Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If You Liked Philly Teachers Losing Contract, You'll Love Astorino in NY

Teachers in Philadelphia recently had their contract pretty much tossed in the trash. Step-raises were abolished, and teachers will be forced to pay into health care. This is ostensibly because the district is desperate for money. Why?

The SDP faces a $300 million budget shortfall largely created by slashing state education aid by $1 billion, and abandoning a state school funding formula designed to increase resource allocations to the highest need schools and districts

Yet they've got $400 million to build a prison, in case their priorities are not yet clear enough. It's illegal in Philadelphia for teachers to strike, just as it is in New York. But in New York, where UFT just went six years without a contract, we have the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law. This amendment keeps existing contracts in place until and unless a new one is signed.

Rob Asorino doesn't much like the Triborough Amendment. He says it's choking the government. This, of course, is the very same government that refuses to tax the wealthy BFFs of folks like Astorino and Cuomo, preferring to drastically cut education and, among other things, send police out on missions to ticket  dangerous people like you for much-needed funds.

It doesn't matter to Astorino that we don't have the most basic tool of unionism in our repertoire, the right to strike. Astorino thinks we sat around like zillionaires for six years, laughing at Bloomberg as he denied us our contract. But Astorino can't have it both ways. If he wants to change the reasonable Triborough Amendment, let him repeal the draconian Taylor Law.

If he doesn't want to do that, he may as well be Scott Walker, who happens to be his enthusiastic supporter. Actually, no one in Wisconsin knew Walker was going to decimate union either. But Astorino's insistence that we have an advantage is an outright falsehood. Triborough is simply a small compensation for a fundamental right that we don't have. There are draconian penalties for teachers who strike in NY.

In fact, I wouldn't put amending Triborough past Andrew Cuomo either. Cuomo pretends to be a "student lobbyist," but he maintains a Gap Elimination adjustment that strangles districts of state aid, while concurrently preventing them from raising taxes for than 2% or rate of inflation, whatever's lower. Essentially, he's ensuring worse service in public schools even as he stands up for Moskowitz and privatization.

Cuomo is awful, unacceptable. But it's quite clear he has to, from time to time, at least pretend to be a Democrat, rather than the self-serving opportunist he is. Cuomo was the first Democrat for whom I declined to vote, and I'm not changing my mind this time around. But any teacher who votes for Astorino may as well be voting for his BFF Scott Walker. Teachers can ignore who Astorino is, and vote for him anyway, but they're deluding themselves. I see no labor policy that differentiates him from his BFF Walker.

The only acceptable candidate for those of us who actually support education and working people is Green Howie Hawkins, already endorsed by Diane Ravitch. Maybe you think you know better than Diane.

But, having read three of her books,  I've yet to meet anyone who knows better than Diane. 
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