From Day 1 members of ICE, many now with MORE (I included) took a strong stand against the UFT's opening a top-down run charter school (are they capable of anything else?) in 2005 while the UFT's house opposition, New Action, supported the charter. I remember attending an info meeting with Jeff Kaufman and James Eterno from ICE where we raised the problematical issues to a representative of the leadership while the New Action people sat on their hands. Michael Fiorillo made an eloquent statement at the Delegate Assembly as to why this move was not in our best interests.
To be perfectly fair, James Eterno was a New Action Ex Bd member and reminded me of this point:
I was on the Exec bd in 2003-2004 (last NAC year) and I was the lone no vote on the charter school. I remember my argument with Randi well. What a waste.
Every single member of Unity Caucus went along, including the Unity chapter leaders of schools that are getting decimated by charters. Don't forget this in the upcoming chapter elections.
Arthur Goldstein has a strong piece today: UFT Charter School--Another Spectacular Failure for Leadership, and I love his cartoon enough to steal it.
Chalkbeat, reporting on the decision to close the school:
The move, while not unexpected, is an embarrassing one for the union. When the school opened in 2005, then-UFT President Randi Weingarten said its success would demonstrate that unions could play a starring role in efforts to improve the school system and show that a union contract was not the “impediment to success” that education leaders like then-Chancellor Joel Klein portrayed it to be.Of course they announced this on Friday and then slunk away without comment. Arthur gives them some credit for not creaming like some other charters.
UFT leadership, to its credit, was not willing to play that game.Even if they didn't cream consciously, the very idea of placing a school in direct competition with a co-located public schools leads to creaming. They co-located into 2 public school buildings in District 19 (East NY in Brooklyn) with space given to them by their pal, Superintendent Kathy Kashin. One of those buildings was George Gershwin - MS 166 - the school I graduated from in 1959. Gershwin, due to the erosion of kids creamed by the UFT charter, was declared a failing school and is being closed. At a PEP meeting, parents, teachers and the principal who I interviewed on tape said the UFT charter played a role in their closing.
At that hearing, the UFT charters were being consolidated into another middle school and the chapter leader, PTA president and a number of parents and teachers were there to oppose the move into their building as a threat to their existence. (I have some of these comments on tape.) That was a Bloomberg PEP rubber stamping the UFT charter request. Backscratching 101.
And then there is the back story of Michelle Bodden, principal of the charter. Bodden, who many of us liked, was at one time the heir apparent to Weingarten and a UFT VP. Suddenly, she became principal of the school and Mulgrew replaced her as the heir. More backstory -- in 1998-9 I pushed the idea of TEACHER RUN charters with UFT support. Randi basically told me, "How can we trust teachers?" She put me on a committee headed by Bodden to explore the idea of a union charter. But it became clear to me this charter was not what I had in mind --- a top-down run by the union leadership, not by teachers -- and yes, Virginia, there is a difference. That was the turning point for me in terms of charters.
Arthur nails the political weakness of the UFT's support for co-location.
But just like they did when they failed to allocate enough money to pay recent retirees, they played a weak chess game. They failed to look ahead. They failed to see what they charter movement was all about. They assumed it was somehow idealistic rather than a direct assault on public schools. And in the end they were unable to compete with their utterly unscrupulous privatizing colleagues.In fact I have evidence, which I will present early next week, that the UFT still support co-location when their interests are involved.
Not only that, but they weakened our potential as a force for truth. By supporting charters, they failed to anticipate what the charter movement was about. By actually indulging in co-location, they made it very difficult for us to argue against it. And by actually failing, they gave our opponents ammunition to make the false argument that union contracts are an impediment to student achievement.
The UFT serves as the collective bargaining unit for 21 charter schools, including the University Prep Charter High School, where Weingarten, now the head of the American Federation of Teachers, is still a board member. But the vast majority of the UFT’s 110,000 members work in district schools, and many remain deeply critical of the sector. ....ChalkbeatYes, if these 21 schools need to co-locate, the UFT machine will run all over the interests of the public school, as they are doing at PS 157 in Brooklyn. More on this in a few days where we are helping the teachers and parents of PS 157 organize AGAINST the UFT's plans to infiltrate a charter into that school.
Some people may be celebrating the UFT's decision to close the charter.
See Capital Education report: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/
And a reader comments: