Friday, December 09, 2016

It's a Beautiful Day in Carmen's Neighborhood

You probably won't be surprised to hear that NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña loves her some colocated schools. She seems to think that colocated schools are better than small schools. The only really issue with that line of thinking, of course, is that colocated schools are small schools. They're a remnant from the Bloomberg era of shutting down comprehensive high schools and placing little boutique schools in their place.

They started out great, since they got to hand pick students. It turns out when you take whatever students you wish, ignore ELLs, students with special needs, students who are homeless, and students who inconveniently get low test scores, you have fewer low test scores and therefore get higher test scores. That's pretty much how Carmen Fariña built her reputation. What keen insight.

That works, of course, and many charter schools have replicated this model, thus drawing the praise of various NYC editorial boards. But the small schools, alas, were told to start taking representative samples of NYC kids, and who would've thunk it, started to perform just as other schools. Like most educational miracles, this too was predicated on fraud. No fraud, no success, and thus Bill Gates got off of the small school train he himself had started.

But Bloomberg plodded on. The small schools were fantastic. They contained a whole lot of newbie teachers who didn't cause trouble. Many of them don't have to worry about union interference. Sometimes when I go to grieve class sizes I meet reps from small schools who the principal has sent. They aren't chapter leaders because they haven't got chapter leaders. I'm sure they aren't all like that, but it was certainly convenient for Mayor Mike to take a school with one chapter leader, break it into five schools, and send that nasty old chapter leader into ATR World.

The thing now is that Fariña wants cooperation. It turns out that, if you have five small schools and let them share facilities and classes, the students get more choices. Eureka! The only thing missing from that thought process is the notion of reversing the split. For example, in a big school like mine, kids have as many or more choices as the kids in colocated schools. We don't have five principals.

So my question is, why has that not occurred to Carmen Fariña? Alas, Fariña, like a whole lot of people in the DOE, is a remnant of the Bloomberg administration. It's time for de Blasio to clean out Tweed and bring in new people. It's time for him to place his own stamp on education.

It's no small coincidence that it's also time for him to run for re-election. I think his chances are much improved, given the insanity that was the Presidential election. A UFT endorsement would help. Let's hope that our leadership wakes up and tells him they want a new broom at Tweed. It would be nice if we actually accomplished something worthwhile before "Right to Work" becomes enshrined in national law and we move back to the nineteenth century.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Proposed UFT Voucher Resolution Applies to Charters Too

On Monday at the Executive Board I looked at the voucher resolution (click on it below to enlarge it if you'd like to read) and knew that something was wrong. Aren't vouchers even worse than the resolution says it is? I've sent out feelers and am looking to find something concrete with which to amend it. I haven't yet, and if any reader knows something I don't, please feel free to make a suggestion.

Nonetheless, after I read it a few times, I noticed a disturbing pattern. The resolution states that voucher programs grow "to the detriment of public schools," and of course that's correct. It's also correct that public schools provide fewer services when they have fewer resources.

How is that any different from what charter schools do, particularly when they "colocate" with existing schools? Haven't we seen a mass exodus of school libraries as we make way for Eva Moskowitz and her chain of charters? Even as my school is starved for space, others with available space lose it as charters relentlessly expand.

The resolution continues, stating that underfunded public schools are unable to attract and retain good teachers. That's true, of course. But don't charter schools also suck funding from public schools? Wouldn't troubled schools recuperate more easily if large swaths of their neighborhood kids were not sucked out via massive advertising campaigns by charter schools?

The resolution then calls vouchers, "thinly-veiled privatization schemes." I don't object to that per se, except I'd argue that vouchers are not veiled at all, thinly or otherwisely. Vouchers take money from public schools and send ot to private schools. That's it. If we want to go with "thinly-veiled," that road leads us, yet again, to charter schools.

Charters claim to be public some of the time, but don't want to be subject to the same regulations as we are. They don't want to take the same kids we do, and if they don't like the ones they get, they toss them to the street (or more accurately, to the public schools which are then vilified for their test scores). Then they can make preposterous claims about 100% of their kids going to college, or something, after they've tossed the rest. Above you see Eva Moskowitz, livid at being asked to follow the same regulations every pre-K in the city did. No stinking rules for Eva, thank you very much.

Then the resolution says voucher schools pick and choose their students. Actually I have no experience with voucher schools so I can't speak to that. I suppose private schools, being private, take who they please. But we all know that charters pick by lottery, and that it takes a proactive parent to bother to enter one. We know that charters can require parents to spend hours working at the charter. We know that Eva Moskowitz might pick a day and drag the parents to Albany, along with the hapless kids. We know that she makes the kids do work on the bus, just to ensure this is the Most Miserable Field Trip Ever.

So while I haven't yet found good enough info to improve the voucher resolution, I have to ask, given the language in the resolution, why the hell do we support charter schools? It's one thing for us to talk about what Al Shanker envisioned. It's one thing to support the few that actually accomplish whatever that is.

But it's quite another to pretend that the charter movement, as advanced by wealthy, profit-crazed privatizers like Besty DeVos, is not geared toward privatizing, and the next best thing for them as they were unable to get communities to pass vouchers. DeVos tried twice in Michigan, was rebuffed, and now wants to do away with all that messy democratic election nonsense. After all, she and Trump are in the driver's seat after having lost in the general by 2.6 million votes and counting.

It's pretty ironic that we in UFT are pushing a resolution that condemns vouchers for a whole lot of things charters do as a matter of course. I wonder if the folks on the 14th floor can see it. It's hard to say. Personally, I've never been up there and can't be sure they allow irony on that floor.  It would be a welcome addition, though. Seeing irony helps to accentuate the import of what otherwise appears to be mundane reality.

Given that the idealistic charters envisioned by Shanker are the exception rather than the rule, wouldn't we be more credible if we simply opposed charters altogether? Wouldn't we be more credible if we hadn't supported the neoliberal Democratic agenda that hurt education just a little bit less than Trump and his flying monkeys want to do? Is it finally time to stop rationalizing the nonsense we've been enduring all these years and take a stand, even if it offends the faux-Democrats who enable such things as Moskowitzes?

Inquiring minds want to know. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Class Size in the UFT Contract

You probably think that your administration is bound to keep class sizes to the contractual minimum. I used to think that too. I'm a high school teacher and the contractual language is crystal clear. From Article 7, M, 2. b:

No homeroom or official or subject class in senior high school shall exceed 34 pupils, except as specified in 3 below. This shall not be accomplished by an increase in the size of classes for the non-college bound students.

