Tuesday, February 3, 2015

NY Delegates Meeting

Report-back from UFT Special Delegate Assembly, January 29, 2015     
By Marjorie Stamberg

(New York) - This D.A. was called as a strategy session in response to Governor Cuomo’s "state of the state" diatribe against public schools, teachers, and teachers unions.

UFT President Mulgrew had a list of talking points to counter what he called "Gov. Cuomo's failed ideas."  They're actually a lot worse than that.  As Class Struggle wrote in our flyer, "Cuomo Declares War on Teachers."

Cuomo wants a lot of stuff we have fought against for years, and it's all back again:

·         Teach evals based 50% on student test scores

·         New teacher probation extended fom 3 to 5 years

·         Merit Pay

·         "Due process" axed-- make the employer prosecutor, judge and jury

·         Raise the charter cap to 100 more schools

·         Put low-performing schools in "receivership" -- excess all teachers and staff

·         Hold school funding hostage to his political agenda

Mulgrew put forward his agenda:   A media and lobbying campaign of parents and teachers directed at the April 1st vote in Albany on budget.  He said if the budget goes down, Cuomo will have leeway to enact these threats as part of an executive order.

Between now and April 1st, what's the strategy?  Some of it is patently absurd -- a giant Twitter campaign of everybody tweeting their elected officials.  Also a lot of phone calling, informational leafleting outside the schools, a couple of local protests.

This is interesting -- they're calling a March 4th lobbing day in Albany. Trick question: Who else is lobbying in Albany on March 4th, like she did last year?  Evil Eva Moscowitz, who last year shut down the "Success Academy" charter schools and took thousands of students and parents to Albany.

So on UFT lobby day, why doesn't the UFT call a presumptive snow day and effectively shut down the schools ourselves?  (You know those presumptive snow days, we just had one.)

What is Mulgrew and the leadership Unity Caucus ultimate strategy?  He said, and  I quote,  "How do we take the anger and have parents with us to push the legislature to make the governor understand that he is making the biggest mistake of his life?"
At the D.A., I said that if the union wants to surround the capital like they did in Wisconsin, count me in.  But the idea that "the apotheosis of a union strategy is to lobby the schmendriks in Albany to lobby the governor" is pathetic. They're all the same people, and they ALL, Democrats and Republicans, from Obama to Duncan to Cuomo on down, they all share the joint bipartisan program of union-busting, charterizing and privatization of schools.

We absolutely need a revolt  of parents, teachers, students and school workers to stop Cuomo in his tracks.  But based on union power.  I said that Mulgrew's call for "informational picketing" at the schools was an oxymoron.  In the history of the labor movement, picket lines mean "Don't Cross".  Mulgrew replied, "You're right; I should have said "informational leafleting."  I replied, "Well, I mean picketing, and nobody crosses."

I said the union should come out against the Common Core. They cut me off at this point, but the union has waffled, permitted and is cooperating with these Pearson/MGraw Hill corporate boondoggle tests.  Now Cuomo wants to drive out tenured teachers by making evals based 50 percent on student test scores.  But it was Unity Caucus of the UFT which greased the skids by going along with this whole concept that scapegoats teachers for the issues of childhood poverty and other key factors in children's academic achievement.  We know that the real correlation here is student test scores to family income.

At the D.A., Jia Li, a teacher, supporter of the MORE caucus, and advocate for a parent boycott of high stakes testing, spoke of her recent testimony at a Congressional hearing.  She had a resolution to Support  "The I Refuse Movement," which  Mulgrew said could be brought up at the next meeting.

That's all for now.  See  two attachments here:  The UFT's talking points; and the leaflet from Class Struggle Education Workers "Cuomo Declares War on Teachers."

*As one of your UFT delegates I report-back on the monthly meetings.  These reports are "my take" on the meeting. For official minutes, let me know and I'll send them along to you.

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