August 27, 2008

Scratching backs, but not ours

I thought it would be appropriate to give the text of Weingarten’s speech to the Democratic National Convention this past Monday night.

Anyone who reads this blog will know that it won't go without comment.

I've also appended an important tally at the end, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Convention and everything to do with the state of our union.

"I am honored to be here representing the American Federation of Teachers' more than 1.4 million members. We work in your schools and colleges, in your hospitals and in your government agencies. And we believe that access to an excellent education is a basic civil right.

"For the children who are denied the education they need to fulfill their God-given [there’s that useful God word again cropping up where you least expect it, grrrrrr....] potential, it is a personal [and how may we ask it your personal tragedy?] and an inexcusable injustice. It's also an affront to American values and a threat to America's role as an incubator [funny, I just used that word, too, in a totally different context, of course] of innovation. This must change.

"And that requires leadership, not demagoguery [I posted something last December on how Democratic or Demogogic this woman is]. That is why we need to elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden to the White House. And why they need all of us working with them. The American Federation of Teachers is ready.

"Our number one priority is, as it has always been, strengthening our public schools to better serve our students [I won’t niggle about the split infinitive, but I will about the veracity. As far as I can see, she focuses on her own career gambits and doesn’t sweat the kids or the teachers either.] Let's do what we do in our best schools in all of our schools. Barack Obama knows that teachers must be partners, not pawns, in federal education policy. [You can read his platform here, but keep in mind how beholden he’s become to corporate money, and a fair number of those people are falling all over themselves putting education into private hands.] And federal education policy must be about a lot more than testing.

"I ask you to join us in this quest because you believe that strong public schools are cornerstones of our democracy, because our aging population depends on future generations growing the economy, because today's students will be the caretakers of tomorrow's environment, the sparks igniting our innovations, the tenders of our global relationships, the guardians of our prosperity and the creators of our arts. And simply because every child has a right to a fair and hopeful start in life.

"When those children walk through the doors of our classrooms, they bring us their dreams, their potential and their trust. And sometimes they bring empty stomachs, untreated ailments, and life experiences that can chill you to your core.

"America's teachers take them all in their fullness, and we do all we can to help them reach great heights. Good things are happening in our public schools: teachers and para-professionals who work tirelessly to inspire their students [until, of course, they get older or if they teach one of those expendable subjects (like art or typing), when the not-so-secret campaign to save money and get them out of the system has brought harassment and marginalization to an all-time high]; students who struggle, yet strive and succeed; communities that value education and ensure students have what they need.

"I can't tell you how proud I am when I visit those schools [I must have missed something: I know of individuals here and there who make a difference and kids who succeed, but I don’t know of any Utopian schools of the kind you describe in any of the five boroughs. Stop obfuscating.] Barack Obama and Joe Biden will champion and challenge the people entrusted with our children's well-being, and we welcome it! We are ready to work together to usher in a new era of excellence in America's public schools [I’ll settle for non-educators to stop meddling and give teachers back the autonomy they need to get things done.] We can do this. We must do this. And it starts with electing Barack Obama as the next President of the United States."

SOURCE 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee


The length of the school day and year

Seniority transfers

Excessing rights

Cafeteria duty, hall and potty patrol

An adequate grievance procedure

Principal’s presence at Step II and III

Arbitrations compromised by selectivity and delay

Rubber room abuses (unnecessary teacher removals, appalling conditions, extreme delays, misuse of financial penalties, etc.)

Merit pay

Teachers’ Choice reductions

Car permits

The appointment of an uncertified, non-educator chancellor with no teaching experience

One-way accountability (us, not us and them)

Oversized classes at all levels

Salary increases that don’t keep up with inflation

Gross violations on teacher autonomy

New funding formula that encourages 2-for-1 hiring

Patronage hiring

Enforced methodologies that do not work in all classrooms or for all children


Inordinate amounts of paperwork and testing

One-size-fits-all professional development

School closings and reshuffling, involving mass shake-ups and the dislocation of staff and students

Charter schools


NYC Educator said...

Pretty inclusive list. I make up lists like that from time to time, but yours is the best.

And all true, sad to say.

Woodlass said...

It needs to be circulated widely when it's done. People, especially all the new teachers she woos at the start of every year, don't understand the gravity of it.

Chaz said...

Great list. I think I will refer to it on some of my future posts.

By the way the newbie teacher is pretty clueless about things and they probably will not understand what was lost.

Anonymous said...

good list I will show it to my chapter leader who never gives us a straight answer or a UFT rep like the one I spoke to on the phone the other day. This person had to be the biggest dope I ever spoke to told me to go on the Mass Market Transfer List. I told him in what world does he live in, Disney World.