Friday, July 19, 2019

Newsday Reveals Backstory for Elia Resignation - private school and opt out

....many Regents were furious that schools had been placed on state watch lists largely because of high opt-out rates, despite Elia saying those schools would not face repercussions.
The article in Newsday goes into the background for Elia's hiring and dismissal. It makes NYSUT a king. James disagrees on the ICEUFT blog: NEWSDAY EDITORIAL ON ELIA RESIGNATION CONTINUES MYTH OF NYSUT STRENGTH

Actually there is a middle ground. I pointed to the alliance between the AFT/NYSUT/UFT educational complex with Elia going back to the 2010 AFT convention. Randi/Unity Caucus Lauded Elia/Bill Gates and Booed Those Who Walked Out at 2010 AFT Convention.

Elia got the NY State Ed job with the compliance of the union complex, not in antithesis - at the very least they could have made a stink about it. The idea that her resistance on the opt-out issue somehow got her fired with NYSUT behind it may be true but not because of NYSUT. See opt-out leader Jeannette Deuterman on the great betrayal by NYSUT's Andy Pallota and Mulgrew:  NYState Opt Out Leader Jeanette Deuterman Castigates Mulgrew.

Watch who the next state ed commissioner is to get a handle on the power plays. It will more likely be someone in line with previous policies rather than some real progressive.

The article in accurate in the changes in the regents from the Tisch days. Betty Rosa is an improvement by far. At Leonie's Skinny Awards dinner she was hugging and schmoozing with the great anti-high stakes testing guru Fred Smith -- apparently they get together to talk testing regularly and that is a very positive thing.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Newsies Coming to Rockaway Theatre Company July 19 - and I get to play an anti-union thug

Rockaway Times

One of the most telling scenes is when a Newsie pleads with a cop for help after being attacked by goons (which I am one) and the cop hits him. There is a lot more politics in this show than I expected. Workers' rights, unionizing, strikes, goons and cops beating workers, women's rights. And rousing singing and marching that will stir any unionist. And they find a printing press and create their own alternative newspaper telling their story. Well, OK, they couldn't do it without the help of children of the ruling class, but we won't quibble - for now.

Tonight is the final dress rehearsal before opening tomorrow night for a 3 week run (Friday, Saturday and Sunday Matinees). The Newsies are mostly young men - aged 10-early 20s, with a few young ladies playing boys is astounding in its acting, singing, dancing. There are a few older folks - the meanies and I get to play a small role as one of them (I have about 8 lines).

Here is a preview by Kami-Leigh Agard, an excellent reporter for the Rockaway Times who came to rehearsal earlier this week, followed by my own column in The Wave which is published tomorrow.

Memo from the RTC:  Newsies Backstage
By Norm Scott

The past 10 days has seen some heavy lifting at the Rockaway Theatre Company with long rehearsals every day as the Newsies cast and crew gets ready for the Friday opening. Yes, Hell Week is upon us. I’ve been trying to get to know the many newcomers to the RTC in this production and will tell you about them in next week’s column. Director Gabrielle Mangano along with producer/stage manager James Dalid and assistant stage manager Casey Stabiner have led with firm hands, making sure to include some old and young vets from the RTC in supporting roles. Cliff Hesse, John Gilleece, Fred Greiiko and myself cover the old. Brian Sadowsi who has been with RTC in prominent roles for over three years, plays Pulitzer. Dana Mongelli who has been with the company for a few years and appeared in almost every recent production, plays Pulitzer's secretary Hannah, a Bowery Beauty, and a nun. Quite a combo of roles.

Of course the heart of the show, aside from the two key leads played by Sam Kelly, a newcomer from Iowa, and Melody Portnoy, making a 2nd appearance after her role in Pippin (more on them next week), are the many young men and boys from ages ten to the early 20s playing the news boys. It is  not easy to find so many young males who sing and dance but the RTC is a magnet for talent. Gabby did cast a few young ladies, including RTC super jack of all trades Adele Wendt, she of the glorious red mane, who manages to pull of a miracle: She turns herself into a young boy. Guess who Adele is and win a free mention in this column.

