Saturday, August 16, 2014


There is no more famous critic of corporate school privatization than NYU Professor Diane Ravitch.  Her blog along with the Washington Post Answer Sheet, written by Valerie Strauss, are two of the leading places to go for strong criticisms of the corporate drive to destroy the public school system.

Ravitch has been very careful about not denouncing the leadership of the teachers unions by telling us we need to support people such as her friend AFT President Randi Weingarten.  However, on Thursday she posted something written by AFT member Kipp Dawson that is quite critical of the undemocratic nature of the UFT.  The UFT basically controls the AFT as Dawson pointed out and both unions are run in a top-down way.

This is the first time I can recall an almost direct attack from Ravitch against the Unity Caucus, Randi's faction of the UFT. Unity enforces party discipline with a loyalty oath.  Unity members  must vote as the leadership tells them or they are ousted from the party.

This was followed by a post today where Ravitch questions one of NYSUT's baffling political endorsements for 2014.  Our union is supporting the leader of the renegade Democrats, the pro- charter Jeff Klein, who led the group that allowed the Republicans to control the State Senate. He is also one of two Democrats who voted to take away New York City teacher seniority protections.  Klein is being challenged in the September primary by Oliver Koppell

Perdido Street School took down this endorsement yesterday. 

By asking for an explanation of the Klein endorsement, Ravitch was lobbing a softball right over the plate for Unity foes to swat out of the park.  ICE's very own Michael Fiorillo stepped up to the plate to hit his usual grand slam as he summed up for Ravitch the union's twisted reasoning for backing Klein.

If only our membership would read this en masse.

Michael Fiorillo says:
Endorsing an oily bottom-feeder like Klein is just part of Unity’s workaday world. NYC teachers who’ve been around for a while probably have not-so-fond memories of the UFT leadership giving its annual John Dewey Award to Republican governor George Pataki, and then stabbing Democratic gubernatorial candidate and long-time UFT ally Carl McCall in the back some years ago. It’s typical behavior on their part.

After all, this is an organization that continues to endorse Mayoral control of the schools (except when the Mayor tries to rein in charter schools, in which case they silently stand by and allow him to be knee-capped by Cuomo/Moskowitz), did nothing to keep Bloomberg from buying an illegal third term and then gave him a de facto endorsement in 2009, takes pay-offs, er, investments, from Gates and Broad, supports Common Core and the testing regime that motivates it, as well as test-based teacher evaluations. The hostile takeover of public education would have never, ever, had the “success” it found if Weingrew had not accepted its premises.

Unity often appears invincible, given their choke-hold on power and the frequent cleverness with which they manipulate it, but everything runs it’s course, and these people have been enjoying their one-party state, and the double pensions that accompany it, for more than half a century. Unity Caucus is literally the last of the great political machines.

However, Unity Caucus is trapped in a dilemma: it fattens off the apathy and demoralization of its grossly manipulated membership, yet that very same apathy and demoralization inevitably lead to the weakening of the union, which ultimately endangers their hold on power.

The stronger they appear, the weaker they in fact are.

Michael Mulgrew can threaten to punch us all in the face – everyone, that is, except Andrew Cuomo, whom he kneels before – but he is now widely seen as a joke and embarrassment, and it’s hard to maintain monolithic power when your ostensible leader is a literal punch line.

Like the Communist Party in East Germany, which it ironically resembles in its inner “Democratic Centralist” workings, Unity will continue to be invincible, until it isn’t.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Mike for summing up what everyone who has any knowledge of our union feels.

Anonymous said...

Does Mulgrew know George Washington Plunkitt? There is such a thing as honest graft you know.

Anonymous said...

Many of us have been arguing with Diane's stance on keeping your mouths shut. Glad to see it's starting to wane.

Do you have the exact link to The Answer Sheet article.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this overall. I don't agree with the characterization of Unity's corruption and stranglehold as "Democratic Centralism," which it is not. I've studied democratic centralism, as a practice, in depth, and it works, if done right. Democratic centralism hits every level of an organization, which we all know the current UFT does not.

Anonymous said...

It is true, many of us believe Mulgrew to be an embarrassment. He is unqualified to lead NYC teachers as evidenced by his poor negotiating skills( i.e. the worst contract in UFT history) and lack of a spine in standing up to Bloomberg and Cuomo. And if that were not bad enough, many members believe him to be corrupt as well.

Anonymous said...

If RFK, were alive, Mulgrew would be locked up.