Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Watch What They Do...

...and ignore what they say, because their words mean nothing.

UFT President Randi Weingarten, who made no effort whatsoever to get class size reduction written into the UFT contract (which is the only thing keeping class sizes are as low as they are), is now demanding one billion dollars of the CFE lawsuit be directed toward class size reduction.

The Mayor's consistent unwillingness to contribute dime one to this settlement resulted in its reduction by two -thirds, hardly a boon for city kids. And when this mayor says he's reduced class sizes, Class Size Matters says he has not.

Ms. Weingarten also made no effort whatsoever to make the CFE settlement part of the UFT contract, resulting in two contracts that failed to meet inflation, not to mention the draconian givebacks we suffered in 05. However, the current CFE settlement, to the delight of the mayor, provides no oversight whatsoever in how the funds are spent. Governor Spitzer, who's impressed me very little during his brief tenure, is fine with that, apparently:

A spokeswoman for Gov. Eliot Spitzer said that in his budget message next week, he would propose overhauling the state’s school aid formula, greatly increasing the dollars available for city schools, and would allow school districts to use the money to reduce class size but not require it.

The spokeswoman, Christine Anderson, did not indicate precisely how much money Mr. Spitzer would direct toward city schools. In his campaign, Mr. Spitzer repeatedly promised to spend $8.5 billion more a year on needy school districts statewide, including at least $4 billion a year for New York City.

Where's that promise he made now? And does anyone who reads the papers believe that voluntary reforms are the way to go with Mike and Joel?

Ms. Weingarten is also talking tough about Chancellor Klein's tenure proposals. Again, let's see what they do. Personally, I don't believe this chancellor wants to withhold tenure. If he does, that will reduce the pool of teachers, and he might have to raise salaries to attract more of them. That goes against everything this city has stood for for thirty years.

Weingarten's comments came in an exclusive interview after Klein told the Daily News Editorial Board he would talk to the union about a pay-for-performance pilot program in high-needs schools.

"I think paying people to produce results, especially in communities where we're not seeing these results, is what we need to do to reform this system," Klein said.

Weingarten has agreed to discuss incentives for teachers to work in difficult neighborhoods or shortage areas like math and science but said using test scores to set salaries or decide tenure is like "telling an oncologist that the only way to keep your job is for your cancer patients to survive."

Ms. Weingarten is correct, of course, but it was she who created this monster by enabling mayoral control in the first place. It was she who reinforced it by pushing the draconian givebacks of the 05 contract. Ms. Weingarten does not wish to appear an old-time union boss, and looks quite contemporary when she sends her teachers out to do hall duty, and to be permanent subs, and gives them 90-day unpaid suspensions based on unsubstantiated charges.

Give me an old-time union boss any day.

In fact, give me Tony Soprano. I don't know about you, but I've had it with people who talk and talk while never accomplishing anything.

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