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AFT President Randi Weingarten Speaks At AFT-NH’s Working Women Speak Out Event

Randi Weingarten
Randi Weingarten

AFT President Randi Weingarten (center) with members of the Nashua Teacher Union (AFT-NH)

Yesterday the American Federation of Teachers (NH) organized an event focusing on the importance of this election on the lives of working women.  The event entitled Working Women Speak Out featured propionate labor leaders and Congresswoman Annie Kuster talking about the issues effecting women this election.

Below are two videos from the event featuring American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

View video 1 on YouTube

After her rousing speech about the importance of getting out and voting this election, Gary Hoffman, a teacher in the Nashua School District asked Pres. Weingarten about local spending caps and their effects on public schools.  Nashua is currently considering changing the way that the city calculates their spending cap and the city will vote on this Charter Amendment on Nov. 4th.  Below is President Weingarten’s response.

View video 2 on YouTube.

 

Students Protest Canceling SRC Teachers Contracts, SRC Chairwomen Simms Tells Students “You Belong In Jail”

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This is a special cross post from Sean Kitchen of the Raging Chicken Press who have been covering the anti-union activities surrounding in the Philadelphia school district.

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Mother of Student Protester, “I am appalled and ashamed at the behavior of Sylvia Simms”

By Sean Kitchen

Yesterday evening, SCR Chairwoman Sylvia Simms hosted a screening of the controversial movie Won’t Back Down, an anti-union file that promotes the right-wing stereotypes of public school teachers.  At the screening, students from the Philadelphia Student Union staged a protest chanting “We wont back down, Philly is a union town.”  This is the same organization that planned last week’s student strikes at Science Leadership Academy and the Creative and Performing Arts in South Philadelphia.  At the meeting, Simms is reported yelling “You must go to a failing school…you belong in jail,” to the student protesters, but some of these students attend Philadelphia School District’s magnet school, Science Leadership Academy.  The Raging Chicken Press was able to reach out to Suzanne Anderson the mother of a SLA student striker who participated in last night’s protest.

When asked about her feelings on the School Reform Commission’s decision to cancel the teachers’ contract, she wrote:

I think canceling the teacher’s contract (essentially eviscerating the union) was illegal, immoral and clearly an effort to intentionally undercut and sabotage public education. I know it’s been done over and over again over the last 25 years, but it boggles my mind that an employer takes the position that the workers bear the responsibility to personally finance a bail out of their “company” to save their jobs. It’s profoundly manipulative because teachers aren’t just employees. They are fully invested in the mission of their work and have, sadly, internalized the propaganda of  self-sacrifice to mitigate damaging the students they are dedicated to serve. It’s perverse and unsustainable.

There has been a clear dismantling of Public Works in my lifetime. parks, utilities, transportation, education. All are things that formed the bedrock of the US middle class.  Public education seems to now be expendable. A privilege saved for those who can afford it. Teachers are villainized as lazy, incompetent and greedy. The press keeps minimizing this contract breach as “greedy teachers who don’t want to pay their fair share toward their healthcare benefits.” “It’s only $70 a paycheck.” But it’s much more than that for families that now see less coverage and a $6000 a year pay-cut with exponentially more work to do, crippling micro-management by legislators and the self-serving toxic standardized testing machine. The teacher have absolutely no recourse, under specter of losing their  livelihood with the threat of losing their teaching credentials if they strike.

Then when asked about Sylvia Simms losing her cool on public school students, she went on to say:

schoolsI am appalled and ashamed at the behavior of Sylvia Simms, and some of the other adults, at this gathering. They shamefully menaced the same school children they are sworn to protect and serve,  insulted and shamed them because they dared to challenge the authority of the SRC. They specifically denigrated and belittled my kid, who is incredibly successful, by anyone’s measure.

