Sunday, June 09, 2019

UFT at Puerto Rican Day Parade 2019

This is NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza with UFT Vice President Evelyn de Jesus. It's kind of cool to have a chancellor who will show up on a Sunday to support a UFT event. As you know, if this were Joel Klein, everyone who touched him would have to wash their whole body with Brillo pad. (I know Norm Scott once hugged him and survived, but I can't speak for everyone who had that unfortunate experience.)

Last time I saw the chancellor was at the UFT Spring Conference, where he picked up a guitar and serenaded Evelyn. He was singing about Puerto Rico and she was all tearing up.

It's feels strange to have a chancellor who spends time with UFT members rather than on the phone taking orders from Eva Moskowitz, but I guess I could get used to it. The chancellor also posed for pics with a few other people. 

That's my friend and colleague Mayra on the right, along with the chancellor and me. Unlike me, and unlike the chancellor, she's actually Puerto Rican. She gives us both street cred in this photo, so we're grateful.

The Puerto Rican Day Parade is my favorite UFT event, for some reason, and this is the third year I've attended. This year, because we were standing around waiting for such a long time, we actually had time to watch a whole lot of the parade.

On the left is a guy who had a lot of people on the street screaming. I didn't know who he was, but Mayra did, and it turns out he's Ricky Martin. When my daughter was very young, she'd get up and dance whenever La Vida Loca was on the radio. It didn't matter if we were home, or in a pizzeria, or wherever. It was pretty cute when she did it, but I couldn't recommend you or I doing it. 

Of course Chuck Shumer was in the parade. A lot of people were screaming at him, but it was not remotely the same way they screamed for Ricky Martin. Maybe Chuck went into the wrong line of  work. Still, it's hard to imagine people paying money to see him sing. I could imagine people paying him money to not sing. Mayra was impressed that he wore a guayabera. That's what you call the shirt he's wearing, evidently.  You never see him wearing it at meetings with Donald Trump, but I guess it must get pretty cold at those meetings.

The chancellor stayed with UFT for the entire parade. Someone on Facebook told me he knew good optics. I'm not sure. I think he likes being with teachers. Of course the chancellor is under a little pressure for having fired or demoted a few white women he hadn't chosen. I'm glad he fired them, and I wish he'd fire a whole lot more Bloomberg leftovers. If I were the chancellor, I'd fire just about everyone at Tweed.

The first people I'd fire would be the ones who meet us at Step Two grievance hearings. What happens there is one person pretends to represent the superintendent, and another pretends to represent the chancellor. Actually, the person you see repping the chancellor at one meeting might rep the superintendent at the next. The chancellor's rep pretends to listen to UFT, then pretends to listen to the superintendent, and finally rules against UFT no matter what.

Q--What do you call four fired Bloomberg leftovers?
A--A good start.

There were a lot more UFT members at this year's march than last year or the year before. That had nothing to do with the chancellor, because absolutely no one knew he was going to be there. I'm not sure whether it's chance or a sense that there needs to be more involvement, but I'm hoping for the latter. With Trump in the White House and a SCOTUS that would as soon strangle us as look at us, that's a good thing. 

I had to take a photo of this statue on Fifth Avenue. I wasn't sure what it symbolized, but I imagined it to be Cathie Black, the woman Michael Bloomberg selected to be chancellor. You may recall that Cathie Black had never taught, had never held a position in education, but owned a penthouse on Bloomberg's block or something. I supposed she also attended the same cocktail parties and gala luncheons.

She lasted all of three months. She once visited my school with Dennis Walcott, her eventual successor, at her side. She sat like this statue while Walcott fielded all questions. While Walcott was mostly a mouthpiece for Bloomberg, at least he was smart enough to speak for himself.

What a horror it must be for her to see a chancellor who's actually qualified walking up the street, and with a bunch of teachers beside him, no less.

At the right is José Feliciano. Mayra and I wandered ahead of UFT and it turned out he was in front of us the whole time. He was being honored for lifetime achievement. Mayra was impressed that I knew who he was. I thought everybody did. However, if you don't know who he is, he's a singer/ guitarist who had AM hits with Light My Fire and Feliz Navidad

This dog marched the entire parade with us. Well, he didn't actually march, what with his being on a skateboard and all. But he did the entire parade, and of course he marched with UFT. He occasionally did wheelies, but alas I didn't catch any photos of them. He was quite well-dressed, and if you look carefully you can see he's wearing sneakers. 

To the right you can see my dog Toby, sporting a very fashionable Yo Soy Boricua neckerchief. Toby was pretty mad when he saw that the dog above had attended the parade while he had not. Toby is, in fact, Puerto Rican. I told him the other dog had a skateboard and sneakers, not to mention a Yankee hat. Toby is demanding all those things for his birthday, which fortunately is not until December. I'm hoping he forgets by then but you never know. I did, however, promise to consider bringing him next year. We shall see.

One of the really cool things about the Puerto Rican Day Parade is that by the time it gets here, summer is just around the corner. Join us next year. 
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