Courageous MORE Teachers Defy Gag Order

Three courageous members of the United Federation of Teachers are defying the city’s gag order on speaking out against the state tests.  Lauren Cohen, Jia Lee, and Kristin Taylor, all of whom are running for positions in the upcoming UFT election with the Movement of Rank and File Educators Caucus, spoke to NBC 4 New York and encouraged parents to opt their children out of the rigged Common Core exams that New York State students in grades 3-8 are in the midst of now.

Click here to watch the video with the three courageous teachers.

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Unofficial Opt-Out Numbers From Around NYS

We will update this page throughout the day as we get unofficial opt-out numbers in from around the state.  If you know your district’s opt-out percentage please leave it in the comments, send us a tweet (@ThePJSTA), or send it via email to pjsta1vp@gmail.com and we will add them to our post here.

**Updated 4/6/16 1:42 PM**

Baldwin- 51%

Bayport-Blue Point- 72%

Bellmore- 69%

Bellmore-Merrick- 70%

Brentwood- 55%

Carle Place- 54%

Central Islip- 12%

Cold Spring Harbor- 20%

Comsewogue- 86%

Connetquot- 74%

East Hampton- 13%

East Meadow- 49%

East Islip- 72%

East Quogue- 63%

East Rockaway- 65.4%

Eastport-South Manor- 73%

Floral Park-Bellerose- 27%

Freeport- 29%

Glen Cove- 43%

Great Neck- 18%

Greenport- 65%

Hauppauge- 72%

Herricks- 15%

Hewlett-Woodmere- 60%

Hicksville- 34%

Island Trees- 55%

Jericho- 20%

Kings Park- 59%

Lawrence- 25%

Levittown- 68%

Lindenhurst- 81%

Locust Valley- 56%

Lynbrook- 62%

Malverne- 44%

Manhasset- 12%

Massapequa- 64%

Mattituck-Cutchogue- 42%

Merrick- 56%

Middle Country- 72%

Montauk- 17%

Mount Sinai- 55%

New Hyde Park-Garden City- 26%

North Babylon- 63%

North Bellmore- 68%

North Merrick- 62%

North Shore- 43%

Northport-East Northport- 69%

Oceanside- 48%

Oyster Bay-East Norwich- 40%

Oyster Ponds- 34%

Patchogue-Medford- 72%

Plainedge- 79%

Plainview-Old Bethpage- 59%

Port Jefferson- 60%

Quogue- 19%

Riverhead- 39%

Rockville Center- 60%

Rocky Point- 79%

Roosevelt- 8%

Roslyn- 47%

Shelter Island- 46%

Shoreham-Wading River- 74%

Smithtown- 59%

Southampton- 34%

Southold- 55%

Springs- 23%

Three Village- 56%

Tuckahoe- 36%

Uniondale- 47%

Valley Stream Central High School- 51%

Valley Stream #24- 56%

Valley Stream #30- 18%

Wantagh- 61%

West Babylon- 62%

West Hempstead- 32%

Westbury- 34%

Westhampton Beach- 47%

William Floyd- 40%

More to come…

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A Couple of Links While We Wait for Opt-Out Numbers

As we wait to hear on opt-out numbers across the state today, a few worthwhile links to pass along.

Though their local union, the UFT, may be working against the opt-out movement in New York City, the teachers at the Earth School in Manhattan have an important message to the families they serve…

Public education is important to us. As teachers, we share a deep commitment to our school’s mission and have chosen public education because that is where our values lie. The founding teachers of our school envisioned a “dream school”: a public school to serve diverse students and families. Our participation in public education comes with responsibilities and implicit agreements–a social contract. We agree that all of society benefits when children have access to quality education. We also share the uniquely democratic hope that children who learn together will later govern together with more compassion, more social cohesion, and a greater sense of civic responsibility.

Be sure to read the full text of their letter.  It is well worth your time.

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Teachers at the Earth School

Over at Living in Dialogue, Michelle Gunderson of the Chicago Teachers Union write about her experience organizing picket lines for their one-day strike last week…

A picket line is sacred ground. As a labor organizer and teacher unionist, I do not say this lightly. Workers have fought and died on picket lines fighting for work conditions that respect the inherent dignity of human life. A picket line is hallowed ground sanctified by sacrifice.

Make sure you check out that whole post as well.

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CTU Picket Line

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Contribute to Defeat Mulgrew

I have written in great detail about the harm that Michael Mulgrew and his Unity Caucus inflict not only upon their local union, the United Federation of Teachers, but upon unionized teachers across New York State and beyond.  Fortunately this is an election year for the UFT and Mulgrew has a very formidable challenger in noted public education activist Jia Lee.

Lee needs no introduction to most advocates of public education.  She has been on the front lines of the fight against high stakes testing, junk science teacher evaluations, and the struggle for more democratic unions at all levels.  In 2015 she travelled on her own dime to Washington DC and she quite eloquently represented public school teachers in the United States Senate.  PJSTA members will remember her as our keynote speaker at the PJSTA Conference Day last year.  She was one of the first conscientious objectors in New York State when she began refusing to administer the rigged New York State assessments in 2014 and she is one of the authors of the Teachers of Conscience Position Paper.  As someone who is fortunate enough to call Jia a friend, I can share that she is the real deal when it comes to public education advocacy.  She breathes activism.  In addition to the tireless efforts she has put into the opt-out campaigns and working for union democracy, Jia is a dynamic teacher at New York City’s Earth School and she has been a tremendous professional resource to me, sharing countless things from her classroom that my students have then been able to benefit from.  If such a thing as an education superhero exists that person is Jia Lee.  You can click here to access one of Jia’s flyers to share widely with your public ed allies.

