Friday, January 02, 2015

No One Pushes UFT Unity, and UFT Unity Falls Down Anyway

There aren't many UFT Unity bloggers. I know of only one chapter leader who bothered with a blog, and he was quietly instructed by his overlords to take it down. Of course he did, and now he's got a really cool gig at a UFT borough office. He also goes to conventions and votes however the hell Leroy Barr tells him to. In UFT Unity World, that's what's known as representing the membership. Being a chapter leader/ activist for UFT Unity entails doing as you're told. It's all neatly laid out in the oath.

The closest thing there is in UFT Unity World to a blogger is retired teacher/Unity bigshot Peter Goodman. Goodman tows the UFT Unity line very closely and clearly telegraphs the positions of leadership for them. While UFT President Michael Mulgrew makes it a point to tell the DA he doesn't read the blogs, because why the hell does he need to know what thinking teachers are actually thinking, I can only suppose Goodman is the exception to his rule that bloggers are purveyors of myth (read "liars").

The other day Goodman put up something I found fascinating, and you should too. Governor Cuomo and Merryl Tisch are raising a whole lot of Sturm und Drang about their APPR system. In their eyes, it's flawed because not enough teachers are getting adverse ratings. It's fairly simple in their eyes. Since they've set up a system in which 70% of our children are failing, shouldn't an equal number of teachers fail as well? I suspect they'd settle for 5 or 10% of teachers being arbitrarily dismissed to show how reasonable and flexible they are, but Tisch clearly wants anyone rated ineffective on junk science to be ineffective overall.

Here's what UFT Unity guru Peter Goodman has to say about that:

In my view, the major issues for NYSUT are not charter schools and the teacher evaluation law; the major issues are the 2% property tax cap and the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

That's an odd view for a UFT mouthpiece. Since these issues afflict our brother and sister NYSUT members more directly than us, we've heard little from UFT leadership about them. Basically Cuomo, who fancies himself a student lobbyist, continues to make draconian cuts in state aid while making it almost impossible for municipalities to make up the cuts in local budgets. It took 53% of the vote for Cuomo to win reelection, but it takes 60 if you want to raise your budget any more than 2% or rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

What this signals to bloggers like me and Perdido Street School is that leadership is likely to take a dive on APPR and charter schools. There's history supporting that--while Cuomo did his grand giveaway of mayoral control to Eva Moskowitz last year, Mulgrew didn't lift a finger to stop it. What will leadership do when Tisch and Cuomo pimp legislation to have an arbitrary percentage of teachers fired so as to appease Andy's wealthy contributor base? Tough to say.

Goodman offers us some other insights as well:

I mentioned to a teacher activist to expect “consequences” if the local endorsed Teachout. He thought Cuomo “would understand.”

Politics is a blood sport. When your guy/gal wins you expect them to support your issues and when your guy/gal loses you can expect the winner to seek retribution. A deeply embedded political aphorism: screw with me and I screw with you.

Maybe you didn’t learn this in your civics class and maybe you’re willing to take the heat and continue to battle and maybe you’re simply an idealist.

I have no idea which teacher activists Goodman speaks to, if indeed there are any.  Of course Revive NYSUT leadership endorsed no one at all, despite its explicit promise when running to oppose Cuomo (to which Goodman raised no objection whatsoever). I suppose we're now supposed to believe that it isn't Revive's fault the governor reneged on his promise to pass a bill exempting teachers from adverse Common Core-based ratings. This was touted as a great victory by our prescient leadership, but actually was not all that significant--it would clearly have affected a very small number of teachers, and it was temporary in any case.

What Goodman is trying to do here is blame those localities who failed to tow the Unity line and endorsed pro-teacher Zephyr Teachout or Howie Hawkins. If only they had sat down and shut up, the preferred mode of UFT Unity activism, everything would have been fine. We'd have our seat at the table and Andrew Cuomo would not have shown himself to be the lying weasel that he is.

You see, it's through quiet and highly diplomatic negotiations that UFT Unity has managed to usher in charter schools, mayoral control, school closings, junk science teacher ratings, two-tier due process, getting paid a full decade after everyone else, and the lowest pattern anyone has bargained in my living memory. Victories like that are a model for the entire state, and surely Revive NYSUT was propped up by UFT leadership so that this vision could be realized.

If Tisch and Cuomo manage to enact a toxic statewide APPR, every teacher in the state will feel the consequences of UFT Unity's unique negotiating tactics.
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