Teacher Column

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has proposed his own version of glasnost.

At the aft's summer meeting, Mr. Shanker said he would extend to Mary Hatwood Futrell, leader of the rival National Education Association, a "sincere invitation" to address next year's aft convention, "provided, of course, that I am invited to the nea convention."

In addition, to "open up" the debate about school reform, the union president proposed that each issue of the aft newspaper give space to the nea to communicate directly with its members--and that the nea do the same for his union.

Mr. Shanker also suggested that the two unions host a joint conference at which members could discuss issues of teacher professionalism.

"This is a challenge to the nea to let their members decide for themselves which ideas are best for public education," he said. "So far, the nea has not given its members the opportunity to hear about national certification, to hear what I am saying, without simultaneoulsy waging a disinformation campaign."

The union leader accused the nea of being "actively engaged in an effort to destroy" the new National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, in part, by reducing its independence.

Ms. Futrell was unavailable late last week for comment.

Teachers in Florida have turned the table on marketers who decided to reduce or terminate their advertising in the state, following a legislative decision to impose a 5 percent sales and use tax on advertising.

The Florida Teaching Profession-nea has approved its own consumer boycott of eight national advertisers, including Kellogg Co., Kraft, and Nabisco Brands.

The union includes 40,100 dues-paying members and also bargains collectively for another 35,000. According to Dorothy Cobbett, communications manager for the union, when family and friends are included, the union can sway at least 300,000 Floridians not to buy certain products.

In an unusual move, the Buffalo school district has agreed to pay a penalty for excessive class sizes imposed on teachers represented by the Buffalo Teachers Federation, an nea affiliate.

Under their new three-year contract, the city's teachers will be entitled to additional pay for every extra student they are assigned beyond a specified limit, beginning in the fall of 1988.

The specific dollar figure will be based on a mathematical formula that takes into account the ideal class size for that grade, the number of students over it, and what portion of the year they remain in the class.

Individual teachers could receive as much as a 10 percent salary increase, or more.

Philip Rumore, president of the union, said he did not know of any other district that had such automatic payments to teachers built into their contracts. Nonetheless, he termed the contract not entirely satisfactory. The union had hoped to put absolute limits on class sizes.

From now on, teachers with a black mark on their personnel record may find it harder to take up the profession in another location.

This summer, the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification established a national Teacher Identification Clearinghouse that will exchange the names of people, across state lines, whose license to teach has been revoked, denied, or suspended for cause since 1972. Participating states will update the list regularly.

The aft is one of the six "best" labor unions in the country, according to an article in The Washington Monthly, a political magazine based in the nation's capital.

"Not only has the aft been consistently ahead of its larger rival, the nea," wrote editor Steven Waldman in the July/August issue, "it has made educational improvements a top priority and, in some cases, has been downright innovative."

He praised the union, in particular, for supporting: higher teacher salaries; a national teacher examination; some forms of peer review; a career ladder that adopts elements of merit pay; and special programs to attract candidates to teaching.

But Mr. Waldman was not all laudatory. He described Mr. Shanker as an "autocrat" and criticized him for insisting that teachers take a "series of often useless education courses before they are fully certified."

"Moreover, his hawkish views on foreign policy and his leadership of a racially polarizing New York City teachers' strike in 1968 have made some liberals reluctant to join hands with him," the article says.

The new National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is close to announcing its choice for president of the organization.

This summer, a "head hunter" from mls Associates in Philadelphia has been searching the nation for likely candidates. Marc S. Tucker, executive director for the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, which helped create the board, said the list has been reduced to a "literal handful." A decision is expected this month.

Meanwhile, more than 750 people have been formally nominated to be members of the new board. That selection is also expected soon.


Vol. 07, Issue 01

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories