Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Randi is outraged...

At this past Monday night's Executive Board meeting, Randi Weingarten attacked the opposition for supposedly not fully supporting the reduction in class size campaign with a snide comment, “Now that the elections are over, I hope you will join the campaign.” She claimed some of us have been too busy campaigning (guilty - like trying to race around schools trying to overcome the Unity monopoly on access to teachers)while she has been focused - probably one of the unintentionally funniest lines she has uttered in a long time.

Weingarten is trying to make it look like she invented class size reduction when in fact she tails after people who have led the fight.

Remember year after year of failed petitions drives that were thrown out of court and now a current drive to get CFE money to go to class size reduction, which by the way we do support, though god knows how many schools have to be built before this generation of teachers will ever get to see the benefit.

Leonie Haimson has been fighting for class size reduction for 10 years. And Ed Notes rarely put out an issue over 10 years that did not mention class size reduction as we often used the motto: (Class) Size Matters.

At every Delegate Assembly, when I and others put forth resolutions calling for class size reduction to be a major negotiating issue, Weingarten/Unity opposed all efforts from the time she became President to put the issue on the bargaining table. To force the issue before the UFT leadership the Ed Notes resolution calling on the NY Teacher to print a list of every class that is over the limit every year in the NY Teacher was passed in December, 2000. Somehow, Weingarten has forgotten to implement that for the past 5 years. Hey, what’s a little thing like ignoring a resolution passed by the DA even if it deals with class size reduction?

In fact ICE was founded on a basic principle of reducing class size through contract negotiations and has used the election campaign to put that idea in front of the members.

At the Executive Board meeting, Jeff Kaufman got up to challenge her and Weingarten said she was “outraged” by our actions.

There’s the whole thing in a nutshell. This is what outrages her (her usual phony show of outrage, by the way). Where’s her outrage at a teacher of 22 years with a perfect record being taken from a school in handcuffs by 5 cops? (See post below this. Weingarten has ignored multiple attempts on the part of the teacher to contact her.)

We hope now that the election campaign is over Weingarten will join the ICE campaign for reducing class size by placing the issue on the bargaining table.

NYC Educator, as usual, did a great job taking Weingarten's position apart:

UFT President Randi Weingarten, I'm told, is upset because in the middle of a contentious election season, the opposition did not abandon its campaign in order to jump on her class-size bandwagon. That's an odd accusation to make, as the opposition absolutely supports lower class sizes, and has demanded for years they be part of contract negotiations. Of course, they were voted down on a regular basis by the lockstep Unity patronage machine (which no doubt feels it ran a positive campaign).

The very first post on this blog was about class size.

And let's be very clear--our classes run up to 34 (often surpassing that), and Ms. Weingarten's machine has failed to do anything whatsoever about it for almost 40 years. Based on that record, I'd be loathe to criticize anyone. It's clear, having bought off her original opposition with patronage jobs, it would be quite convenient for Ms. Weingarten if her only genuine opposition pranced about singing her praises.

Politics aside, Ms. Weingarten's got many reasons to focus on class size, and a good many of them concern getting rank-and-file to stop thinking about the unconscionable givebacks of the 05 contract. Unity thinks if they ignore them long enough, people will simply forget where they came from (and they may be right, for all I know).

Yesterday, as I was walking the permanent hall patrol Ms. Weingarten negotiated for me, I had time to consider that contract. I was certainly thinking about it on the punishment days in August she'd thoughtfully negotiated for me. And I'm sure many of my colleagues think about it during their 37.5 minute classes, which Unity claims are not actually classes.

If Joel Klein's plan to have funding follow students becomes a reality, senior teachers will be pariahs, albatrosses around the necks of principals who need to fund their schools. Is there anyone who doesn't believe that Klein envisioned precisely this when he got Ms. Weingarten to agree to the worst contract in our history?

Joel Klein is by no means my favorite person. Still, he certainly knows what he's doing. Ms. Weingarten made the first step toward enabling Mr. Klein's vision it by supporting mayoral control. Another huge mistake was going to PERB and accepting the odious 05 contract, the implications of which seem to have utterly escaped her (and still do, for all I know). Perhaps Ms. Weingarten sees Mr. Klein's new funding proposals as mere coincidence, and not a direct result of her collaboration.

Regardless, as Ms. Weingarten eyes the AFT presidency, the dual AFT-UFT presidencies (following in the footsteps of both her Unity predecessors) or a position in Hillary's white house, she leaves the rest of us--students, parents, and teachers, to pay for her utter lack of foresight.

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