Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Sell Out Turns 50

The right-wing, pro-voucher, anti-union NY Sun editorial board wrote a love letter to Rod Paige's favorite teachers' union leader today to help her celebrate her 50th birthday.

The Sun lauds UFT President Randi Weingarten for her "idealism" and her "leadership." They note how Ms. Weingarten won her fourth presidential term with 87% of the vote (no mention of the fact that only 30% of the membership actually voted) and teacher's salaries have gone up 43% since Weingarten started negotiating with Bloomberg in 2002.

Finally the Sun says they're sending Rod Paige's favorite teacher labor leader a copy of Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose" in the hopes that she'll add vouchers to the list of concessions she has already handed the education reformers/Walmart proponents like added days, added time, gutted work protections (seniority, grievance rights, the return to bathroom duty), authoritarian mayoral control, union-sponsored charter schools, merit pay and reformatted school financing that favors getting rid of costly veteran teachers and hiring lots of Teach For America missionaries.

Just to show you how much Weingarten despises the role of being a traditional union leader (i.e., actually looking out for the rights and needs of her union membership) and loves sucking up to the education reformer/Walmart proponent lobby, the NY Daily News says that she held a fund-raiser for her charter schools at UFT Headquarters last night to mark her 50th birthday.

That's right - a fund-raiser for her charter schools at UFT Headquarters paid for by you and me and the rest of the UFT rank-and-file.

What's that tell you about Ms. Weingarten's priorities?

The Sun also reports that Representative George Miller (D-California), an architect of the No Child Left Behind law who would like to expand the law to science and social studies next year, has praised New York City for two "groundbreaking" programs: the merit pay program Weingarten agreed to earlier this year and the school report cards that have caused such controversy here in the city.

Leaving aside the idiocy of Miller for now (and make no mistake, what he says is idiocy - a few minutes of research on Bloomberg's school report card program would have told him how stupid and reductionist it is to base a school's grade almost wholly on test score progress rather than overall performance), let us note that both the school report cards and the merit pay program were enabled by concessions Weingarten made to the mayor.

Miller says he'd like to take some of these "groundbreaking" programs national and while the current leadership of both the NEA and the AFT disagrees with much of Ms. Weingarten's education "reform" agenda, she is expected to go to Washington and take control of the AFT pretty soon.

Which means nationally teachers can expect to see some of the same "groundbreaking" concessions like merit pay, additional time and days, charter schools and gutted work protections that Ms. Weingarten has brought UFT members here in New York City.

Before she goes, it is expected that she will also concede teacher tenure to Mayor Bloomberg and replace it with something called "due process" which she and her minions currently praise at the Green Dot charter schools they have helped bring in to the city (Due process, btw, means the administration can "do" whatever the hell they want to teachers and there's not much you can "do" about it.)

Perhaps the Ayn Randians at the NY Sun editorial board will even get a Merry Christmas present in the form of vouchers from Ms. Weingarten before she heads off into the sunset to destroy teacher work protections nationally the way she has destroyed them here in New York (though even I think Ms. Weingarten knows that would be going too far.)

But who know? When Rod Paige - the man who compared the NEA to terrorists - says you're the only teacher labor union leader he can stand and when the right-wing, pro-voucher, anti-union editorial board at the NY Sun sends you love letters to mark your 50th birthday and when you hold a fund-raiser for charter schools at the new UFT headquarters building constructed with the dollars of actual working rank-and-file UFT members/teachers, it's hard to say just how you will sell out next.

But one thing is for certain - she will sell out.
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