Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Union Role is Mediator, Not Advocate

Even Penn and Teller can't make an entire school building disappear from public into private hands in an instant. But watch the UFT and Green Dot make magic.

We've been saying this for years. That the UFT plays the role of mediator between the rank and file members and the people managing the school system. What the members need is a strong advocate, a role that is increasingly being played by people like Diane Ravitch and NYC parent activist Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters and a new national group, Parents Across America (PAA).

I wrote a piece on Feb. 13 titled: Why Won't Mulgrew Defend LIFO?  I know the answer but don't want to scare you so early in this article.

Remember: 110 schools have been closed under the stewardship of the UFT leadership. Schools have become test prep factories (Ed Notes sponsored resolutions at DA's on the evils of standardized testing as far back as the late 90's were ignored). And charters are running rampant inside public schools but the UFT can't say a word because it has its own two charters running rampant inside two public schools. Where's the advocacy on the part of the UFT other than selective words at selective times? Show some results. The scary thing was yesterday's missive to send Governor Cuomo a "thank you" message. Lucky I ate a few hours before.

A new crop of young teachers who have come out of the woodwork recently and become active in groups like Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), NY Collective of Radical Educators (NYCORE) and Teachers Unite (TU). These voices have become important to counteract the message of the anti-union Bill Gates/DFER funded group Educators for Excellence (E4E which ICE's Jeff Kaufman renamed "ME4ME. I just call them ME$ME.) GEM's Julie Cavanagh debated a ME$ME on NY1 the same night Ravitch appeared on Jon Stewart's show. [Diane Ravitch and Julie Cavanagh Kick Butt].
A principal, Brian De Vale, did as good a job as could be done defending seniority face to face with Cathie Black at a District 14 CEC meeting last week. [Brooklyn Principal Challenges Cath...]

I was at the viewing party with Ravitch (Eadie Shanker was there too) sponsored by Leonie and PAA and we also watched Julie eloquently defend LIFO, seniority and tenure in a way that I haven't heard anyone from the UFT or AFT do. Julie tied her advocacy for her students (her school has been invaded by a charter controlled by a billionaire) to the protections she has from tenure. Ravitch was so so impressed she commented, "Julie, you were spectacular, also beautiful!"

Another thing we have been saying is that the UFT for years obfuscated - acting like Joel Klein was the bad guy and Bloomberg was the good guy. Funny how an article in The Observer claims that relations have deteriorated because Randi and Joel have left the room, while also talking about how Klein and Bloomberg played "bad cop, good cop." We maintained that the UFT was trying to fool the membership into believing this was about personalities, not a national attack on teachers, their unions and the entire public school system. EdNotes has been saying that since around 2001.

But I guess Mulgrew hasn't been reading Ed Notes. For in the Observer piece he says:
"I thought it was because of Joel Klein," Mr. Mulgrew said. "I honestly did. But that's not the case anymore. It's just [Mr. Bloomberg] there and it's become worse. ... He has a whole new team around him. ... Everything is carpet bomb and toxicity.
He has to be kidding. Randi fooled him too? We're in more to trouble than I thought. Then Mulgrew comes up with this goody:
"Since I know Deputy Mayor Wolfson's strategy is this when he runs a campaign, I'm assuming it's his influence on [the mayor]," said Mr. Mulgrew. Mr. Wolfson is of course the mayor's hard-driving senior adviser, who notably fought against Barack Obama's campaign long after Mr. Wolfson's candidate, Hillary Clinton, seemed to abandon the 2008 Democratic primary.
Mulgrew and the Observer declined to mention that Howard Wolfson was (and still may be for all we know) on the UFT payroll for years. (Just check the LM-2 reports of past years.)

And then we come to the NY Times piece today (New Strategy Weighed for Failing Schools) about the cozy relationship between the UFT and Green Dot charter maven/scoundrel Steve Barr who will partner together in shutting down a public school but making it look like something else. You see, you can believe in magic. Even Penn and Teller can't make an entire school building disappear from public into private hands in an instant. But watch the UFT and Green Dot make magic.
The plan would also involve forcing all teachers to reapply for their jobs and using a committee of teachers, school administrators and parents to pick who got to stay. The teachers’ contract would give them some measure of job protection, but it would be easier to fire them. The teachers also would work under more flexible rules, including longer hours in exchange for higher pay. “It’s about, what do we need to get this staff in order for them to meet the needs of the children and stop with this one-size-fits-all stuff?” said Michael Mulgrew...
Right Mike! One size fits all. If I were teaching in one of these schools,  I would be scared, very scared.

Let me tell you a few things about Steve Barr:

You know that the school in LA - Locke HS mentioned in the Times article?
Results on the standardized tests were lackluster, but the school gets high marks in other indicators of progress.The state test results released Tuesday for Locke High School weren't the sort of thing its new operator, Green Dot Public Schools, is accustomed to seeing: Not a single student scored as proficient in geometry, for example, and only a few percent tested at the next level down, basic.
How interesting what the Times leaves out. GEM/ICE's Lisa North commented:
BUT this is how NYC schools are closed...based on test scores....but I guess a charter school can be judged by "other" means.

Oakland teacher Jack Gerson wrote in Substance:
Two years ago, Steve Barr and his Green Dot charter schools group engineered a hostile takeover of Locke High School, a large public high school in Los Angeles. Despite the opposition of United Teachers of Los Angeles and the LA Unified School District, Barr was able to convince a bare majority of Locke's permanent faculty (37 of 73) to opt for Green Dot." Barr promptly dismissed the entire staff, forcing them to reapply for their jobs. Over 70 percent were not rehired.
And then there is this side of Barr: According to the Green Dot website, he is no longer on staff either.
Barr stepped aside this fall as board chairman of Green Dot but remains on the board and on staff. The expense problem had nothing to do with Barr's change of role, said Shane Martin, who replaced Barr as chairman.
Green Dot charter schools founder repays group $50,866
The nonprofit's tax return shows that Steve Barr repaid the organization after an internal review found that expenses he had charged were undocumented or unjustified.
Lie down with privatization dogs and you get fleeced. Can't wait to hear the spin at the DA today.
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.


  1. Everyone needs to do their homework on Jeffrey T. Leeds. He is the head of the Green Dot School in the Bronx and runs a highly profitable company that manages equity funds for education. Also involved in private for profit higher education schools. Wealthy, powerful, connected and making a fortune on education.

  2. Wolfosn works for the UFT and Murdoch and Bloomberg.
    the key is that Wolfson was hired to get RAndi the U.S. SEnate seat.
    another example of how Weingarten uses dues monies for personal gain.
    Mulgrew the wimp is as close as anyone (unless they live in BERmuda) can get to Bloomberg.
    Still no contract since Oct. 2009.
    what goes on in BErmuda anyways? why the big secret?
    does Mulgrew know but wont tell us?


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.