Saturday, November 24, 2012

Worthwhile Quick Reads

Obama & Schools, Walker’s National Ambitions, and Charter schools in Milwaukee – three blog posts worth reading.

An Open Letter to President Obama from Bill Ayers. Congratulating Obama on his November victory, Ayers raises three deep concerns about the educational policies the administration pursued the last four years. He criticizes “turning over public assets and spaces to private management; dismantling and opposing any independent, collective voice of teachers; and reducing education to a single narrow metric that claims to recognize an educated person through a test score.”

Lincoln and Walker: Why they do – and don’t – belong in the same headline, by Barbara Miner. Taking off from Steven Spielberg’s new movie Lincoln, Miner reflects on the essential role of African Americans in U.S history—and the GOP’s continual dismissal of the African American vote. She also looks at glaring problems with Walker’s national ambitions. She writes, “Walker has shown little ability to win over voters now coveted by the GOP: young people and women, in particular. And he’s got a horrific record with African Americans.”

Questionable Quality at American Quality Schools, by Terry Falk. Milwaukee has become the target of national charter operations that have few connections to our city, besides the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. These operations and their supporters offer junkets to local politicians and produce slick power points. Unfortunately, the City and University officials in their rush to support such operations, too often leave the children behind. In the case of American Quality Schools, Milwaukee School Board member Terry Falk explains some of the reasons behind the recent school decision to not charter the AQS. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wear Red on Nov. 14 – National Education Support Professionals Day

The 3 million plus education support professionals who work in the nation’s public schools deserve everyone’s support. In Milwaukee, this Wednesday, Nov. 14, I ask educators to wear red as a sign of thanks and solidarity with these important education workers.

In the past 18 months teachers and educational assistants often had “wear red” days as we fought against Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on public schools, public services, and public sector unions.  

This Wednesday, on national Education Support Professionals Day, please wear red again. Wearing red sends a simple message of solidarity with our fellow workers. Please also take the time to personally thank the educational assistants, the safeties, the health care assistants, the secretaries, the cooks, and all the other workers in our school system. You might want to write them a note or card, and encourage students and colleagues to do the same.

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association proudly stands with our paraprofessionals, general aides, interpreters, and safeties, who are members of our union. We also stand with the cooks, food service workers, health care aides, secretaries, engineers, and building helpers who are represented by other unions, or in the case of bus drivers not represented by any union. We stand for strong public institutions that are held accountable through the democratic process.

We wear red and thank education support professionals on Wednesday, and in the days ahead we will support our EAs as they bargain with the school district and fight for respect and justice. Because our educational assistants are among the lowest paid workers in the district and have absorbed the equivalent of a 10% pay cut due to health insurance and retirement benefit changes, it is all the more important for educators, parents and our community to support our educational assistants.

We stand for strong public institutions. They are the building blocks of a democratic society. A key feature of such institutions is treating public sector workers with dignity and respect.

Wear red on Wednesday in solidarity with all Education Support Professionals.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vote Tuesday - Our Future Depends on It

A couple of election related items worth checking out –

1) Milwaukee Vota 2012 -- A group of high school age youth from Milwaukee put together a great 41-second get-out-the-vote video (English and Spanish). Check it out – appropriate for all age levels.

2) Why can’t felons vote? The question is long overdue – a MJS blog post by Barbara Miner. Miner writes “The United States has more restrictions on voting rights than any other democratic nation in the world, according to Marc Mauer of the highly respected Sentencing Project.” She points out that “Almost 7.7 percent of blacks of voting age cannot [vote] because of their criminal records, compared to 1.8 percent of non-African Americans. In three states — Florida, Kentucky and Virginia — one out of five African Americans is not allowed to vote.” Miner’s essay would be a great discussion started in a high school civics or social studies class.

3) Does Romney love teachers? At the end of the third debate, Mitt Romney said that “he loves teachers.” The President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association has a response worth reading.

4) Tuesday night victory party in Milwaukee. After the final two days of canvassing, phone calling and encouraging everyone we know to vote, consider joining supporters of President Obama and Tammy Baldwin after 8:15 PM on Tuesday night at the Hyatt Regency, 333 W. Kilbourn Ave.