Saturday, January 20, 2024

UFT/Unity leadership has been the Major Obstacle to Ending Mayoral Control so direct fire at THEM, Plus Ronnie Almonte on reasons not to renew

"We cannot take a stand against mayoral control as long as the UFT won't openly oppose it."  

Politicians have said this openly to me. 

With the current sturm and drang over mayoral control, we must keep in mind that it will never end as long as the UFT/Unity leadership keeps supporting it.

And those who speak at meeting after meeting making the case against it must keep this in mind. They should be speaking at every UFT forum to challenge the bullshit that the UFT wants real change instead of virtue signalling.

Ask people in the schools and I bet they want mayoral control to end. Their major complaint would be the level of micromanagement and control and their total inability to fight against it. 

One example of how committed to mayoral control the UFT has been was when Daniel Alicea, at that time not opposed to Unity, felt that they were open to discussing the issue and willing to make major reforms. So he put up a resolution for the DA to open the issue for discussion and saw month after month delaying tactics lasting a year before it faded. That opened his eyes to the deceptive games UFT/Unity play.

Renewal of mayoral control of the school system is on our radar. The governor is pushing for a 4-year extension, and the UFT gives false signals of wanting some changes but not out-rightly opposing, as I reported in my last post:

The very concept of mayoral control, no matter the city or the individual in charge, is inherently doomed to fail. And is undemocratic and a form of racism, given the racial makeup of the populations of most cities that have implemented it. Most school systems (mostly white suburbs) elect school boards. 

Mayoral control was a plot to remove regular oversight of massive school systems with massive budgets and remove fundamental oversight, thus opening the doors to extensive corruption where lobbyists get to operate. In the old days of community control with 32 school districts for k-8, of course there was corruption but it was hard work for the vested interests to deal with so many elected school boards. What was needed was more oversight, not the elimination of local involvement. The charter school industrial complex were major players in pushing for mayoral control, as was the testing industrial complex and other corporate entities with the power and influence to get in the door of the mayor.

The "let schools compete" corporate business model cannot work for schools and that has been proven time and again since it was first implemented in Chicago in 1995 (now shifting to an elected school board) and NY in 2002. Teachers rated by test scores, schools rated the same way, enormous oversight and pressure on teachers that I in my 35 year from late 60s never faced, thought there was some pressure, especially from an ambitious principal who took over in 1979 and fundamentally gave me a taste of what became mayoral control to the point that I no longer wanted to teach a regular class and became a computer cluster. 

Thus, my experience prepared me to oppose mayoral control because I had seen what it would bring. And as I pointed out I shared all this with UFT leadership time and again. And 20 years later they still want only tweaks. In no way do they want a democratic election for school boards. But then again why would we expect UFT/Unity leadership to be interested in democratic institutions?

Of course the rub in all this is what are the alternatives to mayoral control? A topic for another day. 

So I will state this once again for all those forces opposing mayoral control: 


I'm posting UFT Exec Bd (non-Unity) rep Ronnie Almonte's testimony at a hearing on Thursday. Ronnie didn't get a lot of time to present the entire case against mayoral control and focused on the incompetence of Mayor Adams and the fundamental injustices inherent in a school system controlled by one politician no matter what political party.

Testimony Against Mayoral Control: No single person should control NYC public schools

NYC public schools are governed by a system of mayoral control. This means that the mayor, currently Eric Adams, effectively makes unliteral decisions about how the Department of Education runs. Mayoral control was successfully implemented by Mayor Mike Bloomberg in 2002; however, every few years it must be renewed by Albany. Current Mayor Eric Adams was granted an extension of mayoral control in 2022, which is up for renewal this year. Last night I attended the public hearing on mayoral control in Manhattan, alongside families and fellow educators who overwhelmingly spoke against it. You can view recordings of this hearing (forthcoming) and past hearings here. In the meantime, I’ve posted the testimony I (mostly) gave below.

I'm here to speak against the renewal of mayoral control. I speak against it, not only because Mayor Eric Adams is an incompetent and obstructive school manager; but because a system built on the disenfranchisement of Black and brown families, that can allow a single person as inept and egotistical as Eric Adams–and de Blasio and Bloomberg before him–to cause such widespread harm, is a system that must end. School leaders advocate for students, they don’t cut their funds, fail to pay their providers, crowd their classrooms, deprive them of their services, throw them out of housing, and segregate them racially.

There are several things Mayor Adams has done that disqualify him as the manager of the largest school district in the country. For one, in his short tenure, he’s cut hundreds of millions, probably billions of dollars from the school budget. This is at a time when NYC’s economy is doing well. Every day on my way to work, as I exit the subway, I see four or five of Adams’ new private security guards standing at the turnstile gates, and while making my way out, I pass by another four or five NYPD cops playing on their phones. I see these adults and think about how much power Adams has to direct money toward such waste, about how all mayors have let the NYPD blow their overtime budget each year and get their multimillion misconduct cases covered by taxpayers. I think about these things as I commute to a school where Mayoral cuts had halted the funding of after-school clubs. And I think about how Mayor Adams is effectively plundering education to fund policing, and whatever pet projects he gets to pursue at his whim. Even when the money is there, the Mayor cannot manage to pay preschools on time, or bring himself to prepare to meet the legal obligation of reducing class sizes.

Some argue that Mayoral control ensures accountability. But ever since the billionaire Mayor Bloomberg steamrolled the Board of Ed, we’ve seen zero consequences for NYC mayors as students learning English go without enough bilingual educators; students with IEPs illegally have their services neglected; asylum-seeking students get their education disrupted, by getting evicted from shelters in the middle of cold stormy nights, and being forced to transfer to new schools every few weeks. All of this - and more - in a system where students of color bear the burden of a school segregation crisis that deepens. These injustices keep repeating, precisely because mayoral control prevents the mayor from being held accountable. We would see, not only actual accountability, but real improvements to our students' learning and safety under an elected school board made up of people, who as members of the community, would have an actual interest in not ransacking but nourishing the school system.


In other UFT news, Arthur pushed Amy for a UFT award as a way to aggravate Mulgrew.

Many of you may have received an email from UFT HS Vice President Janella Hinds. Janella, evidently, is in charge of seeking nominations for an outstanding female colleague. I’ve no doubt there are hundreds, thousands of deserving women. I can think of several off the top of my head. (I won’t mention them here, because I’m certain I’ll have forgotten someone crucial.)

This notwithstanding, in my career as a teacher, and as a union leader, one person stands out, and that is now-exiled UFT Queens Representative Amy Arundell.

Nominate Amy Arundell for the HERStory Award

Give Mulgrew that well-deserved conniption.


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