There were a few striking things that occurred on Monday night. The first was Howard Schoor’s joke about how popular the questions period is. This was at least the second time he made that crack. This is significant for a few reasons. One, of course, is that we high school reps are seen as a pain in the ass rather than contributing members. Contributing members are expected to sit quietly and never contribute anything. That was pretty clear later in the evening, after Jonathan Halabi asked a question, Schoor asked whether he had answered it, and a woman nearby remarked loudly, “YES, he DID!”
Questions, for Unity Caucus, are a nuisance to be avoided. This is very odd for me because I’m a teacher and questions are pretty much my stock in trade. Can you imagine a teacher in a classroom making jokes about questions? In any case, since the overwhelming majority of this board sits quietly, never asks questions, and never rises to say anything whatsoever, I can only assume that the meetings were quite peaceful before we arrived. Also I hear the food was much better. Monday at 3:30 I went to a ramen joint on Broadway so I wouldn’t have to eat the crappy sandwiches, but they tell me when the board was all Unity they had food that people actually wanted to eat.
Of course there are exceptions to the sit down and shut up rule. When someone on the dais puts out the bat signal, the Unity loyalists all rise to argue against things like effectively enforcing the class size provisions of the contract. The system works great, they say. They fixed it in my school, once, and therefore there is no problem systemwide. We suffered and gave up pay for the existing provision, 50 years ago when most of use were not even alive. We should drop this resolution, form a committee, invite no one from the high school Executive Board, and work out this issue.
So basically, we have dozens of people pissed off about the downgrade in catering, people who’d have been perfectly content to sit and do nothing. And that, I have to assume, is mostly what they did before we came around to ruin everything.
I asked about the resolution that would bring Regents grading back into schools. This resolution has been on the DA agenda twice and has not come up for a vote. It’s not a priority for leadership. More important, evidently, is to show a clip from SNL with Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer. It was pretty funny, but it was also on network TV as well as all over Facebook. Of course Mulgrew isn’t on Facebook, so maybe he assumes no one else is either. Who knows? Maybe they think it's a good idea to laugh at Trump, whose name Mulgrew wouldn't utter, as he does everything in his power to cripple American union.
The worst thing, though, was the response about whether or not UFT would support the pro-education March this Saturday. Mulgrew deigned to grace us with nine minutes of his precious time, and stressed over and over we have to focus on supporting education. Yet we are not officially supporting a pro-education march this Saturday in Manhattan. This is because AQE, the organization that sponsors it, ran an anti-Cuomo ad. The ad states, correctly, that Cuomo is very much in sync with Betsy DeVos. He has attacked the public education “monopoly,” as he calls it. He has also supported tax credits for private schools, back door vouchers, just like DeVos.
These are simple facts, demonstrated on the ad in Cuomo’s own words.
But we want to get our “seat at the table” and therefore we must not antagonize him. For some reason, UFT leadership believes Cuomo is our friend this week, and also seems to believe that he would not stab us in the back in a New York minute given half a chance.
It must be liberating to ignore history and hope for the best. From my vantage point as a working teacher it’s very tough to do that. I don’t believe a Cuomo changes his spots. I believe AQE is right on target, and I’ve seen Cuomo pimping for charters very recently. I don’t doubt for a moment he’d stand with Moskowitz again on request.
I’m willing and ready to listen, and I’m not afraid of questions. I’m afraid I don’t see those qualities in leadership, and I’m literally afraid that UFT will continue to not only make the same egregious errors that left us adrift in Trumplandia, but also double down on them and ensure, at the very least, that it takes us longer to crawl our way out.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.