Tag Archives: News

A GENERAL STRATEGY?

Perhaps this might help with surviving the school apocalypse.

Perhaps this might help with surviving the school apocalypse.

Two of the keys to victory in this amorphous war over public education are being religiously practiced by the progressive Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.

The first key to victory lies in their website. Every paragraph is festooned with reformy language. Their aims seem to be indistinguishable from those of Students First or any other privatizer-friendly “research council”. By speaking in glittering generalities in order to hide their agendas, the reformy crowd has thrown out the rope by which they will eventually hang.

Everyone is for “improved outcomes” and “bridging the achievement gap”. The incessant need for reformers to assure us of their genuine desire to accomplish these things have made these terms tropes with no real meaning. Any group, organization or movement can slip snugly under the covers of this rhetoric to hide their own respective agendas.

The public has become so accustomed to these terms that no organization who hopes to truly affect education policy can afford to not use them. “Closing the achievement gap”, for example, is an idea that a deft rhetorician can use to mean equalizing resources among all schools around the country, just like the reformers usually use it to mean boosting test scores.

In the end, all it really takes is for us to repeat and aver the purity of our intentions  using these terms as frequently as the reformy crowd.

Of course, this rhetorical approach should be coupled by truly progressive action. Annenberg recently kicked off an initiative called A+ NYC aimed at lobbying the mayoral candidates in the name of what parents want for public schools. They recently sent a battered school bus around the city to reach parents who wanted to share their voices.

Not surprisingly, the biggest concerns turned out to be the disappearance of extracurricular activities and over-reliance on testing. This is a far cry from the manufactured clamoring of parents for more charter schools. It goes a long way towards explaining why Eva Moskowitz and her ilk have to get signatures of out-of-district parents to petition for charter schools.

What really needs to be done, and what Annenberg seems on the verge of suggesting, is the creation of the idea of parents as voting blocs. Parents are used to having their names invoked whenever one group or another wants to push some sort of privatization or censorship. Yet, they have never truly been framed as a voting bloc.

A voting bloc needs to be united behind at least one common idea. For parents, “great schools” are not enough, since that is a trope and not an idea. This is where the reformers fail and from whence the next great school movement has to start. Parents as a voting bloc must be connected to the idea of a “better school day”. An idea like this, on which the Chicago teachers put their fingers during their strike, is general enough to unite a wide swath of parents while having enough specific connotations to mean something.

And these specific connotations would be decidedly at odds with the reformy agenda. Instead of equalizing “outcomes”, the focus needs to shift towards equalizing resources. What will be important is what we as a society put into the schools, not what we can get out of the schools in terms of trained labor, higher test scores and no-bid contracts.

Who would be able to argue against an idea that wants great schools for all children?

Discarding the vapid terminology utilized by the reformies is a mistake. Instead, true public school advocates have to flay the reformer beast and walk around wearing its skin.

WHAT DO MOTHER THERESA AND MICHELLE RHEE HAVE IN COMMON?

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A recent study out of Canada casts doubt on the saintly reputation of Mother Theresa. Their essential thesis is that, despite the fact she took in millions of dollars in donations, the dying people for whom she cared in Calcutta were subjected to horrible conditions. Part of this, they contend, is because Mother Theresa saw beauty in suffering.

The study is really not saying anything Christopher Hitchens did not say many years ago in his documentary Hell’s Angel:

Out of the many convincing arguments Hitchens makes the one that sticks out is that, while primitive and unsanitary conditions were good enough for the people in Calcutta, Mother Theresa herself took advantage of the best medical care the western world had to offer when she got sick. That right there is enough for me to be skeptical of her motives.

To be clear, I do not mean this to be an attack on the Catholic Church. The media hyped her up way before the church did, even though the church did nothing to dispel the hype. If anything, the church saw Mother Theresa as a useful public relations tool to help prop up dreadful church attendance around the world. The blame for Mother Theresa’s undeserved reputation for purity and virtue rest with the media and the woman herself.

Mother Theresa was comfortable hobnobbing with the world’s political and financial elite. She sung Ronald Reagan’s praises, even as he was funding illegal wars in Central America that killed many members of the Catholic Church, including clergy. Her organization pulled in millions of dollars from banksters with questionable ethics, including those associated with the infamous Keating Five. All of her photo-ops provided moral cover to people who killed, swindled and oppressed millions.

What I say here is unpopular and will most likely offend many true believers. It really is no different from the way the education debate goes in this country. The media seizes upon people associated with the elite, like Michelle Rhee for example. They attribute to her selfless motives in trying to “help” some of the most downtrodden people in society. Meanwhile, what she provides to those downtrodden people is of questionable value. The question arises: what happened with all of those millions if it is obviously not going to help people?

Yet, even suggesting such a question will elicit a fair share of vitriol. How dare we question people who have made it their life’s mission to help people? We must have our own selfish motivations. Either we are anti-religious bigots of union hacks who fear accountability.

The fact that so many believe the hype about something is the biggest reason why we should be skeptical. Instead of falling into line because it is the popular thing to do, we need to be the voice in the wilderness that brings people back down to earth. Otherwise, we run the risk of group-think, tyranny of the majority and out-and-out mob rule.

Both Mother Theresa and the education reformers want for other, usually poor, people things of which they do not avail themselves. If that does not raise a red flag then nothing will.

KUDOS TO THE PARENTS OF P.S. 59: WHAT THEY CAN TEACH US ABOUT OUR SCHOOLS

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Yesterday I criticized how the whole slavery math problem situation at P.S. 59 was handled. Although the teachers involved did not make the best decisions, the worst decisions of all were made by student teacher Aziza Harding and NYU Professor Charlton McIlvain.

Harding did not bother to speak to her cooperating teacher about the matter. McIlvain rang the alarm bells by calling the media. Indeed, there might have been more sinister motives behind what either McIlvain or Harding did. Hopefully time will reveal if these people were motivated by publicity or just mere stupidity.

Yet, I must give credit to P.S. 59′s principal Adele Schroeter. She called in the parents in an attempt to provide an open forum on the matter. The parents, for their part, defended their children’s 4th-grade teacher, Jane Youn.

The parents exercised loads more common sense than Harding or McIlvain. While the parents did not believe that the homework sheet was appropriate, they also recognized that the sheet did not represent everything their children had learned about slavery in Ms. Youn’s class. They fiercely defended their children’s teacher, recognizing her skill and hard work on behalf of their children. The parents saw this for what it was: a mistake from which they could learn.

