Friday, December 29, 2006

What Randi Weingarten said about Lafayette High School

"It is no secret that there have been problems at Lafayette, so its closing is not surprising. We are working with the DOE to create a redesigned school - and potentially two new schools - that parents will want to send their children to and where educators will want to teach."

The UFT goes right along with:
Closing of the large high schools instead of calling for the problems to be fixed by whatever means necessary which might actually include “ horrors“ spending whatever funds it would take to provide personnel, lower class sizes, etc.

The UFT ignores the fact that:
The closing of the schools is one ploy to get half of the teachers out, arguing they have to change the culture of the school instead of fixing what's wrong. That means getting new students and teachers and administrators.

The UFT Sits by while:
Teachers are blamed for failing schools. If they tried to fix schools that are broken, then the teachers and students stay.




What the DOE did at Lafayette was take a school in trouble and put in a Leadership Academy principal who came with the attitude that the problem was the teachers. On her first day in the building (Summer '05), she threatened a rain of U ratings as a way to fix the problem. Teachers came under immediate attack by Rohloff when school started that September. There should have been an immediate response from the UFT.

Randi Weingarten promised the staff an article would appear in the NY Teacher. Instead of an article defending the teachers they get stabbed in the back, a sign that Weingarten was aware of the fact that the school and 4 others would be closed. The fact that this information was carefully released by the DOE immediatley after 90% of the members ratified a contract extension that will assure at least 50% of the teachers in the affected schools will have to pound the pavement looking for jobs with the possibility they will end up as substitute teachers. Do you smell collusion?

What did Weingarten know and when did she know it?

The Unity "club" in the school claim we are distorting the facts and in fact Weingarten and other UFT officials gave the school support.

The proof is in the pudding. We often say "watch what the UFT does, not what it says." In this case what Weingarten said for a change reinforces what she did: Cooperate in the closing of large high schools.

So let us repeat those words again:
"It is no secret that there have been problems at Lafayette, so its closing is not surprising. We are working with the DOE to create a redesigned school - and potentially two new schools - that parents will want to send their children to and where educators will want to teach."

Et tu, Randi?


5 comments:

  1. Dear Ednotes Online,

    Please let me respectfully remind you that the UFT is governed in an orderly fashion.

    The membership expects the elected leadership to lead. The leadership listens to the majority of the membership. When the majority of the membership tells the leadership to change the course that the leadership sets, that request should and will be considered.

    You, as are all members, are entitled to your opinion, your opinion is just that. an opinion.

    Perhaps you fail to see the factors that go into the leadership's decisions.

    Sad thing is, Ednotes, is that the membership fails to see the relationship as two way.

    Perhaps the membership relies too heavily on the Leadership's ability to lead wisely.

    In any case, as one of the members of the UFT, I welcome your alternative outlook.

    Keep up the good work through 2007 and beyond!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anon:
    I appreciate your points, which are clearly from the view of people in a leadership position. How do you determine the will of the majority except in elections every 3 years?

    Where do you think the majority of the members stand on issues such as control of schools by the mayor or whether the UFT should stand firm and protest the closing of schools rather than be an arbiter between the teachers and the DOE in these situaitons?

    If the UFT was a more open and democratic organization where more voices could be heard, the decision-making process on the part of the leadership would be much more effective.

    Now I know you will dispute the statement above, feeling the organs of the UFT are democratic. But when a union leadership that holds 83 out of the 89 Ex. Bd.seats can't even tolerate 6 dissenters and must manipulate the upcoming election to try to replace them with New Action, that is a dangerous sign of a leadership that is out of control.

    Most leaders manage to rule with majorities in the range of 60 or even 70% percent. But the UFT leadership wants to get Saddam Hussein like numbers of 99%. EdNotes and ICE and other critics so not reach all that many people. The leadership's preoccupation with these relatively few critical voices is downright scary.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Perhaps the membership relies too heavily on the Leadership's ability to lead wisely.

    That's a thoughtful and interesting point. Perhaps the membership needs more information, and more passion. UFT leadership is an important issue, however you may feel about it.

