Today, at the behest of UFT and NYSUT leadership, I took to Twitter and embraced the theme and hashtag #AllKidsNeed. It's a great cause, and there's an awful lot to say. UFT President Micheal Mulgrew was insistent that we do so last week at the DA, and I figured why not? Unfortunately, Mulgrew himself did not participate, as far as I could tell. Wouldn't his voice be more important than that of a lowly teacher like me?
I can only conclude that hashtags, like junk science evaluations, are for the little people. But if we are out there on Twitter, the guy who sent us there ought to be with us. After all, though Cuomo gave his speech and asked for the moon, there are a few hours of Twitter Time remaining. However, we're still not fighting everything Cuomo is screaming for. Because we are so darn reasonable, we've focusied only on funding. Capital NY speculates this is because funding is a battle we expect to win.
Personally, I'm not sure that giving up on things like APPR, merit pay, charter caps, and multi-front assaults on tenure was the way to go. Working teachers are very concerned about these issues, and while Mulgrew and his Rubber Stamps sit in the Unity Cone of Silence, teachers are in my face about these things pretty much constantly. Again, I'm just a lowly teacher with no voice in AFT, NYSUT, or UFT Unity, where pretty much all the decisions take place. Alas, I'm not even a Rubber Stamp who goes to the conventions and votes as told.
Is it a good strategy to pick only battles you think you can win? I guess it could look good on a pamphlet. "We got more money for schools." Ignore the fact that you're being judged by test scores, and likely as not test scores of kids you've never taught, or the grades of kids to whom you teach other subjects. That's just one of those inconvenient truths, and if they meant anything, Al Gore would be an ex-President by now.
Most importantly, it appears Cuomo has indeed heard us, and is waving the extra money in the air only on the condition we accept all his reformy nonsense. That makes this effort appear super-ridiculous. In retrospect, it may not have been all that wise to take this approach, particularly a week in advance. It would've been much better for us to have reacted to Cuomo, rather than sink millions of member dollars into a commercial that actually helped him plan his approach.
Zephyr Teachout, who UFT and NYSUT failed to support twice last year, says what's on the minds of thinking teachers:
...he is holding children hostage to the demands of his Wall Street donors and his personal political motivations, while kids go to school in overcrowded classrooms without arts, sports, or counselors. He is right that we have one system for the rich and one for the poor, but the reasons is clear: the disparate funding that is his legacy,” she said.
And despite our bold Twitter campaign, which the UFT President initiated but couldn't be bothered participating in, it's hard for me to say that it's really helped do anything. Sure, maybe the UFT and NYSUT increased their mailing lists or something.
But this has not proven, in my view at least, the optimal hour for sitting around on Twitter and hoping for the best.