Friday, March 19, 2021

Note to MATH Advocate Andrew Yang--2 + 2 = 4

Andrew Yang, who famously wears a MATH lapel pin, was just featured in Politico, and had this to say:

“I think it’s ridiculous that we’re tenuring teachers at like the two-year mark or something, and make it so you can’t be paid or you can’t be disciplined or fired.”

That's certainly an interesting statement, and on multiple levels. First of all, we are not "tenuring" teachers "at like the two year mark or something." It seems to me that if you're going to stand up in public and criticize us, you ought to have some small notion of what exactly you're talking about. I've been teaching since 1984, and back then it took three years to achieve tenure. As I was hired as some sort of sub, and I swapped licenses a few years in, it took me closer to six.

Every teacher in NY State, though, can tell you that it now takes four years to achieve tenure. Not like the four year mark or something.  It's fairly precise, and you'd think a guy advocating for math in any form would also advocate for precision. In fact, I'm more of an English guy, and I seek precision in student writing. But that's beside the real point. 

Let's look at this other thing he said, that teachers can't be disciplined or fired. I'm chapter leader of the largest school in Queens. I have sat through dozens, maybe hundreds of discipline meetings. I'm here to tell you teachers can be and are disciplined. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what he's talking about. As for being fired, there is a process called 3020a in our state, and teachers are indeed fired. I know teachers who've been fired. Perhaps Yang wants us to be fired arbitrarily and capriciously, as Bloomberg did.

As for the other thing, "you can't be paid," I don't even know what he's talking about. It doesn't logically go with his complaints, false though they are, about teachers not being disciplined or fired.  In fact, considering the other things Yang says about us, despite his famously favoring universal income, maybe he wants it for everyone but teachers. Who knows? With language that incoherent, pretty much anything goes.

The real point here is that, if Andrew Yang is walking around saying things that every teacher knows to be patently untrue, it means he doesn't interact with teachers. He doesn't check his information with them. Andrew Yang is also pro-charter school. It's pretty common knowledge that most charters are not unionized. What might that imply about his feelings on union? 

Personally, I'm anti-charter. UFT, though, has not been. UFT has supported charters, brought them to the city, and even opened charters. So it's odd that Yang would target us for that. It's always disappointing when politicians scapegoat us. It's even more disappointing when they do so by telling lies about us.

And here's where Yang pulls out a real whopper of a tale:

“I will confess to being a parent that has been frustrated by how slow our schools have been to open, and I do believe that the UFT has been a significant reason why our schools have been slow to open,” Yang said.

I'm glad he confesses to being a parent, at least. As for the rest of his statement, I'm not at all sure what he bases it on. Fact--NYC was the only major city to open buildings for a long time. A lot of members were unhappy with this, but the fact is UFT worked with the city to find ways to open. What slowed school openings, in fact, was the ineptitude of the de Blasio administration.

UFT was ready to plan for September last year, but de Blasio's DOE sat on its hands and hoped for the best. It was in no way prepared for September. It hemmed and hawed, said everything was fine, screwed up safety measures, and was only kept in check by us, as we demanded safe conditions for everyone in buildings. Unless Yang has an issue with safety, it behooves him to educate himself as to what exactly went on in the city he deems himself equipped to lead.

I  couldn't say that any better. Patrick sat on the PPE for years, speaking truth to Bloomberg. While I can't imagine that Andrew Yang (or anyone) could speak Spanish as poorly as Mike Bloomberg did, he clearly knows just as little about public education. Mayoral control is an abomination. No mayor should have absolute power over an education system that belongs to a community. 

Giving this sort of power to someone who can't be bothered conversing with those of us who actually do the work, someone who opines before considering (let alone researching) his words, another self-appointed expert who invents "facts" on the spot--That would be an egregious error. 

Andrew Yang is surely good at something, and I hope he finds out what it is. This notwithstanding, he ought not to be mayor of NYC, not now, not next year, and not ever.

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