Friday, January 4, 2013

Ed Deformer Biddle Muddles While Randi Fiddles

Declared Weingarten on Twitter: “retirees do not sway local elections”.

Really, Randi should think twice before she tweets. Thanks to Jeff Kaufman for digging this up from dropout nation's RiShawn Biddle, my new fave ed deformer for the material he provides us, in this follow-up piece to his attack on Randi when she called for more teacher voice (which means SHE gets to talk and no one else). Here is the Ed Notes link (Irony: Randi's Call for Teacher Voices to Be Heard...) to the first piece where Biddle while going after Randi does an assault on Karen Lewis, the real enemy of ed deformers.

Clueless - or propagandist - Biddle and Randi ought to walk off into the sunset together. Even a blind squirrel finds a chestnut once in a while. At least he got the impact of the retirees in UFT elections right (he ought to check them out at a Delegate Assembly) though he misses by a mile in attributing their voting patterns to support for the UFT's so-called resistance to Bloomberg.

What a lame explanation as to why retirees vote in so much higher percentage than working teachers -- they want to prop up the union in its resistance to Bloomberg reform -- like they haven't voted this way since Bloomberg was poor.

Biddle, mentions E4E and MORE in the same paragrah. Read my last piece E4E Mauled in Chapter Election by ICE Candidate to see how inconsequential E4E is. But Biddle has the E4E horse in the race.

I'm trying to decide on the funniest parts of Biddle's piece. I choose this:
Yet the growing legion of groups representing younger, more reform-minded teachers such Educators 4 Excellence (which is working within AFT affiliates to push for a reform [SELLOUT] agenda) — along with the complaints from more-radical elements of the traditionalist ranks such as Norm Scott (a longtime critic of Weingarten and Mulgrew) and Movement of Rank-and-File Educators  – offer a different reason for why voter participation is so low: Apathy and discontent, especially among younger teachers, over how the AFT local (and the national union itself) ignores their concerns.
RiShawn should check out how many teachers (over a thousand) have signed the MORE petition both online and in their schools for a membership vote on any eval agreement, which the UFT leadership and I bet E4E oppose because they both know it would be turned down.

Hey, RiShawn, attend an E4E closed bund where there is no debate and only people who sign a pledge of fealty are allowed to attend and compare with the totally open MORE events where all are invited to participate and other than me and a few others you will not find a room full of baby boomers. More funnies from RiShawn.
After all, unlike participation in Movement of Rank-and-File Educators or Educators 4 Excellence, AFT membership isn’t voluntary; even those teachers who don’t want to join the union are still  forced to pay dues in the form of so-called agency fees). Simply put, it may be time for teachers of all philosophies to move away from the AFT (as well as the NEA) and embrace a different form of professional representation. [Hmmm. what could that be? Bet the word "union" is not included.]
As you would expect, more-radical traditionalists, most of which are Baby Boomers, are frustrated with Mulgrew’s willingness to occasionally [Biddle MUST check out the 05 contract but that was Randi, right, as if MulGarten are not a tag team] give in to Bloomberg on some issues, and with Weingarten’s longstanding efforts to triangulate the school reform movement (which began during her tenure as head of the New York City local). Looking toward the union’s elections this coming April, they are backing challengers to Mulgrew who will embrace the more-pugnacious approach of Chicago affiliate boss Karen Lewis. At the same time, the traditionalists also have truly legitimate concerns about the lack of input they have in shaping the AFT affiliate’s direction. From where they sit, Mulgrew (and Weingarten) have not been any more willing to listen to them than the school reformers they mutually oppose [Sorry Biddle, Randi doesn't oppose school reformers, she's one of them hiding in the closet]. And this lack of democracy has been seen in Unity’s successful efforts to squelch rival, more-progressive factions within AFT politics at the Big Apple level, including New Action (now a de-facto affiliate of Unity) [New Action is not progressive but regressive] , and Independent Coalition of Educators (which unsuccessfully challenged Mulgrew back in 2010), as well as Unity’s threats to anyone within its caucus who dares to disagree with its agenda. [Well he got that right.]
For younger teachers, who now make up the majority of AFT affiliate members, their issues with Mulgrew are different [BULLSHIT - see above ICE defeat E4E] , and yet similar to those of their more-radical traditionalist counterparts. They are frustrated with the AFT’s continued embrace of an obsolete industrial union-style model that values seniority over professionalism.. [MORE BULLSHIT - TAKE A POLL OF YOUNGER TEACHERS WHO ARE STAYING IN THE PROFESSION AND ASK NUMBER ONE CONCERN: GETTING TENURE].
By the way, seniority = professionalism. TFA= amateur dabblers. In fact Randi has done cartwheels to overturn seniority. Again -- see 2005 contract.

Here it is in full glory below
When Retirees Count Most (or More on Randi Weingarten and Listening to Teachers)

