Micro Review of “Teacher Unions” from Ross and Mathieson, 2008, Battleground Schools.

“Teacher Unions” from Ross and Mathieson, 2008, Battleground Schools.

One of the most useful pieces I’ve had the pleasure of reading all summer. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it earlier, but after briefly reconnecting with the author and editor of this piece last week, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the article within this interesting handbook of various school controversies that have been fought out over the past century or so in the United States. I had been looking for a pithy summary of teachers unionism in America. And here I’ve found one, practically right under my nose!

The timeline in this entry and elsewhere in Battleground Schools are a boon for a newcomer to union history like me. Major figures, their biographies and their contributions to the arguments at hand appear frequently in these pages to make this an engaging survey. The story begins with a Texas school board member and former US Secretary of the Department of Education, Rod Paige, who in 2004 called teachers’ unions terrorist organizations. Then it flashes back to Ella Flagg Young, the first woman president of the NEA; and finally to Albert Shanker, President of the United Federation of Teachers and harbinger, for Ross, of the new “company unionism” that has begun to dominate all corners of American education sector labor.

A very interesting thread that I want to pick up on is what Ross identifies as Labor Imperialism, or the tendency for powerful labor unions to ally with national interests in government as well as industry in order to carry out imperialist projects on educational fronts. This idea would seem to converge with or reiterate in some respects Phillipson’s Linguistic Imperialism. And indeed, this is an idea that might be worth drawing out through further research. But I wonder how these conflicts that seemed to involve unions played out for instance, in Arizona where powerful economic interests were variously allied with or at odds with government in the formation of the schools there. What indeed was the role that teachers played in the early days of Arizona’s schools? Were there demonstrations in solidarity with the revolutionaries to the south in Mexico, who boasted of plans to liberate those lands stolen in the wake of America’s early devastating colonial war with Mexico?

Anyway, this is a great essay, which I easily imagine using in teacher ed., or as a yardstick for my own research into the history of education across the United States and beyond!

Jonathan Fisher

August 24, 2020

Corona Virus School Closure Update: Teacher Leave Days

There was another letter in my letterbox at school this morning from the Superintendent of Hiroshima Schools regarding leave for teachers this month during the school closures.

I haven’t included the document itself here, but in summary, special leave is available for three general cases.

First, if the teacher themself falls ill due to Corona virus, or experiences symptoms that may be related to Corona virus infection, like running a fever, they are excused from work.  As usual this is all pending proof in the form of a doctor’s note.

Second, if a teacher’s family member becomes sick, that teacher may be excused to care for the sick relative, and out of precaution that they might already be infected given their close proximity to said family member.

Third, if, due to the school closures, young children who are at home require extra care, a teacher maybe excused for 5 to 10 days.  Unfortunately, this does not cover the entire duration of the school closures.  So, I guess the idea is that teachers with young children are simply expected to use their normal annual leave days in addition to these specially allotted Corona days to cover.  Why teachers haven’t been given more time off during this period is an open question.  We may very well get another backdated letter after a teacher gets sick…  The cover-your-ass mentality alone is enough to make me want stay at home for the duration.

Analysis: Tracking the NEA’s and AFT’s $43 Million in Donations to PACs, Advocacy Organizations, Nonprofits — and the State Engagement Fund? (The 74)

The 74 Million is an independent news blog dedicated to the 74 million primary and secondary students in the United States.  A lot of their coverage tends to be skewed towards rhetoric around “school choice,” and so I’m a little bit skeptical.  But there also seems to be a strong racial justice core to their reporting.  The most interesting and useful coverage I’ve seen have been Union Reports like this one, which shed light on the connections between teachers unions (NEA, AFT) and shady groups like Democratic Super- PACs and the so-called “State Engagement Fund” described below.

I guess, what is so disappointing about characterizations of America’s largest Teachers Unions in purely vehicles for cashflow (not that this isn’t an accurate portrayal, because I think it is) but it ignores the humanity of the teachers these organizations purport to represent.  I don’t think the problem is with unions as such, but certainly the way the AFT and NEA seem to be operating at the highest levels is gross and tends to feed into the stories we have been told for generations about unions’ corruption, mob connections, racism, sexism and so on.  Do teachers need to remake their unions and union culture before they can remake their schools, communities and society?

Mike Antonucci’s Union Report appears most Wednesdays; see the full archive. The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are known as labor unions, advocates for teachers and public school employees, and political powerhouses. But they also are grantmaking institutions. During the 2018-19 school year, the two national teachers unions directly donated $43.1 million […]

Source: Analysis: Tracking the NEA’s and AFT’s $43 Million in Donations to PACs, Advocacy Organizations, Nonprofits — and the State Engagement Fund?

The Eggplant (Susan Ohanian Speaks Out)

Source: The Eggplan (Susan Ohanian Speaks Out)

Fun Facts About Standardistos

The Eggplant features News You Will Read Nowhere Else That’s a promise.

by Susan Ohanian

Historical Signposts of Standards

  • The Meek
    The Old Testament contains 163 references to the Common Core Curriculum Standards, the most cited being, “The meek shall inherit the Earth–after the Standardistos are through with it.”


  • Goat Blood
    The Old Testament called for animal sacrifice, goats for instance. This ritual was based on the Standard that without blood there can be no forgiveness. The New York Times editorial board has learned from this that kids today have it too easy.


  • Not Certified
    After bringing the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai, Moses kept mum about the fact that they had not been certified “scientific” and “rigorous” by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Achieve, Inc., or the New York Times editorial board.


  • Carrying Embers
    The concept of “Standard of the day” was invented by Tasmanian Aborigines looking for a way to carry embers from camp to camp for cooking during the middle Palaeolithic era. This did not save them from genocide.


