Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Annals of Religion: Is Marxism the Opiate of Socialists?

"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."... Karl Marx
I've generally agreed with Marx. Religion allows people to accept a lot of shit but also can motivate change in positive and negative ways.

One of the benefits of and rationale for most religions is the idea that things don't end when you die. That some higher force allows for a future in some manner. Or that the higher force makes life worth living. Things will be taken care of. The future even when you are gone has some guiding hand.

Religion seems to be part and parcel of humanity since it arose in every single society throughout history. I imagine religion began at the point of human consciousness where they began to look up at the sky and wonder what the hell it all means. There is a 100% chance you will die and belief in a higher order keeps you somewhat optimistic.

But where does that leave you if you are an atheist knowing full well that when you die, worms will be eating your brain?

Not all atheists are socialists and not all socialists are atheists.

Not all socialists are Marxists but all Marxists are socialists.

For the latter group, Marxism is a form of religion. Socialists are often the most optimistic people I know. Their belief that a better society will ensue is similar to evangelicals who are waiting for the rapture. Except socialists believe they will be the ones to make their rapture come true, not wait for a higher power to do so. But I also find that many have their own higher power by following some leader or ideologue.

The essence of Marxism is a dialetical/scientific analysis of the movements in society through history with the inevitable fall of capitalism and the rise of socialism/communism to replace it. What has so far gone wrong in the prediction is how the socialist states which replaced capitalism morphed into not a dictatorship of the proletariat but a dictatorship usually dominated by one strong voice (Stalin, Castro, Kim) or an oligarchy of sorts.

A good friend of mine and mentor, a lifelong independent socialist with a degree in Marxist economics has come to the conclusion that the Marxist assumed there was no such thing as human nature - the need of some to dominate and control. I tend to agree. Socialists believe that people can be molded into something better. They believe this with a religious fervor.

Trotskyists have an answer by fundamentally claiming that all these examples are failed socialist states and that the true revolution has not taken place yet. And besides, their version of socialism requires that it exist worldwide - thus they are internationalists. They believe the states that call themselves socialist have been forced to morph into some forms of capitalism due to the fact that most of the world is still capitalist but that one day that will end.

Can capitalism morph into socialism peacefully? Some socialists believe it can - democratic socialists for instance.

But the class that calls itself revolutionary socialists recognize that capitalism won't yield without a massive struggle and it will turn violent. I tend to agree even though I am not a revolutionary socialist. I tend to think that it is more likely that the masses that are expected to make a revolution will more likely be suppressed or manipulated into supporting fascism rather than socialism, as happened in Germany when the Nazis and socialists clashed.

Optimistic socialists believe it was errors on the part of the socialists not the forces of history that led to that outcome. I'm not an optimist. I see doom and believe the best we can do is rally enough people to win concessions to modify capitalism, like FDR - which is where the Bernie/AOC crowd comes from -- social democrats. The reality is that to get to that point took a massive depression.

Lenin's contribution was the idea of a vanguard party of people with advanced ideas to lead the masses into socialism. These parties are supposedly democratic and operate under democratic centralism where majority rules and everyone else goes along. But in reality, one or an oligarchy of voices exert major influence and end up dominating.

Thus many socialists who believe in the vanguard party call themselves Marxist-Leninists. There are Marxists who are not Leninists.

Membership in these vanguard parties is essentially akin to belonging to a church - a religious experience where the party is the most important thing and subsumes all else -- loyalty to and building the party. We saw this inside MORE with the ISO crowd. And look at the outcome.

My experience in MORE taught me a lot about socialists in vanguard parties like ISO and how they operate. One thing I always noted that nothing ever goes wrong for them - that no matter what you must put a happy face on it so as not to discourage people. As an example after 3 months of silence after the UFT election disaster, they finally figured out how to try to sell it as a positive which they posted on their web site. It was an LOL moment.