    In any case, as one of the members of the UFT, I welcome your alternative outlook.

    I'm not sure that this POV reflects a leadership position. Frankly, I was very enthusiastic about the inception of Edwize, and wrote about it on my blog. I did not seriously begin to question the UFT leadership until the 05 contract, which I deemed a disaster.

    Since then, the only feedback I've gotten from UFT leadership was along the lines of "Sit down, shut up, and don't ever dare to question us."

    Frankly, I don't think they're capable of anything otherwise. And that's very disappointing, because we could all do better.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Ednotes and NY Educator, the key point that I want to make is that within the current structure of the UFT the leadership is "in charge," but, the membership consistently fails to do their job - staying informed of an array of political, educational and union issues, formulating opinions about those issues that are in their own best interest, and making their opinions unavoidbly clear. When someone in a leaderhip position says "Sit down, shut up, and don't ever dare to question us," that should be one's cue to do quite the opposite. One should begin by taking the bully's remark very personally and very passionately.

    The point that Ednotes makes "if the UFT was a more open and democratic organization where more voices could be heard, the decision-making process on the part of the leadership would be much more effective" is correct but it seems that perhaps too many members, in fact may be even the overwhelming majority of the members don't take their own power seriously: Just as you two have a the power to set up your sites, each and every members has power: the power to express their opinions, and the power to influence others' opinions, and the power to tell one's union "don't you even think about intimidating me, while at the same time telling me you are now, and will forever be, intentionally useless!"

    Perhaps such passion may be too hard to develop, focus, contain, and act upon alone.

    Perhaps this is just too much to expect from "mere teachers." Perhaps a disatisfied teacher should direct his power in a more immediately productive direction -- like leaving DOE/UFT and finding a teaching job elsewhere, leaving or the half baked profession of education completely.

    But, perhaps, in the short term, it would be productive for us to patiently and kindly educate each other. Let's begin with "Intimidation in a democratic organization," and ""Do some UFT leaders fear the active participation of the membership: Is there no room for diversity?"

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anon 10:51, Dec. 31:
    You say "the leadership is 'in charge,' but, the membership consistently fails to do their job - staying informed of an array of political, educational and union issues, formulating opinions about those issues that are in their own best interest, and making their opinions unavoidbly clear."

    We know that most people for a variety of reasons from personnal to professional do not get involved in union activities. I taught for almost 3 years, totally wrapped up in my classroom before becoming involved in the union. And that was after 2 strikes. Most new teachers are just overwhelmed. Eventually some of them start taking a look around. I mentored a bunch of Teaching Fellows in 2002-2004. Some of them have started to pop up at union functions with one becoming a delegate recently.

    Other teachers go on for a long time before becoming active. Take NYC Educator, one of the most effective voices out there. He seems to have taught for quite a while before becoming activated fairly recently not only through his blog but in his school.

    You place the burden of keeping informed soley at the feet of the members. But when the union leadership works actively to keep alternate points of view out of the hands of members, their ability to get information is limited even if they wanted it. Even in this last contract vote which went 90% for the leadership, wherever there were activists for the opposition, the vote was not as high (from some reports.)

    In the 2005 vote where 40% of the teacher voted NO, the leadership's bombardment of the members with "suits", etc. never had much of a counterweight though the opposition did what it could. I was stopped as some schools not by administrators but by Unity chapter chair leaders.

    I'm not going to claim that if there was a democratic system of disseminating information the members would suddenly rise up. But there would be a more informed membership at the least and I would even claim the leadership would benefit from the debates that would possibly take place.

    Creating an effective alternative to Unity considering the way the election process is set up does not necessarily have the purpose of winning an election but of becoming a pressure group that gets Unity to change its policies. New Action claims to be doing that but they ahve to beg Randi as opposed to coming at her with muscle.

    Part of building an effective alternative to Unity is to build out an information network. Indeed it is the primary first step and this election is part of that process not the end-all. Blogs, the web and email is a leveler in many ways.

    ReplyDelete

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