So, not only is Obama presiding over the biggest giveaway to US private insurance companies ever with his travesty of a health care bill with no public option that requires people to buy shitty private plans or pay a fine, but he's also applauding the firing of EVERY SINGLE TEACHER at Central Falls High School.
This, of course, is causing a variety of reactions, including fueling the stereotyping of poor and racialized parents as slackers who don't care about their children, and of course there are also tons of people applauding the action and attacking teachers as overpaid slackers who aren't teaching kids properly.
And it looks like you don't get Obama's "School Improvement Grants" unless your school board agrees to bust unions in such a manner.
The decision by the Central Falls, R.I. board followed similar action in other districts around the country, including in Chicago and Los Angeles. President Barack Obama has voiced his support for the firings, which were done in order to position the school districts to get a share of a $3.5 billion Obama Administration program known as School Improvement Grants. Districts with failing schools are eligible for grant monies if they move to improve by extending school hours, or convert the failing school to charter schools, or close the poor schools or replace the principal at failing schools and at least half the staff.
Predictably, teachers around the nation have reacted angrily to the firings, while conservatives have cheered the move toward what they see as “accountability.”
Anyone who is in any way affiliated with, or supportive of, labour unions should be up in arms at this attack on workers. It doesn't matter if you've had a shitty teacher here or there - this is collective punishment being heaped upon all workers - overperforming, underperforming, average-performing - for a problem that has its roots in systemic issues like poverty, poor school funding, and racism.
This is clearly a way of creating divisions within the working class as well, and people are falling into it. Some teachers and more privileged parents blaming poor and racialized parents for widespread failure; Conservatives blaming parents and teachers, but teachers especially because they insist on being paid decently for working in the profession; and Obama smiling over it all in approval.
Meanwhile, in Central Falls, teachers and parents and students were resisting the push to divide them and were protesting the firings in a rally of hundreds. Which doesn't sound to me like out-of-touch teachers who don't care, parents who are apathetic, and students who are impossible.
Here's Obama's "transformation plan":
On the basis of these statistics, CFHS was labeled one of the six worst schools in Rhode Island. This opened the door to the major "reform" effort--the "turnaround"--that Commissioner Gist and Superintendent Gallo are now imposing on the school.
Gallo justified the mass firing on the basis that the Central Falls Teachers Union had supposedly refused to cooperate with another reform model known as "transformation."
Under this proposal, teachers would have been forced to accept a six-point plan which would have extended the school day by 25 minutes; forced teachers to provide tutoring to students for one hour before and one hour after the school day each day; eat lunch with students one day a week "to build stronger relationships"; participate in two weeks of professional development over the summer; stay after school for common planning one day each week for 90 minutes; and undergo more rigorous evaluations by an outside, third-party evaluator. In return, teachers would only receive compensation for the professional development and the common planning--and only then if the district could find the grant money to fund them.
The "transformation" plan placed all of the burden on teachers and would have forced them to perform significantly more labor for free. This is despite the fact that all CFHS teachers have been evaluated in the last two years, and not one received a bad evaluation.
I'm sorry, what was all that "hope" and "change" we were supposed to all "believe" in? Oh yeah, union-busting, selling poor people's health out to predatory insurers, and attacks on teachers instead of on poverty and racism.
That's pretty fucking awesome, Obama. Hope you're a one-term President. I'd rather see Repugnicans who are honest about being Republicans in the White House.
There are plenty of so-called educational "reformers" who are anxious to introduce such atrocities into this country. The venomous hatred of teachers by the right wing really knows no bounds. In fact, that's one way to determine if someone is on the political right or far right.
Teachers in this country are rather well organized, retain considerable economic clout (through pension funds that they have managed to wrestle away from the bosses), and are keenly aware of these sorts of efforts.
Health and education are two areas where new profitable capitalist markets are "available" . Available, that is, with some class warfare against the workers in those sectors of the economy. This fits well with the privatization, deregulation and cuts to social programs that Naomi Kline so eloquently described as the "shock doctrine" in her justly famous book.
Thanks for bringing this to light, M. It's more significant than the issue of a Democrat in the White House carrying out the thuggish policies of the Republicans. It also has to do with ongoing efforts to import such actions and attitudes into our own country.
Bet you folks have viable proposals for getting Jake and Janice to read by Grade 8.
I've just been reading some Alfie Kohn on the weekend. This thread is timely for me.
No, George, I think Obama has solved the literacy problem with one bold stroke.
