Wednesday, December 06, 2006

BOLD UFT LEADERSIP WOULD FIGHT MAYORAL CONTROL INSTEAD OF CONSIDERING ITS RENEWAL

    Several years ago, the leadership of the UFT made a blunder when a committee the Union formed to study how schools should be governed issued a report that said the UFT would favor the Mayor controlling a majority of the Board of Education. Eventually, that report led to the Union giving its ok to the 2002 law that allowed Bloomberg to take over the schools. We must not let history repeat itself. The law granting the Mayor full control of the schools sunsets in 2009. We must start the fight now so that the NY State Legislature does not renew it in its current form.

We cannot stay the course with this failed policy. Now is the time for the UFT leadership to admit that they made a mistake in endorsing full Mayoral control of the schools and we need to move forward and find a system where parents, teachers and others in the community have a real voice in decision-making in our public schools.

We cannot merely hope for the right mayor as each new mayor will invariably seek to remake the schools in their preferred image, and manipulate the system for their political and ideological advantage. ICE favors real shared decision making at the school level as an opening demand. In order to achieve this, we need first to get the Mayor out of school governance to the maximum extent that we are able to and get school personnel and the community back in.

To win back the schools, ICE raised a proposal on Monday evening at the UFT Executive Board when the leadership of the Union called for the creation of a multi-partisan UFT committee to examine how the schools should be governed in the future. ICE proposed the following amendment as a foundation for the committee:


 

RESOLVED, that it is the explicit policy of the United Federation of Teachers that the School Governance Law not be renewed or extended in 2009.


 

In other words, ICE CALLED FOR THE END OF MAYORAL CONTROL as a starting point for any discussion on how the schools are run in the future.

In response, Randi Weingarten accused of us of playing politics with the issue and the Unity dominated Executive Board voted overwhelmingly to form a committee that will examine all forms of school governance, including the possibility of renewing mayoral control of the schools. We respectfully disagree with the Unity Caucus. The Union needs to be bold by drawing a line in the sand and saying factory model (corporate style) top-down public schools do not work for students or educators. Now is the time to begin to take that initiative.

Do we need to have a committee even consider renewing a top-down school governance structure that the vast majority of UFT members know is an unmitigated disaster for education in New York (and other cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia where it has also been used)? Examine what Mayoral control has brought in NYC:


 

  • Micromanagement of lessons, lesson plans and other aspects of our day
  • Micromanagement of bulletin boards
  • Testing run amok
  • UFT Contracts where our members have lost numerous rights in exchange for raises that don't keep up with inflation
  • Mandatory "Professional" Development that has little if anything to do with what most of us actually face in the classroom
  • Millions of dollars in no bid contracts
  • Two restructurings of the of the bureaucracy: first into ten regions and now into empowerment zones
  • A Secretive, opaque form of management and policy-making that has proven itself impervious to oversight, checks and balances, and democratic dialogue that is necessary for a healthy school system


 

Now is the time for the UFT to take a strong stand against what Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his hand picked non education Chancellor Joel Klein have done to New York City's schools.

 

46 comments:

northbrooklyn said...

Jeff-do you want to return the power to the thugs that ran the school boards?

Anonymous said...

I read the Unity stuff on

www.unitycaucus.org

they are right!

Ice does complain everytime
but i will go further:

I
C omplain
E verytime

U sing
F ibs &
T alltales

Anonymous said...

Unity stands for:
Union
Not
In
This
Year

Anonymous said...

I would rather have the corrupt school boards than Bloomberg and Klein.

Anonymous said...

Better to complain than to be happy as things are.

Anonymous said...

Monday night at the Executive Board meeting I witnessed the shameless
double talk by Randi and Mike Mendel. It was obvious to me that the
UFT has no intention of opposing mayoral control. The idea of a bi
partisan committee to study the issue is a sham. Randi has already
made up her mind, rumors of a secret deal must be true, but what can
we do?
We must let the membership vote on the continuation of mayoral control.
ICE must pressure Randi into allowing a referendum.

