Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Three NY Times Articles Explore the Intersection of Race and Class and Class Comes in 2nd

The worst places for poor white children are almost all better than the best places for poor black children.... Poor white children struggle in parts of the Southeast and Appalachia. But they still fare better there than poor black children do in most of America. In effect, the worst places for whites produce outcomes that are about as good as the best places for blacks.... Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys..... 
......NY Times, March 19
Monday was a beautiful sunny day out here in Rockaway and I managed to spend 3 hours sitting in the backyard reading the NY Times and getting some much needed sun - and a jolt of vitamin D. That it took me so long to read the paper was due to some intriguing articles, three of which connected some dots.

The major article was the front page one I quoted above with some important data about the impact of racism. I would bet that many people feel that if a black boy grows up in a high income family there would not be much difference in long time outcomes from white boys. But that seems so not true.
White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households. Most white boys raised in wealthy families will stay rich or upper middle class as adults, but black boys raised in similarly rich households will not.
Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.
The numbers are very different for black girls. And from my own experience with black kids I could see the different gender trajectories in elementary school.

I often issue a challenge to people who say race is not a factor. "A black guy dressed in a suit and carrying a brief case and a white guy dressed in fatigues and carrying an AK-47 walk down a street. Which one is more likely to get stopped by cops?" I've never had one white male answer that it would be the white guy. Reminds me of the great 1970 film, Where's Poppa, where a well dressed black couple have cab after cab pass them by but George Segal dressed in a gorilla suit is picked up immediately.

I remember a story told to me by a white high school teacher who had a deep understanding of racial issues - she took in kids to live with her family over the years, including one of my former 6th graders who grew up poor. A few of his relatives had apparently escaped the pull of gravity of poverty and had middle class jobs. The teacher pointed out that the escapees never quite escape the pull of poverty gravity because the rest of the poor family was always pulling on them for help.

At any rate, the article is a must read, especially for educators though some of the charts gave me a headache. Read it here - and I have a bunch of excepts below the break - but no charts.

Article 2 is this one about discipline. It is a complex article addressing issues that come up often here in NYC about punishing kids, suspensions, etc. I won't print any of it but leave those interested to read it at the link

Why Are Black Students Punished So Often? Minnesota Confronts a National Quandary


As I often say I learned a lot from my students, especially about racism. Here are a few stories that sort of fit into the framework of the article above.

I once had my class(roughly 65% Hispanic and 35% black) lined up ready to go back up after lunch and told them we weren't moving until everyone was quiet and in line. Some kids were still rambunctious and pulled one after another off the line into a separate line. Then I noticed that every single one of the kids I pulled was black. It made me stop and think about whether I was being objective or exhibiting some prejudice. I thought I was objective but it was a wake-up call for me to be sensitive.

Another story about race has to do with a black boy in my 6th grade class who gave me a hell of a lot of trouble the first month of school -- I had moved up with my 5th grade class and they were attuned to my teaching and happy to be in my class again - but he was an addition - his also problem brother had been in the 5th grade and was not in this class - than goodness. It was a known problem family with all the kids having been problems. Did this prejudice me? Well, I got pretty exasperated with him and finally said I was coming to his house after school to talk to his mother. He didn't seem to care -- so I decided to go. The projects were pretty rough at that time so I had some butterflies. When I knocked on the door he answered. His eyes were disbelieving. I sat down in the living room waiting for his mom to appear. He sat there looking scared when she came in. I can't explain why I did what I did - I had no plan - but the first words out of my mouth was how funny he was (he was) - but I think at that moment it was the first time I thought of him that way --he looked so relieved. I did lodge some complaints about his behavior but said with her help we could work things out.

From them on he and I were pals and had the most fun in class. My attitude towards him totally changed. I began to laugh at his antics instead of punishing him and we often entertained the rest of the class. He did have some very rough years - or decades - ahead but now I see him on facebook and am delighted at the way his life seems to have turned out. What was my lesson here? That sometimes we as teachers can change our views of certain kids.

In retrospect, I found that I often connected with most of the black boys I had in my class and later on when I began to hang out with one of my former students and his friends when he was on the high school basketball team years later I learned a lot about black teenage boys - a view I wish everyone had a chance to be part of. They were poor urban kids - but so interesting and delightful - I at times took a bunch to my house after school to play video games. A few slept over once or twice. It was my honor to be invited into their world.

The final article ties is about Testilying by police - part 1 -- Tuesday was part 2.
A Stubborn Problem:
Police lying persists, even amid an explosion of video
evidence that has allowed the public to test officers’ credibility.

How does this tie in? Well think of the disciplining and arrests of so many black boys and men. Do all cops lie? Obviously not. But if a cop is even subconsciously racist - or views black teen boys very differently than the view I had of them -- always a menace -- and certainly some are -- then they are more likely to overreact. And shade the truth to match their point of view.

All of the above, a complex problem with mo easy solutions.

Tulsa World editorial: Oklahoma can avoid a statewide teachers' strike, but not if the Legislature keeps screwing around

Legislature must get serious about pay raises for Oklahoma teachers

Oklahoma has been hemorrhaging teachers to neighboring states which pay much more. Something's gonna blow. I went to an event where one of the main players, teacher Larry Cagle, a Republican I believe, spoke on the phone in depth about what is going on there. You can hear him and West Virginia teachers at:

Tulsa World editorial: Oklahoma can avoid a statewide teachers' strike, but not if the Legislature keeps screwing around

Immediately above this editorial is a note about a coming crisis, a completely avoidable statewide teachers’ strike.

We have 14 days — two weeks — until thousands of Oklahoma teachers will walk away from their jobs, bringing children’s educations to a halt and creating havoc for Oklahoma families from border to border.

It doesn’t have to happen; but unfortunately, a solution relies on the Oklahoma legislators, who are best at doing nothing or, alternatively, doing next to nothing and claiming they’re hard at work.

Teachers have gone without a state-funded pay raise for nearly a decade. The Oklahoma Education Association, the dominant teacher organization in the state, is demanding a $10,000 teachers’ raise over three years; $5,000 raises for support personnel; solid funding for education programs and a sustainable, rational revenue plan to pay for it.

It’s a reasonable demand, but instead of working to meet it, the Legislature is fiddling around the edges.
Last week, the state Senate proposed a raise package that fell well short of the teachers’ position. It included no money for support personnel and nothing for classroom funding. A revenue package to pay for it fell two votes short of the supermajority needed for passage.

Then Speaker of the House Charles McCall rolled out an even less acceptable plan: Incremental increases over six years, starting with about $2,000 next year. The McCall plan included no specifics on how it would be funded.

Both plans should be scrapped and legislative leaders need to get to work on a real effort to fund education adequately.

A statewide teachers’ strike would be bad for children, teachers and the state. If lawmakers continue playing political games and teachers end up walking out on April 2, there will be no doubt about who will be at fault: Oklahoma’s political leaders who lack the courage to fund public schools adequately.

Call your legislators and insist that they fund education and stop playing political games as the crisis nears.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Putin Wins, But Still Jealous of Unity Caucus Control

With most of the ballots counted, Putin had received 76% of the vote, the central election commission said.

 "The Unity Caucus operation manual is my bible and Michael Mulgew is my hero," stated Putin. "He gets the same or greater percentage of votes and he doesn't even have to poison people."

"Sixty years in power is even better than Stalin."He hopes to meet with Unity officials soon to get ideas on how he can increase his dominance.

Putin smirked that the opposition in the UFT should not to be fooled by the improved food at the executive board and suggested they bring food tasters to future meetings.

