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Critical news, reviews and analyses of “Waiting For Superman.” Good resources about related educational issues.


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The heroes of Newtown | Baltimore Sun - Friday, December 21, 2012

“…we don’t trust that teachers are doing their best. Too often, we judge them harshly for not achieving the near-impossible: creating a model citizenry from the imperfect products that show up at their doorstep.

“Next time we discuss the state of education, let us also recall those images of teachers leading children out of harm’s way in Newtown or those half-dozen adults who died in the line of duty. Public educators deserve our respect, not just for what happened in Sandy Hook but for their extraordinary, daily devotion to the education, health and welfare of the next generation.”

The strength and courage of teachers and school staff — the kind of public employees so often scorned of late — are the revelation of Sandy Hook

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Montgomery Co schools chief calls for three-year moratorium on standardized testing - Thursday, December 20, 2012

From Valerie Strauss, in the Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet”.

Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua Starr said Monday that the country needs a three-year moratorium on standardized testing and needs to “stop the insanity” of evaluating teachers according to student test scores because it is based on “bad science.” He also said that the best education reform the country has had is actually health-care reform.

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Cliff Notes: The Education Policy Cliff of 2014 | Whiteboard Advisors - Wednesday, December 19, 2012

‘The Education Policy Cliff’

It is hard to see beyond the nonstop coverage of the fiscal cliff. The outcome is, after all, crucial for our school budgets and the nation’s economy. Sequestration would require the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to cut 8 to 10 percent of its budget, passing the cuts down to districts.The automatic tax hikes would compound the problem for those working in cash-strapped schools. This is serious stuff.

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NEA and AFT: Let’s Apply the Lessons of NCLB to the Common Core - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

‘Here we go again.’ From Anthony Cody in his “Living in Dialogue” blog at Ed Week Teacher, on the coming common core set up.

There is currently a lot of criticism being raised about the content of the Common Core, especially the emphasis on “informational text.” I think this is an important discussion, but for me, the bigger issue still lies with how our students will be tested under the new regime, and how those test scores will be used politically to advance privatization.

According to Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education, the Common Core will bring new tests that will be so much better that we will not mind the fact that our teachers are coerced into test preparation. I seriously doubt this.

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Schools across US step up police presence in wake of Connecticut shooting | Free Speech Radio News - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

MTEA President & Rethinking Schools editor Bob Peterson discusses schools & responses to the Connecticut tragedy.

… some are calling for longer-term solutions to the recent violence on school campuses, including stricter gun laws and more resources for mental health.

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First we mourn, then we organize | Public Education: This is what democracy looks like - Monday, December 17, 2012

From MTEA President Bob Peterson

Educators across the nation will enter school with heavy hearts on Monday. Beneath flags at half-mast and between hugs of staff and students, teachers will navigate through difficult questions and raw fears as we remember and honor the victims of the Sandy Hook School tragedy.

First, we mourn.

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He “Barely Said a Word” - Sunday, December 16, 2012

Diane Ravitch shares reflections on the CT tragedy from a NY school supt.

David A. Gamberg, the superintendent of schools in Southold, New York, wrote these reflections.

Adam Lanza had high test scores, presumably the kind of student that would help a teacher be rated as “effective,” but so what? Something was missing. A heart? A soul?

Gamberg understands that the values of our society are warping our schools. He writes:

“…barely said a word, but earned high marks.”

These are the words of a classmate of Adam Lanza.

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A Culture That Condones The Killing Of Children And Teaches Children To Kill | Common Dreams - Sunday, December 16, 2012

It’s not just about gun control.

The Sandy Hook massacre isn’t just about the need for gun control laws, it is about a culture that condones the killing of children and teaches children that killing is okay.

It is about a country addicted to violence on television and movie screens.

It is about cuts in education spending.

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Three Common-Sense Gun Bills That Can’t Pass Congress | The Nation - Friday, December 14, 2012

Gun control bills that should have passed long ago.

Washington is so paralyzed on gun control it can’t seem to pass fundamentally sensible reforms.

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Rethinkin’ Lincoln on the 150th Birthday of the Emancipation Proclamation - Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rethinkin’ Lincoln from Bill Bigelow & ZEP.

In coming months and years, teachers’ jobs will be made harder by Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln, in which Daniel Day-Lewis gives a brilliant performance as, well, Lincoln-the-abolitionist. The only problem is that Lincoln was not an abolitionist.

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CTU Launches ‘Stand Up to the Fat Cats’ - Thursday, December 13, 2012

From CTUNet.com

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today kicked off a public education campaign against the rise of school privatization schemes and the corporate assault on public education with the release of an animated, satirical short film, Stand Up to the Fat Cats. The video seeks to rally the public against corporate infiltration in public education and encourage them to join the fight to provide resources and support for neighborhood schools.

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Students First spends three hours in Opposite Day | Maureen Reedy on Plunderbund - Wednesday, December 12, 2012

‘Opposite Day’ for corporate reformers.

As a veteran 29-year elementary school teacher, I am giving the name of “Opposite Day” to what occurred last Wednesday morning in Room 313 at the Ohio Statehouse….

On November 5th, in the name of “Education Reform,” Michelle Rhee’s “dream team” of Students First spent three hours in “Opposite Day” mode, describing their corporate, profit-driven vision for “transforming our public schools” to the Ohio House Finance Committee and its audience members.

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Right To Work In Michigan: Labor’s Options For Repeal | Huffington Post - Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Options for reversing the Republican coup in Michigan.

