Saturday, July 28, 2012

@AFT: NYC/Chicago Showdown Over Moratorium on Charters, School Closings, Turnarounds

UFT/Unity Caucus AFT delegates stood small and showed their true colors in opposing a reso calling for:
a moratorium on new charter schools, school closings, turnarounds and for a return of charter schools to their original purpose 
proposed by the Chicago Alliance if Charter Teachers and Staff.

WTF you must be saying. How can the UFT be opposed to this reso? Well, they didn't openly oppose it but instead tried to table it by referring it back to the AFT Exec council for the next 2 years. Hell, in 2 years there may no longer be a public school system.

I was sitting next to an elderly delegate from Florida and she was astounded at the arguments being used by Unity Caucus "leading lights" Jackie Bennett and James Vaszuez as they led an assault on a reso sponsored by the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff calling for a moratorium on new Charters, School Closings, Turnarounds.

How about Jackie saying "we already have a reso opposing school closings in NYC but that may not be appropriate for the AFT?"

Then James said it was too broad -- blah, blah, blah --- and we stopped Bloomberg's turn around with court action --- so this was not needed. Huh? Come back next time James and let us know where your 7 Queens schools you "saved" are at.

Unity trotted out a Brooklyn charter school Chapter leader who said this reso would make it hard to organize charter school teachers -- by calling for a moratorium? Remember this reso is sponsored by the Chicago charter school organizers and they were astounded at this argument.

(I have more notes on the debate and what they were saying and will post later if I have a chance, besides Vasquez calling the question when he could as did Jackie's husband, Tom Bennett, the SI/Bklyn Dist rep -- and possible replacement for Leo Casey as HSVEEP.)

Yes, hard to believe, but for those of you who might think the UFT is rigorously opposed to all of the above (closings, charters, turnarounds) you should attend an AFT convention to see Unity Caucus in action. (They also scuttled an agreement with the Chicago TU on an anti-testing compromise. More on that later as I flesh out all the facts.) I use their actions on a reso like this as my proof they are closet and not so closet supporters of much of ed deform policy no matter how it slaps the rank and file teacher in the face. But that is what collaboration brings.

The Chicago Teacher Union reps led the call for putting this motion on the convention floor today instead of burying it as Unity tried to do. Theirs and other arguments were so powerful that Unity list for one of the few times by a vote of 225-192 to the cheers of the crowd. My Florida neighbor jumped out of her seat in exultation. Unity slugs called for a roll call but were shouted down.

I left at that point but what followed was typical Unity skulduggery. Not being able to kill the reso for 2 years they resorted to using the committee procedure of bringing only 3 resos out of committee to the floor. All others are deferred to the end of the convention (I believe). And so Unity found another way by making this the 4th reso.

Not only did they do that but they shoved all other Chicago testing resos to the back of the line. I was told that Chicago and NY spent the morning working on language on a good CTU reso requesting a cost analysis of testing and test prep. Chicago amended the reso to make it more palatable to NYC and Jen Johnson from CTU and Janella Hines from UFT both got up and supported it and it passed overwhelmingly (sorry I don't have electronic versions of the resos now.)

Then Unity turned around and made the reso 5th on the list so it would not come to the main body today.

Last night, I spoke to some CTU delegates and they were livid. Interesting that at the top level of the CTU relations with Randi are very good and I do not believe these low ball dirty actions will have an affect as they can probably in their minds separate the actions coming out of NYC from Randi at the national level. Some talk at the press table with Chicago people is that if Randi were hands on this would not have been so crude. I'm not so sure.
You can't have a democracy in a capitalist society without strong unions as check and balance. Randi left out: you can't have strong unions without democratically run unions. --- Ed Notes
Chicago is now talking about floor strategy when the education committee reports to the convention. Right now it is after 11 and all sorts of presentations are going on. I will post a blow by blow account while also trying to video our Unity slugs at the mics trying to manipulate the debate. Lee Sustar says they use this mind-numbing stuff to lull people before the floor debates begin. I gotta get some coffee but am afraid to leave and miss something.
The basic work is always done in committees, which non-delegates are not allowed to attend. So I've never been able to attend a committee meeting at an AFT convention (see NYC Educator). But there was room in the education committee meeting and Lisa and Gloria got in while I was out looking for smoothies. I was not going to bother and head back to the hotel when it started to pour so I went on over and was I glad I did. I got to watch all my old friends from Unity pull the same old crap --- it was like being at a UFT delegate assembly. I was in the back behind Brooklyn High School District Rep skuzzball Charlie Turner who is not only a red neck but actually has a big red neck.