He promised that Russian hackers would hack into the MORE emails accounts and be involved in the next UFT election to push Unity totals even higher.

The Charter School Horrors

Some teachers, having bought the hype, enter teaching in a charter with exuberance. Think of the joy of a hot shower. Early on you are in ecstasy. And very soon, the horror begins. Read the horror stories coming out of charter schools. The music is eerily familiar.


Here are some posts of interest.

A teacher quits a charter school as posted by posted at Schools Matter

Florina Rodov: The Truth About Charter Schools

“[W]hen teachers aren’t unionized, they’re exploited — and when teachers suffer, so do kids.” — Florina Rodov
This amazing piece by Florina Rodov on Shondaland is a must read. Taking place at one of the seedy charter corporations here in Los Angeles, the story Rodov tells is all too familiar to all of us that are anti-privatization activists. Much of the mistreatment of faculty and students mirrors the accounts in Professor Horn's Work Hard, Be Hard: Journeys Through "No Excuses" Teaching. Hat tip to Leonie Haimson, whose Tweet regarding this essay caught my eye... posted at at Schools Matter

Another teacher quits Noble charter in Chicago on March 1.
I left Noble because I could no longer stomach feeling unvalued and untrusted by the administration and the network, and hampered in my ability to provide an environment in which my students could thrive.


Noble needs a Union because teachers need to feel respected, valued and trusted in the work that they do. Leadership and education are collaborative endeavors, and they require trust and respect on each side. The policies that Noble enforces on its staff, students, and communities are not equitable because they do not represent the voices of those populations in a meaningful, substantive, or concrete way. Noble designed and implemented a payscale without transparency or formal outlets for staff input, and as a result it does not adequately account for teacher experience or equally recognize the work of our paras, facilities workers, office staff, or culture team. My experience, though potentially an outlier because of credentials, is surely not an anomaly in the dismissive manner which Noble treats much of its staff and their service to our kids. Noble constantly demands that teachers are to trust their administrators, yet they fail to show us that trust in return. A union would allow teacher and staff voices to be heard, teacher autonomy to be respected, and teacher expertise to be valued. Without those things, your network will continue to be a revolving door for educators and the students will suffer the most for it. 
The Facts About NJ Charter Schools, Part I: Prelude 


Renegade Teacher: Online Charter Schools Are a Fraud and a Scam

by dianeravitch
Renegade Teacher hast taught in both public schools and charter schools in Detroit. He writes here about the highly profitable fraud of online charter schools. Among their most prominent supporters are Betsy DeVos (who invested in them, and now advocates for them) and Jeb Bush, who relentlessly promotes online learning.
From his own experience as a teacher, he saw what online learning lacks: human relationships between students and teachers and between peers. It is soul-deadening.
“Online education in the K-12 sphere is a growing trend- as of 2015, there were some 275,000 students enrolled in online charter schools. In my home state of Michigan, from 2010 to 2014, the number of students in Online Charter Schools increased from 718 students to 7,934 students (over 1000% increase).
“Private, for-profit companies (using public funds) are cashing in- the two largest online charter companies, K12 and Connections Academy, are raking in an estimated $1 billion per year (as of 2014). The motive is profit over substance: less operating costs, less teachers, and less building maintenance.
“The results have been damning: according a study from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CREDO), students in online charters lost an average of about 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in math IN THE COURSE OF AN 180-DAY SCHOOL YEAR. They could have had equal math progress if they had spent the entire year asleep.
“In Philadelphia, a system composed of mainly poverty-stricken Black and Latinx students, online schools educated more than one-third of students as of 2014 [1]. The kicker is that, between 2011 and 2014, 100% of those students failed their state achievement tests. 100%!!! [2].”
The biggest online charter school in Ohio recently collapsed, both an academic and financial disaster.
Renegade Teacher thinks they should be banned. They are educational frauds.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Rewriting History: Mulgrew Obfuscates on Testing

Mulgew not only supported NY RTTT but he was critical in getting it.... A source

Dear Norm,
I am former UFT delegate during the time that the current APPR law was being voted on. I was shocked that there was no mention at delegate assemblies to oppose testing. I was so upset, I called my State Representative to ask that he vote against the current teacher evaluation that includes testing as part of a teacher's rating. He was surprised that teachers were against this measure, and kept repeating how our Union "shook hands on it". Other states have already repealed that part of teacher evaluations. Why is NY dragging its feet?

The moral: Mulgrew is piece of $#&*!!!
---- Retired teacher
On Thursday morning the UFT held an event with Daniel Koretz who wrote "The Testing Charade." I intended to go but something came up. Lisa North went and reported that Mulgrew was trying to line himself up with the testing critics. What a crock. Lisa reports"
I attended a UFT event with Daniel Koretz who wrote "The Testing Charade"....It was mostly made up of UFT employees since it was during the school day. Mulgrew spoke as if he was always against the tests. I asked him when the UFT would send emails to members like NYSUT did concerning testing...His response? We are NYSUT! He said the UFT's main objective now is to make sure the teacher evaluations do not include tests....

Mulgrew's wording was mostly something like this....When "No Child Left behind" was passed, I know there was going to be big problems with testing.....He did not come out saying he was always against testing.... Lisa North
Jia Lee replied:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

How the spark became a flame in W. Virginia | Socialist Worker

A good blow by blow account:
We're hoping this is just the beginning of a much larger movement and that people wake up...
Let's talk about step two, which we called that "blue flu" [everyone calling in sick and staying home]. We said what does everyone think about a "blue flu" day? Everybody was in support.
Our union reps were there, and I think they were surprised. They said: Let me tell you about all the legal repercussions, you may lose your seniority, you might lose your job, you're definitely going to lose a day of pay. But everyone was still on board.
The momentum and energy in the room was intense.-----
other counties were saying we weren't giving them enough time, that they needed more time to organize. We talked about that in our leadership meetings: Do we stop? Do we wait on other counties to get organized, or do we just go ahead and do it?
We decided, no, let's just go ahead and do it. The day before I went, someone looked at me and said are you really going to go to the Capitol with four counties? They will laugh you out. You need at least 45 to make a difference. I said I don't believe that. I think that it wouldn't matter if it was one county. It's going to start a movement.
You just wait and see if other counties don't start jumping on board and following our lead. And sure enough, it happened. It was like a domino effect.....
.......WV Teacher Katie Endicott, Socialist Worker
Yes, the union leadership warned them of consequences. They weren't scared off. It depends on how you look at it. Here we see the union leadership as damping militancy. In this account Katie says they were doing their job to warn them but then also telling them they'd have their backs.

How the spark became a flame in W. Virginia 

Teachers were celebrating at the West Virginia Capitol last week, after their nine-day, statewide strike won the passage of legislation that gives them and other state employees a 5 percent raise. Some 20,000 educators in a "right-to-work" state walked out February 22 over wages and the underfunding of the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), which provides health care coverage for state workers.
The day after the strike ended, 10th and 12th grade English teacher Katie Endicott from Central Mingo High School spoke with Dana Blanchard about how this struggle came together.
Teachers stand united during a nine-day strike in West VirginiaTeachers stand united during a nine-day strike in West Virginia
I WOULD love to hear a little bit more about the Mingo story. I know you've probably told this a thousand times in the past weeks, but you all kind of started this whole thing.
ON MARTIN Luther King Jr. Day, there was a rally. That's a holiday that West Virginia schools have off, and teachers went to the rally in Charleston.
My little boy had the flu, so I stayed with the kids while my husband went to the rally.
When he came home, he was so dejected because he said there were only about 150 teachers there. And when he talked to state senators and delegates, they were telling him: You should be scared, you have no idea what is coming your way.

