Saturday, February 9, 2008

Rally to Oppose Budget Cuts or Another Sell-out?

Excuse my cynicism, but is this the same coalition that sold us out in the Keep the Public in Public Education Coalition?
- a NYC parent on the nyceducationnews listserve.

My God! can't we get a weekend off? Things keep popping up like a faulty toaster. I'm trying to get a handle around different coalitions forming to fight the budget cuts, competing rallies at Tweed, and all kinds of other goodies. As usual, there is an historical context to everything and that's the place we always go so as not to leave you guys out there in the cold.

I'm on deadline for a short story I'm writing for my fiction writing group so I may not get to all of it, but check back for updates to this post (I'll leave a permanent link on top corner on the right hand side and add to this post as info comes in.)

For starters here's a time line, all of which has been covered in Ed Notes (I'll get links up later):

Feb. 28, 2007: Coalition of groups led by UFT holds extraordinary rally in Manhattan. Decides to hold a rally in May to protest the policies of BloomKlein.

April, 2007: Most of the groups make a deal with the Mayor and agree to call off the rally.
(Note: aspects of The Deal are violated, in particular class size agreements. Other parts of the deal, possibly the Lead Teacher - see our recent post on this angle a few days ago - will be violated in the budget cuts announced in January.)

May, 2007: Manhattan High School chapter leaders vote 19-1 to call for the rally to be reinstated because Twee cannot be trusted. They bring the issue to the May Del. Ass. UFT Leadership opposes and they lose by a large margin.

Jan./Feb. 2008: Bloomberg announces budget cuts which Klein admits Tweed knew about since November but never told the principals. They are more pissed off than just about anyone. Empowered, indeed!

Feb. 6, 2008: At the UFT Delegate Assembly, a UFT Resolution on budget cuts calls for the UFT to participate in the reinstitution of the coalition to fight the cuts and announces a meeting will be held the next day. Randi asks if people will support a rally if they decide to call one. The audience, already numb from her President's report, with some saying they would prefer water boarding, nods/mumbles assent.

Jonathan Lessuck from Progressive Labor Party (PLP) offers a series of amendments to strengthen the resolution and calls for a rally to be held on Feb. 14. Another PL speaker talks about how important it is to bring students into play. (This is a common PLP theme, something I'm not always comfortable with, but more on that another time.) I should point out that some PLP members also work with ICE but while ICE agrees with some PLP positions, it does not endorse all the actions of PLP. ICE had no involvement in the PLP amendments.

Randi and Unity Caucus speakers oppose the amendments, mostly on the Feb. 14 date, saying it is too short a time. Lessuck says the date is not crucial but doesn't make a formal amendment change. Randi takes a vote with the Feb. 14 date included, to PLP's chagrin. She shrugs and smiles a disingenuous Cheshire Cat Smile.

Feb. 7, 2007: The coalition meets with 150 people present and there are reports that it is very successful. A decision is made to hold a rally in mid-March,prompting the comment on cynicism from the parent that we lead this post off with. Reporters are banned but Elizabeth Green posts the most comprehensive story for the NY Sun. Read it here:

Feb. 10 (Sunday): The Coalition will hold a press conference on the steps of City Hall at 12:30. I'm going to my niece's daughter's baby naming in Philadelphia, so if anyone has a report send it along.

In the meantime, the Feb. 14 date has resurfaced for a rally at Tweed in this email:

Hey Folks,

You don't need to be told how outrageous these budget cuts are.
What are we going to do about it?!?!?!?

Next Thursday, February 14th at 4:00 PM we are taking it to the steps of Tweed.


We demand an immediate return of the money taken from school budgets for this year and next.

Bloomberg needs money? Eliminate the $400 million in homeowner rebates.
We demand economic justice and democracy in our school system!

Tell king Bloomberg: Give back what you are stealing from our kids!
We want as many parents and students as possible to come on Thursday and be heard. Talk to your students about it, get them to organize and bring their parents.
My third graders are already MAD!

Sponsors so far include:
State Senator Eric Adams, Time Out From Testing, NYCORE, district 15 CEC, PS 24 Teachers for Equity in Education.

A group of students from Brooklyn called Students Against DOE Budget Cuts are leading the way with the support of the groups above. They are organizing a march on Tweed for Thursday, Feb. 14th and need all of our support.

Sam Coleman
PS 24

Should they back off and support the March rally? Or are they correct to mistrust the coalition which in April backed off a tremendous opportunity and killed the momentum for the May rally? Will Randi Weingarten (who everyone knows is the mover and shaker behind this coalition) play Let's Make a Deal again if Bloomberg puts 10 cents on the table?

You can follow this soap opera (Call it the Coalition of Our Lives) on the ednotes blog. I will try to attend the rally on Thursday as part of my Valentine Day celebration (can you spell "divorce?") and get some pictures.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the trouble to do the timeline, and keep it going, because I think it's going to get murky over the next month.

    Just like the Candlelight protest a ways back, which started off with a teacher planning a vigil on the steps of Tweed. The idea was originally rejected by RW, but then in an act of great PR but no resolve whatsoever, she reversed her position and co-opted it.

    Maybe you'll be able to help us sort out what's happening in the shadows, because that's where BloomKleinGarten tend to spend most of their time.


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