When I received two phone calls from major non-tabloid press within 15 minutes of each other last week asking if the rank and file were restless over the Mulgrew deal on teacher ed evals I responded it was hard to tell but a sign would be a massive invasion of schools by UFT officials to try to spin straw into gold, something they usually succeed in doing.
I received this from a chapter leader who got a message from the District Rep, the overseers of the plantation.
Hi Norm, what did you say about the unity crew coming into the schools? Well here they come. This came from my district rep:
I MUST schedule visits to ALL District xx schools in the next 5 weeks to discuss and get feedback from the membership regarding this budget crisis, starting next week, Monday, May 24th. I will have to do some morning (before school) meetings as well as regular lunch time meetings and afters school meetings. I would like to know your preference of time. If I do not hear from you by the close of business tomorrow), then I will make the schedule and let you know when you MUST have your membership ready for my visit. I will be coming with someone from the [Borough] Office or Central. Already scheduled visits might need to be changed to be able to get to everyone. I need everyone to respond to this email immediately.
Do you detect a tone of desperation? They certainly don't trust the District Reps to handle this on their own. In fact the budget crisis is a way for the UFT leadership to deflect anger over the lack of a union response to the attacks on teachers as the cause of all educational ills. And as part of that attack, the UFT deal on teacher evaluations. And add the double speak that there is too much testing while at the same time continuing to support Joel Klein's cash bonus for test score system. (See Sol Stern's push for the end to these bonus as a way to save teacher jobs.)
A visit to a school by a UFT district rep this week exposed the duplicity of the UFT. Remember Mulgrew telling people at the DA to go to last night's PEP meeting to protest the $5 million being spent in new teacher recruitment in the midst of budget cuts?
I got this email from the CL:
He told us that they didn't want the PEP presence to be "too big" and intimated furloughs to hold off layoffs.
Now that is an interesting direction we are heading. Send in the clowns to soften up the chumps with word that the sky is falling - and follow up with a "plan" to save jobs that means giving up not only potential raises that everyone else has gotten, but possibly much more.
I am thinking that BloomKlein are as desperate to avoid layoffs as the UFT because unless they get seniority killed, they will lose all their recent Teach for America people. So behind the scenes they and the UFT leadership are playing good cop, bad cop with the rank and file to see how far they can push them into giving back enough to save the BloomKlein babies.
By the way, a friend had an intriguing response to those 2 phone calls from reporters who represent two of the most prestigious papers in the nation. "Someone up top must be asking some questions," she said. "People above the level of reporters want to know if Mulgrew is vulnerable to rank and file unrest and are digging around to root it out." I protested that she is going too far into conspiracy theories for me. "The reporters are basically low-level innocents," she said. "But for you to get these calls so close together is not just coincidence."