Both my daughters attend Science Leadership Academy, where independent, critical thinking is taught, valued and lived.  It seems like the people in charge this evening wanted the kids to walk in lock-step and went completely berserk when the kids thought for themselves, stood up for themselves. There’s a scene in that stupid movie they screened tonight where the evil UNION “tenurized” teacher engaged in very similar behavior to that of Sylvia Simms and her ilk towards my daughter and her colleagues, betraying their true character and beliefs. A teacher would lose their job for treating a student like that.  I only hope the videos taken this evening are located and released, so the truth doesn’t get twisted and distorted by the SRC and their henchmen.

Originally posted at Raging Chicken Press.

Rep Shea-Porter Named a 2014 Defender of Children

Carol Shea Porter Official Photo

First Focus Campaign for Children: Shea-Porter “Delivered for Kids”

MANCHESTER—Once again, Carol Shea-Porter’s leadership on children’s issues in Congress has earned national recognition. Today, nonpartisan advocacy group First Focus Campaign for Children named Shea-Porter a 2014 Defender of Children.

“Lots of politicians talk about kids’ issues, but few back it up,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the Campaign for Children. “Congresswoman Shea-Porter delivered for kids.”

Shea-Porter said, “I appreciate this recognition from First Focus.  New Hampshire’s children are our future, and I am proud to be their advocate. Too often, kids’ health, education, and well-being have been neglected by the 112th and 113th Congresses, when they should be our nation’s top priority.”

Shea-Porter is the founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Allergy and Asthma Caucus, and has led initiatives to improve education, awareness, and treatment for asthma, which is the most common chronic childhood disease. Other recent Shea-Porter accomplishments on behalf of children included her success in fixing a Medicaid glitch that temporarily affected several New Hampshire kids and families this February, and her vote to restore funding for early childhood education programs like Head Start in the bipartisan budget compromise that reversed some of the reckless 2011 sequester’s budget cuts.

In selecting Champions, the First Focus Campaign for Children noted leaders who introduced, co-sponsored, and voted for legislation to meet children’s needs. In addition, the organization considered Members who demonstrated extraordinary initiative by spearheading activities such as sponsoring hearings or garnering the support of their colleagues to improve the health and well-being of children.

The advocacy organization recognized as “Champions for Children” 50 Members of Congress for their extraordinary efforts to protect and improve the future of America’s next generation. An additional 50 Members were recognized as “Defenders of Children” for their support of policies that advance the well-being of children. The 2014 Champions and Defenders are:

2014 Champions for Children

Senate

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

House

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA)

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL)

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)

Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)

Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY)

Rep. Gene Green (D-TX)

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX)

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)

Rep. George Miller (D-CA)

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA)

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)

2014 Defenders of Children

Senate

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

House

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)

Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA)

Del. Donna Christensen (D-VI)

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC)

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)

Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA)

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)

Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL)

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)

Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI)

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN)

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA)

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

Rep. José Serrano (D-NY)

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)

Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH)

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY)

Rep. David Valadao (R-CA)

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)

Rep. Don Young (R-AK)

This is the Campaign for Children’s fourth annual class of Champions for Children. For more information about past honorees, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.

AFT’s Statement On New Testing Bill In US House

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis) -2
AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis) -2

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis)

WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten statement on the introduction of rep Israels accountability bill:

“The current fixation on high-stakes testing is denying children the engaging, meaningful education they deserve. Testing not only is soaking up too much time and narrowing the curriculum, but is less and less a measure of what kids need to know and be able to do. Standardized tests these days are driving teaching and learning, rather than giving teachers and parents useful data and feedback to help children.

“That is why this bill allowing states to reduce testing is an important step. It also points to the need to build a new accountability system that uses testing as a way to inform instruction, emphasizes meaningful learning, and includes the resources and capacity schools, students and teachers need to continuously improve.

“I would like to thank Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) for his leadership in recognizing the problems of excessive testing, and look forward to working with him to strengthen the bill in the next legislative session.”