But labor leaders haven’t given up. They’ve been busily searching for other ways to repeal it, either through the ballot box or within the legislature.

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Why we filed with the Ethics Board: The public deserves to know what’s happening here - Monday, December 10, 2012

‘From the Broad Foundation to the Waltons and Gates Foundations – what we’re seeing across the country is an unprecedented level of private money shaping public policy under the guise of philanthropy.’

Yesterday, Parents United for Public Education, the Philadelphia Home and School Council and the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP filed a complaint with the City Ethics Board requesting an investigation into whether the Boston Consulting Group, private donors, and the William Penn Foundation acted as lobbyists and principals to influence policy in the School District of Philadelphia.

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The Silent Treatment: A Day in the Life of a Student in ‘No Excuses’ Land - Sunday, December 09, 2012

From EduShyster: keeping an eye on the corporate education agenda

Meet Carolina. This college-bound fifth grader is fortunate enough to attend a charter school where expectations are high and innovation and excellence abound. There’s just one wee catch. In order to realize her goal of opportunity and the promise of independence, Carolina must spend the next SEVEN YEARS in near silence.

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Classes a la carte: States test a new school model | Reuters - Friday, December 07, 2012

Deformers seem to dream up a scheme-a-day to destroy public ed. Here’s another one…

Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White has a problem with schools.

They’re too confining, he says. They trap kids in chairs, in classrooms, in the narrow bounds of an established curriculum. So White and a handful of fellow revolutionaries have begun pushing a new vision for American public education.

Call it the a la carte school.

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Get Ready For America’s Next ‘Education Crisis’ | Campaign for America’s Future - Thursday, December 06, 2012

Here comes the next manufactured crisis, courtesy of new “common core” tests:

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” has become a popular mantra of the ruling class. Of course, these are not the people who usually experience the brunt of a crisis.

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Philadelphia Parents Take a Stand for Public Control of Public Education - Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Phila. parents stand up to corporate foundation reformers. From Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Parents United for Public Education, the Philadelphia Home and School Council, and the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP will file a complaint with the City Ethics Board tomorrow that the William Penn Foundation and private donors hired a consulting firm to lobby the School District of Philadelphia around a controversial plan to restructure public education in Philadelphia. The lobbying focused on charter expansion and identifying 60 schools for closure among other areas, complainants said.

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How Many Billions Are We REALLY Spending on Testing? - Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Definitely way too much!

From Anthony Cody in his “Living in Dialogue” blog at Ed Week Teacher.

The Brookings Institute released a report last week that purports to calculate the amount of money being spent on standardized tests.

The number researcher Matthew Chingos comes up with is $1.7 billion, which, when we consider that we spend more than $600 billion a year on education, does not sound like all that much. However, it turns out that all he is actually counting is the contract cost that states pay directly to test vendors.

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How to Speak Out Against Race to the Top - Monday, December 03, 2012

From Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Parents and teachers have organized a telephone campaign to register their objections to the Race to the Top program, which has led to more testing and more school closings and more disruptions for students and teachers.

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Book Review: The Future of Our Schools; Teacher Unions and Social Justice - Saturday, December 01, 2012

Valuable new book from Lois Weiner on the future of teacher unions. Reviewed by Anthony Cody in his “Living in Dialogue” blog at Ed Week Teacher.

Today I am taking time to review an insightful new book, authored by Lois Weiner: The Future of Our Schools; Teachers Unions and Social Justice (2012, Haymarket Books.) This work presents a useful guide to teachers who wish to make the most out of one the most powerful tools we have - our unions.

In our discussion of how to improve schools, teacher unions are a frequent focus of discussion. The education “reformers” portray unions as defenders of the status quo and protectors of bad teachers. On the opposite side, we also hear those who are frustrated when teacher unions agree to the use of test scores in teacher evaluations, or endorse wayward politicians. Sometimes, in frustration, some even wonder if the unions are of much use at all.

Lois Weiner makes a strong case for why our unions are important.

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Why a Louisiana judge ruled school vouchers unconstitutional - Saturday, December 01, 2012

Voucher opponents win a round in LA

From Valerie Strauss, in the Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet”.

A Louisiana state judge sided today with opponents of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s sweeping private school voucher program, ruling that it is unconstitutional because it improperly diverts public state and local money intended for public schools to private institutions.

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Why the School Turnaround Experiment Is Failing | Thompson, Nat’l Education Policy Ctr - Friday, November 30, 2012

Bad policy gets bad results.

Duncan’s SIG, like his RttT, his NCLB waivers, and his other innovations, are like chemotherapy. They introduce policies that are inherently destructive in the hopes of producing more good than injury to students. For instance, SIG begins with the collective punishment of principals and teachers, further fraying the fabric of schools that already tend to have low levels of social trust. Whether schools remove a mandatory 50 percent of teachers or just “exit” so-called “culture-killing” teachers, a common result is driving Baby Boomers from SIG schools. In an effort to build a team of dynamic, usually young and inexperienced teachers, the tendency is to muzzle veteran teachers who might want to share their hard-earned professional judgments with the rookies.

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Karen Lewis and Randi Weingarten Write an Article about the Strike in the Wall Street Journal - Sunday, September 23, 2012

Diane Ravitch blogs a WS Journal op ed by Lewis and Weingarten

In a period when many officials have sought to strip workers of any contractual rights or even a collective voice, the Chicago teachers strike showed that collective action is a powerful force for change and that collective bargaining is an effective tool to strengthen public schools. Chicago’s public-school teachers—backed by countless educators across the country—changed the conversation from the blaming and shaming of teachers to the promotion of strategies that parents and teachers believe are necessary to help children succeed.

