Dec 23, 2008

It's Time To Change The Dialogue !

My WTU executive board colleague, Erich Martel (teacher @ Wilson SHS) sent me a copy of AFT President Randi Weingarten's editorial in the WaPo yesterday. Randi makes some key points on improving DC Schools. Key amongst her recommendations are the need for collaboration- (sound familiar), teacher mentoring, solid professional development, support and respect in the workplace, strong discipline and a rich curriculum, etc. Those of us involved in our local unions are often accused of not proposing solutions for reform which just isn't true. Certainly public schools and teachers unions can work collaboratively in the best interests of students and teachers. Montgomery County public schools works collaboratively with their teachers' union which by the way initiated teacher peer assistance and review. Here's what Randi had to say in the December 22nd Post, page A20 "Improving DC's Public And Charter Schools":

"The District's public school system must refocus if it hopes to make real and sustainable educational changes ("A Union of Interests," editorial, and "Charter Schools Make Gains on Tests," front page, Dec. 15).

To improve teaching and learning, school leaders and teachers must work together in a supportive, respectful environment. It's worked in Montgomery County, where superintendent-union collaboration has led to sustained student achievement. In the District, several charter schools are seeing progress because of basic but essential programs that the American Federation of Teachers has promoted for years, including a strong discipline policy, a rich curriculum, after-school and Saturday classes, and modernized buildings.

Real education reform in Washington should be measured by what is being done to improve teaching and learning. Is there a substantive plan for a rigorous and rich education? Do teachers receive mentoring and solid professional development? Are the adult stakeholders working collaboratively to achieve sustainable reforms? Unfortunately, the discussion has devolved into one issue: teacher tenure. Let's have that discussion, but it's not the only topic worth discussing." (posted by The Washington Teacher).

RANDI WEINGARTEN
President
American Federation of Teachers
Washington

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! And I am guessing you think she is brilliant??? This is the same thing everyone has been saying including MICHELLE RHEE!! Oh... I didn't see anything about teacher pay?? I know, I know... you didn't go into teaching for the money! Get RANDI out of DCPS! There is NOTHING new in what she has said or done!! Wake up people! Montgomery county??? OMG! The teachers there just got their raises taken away and they are thinking about furloughs! Yep... that is working well! RANDI... you have got to go! Where were you a year ago?

ed notes online said...

When uses the word "collaboration" she means her collaboration with the people ruining public education. She will distract and deflect any militant opposition to Rhee while collaborating with her to make a deal that will ultimately lead to your getting screwed.

Anonymous said...

Despite having headquarters here in DC, and despite supposedly meeting with Rhee (certainly she has many opportunities to do so, at least), Weingarten exhibits startlingly little knowledge of local issues beyond talking points easily gleaned from the Post's regurgitated coverage. Really, her suggestions, couched in boilerplate slogans, could be applied to any district. By asking a series of questions, she's also not offering anything substantive.

Anonymous said...

The city and the unions have talked about reform for decades. Where has it gotten us? If anyone still believes that all Rhee wants to do is fire teachers, please read this list of first year accomplishments:

http://www.dcpswatch.com/mayor/080612.htm

This system has been the HIGHEST funded, LOWEST performing, school district in the country for years. Dramatic action needs to be taken. Who can fault Rhee if she doesn't consult the people who have been instrumental in maintaining the status quo?

Anonymous said...

Higher order learning=funding centrally and equally ! The provisions to encourage multiple measures of assessment and multiple indicators of school reformers. The provisions to impose the quality and distribution of the teaching force. The means for measuring school progress from year to year. Collaboration ? See the video with The Forum for Education and Democracy.Linda Darling Hammond,Noguera and Dr. Wood.School based health care,school based social services,policy environment,conflict resolution and teaching behavior and suspensions.They make sense in education but these radical refomers are scary. PS Mrs. Weingarten, there is a skunk on the loose and he sprayed the Rhee contractual proposal.Everybody is going to run and it's caused a disruption to the positive educational environment.Not to mention alleged discriminatory intent effects.

The Washington Teacher said...

Thanks for everyone who weighed in on "It's time to Change the Dialogue." I certainly hear what you are saying Ed Notes on Line and others and respect your views especially in light of your previous experiences in New York public schools.

It is my hope that DC teachers and providers will pick up this banner and begin to be at the table to have input as educators. We do not have to wait for our union or the AFT to facilitate our involvement in issues that impact our occupational futures.

I am concerned that our local union President George Parker fails to represent teachers and providers publicly in the press as required by the WTU constitution. Here in DC - teachers get a daily diet from the mainstream press about how ineffective we all are. No creditable school system trying to enact reforms regularly bashes their entire workforce while toting a broom on the cover of Time. These negative messages further contribute to a demoralizing work environment.

