Friday, December 2, 2016

Buying the So-called Ed Press: Bill and Melinda Drop a Half Million on Chalkbeat

to inform low-income parents and parents of color in Newark, Detroit, and New York about K-12 education

$525,042

Sure -- to really "inform" low-income parents of color or to propagandize for ed deform policies of Bill Gates?

I remember back when I used to go to Gotham/Chalkbeat events when we raised questions about their donors the response was that Randi also gives them money and even that I had given them $50. Trying to equivocate what Randi and I might give with Gates alone makes the reporting more than suspect.

I think it important to understand and analyze what biased coverage is and Chalkbeat must be looked at as much as what they don't cover as what they do and how they do or don't do it. We know Gates is against opt out so watch CB coverage of that issue - it will be subtle how they lean in to Gates' issues. And you will never see a word of criticism about all the Gates failures in ed policy. We know Gates is not pro-Trump so we might see a more aggressive crit of Betsy DeVos than we saw about Duncan and King -- even though when you shake those trees a lot of the same crap comes out of the leaves.

Gates Foundation: How We Work

Grant

Chalkbeat, Inc.


October 2016
to inform low-income parents and parents of color in Newark, Detroit, and New York about K-12 education
$525,042
18
Global Policy & Advocacy
United States
New York, New York
http://www.chalkbeat.org
http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2016/10/OPP1159098

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ed Deform is the NAFTA Equivalent: The Neo-Liberal Assault on Blue Collar Workers and Unions Includes Teachers

I'm writing this as a topic for discussion at tomorrow's ICE meeting. Does the analogy of NAFTA and ed deform as the same type of neo-liberal attack hold water in terms of the loss of blue collar and public school jobs as a way to lower labor costs and funnel the profits into private hands?

As we read analysis after analysis of the Democratic Party's abandonment of the working class as the reason for the Trump victory. But how many of these analysts on the left and left center delve into the Democratic Party's abandonment of public school teachers and their unions, despite the slavish worship of UFT/AFT/NEA leaders  for their almost meaningless little stool at the table?

Commentators talk about blue collar workers but neglect that the major assault has been launched by both parties on teachers and public schools. That giant sucking sound of job loss Ross Pirot warned about NAFTA in the early 90s is being echoed in the public schools by the charters and the upcoming vouchers. But no one is paying much attention to the analogy.

To me there is a similarity between a corporation going to Mexico and New Orleans and Detroit going charter - the very same idea is operating -- the same type of shift to paying lower wages. While some people are fooled by the social justice rhetoric of charters, their mostly positive response to the Trump destruction of public ed shows what they are really about. And note that some big corp just paid around $125 million for 5 charter schools in Florida.
There's charter gold in them that hills

The gold rush is on.


As long as the Democratic Party that shilled for ed deform and charters have ed deform people like Hakim Jeffries and Corey Booker and Cuomo, teachers who are being chopped will not be won over. I know my readers can't stomach what I am about to say but De Blasio was the only one who had the guts to take on Eva and he was slaughtered and backed off -- and even though so many schools are in awful shape and teachers are pissed - just see what options you have next year in the election when the choice will be DeB or an Eva Moskowitz clone -- and I bet some of the angry people who are pissed at DeB and Farina will put their head in the noose and vote for the Eva Clone because to them deB is too liberal. Good luck with that.

Trump-supporting or Jill Stein voting teachers in the UFT were so pissed at our union leaders they will never vote Democratic Party until the Republican Party screws things up so badly they have no other choice -- like imagine if non-Hillary voters find themselves with a vastly reduced pension and without a job as a giant sucking sound that makes NAFTA look like pablum decimates their jobs.

I don't see a lot of ways around this other than to think of a Bernie like party --- it would be left of any Dems and for the right wingers in the UFT out of the question but by then there may no longer be much of a UFT.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jacobin: Hillary Clinton won rich suburbs in record numbers. But her campaign failed to mobilize workers of all races

the lesson of the 2016 election is not that that the Democrats should “appeal” to the “white working class.” It is that left-wing politics will never get anywhere if we cannot harness the passionate self-interest of the entire working class.... Jacobin
There's the left and then there is the Democratic Party.
In pursuit of professional-class Republicans, the Clinton campaign made a conscious decision to elevate questions of tone, temperament, and decorum at the expense of bread-and-butter issues like health care or the minimum wage. This wasn’t just a tactical move away from some culturally distinct group of “white working-class” voters. It was a strategic retreat from the working class as a whole.
 Is there hope for the Democratic Party - or the left? The actions of the left throughout history vis a vis bourgeois parties like the Dems is worth studying (see Germany, early 30s). Would a Bernie Social Democratic Party actually work? I would bet the far so-called left would savage it too because it is not pure enough. Now this article does come from the left -- Jacobin - which if you feel generous, toss them a few bucks to continue their work. (Celebrate the new issue of Jacobin, The Party We Need,” with a discounted subscription.)

Read this little segment and tell me if there is hope for the Dems with rotten shits like Cuomo et al in it?
.....their attitude toward working-class Americans tends to take two forms. On the one hand, a growing contempt for the (white) workers who have slowly drifted away from the Democratic Party; on the other, an essentially philanthropic if not paternalistic concern for “the most vulnerable” (nonwhite) workers who ostensibly remain within the Democratic camp.  This has given us an elite liberal discourse that grows eloquent about questions of “privilege” and “empathy,” but cannot seem to imagine a politics of power and solidarity. It has given us a liberalism that adores means-testing and looks askance at universal goods — not because universal goods are too expensive, but because they might benefit someone who isn’t deservingly deprived.
Ouch! Did this writer attend a MORE meeting? Friday's ICE meeting may go on until all the rice pudding is gone. There is so much freakn' meat in this article I'm not even interested in rice pudding.
In the Midwestern swing states, Clinton hemorrhaged white “blue-collar Democrats” without winning nearly enough “moderate Republicans” to compensate. Nevertheless, the election results show that the Democrats’ conscious effort to woo the rich wasn’t entirely for naught. Clinton ran nine points ahead of Obama’s 2012 tally among voters earning more than $100,000. Further up the income ladder, among voters making more than $250,000 annually, she bested Obama’s margin by a full eleven points.... these affluent and expensively credentialed suburbs also delivered Clinton huge margins during the Democratic primary.

.......Bernie Sanders’s style of class politics — and his program of mild social-democratic redistribution — did not gain much favor in New Canaan, Connecticut (where he won 27 percent of the vote) or Northfield, Illinois (39 percent). For some suburban Democrats, Sanders’s throttling in these plush districts virtually disqualified him from office: “A guy who got 36 percent of the Democrats in Fairfax County,” an ebullient Michael Tomasky wrote after the Virginia primary, “isn’t going to be president.”