End Mayoral Control said...

Thanks to UNITY, UFT now stands for
Usually
F*cks the
Teachers

Anonymous said...

Why don't you be honest about what was proposed. The resolution speaks to having a task force of the members and my understanding is that it will be a large group like the negotiating commitee was. That is tremendous in terms of having member input in recomending policy. I think you guys are just afraid that you really don't care or understand the members.

EMC -End Mayoral Control said...

Take a poll of the members in your school and see if they are for mayoral control. Did the UFT ask that question on the survey?

Have a large committee to come up with alternatives to mayoral control which has been a disaster for teachers (and parents and children) in every major city.

Does it mean going back to the thugs? There are only 2 alternatives? What about Bloombeg and Klein and their thugs? There is more thuggery going on in the schools now than ever in history. If you don't see that then you are not in a school.

Patrick said...

Here's what the Mayor himself said on this topic as quoted in NY Magazine this week:

“What scares the heck out of me,” he says, “is that Albany, when the current mayoral control runs out in June 2009, they’ll say, ‘We like it, but of course we need some representation from the teachers union. And of course we need the parents there, too’—and then you’re right back to what you had before.”

And that would be tragic?

“It’s not tragic for me,” Bloomberg replies in a tone of infinite solemnity. “Tragic for the kids. And for the city. And for the country. And for the world.”

Anonymous said...

Another committee? Look at what the last one got us for our contract. Hopefully, we can get randi out before she does any more damage to our union.

Anonymous said...

What amazes me is the extent to which Kaufman and the rest of SLUSH assume the complete gulliblity of NYC public school teachers.

Randi Weingartern is on the record -- on the Op Ed page of the New York Times, no less -- as being scathingly critical of mayoral control. Suggesting that she has some secret plot up her sleeve to support mayoral control has as much credibility as the claim that there are weapons of mass destruction hidden somewhere in Iraq -- we just haven't found them.

What SLUSH is afraid of is that the UFT will develop a full position on how NYC public schools should be governed that will come from the membership and resonate with them. That is why they want to preempt the discussion and the process.

A pretty desperate attempt at manufacturing an issue, don't you think?

But then overactive imaginations is about the only thing that Kaufman, Eterno and Scott have going for them.

nyceducator said...

I am amazed at the juvenile, ad-hominem nonsense that the Unity supporters here seem to mistake for argument.

It's no wonder we're working in August and on perpetual hall patrol.

Anonymous said...

Please dear Unity friends tell us if Randi is opposed to Mayoral control why she won't come out and say she is against it?

Anonymous said...

Randi won't say she opposes Mayoral control because as the comment above stated:

UFT now stands for

Usually
F*cks the
Teachers

Anonymous said...

Pray do tell us, Jeffrey, James, Norman and NYCEducator, what part of the following tells you that Randi Weingarten is secretly planning to support a continuation of mayoral control. Your brillant minds can obviously discover things that the rest of us mortals do not see...

Public Schools, Minus the Public

By DIANE RAVITCH AND RANDI WEINGARTEN
Published: March 18, 2004

Two years ago, the State Legislature gave Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg nearly unlimited control of New York City's public schools. It abolished the central Board of Education and created a Panel on Education Policy (with eight members appointed by the mayor, five by the borough presidents) that is largely advisory. The move was a sharp departure from the American tradition of placing education policy in the hands of an independent public board that is not directly controlled by elected officials.

Hoping that this change would reduce bureaucratic inertia, we were among those who supported the measure in Albany. And we certainly commend Mayor Bloomberg for his willingness to take responsibility for improving the public schools. In recent days, however, many of us have realized that the legislation went too far by consolidating all power in the hands of one elected official.