NEA-NH Endorses Governor Maggie Hassan for Re-Election

Maggie Hassan

Manchester—Today, National Education Association-New Hampshire (NEA-NH), the state’s largest educator and public employee union, announced its endorsement of Governor Maggie Hassan for re-election, asking its more than 16,000 members and their families to support Governor Hassan during the campaign and on Election Day.

Governor Maggie Hassan has been a tireless advocate for public education and we must re-elect her this November to preserve the dream of a quality public education for every child in New Hampshire,” said Scott McGilvray, NEA-NH President. “Walt Havenstein or Andrew Hemingway would be a disaster for public education in this state, taking us back to the devastating cuts of the Bill O’Brien era. For the sake of our children’s future, we cannot afford to put either one of them in the Governor’s office. From freezing in-state tuition to protecting K-12 funding to modernizing STEM education, Governor Hassan has proven time and again that she will fight to ensure the success of every child and champion the interests of our students and their parents.”

“I am truly honored to have earned the support of more than 16,000 of New Hampshire’s teachers and their families,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “New Hampshire’s public schools are often ranked among the nation’s best, but we must continue working to ensure that all of our young people can develop the skills and innovative thinking they will need to compete in today’s global economy. Since entering office, I’ve fought to invest in public K-12 and higher education, and I will keep working to strengthen our public education system in order to expand opportunity for all of our children.”

Governor Hassan worked across party lines to pass a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that maintained funding for K-12 education and restored funding for higher education – making it possible to freeze in-state tuition at the university system and reduce tuition at our community colleges.

The Governor also created a Science Technology Engineering and Math Task Force to modernize STEM education in our public schools, and launched a new effort to partner manufacturing companies directly with classes at local schools, building relationships that can lead to a stronger workforce pipeline.

The Governor will continue working to ensure our children have access to a world-class education in order to be prepared for success in the 21st century economy.

About NEA-New Hampshire

Founded in 1854, the New Hampshire State Teachers Association became one of the “founding ten” state education associations that formed the National Education Association in 1857. Known today as NEA-NH, and comprised of more than 16,000 members, NEA-NH is the largest association of public employees in the state. Our mission to advocate for the children of New Hampshire and public school employees, and to promote lifelong learning remains true after more than 150 years. Our members are public school educators in all stages of their careers, including classroom teachers and other certified professionals, instructors at public higher education institutions, students preparing for a teaching career, education support personnel and those retired from the profession.

Linda Tanner A Real Candidate For Working Families

Linda Tanner NH Senate Candidate District 8

One of the goals of the NH Labor News is to help Granite Staters get to know the candidates who are running for office in New Hampshire. We focus on candidates who support working families, particularly those candidates who are working to rebuild the middle class and strengthen our rights as workers.

This week’s focus is on State Senate District 8 candidate Linda Tanner.

Linda Tanner NH Senate Candidate District 8
Background Information for Rep. Linda Tanner

Linda is longtime community activist, teacher, and coach. Linda has dedicated her entire life to helping others and improving her community. For over 30 years as a teacher and coach at Kearsarge Regional High School, Linda worked tirelessly to help her students succeed in and out of the classroom. During her career at Kearsarge, she served as a Department Chair, worked with the School to Work program and developed a state championship tennis program. She was honored by the NH Interscholastic Athletic Association for her years of service and elected to the NH Coaches Hall of Fame for Girls Tennis. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education from East Stroudsburg University and her Masters from Dartmouth College. In 2012 she was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives from Sullivan County, District 9.

 

As a public school teacher, were you involved with your local union?

I was president of my local association, the Kearsarge Regional Education Association for three terms. I participated on many negotiation teams, worked with members on issues at the local level, and worked with management towards better working conditions. I am a lifetime member of the NEA NH and have their endorsement for this campaign.

 

As a former teacher, I am sure you have a lot to say about the current public education system. Can you give me two things you would like to see changed?  And are these changes that you can enact from the NH Senate?

