Friday, April 20, 2007

A unique opportunity has been missed

A unique opportunity has been missed
by Norman Scott
April 20

(Posted to nyceducationnews listserve)

The May 9th demo scared the hell out of Bloomberg and would have made a national splash and focused attention on so many of the awful policies as a result of his control of the school system.
In addition, it looks like the back of the coalition forming to stand up to him may have been broken. Divide and conquer, used to perfection. With the cooperation of the UFT.

But the major parties involved are only interested in short-term solutions. Bloomberg hopes he's heading for Washington and so does Weingarten. Probably Klein too.

Andy Wolfe's analysis makes some good points:
"The mayor is intent on neutralizing his opposition and may now have succeeded. Political aides to the mayor fear that the education issue could undermine his nascent presidential bid.
The turmoil over the mayor's education initiatives also has led to serious questions being raised by key leaders in the city's business and philanthropic communities, up to now the mayor's strongest supporters.....
In trying to sell the agreement to the uncomfortable parent groups, speaking on a conference call, Ms. Weingarten termed officials of the Department of Education as "absolute and complete assholes" who "can't be trusted."

Just the usual Weingarten rhetoric, words without substance. In the last 10 years I've had the occasion to use this expression so many times: Et tu, Randi?

Wolfe's point is right on:
many parent leaders believed "we've got them where we want them," wanting no concessions, and preferred holding out for the state Legislature to modify — or eliminate — mayoral control. To them the mission was not to protect the interests of senior teachers looking to retain their ability to move about the system, but to "put the public back in the public schools."

One can't say this enough times. A unique opportunity has been missed.

The NYTimes today says this on the funding plan "compromise":
"The change means that when a veteran teacher paid nearly $100,000 a year retires, a principal can hire a similar teacher or hire a rookie for about $50,000 and use the remaining $50,000 for other expenses."

If this is true, will a principal chose a senior teacher or take the 50 grand? This seems like little change in reality.

The agreement still affects teachers who want to transfer, as that issue is still in grievance, and if you look at the rate of grievance victories (low single digits) that has little chance. With so many teachers already forced into retirement, the transfer issue is just as important. To have left this to the grievance process is a capitulation. People will say, "well in negotiations, there is give and take."

There has never been any give from Tweed, only take. That they sat down at all is a sign of weakness. Instead of negotiations, there should have been take it or leave it demands. The May 9 demo was long overdue.

The basic idiocy of the reorganization plan
is still in place (ok, gang, everyone compete, total power in the hands of principals (all too many power hungry and pathological) - except they need permission of the district Superintendents).

The fact that the continued idiocies that will result from mayoral control seem guaranteed to continue in perpetuity. Nothing has changed for the people in the school community who have suffered over the past the past 5 years.

On class size, I don't care what they say or what committees they form. They do not believe that reducing class size will have the same impact spending money on professional development will. That is their mantra, inherited from Anthony Alvarado. They will say one thing and do another. To put any trust in Tweed given their record is a mistake.

It is funny that Tweed can say they are going to do A,B,C,D horrible things and when they modify D, everyone cheers like it's a victory.

From the very beginning, the focus on the reorganization rather than the entire package of control of the schools by big city mayors and its impact on the schools has made a deal like this likely. And when the leader, the UFT, is always looking to make a deal, the entire movement seemed doomed from the beginning. The groups left out of the process were used and will be very reluctant to get involved in the future. An historic opportunity to bring forces together to become an educational force has been lost. But long-time observers of how the UFT operates are not surprised.

From day one of BloomKlein, the UFT wanted a seat at the table and seems to have gotten it. They also are and will continue to support mayoral control. Their candidate Spitzer confirmed it today.

The strength of any coalition is in the numbers they can bring to the table.

As pointed out, "
CEJ is one of the many Community Involvement organizations financed by the Annenberg Institute of Social Reform at Brown University, headed up by Norm Fruchter, formerly of NYU."

How do they get to be considered representative of local parent groups while groups actually elected (and which had passed resolutions against the reorganizations, no small reason why they weren't at the table) are left out? Who does Fruchter, who has supported much of what Tweed has done, represent?

Where was the "transparency" in these negotiations so many people on this list have been calling on the DOE to show?

The proper way to go about the process would have been to get reps together of all groups to decide on a strategy. But the UFT is always looking to make a deal even at the expense of some of its allies.

A unique opportunity has been missed.

Or has it?

There still is a need to hold a demo at Tweed. People opposed to this agreement should go to Tweed on the afternoon of May 9th and hold a silent vigil.

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