Tuesday, November 28, 2017

School Scope: A New Chancellor, the PEP, NY as Right to Work

I'm going to the PEP tonight with some other MOREs. While Janus is viewed as a major threat to the existence of the union, as great a threat is from the closing of schools, along with abusive principals, rising class sizes, charters squeezing us for space, and all the other issues causing dissatisfaction among UFT members – so much of this without an adequate response from the UFT – because teachers in these schools will not be all so willing to pay dues to a union they feel has abandoned them. ( I would bet that no one from the UFT will be at the PEP to argue their cases.)
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School Scope:  A New Chancellor, the PEP, NY as Right to Work
By Norm Scott

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fariña to leave post? Is Cashin in the Running?
Carmen Fariña, who is apparently increasingly unpopular amongst the glitterati at the NYC Department of Education, is most likely leaving as Chancellor of the NYC schools and rumors are surfacing that our former local Superintendent Kathy Cashin, now a member of the state Board of Regents, may be in the running to replace her. While I believe de Blasio will choose a younger person of color to run the schools because with a school system that is about 80% non white, it would be easier to implement unpopular policies like closing schools. But Cashin, who has friends and foes, is an interesting option. I was a foe at one point because of her authoritarian and rigid educational policies that emphasized testing. And she put in too many awful principals under her watch – though I know and like some of her appointees. After she left the system she seemed to have a turn about in her views on testing, became a Regent and has joined with another former Superintendent Betty Rosa in pushing for more real, instead of the usual phony reforms. For us education wonks, this story is red meat. One demand I have for the next chancellor: no accent in their name so I don’t have to figure out how to type it.

Attending Panel for Educational Policy (PEP - the city-wide board of education) meetings
As I said above, I am an ed policy wonk – I know, I need to get a life – and later I am heading to Long Island City High School campus for the monthly meeting.

I’m going with a group from the MORE/UFT Caucus to raise issues around the potential closing of some schools which is suspect as just being a way to give more space to charter schools, in particular to Eva Moskowitz’ rapacious Success Charter chain. Actually, de Blasio should make Eva Chancellor of the 1800 NYC public schools, though the city would have to double to quarter million dollar a year salary to meet Eva’s current salary of over half a million for running 40 schools. Her goal is to control a hundred schools so there is a lot of space she will need, even though this is the richest charter in the nation and refuses to use any of that money to rent space.

Her goal is to ultimately push the public school(s) out of the building so she can take total control. In the long run an aspect of the charter school chains is about taking over real estate.  As the public school systems contract and head toward extinction, the buildings can be had for a song by the charters. Then come the sale of air rights and condo charter heaven.

This may be one of Fariña’s final appearances. I was at the final appearance of Joel Klein (when, in his relief at not having to be attacked by me, called me up to the stage to give me a goodbye hug) and Dennis Walcott – who shamelessly runs our entire Queens Library system which his old boss Bloomberg gutted in his dozen years as mayor. I started out liking Fariña, mainly because a good friend has had positive experiences with her, but over the years came to find her no better than Klein or Walcott and in some ways worse as she continued to defend some of the worst principals in the system. Her advice on how to get rid of teachers principals don’t like using any means necessary is being followed by all too many. Now if a teacher is awful, that is one thing. But there are all too many political vendettas by principals so the entire process becomes tainted.

Janus court case to turn nation into right to work
An upcoming Supreme Court case will next year, with Neal Gorsuch on the Court, will rule that union members don’t have to pay agency fee union dues, which will decimate public service unions, with the massive UFT expecting to take a major hit with an estimated 20-30% of UFT members not paying dues. The leadership is already cutting back. Those of us attending the bi-monthly Executive Board meetings have seen that in the paucity of macadamia nut cookies.

While the Janus case has galvanized the UFT and my own MORE caucus to action in trying to keep people on board, my concern it what will motivate people to keep paying if they perceive the UFT is not adequately advocating on their behalf?  While Janus is viewed as a major threat to the existence of the union, as great a threat is the closing of schools, along with abusive principals, rising class sizes, charters squeezing us for space, and all the other issues causing dissatisfaction among UFT members – so much of this without an adequate response from the UFT – because teachers in these schools will not be all so willing to pay dues to a union they feel has abandoned them. As a critic of the UFT leadership I still believe that a union is better for society than not having unions at all. I’m reading a book called “Janesville” by Amy Goldstein about the destruction of unions in Wisconsin and how that destruction caused so much dislocation as people slipped out of the middle class when the GM plant closed and the Auto Workers union was decimated. This is a must read horror story that tells us so much of why we are where we are today politically.

Norm pays his dues daily at ednotesonline.com.

3 comments:

  1. Regarding "Janesville," both that small Wisconsin city and nearby Kenosha were auto towns with strong, militant UAW locals that reliably voted Democratic for decades. After the plants closed, their workers fell out of the middle class, and guess who won those previously rock-solid Democratic precincts in the 2016 presidential election?

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  2. I think that 20-30 percent is a low number. I think 30-40 percent of teachers may end up actually quitting the UFT. I think a lot of folks will quit and hope the UFT actually gets it's act together and then will come back as members. Janus is the kick in the ass that the UFT needs. After Janus goes through, the UFT will have to be accountable FOREVER to it's members if it wants our dues.

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  3. Chancellor Fariña and Mulgrew have been failures.

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