And hopefully by firing enough teachers, Jake and Janice will be able to read the fine print on their Obama-imposed private medical insurance policies when the time comes to figure out why they were denied coverage.
Right on, Unionist.
You only managed to sneak in medical insurance. You're losing your touch, U. I was looking for something about this blood-soaked figure fresh from raids on Afghanistan, pushing more lucre into the arms of greedy banksters. One could go on, but why bother? We know the theme. And you, too, probably can't wait for a Republican in office to sort of sort it all out, hillbilly style. Those folks don't give a fiddler's fart for the quality of education...in fact, for them, unread means nice and malleable, eh?
'Tis better to be scared of the devil who isn't in power than the devil who is?
George, I condemned Obama long before he won the presidency for the abhorrent promises he was making about chasing terrorists into Pakistan and defending Israel against the hordes. What do you want me to say now: "I was right!?" It gives me no satisfaction. However, I must admit that I never predicted he would betray hopes about health care and education quite as cynically and viciously as he obviously is doing. So if you don't mind, I'll concentrate on those two acts of treachery for the moment.
I do acknowledge that things would be far worse under Sarah Palin. She would fire all the teachers, draft them, and send them to invade Canada. Thank God for Obama.
B-b-but I thought Obama was a Communist?
why am i not suprised.
if it looks too good to be true it usually is....obama is all flash no substance
Yes, we must be thankful for small mercies.
We know that education quality reaches such depths in the hill country and other ragged ass constituencies because they lack money...the great mover. Yet, if you ever get around to reading Deer Huntin, you'll see the education is Bageant's only hope for folks gaining an educated understanding of their lot and an opportunity for change. This is also the Obamas' understanding of the need for America's ghettos. Experimental schools work for the kids with access.
Hell, in a nominal meritocracy, that's the only safe route for any of us, eh? Lucky us if we have the means. Without knowledge of the teaching capacity of the fired staff, I can only speculate that it was not done out of malice or evil intent (to reduce to the ridiculous phrasing of this thread at this point). Perhaps someone has more specifics...the quality of education in that school, the test scores compared with all other in that area. And remember, the parent watching the process of improving life chances for their children.
George, education is not the only hope for people to make change. However, in a society awash with all sorts of advertising, marketing and propaganda in general, people do need an ANTIDOTE to all this crap. And education is part of that antidote.
Meritocracy is the ideology that justifies our - and I lump both Canada and the US together here - very unequal educational systems. That is not how the systems, as a whole, work. Anecdotal evidence in this regard is ... kind of a diversion from the facts.
Interesting. It is a small, densely populated, poor town in decline where 6 % of the population above the age of 25 years old has a college degree.
Not one thought for what's the best for the childrens education? Yes Obama's evil - people in union jobs were fired. It's sad for them and their families sure but is that the full extent of thought on this board - that's it?? Whay about the rest of the whole community? Teachers should be exempt from every possible fix? - they just have jobs for life - even if somethings not working.
I'm opening to reading different suggestions on better ways to fix this problem that doesn't involve firing teachers but just saying Obama's a phony ... BOO! ...Healthcare .... Iraq
btw before I'm called names and attacked - I support teachers and have personally supported them through the horrible Mike Harris years. The unwillingness to even examine the complicated issues surrounding failing schools with some serious thought is disappointing but I guess not suprising.
Partisanship very often comes first here, while actually trying to solve real life problems are for people who aren't afraid to be unpopular if the problem calls for it.
Will the plan work? Who cares?
The entire practice was misdirected in terms of an effective solution, but scored huge political points for flexibilizing the public sector and union-busting. Would you go around firing the train drivers because the trains don't run on time? Do you celebrate them being threatened and temporarily robbed of their livelihoods so that the job will be done better, all the while ignoring the responsibility of the administrators that fired them?
Obama sided with the administration because he apparently wanted something done about the performance of the students. It was no grave error that Obama was as shortsighted as you claim posters on here to be. The point is that blame is being squarely placed on the worker because those who wield any power are far to self-interested to acknowledge any wrong-doing.
Oh, look, now the principal is going to take the fall: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/03/AR201003...
VanGoghs Ear: In this forum, we don't praise the firing of workers who have not been found individually responsible for any wrongdoing. We don't care for collective punishment of villages when one insurgent is captured either.
Your support for teachers in the past is laudable, but your post above is a lot o' bull.
Anyway, if we are to dismiss people in positions of authority because of poor results under their jurisdiction, surely your hero Obama should be the first to have his charismatic ass booted down the stairs of the White House? I'm volunteering my boot if one is needed.
