Much of the corporate 'reform' which is infecting education systems all over the globe has its ideological origin in the United States. Also from the US comes a large amount of funding to promote it, particularly from foundations like that of billionaire Bill Gates. However a mass movement is building in the US to counter such reform, boycotting testing, opposing school closures and charterisation and opposing the so-called common core curriculum. Keeping a record of the growth of this movement is beyond the scope of this website, even though we have posted about it to date. So for this week we will just report on two new developments.

Teachers in Portland, Oregon are voting today on strike action against the imposition of a new contract which would see class sizes increase in a district where classes of over 30 are common, particularly in secondary schools. The school board has prepared for the strike by attempting to terrorise substitute teachers into breaking the strike. They have been threatened with being taken off the district's books and having their retirement funds withdrawn if they do not co-operate, a move which the Portland Association of Teachers says is illegal.

The teachers have had much support from local communities and in particular their students. Many of them walked out of school, in solidarity with their teachers, in December and last month students and other community members shut down a school board meeting as they struggled to make their voices heard.  All this can be seen in the video above, which was posted on youtube by a right wing group, which characterises these thoughtful young people as a 'commie mob.' In fact their voices can be clearly heard, asking not only for smaller class sizes but also an end to the common core, to high stakes testing and for democratic budget making.

Meanwhile in Chicago, the teachers union there (CTU) has come out in support of parents who intend to withdraw their children from standardised tests, which are due to be administered in March. The union that these tests, known as ISATs, which are due to be withdrawn anyway, will just make way for even more test-driven education next year. Moreover they say that the main result of the tests is the loss of weeks of proper teaching time, as teachers are pressurised into test preparation. For giant education corporation Pearson,however, which is being paid over $18 million this year for the ISATs, the tests mean yet more dollars to add to its already large profits.

CTU supported the Seattle test boycott last year and it sees its support for parents boycotting the tests in Chicago as a continuation of that policy.