How the West Virginia Teacher Strike Was Made | Rewire News

What bothered Null the most, she said, was when legislators made clear they “have money for businesses but not for you.” The money for businesses in question is a $140 million tax break on mining and manufacturing business inventory, money that would ordinarily mostly go to fund schools. Null believes that this tax break largely benefits corporate interests outside of the state.

So at the suggestion of Cheatham, a group of teachers went to the state capitol to talk about their concerns. Null said, “Most of [the lawmakers] gave nice political answers, but there were a handful of Republican senators who decided to use sarcasm.” These responses served to galvanize the teachers and they set to organizing.... Rewire News
Here's another article on the WV strike. The UFT has another  lobbying day coming up. Ho-hum, I guess. Here is what the teachers in WV put on the table but our UFT/NYSUT leaders won't -- hard economics.
What bothered Null the most, she said, was when legislators made clear they “have money for businesses but not for you.” The money for businesses in question is a $140 million tax break on mining and manufacturing business inventory, money that would ordinarily mostly go to fund schools. Null believes that this tax break largely benefits corporate interests outside of the state.
I'm posting all these articles so we can have as much info as possible from all sides - including from the right - so we can learn what lessons we can. For those who dream of it happening here, it will never happen as long as the current leadership can control the membership. Now if that gets to a point where the membership is angry enough to rise up, even with the current leadership in power, they would be forced to become more militant but I still wouldn't trust them. Watch the WV and OK stories to see how the leadership is operating. More to come.

How the West Virginia Teacher Strike Was Made

Powerful social movements throughout history have been led by women and children, and the statewide strike in West Virginia, along with the movement ignited by students from Parkland, might be the sign of major changes ahead. 

While the pussy hat became the best-known symbol of the Women’s March in 2017, the West Virginia education strikers of 2018 had their own head gear: red bandanas and occasional bunny ears. The bandanas were a nod to labor history in West Virginia—striking miners at the Battle of Blair Mountain tied the bandanas around their necks to symbolize solidarity that spanned differences in ethnicities and languages, making them the original rednecks. But it was also a defiant gesture to Gov. Jim Justice (R), who told a crowd at a town hall at Wheeling Park High School that he could be “the town redneck, too.”

The bunny ears came after Governor Justice declared the teachers were “dumb bunnies” if they trusted other politicians rather than him.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The West Virginia Teachers Strike Shows That Winning Big Requires Creating a Crisis | The Nation

“Wages and health benefits were almost a distraction. They are important, but there were five major stances we took, and we won all five.”
These included defeating an expansion of charter schools, killing a proposal to eliminate seniority, and scuttling a paycheck-protection bill (aimed at weakening unions by taking away their right to deduct union dues through payroll collection), as well as a mechanism to fix the health-insurance crisis and a raise big enough to matter. ... The Nation
Here's my third piece of the day on the WV strike as I sit and watch the nail biter from Western PA. This time from the left- The Nation. Note the wins were more than wages -- they killed a charter school initiative. I asked one of the WV teachers at the big show last Saturday night about charter schools in WV - he said "None." I figured that was the case since how do you close every school in the state if there were charters? That is the hidden purpose of charters -- to assure teacher unions cannot get the power to close every school. Who knew WV had no real charter influence? He told me that was because they are so rural with such big distances.

I have some stuff on WV and OK from the right - my pal Mike Antonucci - some snark, as usual, but always with stuff not being covered by others --- some of that coming up Thursday night.

The strikers won all five of their demands by shutting down every public school in the state.

By Jane McAlevey


Thousands of teachers and school personnel at the capitol in Charleston, March 5, 2018. (Craig Hudson / Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

Notes on the West Virginia Teachers Strike of 2018 | naked capitalism

Feeding the schoolkids was a tactical masterstroke (as doing the right thing so often is)...
“What are their demands?” — that the teachers are making, as opposed to the demands that careless journalists say they are making; and then I’ll present a grab bag of interesting characteristics worth noting, partly about West Virginia, partly about this strike. I’ll conclude with some remarks on the role of the Democrat Party in creating the conditions that led to the strike....
we enter phase three! The rank and file rejected the deal, turning the strike into a wildcat strike. ..... by Lambert Strether
If you continue reading Ed Notes you will learn everything there is to share about teacher actions in W. Virginia and Oklahoma - and hopefully other places too until you can't take anymore.

For the 2nd West Virginia strike article of the day that I'm posting, this one looks like a goodie even though it was posted over a week ago. Look at the opening line up top. Feeding the kids. I can just imagine some of the selfish oafs who comment on mine and other blogs thinking, "how social justicy" - why worry about the kids?

I still have at least one more to post later around midnight. (I want to give readers a chance to get to the articles.) Why am I focusing on WV and OK -- lessons galore -- and not only what you may be hearing from the left the center or the right. By reading everything we can come up with some conclusions - hopefully - on how we may be affected here in NYC and beyond. The answer may very well be not at all.

Note the section in red with the * - these 3 unions have not gotten along and according to a West V teacher I spoke to, there is still a lot of tension and resistance to working together from union leaders at the top --- yes, this crap never goes away.

I still have to report on the March 10 Saturday night event attended by 300 people who heard directly from 3 WV teachers.


Notes on the West Virginia Teachers Strike of 2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Obviously, the West Virgina teachers strike is a big story, and potentially an enormous one, especially if it turns out to be the more successful cousin of the the Wisconsin State Capitol occupations of 2011 which followed Tahrir Square and preceded Occupy proper. (As we’ll see below, “teachers strike” is a bit of a misnomer, and that’s important, but I think we’re stuck with the phrase.) So I ought to present a general theory, or at least a hot take, but on working through the sources as best I could, I realized how little I knew of realities on the ground[1], so my ambitions for this post will be more modest. First, I’ll review the state of play; then, I’ll reinforce the demands — one of the nice things about a strike is that there is an answer to the question “What are their demands?” — that the teachers are making, as opposed to the demands that careless journalists say they are making; and then I’ll present a grab bag of interesting characteristics worth noting, partly about West Virginia, partly about this strike. I’ll conclude with some remarks on the role of the Democrat Party in creating the conditions that led to the strike.

First, one piece of background. There was a massive and successful eleven-day West Virginia teachers strike in 1990. The Charleston Gazette-Mail:
In March 1990, teachers across West Virginia refused to go to work and headed to the picket line, shutting down hundreds of schools for 11 days. They walked out after legislative leaders and Gov. Gaston Caperton were unable to come to an agreement on a package of pay raises.
The 1990 strike is often referred to as West Virginia’s first statewide teacher strike, but eight of the state’s 55 counties didn’t participate in the walkout.
Teachers returned to work after union leaders secured promises from state Senate President Keith Burdette and House Speaker Chuck Chambers to address teacher pay and other issues.
Among other results of the strike, teachers received a $5,000 pay increase, phased in over three years. That boosted West Virginia teachers’ salaries from 49th in the nation before the strike to 34th after the raises were implemented. Teachers also got new support and training programs, and money was set aside for faculty senate groups in every school, in an effort to give teachers more of a voice in education policy decisions.
Then as now, the strike was “unlawful” without being “illegal” (I’m not sure I understand that, either) but in any case nobody was arrested (even though, unbelievably, teachers have no right to collective bargaining in West Virginia, and their wages are set by the legislature). Two other differences leap out: In 2018, all 55 counties participated (the hash tag is #55strong), and this time, the rank and file rejected the “secured promises” obtained from the Governor by the union leadership.

