Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mulgrew Cleans Up His Act, a Little Bit

It's interesting to read, lately, that Mulgrew takes exception to the modifications in suspension  policies by the de Blasio administration. Of course he wasn't the first UFT member to pen an op-ed in the Daily News to that effect. In fact, I was. It's encouraging to see leadership, once again, coming to its senses a little bit, albeit a little late.

Now Politico suggests that Mulgrew is making some distance between himself and the de Blasio administration. For a while they were BFFs. I remember, in particular, one time at the DA when Mulgrew was talking about what great buds he and Carmen Fariña were. He immediately pivoted into a statement that any chapter leaders who didn't have issues with their principals weren't doing their jobs properly.

That's vintage Mulgrew. I can go out to gala luncheons with my contractual adversary, he suggests, but you all have to fight with yours, whether or not it's necessary. It brings to mind his calls to act on social media. Everybody get on Facebook and talk about this thing. Everybody get on Twitter and use this hashtag. Everybody send tweets to these people about this thing. Everybody except me, of course, as I'm just gonna walk around with a flip phone, ignore your email, and not even register on social media sites.

Of course now, while de Blasio isn't winning any popularity contests, maybe it's time to look like we got ahead of things. And there's also this:
Mulgrew is also showing his members he’s willing to stand up to City Hall for them — a political imperative after a small but vocal faction of the union challenged Mulgrew in his re-election bid earlier this year.

Hmmm...who could those people be? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's us, the MORE/ New Action coalition that took almost a third of working teacher votes and won the high school seats. Maybe Mulgrew will now move a little to represent membership rather than leadership, and it's not a moment too soon for me. Any musician will tell you timing is everything. We're a little off on that.
The UFT has maintained it does not endorse the “current version” of mayoral control over city schools, and even as Mulgrew’s foes among State Senate Republicans ravaged de Blasio’s education policies in hearings and in the media, the UFT stayed out of the fray. Mulgrew declined to add his name to the large coalition of officials, business leaders and other union presidents pushing on behalf of the administration for a long-term extension.

Diane Ravitch, in her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System, paints mayoral control as a tool used by reformies to bypass all that messy and inconvenient democracy stuff. I couldn't agree more. While it's nice that Mulgrew has taken a cautious step endorsing modification of the tool that closed Jamaica High School and scores of others, it's a little late, and a lot little. The time to have stood against it was when Bloomberg enacted it. In fact, after it proved to be an unmitigated disaster, closing schools and ballooning the ranks of the ATR, leadership demanded changes, failed to get them, and then supported it again.

It would have been nice if someone from UFT had taken a public stand against it. Well, actually someone did, and as it happens, it was me. Mayoral control has become pretty much part of the city's culture. We have a few meetings, listen to what the public says, and then the mayor does any damn thing he pleases. That's not precisely democracy, and in a democracy, no mayors should have total control, be they friendly, hostile, anywhere in between.

If we are moving Mulgrew just a little, then we're making just a little progress and I'm happy to see it. We will work to make more.
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