Charter schools’ worst nightmare: A pro-union movement may change charters forever

From Salon:

A growing number of charter school teachers want to unionize, the American Prospect’s Rachel M. Cohen tells Salon

Saturday, Jul 18, 2015

When you think of charter schools, there are probably a few people and concepts that come to mind: Michelle Rhee, “grit,” Bill Gates, Eva Moskowitz, KIPP, etc. And if you happen to think of teachers unions at some point during this education policy reverie, you’ll probably have them in the role they’re traditionally assigned by the media — as anti-charter and anti-reform. Just like Israelis and Palestinians, Crips and Bloods, Yankees and Red Sox, teachers unions and the charter movement simply don’t like each other. That’s just the way it is.

But according to a recent piece in the American Prospect by Rachel M. Cohen, the truth of how charters and unions relate to one another is more complicated. It turns out that there are some charter school teachers out there who’ve started to think a union isn’t such a bad idea after all; and their ranks are growing. Whether it’s in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago or New York, Cohen shows, the future of education policy is very much in flux. In fact, the day when the financial backers of charters have to decide which they care about more — breaking unions or educating kids — may arrive sooner than you think.

Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with Cohen to discuss her piece, the motivations of charter teachers who are seeking to unionize, and why their success may actually bring charters closer to their historical roots and original mission. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.

How widespread are the efforts to unionize among charter teachers?

It’s definitely not the majority. They say 7 percent of all charter school teachers are currently unionized, and half of those were because the state set that up when they created the charter law. For example, in Baltimore, which I didn’t talk about in my piece, all charter school teachers are unionized, but not because they came together and started a union draft like they’re doing in Philadelphia or Chicago, where the state said you have to follow your district’s collective bargaining unit.

By no measure is it the majority, but what’s interesting now is that there are fairly larger networks of charter schools starting to do it, and if alliance charter school teachers succeed in L.A. (which is the largest charter school network), then that would impact what other smaller schools do.

What tend to be the pro-union teachers’ complaints?

Most charter school teachers work on year-to-year contracts, which does not provide great stability, especially if you’re trying to create a family.

One of the things that I saw was that charter school teachers tended to be younger, and some of the teachers that I spoke with who were in their early 30s were like, “I want to stay at this school, but if I want to get married and have kids there’s no way that I can not know if I have a job in September once May rolls around. I need to either work in a district school or unionize this school, because this whole tenuous working model is not sustainable for the kind of middle-class life I’m trying to build.” So that’s something all workers are trying to figure out how to get for themselves.

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Drought Is Just the Beginning of Our Frightening Water Emergency

From Alternet:

For years, Americans dismissed dire water shortages as a problem of the Global South. Now the crisis is coming home.

By Maude Barlow
July 17, 2015

The United Nations reports that we have 15 years to avert a full-blown water crisis and that, by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent. Five hundred renowned scientists brought together by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that our collective abuse of water has caused the earth to enter a “new geologic age,” a “planetary transformation” akin to the retreat of the glaciers more than 11,000 years ago. Already, they reported, a majority of the world’s population lives within a 30-mile radius of water sources that are badly stressed or running out.

For a long time, we in the Global North, especially North America and Europe, have seen the growing water crisis as an issue of the Global South. Certainly, the grim UN statistics on those without access to water and sanitation have referred mostly to poor countries in Africa, Latin America, and large parts of Asia. Heartbreaking images of children dying of waterborne disease have always seemed to come from the slums of Nairobi, Kolkata, or La Paz. Similarly, the worst stories of water pollution and shortages have originated in the densely populated areas of the South.

But the global water crisis is just that—global—in every sense of the word. A deadly combination of growing inequality, climate change, rising water prices, and mismanagement of water sources in the North has suddenly put the world on a more even footing.

There is now a Third World in the First World. Growing poverty in rich countries has created an underclass that cannot pay rising water rates. As reported by Circle of Blue, the price of water in 30 major US cities is rising faster than most other household staples—41 percent since 2010, with no end in sight. As a result, increasing numbers cannot pay their water bills, and cutoffs are growing across the country. Inner-city Detroit reminds me more of the slums of Bogotá than the North American cities of my childhood.

Historic poverty and unemployment in Europe have also put millions at risk. Caught between unaffordable rising water rates and the imposition of European-wide austerity measures, thousands of families in Spain, Portugal, and Greece have had their water service cut off. An employee of the water utility Veolia Eau was fired for refusing to cut supplies to 1,000 families in Avignon, France.

As in the Global South, the trend of privatizing water services has placed an added burden on the poor of the North. Food and Water Watch and other organizations have clearly documented that the rates for water and sewer services rise dramatically with privatization. Unlike government water agencies, corporate-run water services must make a profit for their involvement.