This issue was crystallized for us on Monday, when the panel -- which was widely expected to rubber-stamp the mayor's policies -- resisted his plan to end the "social promotion" of third-grade students who fail standardized tests. Facing defeat, the mayor summarily removed two of his appointees and engineered the firing of a third to get the vote he wanted.

Mayor Bloomberg's action was only the latest example of the problems created by the present form of mayoral control. With the Legislature's imprimatur, every board -- central and local -- in which citizens had expressed their concerns about schools has been dismantled. The only check on the mayor's power over the school system was intended to be the Panel on Education Policy, but the events of this week emasculated even this small vestige of democratic governance.

We agree that the mayor should have a larger role in running the school system than in the recent past, but he should not have unchecked power to hire personnel, make contracts and set policy. The time has come, then, for a mid-course correction by the Legislature to restore transparency, public engagement and accountability to the school system.

Since the mayoral takeover, the school system has been reorganized along the lines of a corporate business model, as though educating children were no different from selling toothpaste. The Department of Education is today a tightly centralized, top-down structure of regional and local officials who relay instructions from the department's headquarters to the schools. Not only does the reorganization leave out any role for public involvement, it has also led to serious malfunctioning of school services.

The reorganization, for example, has caused the disruption of school discipline and the near collapse of school safety over the past six months. The department wiped out the old disciplinary system, leading to long delays in dealing with suspended students -- who were quickly returned to their schools and got into more trouble. And Mr. Bloomberg's solution of putting armed police officers into the schools is not a long-term answer to the deeper problem, which is the erosion of the authority of teachers and principals in schools. In addition, the reorganization left thousands of children who have disabilities without access to the services they need.

Complicating matters, the mayor appointed Joel I. Klein, who has no background in education, as his chancellor. Reflecting his lack of experience in the field, Mr. Klein selected a controversial deputy for instruction who imposed curricular mandates and micromanagement on the system's 1,200 schools. She chose the city's curriculum, and there was no public discussion about her choices. The Department of Education now requires hundreds of elementary schools to use a little-known reading program that has not been proven successful in any other urban school district; as a result, state and federal education officials refused to finance it.

The Department of Education now operates in a secretive manner that denies the right of the public to have a say in important decisions or even to know what policy is being considered. Even the once customary practice of announcing contracts at regular public hearings has stopped, thus removing transparency from the operations of the department. It has also now become routine for journalists and other public officials to have to file Freedom of Information demands to obtain the most basic information about the Department of Education's decisions and practices.

The debate over social promotion, then, is just the latest flash point for the new regime. We are strong supporters of academic standards. We oppose social promotion. But we do not agree that the mayor's approach is the best or only one for ending it or helping low-performing students. The mayor announced his plan only two months ago. The administration's rush to fail third graders, and only third graders, seems political. If the lowest-scoring third-grade students are held back this year, as the new policy states, then next year the fourth-grade results will soar in the spring of 2005, just in time for the mayoral campaign.

For all these reasons, the State Legislature needs to re-establish an independent board of respected citizens to set policy for the schools. Those who serve on this board should do so for set terms, rather than ''at the pleasure of'' the mayor or borough presidents. There is a good historical reason for having a wall between schools and electoral politics.

The public schools do not belong to this mayor or future mayors. They belong to the public, who place their children in them and who support them with their tax dollars. It is now imperative for the Legislature to re-establish the role of the public in public education.

Diane Ravitch is a historian of education at New York University. Randi Weingarten is the president of the United Federation of Teachers.

nyc educator said...

It's great that Randi Weingarten realized mayoral control is a bad idea. The fact that she supported and enabled it, however, speaks to a remarkable lack of foresight, hardly a good quality for a leader.

However, the article is over two years old, and it would be plainly idiotic to assume it precludes a quid pro quo for Randi's silence. After all, the worst contract I've seen in 22 years induced her to sit on the fence rather than oppose the very administration the article complains about.

Inaction speaks louder than words.