The State Of Play
So far, the strike has gone through three phases: The build-up, the walkout, and the wildcat strike. Let’s look at each phase in turn.
Labor Notes has a good retrospective of the thinking and organizing during the build-up to the strike, sadly (or fortunately?) not made visible to the rest of the world by the press:
The first rumblings began late last year, when a group of teachers formed a secret Facebook page[2] and started planning a “lobby day” at the state capital on Martin Luther King Day, when they knew the legislature would be in session. Word spread, and soon the West Virginia Education Association, the state’s NEA affiliate, was planning an official rally.
“This was almost completely a grassroots movement,” said Erica Newsome, an English teacher in Logan County. “The unions kind of followed us.”
Organizers estimate 150 people showed up. “The rally was kind of small,” said Ashlea Bassham, a teacher at Chapmanville Regional High School, “but then it just sort of happened.”
Teachers and school service employees started holding walkout votes county by county. West Virginia has two statewide teachers unions, affiliates of the AFT and NEA, which often compete for membership. There is also the West Virginia School Service Professional Association, or WVSSPA,* which represents bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and clerical workers. But teachers and school service employees decided that in this case, any school employee could vote—whether they were a member of any one of the unions or no union at all.
We now enter the walkout phase, marked by Capitol protests and rallies:
Strikers converged on the capital again. This time there were 1,000 teachers, public employees, students, and parents at the statehouse.
“The gallery filled up too quick for me and some co-workers to go in,” said Bassham, “So we waited in the breezeway to talk to our state legislators. Some of our representatives were willing to talk and take a minute and listen, and some of them had their heads down, walking really quickly.”
The legislature responded by announcing a temporary freeze to Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) premium increases, and offered a two percent pay raise in the first year.
At this point (February 27), the union leadership declared victory[3]. The Payday Report:
After 4 days of striking, the West Virginia teachers’ union has reached an agreement to end their historic work stoppage.
Under the deal, the teachers would get a 5% raise during the first year. Initially, teachers had been offered 1% raise.
The state also agreed to appoint a task force to look into improving the troubled Public Employee Insurance Agency [PEIA], which insures the teachers.
The teachers will return to classes on Thursday after a brief cooling-off period.
In fact, that didn’t happen, and we enter phase three! The rank and file rejected the deal, turning the strike into a wildcat strike. Jacobin interviewed Jay O’Neal, a middle-school teacher and union activist in Charleston:
[O’NEAL]: As is the case these days, everybody was on their phones, trying to follow the news to get a sense of what was going on.
Within ten minutes, we found out through the governor’s press conference [not a good look!] that a deal had been reached. Teachers and school staff would get a 5 percent pay raise, and 3 percent for all state employees. The governor also said that a task force would be set up to figure out how to improve PEIA, our statewide health insurance plan for public sector workers.
Fifteen minutes after the press conference, union leaders came out and addressed the crowd. The basic problem was that they presented this deal as a victory. They told us we’d be out on strike one more day, then return to school on Thursday.
People were up in arms, really frustrated. Of course, a 5 percent raise is great, but what we’ve been really fighting for in this struggle is PEIA. This has been a huge issue, causing problems for years. They’ve been cutting our health insurance over and over, making it really expensive to survive.
So when it was announced that all we got on PEIA was a task force, people were upset.
In my county at least, the sentiment is that
we’re not going back to work until there’s solid proof that our demands are going to be met. Our biggest fear is that they’re just going to keep pushing back the question of PEIA.
(There was also a hilarious subplot where Governor Justice pulled “$58 million out of thin air” to pay for the raises, IIRC continuing a storied tradition in the state.) And in fact, the rank and file were right on the money, as hilarity ensues in the state legislature. The Charleston Gazette and Mail:
On Saturday evening, the Senate Finance Committee took up a pay raise bill passed by the House, and reduced the pay increase for teachers, school service workers and State Police troopers from 5 percent to 4 percent.
But the Senate then, mistakenly, passed the House version of the bill with the 5 percent raise, rather than the 4 percent version. After Senate leaders announced the mistake, senators walked back their passage vote and certain procedural votes, and passed the bill with a 4 percent raise after 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
House members wouldn’t agree to that change, and both sides appointed three members to a conference committee, which will try to hash out the differences on the bill.
“At this point, the three organizations announce that we are out indefinitely — we will not accept the 4 percent,” said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, speaking on behalf of his group, as well as the state arm of the American Federation of Teachers and the West Virginia School Service and Personnel Association, following Saturday’s committee vote. “Until this bill passes at 5 percent, we will be out indefinitely.”
Immediately after the committee amendment vote (the first time around), jeering broke out from the Senate gallery.
(Whether the Senate leadership was incompetent, or engaged in crude delaying tactics I cannot say.) The Conference Committee might meet Sunday, but the Senate reconvenes Monday at 11AM. So that is where we are.

What Are Their Demands?
All I’m going to do here is contrast the lazier headlines with what the striking teachers are saying. The headlines:
But as we have already seen, health insurance (PEIA) was a key issue[4], besides the raise; that’s what teacher Jay O’Neal says above, that’s what teacher Katie Endicott told the New York Times, that’s what teacher Samantha Nelson told CNN, and that’s what the Charleston Gazette and Mail found in its reporting:
Many school employees interviewed say maintaining Public Employees Insurance Agency health insurance costs and benefits at their current levels is a bigger issue than pay increases. PEIA Finance Board members, at the governor’s urging, have delayed premium increases and benefit cuts, but teachers say that just delays the pain, and a long-term solution is needed.
That’s also what the Los Angeles Times found:
At the heart of the matter, teachers say, isn’t their salaries. It’s their soaring healthcare costs.
“We’ve seen [people say] ‘teachers are not happy with the 5% increase’ — that’s not it at all,” said Mary Clark, 49, a fifth-grade teacher in Monongalia County. “That’s not what kept us out. It’s the insurance. That’s the big deal.”
In West Virginia, teachers and other state employees receive health coverage through the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
The state program is funded 80% by employers and 20% by employees. That means as healthcare costs continue to rise significantly, the program’s long-term solvency requires “significant revenue increases in employer and employee premiums” over the next five years, according to an October 2017 financial report prepared for PEIA.
In other words, employees are going to need to pay up. “They are wanting to raise our rates,” Clark said.
But there’s a problem with that: After teaching for a little more than 10 years, “I’ve not seen [my take-home pay] go up any at all,” not even counting inflation, Clark said. If her healthcare costs increase, “that’s not feasible.”
Which is obvious when you think about it: What’s the point of a raise if your insurance company takes the money right out of your pocket, like you’re some sort of pass-through?

Bottom line here is to beware of any source that presents the raise (4% vs 5%) as the only, or even the main issue. That includes, as we have seen, much of the press, but also the Governor and the legislature, and the union leadership (at least as far as I can find). PEIA needs to be fixed, and not by some pissant kick-the-can-down-the-road [family blogging] commission, either.

West Virginia on the Ground
Now the promised grab bag: Items I noticed collecting information for this story that seem to be unique to West Virginia. The first two relate to the history and culture of the state; the final three are about this strike in particular.

Item one: The word “county.” Teacher O’Neal uses it in his interview above:
From below,
I can only really speak about the situation in my county, which is local to Charleston. We decided to have a meeting at 1 PM to try to straighten things out and to get some correct information. It was all super last minute, we had to plan it in a couple of hours. We met in a nearby church. The room was absolutely packed, with pews and aisles filled way past capacity.
And I ran across teachers talking about their counties constantly. Now, I don’t know what to make of this. I am very much from my place or patch in Maine, but I situate myself more in my town, or at the intersection of the Penobscot and the Stillwater Rivers; I don’t think myself as being from Penobscot County at all. Perhaps some West Virginia readers can enlighten us?

