Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DA Takeaway June 2017

I agree with Mulgrew that the state ought to keep out of NYC business. While Mulgrew spoke of this in terms of mayoral control, I'd argue it extends to a few other areas. I recall when our good buddy Senator Flanagan was pushing the Bloomberg dream bill that would kill seniority rights for NYC teachers only. It was amazing this guy had the audacity to back this bill, which wouldn't have affected his district at all.

Another example of the state pushing its unwelcome nose into NYC issues was when it insisted that NYC pay for charter rent whether or not it wanted said charters. Back when reformy Mike Bloomberg was mayor, he could do any damn thing he wanted, When NYC chose a leader who openly opposed charters, the state needed to supersede the voters. School choice, actually, means you choose to support and enrich the reformies. When you choose otherwise, screw you and the horse-carriage you rode around Central Park in.

I don't, however, support mayoral control. I agree with Mulgrew that the current form is awful, but I have not been altogether impressed with the central DOE. I'd like to see a form of governance that had community voice beyond the ability to get up at PEP and be ignored by all. James Eterno suggests, without mayoral control, we might see that. For my money, mayoral control has been a disaster, resulting in the breakup of many community schools and a weakening of union citywide. I have no idea what it's good for, other than weakening community. Diane Ravitch wrote Gates and other reformies love it, because they don't have to go through all that messy democracy stuff. Patrick Sullivan would shed no tears for its demise.

Of course I'm not happy with the ATR severance package. I'd like to see ATR teachers be, you know, teachers, rather than individuals condemned to wander the DOE desert. I know that if my school were closed it would be very tough for me to find a job, and my observation reports are not bad at all. Yet I'm at top salary, and I'm confident my principal would offer little protest if I were to refer to myself as a pain in the ass. We have known for decades that it was tough for seasoned teachers to transfer into higher-paying Long Island districts. The 2005 contract made it just as difficult for us to move within our own district.

There was quite an interesting comment from an elementary chapter leader who's been excessed after 16 years. Her principal had been told to max out the classes and get rid of everyone she no longer needed. She asked about class size reduction, which would save her job. Mulgrew said UFT was on the case, and I hope he's right. However, at an Executive Board meeting where we pushed class size as a priority, we were told the union sacrificed to place class size in the contract. It wasn't mentioned that it happened 50 years ago, and judging from the excessed chapter leader, it has worked in a less than optimal fashion. Mulgrew, who generally pops in to say a few words and leaves, wasn't even there. Class size needs to be much more of a priority than it is now. There are multiple reasons for this, but if we want to be selfish and look only at how it benefits teachers, that chapter leader is a case in point.

Jonathan Halabi got up and objected to the endorsement of Fernando Cabrera. Cabrera's beliefs, according to this piece, and the included video, are less than praiseworthy, to me at least.

"Godly people are in government," Mr. Cabrera said, referring to Uganda's leadership. "Gay marriage is not accepted in this country. Even when the United States of America has put pressure and has told Uganda, 'We’re not going to fund you anymore unless you allow gay marriage.' And they have stood in their place. Why? Because the Christians have assumed the place of decision-making for the nation."

Mr. Cabrera goes on to praise the nation's socially conservative positions for an alleged rapid decline in the country’s AIDS rate, and says the infusion of religion into government has helped the country's financial outlook.

I can only suppose that I'm not Mr. Cabrera's kind of people. I'd certainly hope that UFT leadership weren't either. A Unity member got up and asserted that what Jonathan said wasn't true, with no evidence as to why not. It's pretty clear to me that Jonathan was absolutely right, and that Cabrera's ties to the so-called alt-right indicate he's not to be trusted.

Peter Lamphere got up and asked for support for FMPR. I went to the Dark Horse pub afterward and listened to FMPR President Mercedes Martinez. I left completely assured she is a badass advocate for Puerto Rican teachers, students and people, willing to go the extra mile for them. They did, however, disaffiliate themselves from AFT at some point, and there's a lot of bad blood. I'd argue FMPR, in its current form, is kind of a union opposition caucus on steroids. Of course, I think there is a need for such organizations.

A big hanging question mark is Janus. I had hoped Mulgrew would elaborate on what the state might do to counter it. Instead I heard that it will depend on what the specific ruling is, and I can't argue with that. It's funny to be a chapter leader, contemplating what to do with people who choose not to pay union dues. It's pretty sad that we live in a country so ignorant of what union means for working people.

Maybe we should move to make the American union movement a bigger part of what we teach in history classes. When I was in high school, I heard not one single word about it. I hear it gets covered somewhat, but I think its importance is not well understood, even within our union. I have issues with UFT leadership, and I may have referred to them here or there on this little blog. But I know exactly where we stand without union, and it's no place I want to be. It's no place I want for my kid or my students either.
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