How can you compare driving a train to teaching children? and yes if a train wasn't on time who else could be blamed? only one person drives the train, you can fire the person who hired the driver or the person who trained them but it comes down to whether you could drive a train or not, yes?
In the other threads about teaching it seemed to get sidetracked but it's not difficult. You either learn the basics of reading and writing, adding and subtracting, the name of your state, it's capital and so on. I have a hard time seeing how a bunch of board members or administration people can make any difference in this - they are to blame? So if they had been fired instead of the teachers - things would be better?
You think I'm dumbing this down but it's that simple - it's about trying to teach kids the basics, you can get into critical thinking in high school if any of these kids make it that far. A teacher alone is in a classroom with the children and most there aren't learning - why not?
Unionist if this thread is just to pity the teachers, than ok, I agree that firing them was wrong and I'll hate on Obama or whoever else with you.
What I'd rather discuss is how to get these children well educated and see them create a great progessive society
I'm bored and I ramble but I'm not anti-union brother
Ok, I give up.
What were you googling for when you accidentally landed on babble?
And who taught you grammar?
Just wondering whom I should fire...
This isn't about unions. This is about the incredible notion that the reason some children in the U.S. don't succeed is because they have bad teachers.
any solutions? I supposed when the revolution is won, everything will fall into place.
I had a pretty wonderful speech and language therapist through elementary school till they cut her position. So I wouldn't be the passable communicator that I am today without her.
Revolution? You mean, like, universal single-payer health care; reduce the gap between rich and poor a little; stop all spending aimed at dominating other countries militarily; and get rid of the grinning liar that denounced his own pastor for saying that "racism is endemic to America"? Yeah, a revolution like that would do wonders for kids' literacy. Or, you could fire the teachers. Your choice.
I would have thought you'd understand politics a bit more than that - Tommy D never wanted to be prime minister - any guesses why. I'm not sure why you think I have starry eyes for Obama - it was teaching that caught my eye.
I guess your choice at the end somehow really shows me.
I'll try to teach one kid to read while you change the whole USA. Your choice.
How noble. No thanks. By the way, I will not change the USA and I don't give much of a damn for the poor children there. It's not my country. They can decide how to run their education system and other priorities. It's when they send their literate and illiterate offspring to murder, rape, and dominate people around the world that I get upset. That's why I hate Obama.
It doesn't sound like they were doing a very good job so certainly some firings are in order, both teachers and administrators. I don't think it all can be blamed on social conditions either since there are schools that do better in similar communities. Firing everyone's a dumb idea - though I suppose someone thought it was necessary to get teachers to take change seriously.
I don't think we serve the idea of public services very well by not having high standards for the people who provide them. That includes firing people who don't perform.
How do we define " doing a good job" for teachers?
Defining success for teachers is tough. Defining failure is pretty easy when it happens to the extent that most students don't graduate.
OMG! Are you Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds?!?!
By the way Brother/Sister Ear, I hope you never teach or operate trains.
How big are the classes? What meals are availble to students at home and at school? Does the curriculum that is mandated by the Board have anything to do with the students' lives? Are the teachers expected to work 2-3 hours unpaid overtime everyday just to do the job? And like Caissa asked, how are we evaluating what "doing a good job" is for teachers?
Yes, and if most people who visit a hospital were mis-diagnosed and died the first thing to do would be to fire the nurses, right?
And that is the teacher's failure, Doug? So to flip it, you are positing that teachers are successful when their students graduate?
ETA: Alfie Kohn's website is worth exploring. I'm reading one of his books now "What Does it Mean to Be Well-Educated?
For those who want a shorter version, this is the link to his Wikipedia bio
It could be. It's with teachers that students spend most of their time, so it would be a good first place to look. Though even identifying that wouldn't give you a cause - are teachers performing badly because they have to teach too many students or perhaps because schools just aren't paying high enough salaries for good teachers? Those are two reasons that would have nothing to do with whether teachers are trying or not.
Assuming they aren't just passing students to meet that standard, I'd say it's among the least things we can expect from public schools. It could be that students who don't finish high school do as well with various measures as students who do, but I think you'll find that's not the case.
Thanks for you honesty Unionist.
No mystery. In the capitalist heartland, money buys good teaching and good grades. It also helps if the parents are readers. It would be those parents who are fomenting for change. Having cousins in the U.S., I know that there is severe inequity in educational opportunity. Anyone hereabouts who says that they would not act to alter that situation to further the education of their own child is being something less than honest.