......Clinton was their candidate. By holding off Sanders’s populist challenge — and declining to concede fundamental ground on economic issues — the former secretary of state proved she could be trusted to protect the vital interests of voters in Newton, Eden Prairie, and Falls Church. They, more than any other group in America, were enthusiastically #WithHer.
......Matt Karp in Jacobin
Oy, my head hurts. The hits from Fiorillo keep comin' - hey Mike - give an old retired guy a break. I just want to play with my marbles.

First you hear the working class voted for Trump. Then you hear Hillary's average income voter was lower then Trump's. We know that the black community did vote for Clinton but we also know that  enough of a chunk weren't motivated enough to come out.
How about this one?
In New York City, whose voting regulations are controlled exclusively by Democrats, turnout in predominantly black neighborhoods also sagged from 2012. While Clinton’s vote jumped by more than 14 percent in the Upper East Side, it sank by 8 percent in East Flatbush.
Double Ouch! Can we say Hillary may have lost because not enough black voters came out for her?

And higher numbers of union workers and even Latino/a voters came out for Trump than expected. We also know that a hell of a lot of Obama voters voted for Trump or 3rd party or didn't vote at all. Around 80,000 voters in Michigan left the presidency blank or wrote in a name.

Let's not forget that Obama and Hillary fiddled while Scott Walker destroyed teachers in Wisconsin. Both the Obama and Bill Clinton admins in essence of absentia piled on the Regan assault on unions.  With weakened or non existent unions the workers had no organizing force behind them - except Trump? You see, the republican 40 year strategy of destroying unions as a way to undermine the Democrats worked - with the help of the Democrats - they are their own Trojan Horse.

A few more nuggets before reading the entire thing:
Exit polls report that Trump did even better with Latino voters than Mitt Romney in 2012. While some experts have disputed those findings, county-level results suggest that at the very least, the Clinton campaign did not generate anything like the wave of Latino voters that Democrats were expecting.

A choice between the Democrats and a party that flirts with the Ku Klux Klan is no choice at all. But African Americans can still opt to stay home — and this year, it appears many people did just that.
Republican efforts at voter suppression, including new restrictive laws in key states, likely blocked some African Americans from casting a ballot. But in many locations, the drop in Democratic turnout seems too large to be the product of ID laws and voter purges alone.

In Detroit, which is 82 percent African American, no major voting restrictions have been instituted since 2012. Yet Clinton tallied forty-seven thousand fewer votes than Obama, a decline of more than 16 percent. In St Louis’s northwestern wards, where African Americans comprise over 85 percent of the population, the Democratic vote fell by between 25 and 30 percent from 2012.
Enough to tempt you junkies to jump into this pool?

This article breaks down the vote in

Fairfax County, USA

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/11/clinton-election-polls-white-workers-firewall/

The Guardian -- How the Democrats could win again, if they wanted -- Thomas Frank

If the unreconstructed Democratic party is to be saved, I suspect, what will save it is what always saves it: the colossal incompetence of the Republicans. This, too, we can already see coming down the rails. Donald Trump is getting the wrecking crew back together, and before too long, I suspect, he will have the country pining for Hillary Clinton.... Thomas Frank, The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/29/how-the-democrats-could-win-again-if-they-wanted?CMP=share_btn_tw
Below is Frank's entire piece, which was another interesting gem sent along by Fiorillo. I have a follow up post with my own commentary -- and looking forward to Friday's ICE meeting where we can get some rational discussion.

A good time to give some bucks to The Guardian for this type of commentary.

Become a Supporter

How the Democrats could win again, if they wanted



What makes 2016 a disaster for Democrats is not merely the party’s epic wipeout in Washington and the state capitals, but that the contest was fought out on a terrain that should have been favorable to them. This was an election about social class –about class-based grievances – and yet the Party of the People blew it. How that happened is the question of the year, just as it has been the question of other disastrous election years before. And just like before, I suspect the Democrats will find all manner of convenient reasons to take no corrective action.

But first let us focus on the good news. Donald Trump has smashed the consensus factions of both parties. Along the way, he has destroyed the core doctrine of Clintonism: that all elections are decided by money and that therefore Democrats must match Republican fundraising dollar for dollar. This is the doctrine on which progressive hopes have been sacrificed for decades, and now it is dead. Clinton outspent Trump two-to-one and it still wasn’t enough.

Neither were any of the other patented maneuvers of Clintonism. With Hillary carrying their banner, the Democrats triangulated themselves in every way imaginable. They partied with the Wall Street guys during the convention in Philadelphia, they got cozy with the national security set, they reached out to disaffected Republicans, they reminisced about the days of the balanced federal budget, they even encouraged Democratic delegates to take Ubers back and forth from the convention to show how strongly Democrats approved of what Silicon Valley was doing to America. And still they lost.

This is important because winning is supposed to be the raison d’etre of centrism. Over the years, the centrists have betrayed the Democratic party’s liberal base in all sorts of ways – deregulating banks, securing free trade deals, signing off on Wall Street bailouts and the Iraq war. Those who bridled at all this were instructed to sit down and shut up because the Clintons and their triangulating ilk were the practical ones who would bring us victory.

Except that they don’t. This year the Republicans chose an honest-to-god scary candidate, a man who really ought to have been kept out of the White House, and the party’s centrists choked. Instead of winning, the pragmatists delivered Democrats to the worst situation they’ve been in for many decades, with control of no branch of the federal government and only a handful of state legislatures. Over the years, and at the behest of this faction, Democrats gave up what they stood for piece by piece and what they have to show for it now is nothing.

Another shibboleth that went down with the Hillary Titanic is the myth of the moderate swing voter, the sensible suburbanite who stands somewhere between the two parties and whose views determine all elections. These swing voters are usually supposed to be liberal on social issues and conservative on economic ones, and their existence gives a kind of pseudoscientific imprimatur to Democratic centrism.
For years people have pointed out that this tidy geometry doesn’t really make sense, and today it is undeniable: the real swing voters are the working people who over the years have switched their loyalty from the Democrats to Trump’s Republicans. Their views are pretty much the reverse of the standard model. On certain matters they are open to conservative blandishments; on economic issues, however, they are pretty far to the left. They don’t admire free trade or balanced budgets or entitlement reform – the signature issues of centrism – they hate those things. And if Democrats want to reach them, they will have to turn away from the so-called center and back to the economic left.

There are some indications that Democrats have finally understood this. Elizabeth Warren’s star is on the rise. Bernie Sanders is touring the country and reminding people that class politics are back whether we like it or not. Keith Ellison is running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

But the media and political establishments, I suspect, will have none of it. They may hate Donald Trump, but they hate economic populism much more. If history is a guide, they will embrace any sophistry to ensure that the Democrats do not take the steps required to broaden their appeal to working-class voters. They will remind everyone that Clinton didn’t really lose. Alternately, they will blame Sanders for her loss. They will decide that working-class people cannot be reasoned with and so it is pointless to try. They will declare – are already declaring – that any Democratic effort to win over working-class voters is a capitulation to racism. Better to lose future elections than to compete for the votes of those who spurned their beloved Clinton.
I suspect this will happen because this has been happening for decades; because Democrats always find a reason to put off doing what they need to do to win back the white working class. The example that springs immediately to mind is the election of 2004, when the Bush-Rove team used a variety of ingenious culture-war offensives to beat a different centrist Democrat. For several months after that debacle, Democrats contorted themselves in self-examination. They wondered about what had happened with the white working class, how they had managed to lose so many of those voters, and so on. It was especially memorable for me because my book about blue-collar conservatism in Kansas was often part of the conversation.
But before very long, the self-examination ceased. Democrats were reassured by their friends in political science that they really had no problem with the working class and that they needn’t be concerned. With a few statistical sleights of hand and enormous heaps of professional contempt for the laity, academics helped to shut down that debate.