So what is this "3 below?"

An acceptable reason for exceeding the maximum class size limitations listed in paragraphs 1b through 2g above may be any of the following:

  1. There is no space available to permit scheduling of any additional class or classes in order to reduce class size.
  2. Conformity to the class size objective would result in placing additional classes on short time schedule.
  3. Conformity to the class size objective would result in the organization of half-classes.
  4. A class larger than the maximum is necessary or desirable in order to provide for specialized or experimental instruction, or for IGC instruction, or for placement of pupils in a subject class of which there is only one on a grade.
In the event that it is necessary to assign a teacher to a class which exceeds the maximum size listed above, the principal shall stipulate the reason in writing to the teacher and to the Chancellor. Such statement of reasons may be available for examination by the Union in the Office of the Chancellor.

So it sounds like there are a lot of ways to circumvent the rule.  They can grant an exception. However, exceptions ought not to prove a rule, and they aren't granted over and over again. So in a school like mine, where there are perpetually issues, where I go to Manhattan twice a year to grieve class sizes, careful planning ought to preclude these issues. What happens when that doesn't occur? For that, you have to go to Article 22G, 2, j:

If the Board asserts that it cannot comply with the arbitrator's award, it must set forth a plan of action to remedy the class size or group size violation. If the Board has acted in good faith, and the plan of action is not unreasonable, it will be accepted by the arbitrator.

Now this is where things get really sticky.  A year or two ago I heard about several local Queens high schools that had dozens of oversized classes. The arbitrator, rather than lower class sizes in any way, decided to release all the affected teachers from daily C6 assignments. I personally found that outrageous. Perhaps some teachers were happy not having to go tutor, or tend the book room, or whatever it was they were supposed to do that period. But it certainly didn't alleviate the issues with oversized classes.

I was pretty happy that didn't happen in my school, until of course it did. And when you enter the slippery slope of accepting nonsense as a "plan of action," you find the nonsense mounts rapidly. Thus teachers at my school were told they would get only one period off from C6 activity per week. That's outrageous. And when I went to count oversized classes, I found that there were maybe 20 new ones since the arbitrator ruled.

I ran around like a crazy person and dragged 6 teachers to computers to file grievances. It would have been 7, but the worst offense was done to a probationary teacher, and I thought having a grievance in her file might be frowned upon by the superintendent come tenure time. I've seen superintendents do way worse than that, in fact. A friend of mine, in fact, reported improprieties in testing and was discontinued.

I don't know what they're thinking over at 52 Broadway, because I'm not privy to what goes on in their Sacred Cone of Silence. But I can tell you, if they want members to continue paying $1200 a year after Trump Right to Works us they'd best not leave stuff like this on the back burner.

Teacher: What? I don't have to pay a hundred bucks a month to the union?

Me: Yes, but that may weaken us and our Contract.

Teacher: UFT left 37 kids in my class and gave me one period a week off from tutoring. I tutored anyway. My 37 kids needed more help, not less.

Is that the sort of conversation UFT leadership envisions when dues become optional?  If it isn't, they'd better take off those rose-colored glasses and wake up.  We have the highest class sizes in the state, we haven't moved to improve them in half a century, and teaching a class at maximum is already quite challenging.

Arbitrators who think they can just toss teachers a marshmallow and collect oversized paychecks from us are gonna need to think twice. And so should UFT leadership. One absolutely predictable alternative is teachers looking at dues, refusing to pay, and not even giving it a second thought. Times have changed and if we aren't thinking ahead we aren't thinking at all.

Monday, December 05, 2016

UFT Executive Board December 5th

6:05 Secretary Howard Schoor welcomes us.

Approval of Minutes—approved

President’s report—

Mulgrew is not here.

Staff Director’s Report—LeRoy Barr

Also not here.

Kuljit AhluwaliaNew Action—Teacher evaluations online. What about principal evaluations? Is it that only parents can ask them?

—Adam Ross, attorney, Law says only parents can ask for evaluation.

 Ahluwalia—Shouldn’t I be able to see how admin rated?

Schoor—this is the law.

Arthur Goldstein--MORE--At this juncture it’s vitally important that we support our members, our students and our community.

Last week I learned that Deborah M. Gaines, an arbitrator who gets paid $1600 a day, found it reasonable that Francis Lewis High School teachers with oversized classes be released from one C6 assignment per week. She also found it reasonable that Forest Hills High School teachers be released from on C6 assignment per week per oversized class. Thus, if I have two oversized classes, I’m relieved from one C6 assignment. If a Forest Hills teacher has two oversized classes, she’s relieved from two C6 assignments.

First, it’s ridiculous to think it’s easier to teach two oversized classes at 214% capacity Lewis than at Forest Hills. Second, it’s ridiculous to contend the DOE-sponsored “action plan” of releasing teachers from C6 assignments makes up in any way for oversized classes. Teachers don’t need a period off from tutoring when they have oversized classes. Students in oversized classes don’t need less tutoring either. The DOE, which claims to place “Children first, always,” clearly doesn’t give a golly gosh darn about our working conditions, which are student learning conditions.

More importantly, this remedy tells principals everywhere they can make as many oversized classes as they wish with no consequence. Why should they care if teachers give one fewer day of tutoring when they can create fewer classes with impunity and save thousands of dollars by cramming students in like sardines? Today I went and counted, found 33 oversized classes, filed five grievances and got eight corrected. That is eight more than the arbitrator managed to fix and I’m on day one.

An action plan needs to address and discourage oversized classes. This does neither, and in fact tells principals they can abuse the Contract, us, and our students with impunity. Let's let members know with absolute clarity that we don’t play this game.

I ask that the UFT let both members and the DOE know we absolutely oppose oversized classes and will not tolerate nonsense like this. I ask the United Federation of Teachers to make sure Deborah M. Gaines never get another contract as arbitrator.

Also how many oversized classes are there in the city as we speak, and what’s our plan moving forward?

Schoor—We will get an answer. Grievance department not here.

Janella Hinds
—Grievance department is reviewing this situation. We are evaluating this plan for Lewis.

Mike SchirtzerMORE—How did deputy chancellor meeting go? Update on adult ed? In special ed, do we have data on how many ICT classes are out of compliance?

Schoor—We met with them, will have a discussion. will be no retribution against letter writers, Dep. Chancellor will meet with DR, definitely,  and some chapter members, perhaps.

There is shortage of special ed. classes.

