Peterson detailed "why and how" to reinvent the MTEA:
Labor flexed its muscle all across the country this April 4, the anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he stood with striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn.
The “We Are One” demonstrations throughout the country demanded an end to the attacks on collective bargaining and the living standards of working people by right wing politicians and corporations.
Last night, along with 150 other people, I attended the budget forum organized by the Teacher Action Group and cosponsored by Education Not Incarceration-Delaware Valley and ACTION United.
A few themes emerged from the give and take between the audience and a panel consisting of City Controller Alan Butkovitz; longtime District administrator James "Torch" Lytle; Sarah Morris and Victor Saez from Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project; Jaileah Gibson, Philadelphia Student Union member and a senior at Sayre; Arlene Kempin from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Brett Schaeffer from Education Law Center; and State Rep. James Roebuck, minority chair of the House Education Committee.
Here, in no particular order, are some key points:
Last Friday’s demonstration, which brought over 500 people to District headquarters on the heels of student walkouts at three city high schools and an outpouring of community opposition at an Audenreid community meeting, signals the emergence of a new level of opposition to the District’s school reform process.
With many school districts facing budget shortfalls, teachers, including those in Philadelphia, will likely face layoffs.
The budget crunch coincides with a growing attack on teacher tenure and seniority as the governing principle for teacher assignment and layoffs. Even Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, and long time teacher union organizer and staffer, has joined the chorus calling for “peformance” as the “driver” in decisions around these issues. And former Washington, D.C. Superintendent Michelle Rhee has made ending tenure and eliminating seniority central agenda points of her “Students First” campaign.
Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, is a central figure in a segment of the new film "Waiting for 'Superman'" that describes teacher unions as a "menace" - a major obstacle to improving schools that are performing poorly.
Given the film's unflattering portrayal of Weingarten, whose union represents Philadelphia teachers, it was good to get to see her and hear her message unedited at Saturday's One Nation Working Together rally in Washington that aimed to shift national priorities toward education, jobs, and peace.
Tens of thousands demonstrated in Washington on Saturday for jobs, justice, and education, an effective counterpoint to the right-wing Glen Beck affair in August.
Unfortunately the media mostly played down the event or missed its significance. The Inquirer, for example,did not have a reporter at the event and ran a wire-service article on page 4 of Sunday's edition, characterizing it alternately as a Democratic election rally and a protest around a “grab bag of issues” ranging from “universal health care”… to “vegetarianism.”
On October 2 the AFL-CIO, NAACP, and a broad coalition of progressive organizations are holding a rally in Washington. The AFT is one of the unions actively organzing for the action. Termed “One Nation…Working Together,” marchers will demand:
The election of CORE, a social justice union slate, to lead the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union is reverberating across the labor movement and sending a signal that teachers are no longer willing to be the punching bag for corporate-inspired school reformers.
CTU President Elect Karen Lewis put it this way in her acceptance speech:
Chicago teachers last week elected CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators), a group that has worked along side the community to fight school closings, teacher firings, and privatization over the past two years, to head the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).