Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hopey Changey Stuff

Yesterday, teacher blogger Chaz endorsed James Eterno for President of the United Federation of Teachers.  I'd been waiting to see what Chaz would do, and now that he's come out for James Eterno, how could anyone possibly argue?  I don't always agree with Chaz, but we have a history regarding presidential matters.

I hope I'm not revealing any confidences, but last year, via email, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to talk Chaz into voting for Obama.  Chaz said Obama's educational program was abysmal.  It was true, of course, but no one anticipated the Prez would turn into the horror story he is now, applauding mass teacher firings.

At the time,  there were other issues.

Look, I pointed out, Obama wants to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.  This is great for unions, as it will make it much easier to organize.  No more having the employer intimidate and play games.  This would be a great thing for America, and I support it completely.

Not only that, I said, but Obama will finally get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan.  We can't indefinitely sustain two wars.  How can we spend all that money over there when Americans don't have health care?  I remember George W. Bush standing up and saying there was free health care in Iraq.  How can he be proud of that when there are tens of millions of Americans without it?

Most importantly, I argued, Obama will pass a health care plan.  Hopefully he'll have some kind of public option, so that Americans who can't afford insurance can finally see doctors.  We can't put up with this nonsense forever, I said.  You know, that Mavericky John McCain actually wants to tax health care plans.  That's absolutely unacceptable.  How could you vote for a guy like that?

Well, I now think that Johny Mac would never have been able to pass the odious education notions Obama has been pushing.  The Democrats would surely have blocked him.  Naturally, the spectre of Sarah Palin as Vice-President kind of makes me puke.  Still,  I really understood it (though not in the way she intended) when she asked recently, "How's that hopey-changey stuff workin' out for ya?"  I'm certain she's incapable of writing a question like that, but the answer is--not well.  Obama has accomplished absolutely nothing that made me vote for him, and the health plan he's floating is far from what Americans want or need.  Furthermore, he's picked up the torch from Maverick Johny, enthusiastically endorsing the notion of taxing health plans.

Anyway, if Chaz endorses James Eterno, that's good enough for me.   Full disclosure--I know James Eterno, I know that he says what he means and means what he says.   I know he'd never vote to place teachers as ATRs.  I know he wouldn't sell back 20 years of gains for a couple of points on the contract.  I know he would never agree to have new teachers pay Mayor-for-life Bloomberg 3% of their salaries for an extra 17 years.  Things like the 2005 contract, which pretty much made me the blogger I am, would never happen if James were in charge.

I happen to know he personally advised then-UFT President Randi Weingarten not to go to PERB in 05, having envisioned the sort of thing they'd come up with.  Would that she'd taken his advice and negotiated something reasonable, rather than sentencing us to perpetual hall duty for a couple of points above the pattern.

Chaz warned me, and I made a mistake.  One of the things I've learned over the years is to instantly admit when I make mistakes.   I know other people who deny them forever.  It's really easier to just open up and admit it.  And I'm not the only one--there are surely an awful lot of teachers with buyer's remorse about Obama.

Of course, plenty of us also understand the implications of the 05 contract and mayoral control, and realize precisely what union support for measures like those has enabled--not the least of which happens to be the most anti-union, anti-teacher Democratic President I've ever seen.

Let's elect James and keep from compounding our mistakes.
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