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Sat Jun 2, 2012, 08:41 PM

Firing Day at the Charter School

http://colabradio.mit.edu/firing-day-at-the-charter-school/



I just quit my job as a teacher in an urban charter school. Even though I still donít have another job and I support myself entirely, it is the best decision I ever made. It is especially liberating this week while my colleagues Ė and after five incredibly stressful years on the education front lines, my truly beloved friends Ė wait for the June 1 ax to fall.

Every June 1, the exhausted teachers and staff at my school learn whether they will be rehired for another grueling year. Last year the school gave 43 staff and teachers the youíre-outta-luck-pal letters, including the entire three-man physical education department and the student support genius, Dany Edwards, who somehow made harmony out of the schoolsí cacophony of crazy student behavior. This year the schoolís three glorious new gymnasiums are largely unused because we have no gym teachers and Dany is dead of unknown causes. Whatever happened to this beautiful young man, firing him didnít help him live any better or happier for his last few months on earth. And the kids he championed lost his tender, tough, hilarious and real guidance.

<snip>

The first thing you need to know reader, is that there is no job security at a charter school. Even excellent veteran educators, like the three physical education teachers who were fired one year ago, are vulnerable. Between them these men gave something like 35 years to the school. They offered serious nutrition education in their fight against childhood obesity. They miraculously coached kids who have hair trigger tempers through team sports without break-out fights. They taught the kids good sportsmanship and how to represent themselves, their families and the school during games at other schools. They taught yoga, which the kids actually used to calm themselves in class. And they worked the kids hard. Oh how I miss seeing the kids come to class from gym all red and sweaty and happy. This gymless year, the kids seem fatter and more out of breath as they huff and puff their way to the third floor.

To you Michelle Rhee and all you anti-union fanatics, you are wasting your time waiting around for superman. They already fired superman at my school. You see a union would have protected Dany as well as these three talented teachers who provided quality physical education to all of our 1200 students. Meanwhile, some not-so-gifted staff and teachers get to keep their jobs every June 1. At least public schools and their unions have transparent guidelines for tenure and enough respect to let teachers know they wonít be rehired for the next school year by March or earlier. June 1 is late to jump into the teacher hiring season. I suspect the administration keeps it a secret to the bitter end because they donít trust us to keep working hard. They are suspicious and we are paranoid. Itís part of my schoolís culture.

<snip>

11 replies, 3578 views

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Firing Day at the Charter School (Original post)
Starry Messenger Jun 2012 OP
femmocrat Jun 2012 #1
Starry Messenger Jun 2012 #2
James48 Jun 2012 #3
Starry Messenger Jun 2012 #4
knitter4democracy Jun 2012 #5
proud2BlibKansan Jun 2012 #6
SunSeeker Jun 2012 #7
Ken Burch Jun 2012 #8
BlueIris Jun 2012 #9
leveymg Jun 2012 #10
bvar22 Jun 2012 #11

Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 09:02 PM

1. This is an excellent article. Thanks for posting it, Starry Messenger.

I highly recommend it, DUers... please read the entire article if you have the time.

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Response to femmocrat (Reply #1)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 09:10 PM

2. It's one of the most powerful things I've read this year on education.

Thank you femmocrat. I'm still a little teary-eyed from reading this.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 09:38 PM

3. One of the things missing

is an active organizing campaign for Unions.

In my state of Michigan, the legislature just voted to uncap the number of charter schools, and they are building new Charter buildings all over.

But none of the existing Teachers Unions (we have several MEA an AFT both are large in our state) are trying to do any organizing drives.

The Charters have something the public schools in my state do not.

Private company workers can legally STRIKE.

Charters pay about half what public schools do now here, and you know how poor public schools pay. We NEED to start organizing new Union charter schools.

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Response to James48 (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 09:46 PM

4. I don't know specifics for MI~

but recently I've seen material from AFT on Charter Union organizing:

https://www.facebook.com/AFTacts

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=325494200856277 This is a video, even though it says "photo", just got posted a couple of weeks ago by AFT.

edit to add, just found the AFT Charter page for MI: https://www.facebook.com/MichiganACTS

Will that help?

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Response to James48 (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 09:57 PM

5. Darn right! The MEA needs to get in there!

We subs also need to organize. That's one of my projects for the summer--getting the MEA to help us subs figure out how to organize.

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Response to James48 (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 10:07 PM

6. Organizing charters is difficult.

Teachers have no rights and no leverage. It's almost impossible to find a teacher at a charter willing to help organize. And you need at least one teacher who actually works in the school to effectively organize.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 10:09 PM

7. K&R

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sat Jun 2, 2012, 10:17 PM

8. Proving once more that Arne Duncan

 

should NEVER have been put in charge of anybody's education.

Nobody who wants it to be easy to fire teachers just for the sake of making it easy to gives a damn about kids. Mass firings have never improved any school anywhere.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 09:20 AM

9. Jesus.

That is one of the most depressing articles I've read this year.

I'm no fan of charter schools, and stories like that just reaffirm my dislike of them.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 11:21 AM

10. Sounds like that school is being run like a real business.

Management by paranoia.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 12:58 PM

11. I have no problem with Private (Charter) Schools....

...as long as they don't receive One Damned Nickle of Public Money.

We already fund a Public School System.
It is one of our Commons.
The Public Schools System belongs to us,
and it is our responsibility to administer it for the benefit of Our Nation and Our Children.
If it is broken,then we must FIX IT,
NOT de-fund it by allowing Privatized sources to siphon off the money.

No matter HOW they try to spin it,
"Charter" Schools are NOT Public Schools.
They are NOT transparent or accountable to The Public.
They ARE "private" institutions,
and should be funded by "private" money only.



You will know them by their WORKS,
not by their excuses.
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