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  1. #91
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    NOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! No business does that. Business is people organised for the purpose of making money.
    Making money can certainly be viewed as the primary purpose of a business. It can also be viewed as the logical and desired by-product of producing a worthwhile product or service. Businesses with the second perspective tend to serve their customers better, face fewer ethical dilemmas, and still stay profitable. What I want to capture most from the "business model" as you put it is the focus on goal/product vs. process. Schools are much too process-oriented, which is why they cannot adapt to the needs of individual students, or groups of students, or even changing conditions in the community. When money is tight, creativity and innovation become even more essential. Firing teachers and reducing the pay of those remaining is an obvious, brute-force way to save money, but is ultimately penny-wise and pound-foolish, especially when there are plenty of other ways to save money with less impact to instruction and learning. (Teachers themselves could make many suggestions.)
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  2. #92
    Happy Dancer uumlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Making money can certainly be viewed as the primary purpose of a business. It can also be viewed as the logical and desired by-product of producing a worthwhile product or service. Businesses with the second perspective tend to serve their customers better, face fewer ethical dilemmas, and still stay profitable. What I want to capture most from the "business model" as you put it is the focus on goal/product vs. process. Schools are much too process-oriented, which is why they cannot adapt to the needs of individual students, or groups of students, or even changing conditions in the community. When money is tight, creativity and innovation become even more essential. Firing teachers and reducing the pay of those remaining is an obvious, brute-force way to save money, but is ultimately penny-wise and pound-foolish, especially when there are plenty of other ways to save money with less impact to instruction and learning. (Teachers themselves could make many suggestions.)
    We disagree on a lot w/r to this topic, Cor, but I agree with you completely, here. Ideally, one provides a top-notch product at a reasonable price, and makes enough "profit" (or non-profit equivalent) to stay in business and serve even more clients.
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  3. #93
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Making money can certainly be viewed as the primary purpose of a business. It can also be viewed as the logical and desired by-product of producing a worthwhile product or service. Businesses with the second perspective tend to serve their customers better, face fewer ethical dilemmas, and still stay profitable.
    They also, where successful, tend to be viewed by other firms as the market leaders. And those companies pursuing this strategy of having some higher purpose beyond just making money do tend in fact, when successful, to lead the market, probably exactly because they have this extra resource that others don't, some ability in some aspect of their business to attend to imperatives beyond simple profit. But as entities these companies stay functional because exploitation of this resource does down the line generate profits. Or maybe the CEO's parents have deep pockets. Either way, they have found themselves in some situation where their creation of value has some continuing relationship with a creation of profit.

    So I'd like to say we can talk about the creation of value without needing to talk about the creation of profit, and if we do then we're talking about something other than biz.

    What I want to capture most from the "business model" as you put it is the focus on goal/product vs. process. Schools are much too process-oriented, which is why they cannot adapt to the needs of individual students, or groups of students, or even changing conditions in the community.
    You're right, of course. But there's a premise in there about what a school is and what schools are part of: an industry. Education industries need business models. They need stories about productivity and throughput. They need efficient handling of large number of produced results.

    Which is all fine, I guess. It's not like anyone (other than the rich and the highly educated) is any time soon going to stop making babies, and we all live in such large cities. Schools systems just do have an industrial scale.

    Sooooo, what's the vision (I ask to everyone)? If we're going to say them's the conditions, and notions of teaching and teacher roles must adapt, then fine. Or if we're going to say that whole thing has to change and schools must become more numerous but smaller, then fine too. The point is, business management of an industrial system is not of any other than contingent necessity the lens through which we must view schooling and schools.


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  4. #94
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    I think if more sectors were unionised then there would be more strikes, its not the union that causes the strikes its the conditions.

  5. #95
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    From CNN:

    Chicago teachers strike enters 2nd week; mayor takes fight to court

    Chicago (CNN) -- Chicago school kids won't be back in class until at least Wednesday after teachers union representatives decided not to end a week-long walkout -- despite a tentative contract deal reached by union leaders and school officials.

    The move left Mayor Rahm Emanuel vowing to go to court to force teachers back to work, calling Sunday's actions by the union "a delay of choice that is wrong for our children."

    The mayor announced in a statement that he's asked city lawyers to file an injunction in circuit court to "immediately end this strike."

    He contended the strike is illegal because "it is over issues that are deemed by state law to be nonstrikable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children."

