Wednesday, May 17, 2017

CPE 1 Victory Is Model for Us All--Garg Out, Marilyn and Catlin Back

 Update--All charges have been dropped against CPE 1 UFT Delegate Cailin Preston.

The NY Times, though its coverage is kind of terrible, features the remarkable victory of CPE 1. From this article, you'd have no idea that Principal Garg placed the UFT chapter leader on charges for no reason, according to an arbitrator's ruling. You'd have no idea their delegate is still sitting around cooling his heels in some rubber room somewhere.

What readers of this blog will certainly notice is the difference between how teachers and principals are treated in this system. Garg will retain her salary and title of principal, but will have no school to run. She won't face charges. No 3020a for her. She won't have to worry about making some deal with the DOE to retain her job, she won''t face suspension, and she won't face a fine. There is clearly a double standard at the DOE.

The larger story, though, the one the Times does not seem to grasp, is the incredible activism of the CPE 1 community. They stood strong against an abusive and power-hungry principal. They never wavered, despite ridiculous pressure placed on their teachers and even their parents. Not content to simply remove teachers for no good reason, Garg banned several of the parent activists from the school, making it difficult or impossible to meet their children, some of whom had special needs, at their school. I can understand doing this in extreme cases, but this appears to be nothing but abuse of power.

The aftermath here is tough to say. Will UFT Unity take complete credit for this? Probably. That's what they did for Townsend Harris. The fact is we from MORE/ New Action spent hours meeting with the CPE 1 community and tried to address their concerns. We were part of it. Unity was part of it too, but they were also the part that applauded someone who trash-talked the activist parents and teachers at last week's Executive Board.

The fact is that primary credit should go to the CPE 1 community. I spent a lot of time listening to one of the parents in particular, and I rarely see the sort of passion and dedication that came from both them and the activist teachers combined with the relentlessness it took to sustain this. The parents and  teachers who undertook this are fantastic role modles. Many of us are understandably disheartened and disillusioned, and unwilling to take a stand. Perhaps it's natural that many of us need a crisis like this to bring us to our feet. I saw much the same from Jamaica High School a few years ago, though Bloomberg's abuse of power ensured they did not win that fight.

Nonetheless, there is a fight and we are under assault on multiple fronts. Hopefully, your principal is not an insane vindictive lunatic. Maybe your principal is supportive and understanding. But even if that is the case, we are under attack from the lunatics in the Trump administration, who not only want to cut all the federal money that goes toward reducing class size, but also want to privatize public education. Just because that doesn't work in prisons, with health care, or even in education is no reason for them to halt the profits of their BFFs.

And while Governor Andrew Cuomo has been doing his very best impression of Bernie Sanders lately, the fact is he's imposed a vindictive and idiotic rating system on all of us. Who cares if the American Statistical Association says teachers affect test scores by a factor of 1-14%? Cuomo wants to fire more teachers and be a tough guy. And let's not forget Tier 6 or the tax cap. UFT leadership may be warming to him, but he has no moral compass and will say or do absolutely anything to become President. His ambition is the only thing that matters.

And the city, alas, is no bargain either. While it's come around on Garg, and while it can be pressured, the fact is it needs to be pressured. Common sense didn't work. Looking at the situation objectively didn't work. Relentless pressure and news coverage seems to be what finally took the Arg out of Garg.

And that, my friends, is exactly what we need to practice more of. I'm ready.

Are you?
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