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Archive for March, 2010

An announcement I just got regarding an upcoming Writers’ Workshop to be held in Boston in June 2010 jostled me into sending in this blog entry. I have known about this workshop for many years, but it was only last June (2009) that I was able to take it for the first time, and the experience blew me away. This turned out to be an invaluable experience for me as teacher, writer, and editor as well as personally and politically. Though I knew that another Radical Teacher editor, UMass—Boston teacher, friend, colleague, and a poet, has been attending it enthusiastically for years, my experience last summer went way beyond my expectations.

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OK, I know I am preaching to the converted, but… There is only one thing that can be said about the mass firing of Central Falls, R.I. teachers on February 26: it was anti-teacher, anti-union, and anti-education. We all know the basics of the story: the test scores of the students, mainly low income, immigrant, learners who moved around school districts, were abysmally low. Despite this, the students described the majority of their teachers as committed and hard working, in the words of some, “like family.” The students recently held a lively demonstration in support of their teachers. Would they do that for non-caring teachers? (more…)

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“Full- and part-time faculty members teaching off the tenure track are professionals who make indispensable contributions to their institutions.”  This point turns up in a February brief by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, called “One Faculty Serving All Students.”  The Coalition does good work, including this brief aimed at persuading universities and college to treat contingent workers decently.

But take a close look at this way of using the term “professionals.”  It has at least three common meanings.  (1) It often refers to athletes and others who play for a living, in contrast to amateurs.  No problem.  (2) It’s also often used to credit people whose work is skillful, dedicated, based on sound knowledge, and so on.  No problem here, either–except when this meaning blurs into the third one:  (3) a person who works as a recognized member of a recognized profession.
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There’s a moment near the end of The Hurt Locker, last night’s winner for Oscar’s best picture, when Sergeant First Class William James stands in a grocery store under fluorescent lights, adult contemporary jazz playing over the loudspeaker, facing the urgent American consumer choice of picking from among row after row of the slightly different versions of the same boxes of food. (more…)

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