Thursday, June 26, 2008

Michelle Bodden to Resign as UFT VP

Will run UFT Elementary Charter School

As reported in an ednotes online exclusive, Michelle Bodden, who many people were betting would be Randi Weingarten's successor as UFT President, will take over the UFT's troubled elementary charter school.

We raised the question as to whether a UFT VP for elementary schools could be in that position. Now we have been informed that she has sent a letter telling people she will be resigning her VP position. (Will she also be resigning from Unity Caucus?)

The signs have been there for a long time that Bodden was not in the running and I had to convince even people inside 52 Broadway that she would never head the UFT. Perhaps she was getting too popular. "She's really an educator," said one insider. "Not a politician like Randi. You can actually have a conversation with her about real things. Some people can't wait for Randi to be gone so we can start solving the real problems we face."

I won't go into the details, but long-time observers can tell a lot about the UFT by who stands where, what kinds of events people get to represent the UFT at, and other signs. The surprise appointment of Leroy Barr as UFT Staff Director in January made it clear that another African-American had superseded Michelle in the UFT hierarchy.

Aside from the UFT political mishegas, I think putting Michelle in charge of the school is a good move. I had some contact with her when Randi put me on a charter school committee headed by Michelle in the late 90's. We only met a few times until Randi abandoned the idea, but Michelle was very easy to work with.

Teacher Power
If I had to choose one principle that has driven Ed Notes, it is the empowerment of teachers, who have been viewed as just barely above the kids in terms of respect (in today's NYCDOE, it's probably even.) I was on the first UFT charter committee because at the time I was an advocate of charter schools and even had a resolution urging the UFT to set up an office of charter school support to enable teachers to begin running their own schools. My idea was not for the UFT to run a school, but to empower teachers who were sick of working for idiot supervisors. In my plan, teachers got to choose their supervisors, not the other way around. We would get the very best principals that way.

When I proposed the idea of the UFT helping teachers run schools, Randi's immediate reaction was some reluctance and it gave me an early insight into her wish to exercise control. It took me 3 or 4 years to get what she was really about.

But, though I am opposed to the very idea of a UFT charter school, I wish Michelle well in her new position.

As to who will replace her as elementary school VP, we can be sure of one thing. It will be the personal choice of Randi Weingarten and rubber stamped by the UFT Executive Board, not through any kind of democratic process.


  1. Norm...

    Could you comment on the $650,000 worth of our dues that were spent on a UFT charter school? Was there a vote on this? (2006 LM2)


  2. Sure there was a vote - Unity style.
    1. Form a committee to study the issue stacked with people who will assure the outcome you want.

    2. Make sure New Action is on the committee and on board - also a sure bet - so you can say the charter school has bi-partisan support.

    3. Exec Bd rubber stamps.

    4. So does Delegate Assembly.
    ICE's Michael Fiorillo eloquently speaks against the idea and writes a great piece used in ednotes called "Charter to Nowhere."

    Hold a Q&A which was attended by few - people from ICE (Janes, Jeff, the Priscos and myself) were there to raise great questions which were shunted aside.

    Did they tell anyone how much it would cost in dues money?

    Bet not.

  3. Isn't this illegal use of union funds? Didn't Jimmy Hoffa and his ilk go to jail for shenanigans like this?

  4. Too bad about Michelle Bodden. As chapter leader I invited her to speak to the staff at my school this year. And she let them have it too....... told them the union is of no use to them if they don't claim their rights. I heard she was very compassionate and understood immediately what was going on in the school.

  5. I understand the frustration of CL who have staffs divided by abusive principals with teachers with no spine for a fight. But Michelle's attitude her is the typical "blame the victim."

    I know this situation and the district rep in this district is as weak and ineffective as can be. There is never a sense of "we're sending in the troops" on the part of the union to do some gut organizing. What they do is hire retread New Action people to go into some schools.

  6. Anon. 6:36, about the union being "of no use to them if they don't claim their rights."

    True enough, but only in theory.

    In fact, they've turned themselves into a "theoretical" union and spout directives at us as if we had any power to right the wrongs and still preserve our jobs.

    Once the UFT allowed (or collaborated with) governance to chip away at the teaching profession itself — tolerating an overwhelming number of grad students into the profession on a par with fully certified teachers, removing autonomy in the classroom, sending educators to inappropriate staff development, using guidance counselors for administrative purposes like articulation, etc. — and negotiated away important items in former contracts, they kneecapped us.

    If individuals fight back, individuals mostly lose, and the loss is not just the un-won grievance. The loss consists of a stream of unwanted actions against you from that point on, up to and including excessing and rubber room.

    The DRs can yell at us all they want to stand up and fight for our rights, but who are they talking to? The huge percentage who aren't tenured and don't know nothing from union, or could care less? Or are they talking to the rest of us, whom admin messes around with illegitimately the minute we speak up or call their methods into question.

    The UFT has no ability whatsoever to prevent the massive, ideological, and thoroughly corrupt assault on professional educators.

    We need to PUSH BACK at the DRs and the union VPs loud and clear until they realize their old-style "be strong, stand together" crap is a thing of the past.

  7. Only Norman Scott could declare an "exclusive" a full week after the Board of Trustees appointed Michelle Bodden as the school leader of the Elementary Charter School and Randi had told all of the UFT staff. But that fits right with declaring a school which, in the heart of East New York, had 98% of its student score 3 and 4 on the 3rd grade Math test, troubled.

  8. Exclusive means first published as it was in ednotes on June 19, over a week ago.
    Even a major mainstream press reporter sent congrats.

    As to using the word "troubled," see which starts with:

    "Top United Federation of Teachers leaders are moving to avert a crisis at a charter school run by the union after an ultimatum by parents upset by what they say is a lack of security guards, poor communication with administrators, and high teacher turnover."

    That spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e-d to me.

  9. Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew have let the parents of UFT charter School students down. They kicked an unstable, mentally ill woman, Ms. Michelle Bodden-White, out of 52 Broadway and made her principal of our school. She runs the school like a egotistical power hungry tyrant. The parents have no voice and good teachers are afraid of being fired because their 'so called' union has abandoned them. WE WANT HER OUT OUR SCHOOL!OUR VOICES WILL BE HEARD! DON'T BE FOOLED BY HER. SHE IS NOT A GOOD PERSON. MICHELLE BODDEN, SHEP BROWN, VIRGINIA TOMLINSON, AND NILSA QUINONES MUST GO BECAUSE WE ARE NOT GOING TO ALLOW THEM TO BRINGING DOWN OUR SCHOOL ANYMORE. STAY TUNED...

  10. her school is out of control


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