Teacher’s union boss courts GOP, key Hispanic groups in bid for Biden’s education secretary pick

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a collection of more than 40 Hispanic groups who have coalesced around Eskelsen García, are set to deliver their letter to the Biden team on Thursday or Friday.

Eskelsen García, who until this summer was president of the 3 million-member National Education Association, has also had conversations with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to build support for her nomination, according to a person familiar with those discussions. She would be the first Latina education secretary if selected and currently serves as secretary of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

The former union president is one of many potential Cabinet nominees jockeying for positions as President-elect Joe Biden builds out the leadership ranks of his administration. While most of those hopefuls, like Eskelsen García, have been advocating their candidacies behind the scenes without campaigning outright to be chosen, others like Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) have been more publicly vocal about their Cabinet aspirations.

A transition aide familiar with the process said Eskelsen García’s chances of clinching the nomination have improved since fellow union leader Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers personally endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for the Democratic presidential nomination just ahead of Super Tuesday. House Democrats’ tight majority has also made it less likely that someone like Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) would get the nod, since her departure from Congress would open a seat Republicans see as a target for flipping in favor of a GOP candidate.

Chances for Eskelsen García, a former public school teacher, are also boosted by the fact that Jill Biden is a longstanding member of the union she lead.

Jill Biden praised both of the nation’s largest teachers unions for organizing their members to help elect her husband. “Joe and I will never forget what you did for us,” she said in an online session to thank the labor groups last month.

Alexander is leaving Congress in several weeks but has made connections and overtures to fellow GOP colleagues in the Senate on Eskelsen García’s behalf, though he is not expected to publicly endorse a Democratic Education secretary nominee, according to people familiar with the process.

Alexander and Eskelsen García worked closely in 2015 on bipartisan K-12 education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act, S. 1177 (114), for which the National Education Association gave Alexander a major award.

While a large swath of Republican lawmakers initially would likely be outright opposed to confirming the head of a teachers union, supporters of Eskelsen García see potential GOP votes within reach in the Senate, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The two moderate Republicans broke with their party in 2017 to oppose President Donald Trump’s pick of Betsy DeVos to be Education secretary, and Murkowski won the endorsement of Eskelsen García’s union in each of her past two elections.

Eskelsen García supporters are also playing up her roots in Utah, where she was teacher of the year in 1989, as a way to woo

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Cleveland-Heights University-Heights board of education, teachers union reach tentative agreement, averting strike

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland-Heights University-Heights school district’s board of education and teachers union reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday, averting a strike from about 500 union members.

A strike was set to begin Wednesday, and some educators showed up to picket without knowing an agreement was close, according to a press release from the district.

“The parties negotiated all of last night and into the morning, ultimately agreeing on important compromises for the good of our students and community,” the joint statement read. “Due to negotiations going until 6:30 a.m., some Union members arrived to picket unaware that a tentative agreement was already near completion. We are happy that a strike was averted and students’ education will not be interrupted.”

A picket line formed on Wednesday morning, despite the remnants of a winter storm that blew through Northeast Ohio on Tuesday. School was closed for all students on Wednesday because of the storm.

WKYC published footage of the picket line on Wednesday morning.

The dispute over the contract between the union and school board included disagreements over health care, with a hike in premiums that would begin in January, as well as no pay raises except from those that come from seniority, Thomas Jewell reported.

The joint statement notes the union and the district will continue as a “united front” for fair school funding.

The agreement is not yet ratified, so union members and the school board must both approve it.

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Cleveland Heights-University Heights teachers to strike Wednesday

“We remain ready to return to the negotiations table,” says Board of Education President Jodi Sourini.

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — 500 educators in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District are set to begin their strike on Wednesday morning. 

The members of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) say they are striking in response to the district’s unilateral imposition of a new contract that slashes retirement and health benefits, costing many members $3,000-5,000 a year in losses. 

“Union members are taking this step because lowering standards in the district will increase turnover and drive experienced, skilled educators out of the school district, impacting the quality of education for our students,” the CHTU wrote in its statement announcing the strike.

With the teachers set to strike, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District says state law, not the will of the Board, will mandate that those picketing will lose their health benefits. 

“Ohio R.C. 4117.15(C) prohibits the Board from providing “pay or compensation” — including health care benefits — to employees while they are on strike. It is not something the Board elected to do with malicious intent amid a pandemic. Rather, the Union, if it strikes, will do so knowing that the law requires the District to cease pay and benefits to those who choose not to work. All Ohio public school districts must follow this law,” wrote Board of Education President Jodi Sourini in a statement. 