Notice how the parents are not calling for the DOE to take “disciplinary action”. Notice how they are not calling for anyone’s head on a plate. Notice how they were able to communicate with their children about what they learned in class instead of jumping to rash conclusions.

My hats off to the parents of P.S. 59.

This story highlights an interesting point about Bloomberg’s Department of Education. One of Bloomberg’s first changes, through his puppet Panel for Educational Policy, was to hire so-called “Parent Coordinators” for each school. Ostensibly, these Parent Coordinators were supposed to be liaisons between parents and their schools. Instead, they turned out to be people whose jobs it is to tell parents only the things the administration wants parents to know. Parents are not encouraged to bring their concerns to the Parent Coordinators. Even if they do, it is unlikely that those concerns go any further.

The Parent Coordinator position, along with the replacement of local school boards with a centralized PEP answerable only to Bloomberg, effectively shut parents out of any say over how their children get educated. This has allowed Bloomberg a free hand to close schools, fire teachers and hollow out enrichment programs. He made sure to keep the parents at arms’ length before embarking on his destruction of the city’s schools.

We see what happened at P.S. 59 when parents got involved. Hopefully, their defense of their children’s teacher will make the DOE think twice about taking any disciplinary measures against her.

Parental involvement is the single greatest antidote to Bloomberg’s destructive educational policies.

This lesson should be heeded by our union. For the past 10 years, they have kissed up to the Bloomberg machine in hopes of getting some scraps. The UFT has been the puppy dogs at Bloomberg’s dinner table, anxiously awaiting a morsel to fall from his plate and grateful for every bit they get. Where has it gotten us?

The union must shift alliances away from centralized mayoral control and towards decentralized community control. The union must advocate for parents to be partners, not onlookers, in the education of their children.

We know why the union has refused to take this type of stance. They fear helping parents gain too much of a voice will usurp their own seats at the table. How much smaller can the seat at the table get as it is? 10 years of mayoral control have reduced our seat to a mere stool, one with wobbly legs at that.

Only the community and only the parents can help teachers restore their seat at the table and ensure educational integrity for our children.

The actions of the parents of P.S. 59 is a microcosm of this fact. Their advocacy has strengthened the position of an embattled teacher. It has also ensured a measure of integrity in their children’s education by double-checking what they learned about slavery and defending a strong teacher.

Unity take heed: this is where your future lies.

WIKIPEDIA IS NO PLACE FOR OPEN DISCUSSION

Prove your arrogance and stupidity by wearing a shirt that shows which economic religion you follow.

Prove your arrogance and stupidity by wearing a shirt that shows which economic religion you follow.

Those of you mired in the teaching world may or may not be familiar with the so-called “Austrian School” of economics. Turgidly, the “Austrian School” holds that markets are perfect and the government should stay out of them so that they can work their magic. There is tremendous, if not total, overlap between Austrian economics and libertarianism. Ron Paul is an adherent of the Austrian School, as he and his followers constantly like to remind us.

You can get a quick introduction to the Austrian School by visiting its Wikipedia page which, apparently, has been locked in an internecine editing conflict. The conflict involves a criticism of the Austrian School by Paul Krugman which used to show up on the page. Certain libertarian acolytes have been taking down the Krugman part because they say it misrepresents Austrian economics. Others say that Krugman is a well-respected economist whose criticism should be included. Wikipedia has prevented the article from being edited for the rest of the month.

For my part, I do not see why Krugman’s criticism cannot be left up there. If the Austrian folks think his argument is a straw man, then they can always include a rejoinder from another economist demonstrating how. This would assume rational dialogue and open debate is also part of the Austrian School. Unfortunately, Austrian economics has become a fundamentalism to many of its followers and they live in a constant state of jihad.

There are Wikipedia pages about heroes of mine, like Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault (my avatar), that contain criticisms that I think are unfair. Never did I think of editing them out of existence. This is probably because Wikipedia is one very limited source of information. Those of us familiar with the ideas of these thinkers encountered them through the books they wrote. We have probably also read many books written by others that attempt to elaborate on these ideas and the criticisms they have faced. Therefore, when I read the Wikipedia pages of my intellectual heroes, I am already largely familiar with everything on the page. It is not a shock or an affront to read something negative about them.

This seems to be the crux of the entire Austrian School Wikipedia fiasco. It is a philosophy nay, an ideology, that has gained many converts in this age of the internet. People like Ron Paul have become heroes in cyberspace. His stances on issues like imperialist war, the War on Drugs and government surveillance appeal to a young crowd naturally and rightfully mistrustful of the system. On top of that, a generation of half-digested internet documentaries and websites convey many libertarian ideas in easily consumable sound bites and slogans. Someone who is honestly looking for news from a non-mainstream source cannot help but encounter these things, especially since many of them are the first, second, third and fourth entries that come up on Google searches.

Unfortunately, the whole anti-government tenor of the Austrian School is intellectually untenable. It posits that rules of the free market are immutably written on the face of nature, that a free market is the “natural” state of human society and that the existence of any imperfections in the market is the result of government interference. It is a system of beliefs that are not falsifiable. How does one “prove” that a “free market” is “natural”? This is such a loaded statement that it does not pass the giggle test. The Austrian folks take this as an article of faith, thereby betraying the spirit of economics as a social science. What sets science apart from most other fields is the fact that its conclusions are falsifiable through observation and analysis.

The great economist Joe Stiglitz called such people “free market fundamentalists”. He was referring to economists but the label can be easily applied to the laymen who consider themselves adherents of the Austrian School. Its tone of anti-authoritarianism appeals to people who mistrust the system. It just so happens that the internet attracts these types of people.

For my part, I have had many discussions with libertarians both at Occupy and in my salad days as an internet troll. When I ask what they would do with things like education, police, transportation, energy and other big government programs, their answer is always a simplistic “hands off” ideology for the government. For them, the role of government should be to merely hang back and enforce private contracts. When I would then ask them what happens if a monopoly starts to develop which is anathema to the free market, the answer either is “it won’t happen” or “there should be laws in place to prevent such things”. The first response is hokum with no basis in reality or history, another belief that is not falsifiable. The second response starts a slippery slope where every free market eventuality can be corrected with laws. In that case, free markets need the very same government that Austrian types blame as the cause for all of the free market’s ills.