    "I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union," Emanuel said.

    Teachers in Chicago, the nation's third-largest school system, are among the highest paid in the country. The strike has drawn national attention as the teachers negotiate over the length of the school day, object to their evaluations being tied to performance and fret about job loss from school closings.

    Parents of the 35,000 students in the school system have already juggled schedules for a week, trying to make sure their children are looked after.

    "Am I going to school again?" kindergartener Cyani asked her mom Toni and dad Allen Packer on Sunday.

    "I just hope they come to a conclusion for the kids as well as the teachers," Allen Packer told CNN affiliate WBBM-TV. "I'm a working citizen myself, so I have somewhat of a duty to be on the working man's side."

    Gerre Harte has plunked down more than $100 in day care costs for her daughter Nell, in addition to modifying her work schedule.

    Still, she wasn't ready to criticize the teachers for staying on the picket line.

    "We're supportive of our teachers and we really like our teachers," Harte said, according to WBBM.

    The news still left Nell feeling a bit sad. "I like to go to school," she said.

    With the strike now continuing, the school system plans to open 147 "Children First" sites citywide Monday for students to go to, in addition to programs run by the city's park department and neighborhood organizations, Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale said.

    But Vitale said that he, like the mayor, is "extremely disappointed" that such programs are necessary. He noted that classes began, for some students, on August 13 and that he didn't understand why they couldn't continue as work continues to finalize a contract deal.

    "There is no reason why our kids cannot be in school while the union reviews the agreement," Vitale said.

    Members of the teachers' bargaining team detailed the proposed contract to a group of 800 union representatives, called the House of Delegates, in a meeting Sunday afternoon. But Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said that, after extensive debate, the delegates said they wanted more time to discuss the contract with union members.

    The House of Delegates will reconvene Tuesday afternoon after taking a day off for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, at which point delegates could decide to end the strike.

    If they do, classes could resume at earliest on Wednesday. And even if the strike is ended, the more than 26,000-member union's rank-and-file would still have the opportunity at some point to accept, or reject, the proposed contract.

    As of Sunday, though, Lewis said a "clear majority" of union delegates did not want to suspend the strike given the proposed contract.

    "They are not happy with the agreement," Lewis said.

    There were no classes all last week, when the union went on strike after failing to reach a contract agreement with school board officials.

    Why they teach despite it all

    The negotiations have taken place behind closed doors. Publicly, the past week has been marked by sometimes biting remarks, as well as vocal picketing in and around the city's schools, some of which opened for a few hours each weekday to give some students a place to go during the strike.

    Both sides indicated Friday that they'd reached a tentative agreement, though teachers union leaders stressed then that any decision to end the strike or not would be determined this weekend.

    Lewis, from the teachers union, said that one problem is that "there's no trust" of school board members. Delegates found several elements of the contract problematic, with the union president calling job security chief among them.

    "The big elephant in the room is the closing of 200 schools," Lewis said. "(Union members) are concerned about this city's decision on some level to close schools."

    It was not immediately clear where Lewis got the 200 figure or when she believes such school closures might happen.

    But Marielle Sainvilus, a spokeswoman for Chicago Public Schools, called Lewis' claim "false," asserting that union leaders said a few days ago that 100 schools would close, and "I'm sure it'll be another number tomorrow."

    "All Ms. Lewis is trying to do is distract away from the fact that she and her leadership are using our kids as pawns in this process," Sainvilus told CNN by e-mail.

    Another point of contention involves the teacher evaluation system, Lewis said. The tentative contract would change it for first time since 1967, taking into account "student growth (for the) first time," according to the school system. And those teachers who are rated as "unsatisfactory and developing" could potentially be laid off.

    A parent on the impact of the strike

    Principals would keep "full authority" to hire teachers, and the school system will now have hiring standards for those with credentials beyond a teacher certification. In addition, "highly rated teachers" who lost their jobs when their schools were closed can "follow their students to the consolidated school," according to a summary of the proposed contract from Chicago Public Schools.

    This contract calls for longer school days for elementary and high school-age students, 10 more "instructional days" each school year and a single calendar for the entire school system, as opposed to the two schedules now in place, depending on the school.

