Department of Education: They are inside the gates.


While reviewing government websites this morning.  I stumble upon this gem at the Department of Education.  under the title “A teacher reflects on Ed’s role in Union Reform”.  Here are some key excerpts.

The Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN) is a nationwide network of more than 50 union locals promoting progressive reforms in education and in teacher unions – to improve student achievement, increase teacher connectivity, and elevate teachers’ voices in the reform debate. TURN is not only a national network; the group has been developing a network of regional satellites which meet at least twice a year.

I was in Boston on April 15 and 16 for the national TURN meeting. As a Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow for the Department of Education as well as president of my local in Vermont, the Washington Central Education Association, and a board director for VT-NEA, I have a foot in two worlds. It was fascinating to participate in this meeting from this dual perspective.

So this author is both a union President and a fellow for the DOE?  Is there pay involved with the fellowship?  You bet there is and this is a fine example of wasting our money.  They are now paying Union Presidents to tell the DOE how to teach our children.

Here is a link to an overview of the program: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/teacherfellowship/programoverview.html

I would not be so alarmed had they not stated the purpose of injecting progressive ideas into the education process.   It is these very policies that have dumbed down our children to the point that they could not tell you what our founding fathers said or even who 6 of them are.  But let’s get back to the article.

The DOE actually has a person whose job it is to help the unions.  As a matter of fact the guy was a former leader of the group TURN.

The US Department of Education had a strong presence at this meeting in the person of Jo Anderson, a senior advisor to Secretary Arne Duncan. His role at the Department in part is to assist unions to deal creatively and proactively with education reform. Jo is a critical friend of TURN, and a longtime leader of the group in his former role as Executive Director of the Illinois Education Association. Jo centered his remarks on three events.

At the Department’s February 2011 labor-management conference in Denver, ED worked with unions, boards and administrators to build capacity for new collaborative relationships that put great student outcomes first. As I wrote in a previous blog entry, this “was the Department of Education at its best, connecting people, ideas and resources and setting a vision for change.”

The March 2011 International Summit on the Teaching Profession in New York City highlighted the achievements of 15 nations that exceeded the United States on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results. Jo emphasized that many of these countries have strong teacher unions that all give practitioners voice in the way education is delivered and regard teachers as valued professionals. The picture that emerged from the summit is consistent with the goals of the United States’ two national unions, AFT and NEA.

Jo also spoke of the pending school reform legislation in Illinois, which emerged through the collaboration of a broad coalition of stakeholders, including the state’s teacher unions. While he was not at the forefront of these efforts in Illinois because of his current role at the Department, there is no doubt that Jo’s many years of work in Illinois contributed to the collaborative infrastructure that made this agreement possible. The Illinois legislation stands in stark contrast to more combative processes in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida.

Jo’s exposition of these three events presents an alternative narrative to the efforts of extremists to destroy teacher unions. It is apparent to me as a union leader that the Department views our unions as valued partners in the process of improving education and is willing to invest in our capacity to change so that we can be full participants in a constructive process that leads to great student learning.

So Arne Duncan ear is being bent by the Former Illinois Eduction Association Executive Director.  The fox is in the hen-house and they are reaching out to the unions in a big way.

If you did not believe in conspiracy, and I rarely do, this will change that thought.  The Department of Education is hiring Union Presidents to oversee and adapt union dealings with the states.  Folks, the states need to revolt and ban the DOE from the federal government.

During this article the author continually used the work “stakeholders”  as a matter of fact he glowing speaks about Jo Anderson talking about the pending school reform in Illinois.  Here is a list taken from Educationnews.org.

After five months of negotiations between legislators, unions, business representatives and reform groups, Illinois Senate Democrats yesterday announced a new education reform plan, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. If approved by the Senate, the reform plan will lengthen school days, change tenure rules, make it more difficult for teachers to strike and give the district more power to fire underperforming teachers.

I don’t see any taxpayer groups in that mix and boy does it sound impressive, right?  But does it really have any teeth?  Or is it just another placebo to quiet the masses.  This from the Chicago Tribune today.

The reform legislation known as Performance Counts recently whipped through the Illinois Senate in a matter of hours. A good sign: Republicans and Democrats sang its praises. That’s a credit to Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, who negotiated the deal, and to Senate President John Cullerton, who encouraged it.

Now that bill goes to the House. Time for the House to say: Nice work, let’s make this even better.

There are several ways to improve Performance Counts:

•The byzantine process of firing an inept teacher can take up to five years. The Senate bill shortens that time, but modestly. It will still take too long to remove a teacher who can’t cut it in the classroom. For starters, the House should shorten the “remediation” period — the time a consultant works with a failing teacher to improve his or her performance. That takes up to one year now. Principals should have the authority to decide after 30 school days whether a teacher will continue in remediation.

• The Senate bill sets a higher bar for granting tenure to teachers. The House should create a tougher standard, and push for merit pay for teachers who prove their worth, who take on tougher assignments, who are proficient in high-demand subject areas. Optimally, the House would eliminate tenure for newly hired teachers, as Florida recently did.

• The Senate bill allows the Chicago Board of Education to extend the school day and school year, a key demand from Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel. But the bill also says teachers can bargain for more pay in exchange for that extra time. The school board faces a $720 million budget gap. It needs full authority to extend time in the classroom without added expense. Chicago teachers’ salaries compare favorably to other big city systems. In terms of classroom time, Chicago comes up woefully short.

• The Senate bill requires a 75 percent vote of approval by teachers to authorize a strike in Chicago. That’s a fairly high bar, but as new school leadership gets established and Chicago sorts through its financial crisis and contract talks, children need a guarantee that they will be in school. The House should set at least a five-year moratorium on Chicago school strikes.

Performance Counts emerged from the Senate after months of bargaining. It’s a very good bill. It could be a great bill. That’s the challenge to House Speaker Michael Madigan, Minority Leader Tom Cross and their members. Make it great.

So we can extend the school year but teachers can ask for more pay based on the work rules.  From a labor perspective this is fair but don’t you think reform should include some concession from the union?  And giving up bad teachers is not a concession  it is a good idea that’s time has come.  New tenure rules?  Who came up with tenure in the first place.    I don’t want teacher tenure.  I want teachers who will stay to do the best they can.  Not ones who are guaranteed a job.

Folks we need to eliminate the DOE and let each state dictate its educational needs.  We need to get back to reading writing and arithmetic.  Progressive policies and lesson plans be damned.  Our kids are behind because they can’t write a sentence, they can’t do math and they for sure can’t and won’t read unless it is a text message. We are in trouble and the teachers unions and our own DOE want to keep us there.

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1 Comment

Filed under Department of Education, Government Agencies, Uncategorized

One response to “Department of Education: They are inside the gates.

  1. MikeH

    NJEA has gotten away with scamming us by using our own children as pawns for their own enrichment.

    We KNOW what cards are in their hand. The difference today is that they know we know — they know the gig is up.

    I think we need a plan to rebuff their trump card of using our children as pawns.

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