I arrived at Wednesday's DA when UFT President Michael Mulgrew was talking about closing schools and the process for this year.
He then spoke about the Teacher Data Reports. He stated that the Margin of Error was 61 and that if we lose in court and they are released, we still must stand behind the teachers who have data released.
Special Ed VP Carmen Alvarez reported on the special ed Raise the Bar campaign. She stated that the UFT had filed 3190 special ed complaints. She said that as a result our advocacy, thousands of children now get proper services but more needs to be done.
She also told us mandate relief has been approved by the regents. Speech has been reduced to 1 period. Furthermore, now the state will allow 14 students with IEP's in CTT classes. She concluded that we have to keep filing complaints when necessary.Mulgrew came back to say this campaign must continue on behalf of the kids.
The next topic in the lengthy President's report was bedbugs. The president stated that he was insulted by DOE saying teachers should be responsible for catching bedbugs. He went on to tell us how bedbugs reproduce as they need ten minutes of sucking human blood before sex. He continued by telling us how he wants us to catch the bedbugs and deliver them to Tweed. Many Delegates answered yes when asked if there was a bedbug problem in their schools. He reported on a DOE no bid contract where one exterminator used a toxic chemical that was not supposed to be for use in a public area. As a result, he said teachers had to have a Saturday car wash to replace supplies the exterminator destroyed.
Mulgrew followed up by talking about Klein's resignation. He said that we have been educating the public to set the record straight for the last 18 months about how Klein's policies are harming children. Wall Street Journal in a recent poll found that Bloomberg's poll numbers on education were down to 30%. He said UFT is in large part responsible for Klein resigning. The president went on to tell us that Bloomberg messed up the transformation to a new Chancellor. Klein's legacy is not good.
Selection of a new Chancellor was to go for a waiver again. Bloomberg didn't consult with important education leaders before picking Cathie Black. Mulgrew said he was hoping for a positive change in leadership and he doesn't know what to expect. Members mixed review on Black. Some will take anyone who will work with us. Mulgrew met Black for about 30 seconds. Mulgrew added that some undesirable candidates have educational credentials.
He said UFT worked closely with State Education Commissioner David Steiner last year on Race to the Top and the new evaluation system. He added it's the commissioner's decision. UFT then presented a resolution. Mulgrew wants UFT to change the law for the future. He wants stability and he argued that this is not possible under current law. He stated that we need a new law .
UFT Resolution says, "That the United Federation of Teachers support the process established by State Education Commissioner David Steiner as a credible and fair procedure for deciding on the request for a waiver from the qualifications for Chancellor of New York City public schools promulgated in state education law." (talk about not taking a stand on Black or the waiver)
High School VP Leo Casey had an amendment calling for the UFT to back a change in the law for selecting future chancellors. UFT wants to change the law to make the process more transparent in the future. David Pecoraro from Beach Channel and Unity proposed that UFT should not support the waiver unless Black commits to visiting schools before they close. Two Unity people spoke against the amendement to support closing schools.
At that point someone called the question and Sal Emanueli from Jamaica HS raised a point of order that nobody had spoken against the resolution. He appealed then for Delegates to support the amendment on behalf of closing schools or otherwise he said the resolution was too weak. The question was then called and the Unity majority by a fairly wide margin defeated any support for closing schools. This was followed by an overwhelming vote in favor of basically staying out of the waiver battle. How weak are we?
Then there was a staff director's report where the Delegates sang happy birthday to Leroy Barr. Mulgrew gave a contract update (mediation failed) and answered questions mostly critical of him for not opposing the waiver.Overall the meeting was depressing due to more UFT inaction. Or as one delegate put it, "That's two hours of my life that I can never get back."