Monday, December 10, 2012

The Worm is Turning: Ravitch with Smiley and West

Must listen radio where 2 leading Black commentators spend a half hour with Diane. I remember Tavis Smiley maybe a year ago praising aspects of ed deform.

They talk about Chicago, Karen Lewis, the money to be made and the whitening of the teaching staff. The point is made that black boys have the biggest problems in education and they are increasingly being taught by white women --- often inexperienced young white women. They have to have male and racial role models.

Tavis Smiley and Cornell West Radio show:

Cornell West to Diane Ravitch: “What force for good you’ve been in struggle for children of all colors”

Diane: “I’m happy to be on your side.”


  1. Your head is either in the clouds or still under water. The worm nor tide is turning. It's getting worse. I was at a party the other night where I met a group of teachers, and no one knew who Julie was. I spoke to 2 union reps. One told me her teachers don't seem to care about any of the issues. The other rep supports Randi. No one knew who Julie was. (So is that campaign on hold or just a big secret??) As for Smiley, don't believe it until he has Diane on his PBS show. He is in tight with Rhee and her husband. He had Rhee on his PBS show to help defend her on Erasergate. No worm is turning. Nothing is turning. And Bloomberg will make sure of that before he leaves office. Then Cuomo will take it up. The only worm is in the tequila because you have to be drunk to think anything is getting better.

  2. I've been in this particular battle for 15 years and given where we stood at one time yes the worm is turning in terms of the national debate where you never heard out side. Ravitch who really turned publicly in 2007 has been huge -- remember that is only 5 years ago. As for the UFT that battleship is not going to turn very fast so don't expect much. Yes, people are not aware of what is coming but it took a tsunami in chicago to turn that ship and it will take one here to make that happen. The UFT giving on eval and the consequences over the following years might be the key. But if you think people will wake up due to a UFT election campaign before they are on their knees at the guillotine you are not looking at the pace that people change. With a 50% teacher turnover rate that will rise we are dealing with a moving target. I am a patient person since I view things from a historical perspective -- movements grow at their own pace and there is little we can do to influence them other than being there to nurture them. If MORE has a structure in place to handle the conflagration and absorb people who are shocked into activism that will be an achievement. That is why I still feel it premature to run this time given the pace of change. I feel it distracts from what should be MORE's main goal -- building an organization that is viable and long-lasting. We can carp all we want about New Action which began around 1990 and came form 2 merged orgs. -- groups since the 60s and 70s. While they never got far they had some infrastructure which at election time had outreach. What they didn't do was function between elections.
    ICE and TJC also similar problems. Why will this time be different? It may not and then there is really no chance. But my goal is to try to get the group not to go down that same road. If it does after this election I am not wasting any more time.

    1. Yes it took Chicago a few years, but the political climate has changed and that's why Chicago knew it was the right time to strike. I really think your mindset is stuck in the 60s. Things in the internet age don't go that slowly anymore. Look at the OWS movement that grew within weeks not just in NYC, but in other cities. Look at Hawaii which grew within a few weeks--started by one group of teachers and now in over 80 schools and still growing!!!! These teachers not only used FB, but got coverate on their local news station. In a matter of a few days they got 1,000 LIKES on the FB page. And people from all over the US are commenting on their site sending their support. And need I remind you the Tea Party not only grew within a few months, but now are in control of the House. They might not have controlled the national election, but they control many states. And that is why places like Michigan are turning into a RTWS.

      So do the MORE candidates agree this is the wrong time to run?? Is that the position they are also taking?? I really would like to know the if this is true.

      Diane's radio conversation reached how many people?? Not much to make a difference in the minds of a NYC teacher.

  3. If they agreed with me they wouldn't be running.
    You are missing the point that the Chicago story began in 1995 and a dissident group won in 2001 and then lost to the old leadership in 2004. I know the people and the story and it took the firing of teachers from closing schools to galvanize people. Having ATRs here protects the UFT.
    OWS grew fast and where is it now? They are active in other ways but they rejected structure and I do not think we can build something without structure. My focus in MORE is to work on building democratic structures. I will help in the election but that is not my focus.
    You can't get very far until you actually have numbers of people actually doing something other than commenting on social media and voting in elections. It takes a sizeable team of people attending meetings to get things done and organizing events.
    Nothing happens in a vacuum --- like 10 people toss something out and it takes.
    CORE had hundreds of people out there, showing up at school closings, etc. They built this very fast over a year and a half before they decided to run in an election.
    MORE is still building this WHILE running in an election. A big difference.
    I don't know what you think CORE is or was but they started in 2008 not as a caucus but as a study group -- with political ideas and ideology and it was the understandings they got from this effort that led to the next steps. One thing leads to another.
    Don't count likes on facebook as really meaning much.
    And you are talking about places that do not have the same levels that we have in NY State.
    Watch for when there is legislation that actually abolishes unions here in NY. It will take a tsunami here.

