Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Teachers and Police

After the roiling of the waters between the PBA and the UFT I've started writing a series of articles for my column in The Wave on teachers and police. Here are the first two.
School Scope: Teachers and Cops
By Norm Scott
Published in The Wave, Sept. 5, 2014

Welcome to the new school year to teacher and parent School Scope readers. For those involved in schools, the new year really begins in September. (Those Jews were really onto something.) Thanks to the Wave for continuing to feel education matters enough to continue offering the space. Rockaway isn’t all about surfing and ferries and de Blasio bashing. While I’m not his biggest fan, I imagine more people in Rockaway are impacted by his new and enormously high cost pre-k program that will offer daycare and education for their children at no cost than the loss of the ferry. Reading the Rockaway press, one would never know – though the Wave did do a story on pre-k recently. I better stop going on about the ferry because my wife loves the ferry and since I don’t cook I don’t want to starve.

What I really want to talk about is the situation between the police and teacher unions and the relationship between rank and file teachers and police. We all know about the situations in Staten Island and in Ferguson Missouri and the Al Sharpton led march in Staten Island, which UFT President Michael Mulgrew supported and was slammed by PBA president Patrick Lynch. There was and continues to be much turmoil inside the UFT, with some teachers starting school wearing tee-shirts as a response to the UFT participation in the protests by wearing "UFT for NYPD" t-shirts with the logo, “New York’s Brightest Supports New York’s Finest: Thank you #NYPD.” There are also large groups of teachers who are outraged when they hear this and want to wear counter tee-shirts like “Copwatch.” And then there’s the Al Sharpton issue.

Oy! And you think I can sort all of this out in 800 words? Mark Healey would have to give me an entire issue of the Wave. Well, I have to head off for Anita Ruderman’s Hot Yoga class, which will clear my head so I can deal with this issue in a rational manner. Look for a series of follow-up articles. As usual you can find my daily diatribes on

Teachers and Cops
By Norm Scott
Published in The Wave, Sept. 19, 2014

A few weeks ago I started writing in this space about the sometimes delicate but often interesting relationship between the teacher and police union, brought to a head by the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island and the Al Sharpton lead march which was supported by UFT President Michael Mulgrew who was trashed by PBA head Patrick Lynch. Lynch made a pointed reference to what he termed Mulgrew’s “defense of bad teachers” and how would he feel if the PBA supported efforts to go after these teachers. First of all, unlike the PBA which will defend any cop anytime under all circumstances, the UFT often abandons teachers in trouble even when there is flimsy or no evidence against them. I’ve seen 30 year teachers with perfect records chopped to bits over one alleged transgression, at times arrested by the very members of Lynch’s union. At no point have I ever heard Lynch make a peep about this situation or offer any support to teachers and the UFT. Maybe behind the scenes he had conversations with his members – hey, give our fellow unionists a break when called into a situation – like use your judgment and act accordingly bases on your assessment of the situation.

Somehow I don’t think this happened. So when Lynch went ballistic on Mulgrew I sort of rolled my eyes. I personally did not support the march because of Sharpton’s leadership and because the entire concept of a march for social justice is more to make the participants feel good than to accomplish much. I do believe in due process for police officers, just as I strongly fight for due process for teachers – that is called tenure. I wish the PBA had taken a stand for us all these years that teachers have been under assault.

Next time I’ll talk about the record of the cop who applied the choke hold, tell some stories of 2 African-American teachers accused by children of “hitting” them and how different police officers reacted when called to the school.

Norm blogs at

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