Arizona is about to get its first statewide teachers' strike

The contagion is spreading: Arizona is the latest red state where teachers -- backed by immense public sympathy -- are staging first-of-its-kind state walkout, protesting against the very idea of neoliberal austerity, recognizing that with the GOP running their state and their nation, that the problem is Republicanism, not some local phenomenon. Read the rest

Wells Fargo loses teachers' union business after it pledges its eternal loyalty to gun manufacturers

Last week, Wells Fargo defiantly announced that it would not follow its competitors' examples and cease lending to gun manufacturers; this week, the American Federation of Teachers dropped Wells Fargo as the preferred mortgage lender for its 1.7 million members. Read the rest

Trump radicalized teachers, now Republicans are saying they won't vote for the party anymore

The teachers' rebellion is a global phenomenon, and though it's been brewing for a long time, the public was a lot more skeptical of teachers' demands when they were striking in Democratic strongholds under a Democratic president. Read the rest

Leaked docs reveal Koch/Walton/DeVos's anti-teacher talking points

The "State Policy Network" is a coalition of 66 far-right organizations who've been given $80M by a small number of billionaires, including the Walton family (heirs to the Walmart fortune), the Koch Brothers, and Betsy DeVos; they're terrified of the teachers' uprising, in which wildcat strikes have raced across America because teachers whose unions were neutralized have been put on starvation wages in underfunded facilities. Without any union bosses to keep them in check, the teachers have demanded the world -- and they're getting it. Read the rest

Alt-labor: the new, ungovernable red-state labor movements, led by teachers

America's "red states" are often thought of as homogeneous nests of parochial reactionary voters; it's more accurate to say that their places that have been cruelly dominated by Republican lawmakers who owe their seats to gerrymandering and voter suppression that disenfranchises progressives. Read the rest

2018 tsunami: Teachers lead mass strikes in four red states that voted for Trump in 2016

After the incredible success of the West Virginia teachers' strike, teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky walked out and now they're joined by teachers in Arizona -- all four of these are "red" states that voted Trump in 2016. Read the rest

Thousands of Oklahoma teachers, inspired by West Virginia, are planning a walkout

West Virginia's teachers across the state are participating in an unsanctioned wildcat strike with no end in sight -- thanks in part to the widespread support for their cause among West Virginians, and solidarity from other workers. Read the rest

Watch these teachers' rad personalized handshakes for every student

Above, Jerusha Willenborg of Wichita, Kansas's Mueller Elementary. Below, Barry White Jr. of Charlotte, NC's Ashley Park Elementary School. It reminds me of my daughter's wonderful second grade teacher Ms. Foskett who at the end of every day took a moment to say goodbye to each student individually however they preferred, with a verbal "bye," hug, handshake, simultaneous clap, high-five, etc. I liked watching this ritual because you could really see in the kids' eyes the connection Ms. Foskett made with each one of them.

(via Kottke)

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Middle school teacher resigns amid horrific abuse from students

Sixth-grade teacher Kerstin Westcott held back tears as she explained why she was leaving her dream job at a Green Bay middle school. Police were called to the middle school almost daily in the past school year. Read the rest

Chicago has about 40% fewer African-American teachers than in 2001

This month's Mother Jones examines a shocking statistic: "According to the Albert Shanker Institute, which is funded in part by the American Federation of Teachers, the number of black educators has declined sharply in some of the largest urban school districts in the nation. In Philadelphia, the number of black teachers declined by 18.5 percent between 2001 and 2012. In Chicago, the black teacher population dropped by nearly 40 percent. And in New Orleans, there was a 62 percent drop in the number of black teachers." Read the rest

What if school was out, forever?

Today a future without schools. Instead of gathering students into a room and teaching them, everybody learns on their own time, on tablets and guided by artificial intelligence.

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | Reddit

In this episode we talk to a computer scientist who developed an artificially intelligent TA, folks who build learning apps, and critics who wonder if all the promises being made are too good to be true. What do we gain when we let students choose their own paths? What do we lose when we get rid of schools?

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky.

▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan invests in Internet surveillance company that backstops notorious dictatorships

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP) has joined a private equity consortium that acquired the notorious Internet surveillance company BlueCoat, yoking teachers' retirement security to the fortunes of a company that has systematically assisted some of the world's most brutal dictatorships to censor and surveil their citizenry. Blue Coat has blood on its hands, people rounded up and tortured and even killed thanks to it and products like it, and it's a disgrace for teachers -- whose professional ethics embrace freedom, intellectual inquiry, and fairness -- to be part of the financial exit strategy for the people who founded and ran that company.

Ron Deibert and Sarah McKune from the University of Toronto's CitizenLab and Munk School of Global Affairs have written an op-ed in the Toronto Star, detailing some of BlueCoat's ethical unsuitablity, and the fact that the OTPP went into the transaction having been thoroughly briefed on what they were getting into.

If you'd like to read more about BlueCoat, check out CitizenLab's excellent report: "Mapping Global Censorship and Surveillance Tools."

Now, a year later, Citizen Lab has released a new report, Planet Blue Coat: Mapping Global Censorship and Surveillance Tools. Using a combination of technical interrogation methods, our researchers scanned the Internet to look for signature evidence of Blue Coat products. While our investigation was not exhaustive and provided only a limited window of visibility into the deployment of such tools, what we were able to find raises serious concerns.

We uncovered 61 Blue Coat ProxySG and 316 Blue Coat PacketShaper devices, which are designed to filter online content and inspect and control network traffic.

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The most important thing I learned from a teacher

Who inspired you?

The role that teachers play in influencing the lives of their students is something that's been lost in current debates about education mandates and standardized testing. Teaching isn't just about making sure kids can pass exams. It's also about helping future adults find their gifts, discover their interests, and learn who they want to be. That's a hard thing to quantify. You can't really put together a concise list of "Children I've Inspired" for a CV. But this is the part of a teacher's job that is the most lasting. What we remember about good teachers isn't necessarily the dry facts they taught us, it's the doors they opened, the curiosity they kindled, and the moments where they made us rethink everything.

Science journalist Steve Silberman is married to one of America's hard-working teachers. Watching his husband, Keith, inspired Steve to collect stories of how teachers shaped the lives of a wide range of writers, thinkers, and scientists. In a post on Steve's blog, you'll find stories from people like award-winning journalist Deborah Blum, cultural critic Mark Dery, and molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler.

I'm honored to be a part of this line up, as well. Below is my contribution, dedicated to the grade school teacher who made me the person I am today.

I had the same teacher for 4th and 5th grades, Shirley Johannsen. She started teaching at State Street Elementary in Topeka, Kansas in 1963, so by the time I met her in the late 1980s, this woman was already educating the children of her first students.

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