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Beth Dimino, Jia Lee, Brian St. Pierre. Lee is running against Michael Mulgrew for UFT President.

This election is about more than just Jia, however.  Jia is simply running at the top of a slate of candidates being put forth by two UFT Caucuses.  Those two caucuses (MORE and New Action) are tired of seeing their union compromise and collaborate with reformers bent on destroying us.  They are ready to transform the UFT into a member driven union that represents the teachers in the classroom rather than the union “leaders” with personal agendas.  While that sort of transformation would certainly benefit New York City’s classroom teachers, it’s benefits would stretch far beyond that as well.  It would significantly alter the direction of our statewide union, NYSUT, and our national union, the AFT.  As the local that is by far the largest in the country (several times larger than the second biggest), the UFT’s leadership wields extraordinary power within the teacher union landscape.  They impact virtually every unionized teacher in the United States.  The leadership of the UFT is the largest reason why unions have supported the Common Core and test based teacher evaluations.  They were the ones urging state legislators to vote in favor of the Education Transformation Act last year!  As a matter of fact, much of Unity Caucus’ (the caucus representing the UFT leadership) campaign in this year’s election has even centered upon their support for the evaluation plan in which 50% is made up of test scores.

Clearly anyone who supports public education has a stake in this year’s UFT election.  Nobody can ignore it and think that it only impacts teachers in the five boroughs.  This election will impact every teacher, student, and parent across the state.  With that in mind I will ask that all of you head on over right now to make a donation to the MORE Caucus and their election fund.  Unseating the biggest bully on the public education landscape can’t be done by simply “liking” something on Facebook or retweeting a link on Twitter.  It will take money too.  So give what you can, even if it is only a small amount.  Finally, be sure to ask your friends who support public education to do the same.

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The CTU’s One-Day Strike

Today Chicago’s teachers waged a one-day strike.  The strike was not just for a new contract, but for a just public education system for the city’s students.  There are a couple of essential pieces to read regarding the strike.  I’ll link to each and share excerpts from them below.  First, check out this startling picture of the striking teachers taking to the city’s streets below…

 

First comes Jacobin‘s piece by Micah Uetricht who sat down with the CTU’s Sarah Chambers.  Here are a few of Chambers’ comments (but be sure to read the whole article!)..

They stopped paying our steps and lanes, which provide for pay increases based on time in the schools and degrees earned. Legally, they have to continue paying them, because we’re still under our old contract, which provides for steps and lanes pay increases. So they’re breaking the contract, which is why we’re going on an unfair labor practice strike.

Union leadership has indicated they aren’t particularly concerned whether the one-day strike is deemed legal or not — even though CPS has said it is illegal.

The consequences of not striking are far worse than striking. If you want to see the consequences of not striking, look at cities like Detroit, where they have skyrocketing class sizes and don’t have proper cleaning services. Look at New Orleans, which has no public schools left. These are the consequences of not fighting the privatization and austerity agenda in public education.

Labor needs to learn that they can’t be collaborationists. They have to fight back against the bosses, but also against the politicians that are hurting the workers. The only way to do that is to show militant force and withhold our labor.

A lot of unions have stopped using strikes as weapons. But striking is the most powerful weapon we have. I think our strike in 2012 started to re-energize labor; I hope that continues.

We can’t just be service model-style unions — we have to actually energize every single union, every single workplace, so our members, the rank and file, are the ones leading these actions.

Uetricht is also the author of the book Strike for America: The Chicago Teachers Against Austerity which you can get at the special price of only $1.00 this weekend as a special solidarity price!

The second thing to read, by the CTU’s Michelle Gunderson, was posted on Living in Dialogue.  She wrote up a blog post on Why We Will  Strike

A teachers’ contract is not just about money. It’s an agreement between government and a community about how children will be treated.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I will always advocate for reasonable compensation for educators, especially in light of the amount of education and expertise needed to do this work.

But a contract is more than a pay schedule.

As a member of the Chicago Teachers Union bargaining team I see our contract as a way of building a school system where both adults and children can work to build a world of respect, caring, and a joy of learning.

We’ve asked for a reduction in standardized testing to only include state mandated tests. Our schools are run through three layers of management – “downtown” offices, networks, and school site administration. At each step along the way, each level of management has demanded more and more testing. We know of schools where kindergarten teachers are using the Haggerty program and are required to give sight word tests to each child once a week. That is 20 percent of a classroom’s reading instructional time. That is beyond crazy. Children cannot learn to read if they are being constantly tested on their reading. And this is just one example.

We are negotiating for less paperwork so we can spend time and energy on our students. Along with the layer of management comes endless paperwork. Many of the lesson templates that administrators require are so tedious that they take almost as long to fill out as they do to teach. There is one thing I know for certain, no urban school district ever improved through increased paperwork.

We are being crushed under a punitive evaluation system that includes tests scores and observations based on the Danielson Framework. There is a saying that we teach what we test. Even worse than teaching to the test, an evaluation system based on a rubric that does not fit the varied forms of teaching necessary in a highly complex system perverts our schools into testing factories and with cookie cutter teaching. We are looking to broaden evaluation range bands so that teachers who are just learning their craft are not crushed by test scores that plummet their evaluations. In my mind, this is just a sense of fairness.

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