Thursday, March 29, 2018

E4E Sets Agenda at UFT Delegate Assembly--Screw Class Size, Ignore Poverty, and Hope for the Best

There are few things that upset me more than the pernicious influence of Bill Gates. Gates is why we have junk science as a regular part of our evaluation. Gates is why we moved toward small schools, which even he now admits was a bad idea. Gates is why the entire evaluation system was scrapped and why it's repainted and refurbished every year or two.

Of course leadership doesn't see this quite so clearly, and that's how Gates became a keynote speaker at an AFT Convention. Randi Weingarten seemed to embolden the troops as they ridiculed teachers who protested him. The Gates offshoot in the UFT is called Educators 4 Excellence, and it's run by a couple of newbies who gave up teaching almost immediately after forming it to do whatever it is they do on the Gates dime. If you want to know more about them, read Chalkbeat. E4E is their go to for quotes from teachers, or in the case of their leadership, ex-teachers.

Leadership got together with an E4E member and whipped up a resolution about incorporating innovative reactions to discipline as opposed to suspension. You see, a lot of people of color are suspended. A lot of homeless students are suspended. And in typical Gates fashion, we turn away from the root cause of of school issues, poverty.  Gates deems it too complicated to bother with, and focuses on school issues instead. Last night, we followed his lead and did the same. The fact that Gates has never done anything that actually worked is neither here nor there.

I'm all for using whatever works to solve issues. But the resolution we passed last night continues our longstanding policy of ignoring the issues and playing along with the reformies. This policy is precisely why teacher morale is so very abysmal. You don't really see that if you're spending all your time sitting around 52 Broadway.

I'm not E4E, and I wouldn't be in a million years. I'm merely one of half a dozen people elected by the high schools to represent them. Leadership's attitude toward the high schools, essentially, is go screw yourselves. I'm not particularly sure how they expect that to win members come Janus. For example, an issue near and dear to my heart is class size. While we alone can't address poverty, we could improve learning conditions for those who suffer from it. In stark contrast with the outlandish ideas Bill Gates pulls out of his wealthy ass, we know that more attention from teachers can actually help children.

I brought this up months ago. Howard Schoor said they'd be happy to meet with us. Despite reaching out multiple times, they were never happy enough to actually do it. A few weeks ago, at the Executive Board, we decided the hell with it and put up our resolution. We proposed that we push to follow the C4E law mandating smaller classes, as opposed to placing numbers in the contract.

UFT Unity chose to strike down the clauses in our class size resolution that focused on class size. The guy they sent up to propose the changes didn't appear to even understand what he was reading. They then voted, lockstep as always, as per loyalty oath, to remove those clauses. Why bother with voting your conscience, if you have one, or repping the members, as though they matter, when there are gigs to be had and conventions to attend?

Mulgrew was in a huge hurry to get through 7 resolutions in 20 minutes, and that's probably why he didn't even give me enough time to stand up when he was looking to debate the anti-suspension resolution. After I walked, they may have done the class size resolution. This one was last on the list, I believe. I'm not sure whether or not they considered it the least important, but I certainly did. Toothless as it was, it made no difference whatsoever. Maybe I'm going about things the wrong way. My approach was to run in a David and Goliath election for a seat I thought we had a shot at winning. When we won, I thought we'd be able to make a change.

One thing we do is stick member issues in their faces a few times each month. It's quite clear to me that Unity would sit around and do nothing but rubber stamp the leadership if we weren't there. Nonetheless, maybe running in democratic elections isn't the way to go if you want to influence leadership. Maybe, instead of fighting for rank and file teachers, we should just join E4E. Evidently, that's who leadership listens to these days.
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