local 330, culminating a two year organizing effort. As in the current struggle in San Leandro and Hayward, the Illinois drivers were confronted with an assortment of bullying and harassment tactics by their bosses. Workers were given anti-union literature, for example, and were forced to attend anti-union meetings held by their employers.

To see more interviews with drivers, click on any of the following links:







Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/sweatshops-on-wheels-durham-school-bus.html
Posted by Modern School | Tue Jan 31, 2012, 11:21 PM (0 replies)

Sweatshops on Wheels: Durham School Bus Drivers Organizing With Teamsters

School bus drivers with Durham School Services in Hayward and Livermore, California (near San Francisco) are organizing with the Teamsters to fight their terrible working conditions. The 180 drivers will vote on February 17 whether or not to join the Teamsters. Since the “Drive Up Standards” campaign began in 2006, more than 32,400 drivers, monitors, aides, attendants and mechanics have joined the Teamsters according to the Sacramento Bee..

Durham drivers have complained about being forced to drive old, beat up vehicles that regularly break down on the job, lack functioning air conditioning and have holes in the floors, the San Jose Mercury News reported last week. One driver said the brakes went out on her in front of her home.

Drivers do not have paid sick leave and the health insurance offered by Durham is so expensive that many go without. As a result, drivers have no choice but to come to work when they are sick, which not only exposes students to their germs, but may also reduce their alertness and concentration behind the wheel.

Durham, the second largest provider of school bus transportation services in the United States, provides transportation to 11 school districts in northern California. Durham is a subsidiary of National Express Group, a large multinational corporation based in the UK. John Logan, who is a Professor at San Francisco State University and Visiting Research Fellow at University of California-Berkeley, recently published a report detailing National Express Group's anti-worker behavior in the U.S. and its failure to uphold international labor rights standards.

In September, National Express Group purchased Petermann Bus Company for $200 million, according to the Mercury News. Peterman drives special needs children to school in Oakland. Drivers are furious that their employer is shelling out millions to buy another bus company, but cannot afford to have replacement busses on hand when there are breakdowns. If an extra bus cannot be found, the driver is sent home and the company hires a taxi to drive the students, even though cab drivers are not fingerprinted or subjected to background checks like other school employees.
Earlier this month, school bus drivers, aides and mechanics with Durham School Services in Elgin, Illinois, voted by a nearly 2 to 1 margin to join Teamsters Local 330, culminating a two year organizing effort. As in the current struggle in San Leandro and Hayward, the Illinois drivers were confronted with an assortment of bullying and harassment tactics by their bosses. Workers were given anti-union literature, for example, and were forced to attend anti-union meetings held by their employers.

To see more interviews with drivers, click on any of the following links:







Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/sweatshops-on-wheels-durham-school-bus.html
Posted by Modern School | Tue Jan 31, 2012, 11:21 PM (0 replies)

Teachers Offer the Wealthy an Escape from Poverty 0digg


The following is from Anthony Cody’s excellent critique of the education portion of Obama’s state of the union speech. In a nutshell, if a teacher really did increase the lifetime income of a classroom by $250,000, so what? Spread out over the 40 years of each student’s career, that would amount to only $250 per person per year, enough for a nice date, Sunday afternoon beers or some practical work clothes, but nowhere near enough to bring poor kids into the middle class. And if he really wanted us to not teach to the test, he wouldn’t tie our evaluations and salaries to students’ test scores.

Last night in President Obama's State of the Union address, he repeated a familiar refrain about the importance of teachers.

A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance.
But it seems that it is those in power who are actually using teachers to escape from the realities of poverty these days.

President Obama offered as evidence a citation from a recent Harvard report:
We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000.

He went on to say,
Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let's offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren't helping kids learn.

There are several problems with this. As others have pointed out, if you take a classroom of 25 students, and spread $250,000 over their 40 years of earnings, this amount comes to a grand total of $250 a year per student. This is unlikely to represent an escape from poverty. (see more thorough responses to the Chetty report here, and here.)

The second problem is a glaring contradiction, a logical flaw so huge it has been overlooked by almost every journalist apparently too polite to challenge the administration on it. If you do not wish teachers to teach to the test, if you want them to be passionate and creative, then how can you insist that their performance be measured by the use of test scores?

Let us be crystal clear. The Obama administration has made the use of test scores to evaluate principals and teachers a pre-condition for federal aid. Both Race to the Top and the NCLB waivers require that states develop evaluation processes that incorporate this data.
To see the rest of this article, please click here. http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2012/01/teachers_offer_the_wealthy_an.html

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/teachers-offer-wealthy-escape-from.html
Posted by Modern School | Tue Jan 31, 2012, 11:18 PM (0 replies)

Hawaii Teachers Reject Race To The Top

Hawaiian teachers recently rejected a contract calling for performance-based evaluations and compensation, a requirement by the Race to the Top (RttT) grant their state won from the Obama administration, according to Valerie Strauss.

67% of 9,000 teachers, counselors and others in the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) rejected the contract, the first time in the union’s 44-year history that its members rejected a contract already approved by the state board of education. As a result, Hawaii was warned by the U.S. Department of Education that its $75 million RttT grant was on “High-risk status,” something Hawaiian teachers should be proud of.

