Wednesday, January 30, 2019

NY State Leg: ZERO for teachers

A rant from a friend about the UFT and its legislative friends and governor.
This is the main part of the NYS legislative season.The UFT gave him the entire left-wing of the state party. They gave him the WFP. They hosted the damn meeting where unions were told to stop supporting WFP. And what has the union asked for in return?
NOTHING! Not one perk. No beef up of pensions. No relief of teacher certification. No commitment to help with medical benefits. Nothing

Right now, there are 2534 pending pieces of legislation before the NYS Assembly. Pension perks for retired cops like gangbusters!! HORSES who are retired from service will be getting extended rights.
ZERO for teachers. Just this eval law (that, frankly, any smart pol would support anyway).

Click the link. Hit "search". See for yourself.


I don't even give my own wife and kid that much for nothing.

LA Contract Updates - View from the left with Jeff Bryant and the right with Mike Antonucci

[LA teachers] tell you they want to curb charter school growth, not because it threatens their union, but because charters threaten the very survival of public schools. Latona teachers I spoke with described competition from surrounding charter schools as an existential threat to their school and an undermining influence on the public system.... Jeff Bryant
UTLA created a graphic to promote its achievement of reducing secondary English and math classes from a maximum of 46 to 39. “This is effective immediately,” it says. But that provision also belongs to the new contract and won’t apply until next school year. Teachers with 46 students will still have 46 students until then.Whether the contract is a good or bad deal for one side or the other is a value judgment that is now moot. Both sides agreed to it, and now we all will have to enjoy or live with the result. UTLA members last week ratified the agreement, and the school board unanimously voted to ratify it Tuesday afternoon. Behind the broad claims of what the contract does are some facts that haven’t been clearly highlighted in the reporting. For example, there are actually two tentative agreements. .... Mike Antonucci, LA School Report (Part of the anti-union 74
While we see glowing reports of the victory in LA it is always good to get a variety of perspectives. We know the purpose of the 74 crowd -- the make the victory look like less than it was -- but we also have to be willing to take hard looks. But look through the lines of Antonucci posts for signs of shading. On the whole though his view is worth keeping in mind.

I'm interested in the charter angle and I'm surprised that people don't bring up the important fact that charters undermine the neighborhood schools, especially a key ingredient of stability, the elementary school and a regional middle school. Even high schools here in NYC used to be neighborhood based. [NOTE: Last night I attended and taped part of the District 15 CEC Vote on Pause for Charters where a reso to curb the growth of charter schools was passed.]

I've never been a big fan of Dana Goldstein, who used to write for the Nation and now is a national education reporter for the NY Times. Yesterday's report on the LA strike and charter schools had so many charter slugs' comments and avoided some of the real issues with charter schools:
I did like Jennifer Medina when she covered local ed for the Times.
Today, Goldstein has a personal piece with some comments about LA president Alex Caputo-Pearl and touches in his being in the first Teach for America class - something never mentioned and I think pertinent because he has turned against so much of what they stand for.
Jeff Bryant has been uncovering ed deform for years and here he focuses on the charter school issue in the strike.

LA Teachers on Charter Schools:  LA teachers make the case that charter schools are an existential threat to public education

Truth is, the financials of charter schools have never added up.
I spoke with teachers on the picket lines during the Los Angeles teacher strike about why they made curbing charter schools part of their demands...
The left press on the whole is raving about the magnificent victory - see ISO view in Socialist Worker by Gillian Russom - written the night of the settlement and she didn't have time to peruse the contract in depth.

My right wing buddy Mike Antonucci, who writes for the despicable 74 and its front LA School Report, dilutes the victory. But as always, Mike uncovers some interesting issues.

Antonucci: Things you might not know about the Los Angeles teacher contract

Mike Antonucci | January 29, 2019


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

OT/PT contract vote with less than 48 hours notice, only one day of voting, and at only five locations citywide!

From a retired chapter leader

I thought you might be interested in seeing this text that just came my way via an in-service CL friend.

OT/PT contract vote with less than 48 hours notice, only one day of voting, and at only five locations citywide! (Not to mention the strictly chump-change "improvements.") When it comes to voter suppression, Georgia, Florida, and Texas have nothing on the pros at the UFT!

Here is the UFT missive hailing another round for democracy in the UFT. 

LA Teacher Strike Cools Embrace of Charters - NYT Plus Norm in The WAVE

I had just sent in my story for this week's WAVE when I picked up the NYT and saw this:
 Carrying protest signs, thousands of teachers and their allies converged last month on the shimmering contemporary art museum in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Clad in red, they denounced “billionaire privatizers” and the museum’s patron, Eli Broad. The march was a preview of the attacks the union would unleash during the teachers’ strike, which ended last week.
As one of the biggest backers of charter schools, Mr. Broad helped make them a fashionable and potent cause in Los Angeles, drawing support from business leaders like Reed Hastings, the co-founder of Netflix; Hollywood executives; and lawmakers to create a wide network of more than 220 schools.
Mr. Broad was so bullish about the future of charter schools just a few years ago that he even floated a plan to move roughly half of Los Angeles schoolchildren — more than 250,000 students — into such schools. In 2017, he funneled millions of dollars to successfully elect candidates for the Board of Education who would back charters, an alternative to traditional public schools that are publicly funded but privately run.
His prominence has also turned him into a villain in the eyes of the teachers’ union. Now Mr. Broad and supporters like him are back on their heels in Los Angeles and across the country. NYT 
Front page of the Times doesn't tell the full story - like all the charter scandals. But it does show how an aggressive union leadership can help turn the tide. Have you seen any signs of that here in the UFT?

