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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You Go Sacramento!

It looks like folks in Sacramento are fighting back for control of their district. First their district, led by a Broad Superintendent, turns down TFA.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Superintendent Jonathan Raymond of the Sacramento City Unified School District said he has backed off pursuing Teach for America in favor of establishing a stronger relationship with local credentialing programs at UC Davis, Sacramento State and Fortune School of Education.

Raymond had faced strong opposition from the Sacramento City Teachers Association, which questioned the timing of his decision to pursue Teach for America. The district is in the midst of massive layoffs and is asking the teachers union to accept furloughs and health benefit concessions in order to save jobs.

"While I still believe that the Teach for America program has great merit, I intend to exhaust all local options for meeting staffing needs before looking at alternative programs," Raymond wrote in a memo to his staff Wednesday evening.

Then, they vote down the three School Board candidates endorsed by the mayor, Kevin Johnson (ed reformer and Michelle Rhee's fiancee).

From Open Left (a news blog) a comment from a reader:

Here is Sacramento, parents and teachers working together just soundly defeated a well-financed slate of school board candidates championed by Kevin Johnson, our-wanna-be-strong-mayor-so-he-can-take-over-the-city-schools-just-like-his-friends-Fenty-and-Bloomberg. That Johnson is also Michelle Rhee's fiancee must be noted...with Rhee out of a job, folks in Sacramento are on high alert that she may be headed our way.

Former teacher and critic of so much of the reform agenda, Tom Torlakson was just elected CA Sup of Public Instruction. In the primary he defeated state senator Gloria Romero, who was supported by the billionaire boys and the big charter school lobby. In the wake of her being relegated to the sidelines by the voters, she is now vowing to bring DFER to the Golden State. Should be interesting to see how that goes...my bet is with parents and teachers.

DC Mayor Adrian Fenty was shown the door by voters who used the election as a referendum on his Michelle Rhee-orchestrated education agenda...state senate candidates in NYC also were defeated in primary races where ed reform was a front burner issue. State and local pols need to understand that they can and will lose over public education issues, no matter what Obama thinks and says.

Folks still care about their local schools...they will still get out there and act. Progressives need to recognize this and get in the local trenches and fight from the ground up...you all might be surprised how many allies of all political stripes you find fighting right next to you.

She goes on to say how it's done (and this is exactly right):

Just know this election featured the local teachers' union not only endorsing but sending teachers out walking and phone banking five days/nights a week for the entire month of Oct. Teacher canvassed neighborhoods around their schools and wrote post-cards out to voters at Friday night postcard and pizza parties. (A couple of political consultants--and they work both state and local races--told me that they know "classroom teachers" remain the ticket in local races...they still consistently come out higher than any other group that can endorse...)

Parents organized scores of house parties and walked and phoned themselves. Teachers, parents and supportive community members either joined or attended local political clubs (Women Dems, Sac County Dems etc.) and successfully worked for endorsements of the most progressive candidates.

Teachers and parents joined together to protest the opening of "Waiting for Superman" and received sympathetic press coverage as a result. Our Broad-trained Superintendent even wrote a letter to district staff (later carried by local blogs) and deliberately distanced himself from the "Superman" message.

At the same time, and separate from the effort, parent groups began screenings of "Race to Nowhere" in the evenings at local schools (this film by the way is beginning to suck the oxygen away from "Superman" at least around here, among parents and even our Superintendent.)

We have so much work to do, and still some very bad policies to turn around or shut down altogether, but at least some space..

It can be done. Maybe not the same things but we have the ability to make change happen.

8 comments:

gavroche said...

Heads up, Seattle School Board and Supt.!

Kathy said...

There is no reason in the world for SPS to finance TfA's mentorship programs. None.

wseadawg said...

The people of Sacramento spoke up, the SI heard them, backed off on TFA, and now both sides will start working together instead of fighting.

Imagine that.

If only SPS would harness the massive amounts of energy, talent and goodwill in this community instead of dumping hot oil on us again and again.

As Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber, would say: Naaaaaaah!

seattle citizen said...

It's a groundswell of citizens in their communities, calling bullshit on the small network of "reformers" who have been roaming in the shadows and are now being brought to light.

How invigorating!

Soo....who will be at the board meeting tomorrow to show our directors who's boss? 6:00pm, 4th and Lander.

WV exhorts: moreop

chunga said...

This is why it's important to attend tomorrow's school board meeting to voice disapproval for the TFA contract.

deteechur said...

Wow! Imagine a state union leadership which defined action as ... something more than rubber chicken chow downs with Arne Duncan, Patty Murray, Chris Gregroire & Maria Cantwell?

I'm appalled at what they did in Sacramento to stop this deform garbage, when I consider how completely utterly pathetic the WEA / NEA has been on this issue in Seattle & in Washington.

(pst! for those of you who like to admonish us working stiffs to go out and fix the world - I already have a 50+ hour a week job! How about union LEADERS doing something about ORGANIZING more than photo ops with politicians who don't really fight for the community ? )

Great for Sacramento - whither will the state of Wishy-Warshy, Pacified Northwest, wander?

Anonymous said...

I would say that the majority of school board members who vote for TFA today will need to find something else to do on Wednesday evenings after the next election.

dan dempsey said...

Dora the next election involves only 4 directors and the General takes place on Nov. 1, 2011

With a success at the recall Sufficiency Hearing on Thursday, we may be able to remove each of the four in June 2011.