Saturday, November 11, 2006

The UFT and Mayoral Control - A Slam Dunk

"No Secret Deal in Teacher Pact" proclaimed the headline in the NY Post.

“On the heels of a historic new contract with the city, the head of the teachers union yesterday dismissed speculation that the deal committed her to supporting extending mayoral control of the school system. Saying she has been bombarded with questions from members and outside observers about striking a "secret deal" with Mayor Bloomberg, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said there was no backroom pact. "There was no secret deal about anything," Weingarten said. "The mayor and I did not have a conversation about mayoral control."

Watch what the UFT does and not what it says. Actions are judged by outcomes and the outcome will be a renewal of mayoral control. The UFT will sit on the sidelines and use none of whatever pull it has to make changes in governance that would give teachers and parents a real say. Oh, of course, the UFT will make noises about tinkering with the process and do whatever PR they think is necessary to molify members who are outraged at the negative impact mayoral control of the schools has had on working conditions - the total refusal to deal with class size, the total and ridgid control of what goes on in the classroom, the total lack of respect for the opinions and experience of teachers, etc. We might even see some bogus committees set up that will still allow principals to subvert them to their ends.

The UFT will make some noises about allying with parents who have been shut out of the process by BloomKlein. But the UFT will continue to turn its back on the corruption that is in many ways so much worse than anything that took place under the old system and will use as their argument "We don't want to go back to THAT! "THAT" means community control.

Yet even under the old system, high schools were centrally mis-managed so much worse than many of the local districts. Would anyone argue that the high schools, and now, the rest of the system, are better managed today after the entire system was put through such an upheaval?

Years ago when Randi Weingarten announced UFT support for mayoral control, I warned about the impact in Education Notes, at Executuve Board meetings and at Delegate Assemblies. I had the benefit of information provided by George Schmidt who had seen the negatives of mayoral control under Mayor Daly and the Joel Klein of Chicago, Paul Valas.

Now Valas is in Philly as CEO of the school system.

Today's Inquirer has a story, "Vallas facing sharp criticism: Three members of the School Reform Commission hound the chief executive over the district's $73 million deficit."

George sends us a follow-up.

Friends from New York:

I hope that someone will pick up on the story that's unfolding in Philadelphia, which inherited the Big Lie from Chicago in terms of mayoral control and the CEO stuff.

Last week, one top Philadelphia official said: "A year ago Paul Vallas was the toast of the town. Now he's toast." Philadelphia CEO Paul Vallas and his entire corrupt Chicago crew is facing a lot of investigation now that the ecomony has gone into bad times and Vallas doesn't have a blank check to bribe everyone (as he had here, when he -- along with our mayor -- invented the "CEO myth" for the right wing Democrats during the late 1990s).

Anyway, I hope someone can pick up on the daily breaking news about the corruption in Philadelphia and its impact on the union.

Part of that story is that Ted Kersch, of the PFT, had been one of the Vallas cheerleaders (like Randi in New York and the late Tom Reece here in Chicago) and consequently guilty of foisting executive rule on the schools. Now the PFT is taking huge hits (class size increases; double programs; layoffs) because of the corruption. And this is just the beginning.

If nothing else, I hope that this will begin to unravel the lies of "CEO" rule in public education, so that in a few years we can get back to the mopey kinds of democracy that actually work. The CEO myth should have been buried with Enron, World Com, Tyco, Adelphia, and the rest, but in education it got a breath of added life thanks to union leaders in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia who cut deals that were, then and now, unconscionable.

George Schmidt
Editor, Substance

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