Friday, November 18, 2016


People are just so optimistic sometimes. By hoping for the best from President elect Donald Trump's cabinet picks, supporters of public education would seem to be either in a state of denial or delusional right about now.

Like many other rational public school educators and parents, I thought every time a new Education Secretary was going to be picked since the early 2000's that our situation in the schools could not deteriorate further. I didn't get those predictions right or maybe I'm just an eternal optimist too.

Rod Paige of the Houston miracle followed George W Bush to DC to give us the impossible requirements of No Child Left Behind (admittedly with Democratic support). Paige was replaced by Margaret Spellings who was succeeded after Barrack Obama was elected by Arne (Race to the Top) Duncan, followed by Clueless John King. Obama and Bush were complete bipartisan disasters when it comes to public schools.

Now let's face reality this time around: Donald Trump is ready to take office and privatizing education is now a top administration priority.

The next Education Secretary will almost certainly be be a pro-private school voucher, pro-charter school, anti-public education zealot. Mercedes Schneider and Diane Ravitch are speculating on who will be named and the choices look like they are bad, worse and worst for public education.

Our kids are scared and our future as public educators looks quite bleak so how is the mighty United Federation of Teachers reacting?

Of course our union is trying not to ruffle any feathers. The evidence is that the leadership wants to take out the words Donald Trump from a resolution calling us to action.

The time is right for us to be bold when our very existence is being threatened but instead it's looking like business as usual down at UFT Headquarters.

Here is how NYC Educator puts it:

What you see below the post is a resolution that targets "the presidential election" where it used to target "President-elect Donald J. Trump." The obvious implication is that leadership, after wholeheartedly endorsing Hillary Clinton, is fraidy-scared to directly criticize the new American Bigot-in-Chief. And from where I stand, that means we are pandering to bigots, racists and anti-Semites.

We are fighting for our schools and our profession. It will not be easy to save our schools or our livelihoods. You would think the UFT would be able to write that Donald Trump, and not the presidential election, is a problem for us.

UPDATE: I just opened my email and AFT President Randi Weingarten has sent a message that is more powerful. It is copied below the UFT resolution.

Read the resolution as well as Randi's email and tell us what you think.

Resolution Calling for Respect for All People

(Changes are in bold; original language is crossed out)

WHEREAS, President-elect Donald Trump the presidential election targeted communities on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and displayed abusive behavior toward women, has threatened the nation's promise that all people are worthy of respect; and

WHEREAS, President elect Donald Trump the presidential election has outlined an education agenda overtly hostile to public schools and teachers, promising to prioritize vouchers and charter schools at the expense of public schools; and

WHEREAS, the recently-concluded presidential election has returned open racism homophobia and misogyny to the forefront of national politics and featured incendiary rhetoric with little precedent in modern history; and

WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the election, our communities have suffered hate-motivated violence and vandalism at a pace exceeding the wave of Islamophobic incidents in the wake of the September 11 attacks; and

WHEREAS, this divisive political atmosphere has given rise to fear and anxiety among students and inflamed racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom; and

WHEREAS, people are upset and feel that government has failed them, there's no reason to give into a climate of fear; and

WHEREAS, the UFT remains committed to creating a safe and supportive environment as well as stamping out bias-based bullying and harassment in all its forms by providing training for compliance with the Dignity for All Students Act and by operating the Building Respect, Acceptance and Voice through Education campaign, which includes an anti-bullying hotline, fairs and presentations in schools; and

WHEREAS, the New York City Department of Education Respect for All campaign considers harassment and discriminatory behavior, physical injury or threat of injury, harassment, teasing, taunting, peer rejection or exclusion to humiliate or isolate a person to be a violation of Chancellor's Regulations A-831 and A-443, and the Student Code of conduct; and

WHEREAS, the Dignity for All Students Act approved in September, 2010, by the New York State Legislature contains the following provisions:

