Sunday, August 02, 2015

What Do Mulgrew and Christie Have in Common?

Chris Christie says it's time to punch teacher unions in the face. This isn't surprising coming from the bombastic lunatic he is. This is a guy who makes agreements to fund pensions in exchange for higher contributions from state employees, and then turns around and says, "Screw you, I'm not paying." This is a guy who shouts down young teachers in public. This is a man who will take a state helicopter to watch his son play in a little league game. And I don't suppose we need to discuss the Fort Lee traffic issues any further.

We know that Christie means us no good. We know he has no regard for public education, and that he has contempt for public school teachers. We know he thinks we only work part time and are therefore overpaid. So it's not very tough to oppose Chris Christie, or indeed any and all of his fellow GOP contenders for President.

What's really striking here is that Christie appears to have taken a cue from none other than UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who suggested that people who tried to take his precious Common Core would get their faces punched and pushed in the dirt. It's incredible to be able to draw a parallel between someone who clearly hates us and everything we stand for and someone whose job entails representing our interests, but there you are.

Sometimes, it's good to be angry. For example, when we went five long years without a contract, a lot of teachers were pissed off, and justifiably so. A rep from UFT came to my school a few years ago when we were hanging tough on teacher evaluation. I was very supportive of that. I believe I upped my contribution to COPE to show my approval. A member asked when we were gonna get the raise that the cops and firefighters got. The UFT rep said union leadership was very smart, a line I often hear at the DA. He said that Bloomberg could not get the new evaluation system until he negotiated a contract, and that the member would get the contract.

Shortly thereafter, the smart leadership agreed to an APPR system without a contract, and if I recall correctly it was to help ensure NY State got Race to the Top money. This money went toward things that were of no assistance whatsoever to NY teachers and students, but for some reason we supported it. Not only did we fail to negotiate an APPR system, but we placed our faith in Reformy John King as an impartial arbiter. Anyone who's followed the King's career, one year teaching public school, two years charter, then running a charter school to running NY State education, knows he's just about as impartial as Bill Gates or the Walmart family.

So what's the point? Is Mulgrew just like Christie simply because they both wish to punch us in the face? No.

The point is this--no one should be talking about punching teachers in the face. It's a little more outrageous when it comes from the President of the largest teacher local in these United States, but it's absolutely unacceptable from everyone.

And while it's clearly necessary to fight demagogues like Christie, we ought never to have to be threatened by our union leaders. It is their very job to support us, not the nonsensical corporate programs foisted upon us by the likes of Christie's BFFs.
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