Friday, April 20, 2012


Two bills have been introduced in the State Legislature to end the mayor’s majority control over the New York City Board of Education.  One is Senate Bill S-6915-2011 and the other is Assembly BILL 9723-2011. The Senate Bill would decrease the mayor’s power by limiting him to 4 representatives on a 13 person Board of Education.  The Assembly bill would limit the mayor to 2 votes on an 8 person Board of Education.  Either one is acceptable to me as they would end mayoral dictatorship over our schools and put in some necessary checks and balances.

In his report to the Delegates, an observer informed me (I arrived late) that UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the bills were basically dead on arrival as Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skellos would not bring the bill to the floor so it would never be voted on.  While I essentially agree that the chances of passing these bills are very slim, it doesn’t hurt to try to push for the end of the mayor’s majority control over the Board of Education.  It is the best hope for saving the public schools of New York City before they are completely ruined by Bloomberg and the corporate school deformers. You can't win if you don't try.

Here is the simple wording of my resolution:

Whereas, Mayoral control of the New York City Schools has been an unmitigated disaster; be it therefore

Resolved, that the UFT support State Senate Bill 6915/Assembly Bill 9723 that would take away the mayor’s majority control of the Board of Education.

I was able to obtain the floor during the new motion period at Wednesday’s DA as nobody else had a new motion at the time so they President had to call on me.  As per the rules, I just read the resolution.  I then stated that even if this bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, we should be on record supporting it.  To get an item on the agenda, no debate is allowed and the motion needs a 2/3 vote to get added to the current DA agenda.

It seems to me this resolution is a no-brainer but you never know at the DA.  It made me happy to see that there was overwhelming support for it among the delegates so it was added to the agenda.  However, it is not yet UFT policy because time ran out before the resolution could be debated and voted on. Someone said afterwards that they should have extended for this simple resolution but at least it is on the union's agenda. Hopefully, it will be near the top of the agenda next month. (I also believe that there are ways that we can push this bill forward that we should discuss soon.)

Surprisingly, a different motion to support a rally at DOE Central (Tweed) in support of the 26 schools slated for closure was rejected by the Delegates.  I see no harm in the UFT endorsing such a rally even if it was for the next day. Since it was time sensitive, this motion was for the current DA so there was no debate and it didn't get on the agenda as it was defeated rather handily. 

In the part of the president's report that I caught or was informed about (I missed the start of the meeting so please fill us in on what I missed), Mulgrew said that the Union would do what it can for the 26 turnaround schools that are slated to be closed.  He also talked about the CESIS arbitration and said that he was confident.  (Later Secretary Michael Mendel told us it was important for members to do the CESIS surveys.)  Mulgrew said that the person in charge of special education reform at the DOE, Laura Rodriguez, was retiring and the new person in charge of special education reform resigned.  As there are many changes coming next school year, the union is expecting many lawsuits from parents and advocacy groups.

Mulgrew also reported on Students’ First New York.  He told us we are looking forward to battling Joel Klein again.  He said that the mayor was now desperate with his school approval ratings hovering around 18% so he was indirectly funding Klein, Rhee, Moscowitz and hedge fund guys.  He said they would try to use parents to stop the teacher’s union.  Mulgrew stated that this is where our work with the communities for the last 2.5 years would pay off.  He mentioned the clergy breakfast for ministers and how there are 125 scheduled to meet him.   

He then told us May 8 was National Educators Day.  He said that at this year’s Spring Conference we would be honoring Robert Jackson with the Dewey Award.  Jackson was an important part of the CFE lawsuit and he also has been the Chair of the City/Council Education Committee.  Mulgrew also told us that the workshops would be great at this year’s conference as they have been redesigned.  One of them would include Ipad training and another would be run by none other than Charlotte Danielson who he stated really only wants her evaluation system to be used to improve teaching.

He then stated that we are working on building community schools.  Even though we have 20 months of fighting with Bloomberg remaining, he believed we have to move ahead with what we want.  Community schools would include wraparound services and technology to enhance teaching.  

Staff Director Leroy Barr next gave a report about cutting day care slots and he said that there would be a rally on April 24 at 2116 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd to oppose these childcare cuts. Secretary Michael Mendel talked about the importance of doing the DOE CESIS surveys and then there were questions.

One question concerned probation extensions.  Mulgrew answered that if someone has more than two extension of probations, they need to contact UFT lawyer Adam Ross.

Another question concerned the continuation of the ATR agreement which Mulgrew answered by saying it would carry on.

There was a question on CESIS and Mulgrew said we would go to Albany after the arbitration.

My colleague Jeff A who hangs out on the same side of the DA as me asked about the validators in the new evaluation agreement.  He wanted to know how we could be sure that the non DOE people who were sent to validate ineffective ratings wouldn’t just be more retired city principals.  Mulgrew answered that the UFT was on the committee to hire the validators so it should not be a concern.  There was a question on false OSI investigations that was answered by saying we should call OSI if there is a false allegation made by an adult. 

This was followed by the motion period (see above) and the regular agenda items followed.  None of them were very controversial.  We endorsed a City Council resolution on celebrating educators; we voted to recognize Administrative Professionals/Secretaries Day; we also voted to support the May Day for the 99% March and Rally; we are also endorsing the Stand4Change Day against bullying as well as the anti-bullying conference sponsored by the UFT and the Council for Unity.  We also passed a resolution calling for full services and instruction for English Language Learners and we passed one looking for justice for Trayvon Martin.

No time, however, to demand an end to Mayoral control but hey the next meeting is just a few weeks away.


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Anonymous said...

Can't believe opposing mayoral control is not at the top of everyone's agenda.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the sponsors thought they would get union support. What a rude awakening to find the union in the mayor's pocket.

Anonymous said...

What MUST be done first is to defeat the Republican and DFER senators and assemblymen in the next election. THEN we can rescind mayoral control.

Unless good fortune strikes Bloomberg down with a massive heart attack.

Anonymous said...

How about throwing out the union leaders in the next election?

Paul Hogan said...

I agree that mayoral control should be fought in the legislature... whether or not it ( i.e. scaling it back) has a "real" chance of passing.

The attendant publicity will be good for the issue and good for us. Also, putting it to a vote will help to flush out people in Albany who up to now have been talking out of both sides of their mouth.

I.e. Who's with us and who's not.