Thursday, April 06, 2017

Executive Board Takeaway.

 UFT Secretary Howard Schoor appears to be an avid reader of this blog. He seemed anxious to influence my notes on two occasions Monday night. I'd previously criticized his apparent ridicule of the question period, so he wanted to make sure I noticed it was more popular. I certainly noticed Monday, for the first time, that Unity members asked questions. Evidently, after a mere seven months of looking absolutely ridiculous, Unity Caucus has concluded it doesn't reflect particularly well on them when we question many things and they question nothing.

Therefore, Unity Caucus planted some questions, just like they do at the DA. I'll never forget going to the DA when the 2014 Contract came up. The very first question was something like, "Gee Mike, what happens if this contract doesn't pass?" That allowed Mulgrew to launch into his carefully prepared appeals to fear, that we would go to the back of the line of 151 unions and that retro wasn't a God-given right.

This notwithstanding, UFT Unity came up with some remarkably silly questions. The first was about when we would get a raise. A Unity member claimed people were asking him about it. Let's assume, for one moment, that this question was not a plant. That would mean that this hand-picked member of the UFT Executive Board was so uniquely inept and unresourceful that he was unable to go to the UFT website and look up the chart that's right here, or even call the borough office. More likely UFT leadership thought it would be a good idea to have him ask the stupid question and have me report on the raise. Naturally I'm delighted to report that UFT members will soon get a fraction of the raise that NYPD and FDNY managed to get almost ten years ago. Kudos to the Unity geniuses who cleverly negotiated that with no interest, and are making us wait years more for back pay.

Another question went to UFT HS VP Janella Hinds. What progress had she made on the resolution regarding Regents scoring that we passed at the DA twelve days ago? That's enough time to wind up a major negotiation with the DOE, isn't it? Janella said that it was not, in fact, and reported on her survey about SAT administration. It's ironic that this question came up, because I'd repeatedly pushed for that resolution. Schoor characterized me as "begging" for it. I can only speculate that, being in a group that has an army of patronage-crazy loyalty oath signers at its beck and call, Schoor has become less familiar with the concept of advocating for members. That, in fact, is what I was doing. It's kind of my job. I pushed this resolution because I actually teach every day and see firsthand what Regents scoring at remote schools does to people, not to mention various ways principals can make things worse for those who remain. This resolution has the potential to help tens of thousands of high school teachers.

Then, because there are no news reporting organizations and the world's sole source of information is UFT leadership, there was a question about whether ICE had done any raids on public schools.

It was an interesting night for other reasons. We had scores of teachers and parents from Central Park East 1 standing in the back. There were a few members from MORE steering. There was amazing energy in the room, and it was nice to have a sizable group of vocal supporters for once.

 I motivated this resolution to support CPE (that whole advocating thing again), and LeRoy Barr was instantly up to table it. Before he gave a hint as to why he wanted to do that, several nearby Unity loyalists seconded his proposal. Each and every one of them was a loyalty oath signer, bound to support any damn thing they're asked to. They don't need no stinking reasons.

Barr's rationale was that leadership was already doing a lot for CPE 1, and that supporting the resolution would somehow interfere with that. You won't be surprised to learn that I disagree. I motivated the resolution with a direct quote from UFT President Michael Mulgrew. I'm going to reproduce my remarks from this report below:

Tonight we have a school and a school community in crisis, a school suffering under the wholly gratuitous tyranny of an out of control principal. Ironically, this school is one founded on principles of functional democracy, a school that ought to be a model for us all. It’s deplorable to see the ostensible leader of this school trod all over its basic premise, a premise developed by renowned educational activist Deborah Meier. As President Mulgrew told this body just two weeks ago:

"Our biggest issue hands down is (the DOE’s) lack of responsibility with reigning in their principals. We will go after them at the school level. By law the superintendent is in charge. They are responsible for the actions of the principal. It is always best to have documentation when bringing any issues forward." 

Here is our chance to put those words in action. We have abundant documentation. We have firsthand testimony at our fingertips and in this very room. This is a golden opportunity for the United Federation of Teachers to walk the walk. Not only will we be giving much-needed support our brother and sister unionists and community members, but we’ll also be making a stand for the kind of innovative instruction and independent thinking we need to foster and enable for the students we serve.

I urge you to support this resolution and bring it to the Delegate Assembly this month.

We had a great chance to walk the walk and stand against just who Mulgrew said we would. We failed utterly to do this, even though this abusive principal had placed another teacher up for 3020a that very day. When LeRoy Barr asked us to stand for CPE 1, it struck me as odd. Hadn't we just declined to do precisely that? I was not inclined to honor that request. Howard Schoor asked me to report that I failed to stand, literally, for one moment. In fact I was typing furiously at the time, but I'm happy to oblige.

Who failed to stand for CPE 1? Was it us, New Action and MORE, the folks who brought the resolution to support CPE 1? Was it me, the guy who rose to motivate it?

Or was it the caucus that killed it without even bothering to ask why?

You decide.
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