People like Mike and me who were critical of MORE internally came under attack for pointing out reality and calling for analysis that would lead to fixing things that weren't working. They didn't want to hear that - criticism was negativity. No analysis was needed. After all, they were operating under a higher power that existed outside the organization - they were the true enlightened and knew what was best. Thus you see organizations like MORE aim to convert the masses to their ideas rather than let the issues the masses are concerned with take precedence. An example is that no matter what is going on in the schools, MORE will push its agenda, not that of concern to UFT members. (Prediction for this year - the contract and Black Lives Matter week plus one other issue to keep people busy for the next school year. And then brag about how successful the work was.)

Of course ISO fell apart but even the ISO people I talked too said the same thing - what a great experience it was, no regrets and how the future still looked bright. They has been spending upwards of $5000 a year towards ISO - tithing of sorts - and it was all worth it. OK. That they all seem to use almost the exact same words is evidence of the religious aspect of these leftists - almost as if they were reading from the bible.

Now everyone piles into DSA which is holding a national convention in two weeks and some skirmishes and wars will break out in that big tent organization. But no matter what the word going out with religious fervor will be optimistic.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Maureen Dowd Slams Dem Progressives

The progressives’ cry that they don’t care about the political consequences because they have a higher cause is just a purity racket...
They eviscerate their natural allies for not being pure enough while placing all their hopes in a color-inside-the-lines lifelong Republican prosecutor appointed by Ronald Reagan.
The politics of purism makes people stupid. And nasty.
Maureen Dowd
I am so torn between arguments on the left and center. Dowd puts forth the Trump must go at all costs thesis. It's made me think about things. Like there are people who think the left/Bernie view is the best way to get rid of Trump while there is another group on the left that doesn't see a replacement of Trump with Biden as crucial as building a movement and actually seem to think that having Trump do his damage actually galvanizes people into building that movement. I mean, if capitalism is the problem and a Democratic Party is a slave to many captains of that system, then getting rid of Trump is not the real aim but building the idea that socialism is an alternative is the important thing.

I'm part of a progressive wing that agrees with Dowd that the Dems pursuit of Mueller and focus on Russia is totally wrongheaded.

Dowd's liberalism which morphs into neo-liberalism so often is on display. Real deep anger at the left and to me a sign of a Democratic Party whose existence will be questioned. But I think segments of the left still think the battle inside the party is worthwhile as a third party is never going to be feasible in this country for the forseeable future.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die - NYMag

The GOP understands how important labor unions are to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, historically, has not. If you want a two-sentence explanation for why the Midwest is turning red (and thus, why Donald Trump is president), you could do worse than that. With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor movement helped give Democrats full control of the federal government three times in the last four decades. And all three of those times — under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — Democrats failed to pass labor law reforms that would to bolster the union cause. In hindsight, it’s clear that the Democratic Party didn’t merely betray organized labor with these failures, but also, itself.... NY Mag
From an old article from a year and a half ago worth keeping in mind. We saw neo-lib Dems ignore unions. This point was made very clearly in a great book by Amy Goldstein:

From a massively strong union town it went downhill after the GM plant closed down and Goldstein chronicles years of the impact on everyone - how people dropped out of the middle class and in the process went toward Trump-type politics. Like Labor Day parades had been a massive event in town. Unions played a major role in the fabric of the community. Suddenly it was all gone.

: Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die

SEIU’s Andy Stern Has a New Gig Fighting Teachers’ Unions - See Randi tepid response

As teachers mount the biggest wave of strikes in recent US history, SEIU’s President Emeritus Andy Stern has jumped onto the side of anti-union forces backed by billionaires.     Earlier this year, Stern became an official advisor to a “front group” that’s pushing for the privatization of public schools and is driven by “virulently anti-union elements,” according to an article by Maurice Cunningham. (Maurice Cunningham, “Keri Rodrigues Goes Coastal with Plans for National Parents Union,” MassPoliticsProfs, April 22, 2019.)
The front group -- called the “National Parents Union” -- is funded by the right-wing billionaire family that owns Wal-Mart......
SEIU’s Andy Stern Has a New Gig Fighting Teachers’ Unions..... Friday, July 26, 2019
The Stern Burger With Fries blog on our blogroll has an interesting piece about a new front group called the National Parent Union to counter teacher unions and strikes, backed by the Walmart family.
Of interest to us is the tepid response from Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers.
“There must be some misunderstanding for a respected labor leader, who spent a good part of his life helping working people, to embrace a Walton-funded group dedicated to attacking them,” she told Splinter via a spokesman. “I urge Andy to take another look at what exactly he’s got himself into.”

