Teachers Column

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Teachers will not be heading to the ballpark much this spring, if the American Federation of Teachers has its way.

Both the A.F.T. and its New York City affiliate are urging members to boycott the national pastime, for now. The reason? Because most Major League Baseball teams have replaced striking unionized players with substitutes, teachers' union officials said.

In a show of solidarity with organized labor, the A.F.T. leaders asked teachers not to attend or watch televised games if replacements are playing. And they asked that Congress remove antitrust protections for baseball that affect collective bargaining with players, who for months have been locked in a dispute with league owners.

The A.F.T.'s New York City affiliate, the United Federation of Teachers, also wants its members to avoid class trips to the ballpark when replacements are on the field.

"The owners had better come to their senses," Sandra Feldman, the u.f.t. president, said recently. "I sure would hate to see a generation of kids growing up without baseball."

A grassroots network for teachers with bold ideas is launching a three-year project with the support of three national foundations.

Impact II, which is based in New York City, received $600,000 in grants last month for its Nationwide Teacher Leaders Project, an effort to help teachers take a leading role in school reform. The Pew Charitable Trusts, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Exxon Education Foundation are supporting the project.

The organization is starting up its initiative at five demonstration sites: New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Dade County, Fla.; and Santa Barbara County, Calif. The new grants will support the sites during the effort's first year.

The participating cities and counties will choose up to 10 "teacher leaders" based on past involvement in school reform, their experience with the impact II network, and the endorsement of a school principal.

Impact II will provide those teachers grants for the time they spend managing reform efforts, making visits to other schools, or telling others about their work. The project is also expected to seek funding from local sources.

"This project recognizes the pivotal leadership role teachers play in school restructuring and encourages them not only to improve their own teaching practices, but to share their expertise with their colleagues," Ellen Dempsey, the president of impact II, said in a statement.

--Joanna Richardson

Vol. 14, Issue 25

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