Here is my story for the Feb. 1 edition of The WAVE:

School Scope:  Teachers Go Wild with Strikes in Virginia, Denver, Los Angeles,  and a Wildcat in Oakland
By Norm Scott
January 28, 2019

Teacher strike fever has struck the nation. Last year we saw the anti-union Trump red state strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky. Teachers revolted, not only against the Republican state legislatures and governors, but against their own union leaderships that often urge caution. This week thousands of teachers in Virginia left their classrooms to march in a rally at the capitol. Virginia Educators United, a grassroots campaign formed by educators, parents and members of the community, organized the rally on Monday. The movement has spread to blue states where stronger union leaderships have taken leadership. Denver teachers are going on strike. Teachers are getting the message that going it alone as a union without outside support is a losing proposition. Pay has been a key factor, one reason we won’t see similar actions here in the UFT.

United Teachers, Los Angeles (UTLA) strike Ends -  Charter Schools Curbs on the Agenda
In Los Angeles, the pay issue seemed to take second place – both sides agreed on a roughly 6% raise. Contrary to what has happened here in NYC where the opposition to Unity Caucus’ domination of the UFT has been in disarray, in 2014, a group of teachers in LA came together under the banner of “Union Power” an amalgam of various groups and independents and won the election under the leadership of Alex Caputo-Pearl. I first met Alex about 10 years ago when he was a high school teacher and also an elected member of the UTLA Executive Board and it was clear he had a strong vision that went far beyond narrow trade unionism. (See NYT:

Caputo-Pearl and his team began preparing the membership for a strike from the day he took office, with 99% of the teachers supporting a strike. They built alliances with parent and community groups by not only emphasizing raises but also calling for drastic class size reductions and more support personnel like librarians, school nurses and guidance counselors. And through these tactics, they seem to have won a great victory.

The elected school board in LA has been under the control of the pro-charter billionaire boys club led by Eli Broad and they have installed hedge fund managers instead of educators to run the schools, with a pro-charter bent. Broad tried to push through an initiative to turn half the schools into charters. Broad wasn’t successful in trying to undermine public education, but hasn’t given up. Charters get support as a way break teacher unions, as has been done in New Orleans which no longer has any public schools. The UTLA’s call for a moratorium on charters got some results, at the very least putting a discussion in the public sphere.

[Speaking of charter moratoriums, here in NYC some district community education councils are taking stands against charter expansion in their district. Tonight I’m going to the District 15 CEC meeting (Park Slope and Sunset Park) where such a resolution is on the table.]

The media, other than the right wing Fox types, has been mostly friendly to teachers over their recent struggles. What is interesting is that LA is a the first big city strike since Chicago in 2012 started the strike fever and California is a blue state totally controlled by Democrats, many of whom have also been charter friendly. My litmus test for any candidate running for president is whether they showed up on the UTLA picket lines or offered support, threatening contributions from pro-charter hedge hogs. 

Let’s see how many candidates in the upcoming Public Advocate campaign take a pro-union, anti-charter stand. The WAVE is taking this election seriously and doing some great work. I will be perusing the interviews with the candidates for where they stand on the big education issues of the day.

Norm is one of the few people in NYC not running for public advocate but check his blog,, in case he changes his mind.

Today: District 15 CEC to Vote on Pause for Charters

Jan. 29, 2019
For those not aware, each of the 32 local school districts in NYC have a school board - of sorts - called Community Education Councils and they meet every month in mostly sparsely attended meetings and have almost no power - but when the CEC's take strong stands on charters it is another chip. Tonight one of the most progressive district - 15 - Park Slope and Sunset Park - will be asked to take a stand on charters by D15 Parents for Middle School Equity. I hope to be there to record it.

Support CEC15's "Pause" on Charters 

The District 15 Community Education Council (CEC15) has drafted an important and timely resolution opposing any increase to the number of Charter schools in in New York City or New York State.

D15 Parents for Middle School Equity strongly supports CEC15’s resolution which proposes a 5-year moratorium on any new Charters in New York City and the completion of a system-wide impact evaluation of Charters on our public schools.

New York City already houses 71% of the Charter schools in NYS. No further Charter growth should be approved without an evaluation of the impact of Charter schools on our traditional public schools - those run with public oversight. This resolution is not anti-Charter; it is simply a pause on any increase in Charters to ensure that traditional and Charter schools are working together and making progress for all our children.

Review the full text of the draft resolution and send comments in support to:

A final public vote on the draft resolution will be held:
          Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 6:30 pm
          PS 131
          4305 Fort Hamilton Parkway

It is important that District 15 families and educators attend Tuesday’s CEC15 meeting and show our support for this important resolution.

Please share information on this meeting and this resolution with your community.

D15 Parents for Middle School Equity

Monday, January 28, 2019

School Scope: UFT Election Season Opens

School Scope: UFT Election Season Opens

By Norm Scott
The WAVE - published in print edition January 25, 2019 (originally submitted Jan. 19, 2019).

This week is the formal opening of the United Federation of Teachers three month election season with a month long petitioning campaign. Final vote count will be on April 17. With over 120,000 active members and 60,000 retirees, the UFT is the largest union local in the nation. Within the UFT are political parties – caucuses. Unity Caucus has dominated and controlled the UFT since its inception in the early 60s. Over that time a variety of caucuses have risen up to challenge Unity. Over the past three decades opposition groups have only made headway in the high schools, which one or a combination of caucuses have won.

In the 2016 election I was one of the organizers for the MORE/New Action slate and we won the seven high school executive board seats out of the 100 total. It was a dent. There are almost 20,000 high school teachers but less than 5,000 voted. In fact, the turnout for UFT elections is very low – maybe 30%. Retirees can vote and they turn out in greater numbers and vote over 85% for Unity – what do retirees have to be unhappy about? I am always in the 15% minority. The retiree bump assures Unity of winning by a landslide every time so most people don’t bother to vote. In 2016, the entire opposition vote came to about 12,000.

In the 2019 election none of the three caucuses, New Action, Solidarity and MORE could come together and so they will be all running separate slates of about 40-50 people each, thus making it impossible to win even the high schools. In 2016 we had 300 people run on the MORE/New Action slate. I think it makes little sense to run in an election with no chance to win anything with a divided vote. I’m going to urge people to protest by writing on the ballot something like “United Fightback” as a call to all groups to come together in the future.

I doubt that will happen and am considering ending my five decade long fight to challenge Unity control.

Norm takes no charter money, or prisoners, at his blog,

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Weekend Update: A Birthday, a Wedding, Travel Fantasies and More Coming Today

I'm writing this Sunday morning at 6 AM - I've been up for a few hours after having fallen asleep at 9:30 last night. I've got a hot yoga class at 7:30, followed by an acting class at the Rockaway Theatre Company at 10, followed by me recording the performance of the Wizard of Oz by the kids at the theater at 2 PM. After that I can get back to my normal couch potato routine.

Let me tall you about my day Friday and Saturday. My wife's birthday was on Friday and it's her call as to what she wants to do. As part of our attempt to see the major Academy Award nominated films, we went into the city to see Melissa McCarthy's "Can You Ever Forgive Me," which was wonderful.

[Wednesday afternoon we drove out to Lynbrook to see Bohemian Rhapsody -- my wife loves Queen --- and the performance by Rami Malek will probably win him an Academy Award. (I wrote the other day about his twin brother Sami who is an LA teacher.)]

Just as wonderful was that we could walk from our apartment to the multiplex in Kips Bay and back to rest for an hour before taking the subway one stop to the Gramercy Tavern on East 20th St - and how much fun was it to pass by the old UFT building at 260 Park Ave South which now has a nail salon where the front entrance used to be. So appropriate.

Well, we had a fabulous meal with great drinks and we staggered out to take the subway back -- last year were sober enough to walk.

Saturday - NY Times Travel Show and Mindy's Wedding reception

My friend Gloria had told me she was going to this much advertised show at the Javits Center, which I hadn't been paying attention to and she gave me a code for a Groupon. I saw Pauline Frommer was giving a talk at 11 - I was a disciple of her dad Arthur Frommers' Europe on $5 a day which was my bible on my first trip to Europe in the summer of 1969 - when the UFT by the way offered hundreds of cheap charter flights to Europe for a few years. Besides, Mindy's wedding reception was a short walk away at 3PM so this day was a win-win.
Hangin' With the Frommers

Her talk was very useful for tips on traveling, but the bonus was meeting her dad who is approaching 90 at the book signing - I bought 3 - River cruises, Iceland and Portugal. His Europe on $5 a day was my bible on my first trip to Europe in the summer of 1969 - on a UFT charter flight by the way -- they offered hundreds of flights in the late 60s/early 70s - quite an achievement for our union then.

After meeting Arthur and getting the books signed, I was floating around when my wife, who had gone back to Rockaway, called that her favorite TV personality, Phil Rosenthal, was giving a talk with chef Joan Nathan at The Taste of the World exhibit, which took me some time to find. She loves Phil because on his travels (on Netflix) he does foody stuff with great humor. And she was right -- he is very funny and meshed well with Julie Nathan who was cooking some tomato dish.

Phil was selling tee-shirts for charity and Joan as selling her new book on Jewish cooking, so I bought a book and Joan signed it and a tee for Carol and Phil signed it and took a photo with me - and wasn't Carol sorry she didn't go with me.

After that I had some time before heading over to Mindy's wedding reception, so I checked out all we can see in NY State -- quite a lot - and I want to do more local traveling. But we also want to go to Scotland and when I saw a guy in a kilt, I knew I had the right booth. Our great friends, the late Loretta and Gene Prisco's granddaughter is going to school in Scotland in the fall and here is an excuse to go visit.

On my way to Mindy's

Mindy and Corey's wedding reception
Well, by this time I was so loaded up with stuff, I could barely lift it all and I had to walk almost a mile to Mindy's party on West 26 St.
Mindy has become such a major figure in certain circles she has the status of using only her first name -- but now her last name is Rosier-Rayburn.

I'm not going to get into all the details of what makes Mindy so special that she attracted an enormous variety of people to this event - from the UFT, her school, her Democratic party political work - How nice to see the great lawyer Arthur Schwartz say that there was an event for Bernie being planned for that date but because Mindy is so important to so many people, they changed the date. Mindy was a Bernie delegate in 2016 and one of the first people to jump on board his campaign among UFTers -- except Mindy actually does something about things instead of just talking about it.
Arthur Schwartz pays tribute to Mindy and Corey

Mindy and a few of her pals

Well, it was so wonderful to see all the tributes floating Mindy and Corey's way. There were Dem party political operatives who just adore her for her work. I heard even Mulgrew and wife sent something.

In a follow-up I will talk about Mindy's abandoning MORE and running with Unity in this election and speculate why MORE has lost so many progressives to Unity.

Well, it's off to hot yoga and another exiting day in NormScottland.