“This outrageous move by our Board of Education is a heavy-handed attempt to quash our collective action by taking away our health insurance during the peak of a global pandemic,” CHTU President Karen Rego said. “We made the hard decision to plan for a strike to protect the quality health insurance that we have gained over the years by forgoing wage increases, and now the district is seeking to punish us by eliminating our healthcare altogether.”

The school district also noted that employees are eligible to continue their health benefits through COBRA during the strike, but will be responsible for paying for the coverage. The union, meanwhile, stated that its strike comes after “the district unilaterally imposed the terms of their final contract proposal, which will raise healthcare premiums to 250% of the current rate, while also reducing other compensation by 1%. For many CHTU members that adds up to a $3,000-$5,000 loss in total compensation.”

“It’s time Union leadership acknowledges that the days of 6% premiums and $0 deductibles are over. They must stop exploiting the pandemic and the real suffering of those who have lost their jobs, been furloughed or have fallen ill and instead admit that the modest increase in healthcare they are being asked to take is reasonable and best for the District, the teachers, students, families and the community. We welcome a spirited debate on substantive contract language reflecting current market conditions. We remain ready to return to the negotiations table,” Sourini added.

The first day of the strike will only include pickets at the Board of Education

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62% Of Teachers Say Learning About Geography Is “Extremely Important”

To know Tim Needles is to know an art teacher who doesn’t shy away from taking creative risks to unlock his students’ artistic potential. Earlier this year, he transformed himself into Vincent van Gogh’s portrait of postman Joseph Roulin, and challenged his students to come up with their own versions.

From fine art to digital drawings, Tim has many inspirations. But one of his greatest muses? Science. He often infuses STEM into his art classes at Smithtown High School East in St. James, N.Y. as a tool for his students to creatively connect with complex issues and reimagine them as visually captivating pieces. To inform their latest art project, Tim’s class is using geography to map storm drains in their Long Island community, an exercise that led to a surprising revelation: the storm drain water from their own homes was flowing directly into the nearby river, contributing to pollution.

“No one, including myself, really knew where the water ended up,” Tim said. “It was one of those moments where everyone was just totally engaged and enlightened.”

One might think Tim is unique in his approach but new data shows that hundreds of educators not only share his passion for geography, but also infuse it into their lessons to create cross-curricular learning experiences.

In a recent National Geographic Society survey of U.S. educators, nearly two-thirds of participants (62%) said teaching geography was “extremely important.” The survey captured a cross-section of pre-K to 12th grade educators of varying ages, experiences, and subjects taught. Strikingly, the poll found that 74% of non-geography teachers have integrated geography into their curricula across a wide range of subjects, from biology, environmental science, history, literacy, visual arts and religion to—one might be surprised to find—performing arts. As one educator noted in the survey, “I teach music, so we study the locations and people…associated with the songs we learn.”

The links between geography and other subjects are endless. In literature, for example, consider the connection between John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and the Dust Bowl, or a history lesson on Machu Picchu and the engineering feats of the Inca people. One surveyed educator said: “All subjects relate because everything we study is connected to a place—whether you look at the carbon cycle across the globe or how ancient Koreans created celadon porcelain glaze.”

This school year alone, at least half of the surveyed educators said they plan to incorporate geography into their curricula, and many with a focus on tough-to-teach topics such as racial injustice, climate change or the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, why is learning about geography so critical to educators? One participant said, “Learning about our world allows us to learn and express empathy, and it builds kindness in humanity.” Another educator phrased it this way: “Because of the scope and breadth of what geography encompasses, students need to see the

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Cleveland-Heights University Heights School District threatens to halt health care benefits if teachers strike

On November 27, the Cleveland-Heights-University Heights School District (CH-UH) located just outside of Cleveland, Ohio announced it will stop the payment of health care benefits for the roughly 500 teachers and other school employees that are planning to strike on December 2. Teachers and other school employees have been working without a contract since June 30.

The strike threat by CH-UH teachers takes place as the COVID-19 pandemic is raging out of control in Ohio and across the US amid a continued push by the ruling class to re-start in person learning. Ohio is experiencing a daily average of 7,817 new cases and 42 daily deaths.

Dayton, Ohio (Photo: Nyttend/Wikipedia)

Elizabeth Kirby, superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, said in a statement, “When public school teachers choose to go on strike, they are knowingly walking away from wages and benefits.” She also called on the leadership of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 795 to inform members of the retaliatory measures planned by the school district.

