Friday, July 27, 2012

@AFT 11PM Friday UPDATE - A Walk and Talk With Randi

Updated Saturday July 28, 7AM

Let me start right off by saying the mood at this convention is so different than the Bill Gates celebration and walk-out two years ago in Seattle. I'll delve into some of this in future posts but the reason is obviously due to the assault on public ed and teachers. Everyone has woken up to the horror story. You still hear the word "collaboration" but not as strongly. How do you collaborate no matter how much you beg when you are dealing with an enemy with a knife at your throat, other than to try to suggest where to stick it in. And in that a sense of unity (emph small u) is forged.

Randi and Karen share a moment with MORE's Gloria Brandman (left).

A lot went on since Randi's speech. We got on the last bus over to the rally supporting the Detroit teachers and there was Randi. Passing by I told her I liked her speech (70% worth, but I didn't say that). When we got off the bus, we were like with the VIP crowd. Karen Lewis, in a spectacular red dress, came over to say hello and give me one of her notorious big hugs, the kind of hug that is enveloping the entire teaching world.

On the 2 block walk to the rally itself Randi turned around thanked me for saying I liked her speech and we engaged in a friendly conversation for the 2 block walk. (I turned off the video recording device, though nothing controversial was said.) As I've been reporting I an feeling recently that the attacks on so severe and outrageous that just hammering away at the leadership over every single issue can be counterproductive. Some of the Chicago people have been making that point -- pick and choose what you go after and how. My problem is that there are often too many choices, as you will see in my next dispatch where I will be hammering Unity Caucus. (And by the way, I've been giving Chi people short seminars on what Unity is and how they work.)

The Chicago situation has put Randi in a situation where she must appear to be militant. So I told her she delivered the speech very well (she doesn't always do that) and I could agree with 70%. We talked about where we can agree. She raised the testing issue. She might remember that I was bringing anti-high stakes testing resos to the DA well over a decade ago. I said that though I don't agree with the Obama endorsement she did a very good job selling it. She made me so pissed at Romney I was going to take the dog off my car roof. But I said she didn't convince me and I was still voting Green.

Symbol of Ed Deform: Kaplan blue ad in big letters (top) over DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Well, we got to the rally, which was much smaller than I thought it would be, with mostly Detroit teachers there. The idea was that Randi was going to go up and see the city manager who has imposed awful contracts on Detroit public workers. Lots of Chicago people were there in support and not one Unity person was there as far as I could tell. And this event was pushed with fliering at every session. Steve Conn and a crew from BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) heckled Randi as she spoke with calls for a strike. BAMN somehow manages to annoy so many people, even those on their side. They are running a slate against Randi as they did last time when they got about 5% of the vote.

I interviewed a bunch of CORE people at the rally. The difference between CORE and Unity is obvious. If you pick 10 people from each caucus at random. the level of knowledge and militancy and sense of independence is so high in CORE compared to the Unity. Someone left a comment on a previous @AFT post that UFT people were seen talking to CTU people, telling them they they wished the UFT could be as militant as the CTU. I didn't notice much of that, though a bunch of UFT people (including Mulgrew came to the CTU party later. Just watch the videos of my interviews with CORE people when I put them up.

Some Detroit teachers

Randi addresses BAMN's Steve Conn who was heckling with strike calls

Another Bamn heckler calling for a strike

More Detroit teachers
Later we went to the AFT Peace and Justice event with Karen as one of the speakers -- I am processing the tape now. Karen has some interesting things to say about organizing-- "4 years ago we were 8 people in a room reading Shock Doctrine."

And then off to the CTU dessert reception at the Marriott where one could mingle with Karen and Mulgrew. I had some great conversations all night, even meeting one of my favorite anonymous bloggers who does brilliant satire on the ed deform movement.

It was hail and good cheer tonight but in close conversations many CTUers wre very pissed off at Unity tactics regarding testing and other resos coming out of the Education Committee which I will report on tomorrow.

Previous reports

The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.


  1. Isabella Keegan, Buffalo TeacherSaturday, July 28, 2012 at 9:21:00 AM EDT

    Thanks for the great information that you are providing. You are my go-to source for Convention Information. Keep posting, we'll keep reading here in Buffalo.

  2. My darling Norm. You had a great opportunity to tell Randi how NYC teachers are suffering under Bloomberg because of her concessions. 70% of any speech doesn't cut the wrongs she has done, and they are only empty words. So do us all a favor, and stop writing about her and concentrate your posts on Karen and Chicago and of course Diane Ravitch.

    I hope Diane's speech rocks the boat and rocks the house at the same time. Unity members have to start waking up.

  3. Thanks for the updates Norm

  4. Keep up the good work Norm but don't fall into the Randi trap. Next time you walk with her ask her why the high stakes test scores will be used to evaluate teachers? Didn't she hear Diane say that these scores are based on junk science?


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