Politico New York has a very interesting piece on the UFT starting to keep their distance from the Mayor. Obviously, everyone knows Mayor Bill de Blasio is in big trouble politically. The UFT can read polls and look at corruption investigations. Forget the speculation for a moment and let's stick to the official statements cited in the piece:
From UFT President Michael Mulgrew:
"It would be strange if there were never any disagreements," he said. "At times, even if we agree on goals, we will have different ideas on how to get there. And if our teachers and members are not getting the supports they need, we have and will continue to speak out. What’s different now, as opposed to the prior administration, is we can sit down and talk it out."
The response from the DOE:
"There are times when the Chancellor and the UFT agree, and times when they do not," Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for the DOE, said in a statement. "The bottom line is that her sole priority is providing an equitable and excellent education for all students, supporting teachers so they can be successful and improving the quality of our schools. The Chancellor's is laser focused on this, and her door is always open to have a dialogue."
The issues cited by Politico where the UFT disagrees with the administration are on revising the discipline code to stop suspensions for K-grade 2 students and how the DOE is implementing the Renewal Schools program.
Mulgrew is quoted as saying, "We are concerned that some of last year's drop in suspensions of children under the age of eight was fueled by school administrators' fears they would face repercussions if they continued to issue suspensions."
You gotta love this guy who is out defending Counsel of Supervisors and Administrators members more than his own.
On class size, don't expect much from the UFT President. This section of the Politico piece refers to a time before the supposed rift with de Blasio:
A peak moment of city-union unity came last fall, when Mulgrew repeatedly declined to criticize de Blasio or Fariña at a press conference highlighting concerns about large class size. Though Fariña has largely dismissed class size as an issue — she’s gone so far as to say that too-small classes may be a bigger issue than too-large classes — Mulgrew insisted the chancellor had more important things to think about than his union’s own top advocacy priority.
"As the chancellor just basically reorganized the largest school system in the country, I understand she has a lot of different priorities," he said at the time.
I'm not buying that there is any big feud. Carmen Farina as Chancellor has done nothing to restore trust of those of us who work in the classroom. Mulgrew should have been screaming out loud in opposition when she refused to clear out most of the Bloomberg holdovers from central DOE headquarters.
Has anyone seen any change in the classroom since de Blasio became mayor? Many people I talk to think it is worse with the end of the cell phone ban.
To these eyes, the political wind direction is influencing the UFT. Corruption investigations are not helping the Mayor. If de Blasio goes down, Mulgrew wants to be on the Scott Stringer bandwagon as early as possible because the alternatives are all awful even though I can't find many out there who trust the Comptroller.
Stringer did beat Eva Moskowitz for Borough President in Manhattan in 2005 and then put Patrick Sullivan on the Panel for Educational policy who stood up to Joel Klein, Cathy Black and Dennis Walcott but Stringer caved to Joel Klein when he had his chance when Mayoral control of the schools briefly expired in 2009.