The district’s threat to end payments for health care to roughly 500 teachers and other school employees in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is a brutal attempt to intimidate a growing wave of opposition by educators across the US and internationally to the homicidal school reopening policy of the ruling class. A similar attempt to intimidate school workers took place earlier this month, with a court granting a restraining order requested by local school officials against Dayton, Ohio school bus drivers, who organized a sickout over failed contract talks.

The action by CH-UH and Dayton school officials, expose the bipartisan attack on public education. Both Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland Heights is located, and Dayton are dominated by the Democratic Party.

Both areas have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Ohio Department of Health, there have been 9,737 COVID-19 cases in Cuyahoga County and 4,344 cases in Montgomery County—where Dayton is located—between November 11 and November 24. On November 18 the Centerville schools outside of Dayton announced they would return to remote only learning after a surge of COVID-19 cases.

The department of health has also labeled Cuyahoga a “Level 3 Public Emergency,” meaning the county has a “very high exposure and spread” of the virus. Montgomery County is a “Level 4 Public Emergency,” meaning it has “sever exposure and spread.”

According to the CH-UH reporting, between November 18 and 25 there have been seven new COVID-19 cases among staff and one case among students.

As part of previous negotiations between the CHTU and CH-UH officials, the district has insisted that teachers accept massive hikes in health care premiums. A proposed tentative agreement—which was voted down by the CHTU membership in late September—called for health care premiums to increase from 6 percent to 15 percent on top of new co-pays and deductibles. The CHTU has claimed that the increase in premiums would have cost between $3,000 and $5,000 for many teachers.

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Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District votes to strip healthcare benefits for striking teachers

The Board of Education for Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District (CH-UH) has voted to strip healthcare benefits from striking teachers, counselors, nurses, and other school support professionals, the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) revealed in a release on Friday.

RELATED: More local news from WKYC

Last week, the CHTU filed a notice to strike following months of negotiations between the union and school district on a new contract. The CHTU’s strike is set to begin on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

“This outrageous move by our Board of Education is a heavy-handed attempt to quash our collective action by taking away our health insurance during the peak of a global pandemic,” CHTU President Karen Rego said in a release. “We made the hard decision to plan for a strike to protect the quality health insurance that we have gained over the years by forgoing wage increases, and now the district is seeking to punish us by eliminating our healthcare altogether.”

In a statement, CH-UH City School District Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and CH-UH City School District Board of Education President Jodi Sourini said that the district remains committed to resolving its issues with the Union. They also noted “when public school teachers choose to go on strike, they are knowingly walking away from wages and benefits.”

“That is the definition of a strike – employees choose to walk away from their compensation in order to influence terms and conditions of employment,” the statement reads. “Ceasing wages and benefits is required for public sector employees in Ohio under state law. We sincerely hope Union leadership informed its members of this and what choosing to strike means.”

The school district also noted that employees are eligible to continue their health benefits through COBRA during the strike, but will be responsible for paying for the coverage. The union, meanwhile, stated that its strike comes after “the district unilaterally imposed the terms of their final contract proposal, which will raise healthcare premiums to 250% of the current rate, while also reducing other compensation by 1%. For many CHTU members that adds up to a $3,000-$5,000 loss in total compensation.”

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Jadavpur University Teachers Concerned Over ‘Insult’ By Students’ Union

Jadavpur University Teachers Concerned Over 'Insult' By Students' Union
Jadavpur University Teachers Concerned Over ‘Insult’ By Students’ Union

Image credit: Jadavpur University official website

Kolkata:

With Subir Mukhopadhyay, the interim dean of science faculty at Jadavpur University, yet to respond to institute’s request to retract his resignation, following alleged humiliation by a students’ union, teachers there have voiced concern over the insults meted out to them.

The Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) has noted with dismay that a section of students have this tendency to “harass, humiliate, and insult faculty members on academic matters”, its general secretary Parthapratim Roy said in a statement.

This sort of behaviour has already forced two officiating deans of the science faculty to tender their resignations in the last couple of months, Mr Roy said.

“In both the cases, the unwarranted interference of students, and their insistence that their demands be met, irrespective of the academic merit of their demands, and the language the student leaders have used is nothing short of shocking,” the teachers’ association at the premier higher educational institute said.

Any difficulty or problem faced by the university community can only be resolved through democratic dialogue between all stakeholders, including students, teachers, the administration, and other employees, the statement said.

