Tuesday, February 04, 2014

"Revive NYSUT" Is Really "Rebury NYSUT"

The more I look at the controversy in our state union, the more I think its intent is to push it back into nothingness. The moment NYSUT leadership begins to take sensible stands, they are opposed. And by whom? By the leadership of the United Federation of Teachers. I often use UFT and UFT leadership interchangeably, but I'm going to have to be more careful about that going forward.

UFT is me, and likely you. UFT is all of us who spend our lives teaching the children of New York City. And our leadership is substantively different from leadership of many state locals. To wit, they do not teach. They will not be observed four or six times, and they will not be rated by test scores of students who they may or may not teach. And since the overwhelming majority of us can't even be bothered to vote in union elections, they don't get a very strong message that we care one way or another what they do.

Honestly, I understand that our union is so large it's impractical for Michael Mulgrew to teach. Of course, with tens of thousands of members we need people to work for us. UFT does a lot for us, my reservations notwithstanding. But you have to wonder, when we all make sacrifices, when we patrol the halls, lunchrooms, and bathrooms, when we can't grieve letters to file simply because they're utterly fabricated, well, how do they feel it when they don't do it?

Here's what NYSUT has done lately--for one, it's not at all clear they're planning to endorse Governor Andrew Cuomo, the guy who came into office swearing to go after unions. They're also taking a strong stand against Reformy John King and Common Core. Where have these people been all these years, as teachers have wondered what the hell was going on?

That might be a question "Revive NYSUT," the new group that wishes to upset NYSUT leadership is asking, but it isn't. Actually Revive NYSUT is sitting Executive VP Andy Palotta and a bunch of people he's recruited to defend his visionary decision to spend thousands of dollars of our money buying a table at some Cuomo fundraiser.

After all, it's important that our union leaders hobnob with top Democratic officials. Actually, that's true, but it's not necessarily important that we give them money before they come up with positions we support. We live in a state where teacher and parent concerns are routinely ignored, where John King and Merryl Tisch tour the state and hear nothing but criticism of Common Core, and where they mutter little things like we might tinker with this or that, but we're staying the course.

That's unconscionable. We, as teachers, have the very same interests that parents do. We serve the same purpose--helping public school children.

I don't know where NYSUT's newfound social conscience came from, and I don't care either. The fact is they are right. They are not only right, but they are on the right side of history. American parents are not going to stand for the baseless nonsense and endless testing that is Common Core. New York parents have heard enough from Reformy John King and Silent Merryl Tisch. We know what's good for our children, and we need advice neither from them nor their army of privately paid interns, accountable to no one.

Revive NYSUT is a misnomer. NYSUT has revived itself. It's our job to keep it alive. And it will be a tough job indeed, with 40% of NYSUT delegates being instructed how to vote by UFT leadership, which appears to believe the only good NYSUT is a dead NYSUT.

Doubtless a future Unity meeting will entail telling 800 of the 2000 NYSUT delegates how to vote, and will make absolutely sure folks like you and me get no representation whatsoever. Because that's what passes for democracy in our UF of T.
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