Monday, May 18, 2020

The Coming Crisis to NYC Education - 1975 to 2020 - Part 3 This is not the best of times - What Will Be Won't Be

These are the worst of times, these are the even worse than WORST of times. Even Dickens would be horrified and Edgar Allen Poe would run like the dickens. [bad pun].

I can put up so many links to the ways things will go south and make 1975 look like a party, you'd spend the next month reading them. I am not just talking about layoffs, but an existential threat to most of the public school system, to the union, to salaries and maybe even pensions. Take your most horrible nightmare and double or triple it in a worst case scenario. (See links at the end of this post - if you dare.)

It's been a while since I've blogged and that is due to the amount of free time I've had. So much doing nothing that doing anything becomes work.

However, I have been busy rebuilding a fence that fell down in December. So it took me almost 5 months. As opposed to activism, you actually can see progress.
Ooops - here's my cynicism coming out.

I have developed a routine of working outside when I can, reading and smoking my pipe, binge listening to NPR and many podcasts (I will do an entire post on the podcasts) and a regular post dinner routine of watching TV until my eyes close.

My other problem in blogging has been the amount of input coming in from all directions - so much that just reading and viewing kills the day. But with things heating up sharing lessons of the past as a way to see where we are going is important. What will the schools or education look like short and long term? How will the UFT respond? (Not in the best way I will hazard a guess). And will there be pushback from the membership and what form will that take? Will members rise up from the rank and file or will groups like MORE try to lead a viable opposition (as you can imagine I will have a few things to say about that, but surprisingly my views will contain some positives.)

In Part1 and Part 2 I laid down some history of my experience in the 1975 budget crisis where almost 15,000 teachers were laid off and we went on a one week strike.
If you haven't read them yet check them out before going on with Part 3 (and there will be a part 4 and maybe a part 50.  I will also do supplementals even though what I really want to write about is the election and the analysis I've been getting from a certain segment of the left on Biden, Bernie, Dem Central, etc - fascinating stuff - and if you want some of that watch Rising on The Hill every weekday.

I was rummaging through basement files yesterday and dug up some of our newsletters from the spring of 1975 before the strike and fall right after the strike and they are very informative. The Feb. 1975 edition had many warnings of budget cuts and how the union leadership - Shanker - was poo poohing them.

They're not digitized but I may retype some of the articles to give you a flavor of the times. Here are a few samples - enlarge them to get the flavor. I'm trying to recapture the political and emotional flavor of 1975-6 pre and post strike and it will take more than a few posts. I know that some people see the current crisis as an opportunity for positive change but I see more dismal times ahead. Check out the table of contents -- so interesting - evan an article - from 1975 - on how aliens - immigtants in today's world - were coming under attack by Republicans and some Democrats for taking jobs away from Americans -- Trumpism c. 1975. Boy do I love history.

For layoffs purposes - I've been asked how they did it and I will add more in future posts as my memory coes back.

I came to my school in 1970 with 3 years as a sub - having started teaching in 1967 but became a regular teacher in 1970. There were complex rules for excessing and layoffs - so when the cuts came I was saved while others who began teaching in 1968 or 1969 in my school were moved out - confusing for them - they were there before me but I was at another school before them. Layoffs were based on license and citywide seniority - which is why the excessed didn't go into some ATR pool but bumped those with lesser seniority -- it was this that was changed in the 2005 contract - and I an others argued that despite seeming unfair to newbies, the old seniority lists were the fairest and most orderly way -- watch the chaos this time compared to 1975.

Seniority was based on date of appointment in your license. For instance my appointement date was Sept. 5 1970 and someone else in my school was Sept. 6, 1970. I won. I pointed out previously that my grade on the teacher test broke ties. There were two others with my same appointment date but I had the higher score.

If it's really bad, as in '75,  there may be demands from the members to strike and don't think it impossible if there were a massive groundswell - especially if salaries are cut as an alt to layoffs - or a 4 day week or whatever else is thrown at the schools -- the UFT might wink and throw a strike and let members take a two for one Taylor Law hit as a lesson.

Shanker claimed the deal he made with the city restored 2000 jobs - the usual bait and switch. Our current UFT leaders are echoing Shanker - not to worry. Internally I don't know what they are thinking but some of my sources say their thinking is always along the lines that long term is next week. So say in worst case they cut thousands - what will happen? As we saw in 1975, the union will ask for a seat at the table - not to fight the cuts but to help decide where they come from - and make sure their favored projects - and patronage - get taken care of.

By the way - the UFT/AFT is an arm of the Democratic Central Committee and acts accordingly and with the same mindset that makes them both reject medicare for all in favor of Cobra plans -- and watch them tell the laid off who will lose health care how best to get COBRA (see Pelosi 3 trillion buck plan where laid off pay to COBRA) - which supports the health insurance industry -- which the UFT/AFT has ties too - if you want an explanation.

Anyway - back to the issue of layoffs. Obviously the untenured are in the most danger - and if the membership is asked to vote on anything they also will they lose their right to vote since they will no longer be UFT members?

For today I'm going to end on this note and also include some very important links to read in prep for my next publication.

Abby, ed notes' Newark correspondent sent me this article:

COVID-19 layoffs are coming for N.J. teachers. How bad will it get? - ....

Of particular note was this news for untenured teachers.

