Monday, February 27, 2012

What ICE Said About Mayoral Control: Feb. 2009

Without handing control of the schools to one person we would not be seeing charter co-locos, school closings except in the most extreme cases, crazy teacher evaluation systems and the publication and shaming of teachers in the press.
 I know the publication of the TDAs is the issue de jour but let's look at the bigger picture. Today's NY Times claims the publication bolsters Mulgrew's standings with the rank and file. I think that is a misreading of the issue and that many teachers BLAME the UFT leadership for the debacle. But in case people start to forget history I am here to remind them.

With the battle over mayoral control of schools beginning to heat up again and with the UFT talking out of 12 sides of its mouth I will once again restate my position that I have taken for over a decade: that no matter what words come out of the mouths of UFT/Unity leaders, they will continue to back mayoral control no matter how bad it has been for all parties --- parents, students and especially teachers.

"Why," you might be asking? Because the UFT cannot live with any alternative to mayoral control. In their world they still prefer having to deal with one person --- even a Bloomberg -- than with community groups all over the city. In 1969-70 the UFT had the power to influence the decentralization law to weaken it to such an extent that 30 years later when push came to shove, they were able to push the baby they helped create off the ledge by handing power to Bloomberg. This time around they think they will do better. Thus we hear Mulgrew taking a page from the past by saying, "Only blah, blah days 'till we get rid of Bloomberg." They said that 4 years ago but punted on supporting an opponent and they said the same things about Giuliani and Koch. That is the extent of the message to the members which is code for "Next time we will do better with Christine Quinn, most likely, or whoever."

Without handing control of the schools to one person we would not be seeing charter co-locos, school closings except in the most extreme cases, crazy teacher evaluation systems and the publication and shaming of teachers in the press.

So no matter how loud they scream, those screams of UFT leaders are akin to the guy who murders his parents and asks for mercy on the grounds he is an orphan.

But watch the duplicity and back room dealing by the UFT as it tries to put out different messages to different people. On the deep inside within the Unity Caucus hawks, they will push the horrors of any plan that turns control of schools over to local forces even if those forces includes teachers at the school level.

Just to give you a clue as to how the leadership feels about the rank and file, I had a conversation with Randi Weingarten about 13 years ago where I urged her to support ideas that would empower teachers at the school level. Her response was, "How can we trust...." before she shut her mouth as she realized what she was saying.

In the last renewal for mayoral control, Randi set up committees and borough meetings and all kinds of crap for show and then overturned all the recommendations to do her own thing in supporting mayoral control --- claiming they got enough tweaks to curb Bloomberg power. How has that worked out?

When it came time to a vote at the DA, ICE members who had participated on the committee put our a minority report for the Feb. 2009 DA.
Remember these points as you watch the UFT leaders begin to dance once again around this issue.

Mayoral Control:
Bad for Teachers, Students, Parents and Communities 

One of the major planks in the corporate agenda for education is to put large urban school systems under dictatorial mayors who are free to shut out parent and teacher input while undermining the union, especially at the school/chapter level. To continue this policy, even with checks and balances, invites disaster. 

Mayoral Control Has Been a Disaster for Teachers:
  • Attacks on tenure, seniority, working conditions and the professional status of teachers.
  • Teachers don’ t know where incompetence ends and the malice begins.
  • Throughout the United States, mayoral control of the schools has been the vehicle for privatizing
    public education, bringing in charter and contract schools that are overwhelmingly anti-union, and that have few or none of the protections and benefits that UFT members expect and deserve.

  • Mayoral Control Has Been a Disaster for Students:
    • Students subjected to a stultifying, stress-filled regime of high stakes testing, with the wholesale loss
      of classes and activities that are unrelated to test prep. Science, art, music and physical education
      have all been cut back to meet the single-minded focus on testing in math and reading.
    • Time and again, mayoral control has shortchanged students, whether it was the fiascos with bus
      routes, cell phones, or the willful chaos they’ve brought to Special Education.
      Mayoral Control Has Been A Disaster for Parents:
Over and Over, Bloomberg and Klein have shown their contempt for parents, ignoring them, patronizing them, and creating an opaque, impenetrable system where it’s impossible to even get a phone call returned, let alone remedy a problem. 

Mayoral Control Has Been a Disaster for Communities:
Under mayoral control, the reorganization and closing of schools, many of which have served their communities for generations, has accelerated, and there has been no opportunity to give communities any voice in the process. As a result, the democratic process itself has been harmed, and the community fabric has been undermined. 

The UFT Must Do Better!
The UFT Governance Committee wasted a golden opportunity to stand up for democracy by failing to call for a return to some form of school governance procedure enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of communities in the state and nation, namely, direct elections of school board members. Rather than come up with a governance system that would serve our and the students best interests, the committee started off with the assumption that our vision would be rejected by the press and other critics; that we had to water it down before we could even formulate a better vision. Not that we shouldn’t be willing to compromise when actual negotiations over governance begins, but was it wise to eliminate what we really wanted before we were publicly engaged? 

Members of ICE (The Independent Community of Educators) participated on the Task Force, and repeatedly pointed this out, but to no avail. We could not support a position that in reality will mean more attacks on teachers, students and communities. Consensus means agreement is reached by all, not majority rule.
NOTE: Link not working at this time-- email norm for
We urge you to read the ICE minority report on school governance. 
Independent Community of Educators (ICE) 
Dear Delegate,
At the helm of our system are a Mayor and Chancellor who know little about education and care more about test scores, do little for our public schools, and care more about privatization and charterization. There has been more damage heaped on our students, their education, our profession, and our professional lives than at any other time in the history of public education. 

We need to minimize the roles of politicians, make a Chancellor accountable to us, and put experienced educators back in academic leadership roles. The UFT recommended governance plan does not do that, ICE’s plan does. 

Please consider substituting or amending the UFT report when voting this afternoon. 

The major points included in the ICE recommendations, missing from the UFT plan. 

ICE proposes:
  • SLTs appoint their principals.
  • The SLTs of a District select their Superintendent.
  • The DOE must be politically neutral and not tied to any one political office.
  • A Central Board will be made up of one member elected from each borough; one appointee from each of the borough presidents, three Mayoral appointees and a UFT representative. The Central Board will appoint a Chancellor.
  • Evaluations of schools and students should be based on multiple measures and should be used for gathering information in order to provide support.
  • All schools provide the core curricula subjects, performing and visual arts, health and physical education, career and technical education, and technology.
  • The school leadership committees will determine how funds are spent.
  • All contracts will be put out to open bid and made public via the Internet.
  • All registered voters and parents are eligible to vote for district councils and a representative to the Central Board from their borough.
  • Chancellors, district superintendents and supervisors must have a minimum of 5 years classroom experience, no waivers granted.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a chapter leader. Numerous staff members approached me today to request that their COPE contributions be rescinded. Other members spoke about the weakness of the union. From where I sit, it isn't weakness. This was a preplanned, conscious choice. Screw the membership.
Wake up folks!