Thursday, February 5, 2009


Michael Fiorillo, in his wonderful speech at the Delegate Assembly yesterday, punched numerous holes in the UFT leadership's position on mayoral control. Unfortunately, the Unity boat still floats as the body overwhelmingly endorsed a continuation of mayoral control, albeit with some checks that will do little to balance the equation the dictatorship by one person, no matter who that person is or will be, over the schools.

Michael made the point of tying the concept of removing entire schools systems from public control as being part of the national assault on teacher unions with the concurrent push toward privatization.

The UFT leaders, who know full well Michael was on target, prefer to mislead the members into believing it is all local. All about Klein and Bloomberg and if we only get rid of him them – even though we will do nothing to try to interfere with Bloomberg's 3rd term – things will improve.

I'm going to try to get some of Michael's notes so I can give a more complete report of his speech, which received great applause from all sides of the aisle, though not many seemed convinced enough to vote against the UFT/UNITY Caucus leadership plan.

I'll be back later with more on this DA, which had so many interesting angles. In the meantime, check out James Eterno's excellent report on the ICE blog.


  1. It's remarkable that the UFT can still say, "We'll do much better with the next mayor."

    I've been doing this almost 25 years, and they've never yet been right.

  2. You say Mike's speech was applauded on both sides of the aisle, "though not many seemed convinced enough to vote against the UFT/UNITY Caucus leadership plan."

    I suspect many might have been convinced, but look how many people in that room are on Unity's payroll. The reception Randi got was fairly subdued, even with her gross theatrics.

    As for the rest — New CLs are trained by Unity and not exposed to any other version of reality. Unity makes sure of that, too. One really has to go out of one's way to become politically aware in this union. Not many people have the time or the inclination to get involved with any issue outside the business of their own chapter .

    I am going to say something here that might be offensive to some, but here it is anyway.

    That bit about Weingarten's mother being ill is wearing very thin. She's mentioned it gratuitously at numerous DAs and in emails as well. Last night I believe she said that she and her sister had to alternate nights staying with her mom, and that she might have to leave the DA early because it was her night. If you're president of a union as large as ours and caring for an ailing parent on alternate nights, one would think your shift could be arranged so as not to conflict with a large union meeting. Nor do the delegates have to have to be told of these family details. They are irrelevant to the business of the union — unless you're using them to marshal sympathy and support, which I think she is.

    A week ago we were told that her mother had taken a turn for the worse, and when she walked into the meeting late, people gave her a standing ovation. What was that about.

    And I wouldn't normally go here either, what I'm about to say now, but my mother died more than a decade ago, the night before I had to conduct a school concert. The kids had worked on the music a whole term, and I didn't feel that canceling that concert was an option. As it happens, some years later my father also died before one of my school concerts, and I felt the same way. The kids had worked too hard, and we had to get through it. My colleagues helped me as best they could, and the audiences did not have to know.

    S....t happens to families. We grieve for our parents, and we take care of our business. To intertwine them and keep playing this refrain in a public forum is just tawdry.

  3. I'm always going to give people the benefit of the doubt on family sickness. What I think this shows is how Randi can't seem to trust any of her people to carry on without her. Why did she think she had to be there if not for the fact that there is no one capable of doing what she does. And that is because of the total autocratic top-down nature of the union.

    If Randi woke up this morning and rethought the issue and decided Michael was right, every single speaker at that meeting who supported the task force report would turn around and argue the other side.

  4. One person should not have this much control. This is how the Democrats always work, until a Republican mayor decentralizes and gives the school districts back to the community.

    Wait, that was 30 or so years ago before Bloomberg took mayoral control. My bad.

  5. Like raising kids, parents need discipline. Schools need discipline too. We really need a school system, which can motivate teachers to teach and students to learn.

  6. Fiorillo moved the entire body at the DA. It is just so amazing how emboldened delegates are to Weingarten. Even Schulman was right when he pointed out rather weakly though, that page 19 of the report upholds the current law which allows the mayor control over the school system.
    Can't there be a vote at the DA and exec board to rescind the policy where delegates must sign an agreement to not "oppose" the presidents views? Since they can think independently, they should be able to vote independently as well.

  7. Woodlass I agree with you with all this talk about RW's mother. She wants everybody to feel sorry for her. How about the case of one of the ATRs teachers whose seventeen year old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor and she has to bounce from class to class as a sub. Who feels sorry for her? NOBODY


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