... as a grueling school year nears its end, some New Jersey teachers are receiving a cruel reward: A pink slip, courtesy of the crushing economic weight of the crisis.
Facing a Friday deadline to notify those teachers who won’t be brought back next year, many districts have already told non-tenured educators they won’t be offered a contract for the fall until schools know just how badly their finances will be hurt by COVID-19, said Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.
And those decisions might only be a precursor to a summer of painful budget cuts forced by an almost certain decrease in state funding.
With so much uncertainty ahead, some districts decided to take the cautious approach of telling non-tenured teachers they can’t offer them a new contract right now, but schools will try to bring them back when funding becomes clearer, Bozza said.
The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, called for a cooperative response with lawmakers, similar to the deal the NJEA recently struck to lower state and local health care costs. [Norm interpretation - let us be partners in how to make these cuts. Exactly what the UFT and NYSUT will do].
And then there’s the possibility of more federal relief money, which is either a lifesaver or a political pipe dream depending on whom you ask. [Norm comment - the UFT insiders report the thinking is there will be a bailout -- magical thinking -- since there is no plan B].

Below are just a few links from the past 48 hours to wet the appetite of those who enjoy disaster movies.

The Jewish Voice is right wingish in many ways and I imagine ending the public school system might be on their agenda -- but I subscribe and read it every morning to check the way the wind is blowing and this article is frightening.
Here's an even better check on where we are going:
Yes, let's keep stealing from public schools. Do we really think there will be a bailout to keep teachers staying home and getting paid?

And for a brief diversion on how incompetent Cuomo and de Blasio were - it took me a half hour to read this amazing piece of reporting from Pro Publica (Thanks Leonie for tweeting this out and ruining my appetite for breakfast).
And if Biden wins, don't look for great news on public as Diane reports:

Nancy Bailey: Who Does the Biden/Sanders Education Unity Panel Unite?

More from Leonie and the NY Post:
Thorough analysis of the excessive spending at DoE schools Including  unnecessary contracts, consultants making $425 per hour & twice as much spending on mid-level bureaucrats than in  2014.  Particularly peculiar: a bunch of new pricey desk hires added to supervise phys ed in schools in March when phys ed no longer happening in schools.
The City - worth reading every day and donating to.
And from the always hopeful left Jacobin that revolution is just around the corner:

Pandemics Can Mean Strike Waves

Oh and one more "hopeful" article

School Districts are Planning to Lay Off Thousands - Huffington Post
Districts could start making cuts now to avoid further pain in the fall, Roza said, such as halting pay to substitute teachers while schools are closed (she says she’s heard of some continuing to pay them even amid school closures). Indeed, throughout the country, districts are the biggest employer in many communities.
“The teacher shortage is now gone,” said Roza, noting that districts may be loath to hire in the fall. “What are people going to do about all these raises they promised?” 
In New York, where the governor has warned that state support for schools could fall as much as 20%, teachers and advocates have already started fighting back against cuts. Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a budget plan that also included significant cuts to education services, including a hiring freeze and cutbacks in counseling. 
New York City Council members, community members and teachers said at a virtual press conference Monday that the city and state should reduce contracts for costly consultants and institute higher taxes on the states’ billionaires to offset revenue losses. One of the more controversial suggestions included a hiring freeze for the New York Police Department. 

The Council of the Great City Schools letter asks congressional leaders for a significant infusion of cash to help stave off some of these cuts. The March coronavirus relief package provided schools with about $13.5 billion in relief, but school leaders say this only scratches the surface of the problem and are asking for $200 billion more dollars, including for special education services and Title I, the program that helps fund districts that serve primarily low-income students. 
Indeed, the group points to an injection of funds Congress provided during the 2008-2009 Great Recession. These funds offered a lifeline to schools, says the letter, though some states still aren’t up to their pre-recession spending levels.

Enjoy your lockdown.


  1. It looks as though the pandemic has awakened the American people. Even California and New York are in play now.

  2. So what are the positives about MORE?

  3. Op Ed by Weingarten in NYT bashing Trump for Pandemic. Zero reference to China. Read Irish times (Liberal) opinion on China and its 'specter of death'. that created pandemic. Lambasts mindset that killed 80 million since 1950.

    1. There's no defending China on my part but as always you ignore context and history. Like only China and Russia killed people - the big numbers are from starvation due to idiot policies - but they still count. On the other hand look at starvation and killings in China for a hundred years before 1949. Millions from starvation and Japanese and before them British and others. And before Mao when he was tiny Chiang Kai Shek was repressive too. And how about the years of Chinese mob killings before Mao. And the deaths in Soviet Union 10 times ours at least in fighting Hitler -- those don't count as Stalin deaths -- and also how we didn't touch the continent till June 6 44 leaving Societs to fight Germany on their own -- and Churchill killed any plans to go in a year earlier because he was so anti Soviet -- and how about Soviets being the ones to kick Naxis out of eastern Europe and taking these countries as spoils of war -- as if we never took spoils - war of 1898 - and most of Latin America. (Chile etc). So while I look at the world from all angles and blame everyone you have myopia.
      The reason there were communists anywhere were due to fuckups by capitalists that led to such bad conditions - and if we keep going as we are don't be surprised to see things go either right or left dictatorship - either way we are screwed.

  4. The NYT is garbage. On Memorial day weekend they choose to undermine the ultimate sacrifices of brave men and servicewomen by running a front page article about US military support for white supremacism. They lean heavily on the naming of bases after Confederate generals to make the case. What a stab in the back. It is history. You can't airbrush out the history you don't like ala China's cultural revolution. Those know it alls should put on uniforms themselves maybe and leave comfort and safety behind. Malevolence of the highest order from the 'paper of record.'


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