HSTA is the first state teachers’ union to reject the poisoned Koolaid from the Obama after it had already been granted administration. This rebuff, coming from Obama’s home state, is a particularly harsh blow to his signature RttT and portends increasing rejections by other state teachers’ unions.

In order for states to win RttT grants, they must expand charter schools, evaluate teachers based on students’ standardized test scores and implement other “reforms” that increase private investors’ opportunities to profit from public education. Because states have been starved of revenue due to years of corporate and personal income taxes cuts, most have been jumping on the bandwagon and accepting this nominal federal assistance in exchange for giving away their public education systems to private educational management organizations, for-profit charter operators and test publishers.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/hawaii-teachers-reject-race-to-top.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Jan 26, 2012, 10:27 PM (5 replies)

Ex-Beverly Hills Superintendent Convicted


Former Beverly Hills schools superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard, was convicted Monday on two felony charges of misappropriation of public funds, the Los Angeles Times reported this week. Hubbard, who is currently superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, was convicted of ordering $20,000 in bonuses for an administrator and increasing her car allowance to $500 a month without approval from the school board.

The administrator to whom he gave the bonuses was Karen Anne Christiansen, a former facilities director. During the trial, sexually suggestive emails between the two of them were revealed, suggesting that the misappropriation was no accident, but a deliberate attempt to reward someone with whom he was having a “special relationship.”

Hubbard faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 23. It remains to be seen how his current employer will deal with the news, though state officials have suggested that he will be allowed to keep his education credentials. Newport Beach and Costa Mesa school trustees are meeting in closed session today "to take appropriate action."

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/ex-beverly-hills-superintendent.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Jan 25, 2012, 10:12 PM (0 replies)

No Capitalist Left Behind: NCLB’s 4 Biggest Winners

4 LA Kids http://4lakidsnews.blogspot.com/2012/01/nclb10-testing-industrys-big-four.html recently posted an article profiling the 4 biggest beneficiaries of NCLB largesse. Not surprisingly, they are big test/textbook publishers. Harcourt Educational Measurement, CTB McGraw-Hill, and Riverside Publishing (a Houghton Mifflin company) write 96% of the state exams used under NCLB, while NCS Pearson is the main scorer of the tests.

Even before NCLB, there was already a large scale move toward greater testing and accountability. In 1955, test sales were only $7 million, adjusted to 1998 dollars. By 1997, when NCLB was just being signed into law, test sales had increased nearly 3,000% to $263 million. Today, thanks to the pressure of NCLB, the testing market ranges from $400 to $700 million, according to the 4 LA Kids blog.

Harcourt Education Measurement (HEM) currently controls 40% of the test-design market. Harcourt Education is owned by London-based publisher and arms dealer Reed Elsevier, a company that was tight with George W. Bush. Harcourt also operates Holt, Rinehart and Winston, one of the largest K-12 educational textbook publishers in the nation. HEM published the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT-9), taken by more than 15 million students nationwide each year.

CTB McGraw-Hill, also tight with the Bush family, controls 40% of the test-design market. McGraw-Hill, the parent company, is based in New York and also owns Standard & Poor's, Business Week magazine, and four TV stations. CTB McGraw-Hill produces tests for 19 states and earn $4.2 billion in sales in 2000. Barnett Alexander “Sandy” Kress, a lobbyist for McGraw-Hill, was also a key architect of NCLB. Harold McGraw, Jr., of McGraw-Hill, sat on the board of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, while his son, Harold McGraw III, was a member of the George W. Bush transition team. Kress also represented Ignite! Learning, a company headed by Neil Bush, and K12 Inc., owned by Bill Bennett, Reagan’s Education Secretary.

Riverside Publishing, owned by Houghton Mifflin (now under the control of the French company Vivendi Universal), controls 20% of the test-design market. They produce the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), which is taken by 4-5 million students each year. Vivendi also owns Universal Pictures and Motown Records.

NCS Pearson is the leading scorer of standardized tests, scoring almost 40 million per year in the U.S. Pearson reported $629.5 million in sales in 2000, with test scoring accounting for nearly one-third of that.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/no-capitalist-left-behind-nclbs-4.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Jan 25, 2012, 10:11 PM (2 replies)

School Choice or Just Another Koch Bros Scam?

National School Choice Week, a pet project of big corporations and conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers, kicked off Monday with celebratory forums throughout the country. Billing itself as a social justice movement committed to “ensuring effective education options for every child,” “school choice” has actually become a deeply divisive wedge issue for the right. But the folks at School Choice Week would prefer that you didn’t know that.

To read the rest, go to The ugly truth about “school choice” at Salon.com. http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/school-choice-or-just-another-koch-bros.html

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/school-choice-or-just-another-koch-bros.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Jan 25, 2012, 10:10 PM (0 replies)

Longview ILWU Has Tentative Settlement With EGT Terminal

A tentative settlement has been reached between the ILWU in Longview, Washington, and the grain terminal operator EGT. The battle has been long and bitter, with several hundred arrests of ILWU members and their families, police brutality and the use of the coast guard to protect the interests of the private company.

Details of the agreement, as usual, have yet to be released

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/longview-ilwu-has-tentative-settlement.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Jan 25, 2012, 12:04 AM (0 replies)
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