And as impressive as her words may appear to her bought-and-paid-for patronage employees, I'll wait to see what she does. She says very pretty things about class sizes too, while almost 200 oversize classes sit in my school.

Predictably, the anonymous poster here launches right into gratuitous personal attacks before presenting the dated article.

It's no wonder veteran teachers, regardless of quality, have to worry about being dumped into the ATR.

Anonymous said...

So, two years ago Randi said that if the Mayor appoints the Board but they have a fixed term instead of serving at his pleasure, then everything will be ok. I don't think so. If the Mayor still controls the money for schools, then we haven't fixed a thing. If this article is Randi's current view on the subject, then why doesn't she come out and say so?

Why doesn't she call for the outright end to mayoral control?

Anonymous said...

"We agree that the mayor should have a larger role in running the school system than in the recent past..." Randi and Diane Ravitch

They call for a little fine tuning. We need more than that to fix the schools.

Anonymous said...

Go ICE

Anonymous said...

Heard about Lafayette HS closing this morning on TV while I was
getting ready to go to work at my new assignment.
I joined Lafayette last year, and immediately had a run in with that
famous Leadership Academy Principal, she who will not be named here.
Throughout the year, I received nothing but "U" observations, as did
a number of my colleagues at Lafayette.
It was obvious to me that the school was under utilized, and in view
of all that she who will not be named did to me and my colleagues,
the woman was sent there to deliberately downsize the school so that
Bloom/Klein, et.al., could take the real estate and do something else
with it. Throughout this ordeal, my colleagues and I heard from the
UFT that "my hands were tied" from the Unity person there (he, too,
shall remain nameless).
I'm now reminded of that famous poem where the person laments that
when they came for him, "there was no one left to protect me". Well,
the inevitable has happened. According to what I've read in the
papers, Madame Weingarten is already making plans with the DOE to
turn poor Lafayette into "schools where students want to go, and
teachers will want to teach". WOW! The body is not even cold yet, and
the vultures are circling enmasse. And, what will happen to all of
the people there who were forced to become ATR's, were discontinued
last year, received "U" ratings, etc.? Oh, well...... In my case,
I've yet to hear from the UFT about when my hearing will be held,
apparently, my case was dropped from the UFT's radar.....
To hear Madame Weingarten say that people should not be surprised at
Lafayette's closing in light of their problems, smacks to me of a
callousness that ranks right up there with the Bloom/Klein
administration's sneakiness and M.O.
Keep 'em working, until the end, use people, collect union dues, and
then drop them like hot potatoes.
How bizarre the educational system is in New York City.
Hope that the Three Stooges trio of Bloomberg, Klein, and Weingarten
can live with themselves after doing what they've done to destroy
peoples' lives and careers, all while they are hiding behind the
facade of "improving education". Seems to me that they are much more
concerned with lining their pockets, and leaving behind a legacy that
will improve their stature with the business community, rather than
the constituents of the school system.
Happy holidays......



__._,_.___

Anonymous said...

Closing a high school to replace it with a less crowded one and thus
increase overpopulation in schools is not the answer. The answer is to
beef up security in violent schools, give principals the power to do
somehing about violent students, intensive effort to prevent students
from dropping out and keep them intersted and motivated, doing
whatever is possible to keep class size down.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry soon some Unity official will be on here talking about how lucky the Lafayette teachers are to be ATR's.

Anonymous said...

Randi is earning her salary--she is protecting those she cares most about--her minions who work at the bloated Union.

I am in the system a long time myself but not long enough to retire...that is years off and I am in a struggling school.

I stayed in the system because I believe in my students and now feel duped. I stayed for the promise of job stability. Now I feel duped. I also worry about my pension--will I make it to 30 years? Will I be forced out by age discrimination??? Will my union care?