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What We Won in Chicago | Truthout - Sunday, September 23, 2012

Good piece on gains and implications of the Chicago strike from Pauline Lipman

The Chicago Teachers Union, through its courage and militancy, has shifted the ground on education reform and on teacher unionism. The union has shown not only that it is possible to stand up the neoliberal agenda, but that there is an alternative.

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We fought the invasion of PS 15: a real-life “Won’t Back Down” story - Sunday, September 23, 2012

‘our story won’t be the subject of any Hollywood film, and it does not have a Hollywood ending, but it is real and should serve as a cautionary tale…’

The movie “Won’t Back Down” is a work of fiction but is said to be based on real life events. It tells the story of a teacher and a parent in a ‘failing’ school who join forces to ‘save their school’. The tale is a powerful one and some viewers may find themselves rooting for the protagonists. We too identify with the film, but not because we belong to a poorly performing school. Instead, we have fought to save our successful public school from the invasion of a charter school, which is not a story that the pro-privatization producers of the film would be likely to tell.

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Contact NBC’s “Education Nation” - Saturday, September 22, 2012

‘Education Fakin’…NBC’s disgraceful ‘Education Nation’ lineup: Rhee, Klein, Rice, Won’t Back Down, Bloomberg, Jeb Bush….tell them what you think here:

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Chicago teacher-parent alliance highlighted key parent issues | Parents Across America - Friday, September 21, 2012

‘The widespread support that Chicago parents gave their children’s teachers indicates the many points at which the interests of parents, teachers and students go hand-in-hand.’

As a nationwide parents group, Parents Across America (PAA) does not take a stand on union issues. We regret that Chicago families had their schedules disrupted and Chicago children lost valuable learning time during the recent Chicago strike. However, the teachers in Chicago have highlighted important challenges in public education that resonate with families and communities across the country.

In addition to issues of pay and benefits, Chicago teachers chose to spotlight flawed policies that are hurting students in our nation’s public schools. We applaud their advocacy of common-sense improvements that include school libraries, small class sizes, humane learning conditions, and adequate social services for students. We are delighted that so many parent voices joined their strong call for better schools.

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Changing the World in One Contract | Jacobin - Friday, September 21, 2012

Karen Lewis: ‘We didn’t change the world in one contract. The FIGHT for the contract is what changed.’

In urging suspension of the strike, CTU President Karen Lewis noted that Chicago teachers couldn’t change the world in one contract. She was wrong. While there were important items the union didn’t win, the Chicago strike has electrified teachers around the world. It has by many accounts inspired a reinvigorated labor presence in the Windy City.

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Rethinking the Classroom: Obama’s overhaul of public education | Washington Post - Friday, September 21, 2012

Good mainstream summary of Obama/Duncan’s bad education policies.

The president largely bypassed Congress and induced states to adopt landmark changes that none of his predecessors attempted.

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“Won’t Back Down” Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal | PRWatch - Thursday, September 20, 2012

‘Won’t Be Honest’ about ‘Won’t Back Down’

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation’s education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film “Won’t Back Down” — set for release September 28 — portrays so-called “Parent Trigger” laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film’s distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.

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Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis: Deal Ending Strike a Victory for Education - Wednesday, September 19, 2012

CTU’s Karen Lewis interviewed on Democracy Now!

Chicago public school teachers are returning to the classroom today nine days after launching their first strike in a quarter century. On Tuesday, 800 delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union voted overwhelmingly to suspend the strike to put an agreement with the city before the entire membership. The deal calls for a double-digit salary increase over the next three years, including raises for cost of living, while maintaining other increases for experience and advanced education. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis joins us to talk about the strike, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and what this means for education reform across the country. “We’ve been micromanaged into doing things that we know are harmful for children,” Lewis says. [includes rush transcript]

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Anti-Union Ads in Chicago Paid for By Hedge Funds, Billionaires - Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The hedge-fund cash behind anti-CTU ads

I wish I had known about this before the Chicago Teachers Union suspended their strike and returned to work, but it may shed some light on the timing of the suspension. At the least, it provides a little more context for what teachers unions have to deal with on the ground.

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Chicago school teachers give us all a lesson - Wednesday, September 19, 2012

‘The lesson from this strike is that even as money is becoming ever more important in politics, it is still possible for well-planned collective action to win out. The Chicago school teachers and their unions did their homework and moved at the right time. The rest of us can learn a lot from their example.’

Two-thirds of parents supported the Chicago school teachers’ protest in spite of the inconvenience caused by the strike.

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Chicago Teachers Union | Strike Central - Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Latest info from CTU

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Chicago contract details - Tuesday, September 18, 2012

‘While we did not win on every front and will need to continue our struggle into the future; we soundly defended our profession from an aggressive and dishonest attack. We owe our victories to each and every member of this rank and file union. Our power comes from the bottom up.’

Click through for a pdf covering Key Contract Issues from the Chicago Teachers Union site.

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Day 7 Strike suspended. Big victory for teachers - Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From Mike Klonsky’s SmallTalk Blog

CTU’s House of Delegates voted to end the strike and ask teachers to return to class tomorrow.

“Everybody is going back to school,” said Jay Rehak, a delegate from Whitney Young High School. Delegate Mike Bochner said “an overwhelming majority” of delegates voted to suspend the strike.

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Standing up for teachers - Monday, September 17, 2012

‘There’s a better way to learn about the crisis than going to the movies. Visit a school instead.’

From Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post

Teachers are heroes, not villains, and it’s time to stop demonizing them.

