Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Special Update: Chicago Teachers' Strike

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike yesterday for the first time in 25 years.
We all understand that the decision to pursue a work stoppage is not an easy one. However, we also know that it is sometimes the only remaining option to ensure a just outcome for both educators and students. The CTU members’ courage, determination and unity are an inspiration to all of us.

No one wants to strike, and no one strikes without cause. A strike is a last resort, but it forces policymakers to focus on the issues at hand. CTU’s members know that collective action sometimes is the only way to improve their schools, their communities and their students' education.

This strike comes on the heels of numerous steps that left CTU members feeling disrespected, including:
  • Unilateral decisions to strip teachers and paraprofessionals of an agreed-upon increase
  • Imposition of additional terms and conditions of employment
  • Increase in class sizes
  • Addition of a teacher evaluation system based solely on student test scores 

The strike comes only after long and intense negotiations failed to lead to an agreement that would give CTU members the tools they need to help all their students succeed. Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.

CTU members — the women and men who spend every day with Chicago's children — want to have their voice and experience respected and valued. They want to be treated as equal partners in making sure every student in Chicago succeeds. That has been the CTU's guiding philosophy throughout these negotiations, and it remains so on the picket lines.

The students, teachers and educational support staff — and the city of Chicago — deserve a school system that works for everyone. In the end, that is what this strike is all about.

You can show their solidarity with your colleagues in Chicago in a number of ways:
  • Wear red on Wednesday, Sept. 12 to show your support for the CTU and strong public schools in Chicago.
  • Send messages with letters or resolutions of support (with the subject line, “Letters or Resolutions of support for CTU from (union name, location)” to  ctscpress@gmail.com.
  • Take a photo wearing red and send it (with the subject line, “Solidarity with CTU pictures from (location)” to ctscpress@gmail.com and to photos@aft.org (copy us too at ahem@anoka.k12.mn.us).
  • Post expressions of support on the CTU’s Facebook page here: http://tinyurl.com/9h6vyur
  • Make a contribution to the Chicago Teachers Union Solidarity Fund here: http://tinyurl.com/9m24g4x
  • Keep up with the news on the CTU by visiting their website at www.ctunet.com.

Let’s stand together with our colleagues in Chicago!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Welcome Back, VIVA Project, Suggestion Box, Schedules

Welcome Back!  We at Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota are looking forward to another year of serving you and supporting your work.  This is the first of our Weekly Updates for the year, our quick look at union news.  Remember, when you have a question or idea, call us sooner than later.  You can connect with us at 763-421-9110 or ahem@anoka.k12.mnus. When in doubt, give us a shout.
VIVA Project Wants Your Ideas on Teacher Evaluation: From the MDE Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and ED MN President Tom Dooher: As part of Minnesota's bid to close the achievement gap, the Minnesota Department of Education is working to create a model teacher evaluation system. We want to hear from you about what makes a great teacher and how to measure that. MDE and Education Minnesota have once again partnered with VIVA Teachers to gather your ideas via the VIVA Minnesota Teachers Idea Exchange.
Getting involved is easy. Simply go to http://vivaMN.socialsphere.com, register and post your ideas in answer to our questions: What makes the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher? How would you measure whether a teacher is "good" or "great"?
Your ideas will become a key resource for the MDE Teacher Evaluation Work Group, and a group of you will be invited to discuss your recommendations with Gov. Dayton and both of us.  The site will be available 24 hours a day for the next two weeks. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to help shape the model teacher evaluation system for our state.
AHEM Suggestion Box: Have an idea for your union? Drop it in the suggestion box. Visit the AHEM home page at ahem.locals.educationminnesota.org for a place for your ideas. Scroll down and you’ll see an embedded Survey Monkey window you can use whenever inspiration hits. You can leave your ideas on topics such as Q-Comp, negotiations and contract issues, member rights, community connections, public policy, or add your own category. Leave your name so we can credit you or follow up, or send your idea anonymously if you prefer.

Good Question – Is my schedule right?: The most common questions we get the first weeks of school pertain to schedules.  Am I getting my duty free lunch? Do I have enough prep time? Is my travel time adequate? Do I have too many extra duties? These are all good questions  - the best way to answer them is for you to give us a call at 763-421-9110.  If you think you are short or long on time in a key area, please check with us. Remember, a call to us does not obligate you to anything, and we keep our discussion confidential.  We'll take a look and let you know what your options are.