Thursday, March 15, 2018

Exec. Board Takeaway March 12th--The Good, the Bad, and the Worse

I was walking to the meeting with KJ from New Action, and the first thing he said to me was, "I can smell the food." I told him that had never happened before and it seemed like a good sign. Maybe they had finally abandoned those awful sandwiches. We got there and there was all sorts of food. I tried a piece of the eggplant and it was pretty good. We hoped maybe a better fed meeting would be a more productive meeting but alas, that was not to be the case.

Eric Mears started the meeting with a great analysis of Danielson. He picked out parts that suggest teachers should essentially work without compensation if they wished to have good ratings and asked how that was even legal. He pinpointed lines that said we should, if we were truly effective, rat out our brothers and sisters. Thank you, Charlotte Danielson. You're an example for us all.

It was great that Eric was able to plod through all that nonsense to find this stuff. It's kind of remarkable that no one else did before. I often lack the patience to go through tedious crap with a fine tooth comb but I really appreciate that he was able to do it. Let's see what leadership has to say about this. Maybe they'll actually look at whatever he gave them. Stranger things have happened.

We got to hear further about the massive abuse in Adult Ed. I'm really surprised that a sitting cesspool like that has yet to be drained. It seems to be affecting some of the most vulnerable people in the city, and I'm not talking about the teachers. This superintendent appears to be getting away with murder.

ATRs are given an opportunity to vote in UFT elections for a chapter leader who will almost certainly not be their chapter leader come September. It hardly seems worth it, if you ask me. Why should I be worried about a leader who won't be my leader? This distinction, alas, appears to escape leadership, who didn't even wish to discuss it. My understanding is that they contend the ATR to be a temporary aberration. The fact that they enabled it via the 2005 contract, as well as the fact that it's endured for twelve years appears not to register.

When I asked whether we could reach out to help ATRs I was told that this wasn't a question. Howard Schoor said I knew how to write a resolution and indeed I do. I can certainly provide one for the next meeting, but given the dismissiveness of that remark I'm not confident we'll prevail. It's kind of disturbing to think that, at the same time we're urging people to remain in the union, we're telling a whole group of people stuck in a purgatory created by leadership that they don't get a meaningful vote. It wouldn't be my preferred approach.

Amy Arundell spoke about saving two Queens schools, which was a very positive achievement. It is sorely disappointing to see Bill de Blasio, for whom I worked, to whom I contributed, whose first inauguration I attended, closing schools a la Mike Bloomberg.Worse, it appears he fired the PEP member who enabled it, in direct violation of a campaign promise.

Now I rejoice as much as anyone when we avert closings. Sadly, I'm not sure I can agree that this is the result of union power. Union power is certainly desirable, and I'm sure it didn't hurt. But you also have to factor in the dumb luck of getting someone on the fake school board to vote with you. The likelihood of it happening again after this firing hovers around nil. I remember going to many raucous and passionate hearings for Jamaica, and the PEP shut it anyway.

Then we come to a class size resolution. I've been trying to negotiate with Unity for months. I don't recall offhand when Howard Schoor said they'd be happy to meet about this, but the fact is I reached out immediately after that meeting. I got one response saying it was a good idea to do things this way rather than just hitting them with resolutions, but no one answered my repeated requests for a meeting. I followed up, but by last Monday I'd had it.

I sent our resolution in during the school day. Unity, months ago, passed a resolution demanding they get to see any resolution at least an hour before the meeting. Ironically, they themselves need not show us anything and can bring whatever they feel like with no notice whatsoever. In any case, on Monday I learned exactly why they need to do this stuff.

In response to our resolution, Unity put up two guys to respond. The first guy got up and read from a piece of paper about what he wanted stricken from the resolution. I stood up and was going to ask why he wanted to do that. As it happened, Unity put up a second guy with an explanation for their rationale. He explained that asking for any particular number in class size reduction would cost us money in the contract negotiations.

Now it was odd that he said that, because the resolution specifically said that this was unrelated to contract negotiations. Yet he and at least one other speaker said that any specific request for class size reduction would come with a price in negotiations. The Unity Caucus therefore voted to remove all references to specific class size from the class size resolution.

Evidently, since our resolution now made no specific class size demands, there would be no specific price paid during negotiations. In case the implication of that is not obvious. I'll point out that this means we specifically demand nothing whatsoever in the way of lowering class size. Certainly the city won't be charging us for that, and the clause saying we ought not to pay during contract negotiations remains.

I was really struck by what the guy who appeared not to understand why he was asking what he was asking when he added
Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.

Note the implication here. UFT is already doing something, evidently, and will continue doing  whatever that may be. As someone who grieves class sizes twice a year, I'm thoroughly unimpressed with our fight. Thus far, for over half a century and counting, it's yielded precisely nothing that's reduced class sizes. The notion of continuing whatever it is we're doing appeals to me not at all. The notion that UFT has been carrying the torch for lower class sizes is preposterous beyond belief.

That's why I voted against my own resolution, and that's why I'll vote against it again if it comes up in the DA. I know a meaningless, toothless nothing when I see one.
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