Three Strikes

The over-riding event of the last week and a half has been the teacher’s and lecturer’s strikes going on across the country.  As an outsider who’s just shown up in-country, I can’t really speak to the nuances of what’s going on.  Essentially the teachers struck to try for a pay increase, and recently the lecturers followed suit.  On Monday, a meeting was held by the Maseno Vice-Chancellor to try and end the strike: the attendees decided to go back to work the next day.  But the actual lecturer’s union was having a separate concurrent meeting on the other side of campus and thus wasn’t considered in the vote; on Tuesday morning they went department to department shutting things down and locking up offices.  In fact, before the action on Tuesday, someone told me that the ‘Vice-Chancellor had called off the strike.’  I heard that and thought, hmmm, that’s not usually how these things work…

As it stands, we don’t really know how long the strike will last.  It’s given us plenty of time to work on non-class related things, like processing work permits and thinking about what to do for our research seminar(s).  (Which I’ll post more on later, of course!)

The second strike going on this week is the Chicago Teacher’s strike, which seems to mainly be a reaction to the standardized test procedures which are a) not really doing a great job of improving education, and b) are becoming more directly tied to teacher evaluation, in spite of all data demonstrating that student test scores are an abysmal way to evaluate teachers.  These kinds of evaluations are at the heart of that beast called No Child Left Behind: you can read about a ‘failing’ NCLB school here.  Take-away messages: In the future, no one will be below average, but no one will be above average, either, because the industrial vision of education will have long since eradicated education as-such.  When your metric is The Test, then The Test is all that anyone will know.  And that’s a poor substitute for education.

The Third Strike is this very nice zine on the restaurant industry, as viewed (quite effectively) through a lens of Marxist economics.