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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Teachers Propose Reform. Will Anyone Listen?


Today, I participated in a workshop at put on by my union American Federation of Teachers that focused on our response to the No Child Left Behind wavier the federation Department of Education granted the state of Oklahoma.

In the waiver, the state Department of Education establishes the policy of giving a letter grade, A-F, to all schools in the state.  Furthermore, it established a list of "Priority Schools" that the state could take over because these schools are deemed failures in educating children.

Oklahoma Centennial Mid/High School, where I teach, is on that list.

According to the waiver, the state could leave the school under district control because the school is already sufficiently implementing school improvement measures. The also has the option of running the school itself or turn the school over to an outside entity such as an educational corporation or charter group.  In the last two cases, all staff in the school would be subject to a performance review and any protection previously afforded to those staff by the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the district would be null and void.

The workshop is an attempt by the union to have a say in any school reforms the district or the state may wish to adopt under the waiver.  In the workshop, we discussed teacher and administrative evaluations, parent/stuff contracts, teacher performance incentives, teacher peer assistance, and so forth.

There is no guarantee that any of our suggested reforms will ever be enacted.  Past practice does not offer much hope in that matter.  Teacher suggestions, particularly those offered by their union typically do not receive much notice from the powers that be whether they "be" in the district, the state department of education, or the legislature. 

But we have to try something. I will publish the results of our efforts and try to get them out to anyone who will listen.

I'll see what happens.

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