Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Mulgrew's point of view, that the new budget agreement represents some sort of victory, that we've pushed back Cuomo, has little or nothing to do with mine. Amazingly, we've managed to move backwards at the behest of a governor at the low point of once massive popularity. Cuomo wanted more teachers fired and more schools closed, and it's very hard for me to see how his new budget doesn't achieve that.
At the NY Post, things are different. The Post's POV is based on something, but I have no idea what. Reading it, you'd think Mulgrew was all-powerful, laying down rules for the city to follow. This piece says teachers ought to reject Mulgrew because he's turned on us, supporting the new suspension regulations. I agree with the piece that the new regs may make our jobs more difficult, but I don't see that as reason to reject Mulgrew.
Were Mulgrew the omnipotent force described in the Post editorial, we wouldn't have gone six years without a contract, and we wouldn't have foregone the 8% increase most other city workers got between 2008-2010 for 10 years without interest. Teachers with permanent licenses would not have to reregister to renew them. We wouldn't be looking at mandatory failure of 5% of schools statewide, expedited dismissal procedures, a higher dependence on junk science, or any of the other nonsense our leadership failed to stop, let alone acknowledge in a recent email that now appears nothing short of delusional.
The Post argues that teachers have gotten more money for less time in the classroom, as though teachers are dancing in the streets over spending hours at tedious and wasteful meetings. I'd rather be with the kids, and I don't know a single teacher who feels otherwise. Of course, there's no evidence the Post bothered to consult a single teacher before writing this piece.
The Post continues, offering teachers an alternative to Mulgrew's selfish ways. We can work in charter schools, unencumbered by union. In the Post's universe, charters don't unionize because they don't want to pay dues or abide by those darn union rules. Who wants due process? Isn't it better to let Eva Moskowitz fire you outright because you have a bad haircut? Who wants to stand up for special needs kids who aren't served? Isn't it better to ignore the fact they don't get what they need at risk of losing your job?
The Post, evidently, has never heard of people being afraid to unionize. The Post has never heard of people being afraid for their jobs. In Post-land, Americans are happy to work at Walmart and Target for sub-living wages, with crappy or no benefits. In Post-land, teachers love bringing home cell phones to take parent calls on their own time, and there isn't enormous teacher turnover in charters. In my world, student teachers go all out to get jobs in public schools, and only resort to charters as a last resort.
The Post trots out the old canard about pervert teachers being protected by UFT, as though we are out on the streets cheering child abuse. No one wants that, and the Post doesn't bother with clauses in the UFT Contract that mandate immediate removal of anyone involved in inappropriate contact.
The Post plays into the widespread lie that there is some zombie plague of bad teachers that needs to be eradicated. It says it is nearly impossible to fire teachers, and conveniently ignores the new evaluation system, too young to even have been tested. It ignores the exodus of hundreds of ATR teachers as a result of the new contract, as well as new regulations that place those who remain at risk for no good reason.
Worst, it suggests, with no evidence whatsoever, that Cuomo is the best hope for schools. Personally, I have enormous issues with Mike Mulgrew as President of UFT. But I wouldn't resolve them by affiliating with an astroturf front group like E4E, or volunteering a slave to Eva Moskowitz. Like Governor Cuomo, the Post has not the slightest notion what it is to be a working teacher. This happens when you live in a bubble, taking in what you like and ignoring everything else. Post writers ought to spend more time with real working teachers.
So should Mulgrew. If he thinks there's anything good about the state budget, he needs to head for a classroom and talk to working teachers who aren't on the UFT Unity gravy train.
I am proud to be UFT, and I support my brother and sister teachers. Our union can do way better, but it's still our union. 80, 000 of us together do better than we would one at a time, with bowls in hand, asking Eva Moskowitz, "Please, ma'am, may I have some more?"
But that's exactly the Post's vision for working teachers. It's not good for us, and it's not good for the kids we serve. Who stands up for the kids? Who will fight for them, ALL of them?
UFT teachers will. That's our job, and it's on our minds every moment. There are reasons to reject our leadership. A big one is its abject failure to work against Cuomo during the election. Another is its ridiculous strategy of opposing him only on the budget, and failing to be aggressive on all the issues that came back to haunt us today. Yet another is its miserable inability to perceive what opt-out is or represents, let alone act on it.
I don't think Mulgrew shares the Post's vision of working people striking for more work and less pay. But for much of last night I wondered what sort of happy pills he must have taken before he wrote that outlandish email painting the state budget as a victory.