Jul 12, 2010

Disappointed In Seattle

In case you have been wondering what I have been up to, I have been disappointed in Seattle, Washington attending the American Federation of Teachers' convention as a DC delegate for the past week. Disappointed in the state of our national union- that is. What a rude awakening for me to see first hand how our national union is really run behind the scenes. As a second time delegate to the AFT convention, I took the opportunity to really delve into the day to day convention agenda which went well into most evenings as well as network with many union members from New York to California. Due to this blog as well as my involvement in a national meeting of union activists last summer at the United Teachers of Los Angeles Union headquarters (UTLA) , I have met quite a few union member activists from Detroit, Chicago, New York and California and was glad to reconnect at the convention.

At this convention, I decided to run on the BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) Slate for one of the AFT vice president slots on the Executive Council. Many delegates believe these elections are rigged by the AFT national courtesy of you guessed AFT president, Randi Weingarten and company (that's a story for another day). While I did not expect to win, my opposition to the Progressive Caucus slate was a challenge to the AFT status quo that regularly sells out our teachers and related school personnel. I am proud to say I earned the top votes (41,996) on BAMN's slate, not bad for a first-timer. Not bad given that 800 United Federation of Teacher (UFT) Delegates from New York signed an oath to support AFT's Progressive Caucus slate despite what their conscious may tell them. According to NYC Educator turned blogger reports: "In Seattle today, Unity members are reaping what they've sown. A free trip to Seattle, and a few days in a hotel. Ostensibly, they're representing the United Federation of Teachers. That would be you and me. But really, they're representing the Unity Caucus. That's a special fraternity, open by invitation only. That's not you and me. That's whoever they say it is. In fact, every one of them has signed an oath to express dis-agreement with the Caucus only within the Caucus. Every one of them has pledged to support Caucus decisions, however they may feel about them, outside of the Caucus. Albert Shanker threw people out of Unity Caucus for opposing the Vietnam War. More recently, I heard of a chapter leader expelled from the caucus for inviting a speaker to a meeting--a speaker of which the Caucus did not approve. So much for freedom of opinion. "

Stephen Sawchuk, educational reporter writes about why union members like myself from across the U.S. felt the need to challenge AFT's Progressive Caucus slate which hasn't seen a challenge in over thirty years, if you can imagine. Here's the July 10 story on the AFT elections as reported by Stephen Sawchuck of Education Week:
AFT Election: The Caucuses Make Their Cases by Stephen Sawchuk

" This morning, two political bodies within the American Federation of Teachers presented their platforms for today's election of AFT executive officers and council. That's right, I said two. Apparently, this is the first time since the 1970s that there has been a full slate of candidates opposing the incumbents. Keep reading.

Current AFT Executive Vice President Lorretta Johnson spoke on the behalf of the incumbents, which include herself, AFT President Randi Weingarten, and Secretary-Treasurer Antonia Cortese. She underscored Weingarten's "vision" for moving the union forward, as well as her ability to fight back, and even call out allies:

"I saw Randi Weingarten bust the vice president of the U.S.," Johnson said, referring to Weingarten's confrontation of Joe Biden over the Central Falls, R.I., teacher-dismissal situation. "He got the message. All those teachers came back."

Then, a bunch of folks from a new political caucus formed just this year, called the BAMN Caucus, presented their point of view.

A bit more about BAMN Caucus: It's essentially a loosely coordinated group of teachers, some of whom belong to the separate, left-leaning BAMN group, and some of whom have challenged or will challenge incumbents in AFT locals. Several have had some success in winning spots on those local unions' governing bodies. Others are hoping to in the future: Among the BAMN slate is Candi Peterson, a trustee of the Washington Teachers Union, in D.C., and a staunch supporter of Nathan Saunders, who is running against incumbent WTU President George Parker.

This group thinks that Weingarten and many of the local affiliate leaders haven't pushed back hard enough on things like charter schools, the Education Department's policy priorities, and school turnarounds and closures. And they oppose her efforts to re-examine things like due process and teacher evaluation.

