Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What Does UFT Leadership Stand For?

We know that President Michael Mulgrew loves Common Core, because he clearly stated he'd punch anyone who tried to take it away from him. He then ridiculed those who said Gates had anything to do with it, though Gates clearly pumped hundreds of millions into it, several in the direction of teacher unions. While ridiculing Gates' involvement was juvenile and absurd, and while the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers disagree with Mulgrew, at least we know it's something he stands for.

Does leadership stand for parity with other city unions? Apparently not, since they all got raises in 2010, and it's OK for UFT members to wait until 2020. Perhaps leadership feels money is worth the same in 2020 that it is in 2010. Although a dispirited membership swallowed this contract, not everyone concurs. In fact, I just bought a car, and when I asked the dealer if I could put off payment interest-free until 2020, he didn't see it as a viable option. I won't publish his precise remark here, as this is a family blog.

Does leadership stand for unity, as in union? I'm gonna have to say no, since very worst aspect of the new contract is limited due process for ATR teachers. While Mulgrew stood up and said some teachers complained 3020a took too long, no one I know who's gone through it has complained he or she was given too much time to present a defense. ATR teachers will get one day, and according to Mulgrew, they can face dismissal if two principals complain they were shouting in the hall.

Does leadership stand for rational argument? I'm gonna have to say no, since the contract was sold largely via logical fallacies. One of the questioners at the DA (one who Mulgrew did not shout down), after telling Mulgrew what a swell guy he was, asked what would happen if the contract were not approved. Mulgrew launched right into an oft-repeated appeal to fear, that we'd have to get in line behind 150 other unions. He neglected to point out that would not be the case if he had not negotiated such a substandard contract.

A popular argument to those of us who opposed the contract was that we opposed teacher empowerment. That's a classic strawman and it's ridiculous. We opposed precisely what I said we opposed, and no matter how many committees there are to negotiate how junk science and teacher detention are conducted, those were the more pressing issues.

Does leadership stand for placing ATRs back in the classroom? A ten year contract suggests otherwise. Does leadership stand for ATRs having a chapter and a voice? I've seen absolutely zero evidence of that.

Does leadership stand for reasonable class sizes? As far as I know, class size, controlled by the UFT Contract, has not been renegotiated since 1967. It is the number one priority of NYC parents. It's further beneficial to both teachers and students to lower class size. What has UFT leadership done in the last 44 years to change this? I'm pretty sure they've offered valuable lip service from time to time, but the fact is, even with a mayor who appears not to be insane, nothing is being done, and it looks like nothing can be done until 2018. Doubtless the mayor, facing huge payments as a result of the current contract, will be less than eager to negotiate smaller class sizes (not to mention increases in salary).

We know that leadership has stood for mayoral control, and did so again after it proved a miserable experience in school closings. We know that Mike Mulgrew helped negotiate the APPR that judges teachers by junk science. We know we've not only supported charter schools and colocations, but additionally opened and colocated our own UFT Charter School.

We know that leadership does not believe in democracy. We know that because after Mike Shulman, at the time part of opposition, won the high school VP they changed the rules so that all VPs were voted at large. We know that because district reps, once elected by chapter leaders, are now selected by loyalty-oath bound Unity Caucus members. We also know that every single representative on NYSUT and AFT has signed a loyalty oath and must vote as told or lose not only the aforementioned vote, but also all union-related perks.

And we further know that perks fail to motivate our reps to do the right thing. Otherwise, why would we have scuttled the Zephyr Teachout attempt to gain the Working Families line? What purpose does a Working Families line even serve when people who support working families can't even get the nomination?

Our leadership stands for free trips to LA. Our leadership stands for patronage. Our leadership stands for absolute power.

And our leadership sorely needs replacement.
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