Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Chapter Leader Training Part One

Last weekend I went to a chapter leader training in Rye, NY. To the left you can see a view from my room. It was really very nice, and you can never know too much. It turns out I'd been through quite a bit of what was discussed, though I picked up a few things here and there.

At the plenary on Saturday morning, Michael Mulgrew got up and said that some people wanted to have principals have total control over teacher ratings. I was pretty surprised that he had given that no thought whatsoever, spouting out the same nonsense I’ve seen on Twitter. Once again he went to the numbers, that there were 2,000 poorly rated teachers then and are only 700 now.

Mulgrew clearly wasn’t concerned about burden of proof shifting from the DOE to teachers. Like everyone else I’ve seen spouting the Unity talking point, he didn’t even seem to recall that part. What’s the big deal about people being guilty until proven innocent? What’s the big deal if few 3020a hearings used to be resolved in favor of the city, and there’s a strong possibility that few future ones will be resolved in the favor of teachers.

Mulgrew did share some pearls of wisdom. “You can’t go on TV if your head is shining way too much.” That got a laugh from most of the crowd, but having heard him make a clear slander against people I work with and respect, I wasn’t laughing so quickly.

Mulgrew spoke of Karen Lewis, and of how, according to him she asked, “Mulgrew, can you imagine Rahm Emanuel being the good guy against the governor” He said it would be like us saying Bloomberg was a good guy.

I guess he forgot about Randi going to the baseball game with Bloomberg, or Klein hugging Randi (if it were me I’d have washed my whole body with Brillo pad) or that we approved Bloomberg's mayoral control not only at its inception, but also after it was pretty much well-established to have been an abject disaster. Maybe he forgot that we approved the ATR, or the raises that weren’t really raises because we worked more time to get more money. And let’s forget about the miserable deal he himself negotiated with a mayor we deemed to be friendly.

Then he spoke about the success of a school that had given up the “top-down craziness.” I, for one, am not a strong supporter of “top-down craziness,” and that’s precisely why I won’t be voting for Michael Mulgrew and his loyalty oath-signing band of 800. Mulgrew spoke about how so many principals made so many demands, and how people complied, but with no real passion. Of course he’s right.

But my passion comes from within. That’s why I can’t join Unity. Who the hell wants to be part of a group that’s as top-down as the principals Mulgrew criticizes? Well, 800 or more, evidently. Thanks, but I’ll take James Eterno. Thanks but I’ll take Jia Lee, and Lauren Cohen, and Mike Schirtzer, and Jonathan Halabi, and Kit Wainer.

Mulgrew asks what we can do for the chapter leader. For my money, he can liberate them. He can stop tying them to a failed philosophy and requiring them to support any damn thing he feels like. Now I didn’t get up and say that, and maybe that’s on me.

But even more telling, to me at least, was at one of the final sessions. I was sitting with a bunch of mostly Unity chapter leaders who were astounded that I had over thirty years and wasn't planning to retire. Several spoke of the 25/55 initiative of a few years back. One looked longingly back to it, wishing he had joined up. He said, "At the time, I had no idea this profession was going to s**t."

You know, if even the Unity chapter leaders know what we're feeling, it's almost inconceivable that folks like Mulgrew have managed to not to see it. I guess if you're a chapter leader, teaching every day and talking to working UFT members, you can't really avoid it. But it kind of makes you wonder how Mulgrew can thank the Heavy Hearts for making our system even worse.

How do you sign a loyalty oath to Unity and publicly espouse positions you know firsthand to be untrue?
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