And here we are again. Today Democrats are wondering what went wrong, but before too many fundraising dinners have been digested they will have concluded they don’t need to worry, that demographics will bail them out sooner or later, and that the right and noble course of action is to proceed as before.
This will happen because what leading liberals cannot understand – what they are psychologically blocked from understanding – is that the problem isn’t really the white working class. The problem is them.

Let me explain what I mean by reminding you what this form of liberalism looks like. Somewhere in a sunny corner of the country, either right now or very shortly, a group of tech tycoons or well-meaning private equity investors will meet to discuss what went wrong in this election cycle. They will consider many things: the sexism and racism of Trump voters, the fundamental foreignness of the flyover, the problems one encounters when dealing with evangelicals. They will celebrate some activist they learned about from NPR, they will enjoy some certified artisanal cuisine, they will hand out prizes to the same people that got prizes at the last event they attended, and they will go back to their comfortable rooms at the resort and sleep ever so soundly.

These people think they know what liberalism includes and what it doesn’t include. And in the latter category fall the concerns that made up the heart and soul of liberal politics a few decades ago: labor and work and exploitation and economic equality.

To dedicate your life to concerns like these today is to sign up for obscurity and frustration. It’s to enter a world without foundation grants, without appearances on MSNBC, and without much job security. Nothing about this sphere of liberal activism is fashionable or attractive. Books on its subjects go unreviewed and unread. Strikes drag on for weeks before they are noticed by the national media. Labor organizers are some of the hardest-working but least-thanked people I know. Labor reporters are just about extinct. Promises to labor unions are voided almost as soon as they leave a politician’s lips.

If rich liberals had listened to such people, Donald Trump might not have been able to lure away so many millions of working-class voters. Maybe they will change their ways now? Perhaps the well-meaning folks at those Florida resorts will finally close ranks with working people and their representatives?

Put the question slightly differently: will the Washington Post or the New York Times take the sad fate of Democratic centrism as a signal to bring a whole new vision to their op-ed pages? Will NPR finally say to its cast of well-graduated tastemakers: you missed it just one time too many? Will the thinktanks and pressure groups of Washington finally be told by their donors: we’re shifting your grant money to people who care about deindustrialization?

I doubt it. Liberalism today is an expression of an enlightened professional class, and their core economic interests simply do not align with those of working people. One thing we know about professionalism is that it exists to shield insiders from public accountability. If coming up with a solution to what ails liberalism means listening to people who aren’t part of the existing nonprofit/journalistic in-group, then there will be no solution. Liberals would rather lose than do that.

If the unreconstructed Democratic party is to be saved, I suspect, what will save it is what always saves it: the colossal incompetence of the Republicans. This, too, we can already see coming down the rails. Donald Trump is getting the wrecking crew back together, and before too long, I suspect, he will have the country pining for Hillary Clinton.

How the Global Left Destroyed Itself (or, All sex is not rape, but most poverty is) | naked capitalism

On the political bankruptcy of Identitarian politics... Can we now finally admit that "social justice" and Identitarian politics, absent economic justice, is a house built on sand?     ..... Michael Fiorillo comment,
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/11/how-the-global-left-destroyed-itself-or-all-sex-is-not-rape.html 
Michael Fiorillo sent this interesting piece. It bears further discussion, which we will probably do at this Friday's ICE meeting.
I think that the election has opened up issues for discussion on the left that have been buried.

How the Global Left Destroyed Itself (or, All Sex Is Not Rape)

Yves here. This piece gives a useful, real-world perspective on the issues discussed in a seminal Adolph Reed article. Key section:
… race politics is not an alternative to class politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated as unassailable nature. An integral element of that moral economy is displacement of the critique of the invidious outcomes produced by capitalist class power onto equally naturalized categories of ascriptive identity that sort us into groups supposedly defined by what we essentially are rather than what we do. As I have argued, following Walter Michaels and others, within that moral economy a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the appropriate proportions were LGBT people. It would be tough to imagine a normative ideal that expresses more unambiguously the social position of people who consider themselves candidates for inclusion in, or at least significant staff positions in service to, the ruling class.
This perspective may help explain why, the more aggressively and openly capitalist class power destroys and marketizes every shred of social protection working people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations have fought for and won over the last century, the louder and more insistent are the demands from the identitarian left that we focus our attention on statistical disparities and episodic outrages that “prove” that the crucial injustices in the society should be understood in the language of ascriptive identity.
My take on this issue is that the neoliberal use of identity politics continue and extends the cultural inculcation of individuals seeing themselves engaging with other in one-to-one transactions (commerce, struggles over power and status) and has the effect of diverting their focus and energy on seeing themselves as members of groups with common interests and operating that way, and in particular, of seeing the role of money and property, which are social constructs, in power dynamics. 

By David Llewellyn-Smith, founding publisher and former editor-in-chief of The Diplomat magazine, now the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics website. Originally posted at MacroBusiness

Let’s begin this little tale with a personal anecdote. Back in 1990 I met and fell in love with a bisexual, African American ballerina. She was studying Liberal Arts at US Ivy League Smith College at the time (which Aussies may recall was being run by our Jill Kerr Conway back then). So I moved in with my dancing beauty and we lived happily on her old man’s purse for a year.

I was fortunate to arrive at Smith during a period of intellectual tumult. It was the early years of the US political correctness revolution when the academy was writhing through a post-structuralist shift. Traditional dialectical history was being supplanted by a new suite of studies based around truth as “discourse”. Driven by the French post-modern thinkers of the 70s and 80s, the US academy was adopting and adapting the ideas Foucault, Derrida and Barthe to a variety of civil rights movements that spawned gender and racial studies.

Each of these was based fundamentally upon the principle that language was the key to all power. That is, that language was not a tool that described reality but the power that created it, and s/he who controlled language controlled everything through the shaping of “discourse”, as opposed to the objective existence of any truth at all.

For a naive if lively ski-instructing Aussie larrikan, being plunged into the hot bed of civil liberties debate was something of an eye-opener. Not least because there I was, flowing long blonde hair and all, getting it on with the same black, lesbian babe that much of the mono-gendered and rampantly tribade campus had a libidinous eye upon.

