Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#AFT100, #AFT16 Day 3 Post 1: The Prequel - Randi's Revenge - ESSA Vs Rally

Last night in a bar I asked a Chicago Teacher Union member if the scheduling of the ESSA Reso discussion was set up to conflict with the rally was Randi's revenge and the response was - a good chance it was.
Wed., July 20, 11 AM

Before I get into today's convention stuff let me take care of some housekeeping. James Eterno has a piece up on ICE - somewhat gloating - because he thinks my post yesterday (#AFT100, #AFT16 Day 2 Post 2: Breaking Shocker - AFT Endorses Hillary) makes him the winner of our ongoing debate about social justice unionism.  ICEUFT Blog NORM SCOTT CONCEDES ONE TO RANDI ON SOCIAL JUSTICE

We actually agree that any caucus or union must pay attention to bread and butter issues of concerns to the members - where we may disagree is whether that is all a caucus or union should do and make no attempt to take care of not only issues of concerns to teachers but of issues of concern to the people teachers stand in front of every day. Both of us roll our eyes when we hear of a union or caucus that gives such priority to social justice it forgets or neglects the needs of its constituency. But we differ on the degree - I am for balance. I won't speak for James but I hope he doesn't line up with Chaz who considers all SJ "crap."

In my post yesterday, it is true that I gave Randi credit for co-opting the SJ agenda - I wrote - "As James Eterno always says - it is hard to out social justice Randi - at least on the surface."

Note the words - on the surface. Yesterday afternoon we came fact to face with Social Justice -  Randi-style.

Leroy Barr makes Strong speech
Not to say that the AFT doesn't do serious SJ work -- look at the photo I posted above of the program summarizing yesterday's events.

Right now at 11:45 -- Leroy Barr is speaking on the Fighting for Safe Communities and Racial Justice for our Citizens reso --- reading the names of the dead. Leroy's mom was a teacher and his dad was an NYC Police Sgt. A really great speech by Leroy on how all lives matter but over history black lives have not always mattered.

The debate about police echos that I've heard in MORE as one woman opposes support for all police and cooperation between teacher unions and police unions -- she opposes that --- I wonder why some dialogue between the unions and the police on the official level and between teachers and police on the personal level is not going to be more helpful than not. The left has a view of police and the role in society -- and I get that --- but there have always been and always will be police and if we value black lives and all lives the dialogue can only be helpful.

Randi SJ style can be on narrow terms - with lots of rhetoric but not always lots of action -- you know the drill - watch what Randi does, not what she says. With Randi you get the good, the bad and the ugly.

I think yesterday afternoon we got not the ugly but closer to bad than good.

So let me back to what happened yesterday afternoon.

Originally it was announced there would be a march in honor of Philando Castile at 4PM. I made an assumption the entire convention would adjourn and hundred if not thousands would march downtown to a bank from the convention center.

UFT HQ at 52 Brodway is in the midst of the major banks in NYC - has the UFT EVER considered marching on a bank? So I was skeptical from the start that this would really happen -- but hell, I'll play along.

Then all day Randi repeatedly talked about how they cut a day off the convention to save delegates and locals money -- hey, instead of costing UFT dues payers over $2 million - but probably more -   to send 750 plus semi-slugs (some deserve a promotion) -- knock a few thousand bucks off. She says maybe they won't finish in time to actually go to the rally en masse -- but those who want to go should do so -- the St. Paul TU was sponsoring a march and people could join in.

Many Chicago Teachers Union delegates wanted to and expected to join in the march.

Randi's Choice: ESSA vs Rally
Now comes the tricky part where the Randi modus operendi was in action. You see, the most important convention stuff to many people was the education committee reports -- especially important to the Chicago people. The ESSA resolution was their proposal which CTU sources say Randi didn't want but in order to avoid the usual floor fight between Chicago and NYC Unity - a deal was brokered for a compromise reso ---- SEE -- TAKING ACTION ON THE PROMISE OF THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT -

And as the afternoon went on there was a sense of time being wasted -- haven't we seen this act before at Delegate Assemblies run by Randi? The funniest one when Randi had a speaker from the Israeli  Knesset who just had to speak in this particular time spot even though we were pressed for time - and when someone raised that point Randi disingenuously said - but they paid so much money to come here --- like she couldn't speak today or even tomorrow or couldn't speak earlier in the day.

But no - even when the VP of the CTU - Jesse Sharkey politely

asked for Randi to make it possible for people do engage in the ESSA debate AND go to the rally, Randi danced around like she was doing the tango. First -- she said the rally left already - it was already around 5PM I think -- but shouts of NO - they are waiting for us to finish so we could join them. She makes it clear we won't finish and people who want to go to the rally should do so.

But Randi knows that she will be criticized so she turns over the chair - and runs out to do a photo op with the rally people - and they leave and she comes running back in - out of breath to show she supported the march and rally

And then we listen to the Knesset woman speak - and speak - and speak - and speak.

And then Keron Blair - head of AROS - Alliance to Reclaim our Schools  and  Alex Caputo-Pearl - LATU President and social justice supremo -- AROS is also a baby of the Chicago Teachers -- so Randi double whammies them.

So, many Chicago teachers remained for the debate since in the agreement with Unity/UFT they were the ones to present the ESSA reso -- did not get to go to the rally - some did -- but not many.
Thus the rally, where people did Civil disobedience and were arrested (including the President of the Minneapolis Teacher Union), was vastly diluted.

A classic Randi op. Social Justice unionism - on the surface. Is Randi brilliant or not?

So, yes, James is right in that Randi can talk SJ unionism on the surface with the best of them -- but MORE is also about  not just talking but acting -- and that is the difference. I believe MORE and CORE in Chicago and the people in LA and other SJ caucuses are pushing the traditional unions to co-opt the message because they are attracting newer teachers and both James and I agree that Randi is a genius at co-opting every issue and everyone she wants to co-opt.

Gloria and Lisa joined the rally with our friends from the Minneapolis SJ caucus called REACH - and Gloria took these pics.


  1. How sad that her need for revenge/power was more important than anything else.

  2. Norm, Randi is a political animal. She plays the social justice card well and walks the political tightrope as often as she has to on social justice issues. She knows how far to push things so as not to offend a large part of her membership. She'll even get herself arrested if need be. Trying to out-social justice her is in many ways futile as I see it. Saying hers isn't a deep or real enough commitment to social justice is a tough sell to all but the most dedicated insiders.

    I agree with you that social justice is part of what unions do. Let's make that clear. The problem for me arises when a union or caucus becomes more interested in saving the world and/or supporting a politician while largely ignoring the basic working conditions, needs and wishes of their own rank and file. First time I think we have ever discussed this over the internet.

    On your blog I want to say for the record thank you for what you do. You are at these AFT conventions for the right reasons for sure.

    1. It seems we are in alignment in many ways. We take care of the needs of members but if some people define their needs in ways that impact students on the whole negatively we may not agree.

    2. Anyone who is anti-student should try another line of work. I've heard people talk about certain misbehaving students who roam halls without consequences negatively but I don't think I have ever heard any teacher talk negatively about the overall student population.

  3. It was challenging to get that photo of randi at the front of the March since she was only there for 6 seconds.


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