    The pay structure would change with a 3% pay hike for the first year of the contract, 2% for the second year and 2% for the third year. If a trigger extends the contract to four years, teachers would get a 3% pay increase. Union members would no longer be compensated for unused personal days, health insurance contribution rates will be frozen and the "enhanced pension program" is being eliminated.

    As is, the median base salary for teachers in the Chicago public schools in 2011 was $67,974, according to the system's annual financial report.

  6. #96

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I think if more sectors were unionised then there would be more strikes, its not the union that causes the strikes its the conditions.
    Causation is a tricky thing, I realize. But if you believe the first part of this statement, the second part is a non sequitur.

    One thing I really dislike about labor unions is that you are pretty much forced to join. When I became a TA, I was automatically put into a union. The reason I am part of this is due to apathy regarding finding a way to opt out and still be a TA. But if there were, for some strange reason, a strike, I might be forced to join. I really dislike this.

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  7. #97
    Senior Member captain curmudgeon's Avatar
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    All i'm going to say is that Karen Lewis, the teachers' union leader, is fat and ugly.
    Jarlaxle: fact checking this thread makes me want to go all INFP on my wrists

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  8. #98
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    From the Daily Beast:

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel Reaches Flawed Deal to End Chicago Teachers Strike

    Emanuel claimed the agreement would put Chicago in the forefront of the national reform movement, but it is unclear how the system can afford some $300 million in pay increases over the deal's likely four-year duration.

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a relentless political figure caricatured as a bloodless take-no-prisoners practitioner, poignantly choked up Tuesday evening as he discussed the importance of education to the city's poorest children after teachers suspended a nationally watched, six-day strike.

    “The classroom is where they learn not only do they have a place in the future of this city but they are the future of this city, and we as adults have responsibilities to the children of the city of Chicago so they can live up to their future and their full potential," he said amid a rare show of emotion.

    But when the dust settles after Emanuel's first major crisis, taxpayers and education reformers might shed a tear over a system the city still can't afford and a new contract's modest advances in addressing the very problems that a wickedly bright mayor knows plague the system. It might explain his declining to take questions about specifics, such as how a financially desperate system can even afford roughly $300 million in pay increases over the deal's likely four-year duration.

    On message even in times of stress and ambiguity, Emanuel argued that a new deal, still to be approved by 26,000 rank-and-file teachers after they return to work Wednesday, represents a sweeping change in urban education.

    And, for sure, it includes memorializing a previously instituted longer day; big savings in shortening severance pay; a new system of assessing teachers; and some greater leeway for principals when it comes to whom they hire. In a larger historical context, Emanuel's opened important doors after a Herculean effort that confronted a nearly immovable object in a change-resistant union, but avoided the volcanic rancor that has plagued government-union relations elsewhere, notably in neighboring Wisconsin.


    But it was also revealing to hear the muted praise, if that, voiced by the same education reformers with whom Emanuel had successfully fought to pass important new state legislation last year. None of their ilk appeared to suggest, as the mayor has, that this deal would put Chicago in the forefront of the national reform movement.

    Among them was Bruce Rauner, a private-equity executive and close personal friend of the Democratic mayor despite being a Republican who is mulling running for Illinois governor. Speaking at a Chicago tax conference Tuesday that was sponsored by the Dallas-based George W. Bush Institute, a seemingly unexcited Rauner declared, “We have given in on certain key issues."

    Robin Steans, executive director of Advance Illinois, a reform group that lobbied hard for the new state law, said, "Whatever you think of the merits, I think we can all agree there ought to be a better way to resolve tough issues."

    “From a student's point of view, there's some good news, some bad news, and some unfinished business, but everyone—especially students—pays a price when you go through a strike. It's going to take time, effort, and leadership on all sides to get back to the working relationships we need to tackle the serious issues facing Chicago schools.”

    Throughout an adroitly executed campaign for mayor, Emanuel aggressively and correctly identified the problems plaguing a system marked by poor student achievement, a high dropout rate, insufficient teacher accountability, and intolerably rising costs despite a declining student population. And when push came to shove with the Chicago Teachers Union, which seemingly found itself on the wrong side of history when it came to education's need for major changes, he was willing to do what his renowned predecessor, Richard M. Daley, was not: stand fast and take a strike.

    That walkout briefly raised the possibility that the union, now seen as militant compared with many of its teacher counterparts nationwide, might grasp defeat from the jaws of victory and dilute its sweeping public support. It had, after all, surprised many by out-negotiating Emanuel.