I recall several dinner debates in which I really did not understand just how out my depth that I was. At one, a gender studies major declared at a table of twenty women that “all sex was rape” owing to the act of penentration being a simulacrum with violation. When I pointed out that perhaps it was more a case of personal power and volition, as well as who was “on top”, I was unsure if she going to run me through with her fork or take me out the back and roger me senseless.

I was saved from penetration of some kind, by another more savvy girl who suggested that during sex the vagina may, in fact, be engulfing the penis, and so the violation may be the reverse!
Take it from me, dear reader, that the place was in an advanced state of politico-sexual meltdown.

Amusement aside there was something else transpiring that was going to, and has, had a very dramatic impact upon global politics. The post-structural revolution has led directly to the rise of the identity politics that today dominates Left-wing policy-making in Western nations and, concomitantly, the decline of class-based politics.

How exactly this happened is impossible to trace with any precision – though the book “No Logo” does a pretty good job of it – but we can observe the rough manner of transformation.
The post-structural revolution transpired before and during the end of the Cold War just as the collapse of the Old Soviet Union denuded the global Left of its raison detre. But its social justice impulse didn’t die, it turned inwards from a notion of the historic inevitability of the decline of capitalism and the rise of oppressed classes, towards the liberation of oppressed minorities within capitalism, empowered by control over the language that defined who they were.

Simultaneously, capitalism did what it does best. It packaged and repackaged, branded and rebranded every emerging identity, cloaked in its own sub-cultural nomenclature, selling itself back to new emerging identities. Soon class was completely forgotten as the global Left dedicated itself instead to policing the commons as a kind of safe zone for a multitude of difference that capitalism turned into a cultural supermarket.

As the Left turned inwards, capitalism turned outwards and went truly, madly global, lifting previously isolated nations into a single planet-wide market, pretty much all of it revolving around Americana replete with its identity-branded products.

But, of course, this came at a cost. When you globalise capital, you globalise labour. That meant jobs shifting from expensive markets to cheap. Before long the incomes of those swimming in the stream of global capital began to seriously outstrip the incomes of those trapped in old and withering Western labour markets. As a result, inflation in those markets also began to fall and so did interest rates. Thus asset prices took off as Western nation labour markets got hollowed out, and standard of living inequality widened much more quickly as a new landed aristocracy developed.

Meanwhile the global Left looked on from its Ivory Tower of identity politics and was pleased. Capitalism was spreading the wealth to oppressed brothers and sisters, and if there were some losers in the West then that was only natural as others rose in prominence. Indeed, it went further. So satisfied was it with human progress, and so satisfied with its own role in producing it, that it turned the power of language that it held most dear back upon those that opposed the new order. Those losers in Western labour markets that dared complain or fight back against the free movement of capital and labour were labelled and marginalised as “racist”, “xenophobic” and “sexist”.

This great confluence of forces reached its apogee in the Global Financial Crisis when a ribaldly treasonous Wall St destroyed the American financial system just as America’s first ever African American President, Barack Obama, was elected . One might have expected this convergence to result in a revival of some class politics. Obama ran on a platform of “hope and change” very much cultured in the vein of seventies art and inherited a global capitalism that had just openly ravaged its most celebrated host nation.

But alas, it was just a bit of “retro”. With a Republican Party on its knees, Obama was positioned to restore the kind of New Deal rules that global capitalism enjoyed under Franklin D. Roosevelt. A gobalisation like the one promised in the brochures, that benefited the majority via competition and productivity gains, driven by trade and meritocracy, with counter-balanced private risk and public equity.

But instead he opted to patch up financialised capitalism. The banks were bailed out and the bonus culture returned. Yes, there were some new rules but they were weak. There was no seizing of the agenda. No imprisonments of the guilty. The US Department of Justice is still issuing $14bn fines to banks involved yet still today there is no justice. Think about that a minute. How can a crime be worthy of a $14bn fine but no prison time?!?

Alas, for all of his efforts to restore Wall Street, Obama provided no reset for Main Street economics to restore the fortunes of the US lower classes. Sure Obama fought a hostile Capitol but, let’s face it, he had other priorities. And so the US working and middle classes, as well as those worldwide, were sold another pup. Now more than ever, if they said say so they were quickly shut down as “racist”, “xenophobic”, or “sexist”.

Thus it came to pass that the global Left somehow did a complete back-flip and positioned itself directly behind the same unreconstructed global capitalism that was still sucking the life from the lower classes that it always had. Only now it was doing so with explicit public backing and with an abandon it had not enjoyed since the roaring twenties.

Which brings us back to today. And we wonder how it is that an abuse-spouting guy like Donald Trump can succeed Barack Obama. Trump is a member of the very same “trickle down” capitalist class that ripped the income from US households. But he is smart enough, smarter than the Left at least, to know that the decades long rage of the middle and working classes is a formidable political force and has tapped it spectacularly to rise to power.
And, he has done more. He has also recognised that the Left’s obsession with post-structural identity politics has totally paralysed it. It is so traumatised and pre-occupied by his mis-use of the language of power – the “racist”, “sexist” and “xenophobic” comments – that it is further wedging itself from its natural constituents every day.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very doubtful that Trump will succeed with his proposed policies but he has at least mentioned the elephant in the room, making the American worker visible again.
Returning to that innocent Aussie boy and his wild romp at Smith College, I might ask what he would have made of all of this. None of the above should be taken as a repudiation of the experience of racism or sexism. Indeed, the one thing I took away from Smith College over my lifetime was an understanding at just how scarred by slavery are the generations of African Americans that lived it and today inherit its memory (as well as other persecuted). I felt terribly inadequate before that pain then and I remain so today.
But, if the global Left is to have any meaning in the future of the world, and I would argue that the global Right will destroy us all if it doesn’t, then it must get beyond post-structural paralysis and go back to the future of fighting not just for social justice issues but for equity based upon class. Empowerment is not just about language, it’s about capital, who’s got it, who hasn’t and what role government plays between them.

All sex is not rape, but most poverty is.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Standing Rock has reportedly been overrun with white demonstrators trying to soak up the ‘cultural experience’

“I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to festivals. Waiting with big smiles expectantly for us to give them a necklace or an ‘indian’ name while our camp leader was speaking.”.... “This is not Burning Man or a festival. Do not bring your party at the expense of these peoples fighting or life or death”
http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/33832/1/people-are-treating-the-dapl-protest-like-burning-man
Mike Fiorillo posted this on ice mail -- it could be a Borowitz or Onion satire. Maybe it is. Do you know white people who rushed to Standing Rock to pad their activist resumes?

The Democratic Party Conundrum - Identity Politics and Class on MSNBC

"When I talk about the working class, one third are people of color. That's not parsing out the electorate - we're all in this together." -- Tim Ryan with Joy-Ann Reid on MSNBC.  
The Democratic Party Conundrum - Identity Politics on MSNBC - Joy-Anne Reid - How DARE Tim Ryan Run Against a Woman?Why replace Nanci Pelosi, a successful woman politician, with a man? Is appealing to the working class mean only white people or a more inclusive message?