Asserting that the behaviour by the students was totally unacceptable to JUTA, the association said, “We shall not hesitate to take strict action to protect the honour and dignity of the teachers.”

In his resignation letter to Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das on November 23, Mukhopadhyay alleged that he was humiliated by members of a students’ union on three occasions during admission committee meetings this month.

“I do hereby resign from the post of Dean (Interim), Faculty Council of Science, Jadavpur University and hereinafter, I will not participate in any meeting as Dean (Interim), Faculty Council of Science, JU. I request you to accept my resignation with immediate effect and oblige,” Mr Mukhopadhyay said in his letter.

University authorities have requested the disgruntled professor to reconsider his decision.

Trouble started after faculty members differed with a Left-backed students’ union over the admission nitty-gritty, which further led to heated exchanges between the two sides.

A spokesperson of the students’ union, however, denied that the professor was insulted over the matter, and stated that its views on the admission procedure must be accommodated as it was one of the stakeholders.

He said that the union hopes Mukhopadhyay will take back his resignation and offered to talk to the teacher.

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Teacher’s decades-old find turns out to be the island’s first-ever dinosaur discovery

You never know what you might find while walking along the beach.



a person holding an animal: Mike Simms, who led the research team, holds the theropod tibia on the left and the Scelidosaurus femur on the right.


© From University of Portsmouth
Mike Simms, who led the research team, holds the theropod tibia on the left and the Scelidosaurus femur on the right.

People often come across coins, shells and trash, but a teacher in Northern Ireland made a discovery that will go down in history.

In the 1980s, the late Roger Byrne, a schoolteacher and fossil collector, found several unidentified fossils on the east coast of County Antrim. He held onto them for several years before donating them to the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Mystery swirled around what the fossils could be until a team of researchers with the University of Portsmouth and Queen’s University Belfast confirmed they are fossilized dinosaur bones.

The 200-million-year-old fossils are the “first dinosaur remains reported from anywhere in Ireland,” according to the article by the research team, published this month in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.

“This is a hugely significant discovery,” Mike Simms, a paleontologist at National Museums NI who led the team of researchers, said in a news release Tuesday. “The great rarity of such fossils here is because most of Ireland’s rocks are the wrong age for dinosaurs, either too old or too young, making it nearly impossible to confirm dinosaurs existed on these shores.”

The researchers wrote in their article that folklore attributes the apparent absence of dinosaur remains from Ireland to the activities of St. Patrick, who is credited with having driven the snakes out of Ireland. But the lack of fossilized dinosaur bones is simply due to geology, they said. The rocks around the country are either the wrong age or type.

“Finding an Irish dinosaur might seem a hopeless task but, nonetheless, several potential candidates have been identified and are described for the first time here,” the article says.

Researcher Robert Smyth and Professor David Martill of the University of Portsmouth analyzed the bone fragments with high-resolution 3D digital models of the fossils, produced by Dr. Patrick Collins of Queens University Belfast.

Originally researchers believed the bones were from the same animal but then determined they were from two different dinosaurs.

“Analyzing the shape and internal structure of the bones, we realized that they belonged to two very different animals,” said Smyth in the news release.

“One is very dense and robust, typical of an armored plant-eater. The other is slender, with thin bone walls and characteristics found only in fast-moving two-legged predatory dinosaurs called theropods.”

Both fossils were pieces of the animal’s leg bones, according to the researchers. One was part of a femur of a four-legged plant-eater called Scelidosaurus. The other was part of the tibia belonging to a two-legged meat-eater similar to Sarcosaurus.

The beach where the fossils were found is covered in rounded fragments of basalt and white limestone, according the journal article. It noted that fossils in that area are usually sparse and heavily abraded.

“The two dinosaur fossils that Roger Byrne found

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Teacher’s decades-old find on a Northern Ireland beach turns out to be the island’s first-ever dinosaur discovery

People often come across coins, shells and trash, but a teacher in Northern Ireland made a discovery that will go down in history.

In the 1980s, the late Roger Byrne, a schoolteacher and fossil collector, found several unidentified fossils on the east coast of County Antrim. He held onto them for several years before donating them to the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Mystery swirled around what the fossils could be until a team of researchers with the University of Portsmouth and Queen’s University Belfast confirmed they are fossilized dinosaur bones.

The 200-million-year-old fossils are the “first dinosaur remains reported from anywhere in Ireland,” according to the article by the research team, published this month in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.

