Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Roots of UFT Policy Forum

Thurs. Dec. 27 11-2pm in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.

We are running a forum this Thursday at 11 am in Brooklyn that will delve into the UFT's response to the major issues facing NYC teachers.

Many people think Randi Weingarten has turned the union in a new direction from its roots.
Is this really true when the UFT/AFT has a certain history that goes back to Al Shanker on many of the push button issues of today?
Why does the UFT support mayoral control?
Certain types of merit pay?
High stakes testing?
Reducing teacher due process rights?
The end of seniority?
Charter schools - deals with Green Dot?
Why does the UFT have a basic mistrust in its own members?
Why is the UFT leadership so restrictive of democracy?

The roots of many of these policies go way back to before Weingarten ever set foot in the UFT building. In fact I surmise there was a talent search to find someone with her skill set to assure a continuance of these long-term policies. For those of you who think recent contracts are a result of her being bamboozled by BloomKlein, she has continued most UFT policies with great skill while controlling the membership. Someone said to me that Unity always bought off people who had flirted with the opposition (ie. people like Leo Casey and Lynn Winderbaum as just 2 examples.) But Randi's brilliant innovation was buying off the entire New Action Caucus. Now, there's creative management.

One of the issues we will explore is what areas has Weingarten has changed the direction of the UFT, if any.

Examining these issues will bring some clarity in understanding certain basic issues.

We hope to continue the discussion in future sessions (possibly during the midwinter break in Feb. and the spring break) and to publish something afterwards.

I was asked why this is important at this time?

My immediate response was that ideology, not individuals drive AFT/UFT policy. Thus, when Randi Weingarten eventually (and not too soon I would bet as the home front of Unity in terms of capable personnel is not exactly firm) gives up her position as UFT president, there might be hope her replacement will take the UFT in another direction. Don't bet on it. Weingarten is trying to shape up the top level of Unity to keep things in line while as AFT president she races around the country to try to elect Hillary. (Of course if Hillary is not the nominee, that might have an effect.)

One might ask why such a big push for the Richard Kahlenberg Shanker bio, which justifies almost all of Al Shanker's policies, especially his alliances with the business community that has led to many of the destructive policies that have put public schools under such attack? Why is the concept of "Tough Liberalism" which includes a major attack on the left, being shoved in people's faces? Why is the New Century Foundation and the Eli Broad foundation back this book?

Lots of questions. We hope to find some answers.

Thurs. Dec. 27 11-2pm
There is still room.
Contact me at if you are interested in attending and I will send you details.

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