 Gee, if one day we heard Randi doing something similar, would you be shocked?

The blog references some articles covering the story:

War in the Democratic Party, Republicans on Hind Legs, Some Jews are Tired of Being Used

This was my School Scope submission this week. It was turned down as not being about schools. Methinks it is the politics not that it isn't about schools.

I wrote it on Tuesday, before Mueller Time.

War in the Democratic Party, Republicans on Hind Legs, Some Jews are Tired of Being Used
By Norm Scott

“It’s an almost incalculable insult for Trump and his enablers to act as if he’s helping the Jews when he adopts the language of the pogrom.” Michelle Goldberg, NYT.

Before we get to that, let’s talk Dem and Rep Parties. Many of us on the sidelines of the Party wars have pretty much come to the conclusion that Trump will win again and the repercussions will be heavy for the Party and of course for the country. We can pretty much give up the fight against climate change and figure out ways to hunker down for the next century. Water taxis on 5th Avenue, anyone? As for the future of Rockaway, fagetaboutit. Sorry to be such a bummer. Maybe Elon Musk has it right: Look to Mars where there is little chance for oceans rising unless you read the best science fiction from Kim Stanley Robinson, “Mars Trilogy.”

After Trump, the Republicans and the right wing media are finished count the democratic institutions left standing. Why should this country be different than all the others moving to the right? (See HBO chiller, Years and Years). Remember how Giuliani, another despot, tried to use 9/11 as an excuse to remain mayor for an illegal third term and was laughed at? Times have changed. Let’s be more like Trump’s hero Putin. Pass the presidency on to the first woman president, Ivanka, in 2024 – unless Trump wants a third term. Create an emergency and suspend the constitution. And watch strict constitutionalist Republicans get up on their hind legs and beg for more. Remember how they fought Obama on everything over the deficit? Pathetic.

For some insight into the internal mechanisms of the factionalism in the Dem Party see the left-leaning Nation which delves into the battle between Pelosi and the Squad.

Another article in the liberal New Yorker by investigative reporter Jane Meyer took the Dems to task for Al Franken’s forced resignation from the Senate over a #metoo incident that on further examination seemed to have elements of a right wing hit job but many Dems jumped on the issue in order to be politically correct. Is there such a thing as due process? Franken wanted a Senate committee on ethics to examine the facts but that idea was not supported by the Dems. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who led the charge has suffered a lot of blow back which has helped make her irrelevant in her presidential bid. Chuck Shumer, unsurprisingly, was one of the biggest betrayers. I’m so proud of our backstabbing NY senators. If you want some deep insight, long but worthwhile: https: www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/07/29/the-case-of-al-franken.  

So there is more than a bit of disgust among Democrats in their own party.  Republicans don’t have to worry because even if video emerged of Trump engaging in certain acts with Jeffrey Epstein teens they would be fine with it. A video did emerge of the two of them smirking and joking over some models at a party at Mar-A-Lago. Remember, Trump barely knows him. What a joke most Republicans and Evangelicals are.

And how about them Jews who support Trump? If they are not chilled by “send her back” they need some history lessons. There are a couple of interesting articles about anti-semites on the right calling out the left as being anti-semitic. Like you can’t be critical of the right wing Israeli government. #freespeech1stamendment.

A friend, a Jew who was active in the Dem Party and until recently hadn’t been very conscious about his Jewishness for 50 years, wrote on FB: “after a fleet of Republicans and the president himself have utilized Jews as human shields for racist rhetoric, the Jews are tired, tired, tired of being used as defenses against naked racism, tired of being used to justify conditions at detention camps.” He was referring to an article in GQ by Talia Levin: When Non-Jews Wield Anti-Semitism as Political Shield: In recent weeks, some Republicans have raised the specter of anti-Semitism as a convenient distraction from detention camps and racist tropes. And the Jews are tired of it. https://www.gq.com/story/anti-semitism-political-shield.