Ashraya GuptaMORE—Asked several times about immigrant Liaison.

LeRoy Barr—We did have a meeting with DOE, brought up issue. They seem intrigued by concept. We will have further conversations. Talking about who could do job. We are in preliminary talks. We believe they will talk it through. We need to clarify what issues the person will deal with. No commitment at this point.

Schoor—They will bring it to mayor’s office. Thankfully no more questions.

6:19—Mulgrew arrives.

President’s Report

DeVos makes it clear where this admin headed. Asked L. Barr to make resolution. DeVos makes ed. marketplace and removes public. We were not surprised she was named but we know where they are headed. Are they going to drill down into state policy or stay out? Only question left.

GOP has always been angry at incentives to influence state ed. But they will not be friendly to us at all, don’t like unions, want ed. privatized. Have had conversations about it. Want resolution on record with AFT. Hearings for her should show what she really is, should show she wants to take away public school.
Spoke with AFT, million women march moving, and we will send people to participate when we know for sure where they are, what permits they have.

ESSA—Regulations up for final public comment. Gives us 3 years unless new admin dismantles. We do not believe they will do this now. They want multiple measure approach, not just test scores, transparency, so public knows what local schools do. Still require 95% participation in standardized tests, but no longer require its use to evaluate schools or teachers. Must be considerations for Ls, special ed students.

Renewal schools—will be press. We are tying to churn rate of teachers. 1/3 well, 1/3 stable, 1/3 not so well, and they match churn rate. If people leave schools, sign points something wrong with leadership.

Constitutional Convention—Will do presentation at DA. Big political hurdle. Lots of money will come to state to push this. We need to stop in tracks. NYS pensions in good shape because constitution requires contributions from municipalities, unlike NJ and IL. Will be big push, members don’t understand this. We must educate.

Asks LeRoy and Howie to make committee on mayoral race. Unions have already endorsed. Mayor inherited no contracts, now we all have them. There will be general election candidate, will run against UFT and school system.

Coalition for homeless Saturday—children come and we celebrate, work with them all year round. Thanks Karen A.

ACTE—career and tech ed—largest org of its kind—we have taken it as strategy to engage with them, made deal on Friday, and we will host Region 1 yearly symposium here in April. Resolving paperwork complaints, big win in adult ed. If CLs don’t want to do this tell them it’s simple. When they know it will go out of school it gets resolved.

Professional conciliation—working toward a template. We have right to question admin judgment.

Thank you.

6:32 Mulgrew leaves

Schoor—We have many paperwork complaints.

Staff Director Report 

LeRoy Barr—CL Training part 2 went well. Coalition for homeless Saturday. Kwanzaa celebration 12/15 at UFT. Next EB Dec. 19th

Report from Districts

Karen Alford, thanks David K. New Teacher Initiative works to retain teachers, save them from chaotic schools. Financial wellness workshop for new members very helpful to new teachers. Will be repeated.

Mindy ? —thanks leadership for negotiating speech teacher agreement. Teacher will collect medicaid funds for their service and resolve SESIS issue.

Sean R—Last week SI had SRP day, 300 attended.

Howard Sandel—Last week new collective bargaining agreement for Lighthouse Guild. 36th year on time contract.

Janella Hinds—Last week we thought about HS enrollment, went to L. James panel, engaged around issue of diversity. Were panel discussions with DOE, academics, community activists. Want to do even in Jan.

Schoor—response to question last week.

Adam Ross—Same law that shields teacher ratings shields admin.

Schoor—You have to get a parent to do it.

Kuljit Ahluwalia
New Action—Recourse if principal disregards parent request?

Ross—Parent could go to OSI or SCI or file lawsuit.

Legislative Report—Paul Egan—going to Albany tomorrow for meeting, pushing for pay raises. Leader of Assembly and Governor at odds. Democrat Brooks up by 41. 1000 votes yet to be counted, most on GOP objection. Absentee and provisional ballots. 32 Senators elected on Democrat line, fewer on GOP but some Dems caucus with GOP.

Resolution in Opposition to School Vouchers—

LeRoy Barr—Resolution attempts to educate members in terms of what vouchers are, how they affect public schools, and how they affect city. We have to let members know about this issue. Asks for support.

Arthur GoldsteinMORE--Asks for more detail, vouchers are actually worse than portrayed here. Will support but reserves the right to send more info.

Schoor—you can amend at DA.

Passes unanimously.

Motion to adjourn—passed.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Patsy Cline Sings Crazy. UFT Practices It.

It's kind of funny, if you fancy gallows humor, that the United Federation of Teachers, the largest teacher local in the United States of America, can't manage to change. After all, patronage has been the icing on the cake, perhaps the cake itself. Last Monday I went to a meeting in which UFT Unity loyalists all stood up to say it was too dangerous to take sides against Trump, because we might alienate Trump voters in our midst.

Why did they do this? Because "leadership" of the union, according to Secretary Howie Schoor, made this decision. Jonathan Halabi asked for names, but instead, we heard "leadership." Who is that, I wonder. Is it Michael Mulgrew, who won't get on social media, who carries a flip phone so as not to be troubled with electronic communication, who flits in and out of Executive Board meetings like a butterfly who doesn't want its wings ruffled? Is it LeRoy Barr, who seems to think on his feet, whose mind appears newly open to the fact that we may actually need to do something differently? Is it the entire mysterious and elusive AdCom committee, whose meeting minutes we are asked to approve even though we don't attend? Is it Randi Weingarten, hanging around DC and still pulling our strings?

We'll never know.

Leadership doesn't understand that at all. What they know best is inertia. Nonetheless, when they put out the bat signal for Unity Caucus members to get up and speak, they do. They stand and wait for the chance to argue that the United Federation of Teachers ought not to take sides against the bigoted, homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic Donald Trump. People might get mad at us if we take sides. That's what they're told to say, so they do. This is activism, UFT style.

Of course, this follows their all-out miserable failure of a push to make Hillary Clinton President. In fact, there was a Hillary Clinton office at 52 Broadway, and Mulgrew boasted of it to the Delegate Assembly. Now why the hell was that if we can't alienate people? Were they worried about Trump supporters then? Were they concerned about alienating me, a Bernie Sanders supporter? Was Randi Weingarten worried about how I'd feel when she tweeted about "Bernie Bros," the stereotypical and baseless insinuation we were a bunch of thugs?

