Saturday, July 10, 2010

Edweek Gets Schooled at the AFT

Reporter Steven Sawchuk has an interesting report on the caucuses at the AFT. It's pretty good but he is a little off base on some of it. We had a short chat before I had to leave and I tried to leave a comment on his blog but had some problems. So I'll touch on some of what I know here.

First, there's this from Sawchuk:

"Like any other union, the AFT is a democratic, political organization." I don't blame any reporter for making this mistake because they don't know the infighting that goes on. But the AFT is no a democratic organization. Name an organization that has not had a contested election in 36 years? I mean Iran is more democratic. Kim il Jung uses the AFT manual for political control. And never forget – Al Shanker had the bomb before either of them.

Now those of us who have been at Delegate Assemblies for years know the drill. But the Chicago people at their first convention are getting a rude awakening. First at the committee meetings yesterday and then on the floor today where the massive numbers of NYC delegates from Unity Caucus had a total plan for eliminating any resos or amendments they didn't like. Or rather Ms. Micromanagement Randi didn't like (there's no democracy in Unityville either).

They have specific people assigned to each area - even the designated "I call the question on all matters before the body" to stifle debate. There was one guy yesterday named Steven Kaplan I believe who was so thrilled at how he carried out his assignment he leaped in the air (I have to find that video). I mean it is not every day that you get to call the question in front a national audience.

So at last night's CORE party so many people were talking about the "machine". They were really shocked that Unity - Progressive Caucus nationally - of which I am now a proud member for the year - till they change the rules next time in Detroit to make sure I am not - would bother to go to so much trouble given the reality that they wouldn't lose many things even if they let democracty play itself out. I heard the expression "dirty politics" more than once. To us in NYC it's not dirty - it's institutional.

Second point with Sawchuck

But there's also a group called the AFT Peace and Justice Caucus. Though admittedly much smaller than the Progressive Caucus, it is not at all happy with the idea of teacher evaluation scores based even partly on student test scores. "Evaluation & Pay Based on Test Scores? ARE YOU ANGRY? Many AFT locals have agreed to teacher evaluation plans based on unreliable student test scores," a flier some of its caucus members have been handing out reads. It is also, apparently, unhappy that the union is welcoming Bill Gates this Saturday to the convention, deeming it "A Trojan Horse in the AFT House."

Nice plug for our side, though my GEM/ICE pals Gloria and Lisa are very active in P&J I have been bombarding them all week with questions that I won't repeat publicly. Sawchuk says:

the Peace and Justice Caucus got a boost recently with the election of Karen Lewis in Chicago. She emerged out of a group there that shares philosophical similarities with the Peace and Justice Caucus

He is right there but then he found out that Karen Lewis has joined the Progressive Caucus - but there are some interesting reasons which I have on background which I will share with Sawchuk and maybe you tomorrow.

Sawchuck closes with:
CLARIFICATION: I should have stated earlier that the Peace and Justice Caucus, unlike the Progressive one, is not actually a political caucus. It is, however, closely aligned to a new political caucus called "By Any Means Necessary" that is going to try to run a different slate of candidates in tomorrow's elections.

Now this one is tricky. There are many Progressive Labor people in AFTP&J and I don't think the vibes between PL and BAMN are all too cool. I could tell when we had the demo against Arne Duncan at a restaurant at noon today and BAMN sent a message that their chartered bus to Duncan's next appearance was leaving. Not one PLer budged and I saw a few sour faces. I started exploring the differences tonight at the all hands on deck party at the Sheraton where all the players are in the room but am not sure what will be on and off the record.

Now I think P&J people may vote against Weingarten but I detect some ambivalence about BAMN but don't know enough to figure it all out.

Getting late - gotta get up early to hear the candidate speeches which will take place starting at 8:30. BAMN was forced by the Unity machine to be up first to make sure no delegates can hear them. Democracy anyone?

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After burn
We hung with some Unity people today and heard a funny. When they were being whipped up into a frenzy at a meeting a few weeks ago to prepare for this convention by Jeff Zahler one of the things that came up was, "Can Randi come back to NY if she loses the election?" Now we know that this is not possible but it seemed Unity Caucus members were being driven to work hard for the Progressive Caucus slate by being threatened with Randi's return if she should lose.

Or maybe she would just go back to the classroom and put in another 6 months.

I can see her coming ashore now. Now there's a turn of the screw.

1 comment:

  1. RANDI GAVE MULGREW THE JOB BECAUSE SHE KNEW HE WOULD FALL ON HIS ASS- SO SHE COULD COME BACK AS THE CONQUERING HERO.
    THE UNION IS IN SHAMBLES- EVERYONE DOING THEIR OWN THING AND CUTTING EACH OTHER'S THROATS. BARR AND VARGAS SPEND THEIR TIME ANGLING FOR D.O.E. JOBS FOR MEMBERS OF THE BLACK AND LATINO UFT COMMITTEES. THEY SHOULD PUT THAT FIGHT ON PAY PER VIEW-

    ReplyDelete

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