Frank Caiati who designed the sets, made a special appearance one evening at rehearsal to teach the cast how to do stage fighting. What an evening where we all got to throw punches at each other without hitting anything. Frank emphasized safety and turned potential chaos into choreography. Scenes that take about 20 seconds of playing time required hours of repetitive practice, but we expect nothing less from an RTC production.

Of course RTC leaders Susan Jasper and John Gilleece have been around to lend whatever support is needed. But clearly this show has been placed in the hands of the next generation and the audiences will love it – and you better get your tickets as there are already sold out performances.

July 19, 20, 26, 27/Aug 2, 3 at 8PM. Matinees July 21, 28, Aug. 4 t 2 PM. Tickets – Adults $25, Seniors/children $20.

Norm’s other column is School Scope and he blogs daily at


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Randi/Unity Caucus Lauded Elia/Bill Gates and Booed Those Who Walked Out at 2010 AFT Convention

All of those teachers applauding and cheering for Gates will come to regret it.
NYC EducatorSunday, July 11, 2010: It's remarkable they will tolerate those who would destroy us, but no variation from their strictly prescribed point of view.
At the 2010 AFT convention in Seattle, Unity Caucus and allies cheered Elia and Gates over the Hillsborough Fl teacher evaluation project. We had some fun with Gates and Randi (though I didn't do the Gates photoshop). Video here:

Here is a point Leonie made about Elia's resignation:
The serious concerns we expressed yesterday and shared with the Board of Regents about NYSED's new proposed privacy regs were overwhelmed in news of Commissioner Elia's sudden resignation.  What wasn't reported on in the media crush, at least as far as I've noticed, is that the Regents were set to discuss whether to fire her during their annual retreat that started yesterday afternoon.  Clearly, Elia jumped the gun with her announcement and as a result, she was able to control the narrative, with many of the news stories featured overly positive review of her regime.

Last year, the final RAND report on the teacher evaluation project was released, showing that the initiative she led in Hillsborough County before she was fired by that school board and came to NY had no positive results and in fact, resulted in less access to effective teachers for high-needs kids.  In addition, the initiative left the district in severe fiscal disarray....
Leonie Haimson:
The NYC Unity machine booed us as we walked out on Bill Gates.

Notice how they now go silent. They will never admit their mistakes and will continue to make them.

Here is coverage at Ed Notes and by George Schmidt at Substance:
Jul 11, 2010 - [A separate report in Substance will cover the walkout and protests from some of the delegates]. ... 2010, as delegates listened to the speech of billionaire Bill Gates. ... Speech To AFT Convention By Bill Gates, http://www.aft.
Jul 11, 2010 - There were 3,000+ delegates at the AFT convention, maybe 40 walked out in protest. ... And many anti-Gates appearance people did not walk out - most of the ... California Teacher Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 9:12:00 PM EDT.
Jul 2, 2010 - Beginning July 8, the AFT convention will take place in Seattle. That city's favorite son, Bill Gates will address the convention. .... Michael Fiorillo Friday, July 2, 2010 at 10:33:00 AM EDT ..... shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, organized a national walk outto memoriali.
Some of the comments from 9 years ago are interesting:
  1. It's remarkable they will tolerate those who would destroy us, but no variation from their strictly prescribed point of view.
  2. I was supposed to go to the convention, but I had no choice but not to attend. I am appalled that those in attendance did not walk out with the other 60 delegates. Here's a man who destroyed public education, who had an obvious ulterior motive to put a halt on unionism in the public schools, who wanted to keep minority children behind the eight ball as much as possible so that the achievement gap would be as wide as the grand canyon and was hailed as an advocate for public education by giving him a standing ovation by those who stayed behind to hear his speech. What the hell is happening to the freaking members? Do the delegates think that having these rapist's reforms (yes, I feel that gates and the billionaire boys raped public education) of the public schools by gates, walton family, et al is something to be proud of? The shame of seeing the delegates stand up to give gates a standing ovation is as sickening as allowing a murderer/rapist/robber/psychopath to dine with your immediate family.