Public education has been under attack by those who would privatize education, eliminate compulsory education, and eliminate teachers’ unions. I ran for my House seat because I wanted to stop these political maneuvers that were undermining what, I feel, is the most valuable institution for maintaining democracy.

I think there is a great deal we could do to promote and fund our public education system in New Hampshire. I definitely feel the move from the punitive No Child Left Behind to the Common Core is a move that will help students. The Common Core sets standards but does not dictate pedagogy, deals with progress instead of achievement or failure and is the right course towards improvement and consistency. Just like other programs, it needs to be tweaked and re-visited. I would like to see educators who are working in the schools as teachers have a larger input into programs and initiatives.

As a high school teacher, I worked with a school-to-work program for the average student to encourage them towards further education and give some basic instruction in job skills. I taught Health Occupations Co-op for several years. I feel this is a very valuable program that should be expanded to teach not only content but job skills such as being on time, being able to speak to people, shake hands, show respect for co-workers and your product.  Recently I visited the Job Corps Training facility in Vermont. We are currently building a facility in Manchester. This type of program, which targets low income youth, is vital to providing vocational training in a setting that also emphasizes those job skills. It gives an opportunity for young people to better their position and at the same time provide workers for key jobs in our State.

As a Senator I will work to help New Hampshire schools become a model system that supports innovation, is relevant to the world of work and careers, and maintains rigorous standards for all school children.

 

You are running for the NH Senate Seat in District 8 that is currently held by Sen. Bob Odell. In what ways are you similar or different from Sen. Odell?

I found my voting aligned in many areas with Senator Odell.  I voted to repeal the death penalty, expand Medicaid, and deal with the issues around the Medical Enhancement Tax. However, Senator Odell voted against returning the period for teachers to be fired without cause or hearing from 5 to 3 years, voted against medical marijuana, and voted for the repeal of automatic continuation requirement for public employees’ collective bargaining agreements. These are three examples of bills he opposed that I would have supported.

IMG_0067This Senate seat has been, under Senator Odell, a moderate vote in a 13 to 11 Republican majority. My election to the seat will balance the parties at 12 all, which would make a major shift – especially on Labor issues. Medicaid expansion has a clause that requires renewal during this next session. Both Republican candidates have stated that they will try to repeal the Medicaid expansion, fight ‘Obama Care,’ and make NH a ‘Right to Work State’ as a priority. If either of the candidates opposing me wins this seat: Medicaid will be repealed, leaving thousands without medical insurance; and ‘Right to Work” for less will be passed along with other legislation that will hurt working men and women.

 

The current minimum wage is $7.25 and the GOP-led legislature repealed the NH Minimum Wage law. What would you do as Senator to help push NH toward a real living wage? Last year, one proposal was to raise the state minimum wage over two years to $9.00/hour. Do you think $9.00 is the right number? Or do you think it should be $10.10 as the POTUS is pushing, or even higher? 

First, we need to reinstate a NH Minimum wage that was repealed under the Republican leadership of Speaker O’Brien. I served on the House Labor Committee in this past term. The bill that was introduced should be reintroduced in this next term. This bill offered modest increases over time and originally had a provision for further increases based on economic indicators. I think we need to have a bill that will pass both The House and Senate. I hope to be one of those Senators to move this piece of legislation forward.

Do you have any legislation that you would like to see or have ideas on proposing if you are elected?  

I want to defend against the so called ‘right to work’ bills. If those bills pass it will let non-union workers benefit from our hard work in negotiations without paying their fair share. It’s a union-busting tactic.

I want to ensure fairness in workers’ compensation laws for those hurt on the job – so if they can’t work, they will still be able to keep their homes and survive. At the same time, I want to see how we can reduce the rate for employers. I want to establish a minimum wage and increase it above the present $7.25 so everyone has the dignity of a decent wage. I want to protect workers from pay cards and title loans that are stripping away hard earned money with excessive fees and astronomical interest rates. I want to offer solutions for the current lack of affordable and accessible elderly and work force housing.

