Sunday, March 20, 2011

Liza Campbell Captures the Spirit of Fight Back Friday

At the Left Forum yesterday I heard a teacher tell all about how Fight Back Friday in her school brought the staff together in a way they hadn't seen before. Almost the entire staff wore black - "to take their school back" (I've even heard of some principals wearing black in unity). It turns out this is the same school that in a piece at Gotham's Community Center (which many people do not read due to Ruben irritation) GEM/NYCORE's Liza Campbell talked about. One of 3 on a campus, they have reached out to the other schools and things are moving toward actions taken by the entire building. Let me point out that these are mostly young teachers far from the madding ME4ME slugs.

Links to FBF: and

Liza wrote a fab piece. Here is a short shot:
Tenure protects teachers who defend their departments from harassment, inform parents or DOE officials about negligence in their school, or who have personal or political disagreements with principals. Protections and contractual agreements make schools better places to work, which means lower teacher turnover, happier teachers and thus happier students in turn. A sign outside the capital in Madison, Wisc., last week made the case for teacher protections clear: “My Working Conditions Are My Students’ Learning Conditions.”

In response to the relentless attacks, Sam Coleman, a member of both the Grassroots Education Movement and NYCORE came up with the idea of supporting schools in organizing school-based actions for educators, parents and students across the city who wanted to push back. He named his intitiative Fight Back Friday. The idea also developed because there was an urgency for more actions at the local level, yet the UFT leadership seemed unwilling or unable to take on organizing of that kind.
On Friday, Jan. 21, members of my school community participated in our first Fight Back Friday. We joined parents, school staff and community members across the city to raise awareness about, and stand in solidarity with, schools facing closure and co-location votes at upcoming Panel for Educational Policy meetings. The theme for the day was “Wear Black and Take Our Schools Back.” Nearly all of my colleagues wore black on that day. It was an incredibly unifying experience that was better for staff morale than anything I could have anticipated. Over 30 schools have participated in Fight Back Fridays since the movement began last year. Each individual school’s action takes on a different tone depending on the particular concerns that are most pressing for that school, but they all heighten dialogue and raise awareness about critical issues facing education right now.
The next Fight Back Friday is planned for March 25, and it will focus on some of the most pressing issues facing public education. These include the devastation that would be caused by layoffs and budget cuts, plus the importance of teacher protections like tenure and seniority in making schools stable and rich environments for children. The message for the day is, “We are all Wisconsin! Same Struggle, Same Fight.” I have heard this sentiment, which refers to the battle against union rights started by Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker, expressed repeatedly from teachers in my school, and we have decided we don’t want to wait any longer to start educating our communities and mobilizing ourselves.
Anticipating Fight Back Friday

What if Bill Gates or DFER made an offer to Gotham to pay or subsidize the salary of the reporter they are looking to hire to replace Maura Walz? Of course they will say, "We're not looking to influence the reporting in any way." But maybe they follow with, "I have the perfect person in mind." Well, whatever, you get a picture of how the press can be subverted - but I can't imagine Gotham going for such a thing.

Now, Accountable Talk has thrown his hat in the Gotham job ring
I don't know if you've heard, but GothamSchools is hiring! This is huge news for a small time blogger like me--my chance to make the big time! I hope you, my faithful readers, won't mind if I audition right here? I know the three of you are skeptical. I can hear you thinking: "Mr. Talk writing for Gotham? Why, he's pro-union, anti-Unity, and borderline socialist!" Never fear. I'm willing to be employed by a hedge fund manager for a price, which is one of the main qualifications for this gig.
MORE AT: Mr. Talk Shoots for the Big Time

Hey, ya never know.

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