Tag Archives: unions

Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street | The Nation

Good perspective from the man who was at the top of the Seattle Police Department during “The Battle in Seattle.”

Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street | The Nation.


Washington State PTA’s misguided policy statement

I was extremely disappointed to learn that the Washington State PTA had chosen to take an official position in support of charter schools.

I have some issues with charter schools that I believe give them an unfair advantage. First, charters are opt-in schools. I know the term they prefer is “choice schools,” but I think that’s too warm and fuzzy.

What happens to feeder schools when an opt-in school or program opens ? They lose the students whose parents opted for the new school or program. Those are the parents who care enough or pay attention to what’s going on with their children’s lives to try to make a difference. They are drawn out of the affected schools, which are left with a higher percentage of uninvolved families. Those schools see test performance drop, and the charter looks good in comparison.

Second, because many charters employ non-union teachers, there are no limits on their hours. This works for charters as they tend to employ younger teachers with high energy levels and few family commitments. Administrators can pile on the expectations with no consequences, that is until an employee reaches his or her physical and/or mental limit. What happens next depends on the heart of the administrator.

There isn’t much room in these charters for an older, experienced educator who wants to get eight hours of sleep at night and spend quality time with family. Well, not his own family anyway.

This article in the L.A. Times quotes a number of teachers on the time commitment.

Thankfully I know that voters have repeatedly rejected charters in the past. I’m not too worried that they will be accepted by the voters in our state in the future. As a teacher though, I may elect to forgo membership in my building’s PTA in the future.

 


Could you be a communist and not realize it?

We’ve been hearing a lot about the “socialist agenda” of President Obama. Forcing people to buy health insurance? Socialism! Bailing out the failing banks? Socialism! Saving GM? Socialism! Friendly to organized labor? Socialism!

I once had a conversation with a relative regarding a large corporation which had recently moved its headquarters from its historic home to a new city half a continent away. I saw this as a sign that the corporation did not care about the community which had been part of its growth and success. In addition, I believed this was a move designed to put distance between executives and the unions representing the bulk of its employees. It was clear my relative dislikes unions, and he suggested that giving too much power to organized labor is just a step away from communism.

His comment really upset me. I am very liberal politically, but I am absolutely anti-communist. The reason is the atrocious human rights records of communist nations, including China. In fact, I am strongly opposed to any government which curtails the basic rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dictators, authoritarian regimes, military juntas, or any form of government which uses intimidation, torture, incarceration, terror, or other methods to cow its citizens into passive compliance deserves no respect from people who value justice, equality, dignity, life, speech, art, or other features of a free society.

So, to those of you who think that our president is a closet commie, take a look in the mirror. Then take a look around you. That new flat-screen TV you treasure may have been made by communists. Those inexpensive toys your children are playing with? They are likely touched by the skilled hands of commie labor. Okay, I know some of them may have been made in non-communist places like Mexico or Singapore, but they have their own issues of repression to resolve.

I think the U.S. Senate needs to start an investigation into this subversive group of activists. Are they hiding their true nature by accusing the president of being the very thing they are? Could they be… communists?


Tired of Education by Legislation

The Washington State Legislature is busy working on new ed “reform.” Fifteen years ago or so, when I was still relatively new to education, that was the first time they laid “reform” on me. At that point they gave us the EALRs and the WASL. I was happy because I saw this as a more “authentic” measure of student progress, unlike the “bubble tests” popular at the time. Kids with learning disabilities struggled with those tests, trying to track where to mark their answers on the answer sheets. That was just plain cruel.

Now, after years I can describe only as miserable while trying to meet those standards, I am eager to see WASL’s behind slinking down the hallway in utter failure. Veteran teachers I worked with at the dawn of WASL predicted it would eventually be gone and forgotten. They were right, but it took longer than they expected. I am anxious to see what takes its place.

Of course, my confidence has taken a major hit in recent years as I struggled to get my students up to snuff in the key subject areas, especially after the push of the Education and Secondary Education Act, otherwise known as “No Child Left Behind.” I shall stick with the official title, abbreviated as ESEA. All I can say is, if the head cheerleader for ESEA is a model for what we hope for its goals, good luck. Test scores, especially a single, high stakes test given once a year are not the best way to measure the growth of children. The results of such tests are no way to measure the effectiveness of a teacher, either.

A few years back, I was singled out because my class did well on the Reading part of the WASL. I was quizzed as to my teaching methods, and it seemed I was thought of as some sort of fount of wisdom. The same year, my students’ Math scores tanked. My response was, “If I take credit for those reading scores, I have to take credit for the math scores. No thank you. There are too many other variables at work here.”

So, now I’m in the position of wondering, “When will this latest legislation fade into the black hole of “reform.”