Heck, there's every reason to believe that a literate nation would never have elected Bush.
The strongest correlation with students' academic success is their parents' socio-economic status.
how do you define whether a teacher is doing a good job? have the students of that teacher learned the academic skills expected for a child of their age range to be able to learn and understand? It not something abstract, especially in the early grades, it's basic skills needed to be able to participate and not just in school but in life. A child's primary teacher in life and on the subject of living it are their parents whether the parent know this and care or not.
Then compare learning outcomes at CFHS with outcomes at schools in a similar socio-economic demographic. If the outcomes are significantly different then it's not the munnee.
Yep, if there's money, they're in. And the state can either walk away from the poor (the Bush experience) or it can try to overcome the barriers to kids learning. I'll bet you aren't advocatin' the state walk away in this case, Caissa.
SNert, I'll bet you an Oxford dictionary that you are not about to add the missing data. Please. give us that comparison of outcomes across "similar socio-economic demographics" (Gaia that sounds so learned).
One means of addressing education is for the state to spend more money in areas with lower parental incomes rather than in raeas with high parental incomes.
Your dictionary is in the mail. Of course I don't have access to that kind of data. I'm just suggsting that if this school's low performance is a matter of socio-economics, not teaching, then there's a handy way to verify that. Or disprove it.
You mean, rather than targeting that $3 plus billion for schooling, Obama should have approached Congress for a few tens of billions to increase parental income...sort of like Steve's $100 a month for child care ...but paid only to lower income folks.
Are you being intentionall obtuse, George? Maybe I was unclear. I prefer the latter interpretation. Let me try to be clearer. In areas where ther is a low parental income more money should be spent on education than in areas with high parental income. Sorry if I was unclear.
SIGS and firing teachers are not the answer.
How easy is it to define failure when graduates are essentially illiterate?
Money's the answer, Caissa. Dunno where it's to come from in this economic climate. I thought the Obamas were trying to get the best results they could in that climate. And I'm asking if they should just walk away and not use this opportunity to show what more money and better teaching can do. Because it shure as shucks will be watched with great interest, everywhere.
Tell me what better teaching is George? What does it look like? How does it relate to the standards movement? What precisely is being measured in standardized tests?
What is the goal of good teaching? What are its limits? How does it fit into our goals for creating engaged citizens?
What Obama is doing is pandering to a right-wing, anti-intelectual, anti-union movement.
I'll tell you what my teacher-partner tried to do, in a mixed ethnic environment. You are ignoring everything from the background of the Obamas, man and wife, in their pursuit of a better life for the African-American. And they would probably be very interested in your ideas of how to do that differently...given the givens.
Gotta run, but will return.
I like forward to it, George. Good to hear your partner is a teacher. I have a B.Ed. as well.
I'm very interested on an elaboration of your second sentence. I think it is probably germane to your argument. I look forward to your return.
There was a good article in a recent issue of The Atlantic on the US social program Teach for America. TFA is set up to get recent university graduates to go teach in inner city schools that can't attract staff for one or two years. They've been at it for a few decades now, and they've collected a wealth of data on the question of what makes a good teacher. It comes with a catch though.
What they've found is that what makes a good teacher is the "oooooomph", do the applicants have a history of not just being in leadership position, but being useful leaders who get things done? How good is their attitude? That's what makes a great teacher [i] in their experience[/i], and today, due to their better selection criteria, 44% of TFA teachers raise students by over 1.5 grade levels in 1 year.
What's the catch? A huge number of TFA teachers either burn out at the end of the two years, or they burn out even faster and quit after one year. The lesson here, imo, is that even in these worst environments, a teacher can make a difference... however, it has to be the absolutely greatest teachers, and even then it can only be for a very short period of time. It's kind of like the Heisenberg Time-Energy uncertainty principle, yes you can violate conservation of energy, but only for a very short period of time. Here we have the sociology-time uncertainty principle, yes you can repudiate sociological predictions via "hard work", but only for a very short period of time.
TFA gets access to government money, corporate sponsors, and it can select its teachers with very high rate of selectiveness. They've been modulating their criteria for 20 years, and even they cannot reasonably break the sociological shackles these kids find themselves in.
I want you to think some more about this. TFA selects teachers who got into and completed degrees at places like Harvard and Princeton. These are overachieving kids who put in 20 or 30 hours a week of volounteering and extra curricuulars from the age of 13 through 23 while maintaining straight A's in HS. All that, and they get burned out from teaching in inner city schools for just one or two years.