State Issues Charge Against Holyoke Public Schools for Firing Union Leader

For Immediate Release:
August 21, 2015
Contact: Gus Morales, President Holyoke Teachers Association,   GusMoralesHTA@gmail.com
                
 
State Issues Charge Against Holyoke Public Schools for Firing Union Leader
 
The state Department of Labor Relations (DLR) has found “probable cause” to believe that the Holyoke Public Schools illegally fired Holyoke Teachers Association (HTA) President Gus Morales because of his activism as a union leader.
The DLR will hold a hearing on the complaint, which stems from a charge filed by the HTA on June 25. The DLR complaint is similar to a grand jury indictment; the upcoming hearing will have many of the characteristics of a trial, with witnesses and cross-examination.
“Because I speak out against policies that I see as bad for our students and bad for our educators, I have been targeted for two straight years,” said Morales, whose employment contract with the Holyoke Public Schools was not renewed at the end of the school year.
Morales, who does not have professional teaching status, was similarly dismissed at the end the 2013-14 school year after his election to lead the HTA. Then, as now, the DLR issued a complaint that found reason to believe that Morales was illegally terminated for his union activism. 
In that case, following the initial DLR complaint, the Holyoke Public Schools agreed with the HTA and Morales to return Morales to the classroom in November. Shortly thereafter, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced a planned review of Holyoke Public Schools and its intentions to recommend that the district be placed under the control of a state-appointed receiver.
Morales and the HTA were vocal opponents of the takeover, which was imposed in April despite widespread objections from the community and several of its elected leaders.
“It is an outrage that an educator and leader such as Gus Morales, who has spoken out for the students and the Holyoke community, is being targeted for dismissal,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “The MTA will not tolerate attacks on educators, especially when the attack is meant to cause fear among those who challenge the deeply flawed accountability system used to punish educators, students and communities. Gus has the courage to address the real issues affecting Holyoke — such as economic and racial injustice — and the MTA supports him and the HTA in holding the state accountable for providing resources that the community can use to combat these problems.”
Throughout stakeholder meetings to craft a “turnaround” plan for Holyoke Public Schools, Morales and others from the HTA raised concerns about the influence of standardized tests, the need to provide social services to students living in poverty, inadequate programs for students on special education plans, the lack of ethnic diversity in the teaching ranks and other issues that they felt that the receiver needs to address.
“Before I became vocal about the problems I see in our schools, I received very good evaluations. But once I spoke out, my evaluations turned negative,” Morales said. “The real story here is how the current evaluation process lets administrators target and eventually terminate educators who challenge their authority.” 

Detroit is Fighting Back!

Our urban areas are under attack!!!

Detroit has been pushing hard against the Emergency Manager that seems intent on shutting out the voices of the citizen to follow an agenda that does not help the citizens of Detroit!

Read more at http://www.mlive.com/…/…/detroit_school_board_alleges_g.html

http://www.dailykos.com/…/-So-we-did-this-thing-where-we-fi…

To learn more about the Title VI complaints that have been filed
click here >>>> https://goleftamerica.com/

Three things everyone can do.
1. Comment on media, write letters to the editor
Detroit Free Press >>> http://static.freep.com/lettertoeditor/

Detroit News >>> send emails to letters@detroitnews.com

2. If you were harmed or are a witness, fill out a complaint form at https://goleftamerica.com/complaints

Send the link to a friend that may have suffered harm.

3. Donate to support them in the work they are doing for these complaints. 30 complaints were filed on Aug 2nd. 80 more complaints need to be filed. People are working hard to document the real stories of the people of Detroit. Click here >>> https://goleftamerica.com/Donate

Detroit school close

Listen to the Voices of Educators!