What I have found is that people who believe this type of stuff fall into one of two categories. They can be wealthy people who have embraced an extreme “small government” idea that amounts to a bunch of self-serving nonsense. Or, more frequently, they are people with a simplistic, individualistic view of society who believe that everyone has full control of their destiny at all times. It is the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” crowd. They are the people who watch a video of starving children in Africa and ask “why don’t they just move to where the food is?” or “serves them right for being lazy”. They are the people who think that the fact they can go camping in the woods for a weekend means they are “self-sufficient”, the meaning of that term apparently being totally lost on them. They are the people who believe that over 100 million unemployed Americans are just being lazy. They are the Ayn Rand fans and other assorted lickspittles of the wealthy.

It is no surprise that the page on Austrian economics is being purged of every criticism by its acolytes. To them, the internet is everything. Anything that is worth knowing about the world comes from cheesy documentaries and simplistic slogans delivered in pixels. The one idea that they have latched onto must be the correct idea, despite the fact they have not bothered to expose themselves to any other ideas. They are allergic to books, especially works of history since they tend to have a “liberal bias” or are a product of the filthy system. It is like the child who learns something at school and cannot wait to share it with everyone they know, assuming that they are the only ones privy to this awesome knowledge.

Despite what the Austrian folks think, they are not the guardians of knowledge and truth. Another person’s rejection of their beliefs does not automatically make that person an idiot. The world contains a vast array of ideas and perspectives. Knowing one theory about one discipline does not make you an expert on anything.

A Wikipedia page is not an indoctrination tool where every word has to follow the party line. It is supposed to contain a range of ideas associated with a subject, including criticism of that subject. This might not comport with the dogmatic, fundamentalist world in which they live but, after all, we do still live in the United States.

Although if the free market fundamentalists, Neoliberals and austerity hawks keep having their way, then I might not be living here for much longer.

 

NEWS FLASH: TEACHERS ARE DISSATISFIED

Stop the presses! Studies show that teachers are more dissatisfied than ever. YOU really don't know the half.

Stop the presses! Studies show that teachers are more dissatisfied than ever. You REALLY don’t know the half. Read below and get an idea.,

The big story currently making its rounds in the edu-blogosphere is the MetLife survey which finds the percentage of teachers who consider themselves “very satisfied” with their jobs at an all-time low. This is the biggest “no duh” story I have seen in quite some time, although it is useful to have empirical evidence for things that you have always known to be true.

As I see it, the edu-blogosphere is divided into two camps: practitioners and non-practitioners. The practitioners are people like yours truly, Perdido Street, Francesco Portelos, DOENuts, B-Lo and other friends we know and respect very well. We tend to oppose many of the programs of the so-called “education reform” movement because we have seen first-hand the destruction they have wrought on our schools for the past 10 years.

The non-practitioners consist of blogs like Andy Rotherham’s Eduwonk and Joanne Jacobs. These are people who do not teach but, somehow, have been anointed authorities on matters of education policy. They cite studies and articles, generally of other non-practitioners, and affect an objective stance towards them. On the whole they tend to be more supportive  of, and open to, reformy ideas cooked up by these non-practitioners.

It has been the non-practitioners who have been carrying the day for many long years. Whether it is in the blog world or the blood and guts world of education policy, non-practitioners have the ears of the people in power. They also seem to have the ears of the people. Non-practitioner blogs tend to be echo chambers for the ideas of other non-practitioners. It is a rare occasion when these people cite an article done by someone actually teaching in a classroom.

More than being echo-chambers, the non-practitioner blogs represent to me a strata of arrogant, self-important people re-excreting the dung of other arrogant, self-important people. They smell each other’s leavings and tell the rest of us it is air freshener. Their stance of objectivity is really a ruse to sterilize the debate on education. They wish to make education a matter of macro studies involving numbers, trends and equations. In fact, these people need to discuss education in this way. Not only is it the only way these people can remotely approach the experience of being inside of a classroom, it is the method of discourse that gives them legitimacy. The moment teaching is recognized as the art it is, and teachers themselves are recognized as professionals, is the moment these people cease to be relevant.

And yet, it is the practitioners who are struggling against the current to be considered relevant. We have been over here raising our hands saying “hey, look at us, we have some insights of our own.” At best, we are considered strange curiosities by the people who “count”.  At worst, we are not considered at all. At the very worst, we are automatically written off as self-interested curmudgeons whose ideas always have ulterior motives.

This is the type of topsy-turvy debate we have over education in this country. The ones who are raking in money, popularity, influence and power on the back of the education system are seen as the righteous crusaders. The ones who toil in obscurity,  the ones who write these blogs in the non-existent spare time we have as a labor not of love but of necessity, are seen as the enemy or at least as anterior to the “real” debate over education.

So if our job satisfaction is at an all-time low, you can forgive us. We do not even receive the satisfaction of getting a fair hearing in the public discussion. Teachers are to be evaluated, held accountable, fired, judged but never heard.

No, we are not dissatisfied. What I feel, what many of our colleagues feel, goes way beyond the pale of normal disgruntlement.

For the past decade and more we have seen our schools closed. We have been told that we are the problem . We make too much money, do too little work, have too little accountability and drain too much from the hard-working American taxpayer. All of our efforts, what we have gleaned from years of experience, is being judged by how much “value” we “add” to test scores. Poverty, drug abuse, television, broken homes, violence, gangs, lack of sleep are all excuses we are using to shirk our duties as educators. None of these things matter. If we were better, then all of these problems would be solved. If we actually “cared”, we would give our children the wings to fly above these problems. Through giving children the keys to a better future, we can eradicate these problems in a single generation. We would also make America “competitive” again and end this Great Recession that just refuses to disappear. Instead of being the pious role models called for in our job description, we care more about our long vacations and our 3 p.m. clock out time.

We, the practitioners, are assailed by these tropes on a daily basis. These tropes have absolutely no relation to the reality we live. We have found it harder and harder to make the rent, keep up with the ever-changing demands of the fickle education “reformers” and contort ourselves into the proper shape to be held accountable by our betters. We know that education is not a matter of “standardization”, “quantitative data” or even “objectivity”. We know that our jobs do not end after we leave the building and that our so-called “vacations” are merely one giant prep period to write units and catch up on grading, although we never truly “catch up”. We know that poverty, gangs, drugs, the media and family life affect how children learn. They shape what children become. Our children merely do school but they actually live in a world where reality is generally not very kind to them. Children are in our classrooms for a certain amount of time during the day and many are not there even when they are present. The vast majority of the time, they are being raised by those other things that we told are mere excuses. We try to bust them out of this life, to give them the tools to see a better way or to show them that they can have at least a measure of control over their own destinies. We do this not through “quantitative data” but through the planting of seeds that will germinate only years down the line. The most important things we do cannot be measured on a test or fully appreciated by looking at our “on-the-clock hours”. Yet, this is how we are being judged.