It has become fashionable to blame all of society’s manifold sins and wickedness on “teachers unions,” as if it were possible to separate these supposedly evil organizations from the dedicated public servants who belong to them. News flash: Collective bargaining is not the problem, and taking that right away from teachers will not fix the schools.

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‘Shadow strikers’ marched with CTU - Monday, September 17, 2012

‘Quiet as it’s kept, the city’s robust community-organizing movement has been a potent sister act for the CTU.’

Behind the bullhorns and police lines, hundreds of community organizers and their compatriots strategized, marched and danced last week in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union.

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Why OTL Advocates Walk the Line in Chicago - Monday, September 17, 2012

“It’s important to set the record straight by telling you why many like-minded Chicagoans like me are supporting the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).”

… it is important to dispel the myth that CTU is striking simply for selfish reasons related to pay and compensation. If this were the case, this conflict would have been resolved days ago. The truth is CTU is striking because they are fighting for the schools that every student in Chicago deserves.

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Chicago teachers ‘not happy’ with proposed contract; strike continues - Monday, September 17, 2012

Karen Lewis explains where things stand in Chicago strike.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis says delegates have decided to extend their weeklong strike until at least Wednesday to give them time to consult with rank-and-file members before voting to suspend the walkout. Watch her news conference.

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Chicago Teachers Union | House of Delegates Votes to Continue Strike - Sunday, September 16, 2012

CTU statement on current status of negotiations.

Some 800 delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union duly elected from each school and workplace convened Sunday afternoon to discuss the framework established during negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Board of Education.

Officers presented a 23-page document outlining the most important points of the agreement whose outline has been worked out between the two parties. That tentative agreement is expected to number over 180 pages.

After a civil and frank discussion, the House of Delegates voted NOT to suspend the strike, but to allow two more days for delegates to take the information back to the picket lines and hold discussions with the union’s more than 26,000 members throughout Chicago.

Teachers and school staff will return to the picket lines of the schools at which they teach at 7:30 a.m. Monday and, after picketing together, will meet to share and discuss the proposal. Citywide members will picket at the Chicago Public Schools Headquarters, 125 South Clark, at 7:30 a.m. and will meet thereafter at a downtown location.

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Chicago Teachers Strike Continues Into New Week As Union, City Fail To Strike Deal | Huffington Post - Sunday, September 16, 2012

“We obviously have very different world views,” Lewis said. “They’re a political spin machine.”

The Chicago Teachers Union delegates decided Sunday night not to accept a deal for a new contract from Chicago Public Schools and made plans to resume negotiations Tuesday, effectively prolonging the weeklong teachers strike and ensuring that school would not be in session for the city’s public school students for the next two days.

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Chicago’s Emanuel goes to court over teachers strike | Reuters - Sunday, September 16, 2012

The confrontation between striking teachers and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel moved to court on Monday where lawyers for the mayor sought to stop the walkout in President Barack Obama’s home city just weeks before the November 6 election.

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Democracy breaks out in Chicago. Many surprised, not having seen it before. Updated: Rahm seeks an injunction. - Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rahm to seek injunction to break strike.

He’s an idiot.

I have negotiated many contracts.

We went out on strike over one.

The membership rejected one after our team brought it back. We went back and got a little more.

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CPS fails to get immediate court order ending teachers strike | Chicago Tribune - Monday, September 17, 2012

Strike to continue as members consider proposal. “We are a democratic body and therefore we want to ensure all of our members have had the chance to weigh in on what we were able to win.”

Lawyers for Chicago Public Schools were rebuffed today in their hopes of winning a temporary restraining order and immediately ending the teachers strike.

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The underlying issues in the Chicago teacher strike | NYC Public School Parents - Sunday, September 16, 2012

NYC teacher Julie Cavanagh & Chicago parent Matt Farmer discuss ed reform issues in context of Chicago strike.

… this is a “defining moment” in the fight against privatization and corporate education reform … the Chicago struggle is really about whether poverty and the highly inequitable conditions in our public schools must be addressed.

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Ed Notes Online | What’s in the CTU Contract and Will There Be a Backlash? - Sunday, September 16, 2012

Some of the issues and dynamics around the pending CTU contact settlement.

Let’s put this contract in the context of 17 years of ed deform in Chicago. Does anyone want to compare it to Cleveland, Washington and other cities? Was the CTU strike a line in the sand to send a message to the ed deformers but delivering little in substance? We will find out more today.

No deal was going to be in place until two or four layers of real democracy had examined it and held the deal — not the personalities — accountable.

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CTU prez speaks at today’s massive rally - Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday, Sept. 15: CTU president Karen Lewis’ speech at today’s rally.

Video on Mike Klonsky’s blog

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Who Is Victimizing Chicago’s Kids? - Saturday, September 15, 2012

From Dissent Magazine

Yes, schoolchildren in Chicago are victims, but not of their teachers. They are victims of a nationwide education “reform” movement geared to undermine teachers’ unions and shift public resources into private hands; they are victims of wave after wave of ill-conceived and failing policy “innovations”; they are victims of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, which turned inner-city public schools into boot camps for standardized test prep; they are victims of Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program, which paid states to use student test scores—a highly unreliable tool—for teacher evaluations and to lift caps on the number of privately managed charter schools, thus draining resources from public schools. Chicago’s children are victims of “mayoral control,” which allows Rahm Emanuel to run the school system, bully parents and teachers, and appoint a Board of Education dominated by corporate executives and political donors.

