Educators write from the heart and an English movie that will inspire

The Educator And The Oligarch: A Teacher Challenges The Gates Foundation | By Anthony Cody

Point by point, in The Educator and the Oligarch, Anthony Cody takes on the wealthiest man in the world, and his foundation, to defend the teaching profession and public education from corporate education reform.

Cody makes the case that poverty is the greatest handicap to students’ academic performance. He lays bare the many contradictions of corporate education reform, such as calling for student success while measuring it by tests that are intentionally designed to fail most students. He deconstructs the agenda of data-driven reform, with its high-stakes tests, educational technology and market-based competition between schools, offering constructive alternatives for restoring trust in education.

The author, one of Oakland’s first National Board Certified teachers, spent 24 years in Oakland’s high-poverty schools, in 18 of which he taught middle school science and math. He served as a consulting teacher in the Peer Assistance and Review program and led district-wide efforts to improve instruction.

Cody has received many awards for his education writing, including first prize from the Education Writers of America for his blog, Living in Dialogue. He helped organize the Save Our Schools March in Washington, D.C. and founded the Network for Public Education with Diane Ravitch. He warns of the many dangers we face when market forces drive the educational system. From standardized testing, charter schools, value-added measures and teacher evaluations, Common Core, device-centered vs. student-centered education, to what is the purpose of K-12 education, Cody convincingly argues against the Gates Foundation. He speaks up for students and those who teach them.

Cody is a leader in the fight to protect students from failed experimentation and the consequences of 
profit-driven education. This is a must-read for students, parents, educators and administrators — anyone desiring to put public education policy on a better path. — By Mindy Pines, CFT Reporter

What Did You Learn at Work Today: The Forbidden Lessons of Labor Education | By Helena Worthen

This primer on the importance of workplace democracy, What Did You Learn at Work Today, focuses on how workers can learn about labor rights and collective action in and out of the workplace.

One of the central points Worthen makes is that most workers have no idea about their rights until they have a problem and then it is often too late in a political system that sides with the employer.

Worthen explains that we do not teach students about the workplace and labor rights. Instead, students are socialized to accept a non-democratic workplace. She points out that we think of workplace literacy as a way to retrain workers for a new post-industrial economy and not as a needed education in labor history, laws, and rights. Unlike traditional education, labor education focuses on collective knowledge and increasing consciousness of the surrounding economic and social systems. — By Bob Samuels, President, UC-AFT

50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education | By David C. Berliner, Gene V. Glass, and Associates

In 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools, educational psychologist David C. Berliner, Professor Gene V. Glass and 50 scholars debunk the myths corporate reformers use to attack public education. They argue against the reformers’ logic, reveal the holes in data used to support those myths, and present more credible data. They expose the political and economic interests behind those creating the myths, pointing out what they have to gain.

The authors cover a wide range of topics including charter schools, teacher accountability and Value-Added Models, unions and the teaching profession, and how U.S. schools compare to those in the rest of the world. The book’s short, readable, information-packed essays will arm every educator, student, community member, and policymaker with what they need to understand the misinformation that threatens our public education system. — By Mindy Pines, CFT Reporter

Pride | Written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus

In the movie Pride, gay activists from London help miners during the lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984. But the British-produced movie doesn’t focus on details of the strike, except to pointedly show that Margaret Thatcher blocked access to the union’s strike funds.

Rather, it tells the clash-of-cultures story of how a group called Gays and Lesbians Support the Miners bonded with the families of striking miners in a small town in rural Wales. Although the story is little known and happened 30 years ago, it may be the mother of community-union outreach stories.

The movie captures the 1980s, both the good and the bad. It is also funny at times, calling to mind The Fully Monty, Calendar Girls, and Waking Ned Devine, with the kind of humor only the Brits can do.

Pride is now available for purchase on dvd or to view online. — By Jane Hundertmark, Editor