Thursday, November 06, 2014

Hamlet and Randi

When I first started this blog in 05, I started to learn a lot about my union. I started it with the intent of offsetting the insane nonsense I regularly read about public schools. While I thought the 02 contract was poorly conceived, giving time for money when we could later get zeros that would make us end up working for free, I didn't have much idea about UFT history or leadership.

Then the 05 contract hit, and I could not believe how absolutely awful it was. Along with others, like Chaz, Paul Rubin, and James Eterno, I went to war in the comments section of Edwize, the now moribund UFT blog. It was ironic because I had just negotiated the notion of writing on Edwize and had thought of scrapping this blog in favor of writing for UFT. I had been published a few times in NY Teacher and it seemed like a good idea.

I found I was the enemy, to be welcomed with some of the most inane ad hominem nonsense I'd ever seen. I was pretty shocked that the great minds of my union couldn't muster real arguments.

I became pretty nasty too, and for years said the most awful things about then-UFT President Randi Weingarten and her staunch defender Leo Casey. I'm not quite as nasty as I used to be, and I try not to get so personal as I used to. Still, I'm amazed at the absolute audacity of this political machine, and I now know it entails not only UFT, but also NYSUT and AFT. They are either wholly subsidiaries of UFT, or perhaps of Randi herself. I can't tell. Maybe someone out there can.

So there is a machine, and it does something, but I'm not entirely sure what. Diane Ravitch posted that Randi was not voting for Cuomo, but later had to modify the headline. Randi said something like she was voting all WFP, but that she was not beginning with the top of the ticket. A clever commenter suggested perhaps she was beginning at the bottom, and in fact nowhere did she explicitly say she was not voting for the alleged Democrat who just called public schools a monopoly.

It's pretty clear to me that Randi's a polished politician and I'm not. I mean, I can't understand why we supported mayoral control the first time, let alone after it proved an unmitigated disaster and we failed to amend it. I don't know why we support charter schools or Common Core. It's a mystery to me why we partnered with Steve Barr and brought Green Dot to NY, particularly when he thanked us by working for parent trigger. I don't know why Bill Gates was keynote at AFT, particularly when he thanked us by trashing our pensions as soon as he walked out. Though Randi now opposes VAM, she's supported multiple agreements to use it, including ours.

Mostly, I have no idea why we scuttled Zephyr Teachout's bid to take the WFP nomination. We managed to deprive New Yorkers of a great choice for a truly progressive candidate, we managed to show that Revive NYSUT's claims of opposing Cuomo were ridiculous nonsense, and we managed to place WFP below the truly progressive Green Party, if not off the ballot altogether.

So Randi clearly takes much more nuanced positions than I do, and spends a great deal of time thinking about them, pondering the possibilities, considering all sides, and perhaps even more sides than all sides. I look at things that hurt working teachers, and say, "Who needs that?" I can't look at them and say, "Well, maybe it's not that bad. Let's try it." Of course, not being a mind reader, I have no idea whether or not Randi thinks that either.

But I'd love to know why on earth she couldn't just say outright, "Andrew Cuomo is a despicable, unprincipled, disingenuous opportunistic thug and I won't vote for him."

If anyone knows, please clue me in. I'm all ears.

Related: Perdido Street weighs in.
blog comments powered by Disqus