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Chicago Teachers Strike: Wealthy Donors Changed Education Policy Landscape In Illinois | Huffington Post - Friday, September 14, 2012

Good background on Chicago…

As the Chicago teachers strike edges toward its close, both sides of the education reform debate are trumpeting arguments for or against the strike and the policies put forward by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Beneath the rhetoric lies a stream of fundraising aimed at influencing lawmakers and the public on education policy that has, in recent years, shifted away from the teachers union and toward education reformers backed by some of the wealthiest members of Chicago’s elite.

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Chicago teachers rally support - Friday, September 14, 2012

CTU Facebook Events page for rally on Sept 15

None of the progress that has been made so far would have been possible without your support. Let’s make tomorrow the biggest showing of solidarity yet and send a clear message to the city of Chicago that we will not back down until the teachers have a fair contract and the students get the quality education they deserve!

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Chicago Teachers Strike: Union, City Fail To Reach Contract Deal - Friday, September 14, 2012

From the Huffington Post, Sept 14

After a marathon session in Chicago’s Hilton hotel, rank and file members of the Chicago Teachers Union spilled into the street at midnight central time with no contract agreement — only the promise of a continued strike.

“No deal,” a source close to the negotiations told The Huffington Post seven minutes before midnight.

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Chicago teachers’ strike nears end as City Hall and union close on deal - Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guardian report Sept 12.

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A Chicago Teacher Writes: The Joy of Finally Fighting Back - Thursday, September 13, 2012

Teachers are standing up! Anthony Cody shares a guest post by Katie Osgood.

The excitement is tempered with humility. No one wants a strike. Chicago teachers are very aware that this strike is difficult on parents, on students, and on the teachers themselves.

But for the first time in decades, Chicago’s teachers are standing up. They are saying “no more” to the countless waves of harmful, poorly-planned, and unproven education reforms.

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Two Visions for Chicago’s Schools by Diane Ravitch | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books - Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ravitch on Chicago strike.

According to most news reports, the teachers in Chicago are striking because they are lazy and greedy. Or they are striking because of a personality clash between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and union president Karen Lewis. Or because this is the last gasp of a dying union movement. Or because Emanuel wants a longer school day, and the teachers oppose it.

None of this is true. All reports agree that the two sides are close to agreement on compensation issues—it is not money that drove them apart. Last spring the union and the school board agreed to a longer school day, so that is not the issue either. The strike is a clash of two very different visions about what is needed to transform the schools of Chicago—and the nation.

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Their Fight Is Our Fight - Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Support and resources for the Chicago teachers strike from Kris Collett & Rethinking Schools

On Monday, September 10, 29,000 of our Chicago colleagues went on strike after they failed to reach an agreement over education reforms sought by 1% Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Twenty-five years have passed since Chicago teachers last went on strike.

The reforms sought by Emanuel will be no surprise to those who have followed the corporate education “deform” movement: teacher evaluations and teacher pay tied to standardized test scores, longer school days to allow more time for testing, closing schools and turning them over to charter operators, and provisions that slash health benefits and seriously curtail job security.

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A Battle Between Education and Business Goals | Room for Debate - NYTimes - Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pauline Lippman: ‘Despite efforts by educators, researchers, and parents nationally to contest this agenda, it has become the new status quo. This is why Chicago teachers are on strike.’

Chicago was the birthplace of neoliberal education reform — high-stakes testing, closing neighborhood public schools and turning them over to private operators, expanding charter schools, running schools like businesses, test-based teacher evaluation, prescribed standards, and mayoral control of schools.

Over the past 15 years, these policies were promoted nationally by corporate philanthropies, conservative think tanks, and recently by billionaire-initiated education reform organizations like Stand for Children and Education Reform Now. The Chicago agenda became the official national agenda when President Obama appointed Chicago’s chief executive schools, Arne Duncan, to be his Secretary of Education.

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Unions Are Striking Back, at Last | Room for Debate, NYTimes - Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Brian Jones: ‘finally, a unionized group of teachers has decided to meet this confrontation head-on.’

The so-called education reform movement decided long ago that change could come only through confrontation. Teachers figured that out when the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, called Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans”; seven years later the teachers union is washed away and the public schools are mostly charter-ized. They figured that out when the White House celebrated the firing of the entire teaching staff in Central Falls, R.I., because of students’ low test scores. And it became clearer to them when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York published teachers’ names alongside standardized test results of their students.

Now, finally, a unionized group of teachers has decided to meet this confrontation head-on.

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Thousands Rally in Chicago Teachers’ Strike, Pushing Back Against Corporatized Education Reform - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Democracy Now coverage of Chicago strike.

School is out in Chicago for a second day, as public school teachers continue their first strike in 25 years. Almost 30,000 teachers and their support staff have walked out over reforms sought by the city’s powerful mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who is President Obama’s former chief of staff. On Monday, tens of thousands teachers, parents and students marched in the streets of President Obama’s adopted hometown. We go to Chicago to speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Jaisal Noor. [includes rush transcript]

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The real problem with Rahm’s school reforms in Chicago - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post: The problem is corporate reform, not Chicago’s teachers.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing a school reform agenda backed by the Obama administration that is at the center of the strike that the Chicago Teachers Union is now waging in the third largest school district in the country.

This is not about whether or not you think the union should have called a strike as it did on Monday, but rather about the central problem with the reforms that Emanuel has been advocating: There’s no real proof that they systemically work, and in some cases, there is strong evidence that they may be harmful.