Watching this segment on MSNBC on Saturday reminded me so much of the debates I've seen in MORE over the past 5 years over identity politics and class, where some make the  argument that identity politics throughout history has often been divisive and that a broader massage can unite people. In the UFT, as a caucus, do you try to appeal to various segments of the union based on identity or try to craft a broader message that appeals to lunch bucket issues --- but also not neglecting the other issues? For those who agree that issues of race are important but also feel that lunch bucket issues must be primary, things get icky.

I'll delve more into these debated in the UFT after the ICE meeting this Friday where we will dig down deep, something we rarely get to do in MORE.

This same debate is and will take place inside the Dem party -- Remember that Bernie crafted such a message and had trouble getting support -- some say he should have gone more into identity politics but Bernie stayed on message.

Watch this MSNBC segment to see the divide in the Democratic Party being played out --- How Reid plays the identity politics card on women and race. Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan who is challenging Nanci Pelosi for Democratic House Leader was interviewed by Joy-Ann Reid. She seemed incredulous that given the Clinton female loss why would a man try to displace the most powerful and as she termed it "successful" female politician? This is where it got weird, practically causing Ryan to laugh out loud. Reid compared how Pelosi's district voted to how Ryan's voted in the presidential election, causing Ryan to point out that Pelosi reps the extremely liberal district in California while he reps an Ohio working class area and even if they voted against Hillary, he himself was able to craft a message that got him elected. Reid went on the attack - trying to blame him for not being able to get his voters to vote for Hillary. Ryan pointed out that it was the faulty national Clinton campaign that crafted a message he disagreed with.

I think Ryan did a good job in articulating how Trump crafted a message that appealed to so many people. "I did not have control of the presidential message. The presidential campaign did not have a robust economic message --economics, lunch bucket issues. I had control of my message and got 70% of the vote - Donald Trump had a robust economic message - Dems are perceived to be tied to Wall St and the donor class."

Reid interrupted him a few times - she contrasted the amount of money raised by Pelosi. Ryan responded that if money was the key we would be in power now given the Dems had more money than Trump. It's about the message and how it talks to people -- The Democratic Party is not connected to their needs -- watch Reid's face -- see the wheels turning as he says this -- she sees the race issue -- feels he is only talking about appeals to white people -- tells him that issues of importance to people of color are not thrown on the waste heap ---- and yes this is the fault line for the Dems  -- she tries to end it there but Ryan comes back with - "When I talk about the working class, one third are people of color. That's not parsing out the electorate - we're all in this together."

Watch the segment: http://www.msnbc.com/am-joy/watch/pelosi-s-future-in-question-after-trump-win-818123331880

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Rambling Thoughts

before humans face extinction, the public schools and teacher unions will go first. Teachers will be hunter/gatherers for health and pension plans.
I don't want to be a total downer because I feel good and am looking forward to our trip to Pennsylvania today for a family Thanksgiving where there will be loads of good food and family fun. Many of us were together at a wedding in Washington DC last month and despite political differences things didn't get too heavy.

As I approach my 72nd birthday in March I am trying to spend more time living for the moment -- working at the Rockaway Theatre Company building sets, taking a Sunday morning acting class and a Weds evening water color class, hot yoga and maybe soon Tai Chi, planning my next spring moves in my creative garden, working on my basement this winter - making work spaces for creative projects - can't wait to get that 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle, a family cruise in February. I've been in a writing group for about 10 years and my colleagues have encouraged me to restart a novel, which I started 5 years ago and so I have and have 6 chapters complete. And catching up on my reading escape fiction. And playing with my cats. I've reached the age where thinking of the future takes 2nd place to living for the moment -- which is why after experiencing the Sandy hurricane and the early deaths of a couple we were close too, following the dictum that you can't take it with you, we decided to finally use some of that TDA money to get a backup apartment in Manhattan as an escape valve. As we were signing the papers I thought - what if you can take it with you? Can you still get a mortgage in hell?

In the political sphere I decided to bring back a limited edition of hard copy of Ed Notes for the Delegate Assembly and I will attend some Ex Bd meetings to support our great EB people.

How much do I want to allow political angst to get in the way of good karma? I've tried cutting back on my political work in MORE and the UFT. It's not easy to escape the pull of almost 50 years of UFT gravity. But an infusion of helium has given me some lift. Some of that helium has come from some sense that MORE has too many limits but it is still fun to be involved to some extent - more now as an observer rather than trying to influence its direction. But I'm not unhappy I went to Minneapolis to the AFT convention in July and can see going to Pittsburgh in 2018. So I am not cutting the cord but being more selective.

I'll write more about this but the stuff you read about class vs identity politics regarding the recent election - I have been putting them up on ed notes because that same issue has been playing in MORE since the day it began almost 5 years ago.

I no longer think of myself as a teacher, though when I've gotten a few opportunities it is always exhilarating. But so much work.
But I stay involved due to personal relationships - I want to support the people who do work that can make a difference but I don't want to actually do very much. I really enjoyed doing the ATR event and we are having an ICE meeting next Friday -- as  much social for me as political.
 
There's no question that some passion for the ed wars has dissipated. Like I'm not outraged at Trump's appointment of Betsy DeVos like so many others - I never expected anything less than her. In some sense I prefer her to the Duncans and John Kings or the alt Moskowitch or Rhee. DeVos makes the lines of struggle clear. Maybe the anti-deformers will engage in the kind of local battles needed - or not and the public schools and unions will become extinct like the dinosaurs -- Is DeVos/Trump the equivalent of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs? Randi has been railing about the appointment -- while 30% or more teacher union members voted for Trump - does she take any responsibility for that?

So many people are dreading Thanksgiving family events over the possibility of food fights breaking out. I've been told to keep my mouth shut today by my wife, who has never exhibited such passion for politics until this time and she is way angrier than I am  -- but in fact I am more interested in talking football today than politics with pro-Trump family. One of our liberal cousins is a Dallas fan. I may argue more with him than with the Trumpets who I will smile at and say let's look at where we are in the next 2-4 years when I expect to be saying "I told you so."

I am reaching the point of not wanting to waste psychic energy on being angry or spending my life trying to change things. I am a dystonian, expecting disaster to strike from numerous directions -- climate change, a meteor, nukes, plague, locusts -- who knows what else? I'm having trouble trying to worry about humanity, given that I think humans will one day be left in small hunter/gatherer bands - if there's much left to hunt or gather, while the rich escape to outer space. Maybe I'm lucky not having my own children to worry about so the worry about the future is more intellectual than emotional. If I had kids I would be a basket case.

But before humans face extinction, the public schools and teacher unions will go first. Teachers will be hunter/gatherers for health and pension plans.

And I can guarantee that whatever fight the undemocratic union hierarchy puts up the leaders will not change or modify the way they do things because it is in their DNA - thus watch them line up with those opposed to any move from the left to take over the Dem Party. Our leaders have known the end is coming with vouchers which everyone feared Regan would institute - but since the early 80s have compromised in so many ways with ed deformers to postpone the inevitable. If they had fought the very idea of charters they had a chance - though even that was slim.

