Friday, June 27, 2014

Fight Back to protect public education

EduShyster interviews Barbara Madeloni, the recently elected president of the 110,000 member Massachusetts Teachers Association, and she warns that we either fight for public education or we will lose it.
A former high school teacher, Madeloni was teaching teachers at the University of Massachusetts-Amerst, and she and her students refused to participate in edTPA. As she puts it, “The students with whom I was working didn’t want to submit videos of themselves teaching to Pearson. They didn’t want their work as student teachers to be reduced to a number on a rubric by people who didn’t know them, and 67 of 68 students ultimately refused to send their work.” Madeloni told the story to Michael Winerip of the New York Times; ten days after his story appeared, she was fired. (Winerip, a superb education writer, was later reassigned to cover “Boomers,” and the Times eliminated its weekly education column. Winerip rattled cages every Monday.)
Edushyster asks Madeloni what we can do to fight back against the reformers attacking teachers and public education.

Madeloni responds:
“I think fighting is winning. In a union where members are truly engaged and active, we’re talking to one another about what’s happening, informing each other and making decisions about how we can fight back. The degree to which we’ve been told that our members are unwilling to be active is astonishing to me. If you alienate the membership by continually telling them that things are bad but they could be worse, so we’re going to get behind the bad thing, of course people aren’t going to be active. If we say to members—*We can be powerful. We can use our power. It’s going to be scary. It’s going to be hard. But history shows that we can do this,*—the reaction is completely different because you’re talking about things that really matter to them. And by the way, our members understand that the attacks on them and on public education are coming from both political parties.”
There’s lots more to enjoy. This is a scintillating interview. Keep your eye on Barbara Madeloni. Just think: Massachusetts is the most successful state in the nation by conventional measures like test scores, but even there, teachers, their unions, and public schools are under attack by the usual crowd.

From the blog of Diane Ravitch.
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