Item two: West Virgina has a storied labor history. State Senator Richard Ojeda, a Democrat, amazingly enough, in the Morgan County, USA blog:
“The teachers of West Virginia are not just fighting for themselves, our children or all public employees,” Ojeda wrote. “In my view, teachers in West Virginia are joining a fight for the soul and spirit of West Virginia that started hundreds of years ago.”
“Hundreds of years ago, investors came to West Virginia and purchased most of the land for all but nothing. Even today, you will be hard pressed to find many people in West Virginia who own their mineral rights.”
“They wanted our salt, timber and coal. They came in, paid our people essentially nothing for it and then put in the railroad. West Virginia has always been a colony.”
I’ll stop there, but it’s worth a read in full. (It’s is a rolled up Tweet storm from Ojeda, but I wanted to give a local site some hits.)

Item three, now on the strike itself: Feeding the schoolkids was a tactical masterstroke (as doing the right thing so often is). From Today:
During the four-day strike, teachers throughout West Virginia went out of their way to provide students with food. Teachers and staff at Horace Mann Middle School in Charleston prepared bagged lunches to send home with their students before they hit the picket line. Others worked with local food pantries to drop food off at students’ homes.
Item four: All school unions are involved, not just the teachers, unlike the 1990 strike[6] (making the phrase “teachers strike” a misnomer). The Charleston Gazette Mail:
Teachers, this time joined by school service personnel, walked off the job Thursday…. The 1990 strike also did not involve public school service personnel, a category that generally includes non-teachers, like bus drivers and cooks.
This is a second tactical masterstroke (besides, again, being the right thing to do). Awkward situations described in this photo caption are avoided:
Protesters block school buses from leaving a garage during the West Virginia teachers’ strike on March 9, 1990.
This time, the bus drivers walked out with the teachers (which certainly does make it easier to enforce the school closures).

Item five: The teachers (and cooks and bus drivers and janitors and all school employers) are, as Ojeda points out, fighting for all West Virginia public employees, not just themselves, since PEIA stands for “ Public Employee Insurance Agency.” A third tactical masterstroke (and again, the right thing to do).

Actually, having written the items, I now see a common thread between them, or at least for two through five: Solidarity.

“West Virginia Spring” may be over-stating the case[5], but the teachers strike — need a better phrase! — is already an interesting and potentially important flashpoint (especially if the teachers in Oklahoma follow their lead, or even Florida, if Florida teachers decide they don’t want to be security guards on top of everything else). Before I close, I did promise I’d have a word to say about the role of the Democrat Party in all this.

First, Governor Justice is a piece of work. Vice:
The towering Justice, who owns coal companies, resorts, and a host of other businesses, has emerged as the bete noire of the saga. He won his office running a Trump-like campaign as an outsider businessman, but
flipped from Democrat to Republican at a Trump rally in Huntington last summer. As West Virginia’s only billionaire, Justice has developed a reputation for not paying taxes or federal fines—a fact frequently touted on signs and in conversations among the teachers striking for better pay.
Governor Justice, in other words, besides being self-funded, is a Blue Dog with the courage of his (Republican) convictions (rare, I know). He is, that is, exactly the sort of candidate that the DCCC is trying to foist on us to make sure, among other things, that #MedicareForAll “never, ever comes to pass.”

Second, West Virginia troubles with PEIA are due to tax policies suppported by both parties, very much including a second Blue Dog, Joe Manchin. HuffPo:
A decade ago, West Virginia began gradually winding down certain business taxes that could have helped pay for the across-the-board raises that teachers haven’t seen in four years. They also could have helped fill the funding shortfall in the Public Employee Insurance Agency, or PEIA, which many workers list as their top concern.
Although Republicans now control both chambers of the statehouse, the tax cuts that Over the following years, the state wound down its corporate net income tax rate from 9 to 6.5 percent, and phased out its business franchise tax. It also slashed its tax on groceries from six to three percent, and later did away with it entirely under Manchin’s successor, Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin. Over the same span, the state also created a family tax credit, increased its homestead exemption and got rid of an alternative minimum tax and corporate charter tax, according to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
All told, those cuts diminished state revenue by more than $425 million each year, the center estimates.squeezed the state budget were a bipartisan undertaking. Then-Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who’s now one of the state’s two senators in Washington, had urged legislators to pursue the tax cuts in 2006, arguing that West Virginia needed to slash taxes on corporations in order to be competitive with other states.
(Of course, the best way to fix PEIA would be to remove health insurance from its remit entirely by passing #MedicareForAll. Manchin, naturally, does not support that.)
I’ll close with The New Yorker’s perspective:
“Appalachia was not different from the rest of America,” the Appalachian historian Ronald Eller wrote ten years ago, in his history of the region, “Uneven Ground.” “It was in fact a mirror of what the nation was becoming.” Maybe that is the real source of the suspense, in the conflict between educators wearing red and the Trump-supporting governor: it isn’t at all obvious whether these teachers are professionals in a middle-class place or workers whose footsteps get tracked by an app[7], because it isn’t at all obvious what the nation is becoming.
[1] Whinging a bit: Google News gets worse and worse, so it’s hard to find stuff; newsrooms are being slashed, which means there’s less to find; the labor beat, at least in the newsroom, is a thing of the past; and social media nuked a lot of the small blogs (and Facebook search is miserably inadequate, even if it weren’t so toxic I can’t bring myself to use it anymore). All of which is by way of asking readers, especially West Virginia readers, for local sources I should be looking at. Surely there are some small West Virginia political blogs worth reading?
[2] Not, of course, “secret” to Facebook. Gawd knows who Facebook was selling that data to.
[3] See this clickbait tear-jerker from CNN: “This 6th-grader helped end West Virginia teachers’ strike.” Always “this.” Never “these.”
[4] Stoller comments:
[5] Although it’s worth noting that the Quebec printemps érable — a really horrible pun, think about it — student strike was also in the education sector.
[6] “Higher” education should take this to heart, I think.
[7] This is a reference not only to Amazon warehouse workers, but to West Virginia teachers. Katie Endicott: “They implemented Go365, which is an app that I’m supposed to download on my phone, to track my steps, to earn points through this app. If I don’t earn enough points, and if I choose not to use the app, then I’m penalized $500 at the end of the year.”

Labor Notes on West Virginia Teacher Strike

“This was almost completely a grassroots movement,” said Erica Newsome, an English teacher in Logan County. “The unions kind of followed us.” Organizers estimate 150 people showed up. “The rally was kind of small,” said Ashlea Bassham, a teacher at Chapmanville Regional High School, “but then it just sort of happened.”... Labor Notes

You never can tell when a spark will ignite a fire. West Virginia and Oklahoma happened outside the teacher union leadership outside the school level but there was some leadership at the school rank and file level. This article is from Feb. 22 but worth reading for background -- though I always run articles coming from any ideological source (as Labor Notes is) through my filter to see is there is a dog in the race. This is a straightforward piece chronicling what happened. It doesn't get into the the battle between the NEA and AFT inside West Virginia, nor the fact there is a 3rd statewide union involved that split from the AFT. I'm going to dig up more stories on WV and OK today and also write up my own blog on what I learned from attending the Labor Notes - plus others, including MORE - sponsored event last Saturday night which was attended by 300 people.

West Virginia Teachers Launch Statewide Strike

February 22, 2018 / Jonah Furman and Dan DiMaggio


Teachers and school service employees in West Virginia have launched a two-day statewide strike, riding a wave of indignation that has washed over the state. Photo: Cassie Allara
Teachers and school service employees in West Virginia have launched a two-day statewide strike, riding a wave of indignation that has washed over the state.

