Los Angeles Schools turned from public to charters

Los Angeles mayor w:Antonio Villaraigosa.

Image via Wikipedia

By Duane Campbell

At their Aug.25, 2009  School Board meeting, the Los Angeles City School Board voted to turn as many as 250 schools over to Charters.  Teacher Union members and staff are not guaranteed their jobs.  In response to continuing failures in public schooling in Los Angeles the School Board, along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, have taken the position to turn schools over to Charter operators.  Research on charters does not show improvement in student test scores.

Charters are publicly funded but independently operated and free from some regulations governing the schools. They also are not required to be unionized nor to respect existing union contracts.

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Protesting Whole Foods: What About a Boycott?

by David Knuttunen

Boston DSA members helped round out a group of about 25-30 protestors outside a Cambridge Whole Foods store, on Friday Aug 21.  We were protesting Whole Foods CEO John Markey’s Wall St. Journal op-ed which attacked “Obamacare” and offered, instead, Libertarian “alternatives” to real health care reform. The rally was called by Massachusetts Jobs with Justice’s Health Care Committee, and had been organized in only 3 days.  The United Food and Commercial Workers Union had held a similar rally at a Framingham, MA Whole Foods store earlier that day.

The group in Cambridge was energetic and enthusiastic, holding signs and chanting continuously. One of the initial chants, which claimed that “Whole Food’s Greed” was showing was changed to “Whole Foods, We Say ‘NO!’  The CEO has got to GO!” We feared that the earlier chant would be taken by Whole Foods’ workers as an attack on them personally, which should not be our intent; our target was John Mackey, not “Whole Foods”. Whole Foods’ employees and customers, after all, do not necessarily share his positions, and our job should be to get them on our side.   The 20″x30″ poster board sign I had made for the occasion, in fact, read “CEO Mackey’s VALUES are NOT HIS CUSTOMERS’. HEALTH CARE REFORM NOW! – Democratic Socialists of America.” It was by far the biggest sign at the rally. Continue reading

CWA Calls for Labor Unity, Governance Reform at AFL-CIO Convention

CWA

CWA will press for constitutional amendments that call for better use of financial resources by the AFL-CIO and changes to improve governance. The constitutional amendments plus a resolution on Labor Unity have been submitted for consideration by AFL-CIO delegates next month.

Rich Trumka, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, and certain to be the next AFL-CIO president, spoke and answered questions at the August CWA Executive Board meeting.

The resolution on Labor Unity calls on the AFL-CIO to continue to support the National Labor Coordinating Committee and the NLCC goal of uniting the labor movement.

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Closer Ties between Change to Win and ACFTU

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Anna Burger, president of Change to Win (CTW), and Wang Zhaoguo, president of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), shake hands after signing a memorandum to facilitate exchanges and cooperation beween the two federations.

This type of agreement could be useful. The protocol reportedly includes a clause encouraging cooperation within the framework of common transnational employers sought by the Teamsters. However its positive potential can only be realized by it being followed up by concrete and practical exchanges at sectoral and local levels closer to the more than 100 million Chinese workers that ACFTU claims to represent and the six million members of unions currently affiliated to the CTW.

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Schools: Race to the Top demands too much for too little

By Marty Hittelman
President
California Federation of Teachers

MartyHittelman

The California Federation of Teachers has a number of serious concerns regarding Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s proposed “Race to the Top” competition for state education funding. The proposed regulations for federal funding would require changes that could harm California students, are not based on research, and won’t turn around struggling schools. There are two rounds of application, and no need to be panicked by the governor into rushing into the first one without proper discussion. Following are concerns, excerpted from a letter I wrote to the Education Secretary. For the complete text of the letter, go to www.cft.org.

Student Data

The California Federation of Teachers believes that student achievement and student growth data may be worthwhile tools in helping to improve school instruction when the data instruments contain information that is useful to the teacher. We do not believe that current standardized tests being administered as part of the No Child Left Behind Act meet those criteria. In terms of the “firewall” between student and teacher data, California has no restrictions on the use of such data at the local level, where it matters, for such evaluations. California should be judged to be in compliance with this requirement. Continue reading

This Friday: Tell the “Whole” Truth About Whole Foods & Health Care Reform!

Friday’s actions at Whole Foods have been postponed until Labor Day in honor of Sen. Kennedy.

Massachusetts Jobs with Justice and Boston DSA will join their labor and community allies from across the state in a Labor Day march and rally to show support for real health care reform. The message from the people of Massachusetts: we want health care that puts people before profits, and we want it now!

Monday, September 7th
11:00 A.M.
Rally at Park Square
(near Boston Common and Arlington Green Line Stop)
March to Copley Square

WFmakesmesickWhole Foods CEO John Mackey isn’t being honest about health care reform. In his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Mackey denies health care as a human right, advocates for weaker insurance industry regulations, andattacks real health care reform as a “government takeover”.

This Friday Massachusetts  Jobs with Justice and others  want to call attention to the poor health care coverage Whole Foods employees themselves receive. Whole Foods has pioneered the use of high-deductible health insurance for its full-time workers, the policy long advocated for the nation by George W. Bush, while the company leaves part-time workers out-to-dry completely.

Come out this Friday to ask CEO John Mackey and Whole Foods:

Why 1,358 Whole Foods workers and their children were forced to enroll in subsidized public health insurance plans for uninsured families in Massachusetts last year, costing tax-payers almost $1.7 million;

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NAFTA Has Failed

AFL-CIO

Image via Wikipedia

The governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico must take serious and comprehensive measures to address the dual impact of the global economic recession and the 15-year legacy of the North American Free Trade Agreement ([1] NAFTA), labor leaders of the three countries said in a joint declaration.

The “Tri-National Labor Declaration on Social and Economic Prosperity for North America” points out that the Leaders Summit in Mexico City earlier this week was an opportunity to lay out a new agenda for North America, one that could make our region competitive, sustainable and just. Continue reading

California AFT Challenges Obama admin. testing

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 22:  US Education Secretar...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

by Duane Campbell

There were hearings on August 26, 2009  in the California legislature to consider changing state laws to comply with the mandates of the Obama Administration rules on funding school reform–the Race to the Top initiative. The Senators asked excellent questions.  They probed some of the important issues.

The administration argues for using student test scores as a measure of teacher quality. Let’s take an example.  If a person has the flu, a nurse takes the person’s temperature. (Like taking a test.) Taking the students’ temperature does not treat the disease, it does not even treat the symptoms.  It only measures the temperature. That is what we are doing with school test scores.  We are investing in testing, not in treating the problems. Continue reading

Summer reading suggestions

by Michael Hirsch

Tired of scanning bodice-ripping romance novels or predictable police procedurals over the summer break?  Below are seven titles — dealing with education, economics and labor — that are beach-readable and worth reading, too.

kohlreaderLove him or lose him, Herb Kohl (the education writer, not the Wisconsin senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner) is always thought-provoking and unfailingly honest. His new collection, “The Herb Kohl Reader: Awakening the Heart of Teaching” (New Press, 2009), with excerpts from his pathbreaking “36 Children” and sizable, useful chunks of his numerous other works, is not only a good introduction to Kohl, but a handy way to catch up on other books of his that you missed.
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Steelworkers and British Union Counter Lies About British Healthcare

Unions for Single Payer

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The United Steelworkers and the British union UNITE have set up a website to counter the lies being spread about the healthcare system in the United Kingdom and the National Health Service (NHS) which provides it.

Rabid right wingers and Republican office holders continue to spread outright lies about British healthcare in an effort to influence the debate in the U.S. over healthcare reform.

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