    It fended off his desire for merit pay and the elimination of automatic raises based on seniority and any advanced degrees they achieve. It opened the door to assuring that some laid-off teachers get first crack at job vacancies, something ditched in Chicago under a 1995 deal between Daley and the state legislature.

    On teacher evaluations, there is improvement over the current system but it seems in line with what's mandated under the new state law. How its actual implementation plays out and evolves, replete with the active help of teachers in formulating its rollout, will be important to study.
    And, when it comes to money, teachers will get what some are calculating as a 16 percent or 17 percent pay hike over the potential four years of the deal (three years for sure with the option of a fourth by mutual agreement). In a recession, teachers have done well. In addition, at least 500 of the union's previously laid-off members have already returned to assist with a gaping anomaly: the deal lengthens the school day by about an hour and 15 minutes at elementary schools; no teacher will teach anything beyond a few minutes more.

    That curiosity prompted a need for more bodies to deal with what, in my own child's school, amounts to only 20 more minutes of actual instruction (the rest is largely in the assuredly beneficial lengthening of recess and luncheon). Indeed, it remains publicly unclear how much more instruction there is systemwide, even if one applauds Emanuel for dealing decisively with what had been the shortest day and year of any major American school system.

    Ultimately, he's attempting to set a new course for an overweight and rusting battleship. The system is too qualitatively uneven and expensive, with, by any rational dissection, the need to close many underpopulated schools. That need, plus Emanuel's Daley-like push for more charter schools (not under the union's aegis), scares the union mightily, and led to its fierce fight for an ironclad recall provision, or what amounts to de facto lifetime tenure.

    Emanuel refused its call that a principal hire a laid-off teacher when three of them applied for a vacancy. Ultimately, the city agreed that half of new hires be displaced teachers (based on teacher evaluations that seemingly would make most teachers, even not especially good ones, eligible). In cases where that didn't happen, the more tenured of those teachers would still be kept in the system, and paid for a period of time.

    Emanuel pointedly identified the system's problems but has not brought its major wolves at the door to heel. The teachers, who now average about $74,000 a year and cost the system in the vicinity of $100,000 with benefits, will continue to ravenously suck up most of the system's cash.

    Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a tax and government research group, said late Tuesday that it was too early to fully analyze the contract's details but it seemed very difficult for the city to accommodate the pay hikes. Significant reductions in schools and teachers will be necessary.

    The current budget, he noted, provided for only a 2 percent raise, with no hikes for years of service and advanced degrees. That meant draining all the reserves in the school system's general fund and some added restricted reserves totaling $431.8 million to close a deficit of $665 million. In doing that, the system failed to heed its own fund-balance policy.

    The system has already projected a $1 billion deficit for the 2014 fiscal year due to its structural deficit and the end of a three-year partial suspension of contributions to the teachers' pension fund. Those required contributions will grow by at least $338 million, Msall said, to $534 million in fiscal 2014, from $196 million in fiscal 2013.

    The system's long-term debt has risen by 28.3 percent, or $1.1 billion, in the last five years, largely due to its capital construction program.

    "In summary," he said, "the wage increases and other enhancements will likely require very dramatic cuts in personnel."

    It's something that Emanuel, even as he turned emotional Tuesday, knows is unavoidable: to save itself, the system must shrink dramatically.

  9. #99
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    From The Daily Beast:

    Will More Democrats Follow Rahm Emanuel in Chicago and Take On Unions?

    The Democratic mayor stood up to unions over the teachers’ strike. The question now is whether Democrats nationally will try to develop signature policy approaches for pension and education reform—or stick to their alliance with labor unions.

    The Chicago fire is out for now. The teachers’ strike is over. But the beyond the question of winners and losers in this negotiation is the larger state of play—will more Democrats follow Rahm Emanuel’s lead and declare independence from labor unions?

    “The fact that this Democratic mayor was willing to take on the unions, especially during the presidential election is incredibly important,” says Michelle Rhee, the former Washington D.C. schools chancellor and founder of StudentsFirst. “I think it sends a message to the unions that it’s a new day.”

    In the arena of education reform, the issue in this new day is results—we’ve been spending more and getting less in terms of student performance. Increased teaching hours, accountability and principal flexibility in hiring coinciding with teacher raises—as Chicago did—is a step in the right direction, if short of a grand bargain. The success of a city like New Orleans, which switched to a charter school model after Katrina with strikingly successful results raises the bar and sets a powerful new example that Democrats can’t afford to ignore, despite union opposition.