They’re protesting health insurance changes that would result in pay cuts for many state employees. Governor Jim Justice’s initial proposal would have provided raises of just 1 percent a year for the next five years—while health insurance costs would rise significantly.

Pay for West Virginia’s teachers ranks 48th in the country, and the state is constantly losing teachers to its neighbors, where they can earn much higher salaries.

The first rumblings began late last year, when a group of teachers formed a secret Facebook page and started planning a “lobby day” at the state capital on Martin Luther King Day, when they knew the legislature would be in session. Word spread, and soon the West Virginia Education Association, the state’s NEA affiliate, was planning an official rally.

“This was almost completely a grassroots movement,” said Erica Newsome, an English teacher in Logan County. “The unions kind of followed us.”

Organizers estimate 150 people showed up. “The rally was kind of small,” said Ashlea Bassham, a teacher at Chapmanville Regional High School, “but then it just sort of happened.”


Teachers and school service employees started holding walkout votes county by county. West Virginia has two statewide teachers unions, affiliates of the AFT and NEA, which often compete for membership. There is also the West Virginia School Service Professional Association, or WVSSPA, which represents bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and clerical workers. But teachers and school service employees decided that in this case, any school employee could vote—whether they were a member of any one of the unions or no union at all.
At Bassham’s school, the walkout vote was conducted by paper ballot, all in one day, and the response was resounding: 49 yes, 9 no. So on February 2, Chapmanville Regional High walked out—along with the rest of Logan, Mingo, and Wyoming Counties. Other counties organized “walk-ins” before school.
Strikers converged on the capital again. This time there were 1,000 teachers, public employees, students, and parents at the statehouse. Wyoming County teachers had so much support that they rented county school buses to make the 90-mile trip.

“The gallery filled up too quick for me and some co-workers to go in,” said Bassham, “So we waited in the breezeway to talk to our state legislators. Some of our representatives were willing to talk and take a minute and listen, and some of them had their heads down, walking really quickly.”

The legislature responded by announcing a temporary freeze to Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) premium increases, and offered a two percent pay raise in the first year. But that wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy West Virginia teachers, who want a more permanent fix to the PEIA and the state’s low salaries.
There is no collective bargaining for public employees in West Virginia. Salaries are set by the state legislature, though some counties supplement them through local levies.


“When I first started teaching, I understood that our salaries weren’t going to be great, but that it was good benefits,” said third-grade teacher Wendy Peters, the president of her union local in Raleigh County. “Our insurance was kind of like the gold standard for health insurance.”
But for years the PEIA has been struggling and underfunded. Late last year, the governor and the PEIA board proposed several changes that would undermine health benefits, which incensed public employees.
Teachers and school employees would see instant increases in their prescription costs and in premiums—which would be recalculated based on their total family income, instead of a flat rate based on a single employee’s salary.
An initial proposal would also have hit retirees with a two-point premium increase, but after an outcry this was walked back. Still, the chronically underfunded PEIA is forecasting even harsher changes in the near future.
One particularly contentious proposal, which has since been withdrawn, was a wellness-incentive program called “Go365.” Teachers and other public employees would have to earn “points” by, for example, sending the state photographic evidence of their healthy behavior and tracking their steps.
If they failed to meet certain benchmarks, their monthly premiums would increase by $25 a month. Those who opted out would have $500 added to their deductibles.


By February the secret Facebook group, West Virginia Public Employees United, had over 20,000 members. Inspired by the first three counties, more local unions began holding their own walkout votes, alongside a surge of grassroots actions.

Governor Justice, who got the WVEA’s endorsement when he ran as a Democrat in 2016—but has since switched back to the GOP—has drawn particular ire.
“You feel like, ‘Gosh, we helped you get elected, and you were talking about how education needed to be the centerpiece of our state, and you’ve since switched platforms,’” said Peters. “You feel betrayed.”
While in office the governor has continued to coach a girls’ high school basketball team; the games now draw regular protests from teachers.


In the first week of February, AFT-WV and WVEA leaders asked the locals for each of the state’s 55 counties to ballot employees on whether to authorize a statewide walkout before the March 10 end of the legislative session.

An overwhelming majority of counties voted in favor.

While state union leaders discussed whether to call a statewide action, the rolling walkouts continued. Mason and Cabell Counties voted to go out Friday, February 16. The next day, three more counties signed on, and a sixth had joined in by the time teachers and school employees arrived at the capital Friday morning.
February 17, a Saturday, saw the biggest action yet. An estimated 10,000 teachers, service employees, and allies gathered outside the statehouse. Leaders from the United Mine Workers and the Teamsters spoke.

When the leaders of the two statewide teacher unions took the microphone to declare that negotiations were “getting nowhere” and announce a shutdown of “the entire state,” the crowd erupted.
The walkout was on.


West Virginia has a long history of militant union fights, especially in the coal mining regions in the south of the state—including the three counties where this year’s walkouts kicked off. Many teachers at the statehouse have been wearing red bandanas, a tradition that originated in coal miners’ union battles of the 1920s, one place where the term “redneck” originated.

“Unions are what we’re raised on,” said Bassham. “The Battle of Blair Mountain [a 1921 confrontation between 10,000 armed coal miners and 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, and eventually the U.S. Army] was 15 minutes from my house.”

Parents have held informational pickets before and after school, and even some school boards and superintendents have issued statements of support.
When Logan County walked out, at first the district sent out text messages and robocalls to parents and teachers, stating that school would be closed “due to an illegal, unauthorized employee walkout/work stoppage.”

But a week later the board came around and passed a resolution declaring that it “supports our employees in their efforts to receive higher wages and medical benefits commensurate with their commitment to our children.”
To maintain public support, teachers and school employees have organized food drives ahead of the two-day walkout, to make sure students who rely on the school for lunch won’t go hungry.
Striking is illegal for public sector employees in West Virginia, but there doesn’t appear to be much fear on the ground, thanks in part to the 700 teaching vacancies in the state.
“There’s a sense of, What are they going to do, fire us all?” said Jay O’Neal, treasurer for the Kanawha County local. "Who would they get to replace us?"
Dan DiMaggio is Assistant Editor of Labor Notes. Jonah Furman is a labor activist in New York City. Hear directly from West Virginia teachers at the Labor Notes Conference, April 6-8 in Chicago. Register today!
A version of this article appeared in Labor Notes #468. Don't miss an issue, subscribe today.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

NY Post: Education panel member pushed to quit after voting against de Blasio

A member of the Panel for Educational Policy appointed by Mayor de Blasio was forced to quit last week after voting against the city’s plans to close several schools, The Post has learned....
Right. The Post learned by reading Ed Notes on Friday which we posted before noon --- Breaking: Mayoral Appointee Elzora Cleveland, Rockaway Schools Savior, Resigns from PEP
Hey, we broke the story and Chalkbeat and the NY Post confirmed.

Leonie is quoted:
“I find it deeply disappointing that the mayor would break his promise to parents in this way,” said Leonie Haimson, a member of the PAC board. “This ensures there will be no checks and balances on his autocratic decision-making that affects so many families.”
In the same survey, de Blasio claimed he supported PEP or Board of Education members “with set terms, who cannot be fired at will by the mayor.”

