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Starry Messenger

Profile Information

Name: Decline to State
Gender: Female
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Home country: USA
Current location: Left Coast
Member since: Sat Apr 9, 2005, 08:01 PM
Number of posts: 32,339

About Me

Artist, high school teacher and "hard-liner" (yet to be defined).

Journal Archives

California judge rules teacher tenure unconstitutional

My article on Vergara. Please circulate on your other networks, I don't usually ask, but this is a critical case, as the organization has plans to strip tenure using this model in many other states. All support needed and welcomed.



Vergara v. California is the latest in a series of court struggles stemming from teacher layoffs that resulted from the $10 billion cuts to education in 2009 demanded by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Reduction in force" cuts resulted in the loss of more than 2,000 teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools, with some schools, like Markham Middle School, seeing up to a 72% reduction in teaching staff.

The first round of court cases centered around Reed v. California, a class action lawsuit which argued that these layoffs adversely and disproportionately affected schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The lawsuit claimed that because of the teachers union's "last in, first out" layoff policy, teachers who wished to stay at these schools were being displaced by older staff with greater seniority rights. In 2011, a judge ruled that student rights to a quality education were affected by this policy, and an exemption was granted to 45 low-performing schools.

However, in 2012, the California Second District Court of Appeal overturned this exemption, stating that the teachers union, United Teachers of Los Angeles, was not given an opportunity to present its side of the case, and that special exemptions violated state education law. The union at this time also stated that there was no evidence that less-experienced staff were the key to improving at-risk schools, and proposed its own reforms to stop layoffs, which included addressing the root issues of high teacher turnover and hurdles to student success.

Little mention at the time was made of the fact that several of the schools, including Markham, which had seen draconian layoffs due to budget cuts, were also part of an earlier education reform project, under the umbrella of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, spearheaded by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Under the partnership, in 2008, 11 LAUSD public schools were placed in a "turnaround" system, where all existing veteran school staff were fired and told to reapply for their jobs.

That late-year turnaround resulted in a younger staff (generally also lower paid) with little experience being brought in to staff the schools, who, in turn, were then let go when the wave of layoffs hit. A revolving door of substitute teachers protected from seniority-based layoffs were then cycled through the schools to teach classes, heightening the instability for students. The narrative that younger, more competent teachers were being let go in favor of older and less competent teaching staff entered the media reports on Reed, with blame going to the tenure system.


Posted by Starry Messenger | Wed Jun 18, 2014, 12:54 PM (10 replies)

Communist Party USA gathers in Chicago


(If you look quickly, my hat makes a brief cameo in the video at the .33-37 second mark. )


Tim Taylor, a firefighter in Columbus, Ohio, joined the Communist Party a year ago "because the governor of the state came after the firefighters union," trying to take away public employees' bargaining rights in the name of budget balancing.

So for Taylor, the Haymarket story was a case of deja vu. He was pre-radicalized by folk music, especially the songs of the Weavers, Pete Seeger's group. Now he hopes those records can inspire a younger generation.

"I'm marinating my kids in the Weavers," he said.

And for Hank Millstein, there's a wonderful irony in how Marx predicted society dividing into what we now call the 1 percent and everybody else. In palmier days his forecast was rejected. Now even mainstream politicians have to acknowledge the problem of runaway inequality.

"Just when Marxism was supposed to be dead," Millstein said, "it turns out that he was right."

Posted by Starry Messenger | Tue Jun 17, 2014, 01:44 AM (10 replies)
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