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Pope Francis To ‘Class Warfare’ Crybabies: ‘It Is I Who Follows The Church’

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How to insult a “progressive”

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Christine Lavin

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Caitlyn Jenner: We Don’t Need Another Hero

We don’t need another hero.

Trans-folks who came out after about 1980 are second, third and forth generation TS/TG people not pioneers.

First Olympic Champion who transitioned (That I Know of off the top of my head):  That honor goes to (From Wikipedia)  Erik Schinegger (born 19 June 1948) is an Austrian intersexual and transgender skier. He was the world champion women’s downhill skier in 1966, at which time he was recognized as female and known as Erika Schinegger

Erik came out back in my era of the late 1960s early 1970s.  Fifty years thereabouts before Caitlyn.

We don’t need another hero with dubious claims to hero status.  I have dozens of heroes among my Facebook friends;  Lynn Conway, Dana Beyer, Andrea James and Brynn Tannehill to name but a few.  I may not always agree with a number of activists but I have to admire their dedication.

I’m not all that big on the models, but there are several women in the world of music whom I admire and whose CDs I buy.

As for those sisters who are in the world of acting.  I wish them all the best.  It is time to end the practice of casting non-trans folks in the role of trans-folks.  They never ever get it right and it just perpetuates stereotypes. Time to see the same sorts of protests over that one as the current protests about casting a white actress to play the role of a mixed race woman in Aloha, a movie I know of only from the controversy.

We don’t need another hero.

There are two or three things I know for certain having learned these lessons the hard way over the many years that have turned me into an old woman some look to for wisdom.

Self esteem comes from within.  Your therapist may validate your parking when you pay for a session but your therapist cannot really validate your life.

No amount of cosmetic surgery, make-up, jewelry or expensive clothes can make you real. They are all artifice and artifice is not the path to realness. The path to realness comes from within.  It comes from embracing the path you have walked through life. Not one other person dealing with the impact of a trans-prefixed word in their life has the same life experiences as you.  This to me is where “identity based communities” went off the tracks. Look at all the demands placed on people to have proper thoughts and use politically approved words to describe their lives, to erase individuality for the sake of community.

Real validation comes from within.

Over the last 20 years we have gone from Usenet, to mailing lists, to blogs  and now social media.  All of which have seemed focused on becoming stars of the particular virtual community of the moment.

Caitlyn Jenner was the final straw for me.  I watched as real activists, people who had worked hard for real change were ignored for the latest media darling.  I’ve watched the identical pattern for over 50 years.

In the end our communities are where we live, they are our circles of friends, co-workers, the stores we go to buy our groceries at.  For some that includes churches.

The idea that communities are based on identities is straight out of Brave New World.

You don’t need heroes. You need real world friends, not virtual communities.  Friends you can have over for dinner and go do things with. It is time to get past the idea of being a star with adoring fan/followers.

You don’t have to be an activist.  this is more bullshit pushed by self appointed leaders.  It is perfectly fine to be a book worm who has a hobby of making macrame objects from paracord, hemp cord and found objects.  No one has any right to fault you if you want to spend your weekends at garage sales and flea markets instead of demonstrations for some cause or other.

Over the last few months I have been unfriending people on Facebook.  Not because of any real animosity but because I don’t recognize their names and have no idea why we friended each other.  Probably because at one point I looked upon having lots of Facebook friends as a popularity contest and a form of self validation.  I am keeping friends I made who share common ideas, who make me laugh, share common values.  I’m also keeping friends who share contradictory ideas and values while sharing common interests because living in a world of sycophants sucks.

Yesterday I mentioned how I am debating taking this blog down and someone immediately asked if they could take it over.  Short answer is, “No.”  If I take it down I will make a point of holding on to the domain name for a while to keep it from being hijacked the way Pandagon was when Amanda Marcotte took her blog down.

I have gone round and round, sorting out what means the most to me in life.  Even the label post-transsexual feels like too much attachment to a distant life event.  I never bought into the idea of transsexual or transgender as a lifelong identity.

Life goes on.

I’m a crunchy old hippie dyke.  The LGBT community seems like it is for young folks, with its parades, parties and petty squabbles.  I no longer feel like I am a part of it.

When this blog dies I will start a different one, one about being an old hippie woman.

I was a hippie before I came out.  I was a hippie during the process of changing sex.  I was a hippie of sorts all the years since those days and now I am an old hippie woman. Hopefully at least a few folks look upon me as  wise.

Through out my life my I’ve been part of numerous subcultures.  Now I am part of one that everyone who lives past 65 or so joins.  I am old and being old tends to supersede other “identities.”

I am looking forward to marrying my life partner this fall.  there is no such thing as gay marriage, only marriage.  When that happens we will join the ranks of old married couples.