No, we are not merely dissatisfied. If you really want to see how we feel inside, take at look at Rigoberto Ruelas and Mary Thorson. Ask yourself what would drive these teachers to jump off bridges and stand in front of oncoming semis. We are not just unhappy or disgruntled or burned out. We are traumatized. We are eviscerated. We have internalized the absolute hatred and disgust that YOU have shown for us.

Everybody has a breaking point. Teachers by and large have reached theirs many years ago. YOU want to know where Superman is. YOU want to bring in the “effective” teachers. YOU want to get rid of us in favor of dynamos who will roll up their sleeves, buckle down and do what needs to be done. YOU believe that a computer program can do the job of teaching. YOU say that “those who can’t do, teach.”

But WE are the Superman. WE are the dynamos. WE are the ones who are doing what needs to be done. YOU are the ones who have shirked YOUR responsibilities.

YOU have shirked your responsibilities as leaders. YOU have allowed this country to have the highest childhood poverty rate and the highest incarceration rate in the western world. YOU have failed us and YOU dare blame us as the culprits.

YOU have shirked your responsibilities as citizens. YOU have failed to vote, to keep up with what is happening in the world and how our country actually works. YOU would rather watch 20 hours of television, get your news from internet or news channel demagogues and read five-and-dime novels about vampire lovers and the zombie apocalypse.

YOU have shirked your responsibilities as the media. YOU have provided us with scripted reality television that celebrates the basest emotions and desires. YOU have turned the “news” into infotainment. YOU would rather regale us with tales of Lindsay Lohan than inform us of the things that are changing our world forever.

YOU have shirked your responsibilities as role models. YOU lack the capacity for empathy, love and community that should bind a so-called civilization together. YOU have modeled for our children that it does not matter if the world goes to hell just as long as YOU get your sliver of the pie.

YOU have checked out, really have never checked in, of your responsibilities to our children. Children are with us for 6 hours a day. They are with YOU for the other 18.

And yet, YOU want to point to the finger at us and tell us that we have to straighten out in 6 hours the children you have been deforming for the past 18. YOU want to drop off your children to us at the age of five after YOU have spent the previous half decade implicitly teaching them the worst lessons that humanity has to offer.

By YOU, I do not mean parents. I mean ALL OF YOU.

YOU want to be able to wallow in greed, shallowness and avarice while holding WE the teachers to the standards of Superman.

Teachers are not dissatisfied.

WE are tired of being the receptacle of blame for all of the YOUR shortcomings, YOUR insecurities and YOUR failures.

WE are tired of being the terry cloth hand towel on which YOU wipe your filth after a lifetime of wallowing in the mud.

WE are disgusted. WE are traumatized. WE are in pain. WE are “dissatisfied” because of YOU, every last one of YOU.

You should try being blamed for everything wrong with society someday. Instead of holding us “accountable”, hold yourselves accountable for once in your life. Come back to us in 10-15 years and tell us how you are feeling inside.

I wish I was merely “dissatisfied”. That would be a world of improvement on what we are truly feeling.

WHAT DOES SUCCESS FOR THE UFT LOOK LIKE?

So far, this is the only seat at the table that our union leadership has.

So far, this is the only seat at the table that our union leadership has.

We saw that the New York City teacher strike of 1968 revolved around the conflict between union protections for teachers and community control of public schools. The United Federation of Teachers, in its quest to break the community control experiment, allied itself with the establishment. Since that time, the establishment has proven less and less willing to have us as house guests. It is now at the point where the establishment is throwing our clothes out of the bedroom window while we look up helplessly, begging to be let back in.

In order for our union to be viable in the future, we must repair that link to the communities we serve which was severed in 1968. It is clear that this is not the tactic of our current Unity leadership. If left up to them, we will be standing out in the cold in our underwear watching the establishment burn all of our clothes. We will continue to beg impotently to be allowed back into the house right up until the end.

Instead, repairing those ties to the community falls on the shoulders of the MORE caucus. If they can successfully do this, they have a chance of both winning some measure of leadership in the union and saving public education. How to do this is the million-dollar question.

The equation is simple. Education “reform” has gotten so much traction over the past 10 years because it is funded by the wealthiest people in the country. These wealthy people donate to political campaigns. Usually, the politician who is the best funded wins the election. Therefore, politicians bend over backwards to satisfy the reformy crowd so they can be ensured of continued campaign contributions, which ensures them of continued power.

Our union can never hope to match the campaign contributions of the reformy crowd in this age of Citizens United. What the union lacks in money it must make up for in votes. It must be able to punish reformy politicians by taking them out of power. It must be able to reward its supporters by keeping them in power. The only way the union and public education will survive is through the power of votes.

As far as NYC is concerned, this requires a grassroots strategy to engage the communities we serve. Unfortunately, those communities are being divided between those who get the “good schools” (charters) and those “left behind” in the public schools. It is certainly not the reality that charters are good schools, but it is the perception. Instead of advocating for teacher evaluation schemes and bar exams, the union should push for legislation that gives parents a measure of control over their schools. This should be a hallmark of social justice unionism.

One of the reasons why the community control experiment in Ocean Hill Brownsville failed was because the parents in the neighborhood did not vote. The politicians in Albany disregarded them without any fear of reprisal. By extension, the UFT disregarded them for the same reason.

Of course, this strategy is much easier said than done. Many of the communities in which we serve are disengaged from the political process totally. Making them engaged again would require a massive effort.

At the same time, there are communities in NYC who are somewhat more engaged. These are the communities that should be targeted first. Imagine the union pushing for legislation that would give parents oversight of the charter schools in their communities. Imagine the union pushing for legislation that would end mayoral control and empower parents to have a major say over education policy for public schools. Imagine the union being associated with measures that would give parents a true voice in the education of their students. Even if these laws fail to pass, which they are sure to do, they will at least call the bluffs of all the reformers who claim to put “Children First”.

As of now, our union has been going in the completely opposite direction. Through support of mayoral control, Common Core and Race to the Top, the union has been complicit in the progressive centralization of education policy. It has done this in the naive (and mistaken) impression that they will be allowed to have a seat at the table. And yet, despite the fact that the union has supported every measure of centralization over the past 10 years, they find themselves standing on the lawn in their jammies begging to be let in. There is no seat for us at the table after all.