The Tyranny of the Majority - When More Democracy Isn’t More Democratic - NYT

Around the world, rising populists and angry electorates are putting pressure, sometimes deliberately, on what Mr. Levitsky called democracy’s “two conflicting imperatives: majority rule and liberalism.” That contradiction “is as old as liberal democracy itself,” said Steven Levitsky, a Harvard University political scientist. That vision of democracy as rule by the people persists, still heard in classrooms and in campaign rallies, where citizens are told that their authority is paramount. It has set up voters for shock and outrage when they discover, time and again, that they are not as powerful as they’d thought. The checks imposed on popular will can feel like democracy failing — though it’s actually the system working as intended — provoking angry backlashes... NYT - When More Democracy Isn’t More Democratic - NYT
They say all politics is local. I'm fascinated by the machinations I've seen in the UFT and in the various caucuses. I try to connect things to local conditions. Though this is  NYT piece is mostly about BREXIT and populism, a key point it makes about tyranny of the majority applies to UFT/Unity and to the MORE Caucus where all checks on majority rule have been removed as one faction has taken control. And there is also a nascent but small right wing leaning populist sentiment in the UFT -- I will delve deeper in follow-ups.

Also see:
Federalist No. 51 (1788) In this Federalist Paper, James Madison explains and defends the checks and balances system in the Constitution. ... Madison also discusses the way republican government can serve as a check on the power of factions, and the tyranny of the majority.

Federalist Papers No. 51 - Bill of Rights Institute

Madison defines a faction as "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community".

When More Democracy Isn’t More Democratic - NYT

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Left in the USA and the UFT - Part 1

You will never understand the opposition in the UFT to Unity Caucus, or even Unity Caucus roots itself, without learning about the left and the various brands of socialism. The very idea behind activism on the left is to be involved in the work place and in the union. In fact, many take jobs for precisely that reason.

There is so much talk about "the left" and "socialists" -- like is AOC the same type of socialist as a Marxist-Leninist? - See AOC and the Left - She's Not Everyone's Darling.

There has been explosive growth in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and I'm looking to join myself to learn more. In fact the largest influx of new members of MORE has come from DSA. And that explains a lot about actions MORE has taken over the past year.

I was not a leftist when I entered teaching in Sept. 1967 - probably a liberal Democrat and totally unconscious about the left and definitely anti-Communist who bought whatever I had been taught.

I met my first socialists when I became involved in internal UFT politics in the fall of 1970, my fourth year of teaching. Most of the people in the opposition to Unity were different brands of socialists. In our own small group in District 14, there was a mix  -  red diaper babies (people who had grown up in committed socialist families - some parents had been in the Communist Party-  CP - (which was controlled from Russia by Stalin). They often went to the same summer camp. With Stalin discredited as was the CP, they became the New Left, which became a broad term to include the very anti-Stalin Trotskyists who came to dominate the New Left.

So in addition to one guy who was still a Stalinist - his dad had been on the run in the early 50s, persecuted under the Smith Act, we began to attract Trotskyists of different brand - the joke was that if you put 2 Trots in a room, you end up with 3 groups. (Note there are 9 Trotskyist groups listed below - and I know of some not included.)

And also other brands of socialists showed up too. I mean, who else would shlep to weekly meetings one night a week other than people committed to some ideology? Well, I did because I was focused not on changing society but changing teaching and learning. I was told that was not possible without getting rid of capitalism. I never have quite agreed with that but in today's world there seems some truth to at least controlling the capitalist system, though socialist theorists point out they will never give up the power of the profit motive without an armed struggle.

At one point I counted 4 or 5 brands of socialists in our own caucus. And when MORE formed I counted at least 4 brands plus at least two other brands of socialists in the UFT would refused to join MORE because to them the socialists in MORE were too reformists and would not call for the fall of capitalism. Oy!

I got some education from my close colleagues in the caucus, all of whom were socialists and I certainly moved in that direction - in fact it was this group that were the initial backbone of the ICEUFT Caucus when it formed in 2003.

As I said - you cannot understand UFT opposition politics without getting this basic fact - socialists will be the most committed over time because they operate from a broader ideology but they often come into conflict with UFT reformers without an ideology other than getting rid of Unity. I have always straddled both worlds, which has also brought me into conflict with both but also I've been a bridge. The original Ed Notes was designed to be that bridge - and it worked - which is why I am thinking of going back to that model.

As Ed Notes morphs into drilling down into issues, let me come back to my original premise -- you will never understand what is going in the opposition -- ie, why are there 3 groups running against Unity - without a map of the various brands of socialists.

In follow-ups I will get into the brands we see active in the UFT.

Being too lazy to do any real research on my own, here is a sort of map from wikipedia - not totally accurate - but since you will have a hard time finding a Stalinist today, the map focuses on the anti-Stalinist left.

Actually, I am doing some research and am reading a book on Lenin written by a Trotsyist -- Trots or anti-Stalin Leninists. Naturally Lenin comes off looking great and I do try to read between the lines, but I find him fascinating - one of the great figures in history, not the monster we were taught he was.

This is not a complete list.

American Left

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The American Left has consisted of a broad range of individuals and groups that have sought fundamental egalitarian changes[1][2] in the economic, political, and cultural institutions of the United States. Leftist activists in the United States have been credited with advancing social change on issues such as labor and civil rights, as well as providing critiques of capitalism.[2]


Thursday, January 24, 2019

UFT OTs and PTs For A Fair Contract in Washington Post

We are not asking for the moon. We are only asking for the same contractual benefits and resources that our counterparts in the special education department are granted.... OTs and PTs For A Fair Contract in WAPO
I was asked by a rep of the Fair Contract group to put this up on Ed Notes and also advertise the fabulous tee-shirt you can buy to help support their efforts. I ordered one for myself and had to order one for my wife after she saw me ordering it (a birthday gift - among many). We're going to look so cute together.