  • Eye for an Eye
    In addition to the frequently quoted Standard “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” the Hammurabi Code clearly warned, “A Standard before breakfast makes Jack want to skip school.”


  • Asparagus
    Darwin proved that since an asparagus seed can float for 85 continuous days and an ocean current moves roughly 38 miles a day, that means an asparagus can sail 3,230 miles across the sea, and still germinate. The US Department of Education has awarded $1.3 billion to charter schools to find out what this means for 4th graders.


  • Will Rogers
    Although it’s true that Will Rogers said, “I never met a Standard I didn’t like,” he hadn’t seen David Coleman’s Common Core Close Reading on Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”


  • Sigmund Freud
    The Library of Congress, holder of the Sigmund Freud Archives, offered a “No comment” response to rumors of discovery of a letter from Freud to the head of the National Governors Association Best Practices division: “The fact that you advocate National Standards reveals your underlying insecurity as a regular guy and your dreams of having sex with 12-year-olds.”


  • Star Spangled Banner
    After 1904, when President Teddy Roosevelt negotiated for the US to take control of the construction of the Panama Canal, he advocated for a change in the last three lines of the first stanza of “The Star Spangled Banner”:

    Gave proof through the night that our rules were still there.
    O! say let our Performance Standards yet sweep
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the asleep.

    Roosevelt was instrumental in getting the new lyrics introduced at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. Once the Pullman National Monument, honoring the brutal 19th century robber baron and union buster is finished in Chicago, a monument to Roosevelt’s perspicacity is planned.


  • Eskimo Wisdom
    There is no Eskimo word for National Standards.


  • Working Oxen
    National Standards will wipe out the Biblical prohibition of working oxen on the 7th day. The US Department of Education agrees with the Business Roundtable that US school children must exhibit evidence of rigor by going to school every day.


  • Vows
    After exchanging vowed is the basement archives of discarded test questions at a CTB/McGraw Hill warehouse in Peoria, Judee McMaster and Rob Richman,who met while correcting Smarter Balanced open-ended items, journeyed to the Honeymoon Suite at an undisclosed Pearson venue and participated in National Standards Incident First Responders Bootcamp: DOE 380, 652, and 972 levels.


  • I always wanted to…
    CHICAGO– A 25-year-old Evanston man said he “wanted to be on the news” just before crashing his mini-van into a downtown Chicago TV studio during a live newscast, a prosecutor told a Cook County judge Tuesday.–Chicago Tribune
  • I always wanted to witness the wonder of pre-schoolers experiencing scientific inquiry,” US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told a member of the New York Times editorial board just before crashing his motorcycle while riding without a helmet into Pre-K for All school in the Bronx.
  • “I always wanted to teach kindergarten,” Bill Gates told a friend just before crashing his Humvee into a downtown Seattle school during Show-and-Tell.”
  • “I always wanted to tell 7th graders about the importance of education,” Hillary Clinton told First Camera news team just before sky diving into the waste disposal facility near an undisclosed school in Iowa.
  • ETS Time Share
    The governing board of Educational Testing Service has announced the availability of time share options at its test development center. Share options are divided into week long increments, with units sold as fixed, floating, or rotating weeks. Vacation clubs and points programs are available to those signing the college- and career-ready oath. One-to-three-bedroom suits, single-unit housing, and detached housing are available. Yurts and geodesic domes require premium. Annual maintenance fees apply.


  • Silly Putty
    Due to the Standards crisis, Silly Putty is 16% less silly than it was in 1951. The United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) has affirmed that committee staff are authorized to testify on this matter–except where a privilege should be asserted.


  • Giraffe’s Tongue:
    A giraffe is optimally designed with a tongue that can extend to twenty inches, long enough to clean its ears. David Coleman is scheduled for an appearance on Education Nation to reveal the critical importance of this information.


  • Firmer Thighs
    You can already get whiter teeth, firmer thighs, stomach reduction, and knee replacements. Now, with National Standards, you can get a job in India.


  • Controlled Substances
    According to the new edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, more people have been driven insane through Common Core hysteria than by the use of controlled substances or bites from rabid bats.


  • Loss of Eye
    The incidence of loss of eye through incident with a Number 2 pencil has increased 698% since the introduction of the Common Core standards. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says this is why it’s imperative that every kindergartner be instructed by computer.

Corporate Conscientiousness

  • The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading US companies with more than $5 trillion in annual revenues and nearly 10 million employees, has introduced a new slogan to enhance the work of the Business Roundtable to provide nifty solutions to our nation’s two most difficult challenges– obesity and stupidity: “Starve a student, feed a Standard.


  • New Slogan
    In a press conference at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NEA and AFT leaders announced their commitment to a joint slogan, to be launched with a Post-American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from the US Department of Education: Do National Standards or die.



— Susan Ohanian

Idaho Education Overhaul Is Subject of Referendum

Idaho Education Overhaul Is Subject of Referendum – NYTimes.com.

I started watching that movie Waiting for Superman last night, which is a well-produced documentary distributed by a subsidiary of Paramount.  The documentary places the blame for “what’s wrong with American public schools” squarely on the structure of Tenure programs for public school teachers.  Unfortunately a lot of the movie directly equates the tenure system (which is obviously broken) with Teacher Unionism, which is NOT at the root of the problem.  There are actually a lot more problems with the angle from which Superman attacks public schools and public school teachers, but I won’t go into those here.  Suffice it to say that the filmmaker admits to being able to send his child to private schools, and also wholeheartedly embraces No Child Left Behind policies introduced by Bush and bolstered by Obama.

Hopefully the people of Idaho will recognize that while the Tenure system as it exists ought to get a second look, but that Unions and Unionized teachers are a valuable part of a strong education system.