Think of this -- since I began teaching in 1967 - the old BOE and the Bloomberg and de Blasio DOE has sucked - from so many angles. Is this what we are defending when we defend public education?

I leave you with this happy Thanksgiving thought:
Will we reach the day when Eva Moskowitch actually looks better running the NYC school system than the alternatives?


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Take Away from ATR Event: Those who want to share knowledge are denied

Here I am with 15 years experience as a teacher and I go into schools with many new, inexperienced teachers who treat me as "just the sub" - no respect or recognition that I was an excellent teacher and have so  much to offer these teachers. Why don't they put me in as a co-teacher to work with them? .... Paraphrasing an ATR at the Nov. 19 meeting.
How many ATRs want this?
This was a conversation I had with one impressive ATR who brought her daughter, a1st grader to the meeting - and the kid was a doll for the entire time. I mean why not give those people who can help a school and their new teachers a chance to mentor them instead of treating all ATRs as throwaway subs?

I reported on Saturday's invigorating ATR event:

Chaz Delivers Outstanding Presentation for 40 ATRs Who Turned Out for Info Session

I know that we can't make blanket statements about all ATRs and the problem with the DOE and the UFT is that they view them as the same. Maybe ATRs who feel they have certain skills get to state them -- like my pal Peter Zucker has tried to do when he goes into schools with no functioning tech programs.

Another take away from the meeting were the number of people who were misplaced and called Amy or Mike and got things resolved.  Now a comment on my last post castigated Amy and Mike for not advocating for an ATR chapter.

My responses:
A few people at the meeting seemed to have given up on asking the uft do help when. Rules weren't followed. Chaz and others pointed out that they do respond and fix stuff. That was the praise I guess. I mean they should do that but some atrs are so angry or dispirited they never ask. Also discussed was that some atrs give a bad impression and ruin it for others. 

I also think we need to understand that people in the uft are not free agents. Amy might be fine with a chapter. She couldn't say that openly as long as mulgrew is not for it. His concern is bringing in hostile forces to the Del ass. Since atrs would get a batch of delegates. They don't want a vocal rogue chapter. The best we can hope to do is form a shadow Atr chapter but the major issue is that few atrs are willing to stand up in public.

If there is another meeting - which would be in mid-late January - I would see if people would want to form a shadow chapter and form an executive committee that would run the quasi chapter. These people would have to be capable of making cogent and impressive presentations - like Chaz did. I was thinking of offering an opportunity for ATRs to make an ad. Some should go to PEP meetings and present a case for using some of them effectively in the schools.  Allow for some flexibility instead of wishing them to go away.

We also need to discuss how they are supervised - if the DOE considers them throwaways why are they spending so much money on hiring people to supervise what is essentially a sub?

We know the reason of course. And on rotation - if a teachers is older and not as physically able to take on the burden some provision should be made.

On the other hand we did hear that there are so many bad suprvisors running schools that rotation can be a life saver from being doomed to be under the thumb of monsters.

My final take away for today is the value of having an organization like MORE available to facilitate issues for various interests. Chaz pointed out that for the first time in a long time having independently elected reps on the UFT Ex Bd has created more transparency in the union. You need an organization that can raise money, preocure space and provide resources to assist people.

So it is not only about MORE beating Unity in an election but a lot of activity on a number of levels. 80 people showed up to a MORE sponsored event on Sunday to talk about a response to the Trump election -- MORE has to be a big enough and inclusive tent.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Chaz Delivers Outstanding Presentation for 40 ATRs Who Turned Out for Info Session

Kudos to bloggers NYC Educator  and Chaz's School Daze and ICEUFT Blog for helping create and run the ATR info session. 
Arthur Goldstein suggested to Mike Schirter, James Eterno and
myself a few weeks ago that we hold a meeting for ATRs with blogger Chaz's School Daze (his name is Eric, not Chaz) because of the immense depth of knowledge Eric has accumulated and also his ability to handle the slings and arrows of ATRdom with relative aplomb. Arthur thought Eric could help ATRs who are having difficulty adjusting.


James Eterno gave us some history of the ATR situation and has a report of the meeting at the ICE blog (SUCCESSFUL MORE-ICE ATR MEETING) where he listed some of the issues discussed by Eric:
  • The history of the ATR mess
  • The 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 (now expired) ATR agreements
  • Rights of ATRs
  • Contacting Mike Sill/Amy Arundell at the UFT if an ATR's rights are being violated
  • Filing grievances
  • Attempts to organize ATRs
  • Age discrimination
  • Difficulty in getting hired permanently
  • Provisional positions
  • Problem codes for people who are 3020a hearing survivors
  • Weekly, monthly, or yearly rotations-What works best?
  • Organizing ourselves
  • ATR's having a class for six months being covered under Danielson
Mike and I had offered the assistance of MORE in getting space, putting together an ad and an agenda. I was hoping we would have time to talk about forming a shadow UFT chapter and how to move forward but there were so many questions that Eric responded to with knowledge and patience, we never got to that part - other than people saying they want to hold another session, possibly in mid to late January. At the end of the day I felt really good about what had occurred.

Mike got MORE to donate a few bucks for light refreshments. As the day approached I had mixed feelings: About giving up what was turning out to be the last beautiful Saturday before entering 5 months of dark, cold weather. About trying to try to work with ATRs since basically giving up 5 years ago after putting a great amount of personal effort into trying to put together a group of ATRs  - that effort dissipated into bickering and recriminations. We had modest goals for this event: Provide information so people can survive the best they can. If this group keeps meeting it might morph into something but we'll see.

I had no idea of how many people might show -- I was thinking maybe a small handful. Mike told me about 15 had responded on FB - given the usual attrition, I guessed about 10. I imagined we would basically sit in a circle and strategize the possibilities for ATRs going forward. I drove into the city early and went shopping for some basic refreshments - some soda and pretzels and chips but not so much that we would be left with lots of leftovers.

I got there shortly before the 1PM advertised start time to find over 15 people already in the room. Oh well, I thought as I put out the refreshments, first come first serve. People were chatting, some meeting for the first time, and some came over to chat as I laid out the refreshments. I had an engaging conversation with a soon to retire ATR - retiring because conditions had just gotten too bad. A 2nd careerer he had less than 15 years in the system. A guy with a PhD who really wanted to help kids and teach - so impressive and a deep thinker about education. He said he had been in 100 schools and things were deplorable. I congratulated him on his pending retirement and told him how I've tried to extricate myself from the ed mess since I retired -- call it an Eexit - but gravity keeps pulling me back - I said I would understand if he never wanted to talk about schools again but if he wanted to stay in the struggle from the safety of retirement he should get in touch. I'm hoping he does.

It was 1:20 and people kept drifting in but I started the meeting with an intro and a report on the section I was supposed to do - a brief history of the 2008 rally and the impact it had on the UFT and DOE - as I reported the other day --- Reminder of ATR Meeting Sat. Nov. 19 1-4 PM - ATR History - 2008 Rally Redux.