Therefore, it is time for the union to hitch their wagon to the star of decentralization. Legislation is just the start. We have to knock on doors, be at community board meetings, have a presence at the Panel for Educational Policy hearings, sponsor community events, register people to vote and inform parents of their rights through both social media and printed literature. There has to be a sense that the union is on their side.

Of course, this takes a core of dedicated teachers. It requires first that the teaching force be activated. This is the stage in which MORE finds itself now. Much like our communities have been disengaged, the rank and file of our union has been disengaged as well. Unity has never had an interest in activating the rank and file. I myself never even knew that we could vote for our leadership until I became a chapter leader. An activated rank and file is anathema to Unity.

In short, MORE is going to have to compensate for decades of Unity inaction. After this, they are going to have to activate communities that have been disenfranchised while getting the enfranchised ones on their side. This requires patience. Above all, it requires pragmatism. Ideology will be MORE’s worst enemy. An irrational marriage to outdated or quaint beliefs will strangle a very promising movement in its cradle. Community means exactly that: community. The communities we serve are diverse and our thinking needs to be diverse if we wish to reach them.

In my mind, MORE has the potential to be greater than Chicago. They have the potential to bloody the nose of the reformer movement far beyond what the Chicago teachers are capable of. This is not due to any particular flaw in what the CTU is doing. This is due to the sheer fact that the NYC public school system is the largest in the country. Our thinking needs to be large as well.

Anything less will end up with us stomping out the embers of our profession while those who truly have seats at the table laugh at us.

THE SHILL GAME: E4E

Our favorite shills are still here ready to feast on your brains.

Our favorite shills are still here ready to feast on your brains.

The misleadingly named Educators 4 Excellence is running a spot tonight on television that will encourage Governor Cuomo to impose an evaluation scheme on the city.

It’s strange that a small (very small) group of NYC teachers has the money to get air time on television. Either they have superior accounting practices or they are being funded by outside interests that wish to destroy public education. Which do you think it is?

As a NYC teacher, I don’t know what gives Evan Stone and his ilk the right to speak for me. They haven’t done anything to earn a position of leadership within my union. They haven’t done anything to even earn the name “Educators 4 Excellence.”

Of course they haven’t earned a thing. They are a front group for the reformy forces in NYC. What they lack with a popular mandate among teachers they more than make up for with dollars.

Here is a question: if they care so much about educating NYC children, why don’t they take the millions they have garnered from reformy groups and put it into the schools? Evan Stone and Sydney Morris hardly need another million dollars being the trust fund brats they are.

And speaking of the union, I’m sure Mulgrew and company find it very comforting that they support the same exact position on these teacher evaluations as groups like E4E. Mulgrew has already signaled his willingness to accept a state-imposed scheme. The Unity folks are out in force telling all of us that a state-imposed scheme will be nothing more than binding arbitration.

It doesn’t matter what they call it. Our union should be very uncomfortable with being on the same side of any issue as E4E.

E4E represents everything wrong with education in NYC. Their fresh, young and white faces represent exactly the type of teaching force the reformers want. You think E4E would get any reformy money if they had older black faces?

Thank you E4E for reminding us the lengths to which the 1% will go to destroy public education. They are like the plants sent by J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate and divide the organizations of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. They are like the provocateurs who infiltrated the Occupy Wall Street protests. The only difference is, everyone knows who E4E is and everyone sees through them.

Does the fact that they’ve been around for years without gaining any traction among the rank-and-file teachers count for anything? I suppose it doesn’t when you have millions of dollars propping you up.

E4E: a zombie organization with zombie ideas. Tune in tonight to see them in action. Just don’t let them eat your brains.

 

WHO IS NEXT TO GUEST BLOG? A ROLE MODEL

This country has never been very good at picking role models. I remember growing up one of our role models was a blond steroid and drug addict.

This country has never been very good at picking role models. I remember growing up one of our role models was a blond steroid head and drug addict.

I thank Ms. Ortiz for her inaugural post here yesterday as a guest blogger. Now that we have an idea of who she is and from whence she is coming, it is a good time to introduce the next guest blogger to you. As you will see, this next person is at a totally different stage in their life and career.

Those of you who have followed this site, or New York education news in general, will be familiar with this person. I thought it was important for you to hear what this person has to say and to give them a chance to say it.

The person to whom I refer is Christine Rubino.

If you don’t know the case of Christine Rubino, you can familiarize yourself with it here, here and here. I first learned about her situation from the New York print media who were, not surprisingly, less than fair. For this reason, I decided to write about her situation myself. Despite the fact that this site can never hope to have the type of reach of the New York Post or Daily News, I would have been remiss if I didn’t use this little corner of the internet to give her a fair hearing. I am glad that I did because, since my first piece about her, Christine and I have become friends.

What convinced me of the need to talk about her story were the responses it elicited in the comments section of the news sites. People could not wait to pass all types of judgments on her character and fitness to be a teacher. It was sadly ironic that people who bemoaned the lack of role models for our children were saying some of the most vile and hateful things to be found on the internet. Vile and hateful not only describes the treatment she received from anonymous Puritans, but from the Puritans at the Department of Education as well.

As most of us know, Christine’s nightmare stemmed from a comment she made on her private Facebook page. It is a comment that Christine has never defended. She removed it very soon after it was posted. Very few people saw the comment. Since no students or parents were on her Facebook page, it would have been very unlikely that anyone who would have been truly offended by it would have ever known of its existence.

Unfortunately, one of the people who saw the comment during its brief life span was the resident teacher snitch of Christine’s school. Not only did he see it, he took a screen shot of it, saved it, printed it out and showed it to the assistant principal, a man with whom he had a “special” relationship. It usually works out that the people who have the most to say about their coworkers are also the ones with the most skeletons in their own closet.

The rest is history, a sad and bizarre history. The Special Commissioner of Investigation of the DOE sent goons to her house to rifle through her garbage. Those same goons harassed and threatened Christine’s friends. They lied through their teeth at her hearing. Her union-appointed lawyer wanted to roll over and die, pretty much advising her to accept her termination without a fight. The DOE lawyers tried to cast a pall of doubt on her character. Since Christine had a clean record as a teacher of 14 years, they weren’t above coaching the principal and students to lie about her, not to mention making up lies themselves. The head of the Administrative Trials Unit ensured that the “independent” arbitrator, Randi Lowitt, came to the right decision: termination.

