Monday, February 25, 2013

When Politicians Disagree

In an unusual move, Sheldon Silver has declared that NYC kids should not be deprived of 260 million dollars just because Governor Andrew "1%" Cuomo is having a temper tantrum. While the governor is certainly free to bang his fists and kick his feet and throw whatever surprises Sandra Lee has been whipping up on the floor, it's beyond the pale that he do this to kids.

After all, Andrew Cuomo is the self-proclaimed student lobbyist, the only person in the state who cares about kids. That's why he took a principled stand against millionaires paying taxes. One day, one of these kids may be a millionaire, and it would be a shame if that kid had to get by with only one Lexus.

Meanwhile, it's OK that they get by with hundreds fewer teachers. After all, education expert Michael Bloomberg has declared that class sizes of 70 are just fine as far as he's concerned, and he must be right, or why would he have all that money? And school aides can be cut as well, becuse who cares if some dangerous criminal with a high-powered rifle enters an unlocked school door? If a few kids get shot here and there, it's surely less drag on the budget. Now if a student happens not to get killed that day, and grows up to be a millionaire, that student will pay less money in taxes, and what's more important than that?

On the other hand, if Silver is successful, and the 260 million goes to city kids, how will they blame the UFT? This is gonna surely mean additional leaps in logic for the editorial pages. How will they blame the union for lack of revenue when there is no lack of revenue? I have great faith they'll find a way nonetheless.

Meanwhile, it looks like John King will be given the task of imposing an evaluation system on city teachers. Not only will UFT rank and file get no voice in this, but the UFT Delegate Assembly won't get to rubber-stamp it. Is John King a good judge of what teachers need? Well, he actually taught for three years, and only two of them were in charters, so I suppose he knows everything he needs to. King is a firm supporter of junk science, and like many prominent self-styled education experts, does not give a golly goshdarn whether or not the system is effective. Face it, with margins of error ranging up to 80%, how on earth could it be?

Given that there is no good system, reformy King is as good a choice as any to make it even worse. I have no idea why the UFT leadership chooses to put their faith in him. In fact, PERB findings are non-binding for teachers, and I've been told that's precisely because we've lost every time we've gone to binding arbitration. So much for learning from experience.

So it appears we are to sit tight and hope for the best. In my three decades of teaching, I've not seen many changes for the better, and most of them have been canceled out by draconian givebacks. On the bright side, it's good to see Silver stand up to the insane policies of our governor. It would be better, however, if UFT would take a firm stand against insanity, and I'm afraid that must include junk science evaluations that will see even one of my brother and sister teachers fired for no good reason.
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