[xmca] unions

From: Peg Griffin (Peg.Griffin@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Sat Jan 06 2007 - 11:04:21 PST

Yes and ...
The fissures between and within US teacher unions are another factor to
consider. The supposed and real situation locally and between national
headquarters and locals is a story seldom considered in policies and
analysis of education change in specific disciplines.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Peter Smagorinsky
Sent: Saturday, January 06, 2007 5:15 AM
To: 'eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity'
Subject: RE: [xmca] Cobb & McClain from a different perspective

Just a note to make sure that everyone understands that the presence of
teachers' unions is not a national phenomenon (in the US, anyhow). In the
South, where I've lived the majority of my life, teachers' unions are
virtually nonexistent. Unions of any sort are rare--it's part of the
authoritarian culture of the South, broadly speaking. Around the turn of the
20/21st century, teachers were even stripped of due-process dismissal
rights--they can simply be fired by principals who want them gone--because,
as the thinking goes, teachers are the problem for poor education, and
strong administrators are the solution. I think that this fact is worth
sharing with anyone who believes that unions are the problem, given that the
South tends to lag behind other regions in most measurements of educational
quality (themselves dubious, in my view). Peter

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of David Preiss
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 6:48 PM
To: mcole@weber.ucsd.edu; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Cobb & McClain from a different perspective

Indeed, Mike, the same thing applies to other settings as well. In my short
lived experience as a consultant here in Chile, the best so called
ergonomics work we did here under the wise guidance of Carlos Diaz, whom you
had the chance to meet when you were here in Chile and when he visited you
there, was in collaboration with the unions, in particular those of the
Chilean subway. It is interesting to note that the same problems you mention
replicate in industry when consultants want to jump over the unions instead
of working with them to create more fruitful and productive labor relations.

That said, as for the case of the teachers, the question remains open when
you have a national union instead of local unions. I don't know the
privileged way of teacher organizing in the USA, but in Chile teachers have
only a large national influential syndicate so national issues commonly take
over the local ones as those discussed in the Cobb's paper. So it would be
really complex to have this union dealing with individual schools on issues
of improvement.

On Jan 5, 2007, at 8:33 PM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Last night I had dinner with an early mentor and friend, Dick
> Atkinson, who was head of NSF, UCSD, and UC overall and has taken a
> lot of interest in things educational.
> We got into an argument about school reforms and Dick, a strong
> advocate of charter schools and variety creating mechanisms opined
> that "The problem was the unions."
> I argued that indeed, in some configurations of circumstances made
> unions uncooperative with supervisor's grand schemes. Allan Bursin
> steamrolling reforms in San Diego was an example.
> But, I also argued, that when reforms were organized in a proper
> manner, unions were NOT a problem and in fact, might be an important
> part of the solution.
> I have sent him the Cobb and McClain piece to think about.
> Question: What was the role of the unions in the case presented by
> Cobb and McClain? What does their experience teach us about dealing
> with draconian accountability schemes and "better" school as
> tightening the screws that hold together the iron cage??
> mike
> _______________________________________________
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> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
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David Preiss, Ph.D.
Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile Escuela de Psicología Av Vicuña
Mackenna 4860 Macul, Santiago Chile

Fono: 3544605
Fax: 3544844
e-mail: davidpreiss@uc.cl
web personal: http://web.mac.com/ddpreiss/ web institucional:

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