Sunday, January 21, 2018

DA Takeaway January 2018--Do Black Lives Matter?

There were several striking aspects of the DA last Wednesday. First, Mulgrew said we didn't need to pass a resolution to attend the Women's March. Later, Janella Hinds proposed a resolution to do just that, but it never got voted on. Evidently, the march was quite successful without our resolution, so I'm glad about that.

Mulgrew spoke of Cuomo somehow finding a workaround for the punitive Trump tax plan. There is skepticism on that, and it may be all talk, but as a NY State taxpayer I certainly hope they figure something out. It's hard to trust Cuomo, who appears to have no moral center, who first ran on a platform of going after unions and now paints himself as our BFF. Cuomo clearly harbors ambitions to be President. Ideals and principles, for him, are simply things to be manipulated so as to broaden his prospects. If the wind changes, his friendship will wither and die.

There were three city council members present, two of whom are former UFT. They made a great show of sympathy and friendship. That's great to see. They boasted of boosting Teacher's Choice. Teacher's Choice is fine, but $250 a year is not a game-changer. Like many city teachers, I'm still waiting for tens of thousands of dollars I earned eight years ago. And we're looking at a new round of pattern bargaining that doesn't look all that promising. This concerns me more than $250 this year.

Hopefully these legislators will wield their influence and persuade the mayor to hire a Chancellor who is Not Insane. For me, that's the defining quality of a good administrator. Alas, the higher they rise, the less chance we find that quality. And indications are de Blasio is looking for a Chancellor to follow in Carmen "It's a beautiful day" Fariña's footsteps. Alas, I don't see a whole lot of sunlight between her positions and those of her old boss, Michael Bloomberg.

Bad principals continue to be empowered and supported. Look at CPE1, where parents and teachers had to raise a very public ruckus to remove a vindictive and small-minded principal. Had that not happened, both the UFT chapter leader and delegate would have faced charges. Look at the abysmal choice of principal at Townsend Harris. Fortunately the students rose up, did their homework, and avoided that. Of course there are other ongoing horror stories. It's sad that administrators see war with working teachers as the way to do their jobs or get ahead, and pathetic we have city leaders who will enable it or look the other way.

And now we come to the so-called "splinter issue" of Black Lives Matter. Before we address that, let's look at the issue with which LeRoy Barr compared it, the Vietnam War. Evidently, years ago, we failed to take a stand against it. I'm not sure exactly why failing to take a stand against what we now know to have been an unmitigated disaster serves as a role model. And were that not enough, according to David Selden's The Teacher Rebellion, Albert Shanker expelled Unity Caucus members for opposing the war, so it seems to me we supported it.

We now know, unequivocally, that Shanker was wrong, and that the Unity Caucus position was just as spectacularly wrong. So it's beyond curious that we'd use that as a premise for a current position. It's also kind of hard to reconcile that Unity Caucus claims not to oppose this resolution, but asks us to vote it down nonetheless. Perhaps we're once again trying to court the Trump voters, as we were when we passed a toothless and preposterous resolution attributing outrageous acts of racism to "the Presidential Election" rather than President Donald Trump.

I have bad news for UFT leadership. A whole lot of Trump voters are not anxious to pay union dues. I met one at 52 Broadway who asked me how he could stop paying dues. Dancing around Trump's name or failing to take a clear ethical stand will not win him over. He just wants to keep the money. Furthermore, weasel positions tend to alienate people who embrace progressive positions, and I'm one of those people. Hillary took us for granted and it's pathetic Unity Caucus can't discern the painfully obvious lesson in that.

Bottom line--it's disgraceful that we have to debate, on any level, whether black lives matter.
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