Tuesday, December 15, 2009

UFT Resolution on Closing Schools: Is it all talk?


When the announcement to close Lafayette HS in Brooklyn was made a few years ago, Randi Weingarten said it was right for the school to be closed. That was despite the fact that a known incompetent principal who was often laughed at in the Leadership Academy was appointed as principal. Sources say that even within the Academy, people were incredulous and knew that she was purposely appointed to kill the school.

But this happens so often as to make almost seem a policy. Some of the schools being closed have such awful leadership appointed by Klein that the teachers don't even want to fight to keep them open.

You're on your own kids

Thus in the context of UFT policy in the past of putting up weak objections and little real fight against closing schools (the national credibility as partners in the ed deform movement must be upheld) we have the recent announcement of over 20 school closings as an in your face move by BloomKlein towards the UFT. "We dare you to do something," they are saying.

The UFT has never used any real political capital to fight for keeping schools open, saying the fight has to come from within the schools. But philosphically, the union has been willing to agree to join in the judgement that some schools are bad without holding the managers of the school system truly accountable. Nice work. Help BloomKlein dig the hole (2005 contract) and stand by while they shovel in the dirt.

We must also factor in the numerous ATRs that are being created as a factor, all of whom have to be paid even when their schools are closed. The school closings are part of the assault as a way to create so many ATRs that public pressure will build for the UFT to give them up. Maybe declare a fiscal emergency as a way to get the dysfunctional legislature to take some action to force the issue. Who knows what they have up their sleeve, but they seem to have left the UFT like a whirling dervish spinning itself into the ground. What you get from always playing defense.

Someone at the ICE meeting Friday night said Mulgrew almost looks like Neville Chamberlain wanly holding up a "Peace in our time" sign. I thought more of Stalin who was shell shocked with the Germans invaded Russia in June 1941, thinking he had made peace with Hitler and could trust him to keep to his word. "Thompson for mayor," anyone? Remember how Mulgrew and Paul Egan at the DA said they couldn't endorse Thompson because they had to do what's best for the members. How's that working out guys?

Last night's UFT Exec Bd meeting passed a resolution on closing schools that will be discussed and voted on at the Delegate Assembly tomorrow. It has a lot to say and we can agree with many points. But lots of resos on closing schools have been passed and nothing has changed. No line in the sand is ever drawn. The UFT promotes and supports the actions of individual schools but does not tie them all together, which is were the critics of Unity Caucus stand. The TJC/ICE/GEM reso calls for a citywide rally, either at City Hall or Tweed before the Jan. 26 PEP meeting, no matter where it will be held. We even held a discussion about going to Bloomberg's home for a rally and a smaller ad hoc contingent may actually try and do that.

Whether the UFT supports a central rally or not, one will be held even if it is small as a way to give all the schools a chance to gather together and express their outrage. A proposed date has been chosen, though I am embargoed from releasing it until after the DA. The UFT leadership will be given an opportunity to get on board or be left behind.

UPDATE from Marjorie Stamberg:

A brief note about the discussion at the E-board last night.

They will present a resolution on closing schools. Many whereas-es, long, with detailed information on the DOE's phony statistics. Several "Be It Resolved" clauses, the last of which is a liquid formulation calling to mobilize the UFT membership in support of the schools which are fighting the closings.

What does this mean? The maximum they will go, as one of the ad com people said in the floor discussion, is a loose call for a "Day of Solidarity" which will be 5 separate boro rallies, i.e, diffuse, no citywide mobilization that would pose a real showdown with the DOE. .

Mulgrew's report centered on UFT "mobilizing" its members to call every elected official in the universe, because they will respond to the community's wishes, if they wish to be re-elected. He did stress strongly it must be with the parents, students, "the community"; that the UFT cannot act alone. True enough , but little said about the UFT mobilizing its enormous infrastructure in joint ACTION with parents, unless by action they mean keying up cell-phone numbers.

A remark by Leo Casey struck me as key to understanding their thinking. He said (this is a paraphrase) that we want to make the cost so high to them in closing the schools, that they will think twice before doing it again. I.E. -- they're going to let it happen, after making some noise.

As I've mentioned, I think the UFT bureaucracy has finally realized that mayor and the DOE is coming after them like a two-ton truck, and they have to do something. But they are clueless, and fearful, as to what any real mobilization would look like. Because they are beholden to their "partners" in Albany, and Washington.

You can read the full UFT reso at Norms Notes.
UFT Proposed Resolution on School Closings for Dec. 16 DA

The Save Jamaica HS Facebook page is up to 2293 members.


Ms. Tsouris said...

Don't just "mobilize", ORGANIZE!!!! Wasn't that the whole point to having a union at the outset? If the UFT is serious, they should be ORGANIZING a city wide rally of some kind. Otherwise, we aren't really fighting anything. It's disgusting considering that my dues are approaching $100 per month.

Anonymous said...

I doubt it if the UFT will fight to keep any of the schools open. They didn't do it in the past and they won't do it now. I still remember the time they closed the first school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn when Marvin Reiskein was the Dist. 20 Rep. He did not do ANYTHING to help the school. Where is he now? In a better job at the UFT?

Pete Zucker said...

Norm, Mulgrew is nothing but a Judenälteste. Just as Chaim Rumkowski collaborated with the Nazis in Łódź and sent his own to the death camps, Mulgrew is doing the same.

NYC Educator said...

Whatever you think, let's all show up at Jamaica tomorrow night at 5:30. Hope to meet you all.

Pogue said...

5 boroughs AND a citywide rally sound great. The 5 borough breakup reminds me too much of small schools and the Divide and Conquer tactic the DOE exploited and UFT allowed to our large schools. Plus, I think even Bill Gates would say the 5 borough approach, on its own, may not work, anyway.