January 2, 2013

by RiShawn Biddle




As you would expect, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was none too pleased with Saturday’s Dropout Nation commentary on the role teachers should play in shaping education policy. Particularly annoyed with your editor’s point that the AFT is more-concerned with the perspectives of retired teachers who no longer work in classrooms (as well as soon-to-retire Baby Boomers in the working rank-and-file) than with younger teachers in the ranks. Declared Weingarten on Twitter: “retirees do not sway local elections”.
Yet data from the elections held in 2010 by the AFT’s flagship local in New York City, the United Federation of Teachers (which Weingarten ran before taking over the national presidency and is now led by her aspiring successor for the national presidency, Michael Mulgrew), tells a different story. This, in turn, belies AFT’s claim (and that of the National Education Association) that it listens to — and represents — all teachers.
Retired AFT affiliate members (many of whom are enjoying their sunset years far away from classrooms and the chilly Big Apple weather) accounted for two out of every five votes cast during that election. More than likely, retired members were the largest single demographic voting block within the affiliate. But those numbers belie the level of influence they had over the election. Some 25,000 retirees voted in the elections, almost as many participants as the 27,500 rank-and-file members still working in classrooms; only an affiliate rule restricting retirees to only 18,000 votes kept retirees from exercising their full strength. The fact that half of retired members voted in the elections versus a mere 24 percent of working rank-and-file members, also shows the strength of retirees; after all, teachers’ union bosses are no less astute about counting votes than their counterparts in political office.
Considering that many of the retired voters were also likely part of the Unity coalition that has controlled AFT local politics since the days of the legendary Albert Shanker (and is part of the larger Progressive faction that has run the national AFT for decades), they remain an influential force within the union. So important are retirees to the internal political fortunes of Mulgrew and his allies that the union proposed last January to lift the cap on retiree participation in elections from 18,000 to 25,300. [This, by the way, was not received kindly by dissidents within the union ranks.]
Why would retirees, who have already collected the full array of packages from traditional teacher compensation, would be so active in participating in a union election? One likely reason has to do with the fact that the union, from their perspective, is likely addressing their concerns. After all, over the past few years, Mulgrew has actively pushed against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to use student test score growth data in teacher evaluations, overhaul how teachers are granted near-lifetime employment, and end quality-blind Last In-First Out layoff rules that often benefit longtime teachers regardless of their performance at the expense of younger counterparts. Even though these matters are no longer any of their concern, their participation in AFT elections is one way they can retain a voice in shaping how the AFT’s leverages its declining influence over education policy.
But what about the low level of participation among rank-and-file working teachers? Some would argue that this, in part, reflects the reality that for most longtime veterans in the classroom (and even for some younger counterparts), the value of union membership mostly has to do with the perceived ability to shape workplace conditions and pay through negotiations and strike actions (even though state laws governing teacher quality are a much bigger factor than collective bargaining). So long as the union continues to protect the seniority-based privileges from which they benefit, they are unlikely to pay mind to the union’s political influence activities. Yet the growing legion of groups representing younger, more reform-minded teachers such Educators 4 Excellence (which is working within AFT affiliates to push for a reform agenda) — along with the complaints from more-radical elements of the traditionalist ranks such as Norm Scott (a longtime critic of Weingarten and Mulgrew) and Movement of Rank-and-File Educators  – offer a different reason for why voter participation is so low: Apathy and discontent, especially among younger teachers, over how the AFT local (and the national union itself) ignores their concerns.
As you would expect, more-radical traditionalists, most of which are Baby Boomers, are frustrated with Mulgrew’s willingness to occasionally give in to Bloomberg on some issues, and with Weingarten’s longstanding efforts to triangulate the school reform movement (which began during her tenure as head of the New York City local). Looking toward the union’s elections this coming April, they are backing challengers to Mulgrew who will embrace the more-pugnacious approach of Chicago affiliate boss Karen Lewis. At the same time, the traditionalists also have truly legitimate concerns about the lack of input they have in shaping the AFT affiliate’s direction. From where they sit, Mulgrew (and Weingarten) have not been any more willing to listen to them than the school reformers they mutually oppose. And this lack of democracy has been seen in Unity’s successful efforts to squelch rival, more-progressive factions within AFT politics at the Big Apple level, including New Action (now a de-facto affiliate of Unity), and Independent Coalition of Educators (which unsuccessfully challenged Mulgrew back in 2010), as well as Unity’s threats to anyone within its caucus who dares to disagree with its agenda.
For younger teachers, who now make up the majority of AFT affiliate members, their issues with Mulgrew are different, and yet similar to those of their more-radical traditionalist counterparts. They are frustrated with the AFT’s continued embrace of an obsolete industrial union-style model that values seniority over professionalism. Mulgrew’s continued opposition to Bloomberg’s overhaul of teacher performance management (including the implementation of New York State’s new teacher evaluation system) hinders their ability to gain the high-quality data and feedback they need in order to help all children achieve success. They also resent the AFT’s defense of seniority-based pay scales that do little to reward high-quality work (as well as allows laggard counterparts earn the same compensation that they do despite doing poorly in classrooms), and are dismayed that the union supports reverse-seniority layoff policies that are more-likely to cost them jobs (and years of future retirement savings) while protecting Baby Boomer counterparts regardless of the quality of their work.
For both sides, the AFT at both the local and national levels hardly represents an organization that “listens” to teachers. When one considers that most of the AFT’s finances go to lobbying, contributions to supposedly like-minded outfits, and other efforts to retain its influence (instead of toward organizing rank-and-file members, as more-radical traditionalists prefer, or elevating the profession, as demanded by younger, more reform-minded counterparts), as well as take note of financial mismanagement by AFT affiliates such as Broward County, it is hard to disagree. This is no inconsiderable thing. After all, unlike participation in Movement of Rank-and-File Educators or Educators 4 Excellence, AFT membership isn’t voluntary; even those teachers who don’t want to join the union are still  forced to pay dues in the form of so-called agency fees). Simply put, it may be time for teachers of all philosophies to move away from the AFT (as well as the NEA) and embrace a different form of professional representation.

2 comments:

  1. You hit the nail on the head about Randi. She helped to negotiate the destruction of tenure in DC as well just look at WTU s last collective bargaining agreement.
    Love your articles Norm!

    I'm blogging again now about the proposed school closures of 2013. Hope your readers will check me out @
    http://thewashingtonteacher.blogspot.com/

    Candi Peterson (AKA The Washington Teacher)

    ReplyDelete

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