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On school reform: Broad’s misleading response to critics - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From Stan Karp and Ken Libby via Valerie Strauss in The Answer Sheet: Broad, Chicago and corporate reform

The Chicago teachers strike has made school reform national news, and here’s a piece that helps explain some of the controvery. This is a follow-up to a post I published last month about plans by the California-based foundation of billionaire Eli Broad to expand its influence in school reform initiatives that include charter schools, merit pay and other market-based reforms.

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Analysis: Striking Chicago teachers take on national education reform - Monday, September 10, 2012

Reuters analysis of Chicago strike: “teachers see the new policies as a brazen attempt to shift public resources into private hands, to break the power of teachers unions, and to reduce the teaching profession to test preparation.”

Chicago teachers walking picket lines on Monday, in a strike that has closed schools across the city, are taking on not just their combative mayor but a powerful education reform movement that is transforming public schools across the United States.

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Chicago’s Teachers Just Went On Strike — Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Why | Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) - Monday, September 10, 2012

Good summary of Chicago strike issues

During a press conference tonight the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) announced that it will be going on strike, its first action of the sort in 25 years.

Why are these 29,000 teachers and school workers going on strike in the nation’s third-largest public school district?

Because they want what all workers want: fair pay and decent working conditions. They also want what all teachers want — to serve their students to their best of their abilities.

Here’s a few things you need to know about the strike, and why the CTU is right and Mayor Rahm Emanuel — who has failed to fairly bargain with the union — is wrong:

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Chicago teachers strike and challenge corporate reform model of education - Monday, September 10, 2012

Good round-up of info on Chicago strike from Ed Notes online.

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Teacher X: Why I’m striking, JCB - Sunday, September 09, 2012

Chicago teacher explains what it means “to help or hurt our kids.”

I ask anyone who does remotely care about the kids we teach and learn from and triumph and cheer and cry and grow with., to stand with us and fight for a better future for our kids.

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Youtube video | CPS Parent Matt Farmer Puts Penny Pritzker on Trial at CTU’s STANDS STRONG RALLY - Sunday, September 09, 2012

Reminder of what the Chicago strike is about:

CPS parent Matt Farmer puts billionaire Board of Education member Penny Pritzker on Trial at CTU’s STANDS STRONG RALLY. Pritzker doesn’t seem to feel it is necessary to provide other people’s children with the same educational experience as hers.

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Live streaming news from Chicago — including teachers’ strike - Sunday, September 09, 2012

Chicago strike news

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Solidarity with Chicago Teachers | Network of Teacher Activist Groups - Sunday, September 09, 2012

Network of Teacher Activist Groups Chicago solidarity campaign.

The Network of Teacher Activist Groups (TAG) is a national coalition of grassroots teacher organizing groups. TAG believes Chicago teachers are in a crucial battle to defend public education and make schools more equitable and just. The outcome of this struggle will not only impact the people of Chicago, but also set the tone for promoting educational equity across the nation. Their fight is our fight. We are asking educators, school social workers, parents, students, youth workers, and any concerned community members to join us in support and solidarity for the CTU teachers as they stand up to the powerful forces aligned to dismantle public education.Together, we engage in shared political education and relationship building in order to work for educational justice both nationally and in our local communities.

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The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve | Chicago Teachers Union - Friday, September 07, 2012

Chicago teachers strike deadline is Monday, 9/10. Here’s what they’re fighting for.

The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve is a new Chicago Teachers Union study which argues in favor of proven educational reforms to dramatically improve the education of more than 400,000 students in a district of 675 schools.

These reforms are desperately needed and can lead Chicago towards the world-class educational system its students deserve. As CTU President Karen Lewis stated, “This report will quickly become the leading public policy platform for all people truly interested in how to reverse the status quo in our city’s public schools.”

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My Review of ‘Won’t Back Down’ (spoiler alert) - Saturday, September 08, 2012

Gary Rubenstein’s review of Won’t Back Down: ‘This movie failed on so many levels.’

As the lights dimmed and the opening credits rolled during my preview of ‘Won’t Back Down,’ I got a little nervous. Based on some of the commercials I had seen, I thought there was a chance that it was going to be a good ‘film.’ I do think that a good film could be made about any subject, even one I might not agree with its underlying premise.

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Stubborn Facts About Obama Education Policies That No Amount of Convention Sugarcoating Can Cover Up - Friday, September 07, 2012

From Mark Naison’s blog “With a Brooklyn Accent”

If you watched the Democratic Convention, you would never know that the Obama Administration’s education policies were extremely controversial with America’s teachers and had provoked outrage among many of the nation’s most distinguished education scholars. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel spoke at the Convention without anyone mentioning that his policies had provoked an impending strike among tens of thousands of teachers , and that these policies were one’s supported by the Administration’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

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Missing the Target? The Parent Trigger as a Strategy for Parental Engagement and School Reform - Wednesday, September 05, 2012

NEPC paper on parent trigger laws.

The “parent trigger” has been promoted as a mechanism to increase parents’ empowerment over their local schools and over their children’s education. While superficially appealing to democratic processes by “letting parents decide,” as evidenced in the recently released movie Won’t Back Down, the emphasis of parent trigger advocates is on mounting a campaign to authorize the transfer of authority over schools from public to private governance. Accordingly, because it outsources school governance to Educational Management Organizations who have no obligation to (and often no physical presence in) the community, the parent trigger ultimately thwarts continued, sustained community and parental involvement.

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PAA’s Parent Online Toolkit for the WBD* movie and beyond - Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Toolkit for parent trigger movie from Parents Across America

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Honor Labor Day – On Teaching Who Really Built This Country? - Monday, September 03, 2012

From Bob Peterson’s blog

Chanting “We built it,” thousands of delegates to the Republican National Convention provided a distorted bumper-sticker summary of U.S. history.

Like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, the overwhelmingly white crowd embraced unrestrained free-market ideology and cheered the inaccuracies of keynote speakers.

The crowd was particularly fired up by vice presidential candidate Paul “Pinocchio” Ryan’s speech. One Fox News commentator described the speech as an attempt “to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.”

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Democratic Split Over Education Reform Tested By Hollywood Movie | Huffington Post - Monday, September 03, 2012

Parent trigger film divides Democrats.

WASHINGTON — The most controversial thing to happen at the Democratic National Convention this week may end up being a movie screening.

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“No Excuses” and the Culture of Shame: The Miseducation of Our Nation’s Children | Altenet.org - Saturday, September 01, 2012

The race & class politics behind “data-driven” reform.

Does our constant focus on educational “data” mask a raft of racist and classist policies designed to shortchange poor and minority children? You bet, says one education expert.

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Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign - Friday, August 31, 2012

Good cause to remember this Labor Day weekend: Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign, at their new website http://ctscampaign.weebly.com/

The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign believes that teachers’ working conditions are our students learning conditions—and that educators must be justly compensated for their work. The campaign also supports the CTU’s call for a fully funded education system, smaller class sizes and an enriched curriculum with art and music, as well as wraparound social services.

Blaming teachers for the problems of CPS is a distraction from the real problems facing our schools—from chronic underfunding to the huge economic and racial disparities in Chicago. It’s also destructive. It’s time for Mayor Emanuel, Schools CEO Brizard and the Board of Education to meet the challenge of funding quality education for all Chicago’s schoolchildren.

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Why ‘Won’t Back Down’ Just Doesn’t Stack Up - Thursday, August 30, 2012

Teacher Sabrina takes on the parent trigger film…

A former teacher takes on the untruths at the heart of this anti-union film.

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BREAKING NEWS: CTU files notice of intent to strike - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

CTU files strike notice.

CHICAGO - Today, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) filed a 10-day notice with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board indicating more than 26,000 public school teachers, clinicians and paraprofessionals may go on strike in coming days. The notice is a legal requirement defined by state law. No date for a strike has been set by Union leaders. The House of Delegates will meet Thursday at 4:30 p.m. to talk next steps.

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Daily Kos: Chicago Teachers Union Grassroots Campaign Squashing Out-of-Town Billionaires - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chicago teachers standing up.

Chicago Teachers Union is in a fight for a fair contract against a mayor with an agenda to bust the union and privatize schools to the highest bidder (or at least his connected friends). Astroturf groups like Stand for Children, Democrats for Education Reform, and even the Tea Party-led “Education Action Group” got into the fray to prevent Chicago Teachers Union from fighting for a contract that will give their students the schools they deserve. However, after two years of community building, the Chicago Teachers Union is winning.

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Weingarten: ‘Won’t Back Down’ union stereotypes worse than ‘Waiting for Superman’ - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Valerie Strauss, in the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet, shares an article by Randi Weingarten.

I don’t recognize the teachers portrayed in this movie, and I don’t recognize that union. The teachers I know are women and men who have devoted their lives to helping children learn and grow and reach their full potential. These women and men come in early, stay late to mentor and tutor students, coach sports teams, advise the student council, work through lunch breaks, purchase school supplies using money from their own pockets, and spend their evenings planning lessons, grading papers and talking to parents. Yet their efforts, and the care with which they approach their work, are nowhere to be seen in this film.

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Chicago teachers draw a line | SocialistWorker.org - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interesting piece on challenges facing CTU as strike possibility looms.

Lee Sustar looks at the battle shaping up in the Chicago Public Schools—and the national implications for teachers and the struggle for public education.

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Judge Invalidates Florida Evaluations - Saturday, August 25, 2012

From Diane Ravitch: Florida court blocks test-based teacher evaluations.

This just in.

The Florida Education Association and two named teacher-plaintiffs sued to block VAM because the process is confusing and the state has provided inadequate guidance.

A judge agreed with the plaintiffs. The state education department will either appeal or have to redo the rules and clarify the way VAM is supposed to work.

This teacher-evaluation stuff is complex, poorly thought out, and endlessly divisive.

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Three ed reforms parents should worry about most - Thursday, August 23, 2012

From NY principal Carol Burris via Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet: “It is the role of schools to develop healthy and productive citizens, not master test takers.”

A New York educator gives her list of three reforms that parents should worry about most in their children’s public schools.

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Howard Zinn at 90: Lessons From the People’s Historian - Wednesday, August 22, 2012

from Bill Bigelow and ZEP in the Huffington Post.

As we remember Howard Zinn on what would have been his 90th birthday, let’s count him among the many social justice heroes who offer proof that people’s efforts make a difference — that ordinary people can change the world.

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Everything You’ve Heard About Failing Schools Is Wrong - Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Good piece from Mother Jones…

Attendance: up. Dropout rates: plummeting. College acceptance: through the roof. My mind-blowing year inside a “low-performing” school.

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Broad Foundation’s plan to expand influence in school reform - Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Broad Foundation plans to “accelerate” disruptive reform.

By Ken Libby and Stan Karp via Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet:

The Broad Foundation wants to step on the gas.

The California-based foundation, built on the housing and insurance empire of billionaire Eli Broad, has made “transforming K-12 urban public education” a major priority. Its training and placement of top administrators in urban districts across the country and support for charter schools, school turnarounds, merit pay and other market-based reforms have put it at the center of a polarized national debate about education policy.