I know Trump voters in my building. They won't support me for US Senator, but they'll vote for me as chapter leader. They've told me so. They know absolutely I will stand for them when they're in trouble no matter who they or I select as US President. They aren't so sure about the folks at 52 Broadway, particularly when things like class size violations go fundamentally unchecked.  

By the logic leadership advanced last Monday night, the UFT ought not to ever take a position on anything, because there's always the possibility someone might disagree. We ought not to oppose "right to work," even though it will shoot an arrow through our veritable heart, because some members may support the notion of saving 1200 bucks a year. Instead of soliciting donations for COPE, we ought to abandon it altogether. Taking sides is too risky. Let's drop the pretense and officially stand for nothing.

The argument might hold merit, considering UFT leadership's long and uncanny run of political failure. Who can forget the musical chair-style endorsements of Hevesi, Ferrer, and that idiot Mark What's-His-Name who alienated Ferrer voters and lost to Bloomberg? Who doesn't recall our failure to support Thompson against third-term, won by 5% Bloomberg? Who's forgotten, after we stabbed Thompson in the back, that he said we couldn't afford raises for teachers, and we then finally supported him anyway? Who can't forget Thompson's loss against de Blasio, and our failure to get what NYPD and FDNY got until ten years later?

Oh, and who recalls our champion Hillary failing to support any substantive change or improvement for working Americans, thus enabling demagogue Trump to take over? Wasn't Hillary a foregone conclusion, wasn't she inevitable, and weren't those of us who dared question those assumptions apostates, to be ridiculed and derided?

Of course, the now-officially sanctioned conclusion that we ought not to take sides is preposterous. One Unity person got up and made the inane and outlandish argument that Trump was of no consequence, and that we ought to instead write in the name of Hitler. I stood there thinking if it actually were Hitler, we'd lack the nerve to utter his name. Another spoke to MORE rep Ashraya Gupta, who openly wondered how a Trump presidency would affect people who looked like her. The Unity member said she was Latina and understood Ashraya's concerns. Then she spoke a bunch of nonsense, and went back to Ashraya's concern, angrily declaring, "I don't play that card!" This was remarkable because when she declared she was Latina, she indeed played that very card. A good thing about being Unity is no matter what you say, no matter how you contradict yourself, if you're on the correct side it's officially sanctioned and therefore always right.

We've got a whole lot of people in Unity who formulate arguments I would not accept from my beginning ESL students. UFT Unity will stoop to any level, invent ridiculous nonsense to attack those of us who dare question them, and give not a second thought to alienating, say, the opt-out movement that made Cuomo step back from his vicious anti-public education stance.  UFT Unity employs a social media twitter person who is outrageously sexist, who posts things from real education defenders and has zero awareness they fundamentally oppose UFT positions.

Of course, the Unity Caucus members sign a loyalty oath, and therefore get up and say any damn thing they are told to. They enable and recruit people who are, charitably, less than diplomatic, people who feel no compunction to think things through, people who say what they're told and stoop to any level to defend it. On Twitter I got into an argument with a Unity loyalist who contended it was great that burden of proof was on teachers at 3020a. He thought teachers facing career loss could then own their arguments, or some other such blithering nonsense.

A few weeks ago, UFT Unity unanimously supported the original resolution rightly criticizing Trump. We, the high school reps, applauded and enthusiastically supported it. Last Monday they were scrambling back and forth to rationalize the cowardice of deleting Trump's name. I give credit to LeRoy Barr and Howie Schoor for enabling an honest discussion on this issue. The last time I was able to participate in an honest discussion with union leadership was never (and if you're reading this, Unity, that cuts to the core of our problem).

This notwithstanding, the notion that a labor movement ought not to take a stand against demagogues is simply idiotic. Trump is coming for us, and being fraidy-scared to speak his name is not only disingenuous, not only unprincipled, but also short-sighted and counter-productive, the same thinking that's gotten us into the rut we're in now.

I hope against hope that leadership wakes up, palm-slaps themselves on the forehead, and realizes stifling thought and allowing patronage-inspired, self-serving obsequiousness to pass as activism has gotten us exactly where we are now.  I'll certainly do my part to sound the alarm, but it's hard to teach an old machine new tricks. 

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Chalkbeat Goes to Highest Bidder

Back before Chalkbeat went national, I used to write for it. That ended when I made outrageous assertions that Cathie Black, who was appointed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, represented billionaires. I also asserted that TFA courted people from Ivy colleges. Though these assertions were not even debatable, Chalkbeat had enough of my nonsense. This was kind of a relief because their editing process was like water torture.

Of course, even as I endured the third degree and found my voice edited beyond recognition, its resident E4E columnist voiced total nonsense with no restraint whatsoever. Reformy is as reformy does, I guess. I hear that person, who never managed to even get tenure as a teacher, got a nice gig somewhere as a school leader. Beats working, I guess.

Nonetheless they've moved past that, and no longer bother with pretense. Every time someone from E4E sneezes, they dutifully report it. If Eva Moskowitz stubs her toe, it's prominently featured. If UFT holds a rally, meh. Why bother reporting such trivialities? After all, UFT is only the largest teacher union in the country. It's not like they're Evan Stone and What's-Her-Name, the renowned former newbie teachers who run Gates-funded E4E.

Doubtless you're curious as to why this might be. Well, here's a small clue. Half a million bucks from the Gates Foundation. That's gotta keep a lot of lights on. Now Chalkbeat always insists that it's objective, but oh my gosh that's a lot of lettuce.

It's really disappointing Chalkbeat chose to go this route, but hey, it's the American Way. Chalkbeat NY is simply doing its part to Make America Great Again by practicing journalism and pretending that a huge donation from the reformiest man in the world is not a blatant conflict of interest.

That said, I can't vouch absolutely that Chalkbeat has gone to the highest bidder. I honestly don't know just how high Bill Gates is. But given his outrageous and outlandish ideas about education,  I can only conjecture that billionaires get the best drugs money can buy. I remember hearing somewhere that Jerry Lee Lewis said the only reason he survived while Elvis died was that he couldn't afford the drugs Elvis got.

I wonder how high I'd have to be to donate to Reformy Chalkbeat.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Fun Fact--UFT Team High School Has No Input from UFT High School Teachers

The other day I got an email from Team High School telling me about all the wonderful work they were doing. Evidently 200 members attended workshops, which is surely good, as everyone needs to work on one thing or another.

Also, there will be Team High School Awards, for those who've done outstanding work on whatever it is the Team does, or perhaps for something else. I can't be sure, as I have no notion what Team High School deems award-worthy.

