Friday, February 19, 2010

NYC Educator and Fiorillo Debate UFT Shill Peter

At Gotham Schools: A worthwhile insight into the UFT/AFT thinking on the role of unions as UFT shill Peter (undoubtably Goodman/Ed in the Apple) talks about "nimble" leadership - read this as "give ground because we don't have the ability or chops to fight them" - as he apologizes for all of Weingarten policies. If anyone thinks that this ideologue and Mulgrew are on different pages you are drinking the old K-aid.

In fact, the AFT/UFT cannot fight them because they run a top-down union without rank and file participation and in fact fear such participation because an active rank and file would see them for what they are and toss them out. So, keep 'em ignorant and barefoot.

Luckily, NYC Educator and Michael Fiorillo are there to respond.

Lost in the school closing debate: what happens to the teachers

Peter writes

In every urban city across the nation the world of education is changing, LA is shortening the school year, a pay cut for staff, Chicago, Detroit, etc., the world of teaching and teacher contracts is changing, the question is: what will the landscape become?

If Bloomberg/Klein disappeared tomorrow we would not go back to the “good old days.”

Schools are closing because the tradeoff of accepting stimulus dollars, which pay for $1 billion worth of teachers in NYC requires either closings, conversions to charters or turnarounds and staff replacements, for the lowest 5% of schools, Washington-driven policy with a Democratic administartion!

The auto workers resisted change, after all Americans would never buy foreign cars. If teachers and teacher unions see a return to the past as the best policy they both will go the way of the auto workers and their union.

They need a nimble leadership that can navigate and emerge with a reconfigured view of union contracts, that protects core principles, job protection, negotiating rights, collaborative decison-making, remunerations, d comes to grips with differentiting by merit, the extent to which student achievement is tied to teacher evaluation and salary.

Thr stimulus dollars will end in a year, the city and state budgets will continue to falter. How does the union “satisfy” both more senior and newer teachers in the current climate? Remember 60% of union members are age thirty or less …

NYC Educator

Actually, our “nimble leadership” supported mayoral control at its inception. And though it proved a disaster for working teachers, our “nimble leadership,” in fact, the UFT President, first wrote in the NY Post asking for changes, and then, upon not getting said changes, wrote again demanding that mayoral control be approved anyway. This resulted in the PEP closing 19 schools, some based on blatantly false statistics.

In fact, nothing with pay tied to “merit” is proven to be effective. Nothing linking student achievement to salary is proven to be effective. Our union sold us out for less than nothing in 2005, and had no vision whatsoever about the results of dumping seniority placement in the toilet. We won the rights the union so cavalierly tossed away by accepting zeroes. We threw them away for pennies.

And you yourself wrote that this would bring us 25/55. In fact, it brought 27/55 for most, and the massive givebacks of 05 were far from sufficient to pay for it. Perhaps you consider 17 additional years of donating 3% of your salary to the city insignificant. I beg to differ.

And in fact, schools were closing well before there was a Democratic administration. The UFT policy of appeasement has not paid dividends, has resulted in the most toxic atmosphere I’ve seen in my 25 years of teaching, and I frankly can’t believe, after failure upon failure, that people still defend it.

Peter writes

Accepting stimulus dollars require NYS to either close, convert to charter to transform the lowest performing 5% of schools, you may argue over how to define the lowest 5% and/or whether the 19 schools were indeed in the lowest 5% … the city/state had to comply once they accepted stimulus dollars … it is my understanding the stimulus dollars pay for more than 5,000 teaching positions in the city.

The 2005 contract did include a no-off clause (can be abrogated if the city declares a fiscal emergency) … was it worth the trade offs? Depends on whether you’re in danger of being laid off.

Whether or not “value-added,” or “pay for performance” or “tenure v student achievement” is “proven” it is part of federal policy and drives federal dollars. The reauthroization of NCLB, Race to the Top, Title 1 and on and on, all require some iteration of these issues … unless states/cities/unions address these issues they risk giving up billions.

How do you satisfy federal requirements and retain core union principles?

The United Auto Workers (UAW) steatfastly refused any “givebacks” for years … could they have chosen other policies and retained jobs?

I don’t know. What I do know is that unless teacher unions involve themselves in the discussions, and are part of the “solutions,” whatever they may be, the future of adequate pensions, benefits and contracts are doomed. Who would have that in a twenty year period the most powerful union in the nation, the UAW would be virtually defunct.

NYC Educator responds

I think, as is frequent in our conversations, you’ve utterly missed the point–the point being our egregious errors have brought us to this juncture.

I resent your bogeyman of the UAW. It assumes I am ignorant of important factors like planned obsolescence, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the workers. It assumes I am unfamiliar with the greed of management, as documented years ago in “Roger and Me.” It assumes I am unfamiliar with management having driven the company into bankruptcy and planting wholly inaccurate stories about workers’ salaries in the media. It assumes I don’t know that just days ago GM demanded higher compensation for the clueless executives who drove the company to bankruptcy.

Frankly, your response consists largely of obfuscation–utterly evading every point I made and then demanding I respond to yours. I made a very substantive points about mayoral control, which has nothing to do with givebacks. I also pointed out the results of the givebacks. Does it seem reasonable to you that I answer your questions after you ignore mine?

Michael Fiorillo adds

It is absolutely false to claim that the UAW reached its sorry current state by being “too militant.” On the contrary, the UAW leadership signed on to virtually every harebrained management-promoted “cooperative,” collaborative,” “we’re-not-workers-we’re-team-members” bullshit over the years.

The fact of the matter is that the UAW collapsed because it could not organize foreign transplants in the South, due to so-called “right-to-work” laws in the former slave states, and the sad propensity of too many US workers to be free riders, benefiting from the struggles of prior generations of workers. As long as the UAW was viable, the transplants had to pay close to scale and provide benefits that approximated those of the UAW. Now that the union is a shell of its former self, guess what’s going to happen in the non-union plants?

“Collaboration” with people who are trying to destroy your working conditions, job protections, professional autonomy (by use of invalid, high-stakes exams) and privatize public education saves no one, it merely sacrifices some earlier than others. In the end, without a struggle, they will achieve their goal: a transient, at-will workforce preparing young people for the digital workhouses of the 21st century.

And by the way, Peter, please stop repeating the old falsity about the Brownsville Community School Board “firing” teachers. In fact, they were transferred against their will (not so different, in fact, from what many hundreds of teachers have had to face in the aftermath of the catastrophic Randi Weingarten/Unity Caucus 2005 contract).

The union went on strike for weeks over that: where’s the leadership’s outrage now?

Oh, that’s right, they’re responsible for this one.

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