Sunday, December 23, 2012

Redhog Rides Again

I was very surprised to find a piece written by Ron Isaac in Diane Ravitch's Blog. The piece addresses the language of "reformers" and the nature of propaganda. He laments how language can be twisted and manipulated to serve the purposes of those who have a different message altogether.

What got me active in the UFT was the 2005 contract. I found it incredible that we would give away so much for so little. While, at the time, it appeared to me the worst aspect was the extra time--that it would ultimately entail a sixth class--it turns out the worst thing was the surrender of seniority rights. This created the Absent Teacher Reserve, which has brought incredible misery to thousands of working teachers.

I know many ATR teachers, and some have emailed me saying they were resigning rather than endure the degrading conditions they're subject to. Others have toughed it out, emerging stronger and more resolved---if they can deal with this, they can deal with anything. UFT leaders defend the system, saying there are more transfers now than before, an argument I find weak indeed. There were many more givebacks, including giving up letter in file grievances, and sending teachers to patrol lunchrooms and bathrooms.

In any case, here's another piece Mr. Isaac wrote. Though he'd favored the pseudonym "Redhog," he abandoned it for this particular piece. A note from the editor later attributed the piece to Isaac, contending its omission was to encourage discussion.

I'd argue it was precisely the sort of propaganda Mr. Isaac now appears to bemoan. While I find the piece more turgid and stilted than skillful or convincing, it certainly had the same goal as the nonsense spewed by Students First, DFER, E4E, and all their various clones--to persuade people to act against their interests.

In retrospect, this is the most interesting part of this piece:

I am, by the way, an active teacher with years of service “in the trenches.” In Klein’s empire I’ve been in more of a tin-pot cell than an “ivory tower.” I have neither sought nor been given any perk or sweetheart deal in exchange for bought loyalty. That goes for both the DOE and the UFT. 

In fact, Isaac retired at the end of that year. He was then given a job by the UFT writing for the union paper.
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