Thursday, July 24, 2008

Green Dots in Locke (and NYC)

Green Dot Charter Schools have taken over Locke High School in LA, and columnist Steve Lopez of the LA Times sees improvements already. Apparently they've dumped two-thirds of the teaching staff, instituted dress codes for students, and tightened up security considerably.

I work in what's considered an excellent regular high school, but it would be much better if administration were to accept no nonsense from kids. I don't accept it in my classes, but I really can't get involved in the halls as I'm dead certain I will receive little or no backup.

Public schools here are not permitted to mandate dress codes, as Green Dot apparently is. And while Chancellor Klein talks a big game about reporting illegal and dangerous behavior, there's little incentive for principals to cooperate as it may impact negatively on their ability to earn 30 grand in merit pay.

Lopez offers no evidence tenure and seniority for teachers would preclude what's described in the column, or that union contracts stood in the way of any of the changes mentioned. Certainly Chancellor Klein would love to have the option of firing two-thirds of working teachers and replacing them with shiny new Teaching Fellows, TFAs, and newbies at half the salary. After all, there are still stadiums to be built.

Here in NYC, he's got a willing collaborator in UFT President Randi Weingarten, who's partnered with Green Dot to open a charter in NYC. Ms. Weingarten and her Edwize minions insist that what they have at Green Dot is better than tenure. It's difficult for me to imagine that the newly-fired Locke teachers share her sentiments right now. In fact, Green Dot ejects not only tenure, but seniority rights as well. Here's what its website proclaims:

Key reforms embodied in the AMU contract include: teachers have explicit say in school policy and curriculum; no tenure or seniority preference...

Perhaps you're willing to trust the good graces of Green Dot. Perhaps you believe they won't dump you out on the street, as they just did to two-thirds of the teachers at Locke. Probably the teachers at Locke thought that too, or they wouldn't have invited Green Dot in the first place. After all, Green Dot's Steve Barr bought them pizza, so he must be a good guy. Right?

More remarkable than any of this is the fact that the United Federation of Teachers, whose job, ostensibly, is to stand up and negotiate for us, would invite this company into the city.

On May 17th, 2007, the LA Times ran an editorial which stated Locke teachers:

...are perfectly willing to loosen work rules and toss tenure out the classroom window...

I wrote about this story here on that very day, saying:
Green Dot charter schools are interesting to me. I was thrilled when Eduwonk featured its founder, Steve Barr, as a guest blogger. I thought unionized charters were a hopeful sign for innovative education. But it turns out there's no tenure in Mr. Barr's variety of union, and the LA Times urges teachers to toss it out the classroom window.

This provoked a typically vicious response from Leo Casey, Ms. Weingarten's internet mouthpiece:

From the “make up whatever facts fit today’s rant” school of thought, there is the assertion that Barr has thrown tenure out the window.

Mr. Casey, via his link, attributes the assertion to me. However, it was the LA Times who made the remark. Thus, Leo Casey, unelected UFT High School Vice-President, shows that he'd rather libel a working teacher than abide criticism of a charter school boss who explicitly rejects both tenure and seniority.

Working people have it very tough in the USA nowadays. It's simply unconscionable that union officials should be working at making things worse. And despite what the Unity/New-Action machine may tell you, Rod "The NEA is a terrorist organization" Paige admires UFT President Randi Weingarten but not because she's improved the lot of working people.

Leo Casey asks:

...why let the facts get in the way of a good rant?

Why indeed, Mr. Casey? Now that we have more facts about Green Dot, I have total confidence you'll ignore them utterly. You've got your gig, and your two pensions, and really, who gives a damn if generations of Americans will suffer for your willful and unconscionable refusal to confront reality?

PS: At Locke, Green Dot gets just just one more little advantage:

With the help of private donations, class sizes will be kept at about 28 instead of 40.

There's nothing like a level playing field, and Green Dot's sweetheart deal is nothing like a level playing field at all. Wouldn't it be nice if we had lower class sizes too? It's odd we don't. The UFT declared "Mission Accomplished" on class sizes back on April 12th, 2007.
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