Did it matter to anyone that this was a comment made on her private Facebook page? Did it matter that the comment expressed the normal frustrations of being a teacher? Did it matter that she had taken the comment down almost immediately after it went up? Did it matter that she showed remorse and never defended what she said? Did it matter that she had a spotless record as an educator?

It mattered to Christine Rubino, who took Lowitt’s decision to the New York State Supreme Court. It mattered to Judge Barbara Jaffe, who ruled that Lowitt’s termination decree was “shocking to the conscience” of the court.  It matters to any teacher or thinking person who has an ounce of empathy.

The Department of Education likes to say that it puts “students first”. Christine’s two children are students in the DOE. Did they put those students first when they took away the livelihood of their mother? Are they putting them first by denying the woman they tried to destroy any form of unemployment compensation? If people are so concerned about role models for our children, why don’t they criticize the unethical and underhanded way the DOE harasses teachers? Barring that, why don’t these people act like the role models they seek by not judging an entire person’s character based upon one news article?

It is for these reasons that it is important we hear directly from Christine Rubino. When I had the idea of getting some guest bloggers, Christine was the first person who came to mind. I have seen first-hand the type of good person she is. I have seen her be a mother to her children, protecting them from the misery through which she has been put so they can have as normal a life as possible. I have seen her open her house to people and share what she has, despite the fact that she can barely make ends meet herself. I have seen how she maintains friendships she has had since childhood, a sure sign of a person with character and integrity. I have seen Christine help me get some of the things I needed to get settled into my new apartment when I moved a few months ago. Perhaps if other people see the type of person she is, they wouldn’t be so quick to pass ignorant and misinformed judgments on her.

Up until now, Christine has had people speaking for her. Me, her lawyers, the DOE and the media have all been allowed to paint the picture of what type of person she is. But she deserves a space where she can speak for herself.

The Christine  Rubino case has been a lesson in the best and the worst in humanity. On the one hand, you have a person who has done nothing but be generous and helpful to everyone around her; someone who always wanted to be a teacher and did the job with distinction. On the other hand, you have a bureaucracy that lied, sneaked around and harassed to get what they wanted, and what they wanted was the destruction of another human being.

You can decide for yourself which one is the bad role model for our children. I, for one, would not allow a bad role model to be a guest blogger on this site. Stay tuned because tomorrow, for the first time, Christine Rubino finally speaks for herself.

UNION MEMBERS: DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE GHOSTS OF ’68

What can we learn from the UFT Strike of 1968? How does it point the way to our future? I don't know but I pretend to in this piece.

What can we learn from the UFT Strike of 1968? How does it point the way to our future? I don’t know but I pretend to in this piece.

PART I (BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE ’68 STRIKE)

New York City was undergoing major demographic changes in the 1960s. For the previous 20 years, the manufacturing sector that had formed the bedrock of the city’s economy was being hollowed out. Jobs that employed most of the unskilled white workers of the city were moving to other states, then to other countries. At the same time, blacks from the south and Hispanics from the Caribbean were entering the city in search for those very same factory jobs. The city’s people, both white and minority, would be doing battle in a new type of economy: the service economy.

Unlike the manufacturing economy, making a living in the service sector required having an education. The city’s post-war mayors put programs in place to help people get their educations. A steadily booming economy, combined with federal programs like the GI Bill, allowed the city to invest in such programs. In a sense, this could be seen as a continuation of the old Tammany Hall tradition of providing social welfare services to otherwise underserved people. Tammany helped provide these services to immigrants, provided the immigrants voted Democrat on election day. The post-war mayors, serving in a post-Tammany New York, provided services to the children of immigrants.

These second-generation Americans were divided into different ethnic and religious camps, the two main camps being Jewish and Catholic. The education programs put in place after the war were designed with these groups in mind. They appealed to the values and sensibilities of these groups, requiring good marks on standardized exams and proof of dedication to college work. Looking back now, the city was successful in helping the children of immigrants move up into the middle class in the new service-sector economy.

On the other hand, New York’s newest minority residents were largely left out of these helping hand programs. That is not to say there were no programs in place for them. Red lining, urban “renewal” schemes and bad old fashioned racism helped isolate black and Hispanic residents in ever-expanding ghettos. While the children of European immigrants moved up into the middle class, the city’s minority population was trapped in what seemed like hopeless poverty.

By the 1960s, then, New York City was a place of upwardly mobile whites and oppressed minorities. Nowhere did these two groups converge more directly than in the city’s public schools.

Teaching had become a popular path to the middle class for these whites, especially Jews. Many of them had been educated in the CUNY system that supplied teachers to the public schools. As the years wore on, the students they served were increasingly drawn from the expanding minority population. These students, in need of an education so that they too could hope to find their way in the service sector economy, had high rates of failure, dropping out and illiteracy. Naturally, many observers blamed the teachers.

There was a sense that the teachers did not respect or understand their minority students. A clash of cultures provoked many daily tensions in schools around the city, especially schools located in the most blighted inner city areas. These tensions finally came to a head in 1968.

One of the plans for improving the performance of minority students was called “community control”. It was thought that turning over control of the public schools to local school boards would lead to an education more tailored to the experience and sensibilities of minority students. Community control was a key part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty programs. During the last year of his presidency in 1968, the mostly minority Brooklyn neighborhood of Ocean Hill-Brownsville tried their hand at community control of the public schools.

Right from the start of the community control experiment, the Ocean Hill school district sent letters to a several dozen teachers informing them that their services were no longer needed. The teachers that got these letters were mostly opposed to the idea of community control. They also happened to be very active in the new teachers’ union, the UFT. While Ocean Hill might not have had a need for these teachers, they were told to report to 110 Livingston Street for a new assignment. This shows that the teachers were not fired, just involuntarily transferred. It sort of sounds like a 1960s version of an ATR.

What happened next would rock the school system, the union and the city for decades to come. UFT President Albert Shanker called for a strike. In his mind, or at least his rhetoric, Ocean Hill had violated the contract. He essentially was willing to shut down the entire school system to protest a violation of the contract in one small part of the city. Shanker believed that allowing Ocean Hill to hand out involuntary transfers would set a bad precedent. The community control experiment came to an abrupt and ignominious end. Jews and blacks, groups that had been allies throughout the Civil Rights Movement, had a wedge driven in between them in NYC. According to Jerald Podair’s brilliant book about the strike, Jews would increasingly cast in their lot with the Catholics of the city, identifying themselves as “white”. Racial polarity in NYC was complete.