Speaking this morning, Heather Miller of Detroit, one of the candidates on the BAMN slate, had this to say about the activism in Detroit: "Our members opposed the the policy of cynicism and cooperation with those who would destroy us."

Of course, it's hard to say at this early stage what BAMN's bid means in the grand scheme of the AFT. The political activities took place this morning before formal AFT business started, and the room was probably only about half full. We'll learn more when the election results are out.

It's also worth noting that BAMN candidates seem to be coming out of cities like Detroit, Kansas City, and Washington, D.C., that have had some remarkable challenges, like enrollment declines, school closures, and rancorous union-management relationships.

The wildcard to watch in all of this is Karen Lewis, the newly elected president of the Chicago Teachers' Union. As I reported yesterday, she recently joined the Progressive Caucus—Weingarten's coalition—but appears to differ with some of its objectives."

Story Courtesy of Education Week

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first to say Welcome Back! and Congratulations on the votes. We need to get back to the days of Malcolm "byAnymeansNecessary. I hope this group parallels with the other great political groups that must STAND against sadistic groups such as AFT.

Anonymous said...

Hi Candi,
WHERE ARE YOU??. HELP!!! WE NEED TO HAVE A PLACE TO DISCUSS THESE RIDICULOUS INDIVIDUAL IMPACT SCORES THAT ARE COMING IN TO OUR HOMES AS I WRITE. SOME WITH CRAZY RANGES. SAYING THAT YOUR FINAL IMPACT SCORE WILL FALL SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE RANGE GIVEN TO EACH INDIVIDUAL.THE FINAL SCORE WILL BE CALCULATED ONCE THE DC-CAS SCORES ARE IN. EXAMPLE: YOUR RANGE MAYBE 210 -370) THESE TOTALS ARE BASED ON YOUR ADMINS. AND ME SCORES. SO IF YOUR STUDENTS DON'T SHOW ONE YEAR'S GROWTH THEN YOUR SCORE WILL PROBABLY BE SOMEWHERE NEAR THE LOWEST END. WHAT A RANGE???? ISN'T THIS 160 WHAT (POINTS WHATEVER) SPAN??? I'M NOT A ROCKET SCIENTIST SO I UNDERSTAND THAT THE SCORES THAT YOU HAVE ALREADY EARNED MEANS THAT YOU WOULDN'T FALL BELOW 210 (MINIMALLY EFFECTIVE) AND NO HIGHER THAN 370 (HIGHLY EFFECTIVE). WHAT THE HELL???? I JUST NEED TO KNOW HOW OTHERS FEEL ABOUT THIS CROCK OF SH@#!!!!! P.S. FOR THOSE TEACHERS WHO ARE SO CONCERNED ABOUT RETRO. MONEY "THIS IS WHY YOU HAVEN'T GOT IT YET."

Anonymous said...

In case you thought your weekend couldn't get any worse, check this out regarding DC teachers right to grieve dismissal for poor performance.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_
straight_up/2010/07/can_dcps_teachers_
still_grieve_dismissal_for_poor_performance_
after_all.html

Anonymous said...

anon at 3:10am

Saw my scores in the email last week and got them in the mail yesterday. I am non-value added. Yes I will be minimally effective because I had a really bad ME evaluation and Principal knocked off many points because I gave a student a grade lower than a B. IT was unacceptable to the parent that the angel child could receive this grade ...it was my fault!!! The IMPACT is such a joke and the mere fact that it cannot survive a challenge prevents me from taking it seriously. Even if SVA is a 4, I still will max out at the minimally effective. I am curious about the types of supports that teachers in this range will receive. I am guessing more IMPACT training,
Still looking for another job and waiting on my check (Another DCPS and WTU debacle from the WPO). I would tell you not to stress because it is not worth it!!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone get Randi's letter today about her investigation into the WTU? Basically she is siding with GP but the "investigation" will continue.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the WTU break away from the AFT if you believe Randi is working against you?

If Saunders ever gets in, would he be willing to break away?

I_educ8 said...