    1. "You can't get very far until you actually have numbers of people actually doing something other than commenting on social media and voting in elections".
      I completely agree. And yet Ive borrowed the blue card from my CL so that I drop the petition off at Wednesday's DA. It will be the first non-slactivist thing I do and I wonder (after seeing what we've all seen) if I'm the only one.

      Whether MORE wins or loses, the point their prescence makes -that our union is in bad bad shape and in need of a shake up in leadership- has rung clearly...not just to me, but to every single colleague I've spoken with. Thats never happened; I've never seen so many articulate and angry opinions about the union (even from people who they call the 'sheep') since I've been teaching. That's new. That, by itself, is an accomplishment.

  4. That's exactly what I am afraid of....that it will take a "Sandy" type of action against unions to turn the tide. But, then it will be way too late.

    If not "teachers", then shouldn't MORE be leading a protest in front of UFT headquarters. I am sure they can get a few teachers, parents, family members, etc. to help them. Why aren't they leading the charge against the new eval system?? At the Queens UFT borough office alone, there are 7-10 schools within walking or short train ride distance. In fact 5 schools are only a short walk away. I am sure the same is true for other UFT borough offices. I would have more respect for MORE (no pun intended) if they took the first steps. I would even join them. I think you are underestimating the Hawaii teachers. It took the courage of one group of teachers to get this started. And in the beginning weeks it was slow. But 4 weeks later it exploded.

    OWS broke up because of the way it was managed. It wasn't. They allowed it to get out of hand and lose the backing of the local residents and business owners. Hawaii teachers now have the backing of parents. They are organized. They are building an organization that is now being backed by their own union. Teachers saw there union as not doing enough and took matters into their own hands. They did it before--not after--negotiations. The governor is pissed as hell and issued a statement that he can make teachers work beyond the last bell and weekends for no extra money. That statement forced a fire under the schools that weren't taken part. Yet when Bloomberg states he wants to "Hold Teachers Feet to the Fire", not one peep from anyone including the MORE candidates.

    If MORE is to work, they must be out there on the issue of VAM and let other teachers see they have a voice. So yes, I am throwing the gauntlet. Will MORE be in front of UFT headquarters in Queens or some other borough office protesting??? If they decide to do Queens, I will personally pay for the flyers and deliver it to schools within walking distance. Just give me a date and time!!!

  5. First of all when people call out MORE or say we should do this, be here, or do that - my question to them is - Why not join MORE and lead us? What do you think MORE is, we're a small group ensuring that there is democracy in our union. You want us to march in front of UFT Queens then come to a meeting and tell us why.
    As for Norm - we must run in the election, there must be opposition in this union (we all know new action is not) we bear the responsibility of being the lone organized voice, lets not run from that. Elections are the one time every 3 years rank and file care about union politics, so lets end that conversation
    Facebook likes and retweets do matter, are one way to build this movement the way ICE/TJC couldn't, most of the 80,000 rank and file aren't reading out blogs, but most of them are on facebook and twitter- time to turn that to our advantage
    I wish people would stop talking about what MORE should be doing, instead join MORE and educate, mobilize, organize

    Mike Schirtzer
    Vice President at large candidate for MORE

    1. I can only make suggestions on how to get a win for Julie. But when the writer of this blog is not behind this election, what can you expect from me. As for rank and file caring about elections, then why do only 30% vote. I think it's up to MORE to know how to run a campaign. I have yet to see one flyer in any school or an ad in either the NYTeacher or some other outlet. But it's hard to join an organization when every suggestion I make is put down. I am concerned for one reason--and her name is Julie.

      Right now I am working on getting the Hawaii story out. I do feel I was responsible for their page getting their first 1,000 Likes. However, I am having a harder time on NYC issues since the majority of my readers are from all over the US. Very few NYC teachers seem interested in what is going on. 5 weeks ago one school started a protest. As of today, 90 schools are also taking part. Too bad something like this can't start in one school, then one district, then one borough, then all of NYC. Hawaii proved it possible.

  6. Unlike Unity in MORE a member who disagrees with a policy can state they do. But even though my position lost in a vote I don't pick up my marbles and go home. I support the effort in whatever way I can contribute. I go to meetings, help make other decisions, pass out literature at Delegate Assemblies, etc. And I am on the election committee helping recruit candidates. When you sign up with an organization you do make a commitment to support it or why join at all?
    In fact MORE is the only group in the UFT fighting over the eval issue by calling for a vote of the membership on whatever decision the UFT makes and that will be brought to the DA on Weds. alone with possibly a thousand signed petitions and endorsements by a number of schools. And that movement is starting to spread though the blogging community.
    It would be hard to call for a rally at any UFT office before they sell-out. I could see a support the UFT In standing Firm rally in front of the DA and I think that might have been an interesting idea. But doing something openly attacking them at this point in the expectation they will do the wrong thing doesn't work for me. Does the average teacher thing actions should be taken against the UFT or some other target? I don't have a good feel for where people in the schools stand as the only people I have regular contact with are activists.


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