Michelle Goldberg in the NYT struck a similar theme, pointing to neo-Nazis like Simon Gorka daring to call people anti-semitic: Defenders of a Racist President Use Jews as Human Shields
https://www.nytimes.com/.../opinion/trump-ilhan-omar.html. She opens with: “Sebastian Gorka, a onetime adviser to Donald Trump, wore a medal from the Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian group historically aligned with Nazism, to one of Trump’s inaugural balls. Gorka was reportedly a member of the group, whose founder, the Hungarian autocrat Miklos Horthy, once said, ‘For all my life, I have been an anti-Semite’.”

On a lighter note, there was a joke going around that Trump’s “send her back” was referring to his wives. I’m looking forward to being sent back when they come for me because my mom came from Bellarus. I hear they have fine ocean beaches there despite being a land-locked country and a wonderful dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, for Trump to admire who’s been in office for 25 years.

Norm’s still blogs at ednotesonline.com, when he’s not busy packing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Unions and Cadillac Health Plans - NYT/ Democratic Progressives/Centrists Are Both Committing Strategic Suicide - NY Mag

Bernie and other single payer proponents have come under assault because the very idea is a threat to so many vested interests. But the reality is that at this point in time, the idea of a massive elimination of the insurance industry - which I would ultimately support, looks like too much too soon. Infrastructure needs to be built and I would start with the public option along with moving down the age for medicare. As UFT members, no matter how much people might complain about the health care plans, they are still considered

Cadillac insurance plans.

Meaning that under Obamacare, many people would be taxed and see a reduction in their plans. Single payer imposed in one quick chunk would also reduce what a lot of people have now. But ultimately, I agree that in the long run we would be better off. But even if Bernie were elected, single payer would not happen.

In one of the few bipartisan agreements, the House voted to repeal the cadillac provision of ObamaCare, which has been supported by the unions, including our own UFT -- a warning shot for those pushing for single payer, especially Bernie. Mulgrew has been castigated for his stance, along with other state unions, in opposing proposals for NY State single payer plans. While I have generally supported the idea of single-payer, especially since I have been on the wonderful Medicare plan for 9 years - and this is Bernie's point -- everyone seems to love medicare. But I have moved toward incrementalism in this case because I am a realist. If unions oppose single payer ala Bernie, it is a dead issue.

Here is the NYT article:

House Votes to Repeal Obamacare Tax Once Seen as Key to Health ...

And here is an article from NYMag on the hole Democrats may be stepping into -- not only on health care but on the idea that if they should ever win, they would hand the Republicans a loaded gun to shoot down all their proposals and judges. Are Dem leaders just stupid?


Democratic Progressives and Centrists Are Both Committing Strategic Suicide

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

When Non-Jews Wield Anti-Semitism as Political Shield

A friend posted this on FB with some personal views on how his Jewish consciousness, which he hadn't spent  much time thinking about for half a century, has been awakened over the past two years.
After an already longish life of not caring much one way or another about my Jewish heritage it’s almost impossible for me to believe how the last two years have raised my consciousness of it to unimagined levels.

After 50 years of believing ourselves immune to the old anti-semitism (‘Go back where you came from, kike!” or ‘Great to have you up to our place in New Canaan but, no, I can’t introduce you to my real estate agent because of all those covenants we got here.’) we’re now just straight out shot (Pittsburgh), terrorized by khaki-wearing brownshirts yelling ‘Jews will not replace us’ (Charlottesville) or used as human shields for white nationalists and racists to attack people of color (Washington and North Carolina).
‘There’s a meme I’ve seen go around a thousand times in Jewish spaces online—a still from a Yiddish lesson series on Youtube, with the phrase “The Jews Are Tired.” It’s an all-purpose response for Gentile fuckery—speaking for Jews, about Jews, around Jews, against Jews, utilizing us without our consent or input. Black background, white letters: The Jews Are Tired.

