Saturday, August 27, 2011

The UFT/AFT Abandoned the Fight For Lower Class Size 40 Years Ago

Randi Weingarten/AFT - and yes, the UFT - on Class Size: fagetaboutit.

Last night, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters posted:

Randi's deeply flawed agenda for a quality education
Randi writes her rebuttal of Brill here: which led me to the AFT agenda for a quality education which though very long, does not even mention class size - the #1 way that the vast majority of teachers believe would improve their effectiveness the most. People esp. teachers and members of her union should feel free to email her at
I posted the entire AFT statement on Norms Notes Randi Weingarten/AFT Forgets Class Size

Leonie's post got me to thinking about the 40 years I and others have spent trying to move the UFT to make class size reduction a priority item. Here is my comment on the NYCEdList serve:

All these years Ed Notes lobbed accusations that no matter the rhetoric the uft/aft didn't really care about class size and their petition campaigns which went nowhere was more about PR.

They gave up the class size ghost, oh, around 1970. Throughout that decade the group I worked with fought with the uft leadership over closing the wide CS loopholes. If they weren't going to reduce class size in the contract at least make that attempt. No interest.

In the early 90s the strategy of using the city council to force some class size reductions worked for grades 1-3. We brought up resolutions caliing for extensions to grade 4 and beyond but were ignored. Today even those city council limits are being ignored.
Over the last decade ICE and Ed Notes made repeated attempts to make class size reduction a priority contract negotiation at least to put it front and center to the public (as opposed to joining with the doe on merit pay and other money wasting schemes.)

So go ahead and email Randi. Maybe she'll take a minute from collaborating with the likes of Bill Gates to respond.

And for those who see the uft as somehow different from the aft watch the 800 UFT Unity Caucus delegates to AFt/nysut conventions (mulgrew amongst them) endorse every single Weingarten policy with enthusiasm.

Want to see class size on the agenda? The next time Mulgrew or another uft official comes to your school don't let them get 3 words out of their mouths before interrupting them with a class size question. Do the same at Delegate Assemblies. And maybe even at the uft exec bd. It is time to stop being polite to union officials who are so willing to go along with policies that harm teachers and students.

One more point. When Al Shanker signed onto The Nation at Risk in 1983 he set the teacher unions on the road to ed deform where we make an assumption that all it takes is better school management and better teachers to turn things around, thus minimizing class size. We in the opposition to Unity Caucus/Shanker in the 70's could see it coming because to the UFT/AFT leadership (once Shanker took over the AFT in 1974) it was more important to spend money on fighting communism around the world than full funding of an equitable education for all.

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. Good luck today. I know you live in an evacuation area.

  2. my thoughts are the same as P.O'd..good luck with all tonight and tomorrow.


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