  • A policy that specifically prohibits discrimination and harassment in public schools based on actual or perceived race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, sexual or physical or mental disability, with procedures to ensure that the policy will be implemented and enforced; 
  • Training of administrators, teachers, and other school related professionals and students on how to deal with diversity in schools and address incidents of harassment and discrimination when they arise;
  • Documentation and data collection to determine just how prevalent the problem of harassment is in New York's public schools and where the needs are most profound;
  • Funding to implement the principles above in a way that avoids unfunded mandates for school districts; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the UFT affirms that public education is critical to the future of this country; that all communities inside our school communities deserve respect and dignity; and that workers have a right to unionize and be treated fairly, and that the UFT will aggressively fight the erosion of these core values; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls upon every school to launch a series of actions to defend our communities and our schools and affirm our values, beginning on Monday November 21, with a Day of Action; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls upon every school to form an action committee to plan and execute these actions; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will partner with and encourage the DOE to support the expansion of the Respect for All initiative, so that school communities serve as sites where all students and staff are safe from acts of discrimination because of ongoing positive and developmentally appropriate behavior and speech in and out of the classroom; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT urges the DOE to require time during the school day for educators to engage in conversations and activities that will support learning communities that celebrate diversity while ensuring tolerance, respect and positive conflict resolution, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will urge the DOE to present professional learning to develop our abilities to design and implement learning activities during which differences are respected and celebrated.

After a bitter campaign, and an election in which Donald Trump won the electoral vote but Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, our nation remains deeply divided. And the division seems to be worsening: In the 10 days since the election, the hateful rhetoric of the campaign has spread and even turned violent.

In his victory speech and during his “60 Minutes” interview, Trump urged Americans to come together as one united people to take on the challenges before us. But his actions tell a different story. By appointing Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn—three men with long and disturbing records of bigotry and racism—Trump is only adding to the climate of fear.

It is our moral imperative to fight the normalization of hate, and while we will take actions in our schools, work sites and communities to protect our kids and fight bigotry and bullying, as so many of our members already have, Trump has a unique and moral responsibility to denounce these hateful and intimidating actions.

This morning, we sent Donald Trump a letter signed by the AFT and the Southern Poverty Law Center calling on him to speak clearly and loudly against the hate. More than 100 groups representing millions of people have also signed. Add your voice and name to our letter.

In the months leading up to the election, Trump’s campaign rhetoric found an audience with those who would use our differences to divide us. And in the days following the election, we have seen people—seemingly emboldened by his victory—committing harassment, vandalism, property destruction and even assault based on those differences.

We know that millions of his supporters would never participate in these actions, but the campaign rhetoric has created an environment that enables and encourages those who wish to harm others.

Personally, I am especially troubled by incidents taking place in schools and on college campuses—places where we do everything we can to ensure our children are safe and nurtured, and have the opportunity to grow and learn free of intimidation and hatred. But now we are hearing reports of disturbing behavior: children chanting “build the wall” at their Latino classmates, Muslim students and educators harassed for their clothing, male students intimidating their female classmates, LGBTQ kids threatened and harassed, and swastikas being painted on classroom doors.

There is no room for this in America. Donald Trump must step up and lead by denouncing the hateful rhetoric and violence following his election.

Many of these hateful acts have been carried out in his name. And while Trump may not condone this behavior, his silence gives tacit permission to those who carry out these acts.

As Americans, we are better than this. You can stand up against these attacks by adding your name to this petition.
Trump has said he will be the president for all Americans. We ask that he keeps that promise by loudly, forcefully, unequivocally and consistently denouncing these acts and the ideology that drives them.

We must all send a clear message that hate has no place in our public discourse, in our public policy or in our society, starting with our next president. Sign the petition now.

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT president

P.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center is collecting data on the effects of this divisive climate, especially in schools. Complete its survey here.


Anonymous said...

Fuck you UFT. You deserve what you get, should you be shut down and go bankrupt. You have screwed the rank and file, looking out for yourselves for years.

James Eterno said...

But we go down with the ship. See Wisconsin for an example.

Harris L said...

Every once in awhile, and with full understanding about Weingarten and the limits of her advocacy for members and common sense, I wonder whether she regrets having created Michael Mulgrew.

Nah...but an briefly consoling thought during very bleak times.

Bronx ATR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Weingarten is more interested in the discourse and rhetoric of opposing hateful remarks from Trump's supporters. This is not her role. No matter how commendable her views are her role is to insure the continuation of public education. She is a pathetic loser and should resign.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there should be a petition for her resignation. That I would sign.