    I am ecstatic that I didn't go because I would have walked out, too. Just seeing the video stirs up more anger at the Randi and the stepford delegates.
  3. Like Bloomberg, Gates is one of tjose who thinks they can buy whatever they want. So, what did it cost him to get Weingarten to invite him to speak at the convention?

    Or, is she instead like the pol Murray Kempton once wrote about, who gave away what a lesser soul would have sold for money?
  4. All of those teachers applauding and cheering for Gates will come to regret it.
  5. I'm not sure about that. I think they like the free trips, feeling important, and the hope that one day they too will have a union job with a second salary and pension.
  6. Randi shows her true colors!

    Telling some of your members" I thought you were leaving"

    What a display of solidarity! 

    Oh yeah! that's right you're a lawyer not a union leader.
  7. Norm, your coverage of this is just as slanted as the regular crud found daily in the NY Post.

    Tell the truth for once.

    There were 3,000+ delegates at the AFT convention, maybe 40 walked out in protest. Several of them were your ICE/GEM friends who were not there as elected delegates but still somehow managed to finagle their way in posing as visitors with other locals.

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the video tape you provided is priceless. Watch it. That's not your hated UFT delegates leading the cheers. It's 3,000 delegates from various locals all over the country unhappy with the lack of professionalism. Look at the various union identifications they are wearing. They are clearly visible.

    Why did you neglect to mention the emotional pleas before the protest from the Washington State AFT President about not embarrassing her in her home state? Others echoed her comments. Not one of them was from NYC.

    Why not write an expose on how your fellow ICE/GEMers managed to get on the floor when they were not elected delegates? How did Lisa North and Gloria Brandman manage to legitimately get on the AFT convention floor?

    Why not mention the interruptions during educational, political, and international resolutions from a handful of people which stopped debate on important policy to make juvenile anti-Gates comments? Why not mention how they were booed by 3000+ elected delegates?

    Finally, why is there no mention of Yvette Felarca's role in the protest? Felarca tried to rally people to join the Gates protest before the previous session ended. The 3,000 delegates swatted her attempt like a fly. She then ran against Randi for the AFT presidency and lost big time. Randi received 95% of the vote. The UFT delegates alone could not have provided that landslide victory. Clearly others voted for her as well.

    Maybe your perspective is just skewed and wrong.
  8. In case you don't get it - ed notes is BIASED. Just like you Unity slugs have your version of alternate reality.

    Sure, I'll tell the truth just like the NY Teacher does. 

    So I put up a video that tells the truth even according to you.

    After 30 plus years of going to conventions you should full well know that visitors are allowed on the floor. Gloria and Lisa registered legally.

    And many anti-Gates appearance people did not walk out - most of the Chicago delegates were opposed but did respect - they just sat there and didn't applaud - probably you'll attack them for not singing na-na.
  9. Thanks for that video... his suck-up verbiage made the talk seem a little conciliatory to me. I wonder how many remained in the hall out of curiosity to see what he would say. If I had been there, I would've definitely been interested in how he would address a room full of teachers, especially after placing us in the same category as malaria and AIDS. Judging by this video, he seems to be a fairly vapid speaker. I think I would have been unimpressed. He made me think of Arne Duncan. For a guy with a lot of power, he comes off like a meal worm.

    I wonder how many of those 3000 cheering teachers work in the suburbs and are clueless about current education policy and politics. When I talk to my counterparts at more affluent schools, they seem to occupy a parallel universe. It's pretty amazing.
Those mindlessly loyal morons supporting and cheering Gates at Randi's behest---and yelling "Nah nah nah-nah, hey, hey, hey, Goodbye" when the anti-Gates protesters were being ejected from the auditorium---were made up of retired or soon-to-be-retired teachers.  Well guess how Bill Gates thanked them for their support later that week?  He gave a speech condemning those same retired/soon-to-be retired teachers as greedy and selfish for sucking down excessive and undeserved pensions, and those teachers selfishly take that money that could have gone to schools.   That's Bill Gates' way of thanking them for cheering him.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Ding Dong - NYS Ed Comm Elia Resigning - Via Ravitch

New York Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is resigning at the end of August. No reason given.... Ravitch
Our union's buddy is leaving. Remember how they loved her and Bill Gates at the AFT convention in Seattle in 2010 and how they backed her for the state ed job? Arthur has been savaging the state ed dept under her reign: NYSED and ESL--Stupid Is as Stupid Does.

