Thursday, June 26, 2008
Michelle Bodden to Resign as UFT VP
Will run UFT Elementary Charter School
As reported in an ednotes online exclusive, Michelle Bodden, who many people were betting would be Randi Weingarten's successor as UFT President, will take over the UFT's troubled elementary charter school.
We raised the question as to whether a UFT VP for elementary schools could be in that position. Now we have been informed that she has sent a letter telling people she will be resigning her VP position. (Will she also be resigning from Unity Caucus?)
The signs have been there for a long time that Bodden was not in the running and I had to convince even people inside 52 Broadway that she would never head the UFT. Perhaps she was getting too popular. "She's really an educator," said one insider. "Not a politician like Randi. You can actually have a conversation with her about real things. Some people can't wait for Randi to be gone so we can start solving the real problems we face."
I won't go into the details, but long-time observers can tell a lot about the UFT by who stands where, what kinds of events people get to represent the UFT at, and other signs. The surprise appointment of Leroy Barr as UFT Staff Director in January made it clear that another African-American had superseded Michelle in the UFT hierarchy.
Aside from the UFT political mishegas, I think putting Michelle in charge of the school is a good move. I had some contact with her when Randi put me on a charter school committee headed by Michelle in the late 90's. We only met a few times until Randi abandoned the idea, but Michelle was very easy to work with.
If I had to choose one principle that has driven Ed Notes, it is the empowerment of teachers, who have been viewed as just barely above the kids in terms of respect (in today's NYCDOE, it's probably even.) I was on the first UFT charter committee because at the time I was an advocate of charter schools and even had a resolution urging the UFT to set up an office of charter school support to enable teachers to begin running their own schools. My idea was not for the UFT to run a school, but to empower teachers who were sick of working for idiot supervisors. In my plan, teachers got to choose their supervisors, not the other way around. We would get the very best principals that way.
When I proposed the idea of the UFT helping teachers run schools, Randi's immediate reaction was some reluctance and it gave me an early insight into her wish to exercise control. It took me 3 or 4 years to get what she was really about.
But, though I am opposed to the very idea of a UFT charter school, I wish Michelle well in her new position.
As to who will replace her as elementary school VP, we can be sure of one thing. It will be the personal choice of Randi Weingarten and rubber stamped by the UFT Executive Board, not through any kind of democratic process.