Friday, June 13, 2014

Why MORE? Vergara Tenure Decision, Eva Charter Expansion, UFT/AFT Tepid Responses

It will take an army to defeat ed deform. The UFT actually has a potential army through its large (but shrinking, and due to shrink more) membership (108,000 contract vote ballots were sent out to working UFT members) but wants to keep it defanged because an army with teeth may turn on the leadership.

There is much hang-wringing over the California tenure decision, though it may well be overturned. People are bitching, weeping, complaining, whining, mourning... not only over the decision, but the ineffective manner the teacher unions have been responding to ed deform over the past 15 years. See comments on Ravitch blog in response to Randi's "I'm shocked, just shocked" response to Arne Duncan cheers for Vergara decision:  Randi Blasts Duncan for Betraying Teachers in Vergara Case. 

I left my 2 cents. Some of the comments criticizing Randi are just plain naive- along the lines of "why don't teachers wake up?" Like they don't get that even a weak union has a certain organizational structure - with its own internal political machine that has the ability to control the communication network that feed whatever info teachers get. If your union machine (see Unity Caucus) pounds you with one message, what does it take to create an alternative? As one who has tried at various times over the past 44 years, let me tell you: a hell of a lot of effort - all of which depends on the use of volunteer labor.

And blogging or other individual activities on the part of even the most aware teachers, is not organizing, which involves face to face.

Individual bloggers and activists will never have the impact needed to counter attack against this onslaught. I don't pretend for a minute that ed notes has much of an impact, other than providing some info for people. My goal is to use ed notes as tool to spur activism within the UFT, which is the only real body where an impact can be made. Forget influencing the general public, which all too many bloggers consider their main goal. If you can't convince your fellow UFT members, forget about the public. Get that 70,000 army going and THEN go for the public. (See one Chicago Teachers Union.)

But you can't do this as an individual blogger. Only by building an organization as a true alternative to Unity Caucus that can match the numbers Unity has will we see change.

Thus, the attempt to build a group like MORE that can attract people who will function as organizers. As one teacher said at a recent MORE happy hour, "I can no longer sit by and watch our profession be destroyed." I do not take that to mean that she will take up blogging and think she is no longer sitting by. What she means is that she will consider running for chapter leader and organizing in her school and in her local school community by reaching out to other schools and joining the MORE network. For only by building a political machine with deep roots into the schools to challenge the Unity machine will we see changes.

I'll delve further into what this means in future blogs.

There are millions of dollars arrayed against teachers. Blogs, comments on blogs, making the case for teachers and tenure by preaching to the choir will not turn the tide. The unions spout words of militancy on a regular basis but keep compromising with the deformers.

The AFT supports the deform gov of Connecticut over real reformer Jonathan Pelto. And we just heard that the Louisiana Education Association praised Gov Bobby Jindal for tweaking the state eval law -- Has hell frozen over? Teachers union applauds Jindal (because it was chaotic).

I watched how passionless and ineffective the head of the California AFT leader was on TV when facing one of the people behind the lawsuit who brought up none of the points made by people like Diane Ravitch.

Here her on Brian Lehrer on WNYC:

And read her blog:
Not only did none of them have a “grossly ineffective” teacher, but some of the plaintiffs attended schools where there are no tenured teachers. Two of the plaintiffs attend charter schools, where there is no tenure or seniority, and as you will read below, “Beatriz and Elizabeth Vergara both attend a “Pilot School” in LAUSD that is free to let teachers go at the end of the school year for any reason, including ineffectiveness. 
The Vergara Trial Teachers Were Not “Grossly Ineffective”

David B. Cohen: A Thoughtful Analysis of Vergara Decision

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