 

If you could pick one issue from your campaign to highlight, what issue would that be?  

I am a person who is running for this Senate seat not to be someone special or advance a radical agenda but to work on legislation that will help the working men and women of this State. I taught for 35 years in the NH public schools and over that time, you see the communities, the State, through the lives of your students. I know the successes, the struggles, and the heartbreaking issues many of our citizens face. I want to be their voice in the Legislature.

 

Why should the labor community support your campaign?  

I am a lifelong union member. As a teacher for 35 years and continuing through retirement, I have been a member of the National Education Association. During my years at Kearsarge Regional High School, I was President of my local for three terms. I served on many negotiations and collective bargaining teams working for high quality education, good working conditions, livable salaries and benefits.  I proudly served as a State Representative for Sullivan County and as a member of the House Labor Committee.  I have the experience, knowledge and the political will to help the working men and women our State.

 

What can people do to help your campaign?

I can’t win this election alone. The opposition is well-funded and as committed to winning this seat as we are. I need your help to win this election. I need your vote and I need you to talk with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to urge them to vote for me. Also, with this large, rural district, we need funds for mailings, ads, and signs. Any amount you can send to us will help us get our message out.

Please see our website lindatanner.org for more information

 

 

 

 

The Truth About Why Educators Are Leaving

Teacher

“…The primary reason they leave is because they’re dissatisfied.”  Richard Ingersoll, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Educators in the report cite inadequate administrative support, feelings of isolation in the workplace among other things. This is a toxic situation and not an environment where anyone can teach or learn.

(Read) Up To Half Of Teachers Quit Within 5 Years (http://huff.to/1z46MoR)

Teacher

My Observations On Why Educators Leave By Kyle Leach
Originally posted on Farmington NH Dems 

I’m really proud to tell you my mom was a teacher. It is one of the most honorable professions in my eyes. She taught elementary school, sixth grade. She was really good at it and except for my brother and I, I don’t think anything made her happier. I think educating was a way for her to give back to community. I think she felt it exposed our common bonds, showed people how to come together, and helped people change their circumstances. She wasn’t just imparting facts and figures to be memorized. She was helping young minds become the next set of workers, shaping future leaders and thinkers, and helping young creatives find themselves.

She left very early each school day. She often got home late and when she was home, she normally was doing some kind of grading or prep work for part of the evening. She was dedicated. Her classroom was colorful, interesting, and constantly changing. Her walls were covered with bulletin boards, which she kept decorated the whole school year.  She had an aquarium and plants close to the windows and she had areas for individual seating and tables for community work at the back. Her room was full of art created by her students. She loved her classroom and she loved her students, a new set every year.

Being an educator was a calling for her. Her students respected her. Parents respected her, and at least to some degree administration honored the part she played in our education system and gave teachers what they needed to make students as successful as they could. Society on the whole gave educators a wide birth; and, except for the low pay standards, eduction was a field held in high regard.

Many problems still needed to be worked out and to this day still do. Gender and race issues were problems, as they are today. Many learning challenges were yet to be identified and children with special needs were still being neglected. People with mental and physical challenges fought to be integrated into everyday school life as they still do to today. Bullying was still the standard, but it wasn’t even thought a systemic problem back then.

Around the time I was ten, things noticeably changed. Over the next few decades a cascade effect would make the situation much worse. Some things were subtle, others not so much. Everyone seemed to have less money and less time to spend with each other. More people seemed to be working and much more often. Many people had multiple jobs and it was harder to find jobs within a field you had worked in, unless it was in the retail or service industry. Kids were alone in the afternoon and evening or had sitters much more often. People seemed to be withdrawing from each other and turning toward other forms of entertainment.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the nation’s safety net was being slowly dismantled, education was being under funded year after year, wages were static, savings were evaporating, and benefits, health, retirement, or otherwise were becoming exceptions not the norm. Costs for everything cars, homes, and food rose, in fact they continue to do so. People were turned on to to credit which made their problems worse. People were haggard, stressed and that didn’t get better. Educators had to deal with all this on the personal side, but professionally these things had even higher costs.