TFA koolaid

 

To send this letter to your legislator, please click here

We are a coalition of over 55,000 public school educators, parents and advocates who support public education as the foundation of a free and democratic society. We oppose legislation that promotes or enables the privatization of our public schools. It has always been our concern that corporate interests have had too much representation and influence on Capitol Hill, overshadowing the voice of the public school educator.
In recent months, we have met with your offices to share our concerns about public education policy and to get a better understanding of the positions held by our representatives in Washington D.C. During the week of July 25, we initiated over 60 separate meetings with senators and congressional representatives. In meeting with your legislative aides, we were shocked to learn of the large number of Teach for America (TFA) alumni in your offices, presumably assisting you with shaping education policy. It is alarming that TFA has managed to infiltrate the halls of power in our government and to influence public policy behind closed doors because Teach for America advocates many policies that directly conflict with serving the public interest.
TFA operates with the specific purpose of providing temporary workers to schools that are responsible for educating our country’s children, and specifically, children who are living in impoverished areas. Their five week training period and two years of service do not insure that best practices are being used in the classroom and undermine the ideology that schools need the stability to best serve students. Additionally, the overall agenda of Teach for America includes relationships with the charter school industry and advocacy for high stakes testing. These are two reform items that have and are continuing to have a devastating effect on our public school foundation.
Teach for America uses its teaching program as a direct line into legislative assistant positions through the Capital Hill Fellows Program. We are taking a strong stance against the practice of hiring former Teach for America employees for any position that allows them to influence educational policy. Doing such ignores the voices of true educators with a background in education and experience in the classroom. At this point in time, as the agenda of private parties is showing direct attempts at using the school system for personal gain it is necessary to examine what policies TFA supports and whether these policies are truly what we want for our nation’s schoolchildren – rich, middle-class or poor.

To our Senators and Representatives we have two proposals:
1.Cut off government funding for Teach for America, allowing it to operate through donations and private support until we can determine that Teach for America truly represents the ideals of public education for all.

2. Establish a public school teacher liaison team in every state to facilitate better communication with our legislative offices and include these necessary voices in the decision making processes. The already established channels have proved to be exclusionary and the reality of our schools is not yet being represented as needed.

We urge you to contact a true grassroots movement of teachers that care about our schools and work on developing a plan where a truly democratic process in decision making can be achieved. We can be reached at contact.batmanager@gmail.com

Helpful Sources

True Cost of TFA Impact on Urban Schools
http://prospect.org/article/true-cost-teach-americas-impact-urban-schools

Teach for America: Review of the Evidence
http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/teach-for-america

TFA Supported Adding NCLB Punishments to ESEA Bill
http://dianeravitch.net/2015/07/29/gary-rubinstein-tfa-supported-inserting-the-nclb-punishments-into-esea-and-opposed-opting-out/

Teach for America Seeks Help Promoting Itself on Capitol Hill
https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/teach-for-america-seeks-help-promoting-itself-on-capitol-hill/

Why I did TFA and Why you Shouldn’t
http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2011/10/31/why-i-did-tfa-and-why-you-shouldnt/

APPR/VAM WILL GO ON TRIAL IN NY SUPREME COURT TOMORROW

Sherri

 

Many NY BATs and their allies will be traveling to the capital of NY tomorrow to stand in support of NY teacher Sheri Lederman. Sheri, a celebrated teacher in her district, went from an “effective” teacher to an “ineffective” teacher in one school year. She (and her husband who is her attorney) courageously and bravely sued the NY Education Department and Commissioner of Education John King. There will be oral arguments in NY State Supreme Court tomorrow and NY BATs will be there. To read more on this case you can read this article in the Washington Post. 

We will be tweeting ‪#‎APPRonTrial‬ tomorrow so if you tweet, please join in. Show the world how ridiculous VAM is and use your experiences to bring it to light. Please post messages of support for Sheri below in the comments. We will be sharing them with her. Remember ‪#‎WeRallSheri‬

CHICAGO Public School Budget Cuts: A Mother Speaks

#Down2BareBones

By Bats Social Media Team: Aixa Rodriguez, Steven Singer, Sue Goncarovs, Lisa Smith

A group of concerned Chicago mothers, called BAM, or Badass Moms, dressed in skeleton and bone costumes on July 29th to protest against $60 million in public school budget cuts while charter schools gained $30 million in funding. These mothers and their children wore the Halloween attire to illustrate how deep these spending cuts were hitting their schools – down to the bare bones. Members of the Badass Teachers Association’s Social Media Team chatted with Rousemary Vega, founding Badass Mom, an involved and concerned parent of four public school students, to find out about the BAM action and what is happening in Chicago public schools.
·
Aixa Rodriguez:  We would like to tell the story of this parent protest. Tell us about your group. What is your mission/purpose?