I've thought all along there was a conspiracy to "down rate" personnel so that few would be eligible to receive raises. Such action, of course, would mitigate some of the concerns about the budget shortfall. All of the signs were in the contract and I am still puzzled how, given such things as performance pay, more teachers didn't vote no.

Well, that ship has already sailed, so the question is what do we do now? The fact that we can't grieve scores/ratings is a set-up to get rid of teachers principals don't want, capriciously and arbitrarily, as IMPACT is a very subjective instrument.

I think some type of major action/movement will be necessary to undo this bogus rating system.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Candi.

Before school ended, you posted a column that included inside sources reportedly saying some program manager positions would be terminated. Any confirmations/updates?

thatsrightnate.com said...

I have some definite issues with BAMN, but I happily voted for some of their members including you. While Karen Lewis did join the Progressive Caucus, the rest of CORE did not. We even worked with the UFT to get some strong anti-testing language in. We definitely need to move the AFT to the left and towards activism. How to do it is the tricky part. We will be using the next 2 years to work towards this goal.

TooBlessed... said...

This is a nightmare . I recieved a minimally effective rating . The worst rating I have ever received in my entire career. I was soooo shocked and pee'd off it was ridiculous! I immediately went to the Teacher Contract and I stopped myself. Why even bother? What is the WTU going to do? Not a damn thing. But its all good. My faith will see this through.

The Washington Teacher said...

Anonymous @ 4:19
I have not heard any updates on the program managers positions since I last posted. I will update you if I get any additional news.

The Washington Teacher said...

That's Right Nate: It was great to meet you in Seattle. Thanks for the vote. I agree with you wholeheartedly that we have to move the AFT towards the left. I added your blog to my blog roll. Let's stay in touch.

The Washington Teacher said...

Reply to Anonymous on July 13, 2010 @ 3:58

I am not sure if Saunders is willing to break away from the AFT. Certainly it is worth discussing all the options. I know that other locals like Chicago are more interested in trying to move Randi and the AFT towards activism and standing up for public education.

The Washington Teacher said...

Anonymous @ 3:46
I received Randi Weingarten's latest email this week. I talked to some WTU elections committee members who are upset that she lied on them. Certainly this isn't surprising. One thing for sure Randi is a liar and she will lie to push her own agenda at any cost. We all must wake up and smell the coffee because the AFT has not been on the side of teachers, school personnel and public education for a long, long time. Remember when they sat by as Barbara Bullock stole 5 million dollars from the WTU and did absolutely nothing.

The Seattle convention was just another example that Randi is in the pockets of Bill Gates who is only interested in privatizing public education. After she destroys us, she will be on to bigger and better things.

Anonymous said...

Candi, Can you post Randi's letter or email everyone is writing about? Investigation, etc.

Anonymous said...

If we gave away the right to grieve our IMPACT evaluation (15.3) What's the use of a union? Seriously we lost the right to have input into our evaluation some time ago. Now we can't appeal, grieve or contest our evaluation (the judgment aspect). Only the process. Know of a good employment law lawyer we can consult. I see problems forthcoming over the next couple of weeks.
RT

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that the AFT's investigation won't continue until after the primary election.

Anonymous said...

Candi

DCCAS scores show 3-year decline for 2010. Cannot wait for the spin to start.

EFavorite said...

Did you hear the DC-CAS preliminary scores are out? The elementary scores declined. I wonder if Rhee will get a pay cut?

Candi - congrats on your votes - it was a worthy effort.

Anonymous said...

Doesnt the DCMR29 rule in favor of employees appealing their evaluations? It's the LAW!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 955
If it's the law then Rhee, Fenty and Nickles will break it. They are above the law, didn't you know that?

The Washington Teacher said...

I have received word that 14 itinerant related service providers have been given their notice first of termination from DCPS mid July probably due to being non-value added. I encourage WTU members and Council of School Officers to notify their unions if you have been given notice of termination.

Teachers will be notified next once the DC CAS scores are out as Rhee promised months ago.

Anonymous said...

