The Future of Teachers Unions?

Education reform advocate Eric Lerum and I talk about the future of teacher unions. In a bar. 

Well that went well… Oral arguments in the Supreme Court room drama of the year, Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, are a wrap. And with the justices widely expected to hand down a decision that will [insert devastating verb here] public sector unions, I invited education reform advocate Eric Lerum, formerly of Students First, to join me in a different kind of oral argument. We recently sat down at a NYC bar to chew (and sip) over some big questions: do teacher unions have any future? How have teachers fared in the four states that have restricted collective bargaining since 2011? (Spoiler alert: not well.) What about the growing number of charter school teachers who are organizing unions? And do we really want a country where the ultra-rich exert unchecked influence over everything? OK – that last one was my question. More beer please!

A Better Conversation?

I talk to Education Post creator Peter Cunningham about what *better* means, the art of the swarm and what Arne Duncan might have done differently…

EdPost1EduShysterEducation Post is now nine months old. How much better has the conversation gotten?

Peter Cunningham: I see elements here and there. I see other people calling for it. Even Nicholas Kristof’s piece in the New York Times where he says, look, there’s been a lot of blood spilled in this debate. Why can’t we unite around early learning? I think that’s a good illustration. Vitriol isn’t getting us anywhere. I’ve published people who disagree with me and I’d like to do more of that. I don’t want to just create a platform where people can spout off; I think there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. I want to give people a chance to honestly present other arguments.

EduShyster: Do you have a metric for measuring *better-ness*?

EdPost2Cunningham:  I think that an awful lot of people on the reform side of the fence are thrilled by what we’re doing. They really feel like *thank God somebody is standing up for us when we get attacked* and *thank God somebody is willing to call out people when they say things that are obviously false or that we think are false.* When I was asked to create this organization—it wasn’t my idea; I was initially approached by Broad—it was specifically because a lot of reform leaders felt like they were being piled on and that no one would come to their defense. They said somebody just needs to help right the ship here. There was a broad feeling that the anti-reform community was very effective at piling on and that no one was organizing that on our side. There was unequivocally a call to create a community of voices that would rise to the defense of people pushing reform who felt like they were isolated and alone.  Continue reading →

Last Dance of the Lemons

The *kids* weren’t the only big winners in California’s Vergara ruling…

dancing lemonsReader: barely had the verdict been announced in the landmark legal case Vergara vs. Lemons when the verdict was reached. The Vergara verdict represents a huge win for the kids. My own favorite verdict came swiftly from value investor Whitney Tilson who *stopped the presses* an unprecedented quintuple times in order to announce that the Vergara decision was a *grand slam for students* and a *grim day for the Blob.* (Note: if you are regular reader of this blog, you are a de facto Blob member.) Which got me to wondering. Might there be some other beneficiaries of the Vergara victory, besides the kids that is? I’m recommending an extra lemon twist to today’s featured quaff—you’ll need it. Continue reading →

Nice Work If U Can Get It

What’s behind those sky high charter salaries?

Harlem Village Academies chief Deborah Kenny earns $500,000 to run her burgeoning empire of excellence.

The eye-popping salaries commanded by some New York City charter execs are raising eyebrows, not to mention the hackles of haters. As a state-of-the-art technology known as Google quickly reveals, though, it’s not just in the Big Apple where charter chiefs are pulling down mad cheddar. But talking about money is so gauche, reader, which is why so many of these excellent execs insist on keeping compensation information to themselves.  Continue reading →

How $tudent$ 4 Education Reform Jumped the Shark

RALLY SWAG—SFER activists from Columbia and NYU wore hats summing up their demand that city’s teachers hurry up and agree to be evaluated on the basis of their students’ test scores.

The crowd may not have been much, but as rallies go, this one was a big deal. Impassioned young people, bundled against the New York cold, risking everything for a cause they believe in, one that, if their voices are heard, could transform the lives of millions of poor Americans. I’m talking, of course, about the protest by fast food workers, who gathered in front of burger joints across the city  to raise a collective middle finger to an industry that pays crap wages and offers few opportunities for advancement. As for that OTHER rally in NYC this week, by students at Columbia and NYU who were demanding that teachers be evaluated on the basis of their students’ test scores, it was, well, meh… Continue reading →