With more people working more often and kids and teens left to fend for themselves, I saw respect between adults and kids deteriorate. I also got to see the respect administrators had for educators diminish and saw litigation between the three parties skyrocket. The burden of dealing with these compounding errors fell to teachers in the classroom if for no other reason than they are with our students for at least seven hours of a day. Without universal support from administration to deal with issues in the classroom I saw teachers and children become isolated. I saw teens reject the flaws and hypocrisy of the adults around them. I saw children turn to teachers because they were the the only adults they could trust.

I have known many educators throughout my life. Many of my family members were teachers. Most of my friends are educators. When I went to college I settled on art as the place where my heart was. I went to a college known for fostering educators. I myself was thinking of being an art teacher. In the end I decided the education field was not for me. Knowing all I know now I can’t say that I regret that decision at all. When my husband Stan and I met fourteen years ago I made a much better living working for soulless corporations, without a completed college degree, than Stan did teaching high school all day and educating adults at college at night. Just so you know Stan has two bachelor’s degrees and two masters degrees. His passions and degrees are in the sciences, math, and eduction. Areas our children need greater and greater help with and arenas the increasingly corporate world has no idea how to convey or inspire, short of monetizing them.

When you couple social changes with low wages considering the amount of education and  sometimes limited benefits, increasingly poor administrative and legislative support teachers receive, especially when they are first starting out, what are young educators supposed to take from this situation? What incentive do teachers have to stay? If you want teachers to stay you have to create an environment that is constructive for learning and creation. You can’t overly burden them with administrative problems or parental responsibilities; neither are their roles. You have to find the right candidates to be good teachers and give those new educators support to be successful teachers when they begin. You have to treat them as the professionals they are and hold their positions in high regard. They help our children learn. They help or children create. They help our children dream and help them fine tune those dreams into reality.

Most people I know in the field of education have two things that really make them stand out. They are passionate about helping people learn and discover who they are, what they are good at, and they are inspired by how much potential each person holds, no matter what limitations they currently hold on to. If you can’t figure out that those are two things our society needs, you are part of the problem. Corporate structures are efficient, great at turning our dull cogs, and perfect at reduction, but they can’t make a thinker. If you want a great education system, if you want great people for our society you have to invest in the people that do the work to create those situations. Teachers. The difference between a bright future and a dull one depends on the degree to which we support our educators.  They will develop the minds and nurture the souls that will create that future.

Senator Shaheen’s New Ad BURDEN: Fighting For Student Loan Refinancing

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New TV Ad: Jeanne Shaheen Is Fighting Rising College Costs, Working To Make A Difference For New Hampshire Students And Their Parents

Manchester, NH – A new television ad from Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign highlights how Shaheen is working to lower college costs for New Hampshire students and their parents by giving them the freedom to refinance their college loans, just like they can with a home mortgage or car loan.  The ad, running 30 seconds, began airing Sunday on televisions stations in New Hampshire.

“Jeanne Shaheen has deep roots in New Hampshire. She raised her family here and her record proves she shares our values. She understands the importance of education to our kids and their future,” said Campaign Manager Mike Vlacich.  “That’s why as Governor she expanded public kindergarten and created a tax free tuition savings program, and why as Senator she’s introduced new legislation to lower the cost of college loans.  New Hampshire comes first for Jeanne Shaheen and always has.”

In the Senate, Jeanne Shaheen was an original cosponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinance Act that would allow students in New Hampshire and across the country to refinance their loans at lower interest rates.  While the legislation was blocked by congressional gridlock and a Republican filibuster, it would have helped 25 million borrowers across the country save thousands of dollars on their loan payments.  Individuals with older loans at higher interest rates would be able to refinance at rates below 4 percent.