Here's the thing--UFT High Schools elected exactly seven people in the last election. I know because I'm one of them. Thus far, Team High School hasn't bothered to ask any of us anything whatsoever about anything.

Team High School means jobs for someone or other. I'm not sure who, though I have a strong inkling it starts with the Unity Caucus members who got paid to run the workshops 200 people attended. I was actually in a working group with one of them, I think, and I noticed him asking Michael Mulgrew a question in an informational video about Friedrichs. This was one of those spontaneous videos where people just sit around and ask the President off-the-cuff questions, and every one of them just happens to be a UFT patronage employee for whom actual high school teachers did not vote. It's curious Mulgrew appears to favor such spontaneous chat. It makes me wonder why, when real live elected High School Executive Board members ask questions, he doesn't even hang around to listen, let alone respond.

What does Team High School do besides send out newsletters and provide work for Unity loyalists? Well, it's hard to say, and I can only assume we lowly high school teachers aren't supposed to ask. If they wanted our input, or that of anyone who hasn't already signed a loyalty oath, they'd ask for it. Of course, that hasn't happened, and Team High School rolls along on its merry way, with no input whatsoever from the people it purports to represent.

The good thing is, whether or not you voted for Team High School (and most of you did not), you have the privilege of paying for it. Isn't that a cool logo? Your dues at work. But when you speak, when you say we want a new voice in the UFT, they say forget about it. You get no voice in the AFT, you get no voice in the NEA, you get no voice in NYSUT, and you don't even get a voice in the organization that presumes to speak for you, Team High School.

And that's the way the UFT rolls. Gee, I can't begin to imagine why more than half of working teachers will decline to pay dues when they get a Friedrichs do-over. After all, leadership surely knows better than those of us who actually vote. Otherwise, they'd seek input from us. And you have to admit, Team High School with No Elected Representation Whatsoever hasn't got much of a ring to it.

Still, it's not the kind of thing that makes me "Loud and Proud." How about you?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Class Size Shmass Size, Says Arbitrator

I went last month to see an arbitrator about the oversized classes at my school. Silly me, I thought when you violate contractual class size rules, the remedy was to fix the class sizes. But I was just naive somehow. I mean, why should the DOE abide by the rules when they could just make up an "action plan?"

The genius arbitrator, who gets paid $1600 per day for this incredible wisdom, decided it would be a great idea to have the teachers of oversized classes in my school do one fewer C6 assignment a week. The teachers in Forest Hills High School, for reasons that escape me utterly, get one fewer C6 for each oversized class. So if I have two oversized classes, I lose one C6 period a week. If a FH teacher has two oversized classes, she loses two C6 periods a week.

Why the discrepancy? Maybe it's tougher to have oversized classes when you're that far west. Or something. Funny how the DOE can be so preposterously arbitrary. Haven't they got a rubric?

Hey, maybe I can go rob a bank, and instead of giving the money back, I can make an action plan. I'll work as a teller one hour a week for ten weeks, and then I'll take all the cash and buy that chateau in the south of France. Works for me.

On this astral plane, unlike the arbitrator, who evidently knows everything, I'm just a lowly teacher. This notwithstanding, unlike the arbitrator and DOE lawyers, I have actually taught oversized classes. I know what it's like to have 50 kids in a room. I know what it's like when no one helps and you have to sit and wait. And you know what? The only way that got better was when they took the extra kids out.

In fact, this year opened with my co-teacher and I having several oversized classes. It's great to have a co-teacher. It's great to be able to discuss ideas, what works, and what doesn't with someone who's actually got a stake in what's going on. It's great to be able to add to what you do with a different point of view. It's great to try different approaches to things you've done before.

What is not great, though, is teaching over 34 kids at once. If what you value is participation, you can't really make it happen effectively in such a hugely populated room. The point of team teaching, I think, is to make things better, to model adult cooperation for kids, and to give them a little more than they'd bargained for. To use it simply to get around a class size rule ought to be criminal.

And for the edification of The Great and Mysterious Arbitrator, offering one fewer tutoring period a week does not alleviate non-contractual class sizes. It just means fewer resources for the poor kids you've condemned to class sizes higher than the UFT contractual maximum, which is already higher than class sizes anywhere else in the state.

What's the point of having a contract if the employer can cavalierly break it, toss you a marshmallow, give the kids nothing whatsoever, and then pay some arbitrator an obscene amount of money for this alleged service? Sorry, but I don't want oversized classes. I've taught in trailers and closets. I've seen sheets of ice on the floor. I've had no heat, no AC, and sometimes no floor. I've seen railing fall off the trailer like a medieval lance to be used for jousting. I've seen floods making it very tough to make it out, and ice making it very tough to make it out alive.

But I've never been told screw you, teach the extra kids, and we'll give you a period off from tutoring. What you need when you have oversized classes is NOT extra time. Extra time does NOT help you to manage an oversized class. You do NOT need more planning time. You do NOT need to do a little less tutoring. And let's not even try to pretend that less tutoring helps kids in oversized classes in any way whatsoever.

What you need, and let's not forget what the children in your class need as well, is a reasonable class size. 34 is already too high. Higher than that is not reasonable, especially when you're supposed to be jumping through hoops and doing all sorts of extra assessments.

Anyone who doesn't know that is not a teacher, and has no idea what teaching entails. And anyone who doesn't know that has no business doing class size arbitration. Honestly, I don't think you need to be a teacher to recognize how nonsensical this "action plan" is. I'd label it a "no action whatsoever" plan.

I hope the arbitrator sleeps well tonight. It must be nice to have a job in a nice clean office where you can do any damn thing, pat yourself on the back, cash your check and go to the next gala luncheon, or whatever it is these folks do when they, along with the DOE, aren't throwing our children to the dogs.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

UFT Leadership--Wake Up or Give Up

I was a little upset at the AFT's early endorsement of Hillary. I had one or two issues with candidate Clinton. But they did a "scientific survey" that asked who knows whom who knows what, and that was it.

Of course no one asked me or anyone I know, but I don't travel in the circles Randi or Mike do. I'm just a lowly teacher who talks to other lowly teachers, you know, the kind who get rated by Danielson and live with the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. Michael Mulgrew, like every UFT officer, has never experienced that, so why should he worry?

Anyway, we all know how the Hillary Project came out. We now face a GOP President, Congress, Senate, and any moment now, Supreme Court. This last detail has not escaped the attention of UFT leadership. It appears that, while Friedrichs did not prevail, some copycat will. This will make the United States of America effectively a "right to work" state.