Anonymous said...

To be clear if the union goes as some people wish as James says we go down with them. So what do you propose we do? Damn the union and all of our organzized voice or something else?

Anonymous said...

Who's voice is it? It's not mine. Nor is it anymore I personally know. Did you want Clinton over Bernie? Did you know the ramifications of the last contract or the 2005 contract? Do you prefer Randi protecting the rights of those who aren't members while not mentioning public education? She made a profession killing choice, not for herself, but for us. She speaks and writes like a politician.

Anonymous said...

You guys are a joke. No Union means there is no more due process and many of you have been through 3020A charges and still have a job...try that in the private sector. You complain about abusive principals, well you will have that and worse and zero recourse. Been absent more than 10 times a year? Well, get used to being fired on the spot. Principal rates you poorly, go bitch to the lady at the unemployment line. Summers off, weeks off for Christmas, Easter and Feburary? LOL. Those days are gone. Pension? See you later. Healthcare, dental, prescription drugs which you all bitch about...ask your friends who work on Wall Street or the local Bodega how good there benefits are. Upset over seniority rights or who got the per session gig? Well, you'll have nothing to complain about since normal jobs don't have those protections.
I've read you guys for years complaining and bitching about things that no one has anymore and now you want to not support the union that has made it possible for you to have a job, feed for family and retire with dignity? Well do it then and watch how much you can make in the private sector with benefits. I'll be laughing non stop.

James Eterno said...

We all go down together without a union. None of us should be laughing. The really sad part is the union leadership has had something to do with our demise. Admit it. The extent of their culpability can be debated. For example, the 2005 contract in my humble opinion played a significant role in our decline in NYC as it hurt so many members who subsequently lost any belief in the union's ability to protect us. I know we need a union now but leadership that doesn't use the name Donald Trump when discussing the situation is not exactly inspiring its rank and file.

Anonymous said...

I lost faith in our union when Mulgrew indicated he did not truly believe in retroactive pay. How many union leaders DO NOT believe in back pay for their rank and file? The memorandum of agreement was not readily available. We are still waiting for 4% of the 8% and 90% of the lump sum payments. Our health care savinge might wipe out any monetary gains from this contract. This is a corrupt union. Trump is right that the system is rigged. Just go to a delegate assembly meeting at 52 Broadway. If that is not rigged then I do not know what rig is. The reason why Randi talks about politics more than working conditions is because she spent little time teaching in a classroom.

Anonymous said...

I have no faith in the union. The last contract was a joke. Conditions have gotten worse and worse in the last 15 years. Administrators are out of control, the corruption is out of control, the paperwork is out of control, the children are out of control, nepotism is out of control, favoritism is out of control, and on and on. No, I have never been absent more than 10 days a year, my summers are spent at workshops, PD sessions, book studies, writing the units and curriculum I am not supposed to be writing--for free, no per session hours. Christmas, Easter and February vacations are spent planning, grading, paperwork, writing 130 individual "Student Plan for Success" and teaching credit recovery classes. I am not counting on my pension, rarely use health benefits (knock on wood), few at my school want per session gigs because we are too busy doing the above and you earn more working somewhere else, plus working one per session hour requires at least one hour of planning and one hour of grading; so in reality we are giving three hours for the price of one. My first 15 years of teaching was real teaching. The last 15 years; ridiculous. Union? what union?

Anonymous said...

The UFT screwed me, my family, and colleagues horribly in the last 20 years! I am mad as hell and I would rather destroy the UFT than continue to pay for my own victimization!

The "medical savings" costs me 100's a month, while I wait for money from 2008. We are under constant abuse and the schools have become a hell. I don't want to pay anymore! I want the UFT dead!

Warning to the UFT: I have a large network of friends who work at a dozen schools, I know dozens of ATRs, and I will spend thousands to destroy the UFT by having a printing company create "Opt Out" cards- pre-paid postage paid by me, as soon as The Supreme Court ends mandatory dues and allows us to receive all UFT services without having to pay.

There's nothing in this world I'd like to see more is the UFT have to finally do something and work! You screwed me over for nearly 30 years, my turn!

