August 2012 Archives

There they go again--trying to divide teachers from their union. Do they really think teachers will choose the unfilled promises of a politician over their union? Teachers know New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no friend of theirs and that the New Jersey Education Association and the National Education Association have been tireless advocates for their interests and the interests of their students. Listening to Governor Christie deliver his keynote speech to the Republican National Convention was a fairy tale moment. He said, "They (Democrats) believe in teacher unions. We (Republicans) believe in teachers." As we say in the south, "That...


Today, the 44th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was released. While the poll shows considerable division reflective of the current polarization in our country, one area of consensus was trust and confidence in our teachers. The report published about the poll stated, "For the third year in a row, three out of four Americans say they have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach children in the public schools." Quite frankly, I was a little surprised that these numbers stayed so strong considering all the bashing that teachers ...


If you live in a battleground state like I do, you are bombarded with television and radio ads for President Obama and Governor Romney. It does not take long to determine that 75 percent of these ads are blasting the opponent for causing some economic condition. Obama is responsible for unemployment of over 8 percent. Romney is responsible for outsourcing American jobs. It goes on and on ad nauseam. It is very clear that the candidates have determined that the election will be decided by the one who convinces voters that he is the best candidate for the economy or, ...


Can you imagine being a pro-public school and pro-union state legislator and have to deal with competing teacher unions as you move legislation that will help all teachers and education support professionals? Louisiana and West Virginia come to my mind as two prime examples. I am sure there are state legislators who feel they walk on eggshells when trying to work with the local and state affiliates of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Recently, this issue emerged at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Dennis Van Roekel, President of NEA, and Randi Weingarten, President ...


The HOPE Foundation has designed an effective formula for transforming schools. Their premise is leadership capacity and school culture are critical to implement any policy or structural change. Teachers embrace their work because it is respectful of them, and it empowers teachers and principals to drive student achievement. Our friends at HOPE Foundation asked me to share the contest they have developed. I like a contest that discovers best practices, educates what a winning school would look like, and recognizes the hard work of transformation that educators are doing. Please share this with those who are interested in improving the ...


When I was the executive director of the National Education Association, I often said to the staff that I took full responsibility for their morale. I thought about it every day and with every decision I made. I appointed a design team to assist me with ideas and activities to drive a positive culture and work environment. I periodically conducted surveys called "temperature checks" to assess our success. This work of improving staff morale was not easy and took time, but I firmly believed that, as their manager, I had a lot of responsibility for assuring the work satisfaction of ...


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