A sign up sheet was being passed around and I assured people they did not have to sign it if they didn't want to and also that we would not bombard them with emails about MORE -- I felt this was not an event to push MORE  - but to use the resources of MORE as a caucus to support initiatives coming from ATRs - MORE doesn't have an ATR agenda or program -

Well, the upshot is that around 40 people showed up and Eric stood for almost 2 hours answering every single question with a depth of knowledge --and he also managed the group so well as if teaching a class -  I've seen some ATR events disintegrate -- and allowed people to share experiences and get their points in. Every single person had a chance. I know I learned so much.

One of Eric's points was that the UFT is not useless as some ATRs claim. That Amy Arundell and Mike Sill will get stuff straightened out when called. Many in the audience affirmed that point too. While acknowledging the problems with the UFT in helping the DOE create the ATR situation, I never imagined an ATR event where the UFT would receive any praise at all.

By the way - ICE will be meeting on Dec. 2 to discuss a number of issues, including the recent election and doing more events like this - space is limited since we go to a diner so if interested contact me.

Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here | Cornel West | Opinion | The Guardian

A key point go follow here is that the Bush and Clinton dynasties even though from different parties, were broken. I don't necessarily agree that neo-liberalism is dead. Much of the Republican Party is still neo-liberal and in fact no matter what Trump says that looks like populism, the reality is that privatizers are expressing neo-liberalism and Trump is a privatizer -- people think he will be big government - from what I've read the infrastructure Trump plan is privatizing in spades. The latest data shows that Trump support came from educated, wealthy people, and that more poor people voted for Hillary. So be careful about focusing just on the white uneducated. Oh, it's too complicated for my poor brain. Let me know when the new era arrives. And if you see fit to donate at the end of reading this piece.

Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here


Trump’s election was enabled by the policies that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. We gird ourselves for a frightening future

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. The political triumph of Donald Trump shattered the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties – both wedded to the rule of Big Money and to the reign of meretricious politicians. 

The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness.

White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process. 

This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future. 

What is to be done? First we must try to tell the truth and a condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. For 40 years, neoliberals lived in a world of denial and indifference to the suffering of poor and working people and obsessed with the spectacle of success. Second we must bear witness to justice. We must ground our truth-telling in a willingness to suffer and sacrifice as we resist domination. Third we must remember courageous exemplars like Martin Luther King Jr, who provide moral and spiritual inspiration as we build multiracial alliances to combat poverty and xenophobia, Wall Street crimes and war crimes, global warming and police abuse – and to protect precious rights and liberties.

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Rightwing attacks on Obama – and Trump-inspired racist hatred of him – have made it nearly impossible to hear the progressive critiques of Obama. The president has been reluctant to target black suffering – be it in overcrowded prisons, decrepit schools or declining workplaces. Yet, despite that, we get celebrations of the neoliberal status quo couched in racial symbolism and personal legacy. Meanwhile, poor and working class citizens of all colors have continued to suffer in relative silence.

In this sense, Trump’s election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome!
In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.
We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen’s civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence. 

As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump’s neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.
For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

Since you’re here …

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Reminder of ATR Meeting Sat. Nov. 19 1-4 PM - ATR History - 2008 Rally Redux

A really energizing video. You captured the essence of both events. That RW set up the informational session at HQ to run simultaneously with the militant event outside Tweed is grounds for recall.... the apoplexy of her crew was borderline hysterical (funny and overwrought). Wine and cheese...you can't make it up.... Comments on ed notes, Nov. 30, 2008


In prep for tomorrow's ATR event at CUNY, https://www.facebook.com/events/1315597125131158/?ti=icl


I was asked to review the events of Nov. 2008 and checked back in the Ed Notes archives. The Nov. 30, 2008 piece by Angel Gonzalez outlines the events of Nov. 24 2008 as the UFT and DOE tried to undercut the rally.  (The rally sparked us to found the  Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) a few months later which was the precursor of MORE.)

In all my years of being involved this was one of the best grassroots rallies - it pulled out 200 or more people -- and I've always hoped the ATRs would do something again but despite various attempts by Angel and me and others through 2011 to use GEM as an organizing tool, nothing ever jelled again.

Since the UFT tried to split the rally I went to the wine and cheese UFT diversion while David Bellel taped the rally itself at Tweed - the UFT stationed people at the subway to try to divert people away from the rally to the wine and cheese. At 6PM the UFT leadership meandered uptown toward the rally with Randi trying to convince me to give her the tape. I broke the tape into 2 parts. Most people only watch Part 1 - watch Part 2 which includes Randi's walk up Broadway and how she tried to speak - as did Leo Casey.

Here was the intro to the videos:

On November 24, 2008, teachers without positions, known as ATRs, held a rally at Tweed. They had forced the UFT to endorse the rally but in the interim the UFT signed an agreement with the DOE. The leadership called for an information meeting at UFT HQ, a mile away at the very same time the rally was due to start. Mass confusion. I taped the UFTHQ while David Bellel did the rally. The back story is how desperate UFT leaders were to suppress the tape I made. In fact, today at the Delegate Assembly they will pass a gag rule to try to prevent future embarrassment.

Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ac-Ul1m8-0




Part 2 - watch Randi get shouted down by irate ATRs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG4xrbgiGqU



There was an ATR support blog which covered the events:
http://supportatrs.blogspot.com/

Tonight's Great Demo -- We Stood Up for the ATRs

Here is Angel's excellent report on Nov. 30, 2008

ATRs/Seniority Rights: The Fight for All Members' Rights

Guest column

By Angel Gonzalez, Retired UFT Teacher - November 30, 2008

The October Delegate Assembly (DA) resolution calling for a mass Nov.24 rally at the DOE was initiated by ATR Ad-Hoc Committee members who were supported by UFT opposition caucuses (e.g. ICE and TJC) and many other delegates who understand that seniority is a sacrosanct union provision.

The resolution called for a protest to support the ATRS:

"THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the UFT will organize a mass citywide rally to show our unity and strength, calling on the NYC Department of Education to reduce class size and give assigned positions to all teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve who want assignments before any new teachers are hired."

While Randi Weingarten initially signaled tepid approval for this friendly amendment to support the ATRs, she simultaneously threatened to cancel support--and move the body to reject it--if she did not agree with the argument (the motivator) for it as presented by John Powers. The DA did overwhelmingly approve the call for this "Support the ATRs" rally, with Ms. Weingarten's subsequent approval.

Perhaps Ms. Weingarten's reluctance to support such a militant mobilization, initiated at the grass roots, was due to the realization that the source of the ATRs' predicament lay in our last [two] contracts, in which the UFT Executive Board negotiated away seniority transfer rights. For years, the UFT leadership's strategy has been to lobby government officials for "favors" to our members in exchange for an endorsement from our union. This focus on intimacy at the top has contributed to our leaders' becoming disconnected from our day-to-day reality in the classroom. Depending upon fickle politicians as opposed to the strength and conviction of our members has served to backfire on teachers and the students and families we serve.

