Sunday, September 12, 2010

Welcome to the new school year … Remix

 Having just finished the first two of Stieg Larsson "The Girl..." trilogy and about to start "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" the piece below made me think that we could start our own series. It seems UFT President Michael Mulgrew's "Welcome Back to School" letter has kicked some kind of hornet's nest with a number of teachers.

We're keeping the teacher, who has had little concern about challenging BloomKlein publicly, anonymous to hold the Unity hounds away from the door.

Welcome to the new school year … Remix
For those of you who did not see it, or read it, UFT President Michael Mulgrew sent out a “Welcome Back” letter to members this week.  In it, he shamelessly spins the spineless acts of our union over the last year. 

With the kind of manipulative, pull-at-your-heart-strings propaganda we have come to expect from the ed deform whores; Michael Mulgrew proves once again our union is far more interested in protecting their seat at the table, than protecting our children and our profession.  It is time for a different kind of leadership, one that is not content to lick up the crumbs in order to preserve their power, but rather one that sets the table and serves the meal.

Here in bold is what Michael Mulgrew left out of his letter…

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of my fellow officers and the entire UFT staff (yes it is true we vacation, drive cars with parking spaces, and expense meals on your dues dime), I want to wish you the very best of luck this school year (you sure are going to need it since there are 2,000 fewer of you, but 18,000 more kids and millions in lost budget dollars). Your dedication and passion for making children’s lives better and improving the profession are the foundation of all that we do (bow down and let me pat you on the head). We know that budget cuts, larger class sizes, excessing and the lack of support from the DOE are major concerns in many schools as are the struggling economy and the endless attacks from the “blame the teacher” crowd.  But we also know that the commitment of our membership has made us strong, and working together we will navigate through the many challenges ahead (fear not, we will work to get you that overdue 2% raise that doesn’t even cover your cost of living expenses and we will do so by ceding even more of our voice in education policy while we give away even more of your protections, time and resources. As for ATRs, don't make any long-term plans)

There is much to be excited about and thankful for (hey, at least you have a job) as we begin this school year, including several recent well-earned victories (even though we cowered after we won them) and smart, forward-thinking agreements (even though these agreements will do little to better the lives of children or our profession). Among them: We secured millions in additional federal funding (money that will never actually reach your schools and classrooms), which will help offset some future budget cuts (because the DOE continues to spend untold wasted millions on their obsession with accountability and testing rather than an investment in real reform). We blocked efforts to go after career teachers through misguided legislation (but agreed to an evaluation system that will tie your worth as a teacher to misleading, misguided and punitive high stakes testing). Teacher’s Choice funds, which were slated for elimination, were saved thanks to the hard work of our political team and volunteers (even though that $110 will not even cover your costs for paper and pencils). We reached a landmark agreement with the city to shut down the so-called "rubber rooms" (so teachers that have been persecuted by often times incompetent and vindictive administrative leadership, will be forced to work in the PR world of the DOE) and put a faster, fairer hearing process in place (faster maybe, but the DOE doesn’t know how to be fair). A new and more objective evaluation system will be on the way once we negotiate it, and we made sure it will include a true teacher improvement plan and limit the emphasis on standardized tests (even though at least 20% of this system will be tied to those very tests).  Crucial charter school reforms were passed that improve access for all students, including ELLs and those with special needs, and drive out for-profits who are pocketing millions in taxpayer funds (btw, teachers in co-located schools, go talk to those TFAers who now teach in your old classrooms and will take more and more of our public school resources, and unionize them please; I know they’ll be gone in two years, but the union dues will keep rolling in). And thanks to our legal action, the DOE was forced to comply with the state’s governance law (shhh, I know we sold out after we won this case and allowed the DOE to not only shrink to virtually nothing the freshman classes of the 19 schools targeted for closure and further allowed them to open new small schools and charter schools in their buildings, even allowing the sitting of one school in our own UFT building, but why hold the DOE accountable to the law, which we proved they violated, accountability is only for the little people like you).