Get one and wear it when UFT leaders come to your school and drive them batty.

Go to Amazon:

Answer Sheet

In NYC, teachers will soon work under a new contract. Here’s why 3,000 school occupational and physical therapists won’t.

Last month, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers ratified a new contract with the city’s Department of Education that provides a big wage increase for union-represented employees, which starts on Feb. 14. That made news, but this got less attention: the contract that wasn’t ratified.

That one covers school nurses, occupational and physical therapists, and supervisors of nurses and therapists. The UFT reported that most of the 282 school nurses who cast ballots voted to ratify, but 64 percent of the 1,251 occupational therapists and physical therapists who cast ballots voted no.

Why? Here’s a big reason: They make far less at the top of the pay scale than do colleagues, including speech pathologists in New York City, and their working conditions, they say, are unacceptable for children.

This post is an open letter written by the people behind a new group called OTs and PTs For A Fair Contract. The missive is addressed to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.
Dear Chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio,

UTLA Strike - First Reactions - Praise and Contrarian Views

Los Angeles: Contract Approved by Union, by 81%
Leonie's immediate reaction:
Depending on the details, this looks like a terrific victory for the union and most importantly, for Los Angeles public school students....Here is my previous explanation of how the district's excessive class sizes were a central issue in the strike and central to the union's concerns....
Sami, Rami Malek twin
Class size has once again become a focus of national attention as a result of the week-long strike. See for example, last Saturday's SNL segment, where Kenan Thompson one and half minutes in says, "Teachers don't gain paid enough, class sizes are too big". Or the photo posted a few days ago by Oscar-nominate actor Rami Malek  of his twin brother, Sami, an LAUSD teacher dressed as a cowboy, holding a sign saying "Wanted: smaller class sizes; Reward: higher student achievement." 
.......Leonie Haimson, LA strike tentatively settled with national implications; here's how to counter myths of the class size deniers
I just saw Bohemian Rhapsody yesterday and Sami's brother Rami is great and may win the Academy Award. Sami wins for best sign.

There's almost universal praise for the strike outcome especially from the social justice caucuses who are allies of Union Power, the UTLA leadership. Any movement on class size is major. One of the under reported stories is that the UTLA leadership, including the current one, for decades has signed off on allowances for class size violations and the big victory here is that they have eliminated that.
But I interpret that as building their power in the schools and communities to a point where they had the ability to kill this open spigot on class sizes.

Almost universal praise.

Hmmm - in the UFT it was 87% overall approval. And I saw a opposition people saying this was a "soft" 87%, claiming many people held their noses and voted for it. And MORE focused on the justifiably bad deal for OT/PTs. I don't know if there are different voting segments in LA.

No holding noses and voting to end a strike in LA. Keep an eye on how the social justice reporting heaps praise on LA while attacking the UFT's "business" model unionism. Don't expect honest assessments anywhere -- well, maybe here. Watch MORE's reports especially and do a comparison of where UFT and UTLA members stand in terms of guidance, nurses -- both seem to be pretty bad here - and librarians -- I don't think so great in the UFT.

I'm always interested in contrarian views so I can get some balance. The Reformies who opposed the strike - they control the school board and the Supt - are mulling over their reactions. (See below).

The ultra -left has been attacking UTLA leaders throughout, claiming Alex was selling them out all along and that this deal was fundamentally decided before the strike. I believe the 6% was. And as you will see below the charter stuff is not much. So it comes down to class size, nurses, guidance and librarians? I look forward to more analysis. The Unity Caucus defenders will whisper behind the scenes (they are officially allies and supporters of UTLA) about how much better our contract is. (I wonder how OT/PTs fare in UTLA.)

Here are links to 2 pieces on the World Socialist Web Site -- I used to laugh at some of their stuff but one of their members was an active UFT member and now retired but he was handing out their leaflet at the DA last week and they set up a table across the street from the DA.

Los Angeles teachers denounce UTLA betrayal of strike

By our reporters, 23 January 2019
The conspiracy by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and the Democratic Party to ram through a new contract to end the six-day strike by 33,000 educators provoked widespread anger from teachers.

Union rams through deal to end Los Angeles teachers strike

By Jerry White, 23 January 2019
Before educators had time to study the deal, the United Teachers Los Angeles rushed through a vote that ignores teachers’ demands for improved wages and school funding and lower class sizes.
This was comment of theirs made me laugh out loud - DSA - of course is a broadbased group - but ISO is not left enough for WWSI.
The betrayal of the Los Angeles strike is a damning indictment of the pseudo-left groups, including the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the International Socialist Organization (ISO), which provide the unions with a “left” cover. Caputo-Pearl is part of the “Union Power” faction of the UTLA bureaucracy, which spouts phrases about “social justice unionism” and fighting “institutional racism.” Caputo-Pearl’s counterparts in the “Caucus of Rank and File Educators” in Chicago sabotaged the 2012 strike, paving the way for the shutdown of scores of schools. ISO leader Jesse Sharkey, who sold out the strike, now heads the CTU.
ISO and DSA are in total control of MORE at this point but MORE is so inconsequential with no chance of winning as they did in LA and Chicago, it is not worth attacking them as "being pseudo left." Actually, there's a germ of truth in that -- faux left with lots of rhetorical flourishes.

WWSI does raise points about transparency and the quick ratification process in LA:
Teachers were given only a few hours to read the 40-page agreement before they were forced to vote on the deal later in the evening. Prior to that, the union and the district officials had been engaged in closed-door negotiations for five days during which time no details were revealed to teachers.
There is a reality here in the speed of a vote to get people back to work but I imagine they could have gone back while people had a few days to review the contract.

