Learning, Teaching & Leading Today
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Crippling the Right to Organize

On Jan. 1, American workers may lose their right to be represented by a union.

 

"UNLESS something changes in Washington, American workers will, on New Year’s Day, effectively lose their right to be represented by a union. Two of the five seats on the National Labor Relations Board, which protects collective bargaining, are vacant, and on Dec. 31, the term of Craig Becker, a labor lawyer whom President Obama named to the board last year through a recess appointment, will expire. Without a quorum, the Supreme Court ruled last year, the board cannot decide cases.

 

What would this mean?

 

Workers illegally fired for union organizing won’t be reinstated with back pay. Employers will be able to get away with interfering with union elections. Perhaps most important, employers won’t have to recognize unions despite a majority vote by workers. Without the board to enforce labor law, most companies will not voluntarily deal with unions.

 

If this nightmare comes to pass, it will represent the culmination of three decades of Republican resistance to the board — an unwillingness to recognize the fundamental right of workers to band together, if they wish, to seek better pay and working conditions. But Mr. Obama is also partly to blame; in trying to install partisan stalwarts on the board, as his predecessors did, he is all but guaranteeing that the impasse will continue. On Wednesday, he announced his intention to nominate two pro-union lawyers to the board, though there is no realistic chance that either can gain Senate confirmation anytime soon."

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Middle-Class Areas Shrink as Income Gap Grows, New Report Finds

Middle-Class Areas Shrink as Income Gap Grows, New Report Finds | Learning, Teaching & Leading Today | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON — The portion of American families living in middle-income neighborhoods has declined significantly since 1970, according to a new study, as rising income inequality left a growing share of families in neighborhoods that are mostly low-income or mostly affluent.

The study, conducted by Stanford University and scheduled for release on Wednesday by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University, uses census data to examine family income at the neighborhood level in the country’s 117 biggest metropolitan areas.

The findings show a changed map of prosperity in the United States over the past four decades, with larger patches of affluence and poverty and a shrinking middle.
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Glimmers of Hope

First there was Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of the education bill in California.  In his letter, the governor chided the legislature for continuing to rely upon standardized testing as the only ‘data’ that counts when measuring schools success.  In his own words: Finally, while SB547 attempts to improve the API, it relies on the same quantitative and standardized paradigm at the heart of the current system. The criticism of the API is that it has led schools to focus too narrowly on tested subjects and ignore other subjects and matters that are vital to a well-rounded education. SB547 certainly would add more things to measure, but it is doubtful that it would actually improve our schools. Adding more speedometers to a broken car won’t turn it into a high-performance machine.

And then, my favorite quote from his veto message:  SB547 nowhere mentions good character or love of learning. It does allude to student excitement and creativity, but does not take these qualities seriously because they can’t be placed in a data stream. Lost in the bill’s turgid mandates is any recognition that quality is fundamentally different from quantity. There are other ways to improve our schools to indeed focus on quality. What about a system that relies on locally convened panels to visit schools, observe teachers, interview students, and examine student work? Such a system wouldn’t produce an API number, but it could improve the quality of our schools.
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Effective Teaching as a Civil Right: Linda Darling-Hammond

Effective Teaching as a Civil Right: Linda Darling-Hammond | Learning, Teaching & Leading Today | Scoop.it
Despite growing evidence that expert teachers are critical to educational achievement, well-prepared and effective teachers are the most unequally distributed educational resource in the United States. Since federal supports for urban school funding and teacher training were dramatically reduced in the 1980s, teacher shortages in schools serving low-income students have increased. Since then, it has been increasingly common for students in poor rural and urban schools to experience a revolving door of inexperienced and underprepared teachers.
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Controversy Over Dam Fuels Rare Public Outcry in Myanmar

Controversy Over Dam Fuels Rare Public Outcry in Myanmar | Learning, Teaching & Leading Today | Scoop.it
The Myitsone dam is raising the prospect of something unusual in Myanmar — that public outrage might force the government to reconsider its plans.
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Wukan Revolt Takes On a Life of Its Own

Wukan Revolt Takes On a Life of Its Own | Learning, Teaching & Leading Today | Scoop.it
Anger at a possible land deal boiled over in Wukan, China, after a popular villager chosen to negotiate a solution died in police custody.

 

"WUKAN, China — Each day begins with a morning rally in the banner-bedecked square, where village leaders address a packed crowd about their seizure of the village and plans for its future. Friday’s session was followed by a daylong mock funeral for a fallen comrade, whose body lies somewhere outside the village in government custody.

 

It has been nearly a week since the 13,000 residents of this seacoast village, a warren of cramped alleys and courtyard homes, became so angry that their deeply resented officials — and even the police — fled rather than face them. Now, there is a striking vacuum of authority, and the villagers are not entirely sure what to make of their fleeting freedom.

 

'We will defend our farmland to the death!' a handmade banner proclaims, referring to a possible land deal they fear will strip them of almost all their farmland. 'Is it a crime,” another muses, “to ask for the return of our land and for democracy and transparency?'"

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Richard Wilkinson: How economic inequality harms societies | Video on TED.com

TED Talks We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong.

We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2011, July 2011, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Duration: 16:55.)
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What Can We Learn From Finland?: Diane Ravitch

What Can We Learn From Finland?: Diane Ravitch | Learning, Teaching & Leading Today | Scoop.it
Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch have found themselves at odds on policy over the years, but they share a passion for improving schools. Bridging Differences will offer their insights on what matters most in education.

The highlight of my trip was visiting schools in Finland. Of course, Finland is much in the news these days because of its success on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) examinations. For the past decade, 15-year-old Finnish students have consistently been at or near the top of all the nations tested in reading, mathematics, and science. And just as consistently, the variance in quality among Finnish schools is the least of all nations tested, meaning that Finnish students can get a good education in virtually any school in the nation. That's equality of educational opportunity, a good public school in every neighborhood.

What makes the Finnish school system so amazing is that Finnish students never take a standardized test until their last year of high school, when they take a matriculation examination for college admission. Their own teachers design their tests, so teachers know how their students are doing and what they need. There is a national curriculum—broad guidelines to assure that all students have a full education—but it is not prescriptive. Teachers have extensive responsibility for designing curriculum and pedagogy in their school. They have a large degree of autonomy, because they are professionals.
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RSA - Choosing, Consuming & Social Change

RSA - Choosing, Consuming & Social Change | Learning, Teaching & Leading Today | Scoop.it

In this new RSAnimate, Professor Renata Salecl explores the paralysing anxiety and dissatisfaction surrounding limitless choice. Does the freedom to be the architects of our own lives actually hinder rather than help us? Does our preoccupation with choosing and consuming actually obstruct social change?

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