Friday, October 26, 2007

Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

A lot of GOP faithful are regularly disappointed as their candidates march around the country, promising an end to Roe v. Wade and constitutional amendments against flag-burning. Year after year, they fail to deliver on these promises, but deliver only tax breaks for the rich and super rich and war. And while it's true of my GOP friends will passionately defend these tax breaks and wars, the fact is they never really receive what they're promised.

I know how they feel, because my union, year after year, promises smaller class size. They're even willing to publicly declare victory when a piece of obviously toothless legislation promises to reduce by a fraction of a student per class, with no consequences for failure to deliver even that. Year after year, they promise to do something about the conditions in schools. But what do they deliver?

Well, this year they've delivered a merit pay program that promises to have little or no effect on anyone or anything. The newspapers herald Michael Bloomberg as a visionary who gets things done against enormous odds, and Randi Weingarten as a "reform-minded" union leader. Still, my school's at 250% capacity and the class size of 34, the highest in the state, is routinely violated.

In fact Ms. Weingarten visited my school one day to point out the unconscionable overcrowding. What was the result? Nothing whatsoever, in fact. Sure, she looked good standing there talking. But when push came to shove she did nothing. And she couldn't even get the 25/55, purchased with the worst contract in our history, without ceding something extra to the mayor and blatantly screwing the new teachers she claims to worry about retaining (who will have their salaries cut, despite an overwhelming possibility they'll never receive the pensions they're being compelled to pay for).

And what happens? Mayor Bloomberg loudly proclaims victory (and why not, since a good part of teacher salaries will now support much-needed stadium seating). Ms. Weingarten declares victory (and why not, since as a "reform-minded" union leader, everyone knows she's bound for greener pastures).

Another win-win, for everyone but the teachers, the kids, and the parents.
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