The UFT contract ratification requires the Ex Bd, the DA and the membership ratify. But this process also gives the leadership time to sell the contract.

How much did MORE attack the UFT leadership over the way it managed the recent contract vote? You will see only praise for the UTLA and MORE will undoubtedly use the outcome of the strike in the election campaign to point to the UFT's dormant membership.

You also hear attacks on UTLA over transparency - of course they had to have secret negotiations. But we hear the UFT always attacked on its own lack of transparency on contracts. I don't know enough about the negotiation process to judge.

I was interested in what might have been won on the charter issue, which the ultra-left had claimed was dropped from demands and was only out there publicly as a PR stunt.

But I disagree -- even if they didn't get anything much they made it an issue that garnered public attention and focused people on the way charters drain public education.

Did UTLA Get Real Gains on Charter School Issue? Or just consultation on co-loco issues?

Here is what I assume is a biased report from an pro-charter reformy group which is putting the best face on anything UTLA might have won, which seems to be that chapter leaders need to be "consulted" on charter co-locos.
4. Charter accountability
The agreement invests in “existing schools” and would increase accountability and regulations for charter schools, Caputo-Pearl said. This has been a central talking point for union leadership, who say charter schools are channeling millions of dollars annually away from L.A. Unified.
Caputo-Pearl said the pending agreement would give district neighborhood schools “a voice” in the co-location process, which is when charter schools are allotted unused classroom space on traditional school campuses under state law.
The tentative contract adds these provisions, but it does not give the union veto power over co-locations.
  • Every time a charter visits a district school to scope out a co-location opportunity, a UTLA chapter chair would have to be invited to participate
  • By Dec. 1 and Feb. 1 every year, L.A. Unified would have to send UTLA a list of all campuses that have been identified for possible co-location
  • UTLA would have the right to designate one employee to serve as a “co-location coordinator” on every campus with a co-located charter school
L.A. Unified will work “to strengthen the voice of educators and provide more opportunities for collaborations for all who work in our schools,” Beutner said.
Now here is the anti-union right wing press from Mike Antoncci who will do an in-depth soon, which we will run though our filter. Mike warns that a coming economic crisis will shred much of what was agreed to.

Antonucci: So it’s over

Mike Antonucci | January 22, 2019,

L.A. Unified and United Teachers Los Angeles reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. There will be plenty of analysis from all quarters on the details in the days and weeks to come, but for now we can all agree on one thing.
It had to happen this way.
The strike had to happen because without it the district would not have made the concessions it did. What made that happen wasn’t the direct effect of the strike on Superintendent Austin Beutner and the school board, but on L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, the county Office of Education, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature.
L.A. Unified’s finances are a legitimate mess, so what Beutner needed was reassurance that the city, county and state wouldn’t let a more generous deal sink the district. Persuaded that there would be no takeover of the district and that proposed money in the governor’s budget will become actual money, Beutner bent far enough to reach an agreement.
The strike had to happen because UTLA was not going to accept a deal without one. The strike was in the works for more than two years, even though career educator Michelle King was superintendent. UTLA invested lots of money and staff time into assuring the rank-and-file supported a strike. The authorization vote was overwhelming. Agreeing to anything less than a perfect deal prior to a walkout would have led to internal union turmoil. Had this exact tentative agreement been offered two weeks ago, the union would have rejected it.
UTLA brought pressure through marches, rallies and the fact that up to 81 percent of the district’s normal enrollment of 450,000 students stayed home.
L.A. Unified brought pressure by keeping the schools open, which meant that striking teachers were losing pay each day they stayed out — something that isn’t always the case.
Teachers lost 1.5 percent to 3 percent of their pay during the strike, depending on whether you compute it for a calendar year or a school year.
The district endured a net loss of $150 million in state funding due to the decreased attendance.
Students lost six days of instruction, probably a bit more since it will take some time to get things back to normal.
All parties declare this a victory — and will devote considerable resources to promote that view with the public. It may well turn out that way, if the economy continues to grow and tax revenues don’t falter.
If there is a downturn or a recession, or even a continued decline in enrollment, the rosy assumptions that made this deal possible will weigh like an anchor on district operations and staffing. All those teachers, counselors and nurses that are about to be hired will be the first laid off, thanks to seniority provisions. To avoid that, UTLA members may have to make considerable financial sacrifices.
If you think that can’t possibly happen, well, I’m sure those who went on strike in 1989 felt the same way.
Regardless of the way it pans out, both UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and (probably) L.A. Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner will be elsewhere by then. A new group of people will have to hash out future disputes, and we can all pretend that this month’s events didn’t lead us there.
And of course let's get to our fave union leader:

AFT President Randi Weingarten Reacts to Tentative Agreement for Los Angeles Teachers
LOS ANGELES—Members of United Teachers Los Angeles are voting tonight on an agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District, following a historic six-day strike in the second-largest school district in the country. The LAUSD school board will do the same. Below is a statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:
“The agreement is a paradigm shift for the city and nation, as it makes a clear commitment to the resources and conditions necessary for teachers to teach and kids to learn in L.A.’s public schools. In addition to a 6 percent pay raise for the two-year agreement, it provides nurses in every school five days a week, lowers class size over the next several years, ensures school counselors for every 500 students, commits to new community schools and provides a process to cap charter schools. UTLA has endorsed the agreement, and if the response at today’s rally is a bellwether, the union’s more than 30,000 members will ratify it.

“This strike and the community support of the teacher strikers flipped the debate over public education in L.A. on its head. And the result is nothing short of a sea change for public schools and for educators in L.A. and in the country.

