Thursday, July 08, 2010
Ostensibly, they're representing the United Federation of Teachers. That would be you and me. But really, they're representing the Unity Caucus. That's a special fraternity, open by invitation only. That's not you and me. That's whoever they say it is.
In fact, every one of them has signed an oath to express disagreement with the Caucus only within the Caucus. Every one of them has pledged to support Caucus decisions, however they may feel about them, outside of the Caucus.
Albert Shanker threw people out of Unity Caucus for opposing the Vietnam War. More recently, I heard of a chapter leader expelled from the caucus for inviting a speaker to a meeting--a speaker of which the Caucus did not approve. So much for freedom of opinion. One fewer person in Seattle, I suppose.
Nonetheless, Unity doesn't discriminate. No matter how big, no matter how small your school may be, as long as you've signed an oath to support whatever they've told you to support, you get to go there, stand up for whatever they've told you to stand up for, and let the world know you believe whatever they've told you to believe. It doesn't matter if your school has ten teachers or a thousand teachers--your chapter leader is there in Seattle supporting whatever the Unity Caucus says needs supporting.
This week they're supporting a forum for uber-"reformer" Bill Gates. Here's the man who started the small-schools movement, the one that's resulted in dozens of past, present and future school closings in New York City. Maybe your school is next, or maybe my school, or maybe your kid's school. Though Bill doesn't support small schools anymore, having learned they aren't the magic bullet, he's off supporting other magic bullets like charter schools. And Joel Klein supports the small schools regardless. I haven't heard Bill Gates repudiate Klein's use of them, and I don't suppose the AFT will hear him do so either.
Are there problems in your school? Is it on the verge of closing? Are you going to become an ATR? Will Bill and his buds, the Wal-Mart family and Eli Broad, put their billions behind having you fired? Is your school overcrowded? Are there dozens of class size violations? Do you think the UFT should be worrying about those things?
Well, the Unity Caucus disagrees, and what they say goes. They're having a party right now so don't bother them with your petty nonsense.
And that's the system 91% of the 30% of teachers who bothered to vote voted for.
It's becoming very clear to me why the other 70% didn't bother.