My school is not closing--NOT YET at least. Here is what my worries are--I have an okay commute and the hours work with child care right now (I have an elementary school aged daughter). If my school were to close, I might have to commute further or have later hours and that would be a huge hardship--if I could find a job....in my high school, many of the veteran teachers--great teachers--are being targeted and given U's.....for the most part, these are good teachers. I have found that as I have gotten older and have more responsibilities at home (my daughter and aging parents--no husband here--I am divorced and responsible for so many bills), I have less time to devote to being in school. I am still a great teacher, but can no longer stay until 5 PM every day, volunteer to come in to tutor on Saturdays and so on. Younger teachers not only might have the energy but also have fewer commitments (although grad school is one!).

I know I am rambling here, but I have to say that Randi Weingarten is not only destroying the years of gains our union has made, but is also directly responsible for destroying the careers and lives of veteran teachers.

The DOE used to complain that not enough veteran teachers were in these "failing" schools--as if only the teachers and not the socio-economic issues among other issues--were not the reasons that these schools fail....

It is sad, but I now have advice for all new teachers--GET OUT OF THE SYSTEM NOW!!! There is no future in it. (and thus begins the decline of public education and society) Thank Randi and Joel and Mayor Mike.
rhonda weingarten bloomklein | 12.12.06 - 8:37 pm | #

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Anonymous said...

It's amazing how the schools being closed were announced right after the contract vote was over.

Choose experience over arrogant youth said...

The young teachers are mainly teaching fellows. Their goal is to destroy the union. Like cockroaches, they have infiltrated the rank and file, and have gained CL and delegate positions. The union is crumbling from within. Frau Weingarten either doesn't care, or is too stupid to notice.

Anonymous said...

What exaggerated crap here. At my chapter leader meeting we talked about the ATR's. Turns out there are only 7 in the whole district. 4 are brand new teachers and the other 3 have reading or ESL licenses and there are no jobs for them right now. None of them are senior teachers. None of them are from a school that closed. If you're lying about the scope of the ATR situation, then you're probably lying about how the UFT feels about mayoral control, too.

Norm said...

There is a simple solution to what the numbers of ATR's are. Let the NY Teacher publish a list with schools and numbers. Why leave it to rumor and speculation? Let the UFT leadership put an end to the so-called "crap" people are reading here.

Anonymous said...

The NY Teacher? The UFT Leadership? Why don't you call for the DOE to publish the schools and numbers? Why would you think that the UFT should publish such information? The DOE is the enemy and you should focus your anger on them.

jameseterno said...

There were a lot more than 4 ATR's when it was asked at the Queens High School Chapter Leader Meeting yesterday. There are two in my school alone.

Anonymous said...

How many were there James?

Anonymous said...

I thought there were only a few hundred tecahing fellows this year out of thousands of new teachers. Aren't you pitting members against each other by calling them "cockroaches". Talk about name calling.

Anonymous said...

The lack of political insight on your part is incredible. Besides the internal political voice of the membership (having a committee of members-which you shouldn't complain about since James Eterno and Jeff Kaufman sat on the negotiating committee and said nothing until after it was all done), you also lack vision of what the mayor has now - he was just reelected last year, there is a new governor coming in and this guy still has 3 more years to create policy. He isn't lame duck yet. Why on earth would you want him to use our "opinion" to strengthen his voice? This again, just like "contract opposition" (this time and last) is not about the membership or what makes strategic sense. It is all about politics and your hatred for Randi

Think of the membership for a change, let them have their voice and let ALL of us have a voice in the conversation - not just yours.

Anonymous said...

You know, even your freinds at UTP and ACT(?) seem to give credit when credit is due. Instead all you guys do is complain.

Anonymous said...

"The NY Teacher? The UFT Leadership? Why don't you call for the DOE to publish the schools and numbers? "

Aren't you the ones saying people on this blog are full of crap on the ATR'a and that there are only 7 in your district? How do you know that if the info isn't coming from the UFT? Since you are the ones complaining about the numbers why not end the complaining and publish the numbers? But instead you say we should ask the DOE who you know full well won't publish the numbers. The whole point of this exercise on your part is to try to make it seem ATR's is a non-issue. It is so easy to prove it is a non-issue if that is so.