    The other area where good policy requires political courage is pension reform—that definitively unsexy budget-busting item that no responsible executive, Democrat or Republican, can ignore. The number of cities declaring bankruptcy is on the rise and it’s not just the economy, stupid. Cities can’t simply cut or tax their way out of this hole.

    Union rhetoric in the face of attempts to take on these issues can sometimes go beyond tough talk in defense of self-interest to the dishonest and demagogic. One example occurred when Chicago Teachers Union Delegate Jay Rehak told Erin Burnett on CNN’s OutFront that “the mayor has an active attempt to destroy schools and destroy communities” and accused him of “attacking the middle class since he got in.”

    Look, we all know that politics ain’t beanbag, but there are growing signs that citizens will reward the courage to take on these tough issues.
    In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie proved that he could take on the public sector unions and win the fight in the court of public opinion, closing budget gaps without raising taxes and gaining significant concessions on teacher tenure reforms. The sometimes ugly union protests were not successful in demonizing him among the independents who outnumber registered Democrats or Republicans in the Garden State. Even Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who quickly proved more clumsy and polarizing than Christie, survived a recall attempt by a larger number of votes than he was initially elected with, despite an existential full court press by labor unions.

    An even more serious wake-up call for Democrats came the same night of the Wisconsin recall, when 70 percent of voters in San Jose and San Diego voted for public-sector union pension reforms that could save their cash-strapped cities billions of dollars. The fact that San Jose’s pensions costs had tripled over the past decade—taking up a quarter of the municipal budget—resonates beyond partisan politics. It is a practical necessity with political support that transcends party lines, even in sky-blue California.

    “Solving the pension problem is one of the country’s great challenges and Democrats must actively engage,” says Jim Kessler, co-founder of the centrist Democratic think tank, Third Way. “It’s time to stop pretending that the math works or that the problem will solve itself.”

    “Democrats have to take these issues on. And quite frankly, I think that there is a way that you can take them on in a pretty reasonable way,” agrees Michelle Rhee. “You can first and foremost protect the people who are at retirement, or very close to retirement right now, because those people have been living their entire careers with a certain commitment in mind. But certainly for people who are new to the profession, we have to be able to have a real conversation and say ‘you know, if we don’t fix this then you’re going to have nothing at the end of the day and nobody wants that.’”

    The answer might be most frequently found on the local level, and ironically, from Democratic mayors. “State legislators and people at the federal level don’t have to deal with the day-to-day pension issues in the way that a mayor does, and so I think the Democratic mayors are the ones who are going to have to sit down at the table,” says Rhee, who is married to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. “They’re the ones that have probably the best relationships with police, fire, teachers, etcetera. I think a good example of that is Kasim Reed in Atlanta, who was facing an absolutely abysmal fiscal situation and was able to work out with his unions some concessions on what pensions are going to look like moving forward.”
    The question for Democrats on a national level is whether they will try to develop signature policy approaches for pension reform and education reform, or whether they will try to be as intransigent on the subject of unions as Republicans are on low-taxes-at-all-costs and fealty to the religious right. Seen in the right light, this is actually an opportunity to do well while doing good. Just as a southern Democrat like Lyndon Johnson was able to deliver on civil rights and Bill Clinton was able to achieve welfare reform by working with House Republicans, there is an opportunity for Democrats to forge responsible, balanced policy on these issues that can pass. The more rigidly ideological alternatives from Republicans will simultaneously be more polarizing, more punishing, and have less chance to pass.

    But if national Democrats don’t follow Rahm’s lead and allow play-to-the-base politics to constrain their policy options, they may well find centrist and independent voters looking to Republicans for clear solutions on these fast-moving fiscal crisis—even if President Obama wins the election this fall. Because this is not about personality, it is about practical policy. And ultimately, it’s about leadership.

  10. #100
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Causation is a tricky thing, I realize. But if you believe the first part of this statement, the second part is a non sequitur.
    It is the combination of unions and bad working conditions that leads to strikes. Consider this oversimplified table:

    No union, good conditions - no strike
    No union, bad conditions - no strike
    Union, good conditions - no strike
    Union, bad conditions - strike
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

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