GOP Bans On Teaching About Racism Drive Out Educators

Date on which the Florida Senate Education Committee gave initial approval along party lines to a bill sponsored by Republican state Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. and championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” when teaching about racism: 1/18/2022

Number of days later that a Florida school district canceled a college professor’s seminar for teachers on the history of the civil rights movement, citing in part concerns over critical race theory: 1

Month in which DeSantis held a campaign-style event in which he called critical race theory — a decades-old academic movement examining the intersection of race and law — “crap” and said he’d press for legislation banning it from being taught in his state’s schools: 12/2021

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Wisconsin’s Rural Schools In ‘Crisis Mode’

No matter who you ask, whether it’s education association officials, university professors, researchers or the teachers themselves, they’ll all tell you the same thing:

The number one problem facing Wisconsin’s rural school districts is finding — and keeping — enough teachers to teach in those districts.

“The teacher shortage is an issue all across the country,” says Kim Kaukl, who worked for more than 30 years as a school administrator before becoming the executive director of the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance (WIRSA). “But it’s really exasperated out in the rural areas because of the location of many of our rural districts, especially when you’re trying to attract young people to come out to more remote areas.”

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As Omicron Rages, Teachers And Students Fight For Safety Measures

Chicago Teachers Union members voted by 77 percent on January 4 to go fully remote until effective Covid mitigations to protect educators and students were approved by members and enacted, or until the current Covid surge subsided.

Within a week they had a tentative agreement on mitigation measures. Members ratified it January 12 by 56 percent and returned to in-person teaching.

With citywide positivity rates over 20 percent and hospitals overwhelmed, Chicago Public Schools had already faced staffing shortages the first few days of the year. When the district failed to implement adequate testing protocols, CTU members determined that the safety of students and educators once again required remote learning.

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Brooklyn Teachers Organize Sickout

Inside the school, they just made the vaccine available for 11-year-olds, so not a lot of the sixth graders are vaccinated. Seventh and eighth grade have had access for a little bit longer. Broadly speaking, Covid is one of those things where they believe whatever their parents tell them. I’ve heard offhand comments and conspiracy theory claims about the vaccine and why they have to get it. They’ve gotten used to masks and prefer coming to school over remote, but they’re worried about it — there’s a kind of storm cloud feeling about Covid. One student who lost a parent to it just stopped coming to school during the surge.

For us teachers, it’s always at the front of our minds, teachers who are worried about how school will work, but the majority are worried about their physical health. No one at the top seems to be caring.

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US Public School Teachers Fight For COVID Safety

In New York City, around 200 public school teachers and community members rallied outside the Barclays Center on January 5 to demand safety measures as the COVID-19 positivity rate skyrockets. Organized by the MORE (Movement of Rank and File Educators) caucus of the NYC teacher’s union United Federation of Teachers (UFT), protestors demanded KN95 or N95 masks for all students, faculty and staff, weekly testing of all staff and students, repair or replacement of ventilation systems, excused student absences due to COVID surges and remote-learning options.

“All of my students know that I’m here right now,” said Adam, a Brooklyn public school teacher. “I showed them the flyer on the projector and I told them that this is the answer, it’s here. It’s not City Hall who keeps us safe.”

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Michigan Teachers Discuss Collective Action To Close Schools

Michigan teachers took part in an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon to organize collective action to close schools and stop the spread of COVID-19. The meeting, sponsored by the Michigan Educators Rank-and-File Safety Committee, included a large number of educators, parents and young people from Detroit and other Michigan school districts, as well as teachers from Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York. Also participating was a leader of the Educators Rank-and-File Safety Committee in the United Kingdom, where 218,000 new COVID-19 infections were recorded Tuesday.

The emergency meeting was held as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported that the state saw 61,235 new cases and 298 deaths between last Thursday and Monday.

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A Roundtable Discussion With Nurses And Teachers

The United States has averaged a thousand people a day dying from COVID since August and the total number of lives lost is approaching a million. The number of children hospitalized with COVID has hit an all-time high nationally. During all of that, the rich have only gotten richer. On the same day we set a new national record for COVID cases, Wall Street hit a record high.

Labor journalist and NewsGuild organizer Chris Brooks sat down with a group of New York City nurses and teachers to talk about how the institutions they work for are collapsing and what labor activists can do about it.

Jia Lee, special education teacher at a public school in Manhattan, United Federation of Teachers (UFT) chapter leader and on the steering committee of the Movement for Rank-and-file Educators (MORE).