“With the support of parents, students, clergy and the entire union community, L.A.’s teachers helped inspire a reordering of the city’s priorities to finally put public schools first. And it took a strike to make the establishment see how much the public is really behind public schools and public school teachers.

“For the last 10 years, the political forces in Los Angeles haven’t valued public schools, nor respected the people who teach in them. But now, instead of fixating on testing, competition and accountability, these educators have focused a city—indeed an entire country—on the teaching and learning conditions our kids need.

“Every child has hopes, dreams and aspirations. But those aspirations don’t just happen simply because you wish for them—you need the power to secure the investment to fulfill them. This was a fight for the soul of public education. It was a fight to invest in public schools after decades of neglect, and while one contract can’t fix everything, this is a starting point. Teachers want what kids need, and today in Los Angeles, because of this struggle, teachers got a big step closer to securing what our kids need.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

AOC and the Left - She's Not Everyone's Darling

This is what we mean when we talk about the Democratic Party’s extraordinary capacity to co-opt progressives, social movements and radicals who don’t have a clear class perspective. If the DSA wants to remain a potentially disruptive element in U.S. politics and avoid being rapidly folded into the Democratic Party machine, its members must urgently reassess their electoral strategy. Working-class independence should be the starting point of any organization that claims to fight capitalism. The DSA leadership body has remained silent on Ocasio-Cortez’s most conservative remarks, as well as on her open strategy of revitalizing the Democratic Party. In her role as the celebrated face of American democratic socialism, Ocasio-Cortez portrays the DSA as an organization that aspires to serve as the left wing of the Democratic Party. Without a rapid course correction, that is what it will become.... Juan Cruz Ferre. Left Voice.
I am fascinated by the attacks on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez coming not from the right but from the left. Here are two pieces, one by Micah Uetrecht at Jacobin, a leading left journal, celebrating AOC calling out Democrats but warning her about her wavering and being brought back into the fold. His piece, Welcome Their Hatred, appears in Jacobin which seems to be non-sectarian and open to various ideas on the left and I imagine he sees her as someone who will push the Dems to the left -- ie, a reformer of the party.
Democratic leaders are outraged at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s actions in Congress and are trying to reel her in. It’s a clear sign she’s antagonizing all the right forces in the party.
If Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez weren’t provoking outrage from her Democratic colleagues within her first days in Congress, she wouldn’t be doing it right.
Politico ran a very revealing story this morning about the socialist congresswoman, summed up in its headline: “Exasperated Democrats try to rein in Ocasio-Cortez.” House Dems’ grievances include high crimes like encouraging primary challenges to centrist, pro-corporate Democrats and pushing for (gasp!) a committee appointment they don’t think she deserves....

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

UFT Elections: Why Mike (not Mulgrew) is Running With Unity

Mike Schirtzer explains his reasons for running with Unity Caucus at NYC Educator:  Michael Schirtzer and Arthur Goldstein for UFT Executive Board 2019 . I told him I would publish his piece here after Arthur. There are a lot of Mikes run with Unity.

Only high school teachers can vote for him and Arthur. I can't vote for them as I've said but even if I could, despite being close friends, I still wouldn't vote for them.

Some Ex-MOREs  - there are enough of them to fill a stadium - are voting for him or would if they could - 

Here is Mike's statement, some of which I disagree with, especially the praise for the "wins" at a glacial pace - but let's let Mike have his say:
Three years ago, I asked for your vote when I ran for UFT Executive Board, a 101 member group that meets every two weeks to set policies for our union, negotiate the contract, and bring reports from schools to the leadership. During the last union elections, I ran on the MORE/New Action slate in order to challenge the Unity Caucus. We ran on a promise that we would bring rank and file voice to the UFT with matters that are important to our members in the school. Along with six others on our slate, I won, and we have had the great privilege of representing high school teachers and all UFT members on this representative committee.

I am now running for reelection with Arthur Goldstein, longtime chapter leader/ELL teacher at Francis Lewis High School and a well published columnist who has written for the Daily News among other publications. In the upcoming union elections, we are running as independents on the Unity slate, which includes UFT President Michael Mulgrew. We ask you to vote for us by checking the “Unity” box on your ballot that will be mailed to your home.

This time around, we won’t be running with the opposition groups that we have been part of in the past. By working with members of Unity, we’ve been able to promote significant advances for the members of this union. Our former group, MORE, is refusing to run with other groups or open their slate to independent voices like ours, making it clear they do not want to win. Conversely, when the leadership of UFT asked us to run with them on the Unity slate, we insisted that we maintain our independent voices. We made it clear that we will still challenge them when there is reason to. They agreed that our dissent is valuable and that our only loyalty must be to the members of our union, the people working hard for our students every single day. Unity is providing us the opportunity to bring multiple perspectives to the Executive Board, which is the change this union needs.

It’s unprecedented that Unity/UFT leadership invites us to run with them, yet does not make us join their caucus. In the future, if there are legitimate reasons to form a group to oppose the union leadership, I would join a united group that welcomes everyone. As of now, Unity is welcoming our voices, even though we have had our share of disagreements. They want us to raise issues that our members find crucial and this is exactly why we have made this decision.

None of us joined this profession to become wealthy, but thankfully we’re able to provide decent lives for our families. With our new contract, teachers’ top salary will rise to over $128,000. The teachers that went on strike in West Virginia and Oklahoma teachers were on food stamps, welfare and working multiple jobs. The Los Angeles teachers union is on strike because the cost of living is higher than NYC, while top salary is only $85,000 and some classes have 50 students. Several teachers from our school who have graded AP exams out of state came back with horror stories from teachers they met. Their salaries are so low that they can’t even pay their bills without working several jobs Some reported being fired on a principal’s whim. This is not a situation we want, and UFT is the only force that stands in the way of such a future.