Oh, and there was a Progressive Caucus meeting yesterday right after but I went back to the hotel to get ready for the evening events by changing into my Tommy Bahama shirt which I wore for the first time -- (on sale at West Palm Beach Macys in Feb.) When I went back later, they were just breaking up and I was glad I didn't go. Some of these people who I see at every DA give me the creeps. I know I keep harping on it, but every single CTU/CORE person I meet is so awesome to talk to.

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. I am not surprised that there is controversy on the floor of the convention. The UFT Unity caucus will prevail but, the cracks are showing as it appears from your reporting that many delegates from the other locals have had their full of Randi and the lock step delegates from NY. My question, are the delegates at the point that they walk out of the convention? While such an act may be counter productive I cannot see the CTU allowing their actions to be gutted by the chair and her followers. Charlie Turner is one P.O.S. Find out how he sabotaged a chapter leader vote at New Utrecht HS two years ago by supporting the do nothing unity CL who is a delegate at the Detroit convention.

  2. Reminds me of the UFT Delegate Assembly. Thanks for the updates Norm.

  3. Are you bringing copies of the resolution home with you or at least posting it on the internet? This needs to be spread far and wide.

  4. Copies of the CTU resolution gutted by the UFT would be quite an interesting read I hope that copies are available and somehow sent to every school chapter.

  5. Wait, I thought Randi was getting militant?

  6. Watch what she does not what she says. She is being forced by events to show some militancy. Will it be real or memorex?

  7. Randi Weingarten is full of crap.

    You know how you can tell when she's full of crap?

    She's talking, that's how.

    Remember, her whole career is predicated on being the "reform-friendly" union leader who brings about "change."

    There's no way she's changing that.

    That would mean she wouldn't get to sit on director boards with Joel Klein anymore.

    Or in Yankee Stadium box seats with the Mayor of Money himself.

    Or visit the Sunday talk shows where she can be feted by Fluffy the Clown and Candy Crowley for being so open to reform.

    Or help convene Cuomo Sham Commissions on education.

    Or sit on the stage at the Education Nation mini series on NBC sponsored by the University of Phoenix, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Monsanto, er, the Gates Foundation.

    Randi's masterful at walking a tightrope, and that's what she's doing now.

    She knows many teachers are fed up with the bashing and the endless reforms.

    She wasn't going to get away with Bill Gates again this year.

    So she's putting on a show of militancy.

    But make no mistake - she doesn't share those concerns of working teachers getting hammered by Gates and Obama and Cuomo and Bloomberg.

    Her only concerns are

    1. Aggrandizing her ego and
    2. Advancing her own career.

    Both of those concerns require she continue to be the "reform-friendly" union leader who brings collaboration and common sense (AKA, surrender) to the reform struggle.

    No wonder she gutted the CTU resolution.

    Fits right in with her M.O.

  8. Pretty good analysis RBE. And you're probably right. For now I am willing to watch and wait to see what she does vs what she says, especially as the Chicago situation plays out. That will be her big test and we have the means to find out exactly what she is doing. So I say let's give her some rope. If there's even a 1% chance she is beginning to move we're ahead of the game. if not we return to going after her. I'm going to make an effort though I can't promise I can do it -- witness what happened to this reso.
    And I do have hard copies but would love to get electronic versions. I have to ask CTU people tomorrow.


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