Rousemary Vega: Our mission was to bring to life how our Public Schools are being starved. We have been on the chopping block for many years, but money is being redirected and charters are being funded.

Aixa: You protested by wearing clothing with skeletons and bones on them and were holding tombstones. What was the significance of these choices?

Rousemary: We wanted to be creative in our message and we needed to be bold enough. The purpose of the skeleton suits was to visually show that we are DOWN 2 BARE BONES.

Aixa: What does this group of mothers wish to change?

Rousemary: We wish to change the dirty inequality in our neighborhood public schools. We want to change how our parents are linked and involved. We want to build bridges of parents, from one Public School to another. We want to raise our parents voices so loud that we no longer can be ignored and or silenced. We will not shake in fear.

Aixa: What is currently happening in Chicago schools? How have the mayor’s choices impacted neighborhood schools?

Rousemary : What is happening here in Chicago, is a massacre of Public Education, a disruption of futures and the killing of a profession. Our children are paying the price for the corporations’ free ride. Public school is where everyone is welcome. They are changing and privatizing schools. Where will the kids go? Where will the kids that need different teaching and more time go? They are cutting the arts, trips, teachers, transportation. The charters are getting funded and they are leaving us with nothing.

We started a petition asking Depaul University for the money back that would have gone to public schools.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/depaul-naming-rights?source=c.tw&r_by=4614698


Aixa:  Your group has said “Every Chicago school is your school.” What do you mean by that? Why is this your slogan?

Rousemary: It is not enough to just care about the school your kids go to. These cuts are happening to the system. Chicago is really segregated, and they want us to fight among ourselves. But we can’t hate each other because one school has a program my school doesn’t. We need to unite and fight so all schools have that program. Every school is our school.

Aixa: Parents have long supported the Chicago Teachers Union, seeing the teachers issues as connected to the quality of education children receive in Chicago Public Schools. This #Down2BareBones action features mothers alone. Why was this done? Why were teachers not at this event?

Rousemary: We love and highly respect the CTU. But this action was about mothers who are done being a shadow. We want the mayor and every other parent to know we have our own voice and that this is our fight. Because when I fight for Education, I mean everything.

SueG:  Karen Lewis has been a stalwart supporter of teachers and parents in this…how have the attempts to discredit teachers been part of the impetus of your protests?

Rousemary: Karen Lewis is amazing and her support for parents, loyalty. It really upsets me to see how they – the system, the reformers, the money makers – are discrediting teachers. I know this is being done because teachers are the forces to our chances and changes. Because without teachers, we will all fail. That is my motivation, I can’t let my children fail. Why are they not valued like the kids in charters? Why must we make do with the bare bones?

Steven Singer: Rousemary, is this happening in all Chicago public schools or just schools serving certain populations? Minorities? Poor? Etc.

Rousemary: Steven, this is happening to all our public schools, but more cuts to our poor communities as much as $3.9 million. Rahm’s choices have clearly been an attack on our black and brown communities, teachers and students.

Steven: Is this coming mostly from the mayor’s office? Would it have been different with Chuy (Garcia)?

Rousemary: Yes, much different with Chuy.

Aixa: What do you want Chicago aldermen to know?

Rousemary:  Today’s action was important for us as mothers, we want to raise awareness. We need our parent voices to rise and be heard. I want to be that mother to guide and push other parents to stand up for all schools not just their own. Some of our schools no longer have physical education. They are taking it online!

Aixa: That’s outrageous !!!

Rousemary: Yes. The cuts are really deep. We are literally #DOWN2BAREBONES.

Aixa: How do they even justify this!!

Rousemary: He (Emanuel) is a money making bully who says he cares about our city, but not the people in the city. No money. They say they are bankrupt.

Aixa: What is the state of the charters?

Rousemary: They are giving away our Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money to corporations that don’t need it. It’s all about privatizing.

Nancy Osborne: Awful, awful, awful. Chicago is like watching Detroit sliding into the abyss again.