And after the past few days, in which a fleet of Republicans and the president himself have utilized Jews as human shields for racist rhetoric, the Jews are tired, tired, tired of being used as defenses against naked racism, tired of being used to justify conditions at detention camps. Just plain tired.’
Michelle Goldberg's opinion

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Ravitch: Leaks Reveal How Billionaires Shaped Hillary’s Education Agenda

Ravitch links to great article by Jake Jacobs. I know a number of teachers who could not pull the trigger for Hillary due to anger at Democrats for supporting ed deform. If the Dem party waffles on charters and testing and blaming teachers, I bet the unions will still endorse people like Biden whose connection to horrible Obama ed policies hasn't been raised seriously yet. I want to see him defend Race to the Top "let's blame teachers and their unions." This time faced with Trump they may hold their noses but the lack of enthusiasm will help Trump. Still, until recently even the left of the party were weak on education though Bernie seems to have moved the most.
This is an article you must read in full. You might even want to read the underlying document to understand how fully the Democratic Party sold out to the billionaires who oppose public schools.... Diane Ravitch
Diane Ravitch watchers - and I have been one since her conversion to rational education policy about a dozen years ago -- would see her evolution from cautious support for the Democratic center towards real reform policies -- on issues like testing and charters and so many others. But she has also taken on Randi and the unions and here she goes after the Democratic Party.

Leaks Reveal How Billionaires Shaped Hillary’s Education Agenda



Alternet published an expose of documents from Hillary’s 2016 campaign that reveal the names of the billionaires who shaped her education agenda. The documents were leaked by Wikileaks.
The education portion of the document runs 66 pages, mostly concentrated on K-12 policy, and captures specific input from billionaire donors looking to overhaul and privatize public education.
You will recognize the names: one is Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve.
One of the most connected “thought leaders” discussed is Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, and the head of the Emerson Collective, a prominent education reform advocacy group. Powell Jobs who has been close with the Clintons since the late '90s, also sat with Betsy DeVos on the board of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. She set up billionaire “roundtables” with Clinton’s campaign advisors through 2015 while donating millions to Priorities USA, Clinton’s main PAC.
Another is Bruce Reed, who had been Biden’s chief of staff but was then president of the Broad Foundation. Reed pointed to New Orleans as an amazing success story, where the public schools were replaced by charter schools, the union was crushed, and the teachers were fired and replaced mostly by TFA.
Notes taken by Clinton aide Ann O’Leary were made in interviews with Powell Jobs and Bruce Reed, President of The Broad Foundation (and former chief of staff to Joe Biden). According to the notes, the “experts” were calling for new federal controls, more for-profit companies and more technology in public schools — but first on the menu was a bold remake of the teaching “profession.”
(Ann O’Leary is now Gavin Newsom’s chief of staff in California.)
Imagine: The billionaires and policy wonks had prescriptions for remaking the teaching profession, even though none had ever been a teacher.
But they did more than talk. On June 20, 2015, O'Leary sent Podesta an email revealing the campaign adopted two of Powell Jobs' suggestions, including "infusing best ideas from charter schools into our traditional public schools.” When Clinton announced this policy in a speech to teachers, however, it was the one line that drew boos.
“Donors want to hear where she stands” John Petry, a founder of both Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and Success Academy, New York’s largest network of charter schools, told the New York Times.  Petry was explicit, declaring that he and his billionaire associates would instead put money into congressional, state and local races, behind candidates who favored a “more businesslike approach” to education, and tying teacher tenure to standardized test scores.
Clinton’s advisors warned her that wealthy donors like Petry, Whitney Tilson, or Eli Broad could walk if she didn’t support charter schools. Broad would indeed threaten to withhold funding from Clinton when she criticized charter schools for excluding difficult students. John Podesta and Ann O’Leary would publicly correct Clinton, reaffirming her commitment to charters.
This is an article you must read in full. You might even want to read the underlying document to understand how fully the Democratic Party sold out to the billionaires who oppose public schools.
Also see Diane's:

Tim Slekar Interviews Carol Burris about Charter Scandals

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. www.rockawaytheatre.org.

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


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: https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2019/07/commissioner-elia-resigns-lets-hope-for.html
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.