Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Lesson for Joe Nocerra

There are a lot of things you can do if you don't wish to investigate a situation beyond whatever you hear on the news. You could continue watching your TV and believe whatever it told you. You could join a cult, perhaps. Of course, a far more desirable option is to get a column with the New York Times, the paper of record, and spout whatever gibberish happened to catch your fancy.

To Joe Nocerra, Steven Brill's book is revelatory, Never mind that it's largely billionaire-sponsored nonsense. The important thing, as Mr. Nocerra sees it, is that Brill's goals can be easily achieved by courting former part-time UFT President Randi Weingarten.

I don't doubt he's correct. After all, Ms. Weingarten decided to make Bill Gates the keynote speaker at the AFT convention. Can you imagine the conversation that led to that?

Weingarten: I have a great idea. Let's have Bill Gates be the keynote speaker at the AFT convention.

Toadie #1: Love it, RW!

Toadie #2: I love it more, RW!

Toadie #3: You are a genius, RW!

Weingarten: The motion is passed.

The spectacle of those who disapproved being ridiculed at the podium by Weingarten was an absolute disgrace. And Gates thanked her and the AFT by attacking teacher pensions the following week. If I'm not mistaken, he soon came out for higher class sizes, echoed by Arne Duncan.

More recently, Weingarten actually hosted a party for anti-union, anti-teacher Steven Brill. I'm proud not to have made the invitation list. Brill suggests in his book that Weingarten should be chancellor. No doubt he's thrilled about the piece of crap contract she managed to shove down the throats of UFT members in 2005. Thanks to that contract, 1200 teachers are running all over the city like gypsies, week to week, place to place. I met one today who cried to me. I've had ATRs email me, for years now, of the discouragement and depression this placement has caused them. One wrote that she was moved to resign, no doubt a big victory for folks like Bloomberg, Gates and Brill.

Joe Nocerra knows little or nothing about what really goes on in schools. He knows, like Rod Paige before him, that Randi Weingarten never met a giveback she didn't like. He knows that she's a new kind of union leader, the kind that doesn't worry about getting more money or better working conditions. Unfortunately, what America needs is not worse conditions for teachers, but better conditions for everyone.

And while I don't expect someone as incurious and sloppy as Mr. Nocerra to bother reading Diane Ravitch, or any reality-based education writers (Nocerra prefers to call anyone opposing "reforms" status quo, and to quote blatantly stereotypical nonsense from KIPP, another outfit he can't be bothered researching.), there is something for the UFT to learn here.

In a nutshell, appeasement doesn't work. Gates thanked Weingarten by stabbing her in the back, and Brill, who trades in pushing a billionaire point of view, is hardly likely to help working people. After the 2005 contract, the tabloids praised the UFT for about five minutes before going back to trashing us for our cushy jobs and lavish lifestyles.

There is no point in giving these people anything, They are parasites. They claim to put "Children First, Always," but cut their budgets, overcrowd their schools and overload their classes without a second thought, They allow ten percent of their teachers to disappear by attrition and take responsibility for nothing. They allow schools to close, because they "failed," but the failure is never, ever attributable to them. And the abundance of high-needs kids in those schools, the ones who either don't make the charters or are "counseled out," are sheer coincidence.

Never sell out the ATRs. Don't give them an evaluation system they can manipulate, just as they've manipulated the one in the "transformation schools."  Don't do anything, ever, to get the fleeting approval of the NY Post editorial board.

I don't have high hopes for Nocerra. But if we don't learn, we may as well pack in the union, sign ridiculous contracts like the one at Green Dot, and give up altogether.
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