Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Our Waterloo - Winning Dec. 23: - Everyone is Claiming Credit

There were predictions of Armageddon if schools were open on December 23. Lunatic commentators on the blogs had everyone working the entire summer once this wall was breached.You would have thought the DOE had announced that class sizes were being reduced to 15, there was such joy in Mudville. Yes, boys and girls, you won't have to work on December 23. Now you only have to work 181 or 182 days (depending on reports) instead of that extra day. (OK - so I'm out of it for 17 years and maybe I'm jaded but I do wonder how the non-teaching public reacts to mass celebrations over the relief of not having to work 182 days.)

Most of the time parents are happy when kids have to go to school. But no before Xmas when many of them travel or do other holiday stuff. The parent outrage may have been the biggest factor.

You won't have to replace that day with another day off, like Columbus Day, as the flawed petition from the faux militant MORE/UFT Caucus begged for - er - requested.

That didn't stop MORE from trying to take credit, as in this morning's email: As educators, together we win! Your voice was heard! 

Thousands of teachers signed our December 23rd petition and the DOE listened! Great things happen when educators come together, from common-sense calendar fixes to fighting larger injustices.

If MORE's voice had actually been heard you would be working on Columbus Day. And note the pat on the back excludes parents. It was parent pressure the most. And it is more state ed dept than DOE. We know that principals were outraged too so inside Tweed there was a lot of push back. And the costs to the DOE. So I never believed it was the DOE that was pushing this. Mike Schirtzer told me his principal hugged him over the news and gave the UFT credit. I imagine the UFT once it got on its horse and saw the reaction did some heavy duty lobbying.

If anyone deserves credit it is James Eterno for being first out of the box to raise the issue. We can't act like the UFT sat on its hands though James blames them for approving the calendar which he claims would have been stopped in its tracks if Mulgrew had objected. I'm not so sure of that.

James, an educator and a public school parent of two young children, at least his claim is credible and more modest than the shameless MORE which only jumped in after James, who is not welcome in MORE, was first out of the box with reports on the calendar on the ICEUFT blog.

James celebrated with the news:


There was no fanfare and no announcement at last night's UFT Executive Board but the Department of Education has quietly changed the calendar for the 2019-20 school year. School is now closed on Monday, December 23rd, 2019 in New York City.

We can take a little bit of credit for the change as pressure from parents and rank and file teachers, which we certainly helped to motivate, convinced the UFT to keep fighting for December 23. Our April 26 blog piece and our NY 1 appearance did something to bring this issue to the public sphere where we looked reasonable by using precedent. When December 23rd came on a Monday in the past, it was always a day off going back 33 years. It will be this year too. We didn't ask to give back a day like others did either. The rest of the calendar is unchanged.
Yes, that NY1 report made the issue go viral. James was on the case and kept applying pressure. Even UFT insiders tell us he was correct in pushing back so hard and was effective.

Oh, and I don't want to neglect the FB NYCDOE teacher chat where UFT officials lurk and could see the real rank and file respond.

Oh, and Schirtzer just texted: Hey what about mike schirtzer who first brought it up at ex bd. No fucking credit. Ok, Mike - here's some fucking credit.

Arthur reported the news on his blog:

23 Skidoo

There was quite a push back on December 23rd. It was ultimately successful, and I'm very glad of it. People in my building were quite happy as well. In my old age, I've developed a particularly low tolerance for stupid. Let me define that term--stupid is thoughtless, pompous, pedantic, inconsiderate, and wholly unnecessary bad behavior from people who ought to know better.

Now anyone can make a bad decision. A real measure is whether or not that person determines to stick with it. When there's evidence to prove the person wrong, does he accept it? Or does he vehemently argue with it because it doesn't conform with his predetermined and utterly inflexible worldview? You never can tell.

I don't know who made this particular mistake. I don't know how the DOE calendar is negotiated. This notwithstanding, I offer congratulations to all parties who did this, and decided to not be stupid.  You know, if more people would just wake up in the morning, look themselves in the mirror and say, "Hey, today I'm gonna try to not do or be anything stupid," what a wonderful world this would be.

Yesterday Mike Schirtzer emailed me the revised DOE calendar. I checked with a UFT source to make sure it wasn't April Fool's in September, or some mass hallucination, but once I did I emailed our entire staff. I then walked from department office to department office like Santa Claus declaring, "No school December 23rd."

It's a day of hope. Who would have expected NYC DOE, the same department that turns us down at step two all the time regardless of what merit our complaints have, the same department that sustains the clown car called "legal," the one full of English-challenged lawyers who can't be bothered reading the contract, the department overflowing with Bloomberg leftovers who cry reverse discrimination when a Latino fires or transfers a few of their worthless asses--Who could imagine it would rise up and do something not stupid? That is undeniably a step in the right direction for the DOE, perhaps an example for all humankind to replicate.


  1. It's 185 days instead of 186 that teachers work now and the 185 is perfectly within the norm for teachers in this area. Some work fewer some work a couple more. Compare us to other teachers please. We have specialized skills. Right now I am staying up tonight and last night also to help my wife plan a project to make it just right for her classes. This is not paid work. Then, there are all those papers to grade. Real easy. Anyone can do it? No they cannot. Cushy job only if it is not done right.

  2. P.S. I wasn't going to come in anyway.
    I'd have scheduled my colonoscopy or ANY procedure or made ANY visit to a doctor on that date...
    No way in hell I was going in.


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