Wandering Eye: Charter school teachers try to unionize, Showalter meets his gnome, and more

Following the Supreme Court's monumental ruling on marriage equality Friday, Facebook created a special link that generated rainbow-colored profile pictures—in case you hadn't already noticed the heightened saturation of your news feed. The social media website also sponsored San Francisco's Pride celebration over the weekend, boosting its corporate ethics points in the eyes of many. But at the Pride event, an LGBTQ group called the Radical Faeries condemned Facebook and called for Pride to dump them as a sponsor, criticizing the website's strict policy banning adopted names. The #MyNameIs organization also demonstrated against Facebook at Pride, calling out the discriminatory nature of a ban that prevents transgender and queer people—as well as domestic abuse survivors, Native Americans, and many others trying to escape discrimination or harassment—from using names that differ from the names on their birth certificates. Members have complained that they were kicked off Facebook because they could not provide documentation that proved their adopted names were their legal names—including a trans woman and former Facebook employee who claims to have initiated the website's custom gender feature. Recently, Facebook also expelled a journalist who used an adopted name to avoid rape and death threats from online trolls. In a statement, San Francisco organizer and drag queen Lil Miss Hot Mess said "Facebook may seem like a trivial waste of time, but for trans people and LGBTQ youth who face disproportionate rates of violence and suicide, it can literally be a lifeline." (Maura Callahan)

 

City Paper contributor Rachel Cohen's American Prospect piece about charter school teachers trying to join a union gets at why schools and workers are in trouble. Though the charter school movement was founded by Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, charter advocates today mostly take a doctrinaire anti-union approach to management, and they've won the battle so far. "Though 68 percent of K-12 public school teachers are unionized, just 7 percent of charter school teachers are, according to a 2012 study from the Center for Education Reform," Cohen writes. The problem lies in the achievment gap between white and African-American students. In the 1990s and 2000s, charter school proponents developed the theory (which conservatives already took on faith) that this gap was attributable solely to bad teachers and the unions who protected them: "Over time, advocates came to see charters not as institutions designed for collaboration with public schools, but as institutions that could compete against them, perhaps even replacing public schools entirely." The story gets good about two-thirds down, when Cohen quotes charter school bigwigs regarding their philosophy about collective bargaining. The quotes from Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, are priceless. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Your Baltimore Orioles are tied for first place in the A.L. East after sweeping the Cleveland Indians in a doubleheader. But one of the biggest highlights of yesterday's twin bill was the Buck Showalter garden gnome giveaway. Though we were off in our prediction of what the doll would look like, we have to admit the gnomes are pretty rad. The Orioles skipper, however, wasn't really that big on the idea, as The Sun reports. "He's scoffed at it at every opportunity. Showalter didn’t buy the hype. He doesn’t think fans decide whether to attend an Orioles game based on the prospects of getting their own Buck Showalter gnome. It doesn’t make sense to him," writes Eduardo Encina. But, the story notes, the manager did not see the long lines of people waiting to get the figure or the commotion on social media. So the beat reporters decided to put one of the gnomes right by Showalter's microphone after the second game. "At first, Showalter didn’t find it very funny, 'I'm glad I could be so entertaining,' he muttered as he placed the gnome to the side.

"After he took questions, Showalter stared at the figurine, saying he was glad it was facing away because he still didn’t want to see what it looked like."

"'All kidding aside, it is an honor,' Showalter said. 'I get it, if that’s the right word. I'll be glad when the sun comes up tomorrow and we move on to another promotion.'" (Brandon Weigel)

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