We would not have achieved any of this without the efforts of so many thousands of UFT members who worked with parents in their own communities to raise public awareness on issues and lobby their elected officials (with little to no help and resources from your union organization, keep it up, so we can keep licking the crumbs off the table). From phone banks and leafleting to rallies and demonstrations, UFT members were out in force all across the five boroughs, fighting for their schools and their profession. We also owe a great deal of thanks to the many parents, organizations and elected officials who were willing to stand up and stand with us as partners on our many campaigns (even though we have far too often in our history fed into the divide and conquer mentality of the ed deformers and haven’t done nearly enough to work with parents and community).

No one needs reminding that we will again face many challenges this year. We cannot and will not capitulate to the political agendas of those who don't support educators, school staff or public education (even though we already have, but we’ll get tough, no really, I promise). We must continue to stand up for our students, parents and school communities, and set the agenda ourselves (our vision is coming soon, really, I promise). This is our time to take back our profession (see, I’m tough).  We must also continue to take on the Department of Education, which all too often refuses to take responsibility for its mismanagement of the system (I know many of you think there is an intentional undermining of our public education system at work here, but that is just conspiracy stuff, these guys don’t want to dismantle public education, they just want to replace half of your schools with charters and have you work more for a lot less). And the union will once again do all in its power to ensure that members are treated as the professionals that they are, and that they get the support and guidance they need and deserve (i.e. little to no professional development, micro-management, fewer resources with even greater expectations, narrowed curriculum, excessive focus on testing and no true salary increase).

Perseverance, commitment and unity (you like my double entendre here!? Don’t go thinking what happened with Chicago and CORE will happen here, Unity all the way baby) will help us stand apart from others. We are here for you (if it suits us), only a phone call or an e-mail away, and the newly redesigned UFT website is packed with important information as well (please go and read more of my propaganda blather).

Again, thank you for all that you do (keep doing more with less).


Michael Mulgrew


  1. "We secured millions in additional federal funding which will help offset some future budget cuts"

    Is it me or does this make absolutely no sense. He is referring to "winning" RTTT funds which relied in part on a new evaluation agreement/appeasement that ties teachers' evaluations to test scores that are flawed.

    Remember RTTT funds can't be used to plug budget cuts. But now it can plug future budget cuts. WTF.

    Hey how about the Gates study that was supposed to protect us from tying tests to teachers' evaluations until the results were in?

    We are in such deep poop.

    My prediction for this year: More poop. No vision.


    No offense. No vision.

    My new number one question to ask any UFT member, leader, etc. What does the UFT stand for? What is our vision of education? Does anyone out there have a serious response to this question? Not a wise-ass response. I mean a serious response that all UFT members are familiar with because it has been instilled in them. I'm waiting...........................

    John Powers

  2. Norm,

    I love your blog and your humor! You know how to go for a person's juggler vein. Keep it coming!

    Exposing the truth of those in the leadership positions should make them hang their faces in shame.

  3. This is what happens when you hire a CSA spin doctor ---Gibbons -----who keeps Ernie Logan and Klein informed of Mulgrew's every move.
    Mulgrew claims to have an English degree! Who writes this junk?
    Mulgrew just signed off on the Working Families Party endorsement of Cuomo -the guy who wants a wage freeze for teachers!
    Nice going Mickey Mulgrew.-The one year anniversary of no contract is upon us.
    AT the bargaining table, Mulgrew is still insisting on three zeros while the mayor is sticking with two zeros.
    Mulgrew says three is better than two.

  4. Great posting:
    You forgot the tens of thousands of dollars that Mulgrew costs us every time he blows his deadline for reading every line in the NY Teacher.
    -the $150 K to "re-deisgn" the UFT web site that nobody reads because it can kill you from bordeom.
    -the $45,000 that a Dave Hickey approved software provider scammed by disappearing.
    -The $20,000 per month we fork over to Howard Wolfson's firm Glover Park-you know, the Deputy Mayor who also reps Murdoch!
    -the millions we give to Strook, Strook and Lavan to file useless lawsuits that never go anywhere.
    (That was where Weingarten came from when she wasn't teaching six classes a day for ten years to earn her DOE pension).


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