Views in brief
Why Champaign teachers are marching
I HAD the privilege of marching with the Champaign Federation of Teachers (CFT) in Champaign, Ill.
They have been working and negotiating in good faith without a contract since the school year began about a month ago. I had several excellent conversations, and I was well received as both a community member and an activist.
In these conversations, I asked what sorts of issues I should know about that are holding up negotiations, and I kept on hearing the same two issues: a raise of well under 2 percent, as well as a punitive new drug-testing policy. The drug policy seemed to chafe sorely among the membership.
This new drug-testing policy would require CFT members to submit to a drug or alcohol test--even at their own private home--on the spot, within one hour after leaving school premises. This would cause teachers to need to wait at least an hour before going to any events or locations where they might want to have a glass of wine or other drink.
I would estimate that there were at least 120 people marching in a quadrilateral in front of the Mellon Administration Center in Champaign. It was a very easygoing rally, but the teachers were very clear in their message to the school board: Fair contract now!
Michael D. Stemle, Jr., Champaign, Ill.
Teaching students how to think
IN RESPONSE to "Rahm plays the blame game": Thank you for the kind of honest-to-goodness reporting that only SocialistWorker.org can bring.
You won't get this type of analysis about the Chicago Teachers Union strike from any of the three major networks, local or national. Even "liberal" National Public Radio and station WBEZ are an antiseptic digest of the true meaning of this strike.
Rahm and the powers that run this country expect miracles from ordinary people, even if they do have advanced degrees and are specially trained to teach children. I especially agree about the standardized achievement test "treadmill" that has plagued education for years: it doesn't just punish teachers, but students as well.
Educators Mortimer Adler and R.M. Hutchins pointed out the failure of education to promote lifelong learning more than 50 years ago. Not only do we need more resources and social justice for our schools and their teaching staff, we need a system that teaches students how to think, not what to think!
Obama is better for LGBT rights
IN RESPONSE to "What do socialists say about Election 2012": I agree with many of the points in this article. However, I am still passionate about voting for the lesser evil.
As a queer person, I have seen firsthand how this administration has worked with LGBT groups to push through hospital visitation, employment protections for transgender folks, and 35-plus other changes that are life-or-death for many queer Americans.
Additionally, I have young friends who now have health care. (I'd prefer if we had full single-payer obviously.)
Mark, San Francisco
What would real reform look like?
I'VE JUST discovered Brian Jones and his cutting views on so-called "education reform" ("Put your red shirt on")
I am a retired public school teacher who taught for 25 years in New York City and, most recently, in Vermont. I've written extensively on the fraud of educational reform as advocated by Arne Duncan and other Chicago School neoliberals, who are no more than corporate hacks who want to hand our kids over to bottom-line crooks.
In letters to the editor of Vermont's major newspapers and articles on the op-ed pages, I've argued for true reform in the shape of:
-- 1. A national living wage for the parents of our school children so that they can find time to participate in their children's education.
-- 2. Since the U.S. is 19th in the industrialized world in funding for education, we must invest in our kids in the way we now invest in illegal wars and the military.
-- 3. Double or triple teachers' salaries to attract the "best and brightest."
-- 4. Fund education generously enough to reduce the student/teacher ratio to never more than 14-to-1.
-- 5. Institute a two-year, paid teacher internship under a group of master teachers to determine if a candidate has rapport with children.
The calculated negligence of vital social issues in the rhetoric of autocratic officials like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg points up the hidden agenda of the Wall Street plutocrats.
Al Salzman, from the Internet