Friday, September 18, 2015

No Accountability for UFT Unity

One of the cool things about being in Unity is once you're in, you're in. You have a whole group, a family if you will, that you can depend on. And as long as you are loyal to the family, you'll have a bright future. For example, you might be elected chapter leader, or you might just take the job because no one else wants to do it. You'll go to chapter leader training and your district rep will ask you if you want to spend more time in hotels having meetings and going to meals. Do you want to travel? Maybe next year we'll hold the AFT convention in Hawaii. Who knows?

And maybe you have a good time, going to California, to wherever, and staying in fancy hotels. But, oh no! What happens if you do a crappy job as chapter leader and your colleagues dump you? The cool thing about that is it doesn't matter even a little bit! As long as you're willing to vote as told, as per the loyalty oath, there is no consequence whatsoever! Why should the district rep go to the trouble of recruiting the new chapter leader when you're already in? So no more counting oversized classes, representing troubled colleagues, going to long meetings, and you still get to enjoy the fruit of everyone else's union dues!

That's right, you're off to a whirlwind trip to Schenectedy for the NYSUT conference, and then AFT could send you right to Sin City on the member dime. Sure, you may have to applaud for the likes of Bill Gates, or maybe the Vice President after his administration has imposed junk science on pretty much the whole country. And sure, you have to support Hillary even though you might like Bernie Sanders a whole lot more. But maybe, just maybe, you really don't give a crap who's in charge of the country, state, city, or schools, and you just want to fly around and stay in fancy hotels every now and then. Let the yahoos sleep in Motel 6 because you're headed to the Hilton.

And if you have any moral qualms, just keep them to yourself, unless you want to be relegated to the sidelines like every single UFT activist who dares agree with Diane Ravitch. Sure, UFT will pay lip service to the greatest educational thinker in the country, but she goes just a little too far for leadership. After all, UFT leadership has repeatedly supported junk science. Sure, sometimes they call it "growth model" instead of VAM, but it's the same old baseless crap whatever you call it. Ravitch not only opposes mayoral control and Common Core, but also unequivocally supports a parent's right to opt children out of high-stakes testing. She even opposes charter schools and colocation, while UFT has actually colocated its own failing charter school.

But let's ignore all that and get back on topic. If you vote the way you're told, it makes no difference how poorly you do as chapter leader. It makes no difference whether your colleagues respect you enormously, or even at all. You can stay on the Unity gravy train, keep your patronage gig, and dispense with all those troublesome chapter leader duties. In fact, you can even keep your spot on the UFT Executive Board if you've got one!

The UFT election is set up so that everyone represents leadership rather than schools. Sure there are a few New Action types sitting on the Exec. Board, but they'll try to fix that next time so they have total absolute power to continue making abysmal deals for working educators. Cool, isn't it? No voice whatsoever for anyone but leadership, and that's how they like it.

The only problem is that darn election. But unlike most unions, UFT allows that retirees get to help decide who represents active members. In fact, retirees made up 52% of the vote last time. And most working teachers, cynical after years of indifferent representation, often by the very people they deemed unfit to run their chapters, take the ballot and toss it right into the trash.

It's a great system, unless you happen to advocate for, you know, democracy. I do, and 2016 is the year we bring democracy back to our union.
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