Monday, January 16, 2012


Mayor Bloomberg made attacking teachers the centerpiece of his state of the city address last week.  His attacks are tired and getting old as are the constant NY Post and Daily News editorials blasting teachers.

A quick little walk through the last three years shows we are his favorite target.  First there was no raise for us even though virtually all the other unions have received two raises of 4% in the current round of collective bargaining.  Then, it was two straight years of layoff threats that included the mayor's failed push to change state law so he could fire us at will. Now the mayor wants us to have weaker due process without appeal to an independent reviewer and since he can't get his way, he is now attempting to close most of the Transformation-Restart Schools and open them up the following day with half of the teachers being replaced.

It would be comical if the lives of so many UFT members and students were not impacted.  As I read our contract, he can redesign schools based on Article 18D, which allows management to excess at least half of the teachers in a given school.  Whether he can do this as part of the Federal Turnaround program without first negotiating it with the UFT is highly debatable and will more than likely be decided in the courts or by the state Public Employees Relations Board.

I have some ideas on what the union can do to help the teachers in the 33 PLA-Restart Schools that will necessitate us being a real union.  Maybe the UFT will do more than just use the legal system and local protests.  It's time.

The teachers in the Restart schools and citywide need to know that we are dealing with a desperate billionaire mayor who will do just about anything to get rid of us.  The mayor's plan is irrational.  If he excesses half of the staffs in many schools but our contract and state law prevents tenured people from being terminated without cause (thank God), then there will be an explosion of Absent Teacher Reserves.  It appears that the mayor is willing to spend an additional $100,000,000 on an expanded Absent Teacher Reserve pool (regular teachers who roam from school to school each week at full pay but cover classes for absent teachers) to obtain $60,000,000 in Federal funds.  Can city hall do math or does the mayor have a Captain Ahab like obsession?

The mayor seems overly determined to bust the UFT.  This will probably be his last chance as his time will run out at the end of 2013 and there doesn't seem to be any call for another extension of term limits this time around.  He needs to kill us off now or never.  He looks desperate but do not underestimate the forces that want to destroy public education and the UFT.

 ... to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.
Moby-DickCh. 135 or is that Michael Bloomberg talking to teachers?


Campy55 said...

James, I have followed your blog for a long time. I am at what many would call a "good" high school in Queens where I believe a good portion of the young teachers are living under a rock in regard to fully understanding what is happening to fellow union members. I know a number who are at those 33 schools. What scares me most however is not what a desperate billionare will do to break the union. What scares me most is what a desperate worker who has dedicated his or her life to a profession and who may unfairly lose everything he or she has worked so hard for (mortgage, rent, food on the table, a child's college tution, etc.) will do if he or she is wrongly judged by an evaluation that is rigged against him. When one's career and livelihood is dependent on measures (an incompetent AP or the willingness or not of students to study or do homework or a test - you get the point) my goodness what if I have done my all and certain students just have a "bad day" on a test - it's all so tragically absurd. My point is when hard working people feel threatened for no fault of their own - some may become so desperate and angry that I am afraid they mad do something that they will regret.

ed notes online said...

I can attest to what you say. I heard a teacher for almost a decade show a willingness to get arrested despite that being a career threat because of the same feeling of desperation. And this is a very strong person - a chapter leader even. What about fragle teachers? Will we see a day when a distraught teacher emulates the desperate guy in Tunis who set off the Arab spring or the monks in China?

Campy55 said...

and the list can go on and on Ed. The fragile teacher, the teacher who will lose his house, the teacher who will not make the bills, the rent, not be able to give shelter to his or her family. Listen, before anyone responds and says something of the order, "But that's what the private sector deals with everyday." or something like that. NO, they do not have evaluations that are rigged against them. No private job would give you a computer outfitted for the year 2000 in the year 2012. No private industry would give you a cell phone that kept breaking up or had limited range. They would say, opps sorry about that - here is the latest technology - now go and do what you do best. When others take people who try to their absolute best in a situation that is so deeply flawed and then those others say they are ineffective and threaten them with the loss of a livlihood - someone, somewhere will do something that may hurt someone else. My goodness - can we just end this sad tale already and leave hardworking individuals alone!

Rod said...

When there are thousands of ATR wandering week to week to different schools is there a chance that we will protest?
The Teacher Uprising has to start now. Students too are fed up with a toxic irrelevant curriculum. Let's rock this bureaucracy to it's knees.