I think Arthur did it.

And Leonie too:
NYSED attempts to radically weaken NY Student privacy law to allow for the selling of student data
And NYState Opt Out Leader Jeanette Deuterman

More from Leonie: 
My brief thoughts on Elia's sudden resignation

 Here is the Ravitch post.

The news just broke on Twitter and on Orthodox Jewish websites.
New York Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is resigning  at the end of August. No reason given.
She was a champion of testing, Common Core, and sanctions for parents to dared to opt out of state testing.

Breaking News! NY Commissioner Elia Resigning

by dianeravitch


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Fifty Years Ago - Man on the Moon - and Me in Paris

Fifty years ago coming up on July 20 I had just begun my first trip abroad, alone lugging my too big and overstuffed suitcase and my Europe on $5 a day book, a momentous personal event in my life that was my personal equivalent of a walk on the moon. (Truly, a trip like this was as likely for me as a walk on the moon.) As a big fan of the space program, I had to find a place to see the first walk on the moon. 

I was in Paris, the first stop of a 6 week trip - at that point I had no real idea how long I would be there or where I would go next. When I landed on a UFT charter flight full of NYC teachers and their families, I was scared to death.

I had completed my 2nd year of teaching -- the 1968-69 school year and it was a momentous year for the UFT and the NYC school system with a massive impact that is still felt today. It also was a momentous year personally.

Most of the early part of the year had been wiped out by three teacher strikes over the community control issue related to the demands from the Brownsville Brooklyn community board over transferring teachers whom the community considered unfriendly to the experiment. Most schools in the city were closed, except for Brownsville and pockets where radical teachers and parent supporters opened up the schools. When the strike ended sometime in November, make-up time was added to each day in addition to the loss of holidays, including most of the Xmas vacation. I think we worked from 8AM until 3:15 until sometime in May.

I was still an ATR even into the 2nd year at the same school (the principal had let me go but I was sent back there -- he thought I was a terrible teacher - and didn't want me in a class. But he left after the strike and the new principal liked me and when a teacher left in January (an NYU law student who got some kind of deferment) I asked for his class - the AP in charge was livid and didn't want me. But I threw everything I had into it and won him and everyone else over by the end of the year -- those months between February and June made me into a teacher. And I was feeling pretty hotsy totsy and full of myself -- I never would have attempted a trip like this alone without having gained enormous confidence from this teaching experience.

So I was ready for an adventure when school ended. Many of my colleagues were heading for Europe on cheap UFT sponsored charter flights. I had never traveled alone - or even traveled much at all and tried to convince a friend to go but he didn't want to so faced with the choice of staying home (I still lived with my parents in Canarsie) I signed up for a 6 week trip landing in Paris and leaving from London. What an adventure - and it changed my life.

I had been an avid follower of the space program since the late 50s -- I really wanted to go into space. Realizing that the landing on the moon would happen my 4th day in Paris, and the first walk would take place early in the morning Paris time, I had to find a TV. I read that the Museum of Natural History would have a screen set up, that was my destination but the Paris subways were closed at night. But I think they opened up around 5 AM and I was able to get to the museum where I found a massive amount of tourists who had the same idea. We had to hang out for an hour or so and I remember meeting a student from Germany for that hour - you became best friends for an hour or so - once we got in we lost each other and I never saw him again.

The conditions were not optimal and I couldn't hear what Armstrong said and had to ask someone to repeat it. People hung out for a bit but the crowd dissipated and everyone went off to find a place for breakfast. I was too busy and out of touch to follow the rest of the saga and trip home. I returned in late August (with a mustache) as a different person than I was 6 weeks before - a life changing experience that began with finding a museum in Paris to see a man walk on the moon.