Aixa: What do you want other parents to know?

Rousemary: That when it comes to public education and its teachers, we need to act today because tomorrow might be too late. To know that when you stand up and fight…..your voice becomes heard.

Aixa: You are a warrior for the right reasons. How can Chicago citizens help draw attention to this situation?

Steven Singer: Is there anything folks outside of Chicago can do to help?

Rousemary: All our public schools are bleeding and being cut. It’s really hard to watch. Help us spread our message. #Down2BareBones. Tell your elected officials.

SueG: How should parents who are interested in helping you contact you for more information?
Rousemary: They can email me at

SueG:  How difficult has it been to attract media attention to what parents have been saying?

Rousemary: The media is not on our side.  Not difficult to attract,  difficult for right words. They spin the story so our voices aren’t heard. It’s like we don’t matter. They had security and like 10 policemen for mothers with babies and didn’t let us into the meeting; they said it was full. But with who? Who speaks for us? And the media doesn’t dig deeper and doesn’t expose this.

SueG: How will these cuts  hurt your children and has your family been impacted economically?

Rousemary: I wish I could tell you that this is about how it is hurting my pockets and it is, trust me. But, these cuts are hurting us physically, mentally and emotionally. For example, the budget cuts included that special teacher, or no more physical education, or no more field trips, or no more bus transportation. Our cuts are #DOWN2BAREBONES. We are in desperate times. We are being closed out. We must stand up today.

 

Poster in picture courtesy of  Ellen Gradman, a BAM MEMBER
Present for this action:
Clare Fauke
Julie Dworkin
Mary Fahey Hughes
Karen McKeegan Fraid
Carolina Gaete
Carolyn Brown
Rachel Lessem
Janet Meegan
Jesus Ramos

 

BAM member Cassandre Creswell

 

 

Links for Further Reading :

 

 

Thank you NEA!

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 7.14.24 PM

The Leadership team of the Badass Teachers Association released a statement 2 weeks ago regarding Reauthorization of ESEA  In our letter to Senator Alexander we stated that as practitioners in the classroom, we see daily the detrimental effects that testing and accountability have on our children, families, and communities. We remain concerned that many choose to ignore the prevalent research that shows how poverty and inequality play defining roles in the achievement of our children in school. We made it clear that no matter what tools used in a school – such as grade span testing, accountability, technology, or merit pay, children still walk through the door poor, marginalized, and in need of resources that are becoming increasingly scarce in our schools (specifically our children of color). We strongly stated that neither Option 1 nor Option 2 are solutions to us because they continue to rely on “testing” as a measure in which to gauge the health of a school. Although we support grade span testing, we want to see it used in random sampling which provides statistically valid results with less time, and money, spent on testing. We must move away from the model of Federal control of education and expensive false measures of accountability that in any way ties annual testing to the support a schools need to succeed. We firmly believe that funds needed for children are diverted to profits for testing companies and their products.
In a recent release the National Education Association stated regarding ESEA Reauthorization, “We must reduce the emphasis on standardized tests that have corrupted the quality of the education received by children, especially those in high poverty areas. Parents and educators know that the one-size-fits-all annual federal testing structure has not worked.”
We would like to publicly thank the NEA for standing up against annual testing and against the one-size-fits-all model. We appreciate that they understand that annual testing does not gauge the health of a school and that the money we are wasting on annual testing is taking money away from our children, being used to close schools, and has created an atmosphere of punish and blame that has been thrust upon our schools, children, and teachers. We hope the NEA will continue to fight to ensure every child has the proper resources to succeed, and that every teacher is given the respect and professional autonomy to meet the needs of all children. We hope the NEA will always believe – as we do – that children deserve well-supported schools, teachers, and not standardized tests.

We are asking all BATs to please email messages of support to the NEA Exec Board and NEA Leadership!

NEA Exec Board
Kgilbert@nea.org
gjohnson@nea.org
mkoffman@nea.org
jpowell@nea.org
gsheridan@nea.org
ewiman@nea.org

NEA Leadership
leskelsen@nea.org
bpringle@nea.org
pmoss@nea.org
jstocks@nea.org

 

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