We all know the DOE is the enemy. Just how far does the UFT go in collaboration with the enemy.

Anonymous said...

NYC Educator-your blog sucks now (format, that is).
But I'm confused, you seem to complain about Bloomberg giving us only part of the $1.9 Billion CFE funds. Weren't you one of the people who said we should vote down this contract and get more of those funds?

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that Unity folks are unable to voice their opinions, such as they are, without launching into attacks more suited to the likes of Beavis and Butthead.

It is instructive that they do not take the time to read the posts to which they respond, and that they deem it appropriate to do so on unrelated posts on different websites.

It's no wonder Teaching Fellows are tossed into the gutter right before Christmas.

H said...

Oh, my, no posts on the fact that the UFT membership ratified the contract by 90%?

Cat's got your tongue, Jeffrey, Norman, James, NYCEducator?

Anonymous said...

The fact the this contract was approved with a overwhelming majority speaks volumes to the fact that ICE spends more time on trying to convince people to vote NO rather than speak to Randi's and Unity's poor leadership, especially on issues we face in the trenches each day.

ICE had to know that this contract would pass, but still set themselves up once again. Even Morris made Clinton take a camping trip when Clinton hated camping.
But, that is what a campaign is. Knowing what to say and when to say it.

Anonymous said...

NYC Educator blog sucks?

Well, this is the blog that addressed the assult of Ms. C. when the union basically told her to drop dead.

This is the same blog that brought to light the plight of Fellows and ATRs when the Union never addressed their concerns.

This is the same blog that addressed the fact the more schools will be made into charters thus displacing more senior teachers.

When Randi said she never sacrificed her young the way the Police, Fire and Sanitation did, she failed to mention that she sacrificed those who have served the students for over 20 years.

So when will their severance package be announced????

Anonymous said...

Sensitive aren't we? I believe the comment was "NYC Educator-your blog sucks now (format, that is)." That is, in not so different words, the format not content is at issue. But I suppose your rage over not being able to represent the wishes of 90% of the voting membership just gets to you.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I'll take those 7000 plus people who voted NO into the trenches in the wars with BloomKlein and Unity any day. We're proud of them. Now if they could be organized into a force to challenge the union leadership Unity would know it's in a battle. Unity should be very happy with their 90% majority but that still won't stop them from removing literature critical of them from mail boxes so people can't read other points of view.

NYC Educator blog rocks. It has become one of the most important voices pointing to the games Unity plays. No wonder Unity is attacking it.

Anonymous said...

7,000 = NYC's Brightest!

Unitymustgo said...

I second that!!

Anonymous said...

It's 7,637= NY's brightest!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on institutionalizing work in August, the end of seniority transfers, permanent hall/ potty/ lunch patrol, a sixth class for high school teachers, and merit pay. And congratulations on demoralizing a sufficient number of teachers to vote for the last contract.

You should be proud. That was quite an achievement.

After that, this one was nothing. In fact, I predicted it on my blog as recently as last week.

And I regret to cast aspersions on your mind-reading abilities, but I will have much to say about this in the future.
NYC Educator | Homepage | 12.15.06 - 7:26 am | #

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You mean that there are actually over 7000-8000 people in the UFT who were willing to give up a less than cost of living increase to stand up for their rights? I am shocked. ICE, TJC and others opposed to the contract have been branded as a bunch of crazies. How gratifying to be joined by so many other demented people. Randi has got to be crying over not getting 100% of the vote and will get even a smaller percentage in the UFT elections even with New Action endorsing her (or maybe because of it).She wanted to top the votes Saddam Hussein was getting in Iraq. Boo, hoo and a merry xmas to you.
Norm | 12.15.06 - 10:57 am | #

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