Friday, April 01, 2016

Can Opt-Out Become a Thing in NYC?

It's refreshing to at least read about opt-out in NYC. While the Chancellor grants it lip service, it's pretty clear she portrays the cosmetic changes as significant. Being unable to look into her soul, I can only assume she actually believes it. Sadly, that doesn't speak all that well of either her judgment or how well-informed she is.

Governor Cuomo pretends to be a student lobbyist while pretty much being at war with public education. He vilifies teachers, supports hedge-fund backed charters, and only makes superficial changes in response to public outcry. Sadly almost none of that outcry emanates from my union, undoubtedly the most powerful in the state, the United Federation of Teachers.

All over Long Island, parents get letters from teacher unions not only advising them to opt out their kids, but also including forms making it easy to do so. UFT stalls, hems and haws, and can't decide whether they support the activist opt-out position or Arne Duncan's threat to withhold money from districts that don't sufficiently subject their kids to tests that are developmentally inappropriate, tests that may or may not be used to rate teachers on junk science.

It's very significant that MORE/ New Action is running a presidential candidate who's an opt-out activist, a candidate who travels all around the state speaking to opt-out. UFT Unity tried to buy her off when she went to DC to address the House, but failed. They did manage to get a UFT-Unity rep to voice their watered down, wishy-washy message, but they couldn't buy Jia Lee.

There's still time for the UFT to get on the right side of history. I only worry that it may be too late. Now I'm stunned to hear Mulgrew speak against Common Core, even after he offered to punch our faces if we didn't support it. But he only did that after Cuomo made some new commission to study the standards, change the name, and pretend it isn't the same old crap it always was.

It's gonna be an uphill battle to popularize opt-out as long as our leadership insists on remaining years behind the times. I hope there are whispers in the Unity monopoly that actually see what's going on and what's yet to happen. But given their ardent support of charter schools, high stakes testing, junk science teacher ratings, mayoral control, the ATR, the current APPR, the future worse APPR, pay eleven years late with no interest, higher copays, and more, I'm less than optimistic.

With new leadership, everything can and will change.
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