Friday, September 28, 2007
Weingarten Says: It's All Hunky Dory in UFT/Tweedland
When only around 500 chapter leaders out of a potential 1500 showed up at the citywide Chapter Leader meeting on Tuesday, Randi Weingarten stated it must be because things are going well in the schools.
"This was one of the smoothest openings of schools ever," she said.
Boy, that wacky gang at Tweed must be doing something right.
Only 4000 over class size grievances and not the usual 6000. See, they're listening.
Last year almost twice as many CLs attended the Sept. meeting (held at the the magnificent auditorium at UFT HQ at 52 Broadway) and squeezing almost a thousand people into a room holding only 850 served to remind them of their overcrowded classes and how years of the UFT's "reduce class size" campaign has netted them nothing. And a lot of people never got a banana.
So this year I was all excited when they moved the meeting to the Brooklyn Marriott, where if I got there early, I was sure to score a macadamia nut cookie. And a banana.
But so many happy chapter leaders were busy celebrating the glorious opening of school with their colleagues, the meeting had to be moved to a much smaller room, which they had plenty of time to arrange since Weingarten showed up so late. But chapter leaders have plenty of extra time on their hands, so they didn't mind.
And I had time to eat and drink myself silly.
I was there with my leaflet announcing that after 10 years, the final print edition of Ed. Notes would be distributed at the OCT. 17 Delegate Assembly (you can read it here.)
There was shock and awe in Unity Caucus at this news and I had to console them. UFT District 22 rep Fred Gross came up with tears streaming down his face after reading the news and pleaded with me for another copy. I had to turn him down and he went off sobbing.
Well, here's some more good news. (Read James Eterno's right-0n report on the meeting at the ICE blog.)
The UFT will join the fight on NCLB, not to eliminate the horrendous law, but to stop the provision calling for individual merit pay for teachers. (Remember Randi's suggestion years ago that summer school teachers who get good scores should get free airline tickets.) But as a compromise the UFT/AFT seem willing to accept merit pay for entire schools that raise scores. Just plugging into the "test will decide all" mentality that I always charge them with no matter what their task force on reading says.
With reports of open revolts about to take place in the Queens and Staten Island rubber rooms, where the inhabitants blame the UFT as much as the DOE for their situation and the formation of groups like TAGNYC (who did such a good job standing up to Klein at the PEP meeting on Monday) to defend themselves in the absence of the UFT, Weingarten announced that the UFT will focus on ATR's and the rubber room and will be holding meetings with both groups. More deflection by the "masters of deflection." [Make sure to check this post out as it develops my theory on how the UFT operates.]
The work Woodlass has been doing on this blog on the ATRs and excessed has clearly had an impact and gotten the UFT's attention. (It is amazing how much they worry about anyone out there organizing.)
In a post the other day I wrote "the screams of the people are beginning to be heard and with the potential national impact of blogs calling Randi a sellout, she is trying to make it look like they will do something-- she has assigned Ron (back-stabbing worm) Isaac, Betsy Combier and reporter Jim Callahan to visit the rubber rooms and come up with suggestions. So she is trying to let the air out of the balloon."
It will be the usual "We hear you, we feel your pain." People will feel good like the union is paying attention and will stop organizing. A year later when nothing much has changed they will get the message: Talk loudly, carry a tiny stick.
Jeff Kaufman (who brought rubber room conditions to everyone's attention in 2005) in a post called "Rubber Room Redux" wrote on the ICE blog about what he termed the "3 stooges" Randi has appointed to investigate the rubber rooms. I know all of them and only consider Ron (the back-stabbing worm) Isaac a true stooge. Jim Calahan is a reporter for the NY Teacher who has written a number of exposes on abusive principals and probably has good intentions, but will not have much impact.
Betsy Combier, not a teacher but a parent advocate who I have worked with on a number of cases, was recently hired by the UFT, ostensibly to assist in rubber room cases. But since the real reason she was hired was to keep her from revealing sensitive information about some high UFT officials she gained from a FOIL request, I have to be suspect about how effective she will be. But if someone wants to pay you 50 grand to keep your mouth shut, who can blame them? And since I and others know the sensitive info, it will do them no good anyway.
NOTE: Want a job with the UFT? FOIL all the work records of every former and current district rep to see if they actually teach the one period a day. Word is that a reporter for a local daily has already done so, which is causing all the DR's to make sure to do their daily period of teaching - poor dears.
Weingarten hired Ron Isaac last year for 60 grand a year as a reward for his work during the 2005 contract negotiations in stabbing the opposition in the back. (Ron had run with ICE in the 2004 elections and parlayed that into his job.) I also used to publish Isaac's articles in Ed Notes when the UFT did not want anything to do with him (years of applications to get into Unity were rejected.)
And by the way, one of Isaac's main jobs is to monitor this blog all day. From our conversation the other day it is clear he knows more about what I write than I do.
So, this is the rubber room crew that Weingarten has put together. If I were in the RR I wouldn't make plans to be back at my job real soon. Better to join up with TAGNYC.
Apparently there's some upset at Kaufman's calling them "3 Stooges." The UFT wouldn't know how to spell rubber room if not for Kaufman.
On a closing note, it was nice to get responses from people about the impact Ed Notes has had. (check the comments here). One chapter leader who I did not know came up and said he really enjoyed reading it all these years and even some positive words filtered out from some Unity people the non-suit non-goon wing.
It is also nice to see ICE beginning to stir again after a bit of hiatus. One Unity slug commented: "ICE melts slowly." Or not at all.