Now "right to work" is a misnomer. Everyone has the right to work. It's just that, in a union shop, you may be required to actually pay into the group that negotiates for you. What "right to work"  really means is "right to not pay dues." It's a right to weaken union, and a right to weaken collective bargaining. In Wisconsin, it's crippled union, as was its intention.

NY State is a bastion of liberalism, more or less, and it is possible that legislation could circumvent it. Of course it's questionable whether our esteemed governor, who ran on a platform of going after unions, would support it. But it's possible with the urging of UFT and NYSUT (among others), NY State could pass legislation that says everyone must pay union dues.

The thing is, there's a bit of a timing issue here. Next year a Constitutional Convention will appear on the NY ballot, and it's imperative we defeat that. Otherwise, folks like our buddy Andrew Cuomo could open up our pensions and make us all explore cat food diets into our golden years. It would be really unfortunate if the two things were to overlap and our enemies could twist our support for union into a campaign against our pensions. Of course that may not be a problem if the Friedrichs copycat doesn't rear its head in the next 12 months.

But there's another problem, and it's more fundamental. That problem is the insidious nature of the loyalty oath powered United Federation of Teachers. We are not an activist-driven union, and in fact we are the polar opposite. A full three fourths of our membership deem it a waste of time to even vote in union elections. Most think about union only when it's time to get a pair of glasses every other year. UFT hasn't done a boots on the ground activity in over a year, and even those are mostly populated by loyalty oath signers shoring up patronage points toward keeping their trips or jobs.

So now leadership has concrete concerns about what to do if they lose the dues checkoff. Predictably, their instincts are completely off-base, trying not to alienate Donald Trump supporters in the ranks. The thinking appears to be, if we're nice to them, maybe they'll volunteer to pay dues when the time comes. That is, of course, ridiculous. It's yet another step in the direction of not taking chances, the same direction that brought us the spectacular and devastating loss of the Presidential election.

Hillary did not stand for universal health care. She did not stand for a living wage for all Americans. She did not stand for free college tuition, and even advanced the preposterous argument that such a move would subsidize the children of Donald Trump (as though they'd even consider state schools). The AFT supported these positions, and no less than President Randi Weingarten ridiculed Sanders supporters as "Bernie Bros" in tweets that stereotyped us as thugs. How primitive of us to want better lives for Americans, to want our brothers and sisters to enjoy the same rights as citizens of most non third-world countries.

UFT is but one local, but it's 28% of NYSUT and controls 33% of NYSUT votes. NYSUT is but one state, but it's the largest delegation in AFT. So make no mistake, we are the tail that wags the AFT dog. Our unwillingness to take stands, to take risks, to mobilize our ranks is deliberate. It concentrates power in the hands of the very few, and they are not gonna relinquish it any time soon. NYPD and FDNY may find the overwhelming majority of their members voluntarily pay dues, but that won't happen with us. The people who sit on the 14th floor at 52 Broadway aren't judged by Danielson and have little empathy for those of us who are.

The fact that they are too cowardly to even utter the name of Donald Trump in a resolution condemning the bigotry he's engendered just underlines how utterly out of touch they are. This bodes ill for our survival as a union. We have a President who urges us to get on social media, but can't be bothered with it himself. We have a President who doesn't bother to answer email from chapter leaders. We have a President who can't even be bothered to sit through his own Executive Board meetings. He walks in whenever he feels like it if he shows up at all. Then gives a little talk, and leaves without even listening to anyone else. How much more out of touch can you get?

If there is any chance of our surviving in a Right to Work United States of America, it's time for a sea change in our sleepy and complacent leadership. Otherwise, it's clear the only thing they value are those cushy offices on the 14th floor. I wonder if they'll be able to pay for them with a 70% drop in dues revenue.

Monday, November 28, 2016

UFT Executive Board November 28th--We Can't Risk Offending People by Mentioning Trump

Secretary Schoor welcomes us.

Open Mike

Sara Shapiro From Adult ed chapter.  Presents incident about AE consultation meeting. Mentions Ms. Mills, superintendent, who runs meeting. Says she was verbally attacked by Mills. Asks for help. Says when CL addressed issue of interruptions of classes demanding data, Ms. Mills said it was needed, and that it should be resolved amongst UFT members. Said it was also admin.

Says Mills lost control and began screaming. Says she shouted at principals it was their job. Says Mills was hostile and frightening, yelling. Says she shouted to her, “Some people should never be teachers.” Asks for help. What recourse does UFT have for this type of abusive behavior? How can we ensure there is no retaliation? What steps does UFT recommend for me? What can UFT do to ensure this not occur again? Will they officially censure Mills and report this to chancellor?

Schoor—Thank you for coming forward. We’d like to bring this up in meeting with deputy chancellors. Shapiro approves and Schoor says it’s a good first step.


Jonathan Halabi
New Action—There’s a motion, but no indication of who made it. This is highly unusual. Who made motion?

Schoor—Leadership of union.

Halabi—Why didn’t this address what was taken away? Chief effect was to remove language. Thinks there should be open discussion on this. Name of Donald Trump was removed without indication. Pretty big step. Merits discussion here.

Schoor—approval is on minutes. If you want to bring up issue in front of body, you may.

Halabi—May I amend resolution via email? Is this province of regular executive board member?

Schoor—We’re gonna vote on minutes. If you wish to debate, you may.

Minutes passed. MORE-New Action votes no

President’s Report

Mulgrew is not here.

Staff director’s report

Leroy Barr
—CL training this weekend

DA January moved to January 18th. This month 14th. Exec. Board next week.

David Garcia RosenMORE—Sad seeing how people vote and we just take Trump’s name off. Would like update on issue of mass incarceration in USA. Last time we were told what AFT did. What will UFT do? NYC students are impacted by these laws. Concerned that leadership more concerned with political correctness than being leaders. We have Pres. elect who has sworn to vigorously enforce drug laws. What is update? Why is leadership afraid to use Trump’s name?

Janella Hinds—Regarding mass incarceration, we are doing research. Many of us have viewed 13 and are doing research. We have taken specific action on Riker’s Island. We want to raise age so fewer teenagers are there and make sure students receive education. Today there was meeting with Council member Danny Drone. We are actively engaged in work around making sure our students don’t end up there and that they are treated well if they are.

Rosen—Why was Trump’s name removed?

Schoor—Union represents different people, parties, ethnicities. We have membership that voted for Trump. We didn’t change resolved, only Whereas/.

