Friday, February 22, 2008

The UFT/AFT and Rothstein

If you've read the post previous to this one on Richard Rothstein's appearance at Columbia on closing the achievement gap, one thing I left out is where our union stands on the questions he raises.

It would seem on the surface like a slam dunk – there are factors outside the school that must be addressed in order to close the achievement gap. But, while the UFT/AFT machine might pay lip service to Rothstein, in fact they line up with the Business Roundtable, Rangel, the Clintons, etc. which embraced Al Shanker (it was mutual) in the early 80's.

For them it is all about accountability – but one way accountability. The schools and teachers will be held accountable but the government and the entire regressive ed reformers will not be accountable for providing adequate resources to assure an equal and adequate education for all. "We can't be perceived as not wanting to be accountable," is their argument – even if the playing field is totally tilted against the teachers they purportedly represent. In other words, they won't put up an iota of a fight against closing a large high school. When Christopher Cerf said at a Manhattan Institute luncheon that throwing cash at the problem won't solve it, I challenged him with "But you NEVER EVEN TRY. Why not throw cash at Tilden high school for a few years as an experiment instead of closing it?" He had no answer.

I've been at many forums even with Randi Weingarten on the panel and she never takes this kind of stand. What teachers were looking for is this from the union:

We will not cooperate in any way in closing of schools, or helping you get rid of what you say are bad teachers or modifying the contract or give you any aid until you show a commitment to providing adequate resources."

Now that would be a slam dunk. But don't expect the UFT/AFT leadership to win any dunking contests. They get an allergic reaction when anywhere near the word "militancy."

If you're looking for an explanation for why the UFT aligns with the enemies of rank and file teachers, that would take us into the philosophy and ideology that has driven and still drives the UFT for well over 30 years. That analysis will be forthcoming soon in this space.

1 comment:

  1. Great idea Norm. However, we are talking about Randi who talks but never acts.


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