Tuesday, July 17, 2018

AFT, E4E, and the Learning Curve

I missed this when it came out, but I was nonetheless pretty surprised to read an op-ed co-authored by AFT President Randi Weingarten and E4E founder Evan Stone. I mean, it's important to get Stone's perspective, I guess, since he taught somewhere for five minutes before selling out to Bill Gates and the reformies. I actually agree with much of what they wrote. Regarding the uprising in red states:

They occurred in states with laws that weaken unions and their ability to collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions — which, when it comes to public education, are teaching and learning conditions.

I've written much the same myself.  That's why people in NY looking to duplicate those actions are more or less banging their heads against a wall. They hit closer to home here:

No student should attend schools with overcrowded classrooms that lack desks for every student...

I wrote just yesterday about being in that situation. In my building, not only are those same half-rooms open, but we now also have converted closets used for classrooms. There are no windows, and there are indoor air-conditioners. They don't work very well, but anytime they are on, interaction is pretty much impossible because they are incredibly noisy.

You may recall a few years back that the AFT brought Bill Gates to its convention as keynote speaker. I've written about Bill Gates here and here, among other places. After the convention, to thank us, Gates went and spoke somewhere against teacher pensions. If you think he was just fooling around, you're wrong. Right now there's an entire organization devoted to attacking our pensions, under the guise of protecting our earnings. (One of its leaders wrote an op-ed in the Daily News suggesting UFT teachers could not take their pensions with them if they changed jobs. That's not the case.)

The other remnant of Bill Gates, the one we see each and every day, is the junk science-based evaluation system. Every time Boy Wonder comes in to check off how much you suck, you can thank Bill Gates. While you're at it, thank Evan Stone, who supported this nonsense in all its glory. After all, he's not a teacher and hasn't been one in years. No skin off his apple if you're oppressed and miserable.

Here's another point where I agree with Randi and Evan:

Teachers rely on their unions to fight for them, but they are also asking for more from their unions. Frankly, they don’t always feel represented by them, and we must respond to that. 

I'm not exactly sure how non-teacher, non-union Stone is part of this "we," but let's humor the notion. I recently wrote about how I felt paying dues to AFT, NEA, and NYSUT but having no vote or voice in any of the above. I don't give a flying hoot what Evan Stone thinks about it, but if Randi Weingarten wants to expand democracy I'm all for it.

High school teachers voted for me to represent them at UFT Executive Board not because I'm charming, but rather because they agreed with me on teacher issues. I worked that election very hard and I am determined to represent not only those who elected me citywide, but also those within my own school building who elected me chapter leader. Someone has to stand up and say it's a terrible idea to get into bed with the likes of Bill Gates or Evan Stone. I'm frankly amazed that Randi Weingarten has yet to figure that out.

In case it's not clear, let me help out. You recall how Gates attacked teacher pensions to thank us for featuring him as keynote? Evan Stone is now engaged in attacking the Absent Teacher Reserve, based on ratings enabled by Bill Gates that are likely as not nonsense.

E4E is a corporate cancer in our midst. Its leaders don't even bother pretending to be teachers anymore. Instead, Stone is a CEO or something. Hey, AFT, if you want to reach out to real teachers, we're right here. Let's work together instead of helping Stone stab us in the back.
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