Education panel member pushed to quit after voting against de Blasio

March 10, 2018

Chalkbeat on de Blasio Pushout of Elzora Cleveland from PEP

Chalkbeat confirms the story we broke Friday -

Breaking: Mayoral Appointee Elzora Cleveland, Rockaway Schools Savior, Resigns from PEP

Cleveland has generally been pushing back against Charters and also was rumored to have the UFT behind her. We were told that she received a letter firing her but them decided to resign. Think of this in this way - de Blasio doesn't give a shit about the UFT anymore since he is not running again. That her vote affected handing over more space to Eva Moskowitz at MS 53 in Rockaway is also an interesting aspect, though Isaac Carmgnani doesn't seem to be facing blow back -- but then again he has been a good boy so far and his abstention was not a NO vote.

After voting down school closures, de Blasio appointee to education panel is out

O-Oklahoma: Teacher Unrest Spreads to More Trump Territory

In the age of Janus ----
---somethin' happening in here, what it is ain't exactly clear ---- Buffalo Springfield - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5M_Ttstbgs

Teacher Unrest Spreads to Oklahoma, Where Educators Are “Desperate for a Solution”


Saturday, March 10, 2018

West Virginia Strike Highlights Corporate Media’s Atrophied Labor Coverage | FAIR

Fiorillo on the case:
The cable news channel with the least coverage the West Virginia teacher’s strike? Fox News.

The channel with the next least amount of coverage? MSNBC.

Like I’ve said elsewhere, it’s Fox News for “liberals."


West Virginia Strike Highlights Corporate Media’s Atrophied Labor Coverage | FAIR

Teachers on strike in West Virginia (image: MSNBC)
MSNBC coverage of the West Virginia school workers strike: One of the last to the story, the cable channel had less coverage than any other major network except Fox News.

On West Virginia Teacher Strike - and More - On the Media, NPR

NPR's On the Media has some interesting segments on the West Virginia strike and goes beyond just the strike into other areas that tie in, with a focus on West Virginia as being classified as heavy Trump territory. Is the strike a reaction to Trump - the resistance? Or something else?

They also go into the role country music plays to the right with some interesting history. The Sarah Jaffe piece is the must listen segment.


Local 12103 on strike. January 26, 1956

Friday, March 9, 2018

Breaking: Mayoral Appointee Elzora Cleveland, Rockaway Schools Savior, Resigns from PEP

This news was just breaking on FB and has been confirmed by reliable sources.

I talked about the pressures on Elzora Cleveland to resign from the de Blasio people even before last week's PEP votes to close renewal schools in this post: Analysis: The Story Behind the PEP Rockaway Vote -. I also touched on it here: School Scope - Norm in The WAVE -- Drilling down o...

Since Cleveland voted with the 5 borough reps on some of the closing schools, leading to 7-6 votes to close, there was always the chance that if one more mayoral appointee joined her or abstained, the DOE plans for some schools would be upset. And so it happened when mayoral appointee Isaac Carmegnani did abstain on the Rockaway schools leading to a 6-6-1 vote. But there are rumors that he actually touched base with the de Blasio people, perhaps making the point that his political career might be endangered in Queens if he voted to close the schools. I urged that she force de Blasio to fire her. But maybe she has reasons of her own to leave.

de Blasio had promised not to fire PEP members if they didn't go along with him. And he hasn't had to. But I assume that people who go on the PEP have  interests that might be helped by being on the PEP.

But pressuring people to resign is not off bounds to him. PEP member Robert Powell was forced to resign after he was the only PEP member to vote NO on a corrupt $1 billion contract that was later rescinded.

It is clear that the PEP is mostly a rubber stamp - or puppet - not looking out for the public interest. Here we see examples of how their allegiance to one person hurts public education. The only solution is to end mayoral control and go to elected school boards. Not nearly a perfect solution, but more perfect than mayoral control.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

West Virginia: Do-It-Yourself Class Struggle - Jacobin

One lesson from the West Virginia teachers’ strike is clear: nobody is coming to save us. We’ll have to do it ourselves.... 
....many workers in Wisconsin have argued that it was the intervention of union officials into the militant upsurge of 2011 that demobilized the occupation of the capitol building and redirected workers’ energies into an unsuccessful electoral bid to oust Governor Scott Walker. The calls for a general strike that echoed through the rotunda represent the road not taken: had workers relied on their own power rather than deferring to elected officials and union leaders, things may have turned out differently...... Kevin Prosen, Jacobin
I bet the people most frightened by the strike are our very union leaders who are probably hoping for swift retribution (which is already beginning - see Ravitch) so they can say to UFT members -- see what happens when you get too militant? We will examine the role Randi and Lily and their reps played in WV - remember the union leaders said they had a settlement and the rank and file revolted. We will delve more into that issue in upcoming posts.

But the strike has been making the mainstream press -- though mainly ignored by the so-called liberal MSNBC and CNN.

See Ed Week
Will Teachers' Strikes Happen More Often?
Union supporters have claimed that strikes and labor unrest could happen more frequently if the Supreme Court rules against mandatory union fees. But experts aren't so sure. Read more.

We will delve into the impact of the WV strike -in upcoming posts --  will it increase militancy or not? Like I pointed out above - retribution of some kind is going to come and how that is dealt with is the key. I think they are going to try to fragment the public school system with a heavy choice movement -- kill public education and no state wide strikes.

Kevin Prosen, a MORE member (and cheesehead from Wisconsin) connects a few dots in this post of a few weeks ago.

There's a lot to chew on in Kevin's piece. I don't always agree with his analysis but do agree with most. But I need to spend more time educating myself and will be posting more commentary on WV. It is definitely worth a read and feel free to comment. Here are a  excerpts (in red), some in bold by me with comments by me (in black) but read it entirely at https://jacobinmag.com/2018/03/west-virginia-janus-right-to-work-unions.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court began hearing oral argument in Janus v. AFSCME, a lawsuit that seeks to gut public sector unions by denying them so called “agency fees,” or mandatory dues contributions from workers. One component of the deliberations was the question of “labor peace” — the state’s interest in stable, predictable labor-management arbitration. Justice Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and others questioned whether undoing agency fees would open the door to a more tumultuous and unpredictable labor-relations regime. The argument on the union side was an interesting one — in the words of Illinois’s solicitor general Lisa Madigan, “[w]hen unions are deprived of agency fees, they tend to become more militant, more confrontational, they go out in search of short-term gains that they can bring back to their members and say, ‘stick with us.’”
This is an important point often made by union critic Mike Antonucci - labor peace - and the role unions play as partners - often to the detriment of union members - as we've seen in NYC where the UFT often plays an arbiter rather than our advocate -- but that is a reason unions are essential to management. The point made by Kagan and Sotomayor is illustrated in West Virginia where the unions seemed to lose control for a time. Our union leadership's role is to place a brake on wildcat strikes. It didn't work in WV.
As though to prove the point, 200 miles away, across the border in West Virginia, the state’s teachers had voted to extend an ongoing illegal strike against a Republican legislature that had threatened to drastically increase the insurance premiums for workers whose pay already ranks among the lowest in the country. West Virginia is a “right to work” state, meaning workers are denied the right to collectively bargain or the stability of the “closed shop,” in which workers automatically contribute dues to the union whether they sign up or not. Such automatic collection prevents workers from “free riding” — that is, benefiting from union activity without contributing equally to the organization’s finances — while also providing a reliable stream of income to fund the activities of the union apparatus.
So what we've noticed in all the hysteria over Janus is that it ain't over for unions even in right to work states -- but the thing we have warned those wanting to leave the UFT is that the long-term effects in RTW states are much lower salaries for teachers -- and WV is 48th out of 50 states in the race to the bottom.

Kevin goes on to talk about Wisconsin -- and the lesson for many was the fact that the Democratic Party - Obama, Hillary -- abandoned them. And also the blowback from the neighbors of teachers who seemed happy at what happened to them -- read

Janesville: An American Story: Amy Goldstein.

