Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rank-and-file teachers win in Chicago

The most promising political news of the year has to be the victory in the Chicago Teachers Union of the Caucus of Rank-and-file Educators. This grouping was formed two years ago to contest the closing of Chicago neighborhood schools due to No Child Left Behind.

For anyone who has worked in an urban school, it is obvious that the NCLB-mandated tests are entirely unfair to schools with diverse school populations. I won't go into the details, except to say that I support accountability, and what we have with NCLB has nothing to do with accountability. The sad reality, though, is that the leadership of our teacher unions are retreating from the battle. Finally we have a union leadership willing to fight back, and do so by promoting democracy and grassroots mobilization of teachers and community members.

Right away, the CORE-led Chicago Teachers Union has a big battle ahead over layoffs. I couldn't believe that the Chicago Board of Education voted to layoff teachers, not by seniority, but by their evaluations! As if evaluations can be compared, and as if they are always to be trusted! While I have had good principals, I know teachers who have not. There goes our right to speak our minds and exercise professional judgment, when our future is held in one person's hands!

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