Many teachers associations proposed resolutions that were too strong in language for the board of directors. One wanted to add "NYSUT should stop the SED's obsession with standardized tests" which was quickly shot down. Another resolution wanted NYSUT to "end the quantification of teacher evaluation through test scores," which was also quickly shot down. Essentially, members (mostly from UFT local 2 - Unity Caucus) came and spoke in opposition and then (before anyone had a chance to rebut) someone (mostly the same person) would "call the question," and most people would vote to close the debate and that would be that. It seemed like every time there was some debate about a subject everyone wanted the debate to end. Some of the loudest applause came when someone called the question
---- NYSUT Convention, special report to Ed Notes from a delegateI got back Sunday night from a 5-day trip to Virginia and Washington DC where we spent a night in Winchester - and George Washington really slept there when he had an office in town in 1755 - and a night in Charlottesville and visited Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, did a drive-by of James Monroe's house and finished up with James Madison's Montpelier. I wrote on the Saturday Night Special (a new feature of Ed Notes), Bloomberg Leads Dead Presidents Society, only Madison is still alive as a school in NYC.
Spending a day with the ghosts of the guys who wrote the Declaration of Independence and and the US Constitution leads one to thoughts of democracy, which you should think about as you read the opening quote from a report of the weekend NYSUT convention, which capsulizes exactly what the 800 Unity Caucus people were up in Buffalo to do: make sure there is no stand opposing high stakes testing and ending evaluation of teachers based on test scores. Ask you Unity chapter leader exactly how he or she voted and watch the deer in headlights look.
Are you getting that the NY State Ed Department and the NYS Board of Regents that backs it are basically criminals looking to turn our public schools over to private interests? (And add the SUNY charter authorizing board to the list - but more on them later this week.)
I never fail to be astounded by the Unity Caucus sheep, especially those working in schools, who will go along with every policy that cuts the throats of the people they work with. Remember that in the upcoming chapter leader and delegate elections -- and consider running at least for delegate (not to be confused with the elections for NYSUT/AFT delegates in 2013) where you can join with other independents next year to try to put an end to the madness. (Running For Chapter Leader or Delegate? Join the MORE Support Group- Thurs May 3).
If you read this blog regularly you should realize that when we talk about the UFT, NYSUT or the AFT and their leaders, they are all one and the same. The UFT with by far the largest block of members controls NYSUT and the AFT (NYSUT is something like 40% of the AFT).
With 800 Unity Caucus members up in Buffalo this past weekend and the upcoming AFT convention in Detroit at the end of July and with UFT elections coming up in March 2013 which will elect the next batch of 800 Unity Caucus delegates to control NYSUT and the AFT through 2015, it is important for everyone to see how the blocks interlock. Watch for follow-ups this week that might help to tie things together.
This leaflet and the report below was sent to me by a NYSUT delegate not from the UFT/Unity.
There was a rally on the first day. About 30 people were there. We chanted "APPR won't raise the bar." People were very focused on APPR and seemed hesitant to change the conversation to issues around privatization, etc. Some were chanting "we are NYSUT too." Some NYSUT leaders were in the back also participating, but staying hidden. The rally lasted about 1 hour and of course the police were out on horseback. I met a few people who were all from the Buffalo Teachers Association.==========
Commissioner King did a Q&A on the second day. Things were very heated. One teacher (from Syracuse) came to the mic and called for his resignation. I gave him my e-mail afterward. He said he has a newsletter and he will be sending me more information about that. It may be useful to connect with him. The Buffalo Teachers Association called for a walkout when King gave his speech. In fact, the president of the association was actually given the opportunity to address the entire body from the stage asking people to walk out and explaining why he and others would be. He ended his speech "with thank you to the NYSUT leadership for letting me do this" I later heard that the NYSUT president and the Buffalo teachers association president hate each other. In fact, the NYSUT president alluded to the walk-out several times afterward encouraging people to stay in their seats. He also asked the NYSUT board of directors to stay (and presumably encouraged them to ask the members of their locals to stay as well). About 30 people or so walked out. Some stayed and held signs saying "our students are not a number." King was dispassionate and calm when answering all questions. He mostly talked about the common core being the answer to all problems. When asked about teacher buy in, he skirted the question. He also said that one solution to time being wasted when teachers have to leave their classrooms to grade could be solved by outsourcing grading to a testing company. That was one of the more egregious comments. The next day, king was quoted as saying something to the affect of "I think the union has brainwashed teachers into hating me."
The committee meetings were very interesting. Many teachers associations proposed resolutions that were too strong in language for the board of directors. One wanted to add "NYSUT should stop the SED's obsession with standardized tests" which was quickly shot down. another resolution wanted nysut to "end the quantification of teacher evaluation through test scores," which was also quickly shot down. essentially, members (mostly from UFT local 2) came and spoke in opposition and then (before anyone had a chance to rebut) someone (mostly the same person) would "call the question," most people would vote to close the debate and that would be that. This happened several times. It may be worth getting in touch with the authors of the non-amended resolutions (mostly teachers associations from upstate) to see where they are at. We are thinking of doing this for one resolution in particular which called NYSUT to begin a formal study of the affects of HST.
On the last day, a teacher named John Galloway (I think from Buffalo) came to the mic for a "special order of business," which was regarding the flyer I sent you. He proposed a "return to core principles resolution," which I'm guessing demanded NYSUT to stop capitulating to every SED demand. The NYSUT president seemed annoyed (as did everyone else around me). He took a copy of the resolution and then declared that the speaker was out of order because he could have brought the resolution to NYSUT before the deadline. The entire thing was shut down very quickly. It may be worth it for MORE to reach out to him and his group.
Overall, the weekend was fairly dispassionate. NYSUT exec. vp asked everyone to stand up and scream "we're mad as hell and were not gonna take it anymore," which received a fairly staid response. It seemed like every time there was some debate about a subject everyone wanted the debate to end. Some of the loudest applause came when someone called the question
SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL
And read this one for a laugh from Randi: