Monthly Archives: August 2011

More evidence that Ed Reform movement is about busting unions than about students’ learning

Thanks to Mark Rimple for the link below.

If you’ve seen the movie “Waiting for Superman,” you know what a disingenuous account of teaching and learning it is. If you haven’t, don’t watch it unless you need something to make your blood pressure go up.

Luckily (if I mean “luckily” about ten thousand times more ironically than you thought I did), director Steven Brill has published a new book called Class Warfare that (wait for it…) lobs the exact same anti-union attacks as the movie did.

I would formulate a response to it myself, but fortunately Richard Rothstein did it before I could, and substantially better. Read it here.

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Filed under Advocacy, Arne Duncan, Collective Bargaining, Education reform, K-12 Education, Michelle Rhee, Public education, Public employee unions, Teacher unions, Tenure

Central Michigan University Faculty Back to Work… For Now [Reposting from State APSCUF]

Central Michigan University Logo

The Central Michigan University Faculty Association held a day-long work stoppage on Monday, the first day of fall classes. Students joined with faculty on the picket lines to encourage administration representatives to return to the negotiations table.

A judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt the stoppage, and professors at CMU were back teaching classes on Tuesday.

Both sides have traded accusations about the other side’s intentions. The administration has claimed the strike was illegal, while the faculty union believes the university is refusing to bargain.

The union president kept her focus on the students in a statement:

“We’ve filed unfair labor practice charges against the university citing their refusal to bargain in good faith. This is why the faculty is not where they really want to be – with their students.”

On Friday morning, the two sides will argue their cases to a judge, who will then rule on whether to make the temporary restraining order permanent.

With both sides far apart on financial issues, a state-appointed fact finder will hear from the union and administration and make a recommendation on an agreement. The hearing dates are set for September, but it could take months for a final opinion.

We understand the predicament of our 600 colleagues at CMU. Ultimately, everyone that pursues academia as a career wants to spend his or her time in a classroom – not on a picket line. We know that the CMU faculty want what’s best for their 19,000 students, and we thank them for standing up for their rights and the rights of their students to a high-quality education with professors who are paid fairly.

For those who’d like to express their support for the CMU faculty, Progress Michigan has posted a petition calling on CMU administrators to return to the negotiating table.

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Filed under Academic Freedom, Advocacy, APSCUF, Benefits/Benefit Cuts, Budget, Budget Cuts, Central Michigan University, Collective Bargaining, Contract Negotiations, Public education, Public employee unions, Uncategorized

An education funding issue that’s easy to forget: school libraries

[If you don’t follow the Labor Section of the Daily Kos blog, I highly recommend it.]

This weekend on Daily Kos Labor, Mark Anderson writes about a recent visit to a K-5 library in Madison, WI. The pictures tell the story: decrepit old books, books about space exploration that predate major advances, and so on. It’s not just the absence of up-to-date science books that’s troubling, either.

While I’m not thrilled with the way Anderson frames the mission of education (“training workers for the global economy”), the point he’s making is important. Reframed the way I’d want it put, how can we expect students to learn anything on their own (the reason we teach them to read and do research!) if all they have access to in their schools is utterly irrelevant to the world we actually live in?

And this in conjunction with a cut in state funding of approximately 10% to WI public libraries, courtesy of our good friend Governor Scott Walker.

Ohhhhhhh………

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Filed under Budget, Budget Cuts, Communities, K-12 Education, Public education, public libraries, school libraries

As if you needed it, more evidence that Michelle Rhee and her ilk are NOT OUR FRIENDS!

From today’s (Thurs 8/18) Daily Kos:

In an entry called “Rhee’s StudentsFirst Received Murdoch Money,” labor writer Laura Clawson reports that our friend Michelle Rhee–she whose staff is helping conservative legislators all over the country draft virulently anti-union bills–is taking money from, of all people, Rupert Murdoch.

Do you really think Rupert Murdoch would be making 7-figure contributions to an organization that liked unions? Or working-class or middle-class people?

I don’t either.

 

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Filed under Michelle Rhee, Rupert Murdoch, StudentsFirst

Sociologist Michael Burawoy on a future for public higher ed

Thanks to friend and colleague Christine Monnier, a sociology prof at the College of Dupage, for bringing this piece to my attention by posting it on Google+.

Michael Burawoy is past president of the American Sociological Association and current president of the International Sociological Association. He’s a Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley.

This essay, titled Redefining the Public University: Developing an Analytical Framework posted in a series called Transformations of the Public Sphere by the Institute for Public Knowledge, quickly describes the current state of American public higher education. If you’re familiar with current thinking on the issue, you’ll recognize most of the claims he makes about commodification and corporatization, but it’s worth reading carefully. The meat (or tofu, or beans and cheese, for us vegetarians) of the essay in my opinion is his ‘alternative framework’ for understanding what public universities do, that is, a matrix of ‘Professional,’ ‘Policy,’ ‘Critical,’ and ‘Public’ knowledges we both help to create and are responsive to. You can read the explanations, but this table maps out the key terms and relations:

It’s an interesting read, and one that has some generative potential for us as we work to defend our system from the kind of evisceration it faces at the hands of organizations like the US Education Delivery Institute and similar voices of neoliberalism.

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Filed under Advocacy, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, Corporate University, deliverology, Higher Ed history, Intellectual Property, PASSHE, Performance Funding, Private higher education, Public education, research, Retention, Retrenchment, Shock Doctrine, US Education Delivery Institute

Matt Damon explains teachers (PG-13 language warning)

If you’re on Facebook or Google+, you’ve probably seen (or at least seen a link to) this video. Matt Damon, after making a speech at the Save our Schools rally in DC last weekend, gets grilled by a ‘reporter’ (of sorts) who wants to know how we solve the problem of bad teachers.

I’m not a big Matt Damon fan, but it sure is nice to see somebody take our side and demonstrate at least some understanding of what motivates us. I’d have preferred that he not hype up the nobility aspect at the expense of getting paid a reasonable wage to do our jobs, but we take what we can get…

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Filed under Advocacy, Public education