938 PM person commenting -- If You think M. Rhee deserves a cut do you think teachers should get one also? Who is closer to the learning process? I don't understand your logic. (Am not a District educator.) Could you please explain?

Anonymous said...

See DC-CAS below


http://voices.washingtonpost.com/local-breaking-news/dc/dc-elementary-test-scores-show.html?hpid=newswell

Anonymous said...

ANON AT 11:31 PM

Rhee will find a way not to cut the pay of teachers, she will fire them after blaming them for lower test scores. PS, perhaps she should have kept some of the "ineffective" teachers she is always talking about.

Do not cut her pay--send her out of town. Vote Gray

Also, are you RHEE?

EFavorite said...

11:31 person commenting. Do you think teachers' pay should be cut? You're the one who brought it up. I don't understand your logic.

I don't think teachers' pay should be based on student scores.

Score-based pay is Rhee's idea, so I think she should suffer for the low scores, just as she benefits from the good scores.

Anonymous said...

Reflective Educator at http://www.anurbanteacherseducation.com/ wrote extensively on the topic of appealing IMPACT, basically the answer is NO, under the new contract you cannot appeal the outcome of the evaluation only the process. See the specific blog posting here; http://www.anurbanteacherseducation.com/2010/07/are-dcps-teachers-allowed-to-appeal.html. From there you can also see access to a lawyer at another eduction blog who investigated further, and again a big fat NO.

Anonymous said...

Just read the POST re. DC CAS scores going down. Thanks for the link. I'm speechless, it'll be interesting to see the spin on this one.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the spin is, it won't matter to those group 1 teachers whose score range can go from minimally effective to highly effective all based on how their class did on DCCAS. All that matters are the numbers and they look bad. I just found out that my school, who had decent scores, but not AYP, suffered a ten point drop, though we don't know grade by grade scores as yet.

Anonymous said...

unreal what GP and Michelle did with this contract she is laughing at WTU. We got them we get to fire the teachers and they will not get their money; see they will move the money that they claim their gonna use for raises and bonuses and they will gladly blame it on an accounting error. Thanks George Parker.

Sheila H. Gill said...

Candi:
Congratulations on your votes,too!!

I'm saddened to hear that you were disappointed in Seattle. However, the drama in DC probably prepared you for the "BIG" let down in Seattle.

Calling All WTU Members to the floor:
It's time for WTU members to turn this around and "VOTE" for the Saunders/Peterson Slate.

Will the WTU membership be able to handle more drama and to be disappointed 3 more years, if GP remains in office?

How will the WTU membership implement a plan of action to hold GP responsible and move forward with the elections?

If it is meant to be, it is up to me!!

Get involved "NOW" and don't delay another day!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't get it EFAVorite. I kept on reading that tests were flawed and scores not meaningful.

Now some folks contend they are meaningful. I just dont understand.

Am also still grasping to understand why Mrs. Rhees salaray should be cut, unless teachers have nothing to do with the scores. Do you really mean that?

What should teacher pay be based on?

I guess I am not smart enuf to be a teacher, although I have always held them in hi regard and still do regardless of my current confusion.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 6:21 pm

What are you trying to say? Rhee has made testing her number 1 priority. She is firing teachers based on test scores. If the scores go down--then she should suffer the same fate and so should Fenty and a long list of bu-- sucking administrators in the system.

Vinicius said...

Back in Chicago, because we have had to struggle with a "strong" mayor run school district that published the destruction of our public schools called Ren 2010, there is a term called plantation politics. That is what it is. Folks of all colors, shapes and sizes sell their integrity, if they had any to begin with, to support the destruction of the ideal of universal quality public education. Dumb Duncan took that same playbook written by the Chicago Civic Club, and now is extending it by hook and or crook, as my daddy would say. For some areas, they need to take back their union, not the boss's union. Randi and wannbe future AFT president Mulgrew need to go! We need to get off the plantation.

Crystal said...

AFT Investigation scheduled for Wednesday, July 21, 2010: Letter posted on Saunders Campaign Website. Front Page!!!!!!!!!!!!

Check It Out....
www.votesaunders2010.com