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Re: critique of Gerstner 'Teaching at Risk' report

Alan, thank you for your enlightening posting. I do have an extremely naive and
limited understanding of teacher unions, and I'm glad to see things are moving
in a good direction. I work with several teachers who feel "oppressed" in their
schools, so I become a little angry when I get the impression that union
leaders are restricting, rather then liberating pedagogy freedoms. I do hope
unions will not only work to restructure themselves, but also to restructure
the governence of individual schools so that teachers have more power.
Anyway, thank you Allan for expanding my perspective.

Quoting alanyoung@mchsi.com:

> Yes, these are AFT union dues at work. Not that you are lumping all unions
> together, Kristina. I am sure you would not. You are sharp and genuine. But
> several others on the list have historically had the tendency to union bash
> and not see the differences that have been occurring between the two
> predominant teachers' unions of late. I want to make sure some do not lump
> the unions together. NEA is NOT AFT. Unfortunately so many good teachers are
> getting such poor representation when the AFT brass sells them out from the
> top. I truly do not think there is much difference between all teachers NEA
> and AFT at the grassroots level. The difference is that AFT is less
> representative and must find ways of democratizing so the grassroots voices
> can better be heard and represented and occupy leadership positions. Norm
> has been working on such for so long. It has to be soooo frustrating for AFT
> teachers during this time.
> Well, I'm not just trying to do a pro NEA speech. We have had to work hard
> to change this huge organization and still have a ways to go. But it has
> been changing and we are moving in the right direction. Leadership has been
> responsive. I feel for my colleagues in AFT (esp. UFT) who seem to be
> subject to all kinds of stereotypical power plays and whatnot. Much less of
> that is possible in NEA because of our democratic infrastructure, in my
> opinion. So I know it is easy for me to sit and watch and criticize. But if
> anything can be done about how democratic representation occurs from the
> bottom up, it would be so healthy for AFT in my opinion. And I know that
> George and Norm and others are trying, but this sellout at the top has to
> stop. Voices have to rise up somehow and seize the day.
> And people have to also stop lumping all unions together, because they are
> not all the same. Unfortunately when unions are less democratic, it just
> leaves them vulnerable to unrelenting union-bashing. That then affects even
> other unions doing it right and in turn hurts us all. So those on this list
> need to remember that NEA is taking a more progressive stand and has been a
> real player in challenging the current regressive reforms. Give us credit
> when we get it right and do not pigeonhole us with that stale and untrue
> notion that all unions are corrupt or co-opted. It is not true. Kristina is
> not doing this, but others on this list have had a hard time distinguishing
> this and accepting the recent changes in the NEA as real. Well it may have
> not been easy, but with concerted effort, things have changed and we should
> do all we can to keep encouraging this change. It has been real and real
> effective. With much effort, our union has changed because our voices had
> true democratic means of rising up and were not quashed. This in no way
> diminishes the grassroots work of others, it validates it. It can change
> organizations from the inside out, if the democratic infrastructure is there
> to facilitate it. And it does also help to have large organizations on your
> side if they are getting it right. It helps those of us in smaller groups to
> gain ground, keep momentum, and gives us hope that things can change.
> It was interesting when Reg Weaver, (called a terrorist) said NEA leaders
> and our member ARE the same. How much closer this is to reality than Sandra
> Feldman's representation of AFT members. There is a disconnect in the
> democracy of the AFT. I hope for all of the great teachers of that
> organization that it gets fixed soon. I see no other way than for them to
> stand up and demand it. Or maybe there is some way they can push for change
> to join NEA. I am somewhat naive as to this (knowing that this relates to
> bargaining, contracts, laws, closed shop, etc.) so it may not be realistic.
> but something has to be done. I do not believe Feldman and several other AFT
> leaders represent the majority of their members. They are isolated and
> insulated. It is just that the AFT doesn't have the democratic set-up to
> truly have their leadership represent them or get rid of them. NEA, though
> not perfect, does this much better and I hope one day this same possibility
> of democratic representation in unions will come to all teachers somehow.
> Maybe this could be solved by merger, but only if AFT truly adopted NEA
> democratic infrastructure and means of representation. There would be little
> openness to merger at this point if NEA would lose its democratic system.
> Well I know that this is a tangent with the main focus being the schlock of
> this corporate-led report which bashes teachers, but hopefully one that
> helps folks resist the temptation to see both unions as the same. There have
> been times. . . but things change and now is not one of the times. The
> report in itself is an attempt at union-busting and pitting teachers against
> teachers. Collectively, we need to counter this crap and hopefully that
> means using the unions to help with that effort and seeing that they can be
> part of the solution, not just part of the problem.
> Alan
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <kristina.pelletier@maine.edu>
> To: <arn-l@interversity.org>
> Sent: Friday, March 19, 2004 10:51 PM
> Subject: Re: [arn-l] critique of Gerstner 'Teaching at Risk' report
> > The members of the teaching commission include Sandra Feldman is the
> president
> > of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Union dues at work.
> >
> > Teaching Commission web site with a link to the full teaching at risk
> report
> >
> > http://www.theteachingcommission.org/
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Quoting Victor Steinbok <victor.steinbok@verizon.net>:
> >
> > > At 11:04 PM 3/19/2004, Young, Alan wrote:
> > > >Try this Victor. Monty sent it on another post on a different list.
> > > >
> > > >Alan
> > > >
> > > >Read this issue of EDPolicy Update
> > > ><http://rdr.sbml.cc/Click?q=b2-M4zwQX0S3FCyzOvjzE4upxfi>
> > > ><http://www.smartbrief.com/images/shim.gif>
> > > ><http://rdr.sbml.cc/Click?q=c7-KGl3QLPLxrchBnvNLMVhF2Ry>
> > >
> > > Thanks. I got another one:
> > >
> > > <http://www.ascd.org/cms/index.cfm?TheViewID=2365>
> > >
> > > It leads to the same page.
> > >
> > >
> > > -------------------------------------------------------
> > > ARN-L archives:
> > > http://interversity.org/lists/arn-l/archives.html
> > >
> >
> >
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