Friday, April 5, 2013

Defending Public Education in Minneapolis: An Interview on the DTOE Talk Show

DTOE Talk Episode 7 (04.05.13) – Robert Panning-Miller, Minneapolis Teacher, Former MFT President, and Co-Founder of the Public Education Justice Alliance of  Minnesota (PEJAM)

I had a chance to talk with Francesco Portelos on his on-line talk show, Don't Tread on Educators.  We discussed many of the various corporate reforms affecting Minneapolis and Minnesota in general, including charters, teacher evaluations, TFA, and Value-Added Measures (VAM).

Mr. Portelos is one of the New York teachers in the limbo existence known as the "rubber room."  He has made the most of his time by researching the history and effects of the corporate education reform movement and interviewing others working against the neo-liberal agenda.  He has also publicized his own story, his short version is included below:

My name is Francesco Alexander Portelos. I am a parent and educator of Staten Island’s North Shore.  I was teaching technology at Berta Dreyfus IS 49 for 5 years after I left a successful 7 year career in the Environmental Engineering/Inspection field.   My record, as a teacher and school community member, was stellar.  
 After I became a new father in the community, my focus transcended past my praised classroom and I looked at the issues at the school as a whole.   The school is currently ranked 939th out of 1,124 middle schools in NY State.   I had a lot of work to do.   It was a school that my son would be going to in just 10 short years.   As I brought attention to matters, such as discipline, budget and school goals, a hostile work environment was suddenly created around me.   Principal Linda  Hill began calling me a “hindrance to the community” and questioning my classroom instruction that was previously praised.   It did not stop me as I knew something was going on and I pushed forward starting investigations on potential financial misconduct and educational neglect.  I submitted the allegations on January 26, 2012.
Starting on January 30, 2012 20 allegations were made against me, and 3 disciplinary letters were placed in my file in just 10 days, I received my first unsatisfactory classroom observation and I was ultimately removed from school on April 26, 2012. I now sit in exile, at an empty conference room (Rubber Room), 20 miles away at 8201 Rockaway Blvd waiting. Waiting for what? The investigations on the administrators back at Berta Dreyfus 49? The investigations on me? My Federal lawsuit? In the meantime, the  students lose out the most.

Posted by: Robert Panning-Miller

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