Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ravitch on Goldstein and More on UFT Elections

"Arthur, Thank you for a brilliant review of my book! It means a lot to me that a teacher in the trenches likes it and thought I hit a bulls eye." -Diane Ravitch

The comment from Diane Ravitch posted last Sunday at Gotham Schools in a thread following Arthur Goldstein's review of her new book is worth highlighting for the multiple bases it touches.

Now I must point out once again that Arthur is running with ICE-TJC for High School Executive Board in the current UFT elections. These 6 positions look to be winnable since ICE-TJC took 36% of the vote against the Unity/New Action combo in 2007. If we win those seats it would put Lawhead, Fiorillo, Kit Wainer, Marian Swerdlow and Peter Lamphere in addition to Arthur on the board. Compare any Unity/New Action people you can think of to these 6 and you come up empty.

Only high school teachers will see their names on the ballot, so it is especially imperative to get out the vote in the high schools. Since only around 4,000 out of 20,000 high school teachers voted in the last election, it will take constant reminders to get people to return their ballots with the ICE-TJC box checked off. If you want these voices on the UFT Exec Bd start reminding people Monday and do so for the next two weeks.

The rough numbers in 2007 were Unity: 2250, New Action: 550, ICE-TJC: 1550. (New Action ended up with 3 HS EB seats with a thousand less votes than ICE-TJC.) Thus if ICE-TJC and double the vote they would win handily. So go get em.

In this comment, Diane covers a lot of ground that touch on UFT policies.

Unions in charters
"You have read my book so you know my overall conclusion is that they range from excellent to awful but on average, they do not produce better results than regular public schools. Second, the charter movement is dominated by anti-union ideologues; charter schools succeed by hiring young, single teachers and having them work 50-60 or more hours a week. Of the 5,000 or so charter schools in the nation currently, I would guess that 95% of them are non-union. That is no accident."

This blows up the AFT/UFT strategy of organizing charters as a "solution". Where have they been up to now? They will continue to blow up every little victory while 95 charters open for every 5 they organize. The charters have incredible turnover and teachers often jump from charter to charter, so organizing is a moving target.

Even if they do organize charters - let's say every one in NYC, you end up with individual contracts for each school and the power of the UFT as an organization capable of shutting down a school system is dissipated. But the top level of the UFT would continue to flourish as dues keeps flowing in. They know this and will try to keep the lid on the cap not to protect public schools but to keep the dues rolling in.

On Green Dot charters, which the UFT has made a big deal of
"Green Dot took over Locke High School in Los Angeles to much fanfare. They cleaned up the school, established order, provided good maintenance. But after a year of publicity about the Locke miracle, the scores came out and they had not changed by even 1 percent. Of course, scores are not all that matter, and they are not always a good indicator of school quality. But the fanfare got a little quieter when it became a matter of record that the students had not turned overnight into college-ready scholars simply because private managers took over."

Leo Casey claimed at last week's forum that the UFT/Green Dot contract was better than ours.

Unity/UFT less than subtle attempts to stifle discussion
"I am shocked that anyone would suggest you might be disciplined by the NYC Department of Education for your free expression of opinion, including criticism of your bosses."

This was a response to UFT/Unity Caucus ideologue Peter Goodman's comments, with lots of others jumping in. I suggest you read through the thread to get the full gist.

Here is Goldstein's message to the staff of Francis Lewis HS:

Dear colleagues,

I’m running with ICE/TJC for the UFT High School Executive Board, and I’m asking for your vote. Given events of the last few years, like the disastrous 2005 contract, the union’s support of mayoral control, the erosion of seniority rights, the advent of perpetual lunch duty and hall patrol, and the inability to grieve letters in a file simply for their being incorrect, I’ve determined there’s a need for a new voice in the UFT.

I’d like to be that voice.

Unity is an invitation-only caucus that’s controlled the UFT since its inception. When people join, they agree not to vary from Unity positions in public. Whatever Unity tells them to say, they say. Essentially, it’s a loyalty oath. In recent times, many of Unity’s decisions, like those listed above, have not benefitted working teachers.

There is another caucus called New Action. It supports the top of the Unity ticket, pretty much guaranteeing more of the same. It was once an opposition party, but in 2003 Randi Weingarten bought them off with patronage jobs and a few seats on the UFT Executive Board. With your help ICE/ TJC can claim those seats and bring real independent voices and thoughts to our union leadership.

If elected, I will be your voice not only here, but also on the UFT. I will not support measures that hurt working teachers, or any UFT members. I will vigorously oppose measures that appease Bloomberg and Klein with vague promises of benefits to come. Such measures have not served us well.

I will fight for a fair contract, for professional treatment, the retention of tenure, and the concept that a raise means more pay for doing the same job—not for extra time, extra duties, and fewer benefits and privileges.

Please check ICE/TJC on your ballot. Vote for a change in the UFT.

After 50 years, it’s time.

Best regards,

Arthur Goldstein, UFT Chapter Leader

Well, it's off for a weekend of robotics at the Javits center, where Klein is supposed to make an appearance at 9AM this morning. I'll be doing my hair, but will get there later. I will be there all day Sunday handling registration for the 80 NYC teams taking part in the FIRST LEGO League tournament. Come on down. And you can also check out the over 60 high school teams from around the nation doing the big robots - they are there today too.


  1. "...Lawhead, Fiorillo, Kit Wainer, Marian Swerdlow and Peter Lamphere in addition to Arthur on the board. Compare any Unity/New Action people you can think of to these 6 and you come up empty."

    That's just laughable. Too damn funny.

  2. Newbie here with a question.

    I called up the Brooklyn UFT office last week. The woman that I spoke to, who was good, I'm pretty sure that her name was Yelena and that I saw her on a leaflet running for ICE UFT vicepresident of elementary schools.

    I could be wrong but if I am right I thought I read here that all UFT employees are the unity caucus? Am I confusing the person that I spoke to?


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