Arthur GoldsteinMORE—When are we gonna debate this?

Schoor—A little later

Schirtzer—Many members voted for Trump. We know who the ed. secretary will be. Friedrichs will come back under new name. We have to be honest, this will happen. We have to do things now. The only reason we won was because Scalia died. What are we going to do differently to better engage our members? We want union to grow.

Schoor—Loud and proud campaign.

Hinds—We had day of action to kick off our Loud and Proud campaign. Activists demonstrated support and showed solidarity. There were safety pins, posters. This work will continue. Not just about 52 giving info, but about us working to have all our voices heard.

Schoor—Mike we share your concern and will be responsive.

Ashraya GuptaMORE—Asking about resolution calling for immigrant liaison at every school. Were reports of teachers saying insulting and threatening things to undocumented students. Should be ally at every school for those students and their families.

Schoor—On our agenda with deputy chancellors, who are very concerned.

Marcus McArthurMORE—I read Mayor de Blasio has received endorsements from other unions. What is our position and what mechanisms are there for members to weigh in?

Schoor—Personally, he’s been a good mayor for us. No union had contract when he took over, now most do.  We believe he will continue to be fair with labor if re-elected. Sanitation endorsed.  We look favorably. UFT controls endorsements. Asks Paul Egan to discuss this. Will first come to AdCom.

Reports from districts:

Rich Mandel—reports about 3rd annual Thanksgiving drive. Was big success. 150 children from temporary housing played games and got new winter coat, hat, scarf. Thanks for donations. Collected over 500 jackets. Delivering to schools. Also delivered ten turkeys.

Alan ?—Tenure workshop for new teachers. Superintendent was there. Plugged TDA.

Elis Ranu?—December 12th tenure workshop with superintendent.

Karen Allford—Coalition for homeless holiday party. Asks for unwrapped toys. Collecting in borough offices or will pick up in schools.

Schoor—More homeless students than ever before?

Allford—83,000 but probably more, as some families live “doubled up.”

George Altomore—While politicking goes on, our teacher’s best contribution is what it’s all about. Were two big conferences—FL committee—paid $55 each and gave own presentations. Saturday—NYC Art teachers—growing in numbers. We are union of professionals. Let’s always remember what we do best is for children we teach.

Camille Evey—DR District 16—tenure workshop, over 65 teachers with new supe. Almost zero teachers got tenure before, but now 27, with support from UFT. Praises superintendent for support.

Schoor—UFT has teacher center people at tenure workshops.

Ellie Engler—Camille and superintendent came up with model for a district. We’re trying to get it funded by DOE. People with BA in area would be invited into fellows program to get Master’s in teaching and would intern at schools with benefits, credits. salary.

Schoor—This is cooperation from new admin we didn’t get from Bloomberg. We have input, and this is indicative.

Legislative reportPaul Egan

Much discussion of football game. There will be several recounts. These numbers, though, are likely to hold up. Great every vote is counted, unlikely to change results. While we may be disgusted be Sec. of Ed., it requires Cabinet appointees to be reviewed. She never had job, married into money, made mess in Detroit. Even is she is approved, she is walking into job wounded. Many turned down by Senate.

State Senate—Simka Felder—caucus with GOP. Means GOP is in power, two races under recount. Marcelino, will probably win. Venditto going back and forth. Today, lead is now 9 for Venditto. More people stayed home than voted for candidates in national election. We have to tell people the importance of voting.

Talk about march in DC week of inauguration. Unclear whether it will happen.

Resolutions—Opposition to Constitutional convention

Mel Aaronson—urge we make this most important thing for ourselves and state for next year. Constitution says every 20 years convention is on ballot.  Last time this was voted on was 1997 and we defeated it. Can open every single law in this state at same time to group of people who will discuss every issue. In 1977 there was one with recommendations. Every one was turned down by people of state.

If we lose, next year, 2018, there will be election. Will be 200 delegates with salary and expenses. Could cost with just that, tens of millions. We have to tell people. Biggest problem for us is, in 1938, amendment added that once pension credit granted, it can never be diminished or impaired. That’s why we have tiers. We have many allies, unions, conservationists. Support for separation of church and state. Public funds, now, not used for parochial schools.

Our constitution must stand. We have best plan to supplement pensions anywhere in country. Can be changed. Urges we support this resolution.

Amemdment—we work with other orgs. and individuals to defeat.

Mike SchirtzerMORE—propose UFT launch immediate educational campaign in our chapters and workplaces about the threat that this Constitutional Convention presents. 

Paul Egan—Asks we delete word immediate. We are in contact with other groups. This is in our plans.


Vince Gatley
—Add word after UFT, “chapter leaders and delegates.”

Schirtzer—Says leadership has resources CLs and delegates don’t.

Amendments pass.

Vince Gatley—Work has to be done in schools, not on 14th floor.

Schoor—Resolved, that UFT urge CLs and delegates lead campaign to defeat Convention.


Jonathan HalabiNew Action—Moves to reconsider Respect for all people to restore language we unanimously voted on.

Schoor—You have to vote in favor to consider.

Leroy Barr—Starts discussion.

Halabi—Original language specified Trump’s abusive behavior toward women. Now says presidential election did. It is a resolution that was motivated by hostility Trump displayed toward communities, schools, immigrants. That’s why it was unanimous. Wasn’t presidential election. Can’t understand not using name.

Dolores ?
—thinks of Thanksgiving meal. This body has been body that includes everyone. Though I don’t support Trump I don’t want to alienate people.

?—Agrees, sorry, opposes Trump being there. Heated discussions in my school. Have to respect person who voted for Trump. We need all members to stand up together. We are family.

Ellen Driesen—District straddled communities—mine voted heavily toward Trump. Can’t alienate even one CL. Will lose quarter of schools.

Ashraya GuptaMORE—also knows Trump voters. Are friends. Don’t want to alienate them. But I don’t see how presidential election can do these things. Also, if we’re getting ready for fight membership must recognize what Trump said will disempower us. They need to know we see them Trump’s potential victims as friends. Hasn’t yet happened.

Vince Gagley
—proposes after words presidential election, campaign rhetoric. Can we neutralize language to get agreement?

David Garcia-Rosen- MORE--there are times in history that call for something different. When someone votes to deport my friends, incarcerate my friends, convert my friends- they can not be in my circle of love. We represent all ethnicities, Trump attacks women, muslims, immigrants, LGBT, Blacks and Latinos not the presidential election.

