Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Echos of Vichy: UFT/AFT - Friend or Foe and Mercedes Takes on Randi (Again)

“I think attacking Randi is not smart, wise, accurate, or useful. Equating her with Broad et al is absurd. We argue with our allies differently than we attack our enemies. Let’s keep our aim directed at those leading the fight to end public education.”- Deborah Meier.
Randi is not an ally and we are attacking our enemies when we attack Randi. You only have to watch an AFT convention to see how this plays out.

For over a dozen years, starting sometime in 2001, I have often been a lone voice in branding current AFT and former UFT President Randi Weingarten as a tool of ed deform. Mercedes Schneider, a teacher in Louisiana,  has picked up the cudgel at her blog, Her post 

Where the “Broad” Road Will Take AFT

brought out Randi defenders (apologists) with someone using the Deborah Meier quote above.
Debbie has often made similar comments to me.

My response has been that Randi is not our ally and we are attacking our enemies when we attack Randi.

 and Mercedes followed up with:

Weingarten, Broad, and *Collaborative* Privatization

These are must-reads.

I was once a nominal Randi Weingarten supporter - in the early days in 1997 of Ed Notes when I was working basically alone. I saw Randi as bringing new blood, positive reformist blood, to the UFT and Unity Caucus. A weak (and often pathetic) opposition offered by New Action and a barely visible and equally ineffective Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC) and a third caucus, Progressive Action, which was focused on the teacher licensing issue, was the political landscape at that time. I saw Randi and a reformed Unity Caucus as the only possibility. And her "people" were promising me just that -- she would take the union in a new direction. I was even invited to join Unity - which I declined.

So for the next 4 years, while being "suggestive" and critical in a non-critical non-attack mode, Ed Notes attempted to prod Randi with a positive message

Around 1999-2000 I touched base with George Schmidt in Chicago and began to see the horrors of ed deform be played out there in its earliest days through Paul Vallas and -  Yes, I knew about Arne Duncan from Substance a dozen years ago.

I was on the ground in the UFT and watched in horror as, beginning around 2000-2001, Randi began signing on to one ed deform issue after another. That is what turned me against her and ended any possibility Unity and the UFT could be reformed. Instead, Randi not only joined the ed deform movement, but she also further deformed the UFT from what was an essentially undemocratic organization into a form of monarchy, with her playing the role of queen.

That led me on the road to organizing the people to found the Independent Community of Educators (ICE) in late 2003, which led to GEM in 2009 and to MORE in 2012.

The people in ICE were pretty much in alignment with my view of Randi and the leadership. Others in the opposition do not necessarily agree.

I must follow up with a post about some of the internal struggles within MORE and before that, GEM, over whether our union leaders are enemies of just misguided union bureaucrats (sort of the TJC view and certainly the past and current New Action view. Over the years there has been some tension within MORE over this analysis and we devoted a summer series event in 2013 to exploring this issue.

Here are the videos from that event with Ira Goldfine and Vera Pavone laying out the ICE position and Peter Lamphere putting forth what I would term the TJC/ISO point of view.


Also see Mercedes' post:


  1. Amen! I wholeheartedly agree as I watch my career crumble before my very eyes.

  2. My gut reaction was---screw you Deborah Meier et al...I am aiming for those who are culpable---and that includes your precious Randi. Randi the sellout and her merry band of yes men make it possible for the ed deformers to continue to gain ground. I see Randi for who she really is and I trash her to my colleagues every chance I get and I really don't give a damn what the Deborah Meiers of the world think! Roseanne McCosh


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