“This is a hugely significant discovery,” Mike Simms, a paleontologist at National Museums NI who led the team of researchers, said in a news release Tuesday. “The great rarity of such fossils here is because most of Ireland’s rocks are the wrong age for dinosaurs, either too old or too young, making it nearly impossible to confirm dinosaurs existed on these shores.”

The researchers wrote in their article that folklore attributes the apparent absence of dinosaur remains from Ireland to the activities of St. Patrick, who is credited with having driven the snakes out of Ireland. But the lack of fossilized dinosaur bones is simply due to geology, they said. The rocks around the country are either the wrong age or type.

“Finding an Irish dinosaur might seem a hopeless task but, nonetheless, several potential candidates have been identified and are described for the first time here,” the article says.

Researcher Robert Smyth and Professor David Martill of the University of Portsmouth analyzed the bone fragments with high-resolution 3D digital models of the fossils, produced by Dr. Patrick Collins of Queens University Belfast.

Originally researchers believed the bones were from the same animal but then determined they were from two different dinosaurs.

“Analyzing the shape and internal structure of the bones, we realized that they belonged to two very different animals,” said Smyth in the news release.

“One is very dense and robust, typical of an armored plant-eater. The other is slender, with thin bone walls and characteristics found only in fast-moving two-legged predatory dinosaurs called theropods.”

Both fossils were pieces of the animal’s leg bones, according to the researchers. One was part of a femur of a four-legged plant-eater called Scelidosaurus. The other was part of the tibia belonging to a two-legged meat-eater similar to Sarcosaurus.

The beach where the fossils were found is covered in rounded fragments of basalt and white limestone, according the journal article. It noted that fossils in that area are usually sparse and heavily abraded.

New dinosaur species related to Tyrannosaurus rex discovered by scientists in England

“The two dinosaur fossils that Roger Byrne found were perhaps swept out to sea, alive or dead, sinking to the Jurassic seabed where they were buried and fossilized,” said Simms.

This discovery helps shine light onto the life of dinosaurs that roamed millions of years ago.

“Scelidosaurus

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Despite teachers’ concerns, Danbury schools to open to about 100 special education students

DANBURY — About 100 students with the most significant special education needs are expected to return to the school buildings on Monday, over the objection of the teachers’ union.

These students will be the first in the Danbury Public Schools buildings since everyone was sent home in mid-March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rising coronavirus numbers have sparked fear that the mitigation strategies the district plans to implement to prevent the spread of the virus will not be enough.

“We are doing everything we could possibly do,” school board member Joe DaSilva said at Tuesday evening’s meeting. “But there is only so many things you can do getting in a cage with a hungry lion, and that’s what we’re doing unfortunately.”

Danbury administrators have faced heavy criticism from parents, including those with children who have special needs, for staying on distance learning throughout the academic year. The plan is to bring the rest of the students back on the hybrid model in mid-January.

Parents whose children will return on Monday and the district’s medical advisers have approved the decision, school officials said. The superintendent said he could decide later to delay or bring students home if COVID-19 rates worsen.

“I’m not comfortable bringing back higher numbers,” Superintendent Sal Pascarella said. “Am I worried? Sure, I’m worried. There’s no doubt about that, but because the cohorts were so small, that’s what swayed the medical folks.”

The 100 students, who have struggled the most with distance learning, will be spread out throughout eight buildings, said Kelly Truchsess, director of pupil personnel services. Students ride the bus with those who will be in their classroom, she said.

The most any school building will have is 23 students, she said. Most buildings will have 10 or fewer.

“We’re talking about a very small number of very needy students,” Truchsess said.

But Erin Daly, president of NEA Danbury, the teacher’s union, said the district is not ready for the Monday return.

She submitted to the board demands that need to be resolved ahead of Monday and urged administrators to delay until after the holidays or the city has a 10-day decline in COVID rates.

“It’s not the right time, Daly said. “We’ve got to put people’s safety first. We can catch up on the services. We can catch up on filling in the gaps with education. We can’t catch up on people’s health, and we cannot bring people back that were maybe sacrificed for this disease.”

The city has averaged 73.4 daily cases per 100,000 people over two weeks, according to state data last updated Thursday. Danbury has had more than 700 new cases since Nov. 15, including 63 new positives on Tuesday, according to city data.

This comes as a coalition of education labor unions in Connecticut call for in-person learning to end until demands, such as statewide protocols for reporting and responding to positive cases and regular COVID testing of students and staff, are met.

Teachers’ concerns

Special education teachers have

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