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Teachers Strike Against A ‘Heartless’ School Board In Biden’s Hometown

It was a long time coming, but when 400 members of the Scranton Federation of Teachers marched out of the school board meeting Tuesday night singing “Solidarity Forever,” they were strike-ready.

The school board had just given the go-ahead to cut off educators’ health insurance if they went on strike. This after dozens of teachers and para-educators had spoken about the devastating cuts that students and teachers have endured over the last four years—cuts to PreK education, to the arts, to music, to libraries. And after educators had told the school board about the medical conditions—cancer, multiple sclerosis—that would go untreated or result in monumental bills without health insurance.

In the face of the board’s “callous and heartless” decision, as SFT President Rosemary Boland called it, the union’s 900 members did not back down. Yesterday they hit the picket line.

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Scranton: Teachers Will Go On Strike

Scranton, Pa.—The Scranton Federation of Teachers, which represents more than 800 teachers and paraprofessionals, announced today that it will set up picket lines and go on strike at 12:01 a.m., Nov. 3. The union has been working under a contract that expired in 2017.

“We’ve reached the end of the line and our patience with the Scranton School District. The district has refused to address our concerns about the slash-and-burn budget cuts that are significantly affecting the quality of education,” said Scranton Federation of Teachers President Rosemary Boland. “Strikes are always the last resort. We held off for many months, hoping, in vain, we could agree on conditions that are good for kids and provide decency, fairness, respect and trust for our educators.”

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How Oakland Teachers Took Control Of Our Return To School

It was March when, with declining Covid case rates and expanding access to vaccinations, the Oakland Education Association’s Big Bargaining Team reached an agreement to end the school year in Oakland with in-person learning for small cohorts of students. A week later, our members ratified the agreement in a close vote.

We had insisted on—and won—robust safety measures that exceeded state and federal guidelines: social distancing, small and stable cohorts of students, ventilation, health screening, universal face coverings, handwashing, personal protective equipment, and enough time for all school staff to be vaccinated before students returned.

Our legal right to inspect workplaces for safety is ironclad in California.

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Lessons From The Nation’s Black Male Educators

The place of Black men in higher education, both as students and as educators, has always been precarious—even before the pandemic. A U.S. Department of Education report found in 2016 that Black men made up just 2 percent of the nation’s teaching workforce, representing the lowest population group in education.

As the realities of the pandemic set in last year, many school districts in the South were chastised for taking a lackluster approach to ensuring safe reopenings for their students.

For Everton Blair, an educator and the first Black member of the Gwinnett County, Georgia, Board of Education, openly addressing the risks and the realities was a priority in his district.

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Platform Co-op Plans Revolution For Online Tutoring And Teaching

With schools across the world shutting due to Covid-19, e-learning has become an increasingly popular option around the world – but while this has increased platform revenues, teachers’ pay has stayed the same.

“Last year, during lockdown, I decided to start something different,” says John Hayes, co-founder of MyCoolClass, an international teacher-owned platform co-op set for launch next month. He hails from California but has been living in Warsaw, Poland, for nearly six years while working as an ESL teacher, in language schools and online.

After speaking with other freelance teachers and professionals affected by pay cuts, he decided the best solution would be to launch a co-operatively owned online learning platform.

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Educators’ Safety Struggle Rekindles Collective Workplace Action

United Kingdom – Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said that “a week is a long time in politics.” In early January, even a week was too long, as current Prime Minister Boris Johnson performed a dramatic 24-hour U-turn on the question of schools reopening after the Christmas break.

On Sunday, January 3, Johnson told journalists “there is no doubt in my mind that schools are safe,” part of a media campaign to get schools open and people back to work. But by the next day, he described those same schools as “vectors of transmission” for Covid. He included their closure in the nationwide lockdown, except for the children of key workers (the British term for essential workers) and those designated “vulnerable.”

What spurred this sudden conversion? Had Johnson finally seen sense and prioritized lives over the profits of corporations? Were the nearly 100,000 Covid deaths in the United Kingdom playing on his mind?

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Teachers Deride Fans, Rally Outside Schools

Andrea McLaughlin, a second grade teacher, is afraid to return to her school, F.S. Edmonds Elementary in Northwest Philadelphia, because she doesn’t know what she will find.

She, and many other public school teachers, don’t believe in the promises the School District of Philadelphia has made in its plans to reopen this month.

“This is beyond COVID,” McLaughlin said. “This is about trust, and this is about getting us what we need and our kids deserve.”

McLaughlin and other staff were supposed to return to school buildings Monday for the first time since March.

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