Friday, January 08, 2016

DA Takeaway January 2016

Over and over, I watch Michael Mulgrew congratulate himself for not using vulgar language at the DA. Over and over, I watch him say, "Well let me put it like this..." so as to avoid saying whatever the hell is really on his mind. He cites his family members who would disapprove if he were to say whatever the hell it is he is thinking. He coyly looks at questioners, and says he's gonna put it like this, or like that, but of course there's some clever hidden meaning that we would get if only we knew whatever the hell he was really talking about.

Over and over, I watch Michael Mulgrew talk about how clever his team is, how they have secret plans to accomplish who knows what, and how they're gonna negotiate their clever little butts off on our behalf. If de Blasio wants to grant paid parental leave (and Lord knows the people who have to wait two years for the big magical chest to open need a break), we know that Mulgrew's people will negotiate it. These are the same people who endorsed two-tier due process, the ATR, mayoral control, Danielson, junk science evaluations, and the whole grab bag of goodies we've gained over the last decade. While we wait another four years for the money our brothers and sisters got in 2009, what's left to give up?

Mulgrew now says UFT will advocate for a complete overhaul of the standards. That was well-received by the crowd. Oddly, his promise last year to punch us in the face and push our faces in the dirt over his support of the same standards was also well-received, and by essentially the same crowd. Because again, when you've signed a loyalty oath and leadership supports something, it's wonderful. When they turn around and oppose the very same thing, it's also wonderful. It's a WIN-WIN!

It was kind of interesting to hear a UFT lawyer go over the history of Friedrichs. I'm not sure how many in the hall did not already understand its implications. Very few, I'd hope. It's really more important to inform those who are outside of the hall, and I suppose better-informed chapter leaders can help with that. Nonetheless, as always, a great deal of time was taken up with the usual suspects doing the usual things. The worst culprit in that regard, of course, is Mulgrew, taking up the great bulk of the meeting with his monologue.

Of course Friedrichs is critical, but aside from the history lesson we heard little new on that front. It's great that we will have people in DC but I'm not wholly confident that will change the minds of judges who hate us and everything we stand for. Notable was what did not happen at that meeting. We did not get to the resolution opposing receivership. We did not get to the resolution support the Chicago Teacher Union. And we did not get to the resolution supporting our LA brethren either.

It's a tough situation. There you are, President of the largest teacher union in the country, facing a pivotal turning point.  How many UFT members will opt to keep a thousand bucks a year rather than send it to someone who, in 2016, doesn't answer email, read blogs, or engage on social media? How many UFT members, their spirits crushed by soulless 30-year-old APs playing God, or Danielson, or both, are gonna send money to those who enabled it?

It's a tough question. I'll pay, even for a leadership that builds brick walls around its most active members, but I don't really know if I'd run around encouraging others to do so.

I'd like to see a real leader. I'd like to see someone with a vision for both teachers and students leading us. I'd like to see someone who can form a proactive argument, someone who knows when to talk and when to stop, someone who believes in building loyalty rather than buying it.

There's only one person this year who fits that description, and it ain't Mike Mulgrew.
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