While I hear what you are saying about Randi- I think that AFT would not be involved if we had a stronger union president. What is important to note is that many DC teachers wrote letters this summer requesting AFT's assistance in the absence of strong local leadership by the WTU President.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to hear from you again.

Anonymous said...

George Parker is a main part of the problem. Id vote "no confidence"...if only my vote counted.

Anonymous said...

VOTE NO CONFIDENCE! Get GP out of the house! He needs to go. What can we do to make this happen? In fact, we need to clean the whole house! Get rid of Saunders too! He is doing nothing but getting rich on us! Anyone out there know what to do to make this happen... post now!

Anonymous said...

They're fighting corporate interests trying not to sell out? Already school buildings are being closed only to be sold to sub-contractors and developers. The American people have a right to understand and be aware of what is taking place. Teachers across the US are not aware and talked to 10 today that had no idea.Who asked the American tax payer across the US if they wanted to sell out Public Education ? We are not for sale or are our students and children. Who in the Union at the top has made that clear to the general public ? Where are the public events to oppose and rally's to inform ? If the Union doesn't take the lead, the general public will. We have an outside team getting organized of parents,teachers,retired superintendents and various other professionals and want to have a national rally in DC. It's an event to inform,have some fun and share but most importantly to let the reformers know and those that want privitization that Public Education is not for sale. We are equality equalizers and believe that funding centrally and equally is critical. It's starting in NY and Washington,Florida and in our cities.Who asked the American citizens across the US if they wanted to sell out Public Education and what are our national unions doing about it to be more aggressive with fun informative events and rally's to oppose ? The reformers have a campaign but as teachers, we find creative solutions everyday in ambigious circumstances.We teach ! Go teach the US American citizen whats going on.Inform the majority of Americans across the country what is going on ! How ? A national rally held in DC for Public Education.They are dismantling our democratically elected officials under NCLB and a law unfunded and selling Public School buildings to developers.We need funding and support ! Most certainly not school buildings closed down. This is not isolated to just DC. Our capital of the United States of America. Has the Union asked what teachers and educators think about selling out Public Education to corporatism,deception cloaked in the language of civil rights ? See educational tax and philanthropy ed.tax credits.Time and time again our courts have stated that the purpose of the tenure provisions of the school code is the maintenance of an adequate and competent teaching staff,free from political or arbitrary interference whereby capable and competent teachers might feel more secure,and efficiently perform their duties of instruction. An effective evaluation program that clearly describes an employee's performance is a critical aspect of professional growth and development.Are our probationary teachers recieving the instructional feedback that is critical? If not,it places their constitutional rights at risk and a school system in violation of state laws. Teaching is a wonderful profession with many challenges,it is essential that all educators recieve support and feedback. Our proposal is to reinforce support with a non-profit fund raising event of which includes University,Public Education and the general public participation. Baseball stadium ?Find a Firetruck and get a roll out stage for speakers.Have a band play and some fun at the rally. Do something organized to oppose and rally together to inform nationally citizens unaware and educators. "Public Education Is Not For Sale !" Our students and children cretainly are not.End the mandates on NCLB !It's not working !An idea to share and consider for strategic planning.

Anonymous said...

There is a typo in certainly ! Organized events that have an educational theme? We could all go to costume shops and get Civil War outfits. The history teachers may have some fun with that one.I'll come as Mickey Mouse but this sell out under NCLB isn't working.We'll tell the American people the truth under this scheme to govern with corporate interests.We've seen enough golden parachutes and thanks no thanks.

Sam said...

Did everyone read the Truth Out article and go research Chicago's School system for facts ? This has got to be a fairy tale. Nope,it's happening and now they're selling out Public Education for corporate interests and closing school building to sell to developers under NCLB a law underfunded.This catches on and it's not going to go over well for the majority of Americans and the ones at the top will be fired by the American people.

Anonymous said...

Put a sighn in front of every American Public School building that says,NOT FOR SALE AND JUST NEED FUNDING AFTER NCLB AND 10% !

Deb said...

SIGN SAYS NOT FOR SALE AND THIS IS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION !

Anonymous said...

Parker must go. Saunders must prove he can do more than just oppose Parker. Randi has not done one substantial thing to assist local teachers yet. Anyone hear of Randi doing anything outside of spitting out old talking points that could be used for most school districts in the country. This is the front lines teachers need leaders. Someone contact Justice dept. scheme to sell valuable school property in full effect and blame lowly teachers for educational train wreck. Fenty for Illy governor. There's no telling what he would have tried to sell Obama's Senate seat for. Fenty may have thrown in a couple of Chicago Schools to sweeten the deal.

Anonymous said...

Teaxs Teachers are they're own union ! Let's go Randi and they're selling out Public Education !