Read all about it:

Apollo 11: 'The greatest single broadcast in television history'


Saturday, July 13, 2019

BMORE/CEDE Caucuses declared winners in Baltimore by AFT

Two social justice caucuses united to win the Baltimore election against an 8 term incumbent.
Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators Baltimore Caucus of Educators for Democracy and Equity

I reported on the election:
BMORE is affiliated with UCORE, the national social justice network of union activists. MORE is a charter member but BMORE decided not to be like MORE and actually ran to win and aligned with another group to do so, unlike MORE here in NYC which fundamentally destroyed the opposition to Unity here in NYC.

Frankly, I didn't expect this outcome but it indicates that Randi is covering her flank from the left social justice caucuses inside the AFT. It certainly helps that there in no threat from a social justice caucus in New York to the Unity machine, which is the key element in the entire AFT/NYSUT/UFT structure. In this report Antonucci predicts come stormy weather ahead since Randi ally and eight-term incumbent Marietta English had her appeal rejected. 
“This decision does an injustice to our union,” said English.

Get it how the AFT machine works -- you fall in line or get dumped. (See former NYSUT leadership). English is still president of AFT Maryland and if she causes trouble she might find herself out of that job.

Antonucci reports:

It’s Official: Baltimore Teachers Union Has a New President

The American Federation of Teachers ruled that the disputed election for the presidency and executive board of the Baltimore Teachers Union would stand. Challenger Diamonté Brown will take over as president of the 7,000-member union, replacing eight-term incumbent Marietta English.

“This decision does an injustice to our union,” said English.
AFT judged that while some minor violations had taken place, “We cannot conclude that this activity could have affected the election.”
The election may be settled, but trouble still looms for the union. Brown’s slate controls the teacher positions on the executive board, while English’s slate holds all the paraprofessional seats.

English also remains president of AFT Maryland, which portends a lot of internecine squabbling in the near future.

Baltimore Sun

After election review, Diamonté Brown poised to be confirmed as new president of the Baltimore Teachers Union

An investigation into the Baltimore Teachers Union election found that a few members of the newly elected president’s caucus used some school resources to promote the campaign, but ruled the violations were “minor” and didn’t change the results.
The American Federal of Teachers affirmed Diamonté Brown as the winner on Thursday, rejecting losing candidate Marietta English’s challenge and petition to hold a new election. The AFT report, obtained by The Baltimore Sun, cited violations by the Union We Deserve caucus, which Brown is a part of, such as using employer email and facilities for campaign purposes.
In one instance, the report said, a member of Brown’s caucus sent out a notice promoting a union campaign event on her school email. The AFT report also found the that Brown’s caucus sponsored two events on school property. The third violation involved two delegates of Brown’s caucus participating as an observer in the balloting process.
“While the [the Union We Deserve] caucus did commit violations of the election rules,” the report said, “we find that these violations did not affect the outcome of the election.”
The AFT concluded that, “these violations appear minor in their scope."
The report marks an end to a contentious election season between Brown and the incumbent, English, who has held the position for more than 20 years.
English issued a statement before the results were officially announced and called the decision to not pursue a re-election “an injustice to our union.” She said the AFT report “clearly lays out that egregious violations took place during the election process and I strongly disagree with the conclusion that even with these violations a new election would not be held."
English lost the election held in May by a vote of 901 to 839. At the time, she claimed the election was riddled with rules violations and said she could not concede.
In May, the Progressive caucus, which English is part of, wrote to the BTU Nominations and Elections Committee, accusing Brown’s caucus of election misconduct.
The letter included a number of complaints, but only a few were found to be violations in the AFT’s final investigation. The AFT concluded that the other accusations, such as early campaigning, criticizing other candidates and house visits were all permitted under the AFT and BTU constitutions.

When asked about how this election would affect her relationship with English, Brown said, “We have a good relationship, and I hope to continue to work with her.”
Brown will lead a divided union. The executive board is split between teachers and paraprofessionals. Her slate captured the majority of teacher positions, but the English Slate took all the paraprofessional spots, according to the preliminary results. The English Slate’s teacher candidates are all also challenging the election results.
“There have been a number of challenges to the election process with each side demanding fairness,” Brown said at a news conference Thursday, “and the challenges reaffirm that we are committed to the democratic process.
“Now we will work together to advance members’ interest,” Brown said.
As the new president, Brown told The Baltimore Sun, her top goals will be to increase membership engagement, fight for equity and increase partnerships between the teaching professions, such as teachers and paraprofessionals.
Brown said her first action will be to speak with the entire paraprofessional slate one-on-one to “listen to what they have to say and use that to guide us toward being a united front.”
“Even if we’re not on the same page, everyone deserves to be heard,” she said earlier this spring. “I don’t think people have to be on the same page to get work done. Everyone has the same goal” of bettering the lives of teachers, students and families.

