Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Parent Opt-Out Group Slams Mulgrew Over Unity Caucus Leaflet

In addition to  providing your members with false information, you have demonized the  brave and outspoken NYC educators who have encouraged opt out. You have  inexplicably labeled these educators as “reckless and feckless”. This  begs the question, why would an experienced educator and union leader  dismiss and insult a historic act of civil disobedience? Surely, you are  aware that the opt out movement has yielded the only successful means  of resisting harmful “test and punish” policies that hurt not only your  members, but all educators and students around the state.... NYSAPE
I said right up front that the Unity Caucus attack on MORE and opt-out would come back to bite them. The UFT machine has often intimidated parent groups who wanted their support and didn't want to alienate them. When an influential statewide group like NYSAPE takes this unprecedented action it is big.
Some of my posts on this issue:
June 28, 2016


Mr. Michael Mulgrew, President
United Federation of Teachers
52 Broadway
New York, New York 10004

Dear Mr. Mulgrew,

Over  the past few years, members of the opt out movement have become adept  at distinguishing our allies from those who work against us, often  behind the scenes. In light of your recent newsletter (see below) for  the UFT’s Unity Caucus, it has become apparent which of these two camps  you are truly affiliated with.

It is no secret, Mr. Mulgrew, that  as president of the NYC teacher’s union, the UFT (the largest local  teacher’s union in the state), you wield a tremendous amount of power  within NYSUT. With approximately 800 voting delegates and the resources  needed to send all of its delegates to statewide elections, the UFT  often holds the voting majority in NYSUT. Therefore, you have the power  to sway NYSUT’s powerful lobbying dollars and efforts towards policy and  law that will either benefit or harm our children. For that reason, the  opt out movement has shifted its attention to you.

In the  outrageous document referenced above, you claim that districts have  "lost" grant money due to opt out, when in fact that money was not  theirs to begin with. You cannot "lose" something you do not already  have and are not guaranteed to be awarded. While failing to test 95% of  all students may exclude a district from APPLYING for a small monetary  grant (25,000-75,000 dollars), no money is TAKEN from a district. To  date, no school in NYS has lost money as a result of opt out numbers. On  the other hand, high stakes testing has cost school districts MILLIONS  of dollars over the past four years while the State continues to shirk  its obligation to fully fund our schools. In addition, under the new  ESSA guidelines, this reward status and grant application process comes  to an end and will no longer be a factor.

In addition to  providing your members with false information, you have demonized the  brave and outspoken NYC educators who have encouraged opt out. You have  inexplicably labeled these educators as “reckless and feckless”. This  begs the question, why would an experienced educator and union leader  dismiss and insult a historic act of civil disobedience? Surely, you are  aware that the opt out movement has yielded the only successful means  of resisting harmful “test and punish” policies that hurt not only your  members, but all educators and students around the state.

It is  no secret that you have failed to support efforts to reject the  increased focus on test scores in the new teacher evaluation plan  (3012-d), or that you have publicly vowed to defend the common core  standards (standards that even the Governor’s skewed CC task force found  to be flawed) with violence, if necessary. In addition to your  disparaging comments aimed at those who support the opt out movement,  your actions as president of the UFT would appear to reveal whose side  you are really on.

When teachers, students, and unions were being  abused, demonized, and demoralized, a call to action rang out from  grassroots parent and educator organizations. Many teachers and local  unions heeded the call. Progressive caucuses within the UFT such as MORE  and the statewide caucus Stronger Together immediately stepped up and  worked alongside parents to fight for the best interests of our  children. Where were you?

Sadly, it seems apparent, Mr. Mulgrew,  that you have been standing and working against us at every turn. Deals  have been made, hands have been shaken, and forces have aligned to quell  the increasing discontent of this growing tide of parents and educators  fighting for the very survival of our schools and the well-being of our  children. Opposition to our cause within NYSED, NYCDOE, USDOE as well  as those who support illogical and damaging education policies have  found an unlikely partner in you.

While your actions speak  volumes, we urge you to prove us wrong and demonstrate that you are in  fact, an ally of the opt out movement. Take a stand against a corrupt  and harmful test-based accountability system, advocate for research and  evidence-based education policies, and respect teachers, parents, and  students who advocate the use of test refusal as a means of impacting  policy and regulatory change.

We think it only fair to inform you  that should the educators of New York City and New York State seek new  leadership in their elected union officials, the parents of New York  will stand in solidarity with those who seek to safeguard public  education from harmful policies, regulations, and corrupt leadership.

Sincerely,


New York State Allies for Public Education


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