Monday, December 09, 2013

Lie Down with Dogs...

...and wake up with fleas. That's what we're getting as a result of our partnership with Steve Barr. Barr is affiliated with some ex-Green Dot school that rose up as a partnership with the UFT. He boasts of being a union school with a 30-page contract, and sets that forward as an example.

Here's what he didn't mention in his piece--Green Dot Schools have neither tenure nor seniority rights. Layoffs are done by virtue of perceived merit of said teachers. How many times have they fetched the principal's dry-cleaning? Who did the dogsitting for the AP when she took that fact-finding tour to Bermuda? Who brought the biggest cake to the principal's 50th birthday party? Did that person forget to come?

These and other questions could be considered with a thin contract. And when you don't have due process, there's no hearing to prove you're actually incompetent. I understand there is some "just cause" process over there, but when I asked various UFT reps whether or not it's ever saved a teacher position, no one was able to tell me. A prominent reformy friend of mine told me they never had to use the process and were generally able to "counsel out" anyone they didn't care for. I find it likely Green Dot, or whatever they're calling themselves, can fire teachers "just cause" it tickles their fancy.

So now, with a new progressive mayor, Barr is in the Daily News urging a new contract "compromise." Essentially, he wants to use his contract as a model for the city. Let's assume everything he says about his school is true, though I don't trust him for a New York minute. Does his charter take absolutely everyone? Are the ESL students abject beginners, or fairly advanced? Do they have as many high-needs students as neighborhood schools? And when they talk special education, do they have the same sort of kids public schools do? Have they got alternate assessment kids?

Clearly they don't have alternate assessment students if Barr claims a 100% graduation rate. Alternate assessment students are not on a path for diplomas.

Barr is a big mover and shaker in the "parent trigger" movement, the one represnted in the reformy box-office stinker Won't Back Down.. He took over Locke High School in LA, based on a faculty vote, then, by way of saying thank you, fired 70% of them. As a thank you for the UFT partnership, he's now saying we have to take ideas from both sides, but proposing only the same reformy nonsense we've been getting from Bloomberg for over a decade.

Barr says you can't argue with Bloomberg's "achievements." On that, he's dead wrong. Plenty of people argue with Bloomberg's achievements and that's precisely why Quinn and Lhota went down in flames. People in New York want to revisit democracy. They're sick and tired of the autocratic nonsense trickling down from the diminutive billionaire who makes the rules. They're sick and tired of a fake school board where the mayor holds the majority of votes.

If Bill de Blasio wants to be a successful mayor, he'll ignore the newspaper editorials and Steve Barrs urging him to maintain the status quo. He'll work with the union rather than vilifying us in the press. He'll keep his promises and back away from the school closings that devastate neighborhoods.

And if the UFT wants to be successful it will start standing up for teachers and our students rather than partnering with disingenuous demagogues who will stab us in the back at the earliest opportunity.
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