Friday, July 12, 2019

School Scope: On Democracy and the Queens DA Race

Here is my latest for The WAVE- July 12, 2019 -- I wrote it on Tuesday so it may not make it into this edition. The Queens DA race has received extensive media coverage because it reflects the internal battle in the Democratic Party between the machine and the new kid in town, DSA activists on the left, an interesting shift from the socialist left which had viewed the Dem Party as little different from the Republicans and not worth the effort. Many still think that way and they will force that debate to be ongoing in DSA, with things coming to a head at their upcoming convention in Atlanta in August. More on the left and the Dems in followups.

School Scope:  On Democracy and the Queens DA Race
By Norm Scott, July 9, 2019

I’ve been posing the Queens DA race as a test case with national implications for the future direction of the Democratic Party. In some ways I see this internal battle as having equal if not greater impact than the 2020 presidential race. (Give me a smack in the head the next time you see me.)

The Democratic Party machine, where our local pols reside, supports Katz. The Cabán coalition, based on the northwest quadrant of Queens, which is one of the most diverse communities in the nation, is supported by activists from all areas of the progressive wing of the party, but the muscle is provided by the Democratic Socialists (DSA), which has been building local chapters throughout the city to challenge selected races on the local, state and selected Congressional levels. (The latest will be NYC principal Jamaal Bowman’s primary effort against longtime Congressman Eliot Engle in the 2020 congressional election in the Bronx:

One interesting angle here is that the black leadership in Queens, led by Dem County Chairman and Congressman Gregory Meeks, supports Katz. Meeks is not on the progressive wing. Does the black community, which seemed to go for Katz, automatically follow their leaders? Or is there more to it than that – a generally more conservative bent on a number of issues? (Don’t forget the influence of the church). There are rumors that the real Queens boss is still Joe Crowley who was defeated by AOC. Oh, how delicious politics can be --- better than the NBA free agent wars.

As I write this on July 9, Katz leads Cabán by 16 votes, an outcome that some political pros and the media thought very unlikely given Cabán’s initial lead of over 1100 because it was expected that the absentee ballots would be split among the 7 candidates in roughly the same proportion as other votes. Not. Katz took the majority of these votes by a landslide, which seemed to surprise people. Most of the votes of affidavit voters – people who did not show up on the local enrollment lists – were disallowed, which is the basis of the current struggle. I received many requests from the DSA folks who were looking for people to come down as observers. The Dem machine already has people who do that. Both sides chipped in:

“We’re here today because we want to support this Democratic process,” Meeks said. “We want every valid vote counted!” Added Cabán’s attorney, Jerry Goldfeder, “I think both sides recognize the importance of every registered voter and eligible Democrat to have his or her vote counted.”

Jerry is an old friend and one of the leading lawyers on elections – he was also Phil Goldfeder’s (no relation) lawyer, so he has links to the Democratic machine. How interesting that he lines up with Cabán and seems to be supporting Pete Buttigieg in the presidential race.

NY Times Editorial Board headline: One Lesson From the Katz-Cabán Recount - New York still needs more election reform. It is worth reading and also asking our local pols where they stand on election reforms:

While the left/progressives celebrated the initial Cabán victory, there is a reality: that if there were a runoff between the two leading vote getters, Katz would gather the bulk of the other candidates’ votes, showing that Queens, other than the northwest quadrant, is far from jumping onto the left bandwagon. Even though I lean that way and voted for Cabán, I will continue to report from the real world.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Analysis: UFT VP Evelyn DeJesus Becomes Randi Second in Command at AFT

The appointment by Randi - er, "election" of UFT VP Evelyn DeJesus as Executive VP of the AFT puts Evelyn in position to succeed Randi Weingarten should Randi decide to pursue and win becoming head of the AFL-CIO if she challenges Richard Trumpka. I addressed the successor issue on Ed Notes:  

May 16, 2019 - Is Randi After Trumpka's Job? Would that make Mulgrew AFT President? No Way I say.

