kitchen table math, the sequel: turning point - ?

Friday, August 1, 2008

turning point - ?

In Cheating our Kids, published in 2005, Joe Williams predicted that the teachers' unions would lose power in the Democratic Party once the old leadership of civil rights groups was replaced by the next generation. Younger leaders, Williams said, would break ranks with teachers' unions. (paraphrasing from memory)


In the NY Times today:
Civil rights groups have begun a welcome attack on a House bill that would temporarily exempt the states from the all-important accountability requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed into law in 2002. The attack, led by powerful groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, was unexpected, given that the nation’s two big teachers’ unions actually hold seats on the conference’s executive committee. Recent events suggest that the civil rights establishment generally is ready to break with the teachers’ unions and take an independent stand on education reform.

(via Flypaper)

Meanwhile, the headline in Education Week reads: New AFT Leader Vows to Bring Down NCLB:
Randi Weingarten, the new president of the American Federation of Teachers, declared war on the No Child Left Behind Act in her first speech to delegates during the union’s biennial convention, saying it has become, for many members, “a four-letter word.”

Ms. Weingarten, who is expected to become a leading voice as the federal law comes up for reauthorization, said “overhauling” it would be the aft’s most urgent priority.

NCLB has outlived whatever usefulness it ever had. Conceived by accountants, drafted by lawyers, and distorted by ideologues, it is too badly broken to be fixed,” she said a day after union delegates voted to do away with the current law and build new legislation based on the previous Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

[snip]

In her speech, the new president also called for a federal law that promotes community schools to serve needy children that provide all the services and activities they and their families need.

“Imagine schools that are open all day and offer after-school and evening recreational activities and homework assistance ... and suppose the schools included child care and dental, medical and counseling clinics, or other services the community needs,” Ms. Weingarten said. “For example, they might offer neighborhood residents English language instruction, GED programs, or legal assistance.”


So: she's going to bring down NCLB and expand her empire from its current 10-month school year to 12-hour school days, recreation programs, medical and counseling clinics, ELA and GED programs, and legal assistance.

Who said the way to win a war is to make it bigger?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"So: she's going to bring down NCLB and expand her empire from its current 10-month school year to 12-hour school days, recreation programs, medical and counseling clinics, ELA and GED programs, and legal assistance."

and what about a focus on standards and accountability? Constructivism and lower expectations are bigger threats to the AFT than NCLB or vouchers.

ari-free

Catherine Johnson said...

What do you know about Andy Stern?

Looking back at Joe Williams' book, I noticed he's in it ---- I gather he's been saying the same thing for some time now.

(He's head of .... Service Employees union - something like that?)

I wish I understood the politics better.

Catherine Johnson said...

When Ed read that passage from Weingarten he said we should have the schools do everything BUT education.

wordsmith said...

“Imagine schools that are open all day and offer after-school and evening recreational activities and homework assistance ... and suppose the schools included child care and dental, medical and counseling clinics, or other services the community needs,” Ms. Weingarten said. “For example, they might offer neighborhood residents English language instruction, GED programs, or legal assistance.”

How about maid service, oil change while-u-wait, and haircuts too? Their motto must be "Anything Except Academics."

Brett said...

My hunch is that she doesn't expect (or even want) to accomplish any of these things - it's only a way to frame the debate to her advantage. While we're debating her ridiculous proposals and doing all that work to prove her plan is a bad idea, nobody's thinking or talking about academic reform strategies, an area in which they'll come up short and alienate their allies.