Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To Lobby or Not to Lobby?

March 4th is Lobby Day for UFT. A whole lot of people are being bused to Albany to talk to legislators. Oddly, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of room on the bus. Our group, the last I heard, only had 15 seats. I’d go anyway, in my own car, if I thought it would make a difference. That’s what I did the first and only time I went.

Basically we sat for a rubber chicken dinner in a hotel somewhere, were assigned to a group, and someone who led the group gave the UFT line to legislators we visited. The year I went, Bloomberg was trying to destroy seniority rights for NYC teachers only. Our pal John Flanagan thought that was a good idea, even though it affected precisely zero teachers in his home district.

If I recall correctly, Shelly Silver addressed us. The theme of the day was that Bloomberg was the Antichrist and Andrew Cuomo savior. At the time, Cuomo was pretty high on the new statewide APPR. He felt it wasn’t necessary to eviscerate seniority rights because his new rating system would fire a sufficient number of teachers. How things have changed.

Now, Cuomo is freaked out because not enough teachers have gotten poor ratings. What particularly irks him is that Long Island teachers are getting good ratings. This is odd because if Long Island were a state, it would have the highest graduation rate in the country, among other things. But when Eva Moskowitz’s BFFs have paid $1.6 million for you to trash public education and send tax money their way, facts go by the wayside.

Interestingly, on March 4th UFT will be battling with the Moskowitz Academies for attention. They’re closing their schools and busing thousands of kids and parents to Albany for the day. Last year, Governor Andy was fundamental in organizing this rally, and spoke at it. For her part, Eva, making sure this was the worst field trip ever, claimed she was making kids do schoolwork on the bus.

Last time I went to Lobby Day I was trying to organize a rally at my own school. So I actually broke away from the group and managed to extract promises to show from several local politicians. If UFT really wanted me there I’d go. But actually there’s a PTA meeting, and I’m going there instead. Judging from the crap I read in the papers, I doubt a whole lot of people know what’s really going on. I’m going to try and tell our school’s parents.

On Cuomo, UFT has a good message to deliver this year.  I support it absolutely.

I can’t help but wonder, though. What if we had supported Zephyr Teachout’s bid in the WFP rather than blocking it? What if Cuomo actually had opposition from the left in the general? Would that have helped?

It’s hard to say. I still think Astorino would have been a disaster. But Cuomo is certainly a disaster, we should have known better, and you never know. Think of this—Governor Zephyr Teachout.
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