And "No way for Mulgrew" it will be.

Evelyn, who I've always found amenable and likeable, has clearly been a rising star inside the UFT, zooming from district rep in a relatively short time. She showed her worth by playing a big role in converting former critics of the leadership who had left MORE into allies which also helped undermine the opposition.

Watching power structure changes inside the Randi empire is like trying to penetrate the Kremlin, though I have often said that Putin aspires to be as successful as the Unity Caucus machine. Remember Michelle Bodden who was supposedly Randi's successor but was kicked over to running the UFT charter school? It was never a good idea to be more popular than Randi.

The power structure in the American Federation of Teachers has been clearly defined since Al Shanker took control of the AFT in 1974 when he used the dominance of the UFT within the AFT as a path to power. Shanker held onto the UFT presidency though 1985 (along with the Executive VP of NYSUT). We used to speculate about his successor for a decade with one after another (remember Herb Magidson) rising and falling until he settled on the obvious choice of Sandy Feldman. Around the time she took over the UFT in the mid-80s, it was clear that Shanker and Feldman were beginning to think of a succession plan and began to groom a lawyer instead of a teacher with the appearance of Randi Weingarten in the late 80s who within a short time was being set up to take over for Sandy, especially once Shanker came down with cancer. (My Unity CL was telling me in 1990 about Sandy's successor. So when you hear about "elections" you know the real deal.

Sandy's tenure was also cut short by cancer and that accelerated successor plans. When she died, Randi wasn't yet ready to leave since she had not yet groomed a clear successor in the UFT. So a placeholder head of the AFT was found for 4 years while Randi groomed Mulgrew.

But Randi is clearly not following the plan of a 45 year path of power directly from UFT to AFT presidency with the DeJesus appointment by skipping over Mulgrew, who even Unity insiders do not think would be up to that job -- clues were how little of a role Mulgrew played at AFT conventions.

A few years ago Randi seemed to tap a successor in a dynamic
progressive  union leader from St. Paul, Mary Catherine Ricker for the AFT Ex. VP position. But Ricker took the job of Minnesota education commissioner, apparently fed up with waiting for Randi to leave - or else she got the message that she herself was a placeholder for someone from the UFT/Unity machine -- apparently they don't trust an outsider to be handed the reigns of power. They found that out in NYSUT when the leadership went rogue a few years ago and the machine had to install Andy Pallota, a Unity Caucus apparatchik, as president. The NYC Unity machine is not enough to guarantee holding onto the AFT without the power of the NY State Unity machine in tow -- NY makes up around 40% of the AFT.

Still, would I bet on Evelyn being Randi's successor at the AFT or is she yet another placeholder for someone else? Who knows?

Would Randi et al trust a non-UFT/Unity person in that position?

Are there others in the Unity machine being groomed? Watch the people rising on the UFT Ex Bd (There's a lot of talk about Mike Sill) and see who are being given prominent roles at the AFT 2020 convention in Houston, which I just may attend with my former MORE buddies Mike, Arthur and Mindy who were elected with Unity, (wouldn't one want to question what states our union wants to give its business to?)

As for Mulgrew leaving the UFT, I don't see that happening, (Leroy Barr is considered an heir apparent by some though with a union 70% women, I would think a woman would be in line -- but who? I have some ideas but am not sharing).  I don't think Mulgrew would even want the AFT presidency. He seems to enjoy being UFT president with no overriding ambition beyond that but that is on the surface. I don't know him at all.

