....guest column by NYC teacher C.B. Abraham
I have been reading Ed Notes forever. I happen to believe in the concept of a loyal opposition. One can be “in the opposition” without being opposed to the system itself. It keeps the ruling party from running roughshod over those that disagree with the ruling elite’s actions. In short, an opposition party helps to maintain equilibrium.
There, in the December 26th online issue of Ed Notes “Shuffling the deck on the UFT Titanic” I read the following about Sandra Feldman: “But she trained as a teacher and was a socialist with a trade union background”. As I said, I have been reading Ed Notes for a very long time. That word “socialist” rang a distant bell. And then I fell out of my chair.
As readers of Ed Notes know, sometime during November of 2003, a new Chapter Leader disagreed with the president of the union concerning extra money for teachers in certain curriculum areas. For this, according to Ed Notes, the chapter leader was called a "socialist." Fast-forward 4 years and lo and behold, the specter of merit pay has taken on a new life. It is now called a "bonus". A rose by any other name?
The bonus pay idea has the potential to be so divisive that it will put union members at each other’s throats. Why should anyone work in a school, teaching the same children, under the same conditions, with the same teaching credentials and be paid differently from their neighbor?
All of us, ruling party and opposition, should salute those schools that turned down the money tied to performance. They would not allow any member of their chapter to be construed as a dunsel in the education process. Those chapters understand what it means to be united. They understand the idea of a union.
If that past prediction on merit pay has come true, then what other treats await us in the coming year?
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and a prosperous new year.
Here is the original article published in the Jan. 2004 edition of Education Notes:
Randi Calls Chapter Leader a Socialist for Disagreeing With Her at Chapter Leaders Training
Reports from Chapter Leaders attending UFT Chapter Leader training on Nov. 23. 2003
Randi gives updates on the union-initiated grievances and says that we are in a holding pattern until the next municipal election. [Is she saying that the grievances won’t be won until we elect a new mayor?] Expect “negative blow back” in the media each time we make any kind of advance.
Eventually she postulates the following idea:
Perhaps more prep time (she may have mentioned money here as well, but our correspondent is not 100% sure ) could be given to teachers in Title 1 schools in an effort to enable these schools to be adequately staffed. A chapter leader from a middle school questioned this and told her to ask for more money and time, not for a select group of schools, but for all schools in the system. Anything less would fracture and divide the membership, create different levels or tiers for the teachers in the UFT and would have the same effect as Merit Pay.
Randi responded by calling him a socialist. She later apologized.
There are reports that Randi also suggested that higher pay for math and science teachers might be inevitable. If true, this would be a major giveback. What next? Elementary teachers asking for higher pay because they teach longer hours? High school and middle school teachers saying they should be paid more because of the amount of papers they mark.
One more note: This is not the first time UFT leaders have resorted to red-baiting as a way to brand people who oppose them. Expect a lot more of this kind of thing in the upcoming  UFT elections.
[Note also the red-baiting that took place in the 2007 elections.]