Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Randi: 14 Schools Closing is a UFT Victory

December 12 Delegate Assembly Report

by James Eterno UFT Chapter Leader, Jamaica High School

In over a decade as a Chapter Leader and Delegate and in ten years on the UFT Executive Board, I learned one indisputable fact: the UFT never loses no matter how bad conditions are in the schools or how many rights are given up in a Contract settlement. The UFT according to its leaders, has the same undefeated record as the Harlem Globetrotters or Perry Mason.

This unbeaten streak continued at the December 12, 2007 UFT Delegate Assembly. President Randi Weingarten reported that 14 schools were going to be closed. She admitted that 14 schools closing was 14 too many. However, instead of condemning Chancellor Joel Klein's decision to close any schools since the UFT has a policy that the Department of Education should refrain from closing schools until we can have a study done assessing the impact of school closings, Randi went in full spin mode implying that 14 schools closings is another UFT victory because Klein threatened 150 schools that received D or F report card grades but because of UFT pressure, only 14 were closed.

The UFT threatened a lawsuit because schools have to be closed using Federal and State guidelines. Therefore if we went to court, in the discovery process the UFT would've received information on the criteria on how schools are rated. With that "intense" Union pressure on him, Klein backed down and pulled a bunch of schools off of the list of schools to be closed. Randi wouldn't tell us which schools the UFT saved.

We need to talk about the status of the members in the over 100 schools that received F or D report card grades and were not closed Are UFT members in these schools going to be pushing to defend their union rights with the sword of a possible closing hanging over their heads? Why is the UFT not commissioning that study to assess the effectiveness of school closings on impacted schools and on neighboring schools? We didn't hear anything about this at the DA.

As for the members from the schools that are closing who will become Absent Teacher Reserves (full time teachers with full pay and benefits but no regular class), Randi said that the UFT is negotiating so that people who want to be placed will get a position.

In case you've been blinded by the spin here is the condensed version: 14 schools are being closed and over 100 others are being threatened with closing; the ranks of ATR's proliferate but it's a UFT win.

In other news from the DA, Randi reported that there may not be a special session of the State Legislature this month so 25-55 retirement plan might have to wait until early next year. She added that this isn't so bad either since if the bill passes later, then members have to pay less in contributions. She also told us that the war over whether to reduce class sizes has been won at the state level because of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit. The question now is whether the reduced class sizes will be an average of 20 for grades K-3 and 23 from grades 4-12 or will there be caps at these numbers in the next four years? She talked about the court cases on the letters for file as well (see the previous article for more on this issue).

Randi was away at a rally when the meeting started so she was not there when a number of resolutions were passed. These included the UFT examining the Unsatisfactory rating appeal process, actions to protest Klein's "gotcha squad" of lawyers who are going after tenured teachers; support for the environment; and support for transgender people.

Finally, a motion to have a UFT strike in sympathy for Local 32BJ was defeated.

All things considered, just another run of the mill great month for our Union. Hope all is well in your school too.


Anonymous said...

Randi lives on fantasy island.

John Lawhead said...

Here's the kiss off for fourteen schools.

Leo Casey tells the NY Teacher: "we got them to agree that a number of other schools they had wanted to close could turn themselves around because they had good leadership and the support of their staff and parents."

Tough luck for the 14 who lack UFT-approved parents, staff and "leadership" (principal).

Anonymous said...

Who's doing the spinning?

Do you guys actually think the Delegates at the meeting would vote to go on strike simply because another union was on strike??

You gotta be kidding me!!!

All I want for Christmas is an

ICE-free break!!!

ed notes online said...

Gee! I really did think the Unity dominated delegates would vote to go on strike. Now you busted my bubble. Next you'll tell me that the UFT leadership would never support a housing project with non-union labor.

Anonymous said...

Nobody thought the UFT delegates were going to vote to go on strike. Nothing in the article we wrote even implied that we sponsored the resolution.

In the Unity mind, anyone who doesn't support everything the leadership does is a member of ICE. Wrong.

James Eterno

NYC Educator said...

Naturally, I'm as impressed as anyone with the UFT victory of closing 14 schools, and I take them at their word that they've protected others, though they refuse to name them. Why bother with critical thinking when we can simply take them at their word.

I don't know whether you guys read Edwize, but they've run two articles this week in defense of Jim Liebman, the guy last seen running away from concerned parents in Manhattan. Maisie says he's "smart and decent," and actually defends him by saying he was just following orders. You know, the good ol' Nuremberg defense.

Then, they found a student who felt educators didn't compromise enough to state that we ought to support the "search for results" that Chancellor Klein had embarked upon.

It kinda makes you wonder what the hell they have up their sleeves next.

Anonymous said...

An Ice-free Christmas??

If it weren't for ICE, I wouldn't be able to find out what you wild and crazy guys are up to over at UFT headquarters.

Saving 14 schools a victory? And the delegates bought that? Makes you wonder if Klein is correct about the lack of teacher quality,
cause there's a group of teachers who cannot think for themselves.

btw, Randi is calling everything the DoE is doing a great thing.
Gee, I wish I could be a Unity Whore too if the price was right.

Anonymous said...

As usual, ICE forgot to post about the best part of the DA. That was when their former candidate for executive board, Marian Swerdlow, got up to lecture the DA that we need to be more "spiritual".

Classic ICE goodness!

Anonymous said...

We do need a prayer with Randi at the helm.

Anonymous said...

Hey NYC Educator you should know that most sane people stopped reading EdWize when they started deleting comments that were critical of Unity.

Anonymous said...

I too am for a more spiritual UFT. Couldn't hurt.

Anonymous said...

Swerlow made a lot more sense than Weingarten

Anonymous said...

"Swerdlow made a lot more sense than Weingarten."

To anyone not on their meds that night.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Weingarten makes sense to Unity drones drinking the Kool-Aid.

Anonymous said...

If they're on the payroll, then Randi makes sense. Otherwise, you gotta be kidding.