The lesson: Make sure your non-teaching neighbors have your back -- do a lot of work out of your classroom -- yes, my friends -- sort of social justicy -- if you lock yourselves in your  classroom and then go home -- well, the long-term is not good.

Kevin goes on to talk about the unique role teachers play all over the world in fact -- they are often the first targets - Chile, Turkey, etc -- because as a mass they have contact with almost every family in a nation and have the ability - if organized - to have as much influence as any group.
Teachers are poised to lead such social movements by virtue of their work as caregivers in schools, which ties them intimately to wider layers of the working class. As public employees, their demands are inherently political insofar as they must be addressed to the state. For this reason they have been repeatedly thrust to the frontlines of movements against austerity — Wisconsin in 2011, Chicago in 2013, and now in West Virginia. The right wing understands this — indeed it is part of their argument that such organizations “mandate” their members’ “political speech,” a key contention of anti-union lawsuits like Janus. By kneecapping teachers’ unions, they strike a blow against one of the last remaining bastions of working-class economic power.
What the West Virginia movement shows — with teachers packing lunches for their students so they wouldn’t go hungry while they walked the picket line; with picket signs blazoned with images of Harriet Tubman, John Brown, and Martin Luther King, Jr — is that American workers bear no resemblance to their one-dimensional, Hillbilly Elegy-type portrayals. Workers have no stake in such a debate, based as it is on a flat, stereotyped image of working-class life. These discussions imagine us as passive dupes to be pandered to, rather than as agents of our own destiny, capable of struggling in our own self-interest. West Virginia is a bracing challenge to this narrative.
 Let's remember that W. Virginia went overwhelmingly for Trump - as big a win as anywhere. Did many striking teachers vote for Trump? I bet a good chunk did. When we hear the voices of some of the strikers in commentary from the left like Jacobin are we only hearing voices from left wing activists in WV or are we also hearing from Trump supporters who struck?

We will explore more of this in future posts --
Kevin goes on to differentiate the Wisconsin and W.V struggles and places the point of the spear at our union leadership:
What explains the different trajectories of the two struggles? Many workers in West Virginia point to the state’s history of explosive strikes, and indeed these traditions, passed down through families, constitute one key factor. But Wisconsin also has a history of militant labor struggle. Ironically, it may be the very weakness of labor unions in the greater South that left the field open for workers’ own activity; unlike the stable institutional labor relations that prevailed in Midwestern states, the union apparatus in West Virginia was largely hollowed out. While workers didn’t have the benefit of an active union involved in their day-to-day working lives, they also didn’t have ingrained habits of deference to union officials. As Jay O’Neal, a strike activist at Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Charleston, described to me: “Because there’s been such a surge of activism so quickly and many new, organic leaders have emerged, I think a lot of them don’t really have any relationship with the union leadership. I was in a meeting today and the head of one our state’s teachers’ unions came in and I heard someone next to me ask, ‘Who’s that?’ Leaders have emerged from below and are really doing the work.”
We'll be hearing a lot from Jay O'Neal from the left/socialist press. Jay seems connected to the activists and we will see that they probably had an impact in organizing since that is what many have experience doing.
Workers need strong unions, but they also need to organize independently in the workplace and learn to rely on their own power. Building durable rank-and-file networks and union caucuses is a crucial next step in revitalizing American labor.
I like this point. I see the work some of us in MORE-Carisma doing around the closing schools issue is along this lines, often with the UFT when it fights - but without them when they don't. And if they see us doing that work and getting results, they try to coopt.
when leaders returned to the picket line to announce a 5 percent wage increase but without a permanent fix to the public employees’ insurance system, it seemed enough for them to declare victory and send the teachers back to work. But workers understood that spiraling health care costs were the heart of the matter and that the wage hike wouldn’t be enough to cover them, so they kept the strike going. We know our interests better than our representatives do, and need to understand that the union officials work for us, not the other way around. In the words of one striker, a strike is not simply to earn more benefits from the state, but to force the state to negotiate with labor on labor’s terms.
Another great point below. And this one echos what I said above about making sure non-teachers have your backs - which we have often seen inside the UFT:
.... teachers cannot merely fight for their own, narrow interests. To earn the kind of public support necessary for such a large-scale struggle, they have to fight to improve the conditions of the working class as a whole. It is too easy to isolate workers who define their interests narrowly.
 Kevin ends with comments about the role in all this on the part of the American left:
lessons for America’s burgeoning young left as well. Long isolated from the working class, socialists now have the greatest opportunity in a generation to close this historic rift. With the stabilizing institutions of the union movement being dismantled, we are likely headed for a period of renewed volatility in the labor movement; in fact, one has arguably already begun. A socialist movement previously confined to student milieus or eccentric corners of the internet can no longer be satisfied with passively studying labor history or showing up to support strikes organized by others. There is a world of difference between being merely interested in the labor movement and being implanted in it.
Kevin is correct about the separation of the left from workers. But then again so much of the left does not come from the working class itself like it did in the 20's and 30s.

From what I've seen in MORE where I mingle a lot with the socialist left, there is a long way to go to close the historic rift. Some people have told me that they don't know anyone not on the left. Check the backgrounds of most people on the left in the UFT. It is not working class. (Just for the record, both my parents were ILGWU garment workers with barely an education.)

At a recent MORE meeting I heard how much people wanted to reach out to those in the UFT who are left-leaning and inside the bubble. The idea of even talking to a Trump voter seemed to make people shudder -- they ought to come to our Passover seder in a few weeks where we expect matzo food fights.

That is why I wonder about the WV striking teachers who voted for Trump. Is the left talking to them too or only leftists?

When we see the leftist press actually talking to those people and connecting to them there is a chance the rift will be breached.

Here is where I agree with Kevin wholeheartedly:
In the post-Janus world, the Left will have to seize the initiative rather than ceding the field to liberal labor leaders. We will have to learn the key lesson of West Virginia: nobody is coming to save us, and great leaps in organization and consciousness don’t appear like acts of nature. We have to create them ourselves.
There are so many interesting lessons to the story, the next few days will be heavy on WV. So if you are not interested take a vacation from ed notes.

Jacobin events

Solidarity with West Virginia Strikers!
Saturday, March 106:30-9pmMore information
We've been riveted to the labor insurgency in West Virginia, a glimpse at what workers can achieve when organized and united in solidarity.

Join us for a discussion featuring West Virginia striking teachers, Emily Comer and Jay O’Neal. You won't want to miss on the ground reports from the strike, how they earned wide support, and what lessons can be learned going forward.
This event will be livestreamed at facebook.com/jacobinmag, beginning at 6:50pm.

Don't miss Jacobin's coverage of the West Virgnia teachers's strike
At Jacobin we've been racing to keep pace with events in West Virgina. We've featured over a dozen pieces on the latest developments, providing political or historical context, and interviewing key participants. Here are some highlights of Jacobin's coverage:

What the Teachers Won
West Virginia shows that we can fight back and win. We talk to two teachers to assess the tentative settlement and what comes next.

“There Is No Illegal Strike, Just an Unsuccessful One”
The West Virginia teacher strike represents a return to public worker unionism's radical roots.

The Strike Is On
"We’re not going back to work until there’s solid proof our demands are going to be met," a striking teacher unionist tells Jacobin.

Do-It-Yourself Class Struggle
One lesson from the West Virginia teachers’ strike is clear: nobody is coming to save us. We’ll have to do it ourselves.

PS — Teachers, we're offering below-cost copies of our Class Action booklet, produced in conjunction with the Chicago Teachers Union's CORE caucus.