New Hampshire college graduates leave school with $33,000 in student loan debt on average.  It is the second highest rate of debt in the country.  Over half of the more than 200,000 Granite Staters with federally backed student loans would benefit from Senator Shaheen’s legislation.

Independent economists point to the relatively low share of first-time home buyers in today’s market compared with historical levels as a result of increasing levels of student loan debt.  Graduates with high monthly student loan payments are less likely to qualify for a mortgage or have been able to save money for a down payment on a home.

“New Hampshire students leave college on average with $33,000 in debt. It can slow them down for years. But right now, our students can’t refinance their loans the way you can refinance a car loan or a mortgage,” says Senator Shaheen in the new television ad.  “I want to change that.  I am fighting for a bill to allow students to refinance their loans. It will lower rates and save families thousands of dollars.”

Watch the new television ad here http://jeanneshaheen.org/burden

Stop The Attack On Public Education — AFT Welcomes “Democrats For Public Education”

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Written by Larry Graykin

As a longtime liberal and a union member, I have been dismayed by the Democrats extended, gradual slide toward the political right. Once a little left of center, the typical Democrat nowadays is akin to a moderate Republican of years past. There is no question Eisenhower would be judged “too liberal” for any Republican primary nowadays. My fear is that he’d be deemed too liberal for the Dems, as well.

The worst of the Dems, to my way of thinking, are the Neo-Liberals, simply because they are fleece-wearing wolves. According to Elizabeth Martinez, the main points of neo-liberalism include:

  1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services.
  2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role.
  3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.
  4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
  5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

In other words, Neo-Libs are Libertarians in Democrats’ clothing. And yes, as you might wonder, they DO have ties to ALEC, as demonstrated by Mercedes Schneider in her book, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education. 

I’m a teacher, and so I’ve been watching the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER)—the Neo-Lib’s PAC that attends to education—for some time now.  From DFER’s “Statement of Principles”: “We believe that reforming broken public school systems cannot be accomplished by tinkering at the margins, but rather through bold and revolutionary leadership.  This requires opening up the traditional top-down monopoly of most school systems and empowering all parents to access great schools for their children.”  These are the lovers and promoters of Michelle Rhee, of charter schools, of vouchers, of top-down educational reforms (e.g., high-stakes testing, Common Core national standards, the use of VAM in rating teacher quality, etc.)  They support policies “that stimulate the creation of new accountable public schools and which simultaneously close down failing schools.”   These, in short, are enemies of the NEA and the AFT.

And into this landscape trots Donna Brazile.

Donna Brazile, says Wikipedia, is “an American author, academic, and political analyst who is Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. She was the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign, acting as campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000.” And she is also one of the founding members of “Democrats for Public Education,” an organization that she first announced at AFT’s convention. “I am ashamed of some of Democrats in my own party. We’re not going to be silent while you are being attacked.”

It’s a wonderful speech. Watch it here:

Democrats for Public Education is brand new. Their website is not yet up. Their Facebook page  has little more than a “Stay tuned…” message. But we already know what they stand for. Brazile, along with two co-chairs, former governors Ted Strickland (Ohio) and Jennifer Granholm (Michigan), has indicated that “the group intends to champion additional funds to make quality public education available to everyone, and reject what Brazile called ‘market-driven’ reforms that undermine the learning environment. ‘We have done a poor job educating people about education. Only when we have clarified that, can we talk about how best to achieve it.’”

So…we have a new environment in which Democrats must live.  Each candidate must answer a question that once could be avoided: Will you continue to pay lip-service to unions while aligning yourself with DFER? Or will you truly stand on the side of teachers, students, and unions, and affiliate yourself with Democrats for Public Education?

As Pete Seeger asked in song, “Which side are you on?”

Granite State Rumblings: Ideas To Spend Quality And Fun Time With Kids This Summer

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Every Child Matters NHI am just coming back from vacation and can honestly say that during my 10 days off I tuned out all of the work stuff, (if you left me a voicemail or e-mail, I’ll get back to you this week!), and just concentrated on having fun with Spidey. And we had a blast!

