Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Casting the First Stone

UFT President Randi Weingarten, I'm told, is upset because in the middle of a contentious election season, the opposition did not abandon its campaign in order to jump on her class-size bandwagon. That's an odd accusation to make, as the opposition absolutely supports lower class sizes, and has demanded for years they be part of contract negotiations. Of course, they were voted down on a regular basis by the lockstep Unity patronage machine (which no doubt feels it ran a positive campaign).

The very first post on this blog was about class size.

And let's be very clear--our classes run up to 34 (often surpassing that), and Ms. Weingarten's machine has failed to do anything whatsoever about it for almost 40 years. Based on that record, I'd be loathe to criticize anyone. It's clear, having bought off her original opposition with patronage jobs, it would be quite convenient for Ms. Weingarten if her only genuine opposition pranced about singing her praises.

Politics aside, Ms. Weingarten's got many reasons to focus on class size, and a good many of them concern getting rank-and-file to stop thinking about the unconscionable givebacks of the 05 contract. Unity thinks if they ignore them long enough, people will simply forget where they came from (and they may be right, for all I know).

Yesterday, as I was walking the permanent hall patrol Ms. Weingarten negotiated for me, I had time to consider that contract. I was certainly thinking about it on the punishment days in August she'd thoughtfully negotiated for me. And I'm sure many of my colleagues think about it during their 37.5 minute classes, which Unity claims are not actually classes.

If Joel Klein's plan to have funding follow students becomes a reality, senior teachers will be pariahs, albatrosses around the necks of principals who need to fund their schools. Is there anyone who doesn't believe that Klein envisioned precisely this when he got Ms. Weingarten to agree to the worst contract in our history?

Joel Klein is by no means my favorite person. Still, he certainly knows what he's doing. Ms. Weingarten made the first step toward enabling Mr. Klein's vision it by supporting mayoral control. Another huge mistake was going to PERB and accepting the odious 05 contract, the implications of which seem to have utterly escaped her (and still do, for all I know). Perhaps Ms. Weingarten sees Mr. Klein's new funding proposals as mere coincidence, and not a direct result of her collaboration.

Regardless, as Ms. Weingarten eyes the AFT presidency, the dual AFT-UFT presidencies (following in the footsteps of both her Unity predecessors) or a position in Hillary's white house, she leaves the rest of us--students, parents, and teachers, to pay for her utter lack of foresight.
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