Friday, April 9, 2010

Will DC Be Coming to NYC?

We've been posting links to the new contract proposal in Washington DC on the Ed Notes sidebar. Here is another link to a Labor Notes article, thanks to Michael Friedman. That merit pay will be privately funded and is a trap they are trying to lure teachers into. I mean, what is the vicious anti-union Waltons doing involved in a union contract? Naturally, Randi Weingarten is praising it. As she did the Detroit contract. Here is the caption for this photo:

Washington Teachers Union President George Parker and DC Schools Chief Michelle Rhee announced a tentative agreement this week. Flanked by Mayor Adrian Fenty and AFT President Randi Weingarten, the two lined up behind a deal that would institute a privately funded merit pay plan while continuing to whittle away at teacher job security.

With the DC union elections about to unfold and Randi and Rhee critic Nathan Saunders standing a chance to win, it was inevitable that they would team up to get a new contract to undermine Saunders. Labor Notes said, "The timing of the deal, and the teacher ratification vote, comes not a moment too soon for Parker, who hopes to seal an agreement before facing current Vice President Nathan Saunders—an outspoken critic of both Rhee and Parker —in May’s union election."

Don't expect the elections for George Parker to look like the massive sweep enjoyed by the UFT's Michael Mulgrew.

The use of private money tied to Rhee is a bribe to suck teachers into agreeing and they will surely have the rug pulled out from under them. It is basically the end of the union over the long term. Labor Notes says,

Rhee retains a host of “plan b” powers that allow her to fire teachers, cut costs, and punish dissent—though Parker and Weingarten tout new “checks and balances” on her firing power in the would-be contract. Teachers are poring over the full contract, released today, before a ratification vote that will likely be a referendum on May’s union election."

Doesn't it remind you of the way the 2005 contract was sold by Unity Caucus?

I was recently chatting with a UFT Unity stalwart and DC and Detroit came up. He talked about the different conditions there from NYC. DC has different laws and Detroit is like NYC in '75 he said. But with economic conditions being what they are, who is to say NYC doesn't become DC or Detroit one day? Let's see now. Randi hand picks Mulgrew, who people will come to see will follow every major policy direction set by her. Just watch the just elected 800 Unity delegates in action in Seattle this July.

As one commenter on this blog said, the UFT just elected a new captain of the Titanic with the iceberg 10 feet away.

Here is more from the Labor Notes piece:


After swapping counterproposals and bringing in former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke as mediator, Rhee and Parker’s newest iteration is not quite as “bold” as the schools chief had once hoped. But it still contains the same essence of her initial proposal.

There’s merit pay, but teachers won’t have to give up tenure, as such, to receive it. They will, however, be evaluated in order qualify for the merit pay program, on criteria that the tentative deal leaves for further negotiation. Teachers on the merit pay plan that face a job loss due to school program cuts or closings, would relinquish hiring options available to those who opt out of the merit pay program.

Non-merit pay teachers who lose their position are given choices if they can’t immediately find a new placement: a $25,000 buyout, early retirement (for teachers with 20 years of service), or another year to find work—before facing separation. But, importantly, teachers with low “performance” evaluations wouldn’t be afforded these options.

The actual decision to hire a teacher at a particular school would depend on a principal’s consent. And in making the placements, principals would now prioritize teacher "performance," as determined by Rhee’s new evaluation system, over years of experience. WTU President Parker touts a side agreement that would form a working group to review details of the evaluation system—which by law, teachers can’t negotiate over. Teachers haven’t yet had access to those side agreements before the vote.

Across-the-board raises of 20 percent over five years (retroactive to 2007) and the merit pay system are to be funded to the tune of $65 million in private money from the anti-union Walton and Broad Foundations—and others. The unprecedented move to let private donors underwrite merit pay is Rhee’s attempt to show that D.C. schools are serious about upping test scores and tying teacher evaluations to them—a key criterion for winning federal money in the Race to the Top competition.

Rhee is a good investment for the foundations’ corporate-style overhaul of education, which seeks to bust the unions, dismantle schools, and turn them over to private charter operators. And this deal could protect her job. Council President Gray’s mayoral bid is also a challenge to Rhee’s education plans. But all indications are that the foundation money would leave with her, forcing the new mayor to scramble to meet the financial obligations set up by this week’s deal—or concede that private forces will call the shots for public schools.

Rhee retains a host of “plan b” powers that allow her to fire teachers, cut costs, and punish dissent—though Parker and Weingarten tout new “checks and balances” on her firing power in the would-be contract. Teachers are poring over the full contract, released today, before a ratification vote that will likely be a referendum on May’s union election.

Yesterday I was able to get back to some normal non-activist activities. Attended a meeting of the Active Aging cable TV show I work on where we feature people who have retired and are doing some very interesting things as the years go by - a 91 year old tango dancer and a retired tv producer who went into the Peace Corps in Africa when she was in her mid-60's are 2 of the stories I worked on.

Then off to my fiction writers group after a few months hiatus where one of the members is writing a fascinating ancient Rome novel about Livia, Augustus' wife. I was a real fan of both Robert Graves Claudius novels and the entire tv series, "I Claudius" where Livia was much maligned according to my novelist colleague. I think this is a very publishable book.

Coming soon:
A series of Ed Notes election analysis posts. If only events would slow down enough for me to have time to write them.

This coming week alone:
Today - Sat - Leonie's class size conf at School of the future
Monday - demo at PS 123 in Harlem against HSA at 5pm
Tues - GEM meeting at 4:30
Wed - Pave/PS 15 AGAIN.
Thurs- close the rubber rooms at 12pm, GEM/CPE meeting
Fri - ICE meeting, rubber room film

Gotta go to sleep and get up early to get into Manhattan to tape some of Leonie's event. A surprise guest may show up in late morning. I'm hoping it will be Megan Fox presenting her must see Hot for Teachers video but it will probably turn out to be someone like Scott Stringer.


Anonymous said...

This is bad. Very bad. And what NYC (and the whole country) looks like sometime soon may very well usher in the destruction of everything we thought was sacred. Things are about to turn upside down.

Chaz said...

The DC teachers contract reminds me of the terrible 2005 contract that empowered Tweed in attacking teachers. Randi does it again.