"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Oakland California Teachers Buck the NEA

This is one of those stories that might take a little while to get into the mainstream media but as opposition to NCLB grows and the NEA seeks watered down changes in the law, the teachers union in Oakland, California should be making headlines with their courageous stand against NCLB. If the story does eventually get out, perhaps more teachers and union members across the country will take a stand that will finally abolish the punitive high stakes testing madness that is destroying public education.

The Educator Roundtable is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Oakland Education Association. The OEA's principled stand against NCLB may be the beginning of a grassroots movement inside the California Teachers Association (CTA), the California affiliate of the nation's largest union, the National Education Association (NEA). NEA leadership seeks to modify NCLB, but the OEA believes more is needed. OEA supports federal funding for public education, but insists that it be without NCLB 's punitive measures, emphasis on high stakes testing, and embrace of privatization and profiteering.

As a result of all three of the above, NCLB has decimated inner city schools, caused wholesale school closures that qualitatively increase instability in inner city areas, and hit hardest at poor and minority schools, students and families.

OEA says that removal of these sanctions is a prerequisite for real improvement and achievement in our nation's public schools. "At the same time that public schools are being shut down, our school district is approving new charter schools. There are now more than 31 charter schools in Oakland. People in Oakland see this as a takeover….Schools that were anchors in their neighborhoods are shutting down, increasing the instability in those neighborhoods," explains OEA executive board member Jack Gerson.

There is no evidence supporting the claim that "charter schools" educate any better than public schools, nor is there any research supporting NCLB's requirement that schools use supplemental educational services. There is plenty of evidence showing that NCLB has forced thousands of school districts across the country to outsource public education. Oakland is not alone. In California 700 schools face restructuring this year.

In recent days, CTA locals in San Diego, Hollister and Kings/Tulare counties have taken stands similar to Oakland's. Oakland is the first local teacher's union to to publicly endorse the Educator Roundtable's position. We are confident more will soon follow.

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