Friday, January 30, 2015

UFT Unity and Sunlight

Last night was interesting at the DA, to say the least. We're under siege, and the very first thing on the UFT President's mind was tweeting. Oddly, Mulgrew said people, surely me, were tweeting "to the press." I'm not sure how you determine the direction of a tweet, but of course I'm not part of the UFT Unity Caucus. This elite, invitation-only club makes rules for the rest of us, and evidently deems itself capable of reading minds of those who disagree with it.

Actually, Michael Mulgrew can no more read minds than he can negotiate a fair contract. I can't help it if journalists read my blog, or my tweets, and I can't help it if they, unlike Mulgrew, actually talk to me. If Mulgrew wishes to set the record straight he's free to join Twitter too. After all, he specifically asked us to, and there is such a thing as leading by example. The fact is all UFT decisions are made in private and in secret. Anyone who thinks the loyalty-oath dominated DA is democratic, or that Mulgrew even pretends to be an impartial chair, is laboring under a misconception.

There were a few things at last night's DA that were notable. One is the handout, basically talking points, that went out. It didn't reach my section but it's right here, and it's pretty good. Of course anyone who reads Diane Ravitch knew these things long ago. Will it persuade devoted followers of the NY Post? I'm not sure. It really doesn't go into much detail, and if that's all you have you won't be able to sustain much of a discussion. I'm also not entirely sure, with such short responses, that everyone will warm to the sarcasm. The pamphlet will help inform people who already hate Cuomo, which likely includes most working teachers. It ought to raise the consciousness of those who haven't been paying attention so getting it in their hands will be a good idea.

Mulgrew spoke of addressing PTA and parent groups, and wants those who do so trained. It's pretty odd because I would have no issue addressing our school's PTA without being instructed how, and I've done so many times in the past. I'm curious whether UFT Unity will send a loyalty oath signer with no ties to my school or our PTA. I'm not at all sure why they think our parents would be impressed by that, but who knows the mysterious ways of UFT Unity? Hopefully they have an argument more detailed and sophisticated than that laid out in the pamphlet.

Though there were several other meetings on the same day that covered the same ground, apparently my tweeting live goes beyond the pale. And if UFT Unity says it was directed at the press, well, I guess they can make up whatever they like and 800 people will jump up and vote for it. After all, there's likely as not a trip to somewhere coming up soon, and how could anyone risk losing such an opportunity?

Personally, I don't reveal deep dark secrets in rooms filled with a thousand people, and I wouldn't do it even if all of them had signed loyalty oaths. But that's just me. And I'm absolutely certain there was a plan for last night's DA.

Too bad the plan didn't include actually opposing Cuomo when he was running for election, or getting behind amazing Zephyr Teachout.  Too bad they thought sitting this one out was a wise move. Too bad we didn't oppose value-added crap from the outset. They can ridicule merit pay, but there's absolutely no validity to VAM either. Or mayoral control, or common core, or Bill Gates, or any of the reformy crap to which we've given our imprimatur. I guess those things simply did not come up inside the top-secret Unity echo chamber, where the real secrets are, but we lowly working teachers will just never know.

It's been obvious to me what Cuomo was since the first time he ran for governor. Too bad UFT leadership didn't get hip until last month.
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