Thursday, January 29, 2009

The UFT and Mayoral Control

The UFT has been on the wrong side of just about every progressive education issue. By signing on to the “teacher quality is the most important Joel Klein/Michelle Rhee formula" they abandon the stronger case that lower class sizes are more important and in fact would raise the level of teacher quality across the board. Thus you see all kinds of class size reduction gimmicks like the 2 failed petition campaigns (haven’t heard much about those lately, have you) while ignoring the calls from this publication and ICE to make class size reduction a priority contract item. The numbers you see today that you can at least grieve on were implemented in 1970. Remember the argument used against us that we would see educations due to the CFE ruling? How's that working out?

Abandoning seniority rules, accepting school closings as a fait accompli, joining in on the influx of charter schools, accepting the CEO model, tacit acceptance of non-educators as chancellors, supporting the Gates and other private interest onslaught on public schools, signing on to the testing mania by supporting merit pay and individual teacher report cards based on these tests – I won’t give you any more of the laundry list – has led to the worst working conditions for teachers in decades and a deterioration in learning conditions for many children, no matter what the fudged numbers might show.

One of the major planks in the corporate agenda for education is to put large urban school systems under dictatorial mayors who are free to shut out parent and teacher input while undermining the union at the school level. Don’t get me wrong here. They are not anti-union - at the top level. They need a union with a collaborative leadership like the UFT, which can function as an intermediary to sell their programs to the teachers and control any signs of resistance.

From the day Randi Weingarten announced her support for mayoral control in May 2001, Ed Notes has stood against this policy, pointing to the Chicago model which began in 1995. Indeed, the Independent Community of Educators (ICE) came together in 2003 based on people opposed to the UFT’s going along, getting along policies.

So, now as we come to the possible sun set of the law, which would force us back to the what, today, looks like the good old days of local district boards.

If a referendum were held, I bet 75% or more of the people who work in the schools would vote to end mayoral control.

The UFT leadership is in a bind. How to continue to support mayoral control in practice while giving the members the opposite impression.

Thus, the creation of a governance committee, open to all, but packed with Unity people.

Meetings were held on all boroughs, but I have always felt the positions the UFT will take is predetermined and all this is about finding the right language that will play well. Now there are ICE people on the committee but they can’t tell us what is going on because there is some kind of gag rule and they will be water boarded if they talk. Or sent to GITMO.

In case you didn’t notice, there is another Delegate Assembly scheduled for next week (Feb. 4). It is all about the position the UFT will take on mayoral control. They must be having difficulty drafting a document that will play both sides of the issue against the middle. ICE has been adamantly against mayoral control and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. My guess is there is a lot of maneuvering on the part of the leadership. No mater what, I expect attacks on the ICE committee members. And for the UFT to say one thing while asking for tweaks.


  1. It's odd, but I remember getting an email from Randi telling me to support the stimulus bill, and another patting herself of the back for becoming the part-time UFT president/AFT president. Still, I can't recall getting any emails from her telling me which side of mayoral control to be on.

    There is no reason for us to even consider backing mayoral control. Why isn't Randi on her hind legs braying to the world how rotten a deal this has been for the children of New York?

  2. Because she's a new sort of progressive union leader, catering to a league of admirers like Rod Paige. Therefore she can't be worried about nonsense like higher pay or better working conditions for union members, or quality education for schoolchildren.

    Get with the program, Mr. A.

  3. True, true. I keep forgetting that we only provide the UFT with a measly 80 million a year to go on junkets and get additional pensions. Why, for 80 million, you can't even buy a decent computer system. Ask Joel Klein.

  4. Actually, they're up to 119 million last I looked. And computers can be costly. I just paid 60 bucks to get mine repaired. I'd get a new one, but I have to save that money to pay for rooms at the Sheraton for Unity members. They're out there eating the wine and cheese, and doing all the other tough jobs that get you a second pension on Broadway.

  5. Randi's allegience to the mayor is now so vividly clear. Maybe they gave her an offer she couldn't refuse?

    As they said on the movie, "The Untouchables", "...And what are you prepared to do`about it?"


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