Shanker had flexed his muscle. The strike alienated the UFT from many of the communities they served. Instead of relying on legitimacy from community partnerships, the UFT would from now on rely on the city, the Board of Education or, quite simply, “the “establishment”. Over the course of the next few years, Shanker would win many rights for his rank-and-file. The destinies of the UFT and “the establishment” became linked as never before. In return for “the establishment’s” largesse, Shanker would have to keep quiet about many economic and social justice issues for which he had fought early in his career as a socialist.

In the years following the strike, the city was brought to the brink of financial ruin. All of the programs put into place after WWII had cost the city money that they just did not have anymore. A shrinking tax base and the unwillingness of banks to continue lending to New York City unless it paid its debts would lead to an era of budgetary belt-tightening. Indeed, New York City would practice austerity a few years before the rest of the nation. What would become a fundamental part of the Neoliberal coup of the late 1970s-early 1980s got its start in NYC.

And while everyone’s belts were tightening, Shanker’s UFT reached its zenith. Teachers would get better protections, pay and benefits while most of the rest of the city was left to fight it out in the Neoliberal world that lived by survival of the fittest. The group hurt most by this would be the city’s poor minorities. During a time when they were most in need of a helping hand, the same type of helping hand that previous groups had received, they got little more than the cold shoulder. Neighborhoods like Ocean Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant and the South Bronx would become national symbols for urban blight, reinforcing in the nation’s mind the belief that the people who lived in these places were beyond hope and undeserving of any type of government help.

There is certainly much more to this story. However, from this we can start to pull out the lessons of the 1968 strike and its implications for the current education system in NYC.

PART II (RECKONING WITH THE GHOSTS OF ’68)

Shanker’s willingness to ally his union with management served him well in the short term. In return for being a good Neoliberal soldier, he was able to win for his union many of the benefits NYC teachers continue to enjoy. Indeed, part of the vitriol directed against teachers by the public today is the result of jealousy. You can hear it in many of the comments that are made, erroneously, about teachers: “Why do teachers get to have tenure?”,”Why are teachers not held accountable?” “Why are they entitled to a pension?” These are the words of a labor force ground down by a ruthless Neoliberal work environment, one hostile to unions and the public sector in general. Instead of asking themselves “how can I get that at my own job?” or “what’s wrong with the non-unionized workplace?”, they gain more delight in seeing others suffer just as much as they are. This is proof of victory for Neoliberal propaganda that seeks to get working people to believe that what is good for the billionaire is good for themselves or, more frequently, the billionaire’s suffering is the suffering of all of us. Americans today have been trained to “Pity the Billionaire”, in the words of Thomas Frank.

Unfortunately, the long-term implications of Shanker’s decisions have been disastrous. What the establishment giveth the establishment can also taketh away. NYC teachers would enjoy their protections as long as mayors and governors adopted a sufficiently friendly posture to the UFT, a posture born out of the union’s ability to make substantial campaign contributions. However, as time has gone on, union contributions have increasingly been drowned out by corporate contributions. Since Shanker, political leaders have seen less and less of a reason to fear upsetting the UFT. This becomes much worse if, within this environment, we get a mayor who is independently wealthy enough to not need anyone’s contribution. We have had this in NYC with Michael Bloomberg. He has shown us how easy it is for the establishment to cut off its life support for public school teachers. The uneasy alliance that nurtured the rise of the protected, decently-paid teacher has broken down.

One would think that the UFT or, more specifically, the Unity Caucus that controls it, would adapt their strategy to this changing environment. Instead, they have blindly carried on in the path that Shanker delineated 45 years ago. They continue to hitch their wagon (as well as ours) to the establishment’s star. Their justification is “well, if we don’t bend then we will be broken.” It is why the UFT supports mayoral control, charter schools, testing and other hallmark programs of Neoliberal education reform. The only problem with this is, whereas before the Neoliberals had a use for the UFT as a campaign contributor and even legitimizer of Neoliberal policies, the establishment now has absolutely no use for the UFT. That is why charters and online learning have gotten such a push. The goal is our complete destruction. The fact that our leadership continues to ally themselves with the establishment boggles the mind. They are helping guide the knife towards their own throat.

Therefore, the only other alternative is one that also might have been available to Shanker 45 years ago. The UFT has to unhitch the wagon from the establishment and start hitching it to the communities we serve. Unlike in Shanker’s day, the communities we serve today are almost entirely poor minority. Unity, not to mention every other teachers’ union with the exception of Chicago’s, have allowed the Neoliberals to beat them to the punch in dressing up their aims in the language of civil rights. The privatizers want to close the “achievement gap”, provide better “outcomes” and ensure that teachers “add value” to their students. As we know, this is merely doublespeak to mask an ongoing quest to destroy public education for good. It is the same type of doublespeak that has gotten the American worker to Pity the Billionaire.

However, the million-dollar question is how to hitch our wagons to the communities we serve. In 1968, the answer could have been to accept community control of school districts. Indeed, this seems to form part of the MORE platform. Giving parents and community members autonomy over, or at least a say in, the education of their children is a sensible approach to truly improving “outcomes” for our neediest students. At least, that is what it seems like on the surface.

Upon further reflection, community control may not be the answer. It may be part of an answer or it might not be part of it at all. Community control failed for more reasons than the UFT Strike of ’68. It failed because its justification rested on a group-oriented, tribalistic outlook about race that alienated many of its white supporters. This is the part of MORE’s platform that will cause them the most trouble. We have already seen it with the criticisms of UFTers like Chaz who fear that their social justice causes are eclipsing their teacher protection causes. Despite the righteousness of many of MORE’s stances, they will not get off of square one without the support of the UFT rank-and-file first, a rank-and-file that is still overwhelmingly white.

Furthermore, race in the 1960s is not the same as race in 2013. It is not just poor blacks and Hispanics who have been hurt by the Neoliberal school agenda. NYC schools have seen an increasing influx of Asian, Eastern European and African students, all of whom stand to lose out if public education disappears. To a large extent, these “new immigrant” groups also face tremendous poverty. With the exception of maybe Eastern Europeans, their skin colors do not allow them to benefit from the white supremacist assumptions that still undergird many of our institutions. On issues that relate directly to these students, students who represent groups that do not fit into the neat black/white dichotomy that we like to take for granted in the United States, both Unity and MORE are silent.