Every April we start a list of things we want to do together during the summer. Last year his list was full of places like Story Land, Santa’s Village, Clark’s Trading Post, and Disney World. (All wonderful places but they can be expensive). We always do one or two of the “family vacation” places, but last summer I introduced him to a lot of activities that we could do right in my backyard. He must have enjoyed them and they stuck with him, because this year’s list, while there was still Story Land, included almost all of the activities from last summer.

So we spent last week in the backyard and the living room more than we spent it on the road to those expensive family adventures. And, Spidey added some extra elements to the activities this year to make them more fun.

In case you forgot to write them down last year, or this is your first year receiving the newsletter, I thought I’d share them again, before the summer is gone.

Swing in a Hammock

Snuggle close, and sway the afternoon away. Look for pictures in the clouds and watch them change, or read books to each other.

Do Yard Work Together

Toddlers can help pull weeds and sprinkle the flowers with a tiny watering can. Have a kid-size rake and a bubble-blowing lawn mower on hand.

Play Dress-Up

Collect funny hats, gloves, purses, flowing gowns, and “superhero capes” at a garage sale or thrift store. Slip into your new finery, and have a make-believe garden party, Spider-Man adventure, or masquerade ball.

Build a Secret Fort

Drape old sheets over lower tree limbs and clotheslines. Eat dinner there. Stay up chasing fireflies and listening to “night sounds.”

Hold a Car Wash

Park your car in the driveway and let your child give it a good scrub with a pot of water and sponge or with the garden hose. Get the whole family involved for added fun!

Go on a Bug Safari

Dig for worms, scout for lizards, and hunt for frogs and tadpoles. Marvel at an ant carrying an oversize crumb.

Befriend a Firefighter

Bake cookies (or pick up some ice pops), and deliver them to your local fire station. The firefighters will appreciate the surprise — and your child will meet some heroes, see those awesome trucks up close, and learn a lesson about giving to others.

Chalk it Up

Everyone loves sidewalk chalk. Use the glow-in-the-dark kind so you and your child can glimpse your artwork from the window at bedtime.

Make Beautiful Music

Spread a blanket in the backyard for a stage. Ask preschoolers to create (and collect) “tickets” to the big event. Invite the neighborhood  kids to bring their instruments and perform — even your littlest musicians can join in using pots, wooden spoons, and shakers. Set up lawn chairs for the audience, and cheer your little stars.

Dance in the Rain

Surprise your kids by taking them outside during a gentle summer shower. Dance around in swimsuits, catch raindrops in your mouth, and jump in all the puddles.

Card Board Box Creations

Go to the grocery store and grab a bunch of boxes of all different sizes. Throw in some duct tape, markers, pillows, blankets and flashlights and build a city, a fort, or an apartment building!

Home Movie Time

Let your child make videos or a movie with your iPhone (most apps are $2-$5). Then make some popcorn, pile on the couch and have Family Movie Night starring your kids!

Go on an “Alphabet tour”

Bring a camera(s) and a notebook. Head into town and walk around. Beginning with the letter a, find something that starts with that letter (i.e. Adams Street). Take a picture of that item and write it down in your notebook. Continue with each letter and when you are done, each child has a personal and creative alphabet memory book.

Take a class together!

Baking, crochet, cross-stitch, guitar, painting, bread-making, illustrating, pottery, archery, kickboxing, creative writing, sculpting, acting, braiding, cake decorating, weaving, anything. Tons of local colleges, restaurants, craft stores, trade schools, and culinary institutes offer one-day classes or more. Such a fantastic way to connect with each other over a new skill. Plus you can harness their new skills for your own personal gain. Fresh bread, anyone?

Whatever you decide to do with your children this summer, know that the most important thing is not the place or the cost, but the time spent together.

Have fun!

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