There is not an urban school district in this country that has the salary or benefits that we do, and this is because of our union. The Janus decision threatens all that we have. A strong UFT, with diverse voices, is more important than ever. We are running with Unity to strengthen our union and protect our rights in order to better the lives of the children we serve.

We Won 100% Paid Parental Leave

Nearly 200,000 UFT members now have 100% of their salary when they have or adopt a baby. This is an unheard of benefit around in this country. Even fathers can take the six weeks paid. Before this policy men could take only three days off for their child's’ birth or adoption. This was an absolute sin.  Emily James started a petition which was signed by 85,000 people demanding the mayor give us this long overdue benefit. I reached out to Emily, and brought her to the board to present it to our leadership. Emily and I joined with members of Unity and the UFT’s media department to plan actions all across the city. Thanks to our work, a membership that is over 75% women now has their full pay and can still take their banked  (CAR) days when they give birth or adopt.

We Brought Back Two Observations

Teachers in our schools and all across the city reached out to me and Arthur when we began contract negotiations. They all wanted the observation minimum of two per year, as per state law. Teachers who had been successful for decades often had administrators who taught for a few years visiting their classroom four times and being forced to provide far more “constructive” criticism than was merited. Even worse, teachers new to the DOE having all their observations in May and feedback in June. We fought for change and won. Arthur and I repeatedly brought to Executive Board and Contract Committee meetings member demand for less observations. When we met with DOE negotiators they said no, but we kept the pressure on and prevailed. Beginning next year, 85% of tenured teachers will have two observations and one will be in the fall semester.

We Fought Against Oversized Classes 

Those of us in Goldstein High School have had the unfortunate distinction of being named in the top 10 citywide worst offenders for class-size violations two years in a row. We’ve had 40 students in a class, which led to a failure to comply with special education mandates. By the time we won our grievance, it was already December. We faced massive program changes, crying children, teachers and paras juggling schedules. Arthur and I made class-size overages a centerpiece of our work at UFT Executive Board. We knew too well the process under the old contract did not work. Our new contract demands a quicker response in fighting back against the constant loopholes. Schools in repeated violation will have arbitrators make immediate solutions without an endless grievance process.

We Worked Together to Stop Abusive Administrators

UFT members from across the city reached out to us to bring them to our meetings so they could share stories of absolute craziness from their inexperienced, terrible administrators. Principals and APs pushing unproven policies from cookie-cutter lesson plans, rotating bulletin boards, to outright harassment. Because of their testimonies, UFT leadership took up these issues with the mayor, chancellor, and superintendents. We also negotiated an unprecedented anti-retaliation clause in our new contract that protects members who report these administrators. Some situations were resolved, while  some administrators were just shuffled to another school. This is an ongoing problem. Arthur and I, with your support, will continue to bring these situations to light. We will press UFT to take more aggressive actions in public to let our members know that an attack on one is an attack on us all.  We are asking for your vote on the Unity slate, so we can continue to fight these battles, and do what we do best: represent you.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Did Mulgrew Mislead? NYSAPE Urges Legislators to Vote NO to APPR Bill that Would Link High-Stakes Testing to Teacher and Principal Evaluations

Contrary to the claims of some supporters of the legislation, a close examination of the bills indicates that they continue to link teacher evaluations to student growth as measured by test scores and give the state education commissioner the power to shut down or take over schools based on state test results. Reports of “decoupling” test scores from teacher evaluations are misleading and do not tell the whole truth. The proposed legislation does nothing to dismantle the current test-and-punish system... NYSAPE
Mulgrew on APPR at Jan. 16, 2019 —Ten years ago test scores were supposed to be part of evaluation. Obama administration made this requirement for federal aid. Last year we finally had bill we wanted, Governor, who now loves us, said he would sign. We had everyone but six Senators. Senate would not put it on floor unless we lifted NYC charter cap and agreed to additional funding only for charters. We then opposed them in elections. They felt don’t worry, we’re only screwing NYC. On Friday afternoon at 4, Senate and Assembly introduced same bill, will go to Senate on Tuesday. We don’t want to wait—are hoping within two weeks we will finally have no mandated test scores in teacher evaluation.... NYC Educator report on the DA.
Some people might be asking if Mike Schirtzer, who is running on the Unity line will be free to bring this contradiction up. Looking forward to tomorrow night's Ex Bd meeting. [Update - Mike says he will bring it up.]

And a reminder of where the other Mike - punchy Mike stood 4 years ago in this video I made at the 2014 AFT convention.

Leonie Haimson:
Despite the misinformation about this bill, it continues to link student test scores to teacher evaluation in ways that are invalid and potentially damaging, as the below press release from NYSAPE points out.  Though now the tests will be locally selected from a list created by the Commission, this may include the state exams or another assessment, in which case students would face double the amount of testing.  And the dreaded HEDI matrix will remain in force.  You can read a copy of the bill yourself.   
Leonie Haimson posted this on her blog and to her email listserves.

A meeting on the bill will be held by the NY Senate Education committee at 10:00 AM on Tuesday; you can email your legislators by clicking the link on the message below, and/or call them. Calls have more impact generally than emails.
The teacher evaluation system in New York state was originally left totally up to districts, where it should return.  If this new law is passed, it will be the ninth change in the state teacher evaluation system since 2008 by my count.  More on the history of these various laws and regulations here and here.