The DA is the body that should direct the UFT Executive Board. If this is so, why do so many delegates feel that the Executive Board has to approve our decisions in order for them to be realized? In truly democratic structures, the leadership fulfills the will of the membership—not the other way around. Our DA saw an opportunity to seize the moment and affirm that reducing class size while also allowing our experienced teachers to continue to offer their expertise benefits students and honors the hard-won rights that our colleagues fought so hard for in years past.

As the Nov. 24 date set for the rally approached, and as rank and file members began to be energized with the feeling that together we were finally fighting back, the UFT Executive Board was quietly negotiating--what can only be characterized as a back-room deal--to temporarily stall the dismantling of seniority and tenure. It is unclear if the motivation for these discussions was to assuage the powerful City Administration who obviously did not approve of an angry rally exposing the outrage of the ATR fiasco, or to quell the spontaneous mobilization of so many members who felt that they were helping to construct a movement to defend our rights.

Ms. Weingarten's proposal to alter the character of the rally into a silent candle-light vigil would have reduced us to a group of passive mourners, as opposed to a body of professionals rightly proclaiming what belongs to us, while exposing the City's ill-conceived and costly indignation to which it condemns our ATRs. The DA was correct in identifying the need for a mass rally, and strong member opposition to a "silent vigil" forced the Executive Board to back down.

A week before the rally, further attempts to squelch it materialized in the "deal" brokered by the Executive Board and the City—again only a temporary band-aid on a gaping wound. This agreement encourages, rather than mandates, placement of ATRs with an administration whose track record has shown unprecedented commitment to eat away at public unions' power. It is tantamount to having the fox watch the chicken coop. The deal was characterized as a resolution to the issue by the UFT leadership, who decided there was no need for a rally after all.

It would appear that the threat of the rally was being utilized by the UFT leadership to maneuver this deal. This is corroborated by the fact that the Union made no genuine efforts to mobilize or organize in any broad way for this event. However, the passion of the members and our just cause began to take on a life of its own, beyond the leadership's control. Teachers are tired of give-backs. We deserve more respect than that.

The final blow to this member-driven initiative was the Executive Board's decision to call for a meeting to celebrate the band-aid "agreement" at Wall Street [UFT] Headquarters, at exactly the same time as the rally! A leadership that truly supported its members' needs and aspirations would have instead supported this rally. A subsequent meeting could have announced the proposed temporary stop-gap measure, with the recognition that serious errors were made in the 2005 negotiations—the framework that set these unfortunate events in motion.

Regardless, the ATR rally started at 4PM, bringing out over 200 spirited members -- thanks to the hard work of the rank and file organizers. Many speakers denounced both the City and the UFT officials who created this situation and allowed it to fester so long.

Although Ms. Weingarten declared that the rally was unnecessary at the 4pm Wall Street "wine and cheese" meeting, she appeared with a bullhorn as the rally was winding down at 6pm (with about 75 people). She gave lukewarm thanks to the organizers, perhaps to assert a certain level of control or to save face, in light of such strong grass roots sentiment regarding what many have defined as a carefully crafted strategy to chip away at tenure .

When Marjorie Stamberg, a key rally organizer, approached the bullhorn to address the crowd, Ms. Weingarten refused to let her speak, chastising her "for what she did." The crowd chanted: "Let Marjorie speak!" forcing Ms. Weingarten to relent. After Marjorie spoke, many members began to chant: "Restore Seniority Transfer Rights Now!"

Clearly frazzled with the dissidence targeted at UFT leadership, the Executive Board's contingent left the rally.

This rally was an excellent beginning in our hard battle ahead to restore our contractual seniority transfer rights, to protect tenure, and to bolster and defend our contract.

In a truly democratic union, the leadership has faith in and responds to the will of the membership. The "deals" that have been made over the past 30 years to "save" unions have in fact resulted in the dismantling of Trade Unions and workers' rights across this country.

We cannot abide continued UFT complicity with the City's plans, which waste valuable qualified experienced educators--and over $75 million annually--while further diminishing the quality of education that our children deserve. Our communities have the right to know that part of this plan results in experienced and quality educators being replaced with less costly, less experienced teachers, thus impacting negatively on the quality of education for their children.

The lack of information, transparency and open debate in our union denies member input into critical issues about pedagogy and historic union rights. An uninformed membership gives even a well-intentioned leadership free rein to function as it pleases. As the economy worsens, we need to take a strong stand in defense of the rights of teachers and communities, rather than to facilitate the erosion of all that has been built over the years.

From the momentum generated by the ATR Ad-Hoc Committee, we could help to build a democratic movement within the UFT that recognizes that our strength derives from our members' interactions, conversations and mobilizations. Such efforts will require a great deal of work, but the alternative is to passively stand by as we observe the destruction of quality education and ALL of our members' rights.

We need to build the fight for a UFT contract that promotes and defends:
1. Seniority Rights
2. Tenure Rights
3. Smaller Class Size
4. Against All Merit Pay Schemes
5. Against the use of testing to rate teacher performance
6. Quality and Justice - Not Testing
7. No cutbacks
8. No more privatization schemes (Charter Schools and vouchers inclusive)
9. No layoffs and more.

Our current UFT leadership has not indicated its commitment to achieve these goals—it is up to the members to make this happen!

For more about the ATR Rally, the ATR issue, the current UFT-ATR agreement with the City and other comments go to:

http://supportatrs.blogspot.com/
and


http://iceuftblog.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&updated-max=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=50

Details for the event tomorrow:

Arthur Goldstein suggested MORE hold an event for ATRS where they get to speak and discuss issues of importance to them. He asked an expert on ATRs - blogger Chaz if he would be there to share his knowledge. What will be the outcome? Could be some proposals or just a place where ATRs emerge with more knowledge than they had going in. At the very least some discussion on dealing with gotcha supervisors and protecting themselves.
In addition - there will be some talk about ATRs who have gotten permanent positions and how that occurred - not many but some.


ATR Information Event
Please share with ATRs in your school

History: How the DOE and UFT created this mess starting with the 2005 contract, the 2008 ATR rally, the UFT wine and cheese party, the 2011 deal where ATRS were sacrificed (weekly rotation) for no layoffs,  the 2014 agreement plus recent updates.

Know your rights and lack thereof; how to deal with roving supervisors; survival techniques
Fighting back. What do we want? What can we do to pressure UFT and DOE for change?
Experienced ATRs will be on hand to answer questions.  Special guests: blogger Chaz's School Daze, James and Camille Eterno and Ex Bd member Arthur Goldstein.
Saturday, Nov. 19, 1:00 PM-4PM
CUNY Grad Center, 5th Ave between 34th and 35th St. Bring ID.
Room 5414

Sponsored by MORE/UFT and Independent Community of Educators