Sunday, July 13, 2014

New NYSUT Leadership Breaks Fundamental Promise

Last spring I was recruited to run for NYSUT Executive Vice President, and I ran all over the state to forums. NYSUT leadership was challenged by a UFT-supported group called "Revive NYSUT."

The first forum, in Melville NY, was the most open. All candidates were asked questions, and all got equal time to answer. At the second, mostly the presidential candidates spoke, which kind of irritated me as I had to travel all the way to Lake Placid to mostly sit and listen. The third had no interaction, and people just read statements. The fourth was in Newburgh, and Revive said they couldn't come because they had to teach. Not all of them did, actually, but I did, both that day and the next. At the final forum, Revive got to speak twice while we only got to speak once on each issue. It was bizarre.

A big Revive message was that they were grassroots. This was odd, because they had the support of the loyalty-oath bound UFT, and thus had 34% of the vote before they even got out of bed on any given morning. It was an uphill battle, and we lost, but I met many passionate unionists, even some on the other side, and many, many people for whom loyalty oath was anathema. People still don't believe it, but there it is.

One of the things I kept hearing was that Revive would fight the power, as it were. They specifically stated opposition to Common Core. In a discussion on Facebook, my friend Leonie Haimson wrote:

Magee said if not standards then what: a free for all? [what about better standards?] added that if the AFT came out against the Common core the tabloids wd attack us.

Please forgive Leonie's shorthand, but you get the idea. I guess NYSUT President Karen Magee thought we'd have forgotten her slate's promises by now. After all, they scrubbed their "Revive NYSUT" website and disappeared into the netherworld, or wherever old websites go. But James Eterno saved their position paper. It said:

Revive NYSUT is...

Against Common Core...

That was their very first point.  Clearly they thought it was important if they made it number one. And now the NYSUT President is implying the only alternative is a "free for all." That's a logical fallacy known as the "black or white" fallacy--suggesting that there is only one alternative when many exist.  In fact, if Karen Magee cannot envision another alternative, she ought not to be our leader. Leadership demands imagination.

In other news, the AFT failed to demand Arne Duncan step down. Instead, as Kevin Glynn of Lace to the Top wrote, they gave him a stern warning, placing him on "double secret probation."

As usual, UFT President Michael Mulgrew speaks passionately in defense of Common Core, offering to punch people in the face and rub their faces in the dirt if they pry our precious Common Core from us, or some other such insightful comment. I don't know, because like most UFT members I'm not there. Only loyalty-oath signing invited UFT Unity Caucus members get a vote, and if they're asked to vote for a cheese sandwich for US President, they'll do so gladly.

Such is the State of our Union. Only question standing is what are we gonna do about it?
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