Here's the report from the AFT:

UFT Vice President Evelyn DeJesus Elected Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers
First Latina to serve in the Union’s Top Leadership

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Can Principals who harass teachers to death be charged with murder? See France

Weeks of wrenching testimony about despairing employees who hanged themselves, immolated themselves, or threw themselves out of windows, under trains and off bridges and highway overpasses, have suggested that the former executives went very far in “pushing the company into the new century,” as corporate strategy dictated.....executives resolved to make life so unbearable that the workers would leave, prosecutors say. Instead, at least 35 employees — workers’ advocates say nearly double that number — committed suicide, feeling trapped, betrayed and despairing of ever finding new work in France’s immobile labor market.
Remember stories of vicious principals from the Leadership Academy coming into schools to wipe out senior, tenured staffs? Stories of sending an older teacher with a bad leg to a top floor? We've heard of teachers who died and colleagues blamed the harassment. Here is a story in today's NY Times about executives who created hell for employees who committed suicide being charged with murder. I once compared the BloomKlein crew with the mentality of the Taliban.


23 hours ago - The workers were state employees — employees for life — and therefore protected. ... It is the first time that French bosses, caught in the vise of France's ... culture, and may help answer a question that haunts the French as they .... 1 of the New York edition with the headline: French Confront A Work Culture.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Memo from the RTC: Newsies Opens July 19 and The Picasso of RTC

Memo from the RTC:  Newsies Opens July 19 and The Picasso of RTC
By Norm Scott

Another spectacular Rockaway Theatre Company summer musical is upon us with next week’s opening of Newsies, with a cast of thousands, directed and choreographed by Gabrielle Mangano who has been an RTC mainstay since her teens. This is a first for her as a director and as a member of the cast I have been very impressed with her command, her vision, her dedication, her sure touch and as important as anything, her relationship to the cast, many of whom are quite young and almost all of young men. This is unusual for community theater to do a successful male dominated dance-loaded musical since it is not always easy finding enough young men who can dance well. But Gabby has managed to hit the jackpot. Her being a teacher herself has certainly helped. In fact, I believe a lot of the success of the RTC for over two decades has been due to the involvement of so many educators.

Newsies is about very poor kids and young adults who sell newspapers on the street. Publishers led by Joseph Pulitzer raise prices. They go on strike, form a union, are beaten by the goons and police but ultimately win the strike after their leader, Jack Kelly, impresses NY State Governor Teddy Roosevelt, and a beautiful reporter. There’s a lot more politics embedded in the show than I thought there would be. And there’s romance too. And some great music  - it is a musical after all.

Newsboys need printing press to support their strike
Evolution of the printing press

The other day, Tony Homsey, master builder at the RTC, informed the set construction crew that we had to build an 1899 vintage printing press of considerable size. Renting one would cost over a grand. I have so little imagination I couldn’t see how Tony was going to manage to build such a replica. Simple – he started with an idea of a stripped down beach chair and built out from there. Amazing how Tony could envision a printer out of an aluminum beach chair. With the assistance of Cliff Hesse, they built a work of art that I hope outlasts the show. I was reminded of the famous Picasso sculpture where he took the handlebars and seat of a bicycle and created the head of a bull. That’s genius and we have our own Picasso at the RTC in Tony.

Performances of Newsies: July 19, 20, 26, 27/Aug 2, 3 at 8PM. Matinees July 21, 28, Aug. 4 t 2 PM. Tickets – Adults $25, Seniors/children $20.

Franky and Johnny at the Clair de Bensonhurst
Speaking of key RTC people, John Panepinto, who has had leading and support roles in many productions over the past 8 years and will be joining the uber talented Frank Caiati as the assistant director of Gatsby. They also teamed up to produce a podcast. They are funny and astute. I will be attending one of their podcasts soon and will be back with some photos. Here are some fundamentals from John.

John sent this blurb: We are a group of Brooklyn natives (and one Queens) who decided they wanted to learn more about the people around them. The show is recorded and produced in the heart of Bensonhurst, a staple of "Old Brooklyn." The guests range from local everyday workers like a doctor, a soldier or a lawyer to Brooklyn celebrities. They are always looking for more guests and also hope to be learn even more about average every day people doing average (important) things.
The Nothing Podcast
Hosts: John Panepinto and Frank Caiati
With: Danielle Rose Fisher, Matt Hunt, Joseph Hagopian and Tom Zaccheo
Facebook: The Nothing Podcast With Nobody Important

Norm blogs daily at