Time Magazine Attacks Teachers

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The cover of Time magazine’s forthcoming Nov. 3 issue shows a pretty significant misunderstanding of an important issue when it attacks teachers, blaming them for the problems in America’s schools. The cover is featured already on Time’s website, and soon it will be in every supermarket checkout line and newsstand in the country. AFT is calling the magazine to task for the cover and has launched a petition demanding that Time apologize for the cover.

AFT notes that the cover doesn’t reflect the content of the issue, which presents a more balanced view of the issue, and instead represents the agenda of wealthy interests who want to take due process away from teachers. Millions of Americans will not read the more even-handed coverage inside the magazine and will be misled by the cover.

AFT President Randi Weingarten described her response to the cover:

When I saw this today, I felt sick. This Time cover isn’t trying to foster a serious dialogue about solutions our schools need—it’s intentionally creating controversy to sell more copies….

The millionaires and billionaires sponsoring these attacks on teacher tenure claim they want to get great teachers into the schools that serve high-need kids. It’s a noble goal, but stripping teachers of their protections won’t help.

In fact, this blame-and-shame approach only leads to low morale and high turnover, making it even harder to get great teachers into classrooms. Just today, constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinskywrote a fact-based argument that tenure protections help recruit and retain high-quality teachers! In fact, there is a strong correlation between states with strong teacher tenure and high student performance.

Sign the petition and tell Time that we need a real debate on issues surrounding education and that they should apologize for using sensationalism to sell magazines.  That’s what our students, and teachers, deserve.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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NNU, AFT Urge Stronger Patient–Worker Protections in Ebola Treatments

NNU, AFT Urge Stronger Patient–Worker Protections in Ebola Treatments

In a letter to President Barack Obama about the growing concern over Ebola in the United States, the National Nurses United (NNU) urged the president to “invoke his executive authority” to order all U.S. hospitals to meet the highest “uniform, national standards and protocols” in order to “safely protect patients, all health care workers and the public.”

Two nurses who cared for an Ebola patient in Dallas who later died have contracted the disease and there have been serious questions raised about that hospital’s protocols and preparedness and concerns if other health care facilities are prepared. In the letter, NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro writes:

Not one more patient, nurse or health care worker should be put at risk due to a lack of health care facility preparedness The United States should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.

Read more here and here.

At a press conference today, AFT, which represents nurses and other health care professionals, called on all health care facilities to adopt a three-point plan as the core of their response to treating possible Ebola victims and protecting the health care workers who treat them. It includes an infectious disease control protocol and worker protections; developing a dedicated treatment team of willing staff members—doctors, nurses and support staff and providing front-line health care workers a voice in developing the procedures, protocols and plans to deal with Ebola at their facilities.

Says AFT President Randi Weingarten:

Nurses and health care professionals are the front line in this fight, and their number one priority is to keep their communities safe….Health care professionals step up when there are crises, they run toward crises.

Read more here and here.

Along with calling for stronger protocols and protections, the United States along with NNU and AFT have been providing assistance to nurses unions and health care workers organizations in West Africa who are in the center of the Ebola battle. That includes working with international organizations to provide health care workers with education, training and other support. Weingarten says:

We must deal with the Ebola crisis globally and locally.

Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network, says:

All of us have a responsibility to support the humanitarian effort and assist the heroic nurses, doctors and other health care workers who are on the front lines risking their lives to heal the thousands of infected patients in West Africa.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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California Ruling Ignores Real Factors Behind School Performance

Earlier this week in a suit financed and backed by corporate and wealthy benefactors—including those with investments in charter schools and educational technology—a California judge ruled that the state’s teacher tenure and seniority-based layoff statutes were unconstitutional.

Students Matter, the group that initiated the suit (Vergara v. California), claims tenure protects bad teachers and is the root cause for student underachievement, especially in schools that serve low-income students.

AFT President Randi Weingarten noted that on the day the decision was handed down:

Thousands of California classrooms were brimming with teachers teaching and students learning. They see themselves as a team, but sadly, this case now stoops to pitting students against their teachers. The other side wanted a headline that reads: ‘Students win, teachers lose.’

The suit, said California Federation of Teachers (CFT) President Joshua Pechthalt, “is not pro-student.”

It is fundamentally anti-public education, scapegoating teachers for problems originating in underfunding, poverty and economic inequality.

California ranks at the very bottom of all states in its per-pupil expenditures, at $8,342 (in 2011), according to the quality index published by Education Week. That’s 30% below the national average of $11,864, “reflecting the consistent shortchanging of the K-12 system by the state,” writes Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik.

Hiltzik also points out that the backers of the suit blame the teachers for the state of education in California but:

Not the imbalance of financial resources between rich districts and poor. Not the social pathologies—poverty, joblessness, racial discrimination, violence—that affect educational attainment in disadvantaged communities.

Says Weingarten:

It’s surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children.  We must lift up solutions that speak to these factors—solutions like wraparound services, early childhood education and project-based learning.

Read Weingarten’s full statement here.

The ruling will be appealed.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Teachers Take Action for Public Education

In more than 60 cities across the country today, teachers, parents, allies and education supporters are rallying to save public education from a series of radical “reforms” pushed by corporations and politically motivated organizations that would do significant damage to our schools and limit the future of our students. The Reclaim the Promise of Public Education coalition was formed to fight for public education as our nation’s gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice.  As part of the day of action, the AFT is running radio, print and online ads to spread the coalition’s message.

AFT President Randi Weingarten discussed the purpose of the day of action:

Teachers, parents, students and community members are banding together to demand a new direction for public education. In some ways, this Day of Action is years in the making. Parents, students, teachers and community members have been coming together in places like Chicago, Philadelphia and New York to call out what’s not working and create solutions that do. Text-fixation, austerity, privatization, division, competition are not working for our students—as we saw in the PISA results this week. Our schools need evidence-based, community-based solutions like early childhood education, wraparound services, professional autonomy and development, parent voices and project-based learning. That’s what this Day of Action is about. That’s what reclaiming the promise is about. These are our schools and they need our solutions.

AFT started a petition for those who support the goals of the day of action:

We want great neighborhood public schools that are safe and welcoming, are fully funded and have teachers who are well-prepared, are well-supported and have manageable class sizes and time to collaborate. We want our schools to be centers of our communities and ensure that children and families have access to wraparound services to meet their social, emotional and health needs. We want curriculum that focuses on teaching and learning, not testing, and that includes art, music and the sciences. We want to put the public back in public education.

In addition to the petition, supporters can join a Thunderclap for the day of action.

Some events are happening later in the day—find out if there is an event near you.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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