Maria Kallo- I get what my brothers and sisters are saying, but were need to build a family together. we need to represent all members, build family? We can’t take off the gloves and say Trump’s name to build family. we have to be united, we cant antagonize our members. We stand on the leadership’s shoulders. They are more experienced than all of us. Mike Schirtzer is my daughter and son’s teacher. we agree to disagree, but we stand united in the union. We have to pull our own ego back and do what is good for everyone.

Arthur Goldstein
--MORE--We cant risk antagonizing people - using your logic we should not have supported Hillary, you antagonized me because I’m a Bernie supporter. the Trump supporters were antagonized the entire election. By this logic we should never take sides or endorse anybody.

Struck by absurdity of not wanting to take sides after having Hillary office at 52.

We, the high school representatives,  enthusiastically supported the resolution brought to us last week. In the weeks following the election, there have been hundreds of racists, bigots and homophobes feeling emboldened and acting against our brothers and sisters all across this country. In Queens there are three incidents I know of.

I’d wager, or at least hope, that every single person in this room was part of the presidential election. We didn’t vote for swastikas in playgrounds. We didn’t vote for hijabs being torn from people’s heads. We didn’t vote for abuse of anyone based on race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation. It’s not us standing around using Nazi salutes and shouting Hail Trump.

But people who indulge in that nonsense invoke the name of the man who calls Mexicans rapists, the man who wants a blanket ban on Muslim immigration, the man who has railed against Hamilton and counting votes, but has yet to utter one word against racism, bigotry, homophobia and all the things we collectively deplore.

By refusing to mention the name of Donald Trump, we are pandering to racists, bigots, and homophobes.

I ask  name of Donald Trump be restored.

Sandy ?- Doesn’t need Trump’s name. We should place Hitler’s name. Trump is not important enough. He is a nothing.

Speaker—believes we should use Trump’s name. If we do not want to be decisive, why did we support Hillary? We endorsed her. Stein, Johnson and Clinton did not push racism.

Jackie Bennett
—supports amendment Vince brought up. Wants to clarify saying election increased hostilities.

Mike SchirtzerMORE—glad debate is happening. Jonathan’s point was everyone supported. 24 hours later was changed. We all know Trump supporters. We’re arguing not to be divisive, to antagonize. I try to have civil discourse. I have family who voted Trump, family undocumented, LGBT family. I understand we don’t want to antagonize.

Wasn’t Hillary who attacked my students, called them rapists and drug dealers. My students can’t sleep at night. We are the only thing between attacks on our kids. They want to make our kids data and money. We’re here because we love our kids. We have to tell people who voted for Trump they did something wrong. They are family. But I have to say to my students looking at deportation that Trump is problem.

Leroy Barr—You can’t make amendment of something not on the floor. Asks for motion to reconsider. We failed to engage members enough to understand dangers before them, damages to their way of life. We couldn’t get people to understand no vote was vote for Trump.
How do we get our members to table, to front lines in battle that is looming? If we don’t do that we will fail again. The education never stops. Can’t educate someone when you shut them down. In our passion we have to get members back to table, to understand dangers that lie ahead. They are not engaged. We need everyone. We have to vote up motion to reconsider.

Schoor—Motion to reconsider needs majority vote.

Halabi—discussion on motion? Thanks Leroy for opening debate, and thanks for vigorous debate. In spirit of compromise, we should support Vince’s amendment.

Schoor—We should add words campaign rhetoric.

Mike SchirtzerMORE--Moves to put Trump’s name back.

Schoor—motion fails, we are adjourned.

Special thanks to Mike Schirtzer for helping with the notes while I waited on line to speak. 

Trump---I'M Not Wrong. YOU'RE Wrong!

Have you ever met a person who is always right? A person who clings to whatever he or she says no matter what? I have. These people are really difficult to get along with. They're utterly inflexible, and cannot be persuaded by evidence.

Now perhaps we all have elements of this in ourselves. We are fiercely protective of our children, for example. We believe what we believe. Maybe we are religious. Maybe we believe in teaching or writing a certain way. Perhaps we have life-long beliefs and they're hard to shake. Maybe we belong to a fraternity or club and believe strongly in what it does.

But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about someone who makes factual errors and denies them utterly. We all do stupid things sometimes. If I do something stupid and get caught on it, my instinct is to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry I threw that cheeseburger at you. I was momentarily angry and it won't happen again. But another person might react differently. I'm glad I threw the cheeseburger at you and I'm gonna throw another one tomorrow.

People like that are dangerous. You can't really depend on them for anything because they can't see clearly. Everything they say is clouded. Everything is filtered through a thought process that tells them they can never be wrong. So their judgment is always at question. Thus, when the President-elect of the United States tweets something like this, it's cause for concern:

There is, in fact, no evidence whatsoever to support this contention. It's been reported by various right-wing websites and commentators, but it's based on nothing. President-elect Donald Trump, however, cannot bear the thought that more people voted for his opponent than him. It would make him a "loser," as he likes to label people, and that simply does not conform with his worldview.

So here is the President-elect of the United States, contending that the election he won is rigged, as he so frequently suggested as a candidate. Does that mean we should have a recount? A do-over? Apparently not:

Trump is upset that anyone would dare question his victory. He needs to not only condemn the effort, but also to attack his opponents. Any criticism of him is unacceptable. A person with this sort of temperament who becomes President of a country that values free speech is bound for perpetual disappointment. I can't recall a President in my lifetime who wasn't subject to withering criticism on a regular basis.

More upsetting is the possibility that such a juvenile personality will be in charge of diplomacy for the United States of America. A person like this could easily start wars to settle personal vendettas. Why not? It's not as though he or his children would be on any battlefield.

Personally I do not believe Donald Trump can or will get through a single term as President. The GOP surely doesn't like him either. After all, who could personally like anyone like that? Maybe a mom. I don't know. My friend Fred Klonsky suggested to me that this was yet another ploy to divert attention from some thing or other that Trump had done. But the fact is this tweet falls right in line with the sort of nonsense Trump's been saying and doing for years. A guy who places his name in huge gold letters all over the world has a big ego. And honestly, it's unseemly for the President of the United States to portray himself as a narcissistic, self-serving, juvenile. Even if it's a ploy it isn't a smart one.

I think we will soon see President Pence, with the same abysmal policies, but fewer insane and delusional tweets. It's not really good news, but at least Pence will think twice over starting nuclear was over some preposterous imaginary slight.