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A Parent’s Letter to Frank Bruni of the New York Times - Monday, August 20, 2012

Great response by Phila. parent to dumb NYT column on public ed…via Diane Ravitch

I just received this comment. This parent should be invited to appear on NBC’s “Education Nation,” on Morning Joe, on Rachel Maddow, on CNN’s “Newsroom,” and on any other talk show, most of which put people on camera who have never been public school parents or teachers or principals. She is more knowledgeable than Michelle Rhee or Bill Gates or any of the other “reformers”:

“You seem to take for granted several ideas I would challenge you on: (1) that American public schools and teachers are failing, (2) that middle-class families should desert urban, public schools, (3) that charter schools are the answer to any problems in the current public educational system, and (4) that parent trigger laws would a helpful tool for remedying problems.”

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‘Won’t Back Down’: Realities the movie ignores - Monday, August 20, 2012

Parent activist Rita Solnet unpacks ‘Won’t Back Down,’ via Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet.

‘Won’t Back Down,’ writes one movie-goer, depicts a story that is more about good vs. evil than about the truth behind public schools today and the movement to privatize them

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The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign on Facebook - Monday, August 20, 2012

Showdown in Chicago. Time to show solidarity with Chicago parents/teachers.

The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign believes that teachers’ working conditions are our students learning conditions—and that educators must be justly compensated for their work. The campaign also supports the CTU’s call for a fully funded education system, smaller class sizes and an enriched curriculum with art and music, as well as wraparound social services.

Blaming teachers for the problems of CPS is a distraction from the real problems facing our schools—from chronic underfunding to the huge economic and racial disparities in Chicago. It’s also destructive. It’s time for Mayor Emanuel, Schools CEO Brizard and the Board of Education to meet the challenge of funding quality education for all Chicago’s schoolchildren.

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Parent Trigger | Save Our Schools - Sunday, August 19, 2012

Resource page from Save Our Schools on ‘Won’t Back Down’ parent trigger movie

WON’T BACK DOWN; THE MOVIE. TEACHERS ROCK
This page will serve as a Save Our Schools resource for references on the subjects of Won’t Back Down; The Movie, Teachers Rock, the program and concert, and Parent Trigger Schools. Introductions to a collection of essays, from various sources are attributed and offered. Links to the original text and the Save Our Schools full text edition accompany each post.

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Chicago teachers stand up to corporate reformers. - Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Chicago Teachers Union is currently on the front lines of a fight to defend public education. On one side the 30,000 members of the CTU have called for a contract that includes fair compensation, meaningful job security for qualified teachers, smaller class sizes and a better school day with Art, Music, World Language and appropriate staffing levels to help our neediest students.

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FAQ re the movie “Won’t Back Down” and the Parent Trigger - Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Great FAQ on ‘Won’t Back Down’ From Leonie Haimson.

Speak out for real parent empowerment and voice. Spread the word on “Won’t Back Down” and Parent Triggers. We need real change in our schools, not false solutions.

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‘Teachers Rock 2012′: An Insult To Teachers - Monday, August 13, 2012

This post from Jersey Jazzman includes contact info for the celebrities participating in Walmart’s parent trigger gala…

It’s clear to me that the celebrities who have attached their names to “Teachers Rock 2012″ have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into. It’s especially disheartening to see that many of them are members of unions - like Actors Equity, the American Federation of Musicians, or AFTRA - and yet they are willing to get behind a project with a barely concealed anti-union agenda.

Among the listed performers:

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Walmart, Right-Wing Media Company Hold Star-Studded Benefit Promoting Education Reform Film - Monday, August 13, 2012

By Josh Eidelson at In These Times.

Star-studded anti-union propaganda

“It’s another Waiting for Superman,” says Jose Vilson, a New York City math teacher and board member of the Center for Teacher Quality. “You have these popular actors, who as well-intentioned as they may be, they may not know all the facts, but they’re willing to back up a couple of corporate friends or people maybe they’ve become familiar with” in “trying to promote this sort of vision.”

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What Parents need to know: FAQ ‘Won’t Back Down’ & Parent Trigger - Monday, August 13, 2012

FAQ on ‘Won’t Back Down’ from Parents Across America.

… while the movie depicts an inspiring story of parental revolt, actual efforts to use the Parent Trigger have been driven by billionaire-funded supporters of privatization, and have sparked acrimony and division. None of these efforts has actually improved a school.

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‘Won’t Back Down’ on Facebook - Monday, August 13, 2012

The official “Won’t Back Down” Facebook page needs some truth squad responses. Some are getting through, some are being censored or deleted. Here’s the link:
https://www.facebook.com/WontBackDown

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Beyond the parent trigger hype & propaganda: Just the Facts - Monday, August 13, 2012

From Caroline Grannan at Parents Across America. Available on the PAA site as a downloadable pdf.

1. There have been no successful parent triggers anywhere. Only two parent triggers have been attempted, both in Southern California. [i]

2. The organization that created the parent trigger, Parent Revolution, organized both of those campaigns.[ii]

3. Parent Revolution has been inaccurately described as “grassroots” and as founded by concerned mothers….

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Dear Meryl | Parents United - Friday, August 10, 2012

Dear Ms Streep:

I am writing to ask you to reconsider your participation in the “Teachers Rock” event next week. As parents, we are concerned that this event is part of a larger propaganda campaign to force privatization on public schools. The movie, “Won’t Back Down,” is just the latest and most intensive move in this effort.

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