Posts tagged ‘Trade union’

August 9, 2013

A look at the growth of American teachers’ unions since 1857

by Grace

Teachers’ unions over the years, from the Hechinger Report:

…  A look at the history of unions and strikes shows how unions gained power, and their varying levels of success in past collective bargaining attempts across the country.

1857: The National Education Association (NEA) is founded in Philadelphia by 43 educators. The new union focused on raising teacher salaries, child labor laws, educating emancipated slaves and how the forced assimilation of Native Americansaffected their education.

1897: The Chicago Teachers Federation is formed to raise teacher salaries and pensions. At this point, teacher compensation mainly consisted of room and board in the local community.

1902: Teachers, parents and students unite in Chicago for the first teachers’ strike, which occurs after a teacher is suspended for refusing to allow a disruptive child back into her classroom. According to journalist Dana Goldstein, the strike helps the newly formed CTF.

1906: In New York, the Interborough Association of Women Teachers fights for equal pay for equal work. During this time, teacher salary is based on position. Secondary-school teachers are paid more than elementary-grade teachers, and non-minority men are paid more than women.

1916: The American Federation of Teachers is created in Chicago as several local unions band together. The AFT focuses on salaries and discrimination against female teachers, including contracts requiring that they wear skirts of certain lengths, teach Sunday school, and not receive “gentleman callers more than three times a week,” according to American Teacher magazine.

1920s -1940s: Strikes are rare, since striking workers were often fired quickly and laws in some states make government worker strikes illegal. Unions focus on improving pay, improving conditions in school, and increasing federal aid to schools.

1950s: The NEA affiliates with 18 black teacher’s associations in states where segregation is rampant. By 1951, 98 percent of urban school districts are paying teachers based on professional qualifications rather than on the grade they teach.

1959: Wisconsin becomes the first state to pass a collective bargaining law for public employees. Union membership increases across the country as more states pass similar laws.

1962: The New York City teachers’ strike lasts one day, but shuts down more than 25 of the city’s public schools. Time labels it the “biggest strike by public servants in U.S. history.”

1968: Florida statewide teachers’ strike–More than 40 percent of Florida’s teachers strike over salaries and funding for classrooms. This is the first statewide strike in the nation.

New York City teachers’ strike–Three separate walkouts close schools for 36 days. The strike occurs after the newly created school board in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn, dismisses mostly white and Jewish teachers from the majority black district… The strike ends after the state steps in, and the teachers are reinstated.

1970s and 1980s: Striking breaks out across the country. Although it is illegal in Minnesota at the time, a 1970 strike by Minneapolis teachers over low salaries prompts the state to enact the Minnesota Public Employees Labor Relations Act, which protects teachers’ ability to strike. Strikes also take place in Philadelphia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Chicago, over pay, medical benefits and contract demands…

1990s- 2000s: Laws restricting collective bargaining rights and the differences in contracts and salaries between districts have greatly diversified the role of unions in each state. Unions have taken stronger positions in political campaigns to support like-minded candidates. They have also been vocal about changes to teacher evaluations, an increased number of charter schools, and the introduction of merit pay, and still have the power to impact education reform rollouts in some of America’s largest cities, as was demonstrated in Chicago.

Our local teachers were part of the wave of strikes during the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1976 …The Eastchester Teachers Association went on strike. The strike leaders went to jail; striking teachers were fined two days pay for every one spent “out,” and Eastchester itself made the history books as having provoked the second longest teachers’ strike in New York history.

Related:  Teachers unions overwhelmingly contribute to Democrats (Cost of College)

January 30, 2013

Quick Links – Union membership keeps falling; 4.4% increase in proposed spending for education in New York; our educational mess

by Grace

◊◊◊  ‘Union membership falls to 70-year low’ (The Detroit News)

Washington — The nation’s unions lost 400,000 members in 2012 as the percentage of U.S. workers represented by a labor union fell to 11.3 percent, its lowest level since the 1930s – declining by 0.5 percent over the last year.

Michigan accounted for about 10 percent of the nation’s loss of unionized workers as the Wolverine State fell to the seventh most-unionized state, from fifth in 2011.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the biggest hit was in public sector unions, where many states and cities have cut back on their unionized workforce.

Sharp difference between higher rate of union membership in the public sector and lower rate among private workers

Among public sector workers, 35.9 percent are in a union – down from 37.0 percent in 2011, as the public sector shed nearly 250,000 union workers.

The public sector union rate is more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers. In the private sector, 6.6 percent are unionized, down from 6.9 percent in 2011.


◊◊◊  New York State proposed budget increases funding for most local public schools

All Westchester County school districts except for three will received increased state funding under Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2013-14 budget.  Increases range from 17.5% (Hendrick Hudson) to 0.3% (Scarsdale).  Our local district will see its state funding increase by 5.8%.

The statewide average increase in proposed education aid is 4.4%, with “no broad-based tax increases”.


◊◊◊  David Solway schools us on the Educational Mess We’re In

David Solway describes the content-free, guide-on-the-side culture of today’s classroom using language that had me reaching for a dictionary a few times.  In the comments, he’s criticized for stringing “ten dollar words into sentences one has to read twice to understand”.  I would have to agree, but it was fun to read this twice!

This paradigm is instantly recognizable by the contents and procedures that dominate our public school classrooms: films galore, computer simulations, audio-visual devices, “testable competencies,” PowerPoint presentations, concept maps, information transfer, virtual whiteboards, expurgated texts, true-or-false exams demanding little in the way of written formulation of ideas, and so on. Teachers are trained to emphasize method, to prepare “instructional designs,” to focus on “techniques” of transmission, to valorize process instead of matter, to generate “lesson plans” rather than lessons — “That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” remarked the Gryphon in Alice in Wonderland, “because they lessen from day to day.” Meanwhile, since they are expected to be communicators rather than preceptors, teachers are regularly shunted around the curriculum and required to teach outside their disciplines — which, be it said, they have often failed to master owing to the institutional stress placed on tactics and delivery rather than on grist and corpus. Thus the poor geography teacher becomes a worse gym instructor.

Doubtlessly, the penchant for instrumental modes of teaching has been with us since time immemorial, but in the current climate it has been exalted into a hypothetically remedial ideology and institutionalized as a pervasive method of committee-backed instruction. It is high time we became aware, then, that despite all the media hype and the inundation of formulaic pamphlets, primers, and manuals which experts, specialists, and many public school teachers have unfathomably welcomed, and the misguided policy to hire 100,000 more ill-equipped teachers, the techniques that have become so popular these days do not work. As I wrote in Education Lost: Reflections on Contemporary Pedagogical Practice, “the fundamental premise at the bottom of modern educational theory, namely that teaching is a science whose operative concepts are those of storage, dissemination and skill-replication…is faltering badly, especially in those disciplines which are not data-based.”

At the very least, I learned a new synonym for “teacher”:  preceptor.  I wonder how long it’ll be before I figure out how to slip that word into my writing.

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