Community control in 2013 just might mean allowing each ethnic enclave in the city to control its own public education destiny. There can be schools for African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Filipinos, West Africans, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, Indian and so on until we are atomized into numerous cultural groups. The question is, however, do we really want to do this? This leads to another, more important question: should our union advocate for African-American causes, causes that might nobly seek to right many of the wrongs of a past with which we still live, to the exclusion of every other ethnic group?

Of course, most people would answer “no” to this question. This, then, brings up the next important question: should our union, no matter which caucus is in control, combine the interests of all of these groups into a vague “minority” platform, or do we advocate for the interests of each of these groups as their own groups? The former will cause resentment by subsuming everyone’s unique ethnic identity under an amorphous “minority” idea that might have no legs to begin with. If it is the latter, how do you balance these claims without making any one of these groups feel marginalized?

Another of the justifications for community control was that schools controlled by poor minorities would reward student behavior that the wider community valued. The values of hard-work and factual knowledge served the middle class whites of the 1960s well because society rewarded them for those traits. On the other hand, values in the minority community like peer loyalty and collaboration are not rewarded in the wider (and whiter) society. Community control would allow minority students be rewarded for the “currencies” they already brought to the table, rather than trying to force them to adopt middle class values.

Quite simply, whatever answer the UFT comes up with on how best to engage the communities we serve will have to be a “post-racial” strategy that breaks out of the simplistic black/white paradigm. This is not because racism no longer exists, since it obviously does and in even more insidious forms. This is because our understanding of race is undergoing a major shift. With the continued increase of interracial families, the lines between all of the groups mentioned above will continue to blur. Unity does not speak on race at all and MORE’s racial speech is caught in the quaint 20th century. Tribalism is and should be much less prominent now than it was in the 60s.

How to achieve a post-racial strategy without submerging all of these unique groups under amorphous rhetoric is difficult. Trying to retain that streak of ethnic tribalism without atomizing and alienating each other is also difficult.

For now, I would be happy to see my union leadership engage their communities using the language of class until a true post-racial strategy can be conceived. We live in an era when the Great Recession seems to be on a permanent low hum in the background. Poverty will continue to worsen as the economy stagnates under the weight of the low-wage jobs that the media tells us herald our “recovery”.  Failing to address issues of class continues the Albert Shanker path of acquiescence in the Neoliberal agenda.

One thing is for certain: we are still wrestling with the Ghosts of ’68. Many of the chickens from that time are now coming home to roost. Our union and our school system are unprepared for what will follow, since what will follow will be new and different. The quaint handles we use now, handles that were devised in the days of Albert Shanker, are just not going to cut it anymore.

Examining the ’68 strike shows us why so much has gone wrong over the past 20-30 years. Learning its lessons will show us what strategies and handles are useless for us now in 2013. Although it will not give us solid answers as to what needs to be done, it will perhaps point the way towards where an answer might start to be built.

MAYBE THIS GUY SHOULD RUN OUR UNION

They just don't make 'em like Big Bill Haywood anymore.

They just don’t make ‘em like Big Bill Haywood anymore.

Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, slammed Democratic politicians who have turned their backs on unions. Specifically, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn were the targets of these barbs from Saunders:

I am sick and tired of the fair-weather Democrats. They date us, take us to the prom, marry us, and then divorce us right after the honeymoon. I am sick and tired of the so-called friends who commend us when they’re running for election, but condemn us after they’ve won. I am sick and tired of the politicians who stand with us behind closed doors, but kick us to the curb in front of the cameras. I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit and we’re not gonna take it anymore.

Many of you know some of the people I’m talking about. Mayor Michael Nutter in Philadelphia. Governor Pat Quinn in Illinois. We’ve come to expect union-busting, anti-worker tactics from ultra-conservatives like Scott Walker and John Kasich. But now, everybody’s on the bandwagon.

Look at Nutter. AFSCME members in Philadelphia haven’t had a contract in four years, and Sister Baylor knows it. What does the mayor do? He goes to the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court to get a legal decision that would let him shove his contract down our throats. He’s no different from Governor Snyder in Michigan, who went to his state’s Supreme Court to get legal cover for cutting school employees’ pay. Different political parties, same political games.

Look at Governor Quinn. He has waged a relentless war on state employees – slashing pensions, driving down incomes and wiping out jobs. Last year he took the unprecedented step of terminating our contract. He is the first and only Illinois governor, Republican or Democrat, to take such a blatantly aggressive action.

The sad truth is that, due to the disappearance of the unionized workforce over the past 40 years, Democrats no longer have much to fear from pissing off unions. Campaign contributions of organized labor have been steadily declining. President Obama didn’t even bother to show up to last year’s American Federation of Teachers convention. We got Joe Biden instead, which is a major step down and a sign of organized labor’s waning influence.

But Saunders points to something important in his criticism: Democrats are more dangerous than Republicans can ever be to the future of the American worker. We know Republicans hate workers and would reduce us all to peonage if given the chance. On the other hand, Democratic politicians use their party’s reputation as the protector of the American worker as cover to bust unions as ruthlessly as any Republican.

Obama’s Race to the Top initiative is being touted as a break from the No Child Left Behind policy of his Republican predecessor. Yet, it is little more than NCLB on steroids. Tying teacher evaluations and more charter schools to federal funding is more anti-union than anything Bush ever passed through Congress.

Obama’s buddy Rahm Emanuel in Chicago antagonized the teachers there to the point of causing a strike.

Newark mayor Corey Booker appointed a reformy school chancellor and has spewed the same “accountability” stuff as Michelle Rhee.

These New Democrats (and we can put Cuomo into that category) have adopted Republican anti-union policies without adopting their rhetoric.

It would be nice if the leaders of our teachers’ unions were as blunt as Lee Saunders. Instead, we see them sharing the stage with these New Democrats. We see our UFT President Michael Mulgrew say he is fine with Cuomo forcing a new evaluation system on New York City. We see Randi Weingarten supporting ridiculous schemes for a teacher bar exam. Every step of the way, at every level, we see our union leader collaborating with people who would rather be rid of us.

A Unity supporter asked me a few days ago if I donate to COPE. Hell no. Why would I? So they can keep pumping money and support into the New Democrats?

The AFSCME is up against the same enemies as teachers. At least their leader acknowledges it and calls these New Democrats out on it.

Why do we tolerate leadership in our union who cavort with the devil?

Just once, I would like to hear Randi or Michael call “bullshit” on the New Democrats. What do you think the chances are of that happening?