Monday, September 13, 2010

She's Coming For The Ed Deformers - and MulGarten Too

UPDATED: Sept. 14, 2am:

The ed deform press promotes Evan Stone and Sydney Morris and their bogus "alternative to the UFT" - see the Wall St. Journal headliner today

Teachers Break Union Ranks

They claim to have 700 supporters but they will prove to have zero presence in the long run.

The Journal's Barbara Martinez writes hopefully:

"While that's a pittance compared with the nearly 80,000 teachers under the UFT, her nascent movement may represent the seeds of a growing population of teachers who are breaking ranks with the traditional tenets of unionism."

Sure, Barbara, keep praying. Already Evan and Sydney have left teaching:

"This school year, Ms. Morris and Mr. Stone took a break from teaching and are instead working on building up their organization, including identifying "school captains" at the city's schools—much like the UFT has a "chapter leader" at every public school."

That should enhance their creds with real teachers as they see Evan and Sydney getting hedge hog type funding. I can't wait to see these "school captains."

[UPDATE: See Ms Eyre's brilliant piece on Evan and Sydney now running at NYC Educator. Educators 4 Actually Being Educators].

The Real Reformers stand up
The press ignores a fairly recent current within the UFT that represents the same generation of teachers as Evan and Sydney as represented by groups like NYCORE (2000 members on the listserve) and Teachers Unite which also has lots of people signed up. And GEM has managed to attract some real young activists who make Evan and Sydney look like the joke they are.

Now these people are virulently pro-union and anti Ed Deform while they call for a more progressive system of education reform. They don't buy the pablum that if you just work 24 hours a day you will accomplish Michelle Rhee like miracles. They call for real reforms like reduction in class size and increased resources. And they are totally opposed to charter school co-locations. They are the people working on a response to "Waiting for Superman" and other exciting projects.

But there's another wrinkle. While Evan and Sydney are presenting themselves as not anti union but as offering an alternative to the UFT, the real reformers are also showing a willingness to be critical of the MulGarten type of Unity Caucus leadership. Evan and Sydney want to destroy the UFT. The Real Reformers not only want to reform the schools, but the union too. They seek to build a democratic union that would support a democratically run public education system.

Oh yeah. They are uniformly superb teachers at the top of their game, amongst the most respected in their schools. 

If you didn't read the Michael Mulgrew "Welcome Back" letter I posted yesterday that was reworked to express what is really going on, go forth immediately and read it:

Welcome to the new school year … Remix

To me the most important thing about the Remix is that it was written by one of the new Real Reformers, a still young teacher who not very long ago had a different view of the UFT. The teacher began teaching in NYC right out of college 10 years ago (thus spending the bulk of the career under BloomKlein).  Just a short time ago this teacher would argue that addressing UFT related issues in terms of the actions of the leadership was not worth putting time and effort into.

I wrote in the into to the Remix that the Mulgrew letter had stirred a hornets next and the Remix is the result. If more teachers of this generation become hornets and start nesting together, a serious opposition within the UFT might yet emerge.

If you are a fan of the Stieg Larsson novels with its unique heroine, I can't help thinking that the Remix author may be representative of what I will call the Lisbeth Salander generation of teachers. Smart and tough, taking no crap from anyone. And capable of reaching out to parents and community and to other teachers. I've seen some of them with long careers ahead stand up and openly challenge BloomKlein time and again. If they get organized and turn their sights on BloomKlein and MulGarten - and Sydney and Evan's phony movement  - there will be more than a few hornet stings to go around.

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