Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Michael Mulgrew and Happy Talk

The APPR system, the one that UFT President Michael Mulgrew boasted he helped craft, hangs over the heads of every teacher in New York State. Every thinking teacher knows jobs are on the line, and that junk science ratings could render you a Moskowitz test-prep clerk or a Walmart greeter. Yet Mulgrew tells The Chief (behind a paywall) the following:

“We know that two years ago, morale was basically at an all-time low,” Mr. Mulgrew said. “My feeling is that now it’s definitely getting better.”

My jaw drops as I read this. All I can say is Mulgrew is spending way too much time with loyalty oath signers. He seems to have no notion of what rank and file feel every single day. Perhaps he's taken too many of those happy pills, and just can't stop basking in the glow of those awesome victories no working teacher really knows about.

After all, it was a victory when we got all 22 components of Danielson, as opposed to the 7 Bloomberg wanted. It was another victory when we got 8 components of Danielson, as opposed to the 22 for which UFT fought. It was a victory when we earned the UFT transfer plan, which allowed teachers (including yours truly) to move to other schools and escape unreasonable supervisors. It was another victory when we tossed that in the trash and rendered our members wandering ATRs.

I have never, ever seen teachers so demoralized. My school is one of the least risky in terms of the junk science aimed at teachers' heads, but last year I saw an unprecedented exodus of young teachers, including one who I'd considered to have a more positive outlook than just about anyone. It is simply incredible that the President of the United Federation of Teachers can be so utterly out of touch with what we're living through. That, however, appears to be very much his choice.

Michael Mulgrew is notorious for his failure to answer email. I'm the chapter leader of the largest school in Queens and he can't be bothered to respond to me. That's why, on the very rare occasions I send him email it's likely to be posted here. That way at least I know someone will read it. A few months ago, Mulgrew asked that the entire DA get on Twitter and push a couple of hashtags (full disclosure--I was already on Twitter, and I participated), but he himself did not. It's quite clear he can't be bothered with that social media nonsense (Maybe it's just a fad.) and prefers to spend time communicating with people sworn to support whatever he wants.

Where does Mulgrew get this feeling things are getting better? Evidently, if you only spend time with people who tell you what you want to hear, you tend not to get the whole picture.

What myself and the Chancellor and [Principals’ union president] Ernie Logan have decided is we’re going to try to isolate our schools as much as we can from the craziness from the state level,” he said. “We’ll do whatever we’re legally responsible for, but we know that stability is the key to education.”

These are strange words from a man who not only presented the Heavy Hearts matrix as an improvement over the current system, but also thanked the Assembly for passing it. How on earth do you isolate schools from a system that not only demands teachers be judged by junk science, but further exacerbates the situation by raising its weight? How do you tell working teachers that they're better off in a system where the burden of proof when facing dismissal is on them rather than their employers?

I suppose it's pretty easy when you yourself have not been in the classroom for years and almost everyone with whom you speak has signed an oath to agree with you. I hear from real teachers every day of my life. Not only do they not talk like Mulgrew, but they don't remotely appreciate the things he touts as improvements.

The only thing left is to break them out of their cynicism long enough to vote next spring.
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