Anonymous said...

The union hasn't had our best interests as the prevailing course of action for over a decade. It has steered us right into the orange iceberg Trump. Yeah, we bitch and complain because we have no voice. Thousands of us were turned into subs because the union presented a deeply concealed and/or blindly ignorant proposal in 2005. Many no longer trust the union, but we are not the reason Trump is taking office or will eviscerate the UFT and AFT. That lays at the feet of Randi Weingarten, Michael Mulgrew and their minions. Randi will probably try to run for public office and Mike may open a contracting business (renovating former public schools into charters).

Anonymous said...

When there is no Union conditions will be much worse. Go look at a Charter School or a Parochial school..go compare your benefits, money, working conditions. I'm sure if it was so great you'd be working there already. In terms of the angry ATR person, don't worry, no Union means you will have no job. No pay. No healthcare. No nothing. And if they open the State Constitution, which is on the ballot next year, you'll have no pension too...they will even go after the retirees. If you and your family were getting screwed "horribly" for over 20 years, why would you even stay? Why would you put yourself and your family through this? Go get a job elsewhere, outside of the city, private or charter school or try a different profession. This is still a somewhat free country and you have choices. I mean no one had a gun to your head and said "I'll kill you and your family if you try to leave your shitty job". I kinda feel bad you wasted your life. Anyway, for the rest,my advice is to stick together, fight and tough it out. Your careers and even your pensions are at stake. It is the only sane choice. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

It's so interesting how the 3020-atr's swear how much they hate the union when they're continually needing the union to save their asses. Go work in Chicago; James and Norm love them... after a year as an excessed teacher they get fired there. Or go to private industry, no pension, shitty benefits, no due process and no free lawyers or reps to ride to the rescue. Try something new for a change such as supporting the union. If the Republicans open up the State constitution, and get their way NY will be a right to work state and there will be no more Union. Your pension will be gone, and so will everything else you enjoy. At that point you'll miss the good ole days when Mulgrew was ready to fight someone for you. Get engaged, get active, get in the fight. The union's existence is on the line and so is your profession and your job. Now is the time.

Anonymous said...

Who has Mulgrew ever fought? Bloomberg? I don't think so. Klein? No. Walcott? No. Farina? No way, Jose. deBlasio? Come on, get real. How do we ge engaged, get active and get in the fight when the UFT has basically told us to fuck off? I'm an ATR, by the way and yes, the UFT would have let us be terminated if it could have.

Anonymous said...

Don't fuck off. You are tuned in. Join the fight. Be involved. Get engaged. Find a way. Get active. Be part of the solution. Everybody counts. We are only as strong as our ability to mobilize. Your opinion, your career,and your voice are needed and respected. Don't give up, and don't give in. Lead the way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. That's the nicest thing I've heard all year, I'm serious.

Anonymous said...

I stay because I have 25 years in, a mortgage to pay and children in school. I think there are quite a few people in my boat. I took out the mortgage and had the children before I realized the fan was pointed in my direction.

Anonymous said...

Some of the responses are exactly why we are in this situation. The uft is great because without the uft it would be worse. That's a pathetic point of view.

Anonymous said...

I'm an ATR, just got assigned to a school. Every class oversized and illegal. It's almost December. Uft rep says they have a hearing next mobth. NEXT MONTH? THE TERM IS ALMOST OVER. Where is the uft? It must be because Trump was elected 11 days ago. I guess if there was no uft the classes would be even more oversized?

Anonymous said...

Hey anon 6:30, I have an idea for you. Go to Diagon alley buy a magic wand and wave it over every problem you find. Should be at least as effective at solving your problems as the whining you obviously prefer to do. By the way why are you an atr? Let me guess you are too expensive. No principal wants to hire you even though your salary doesn't come off their budget? Stop crying about the uft and take a look in the mirror. Start by fixing the problem you see there.

Anonymous said...

Actually, 21 years of S. And another 15K in per session every year, also all S. And a full sick bank.

Anonymous said...

9:07 is a big part of the problem. You want us to blame ourselves. UFT agreed to make us ATRs. They could have just said no. UFT did nothing when budgets went to fair student funding.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, thats some nerve. I apply left and right, dont even get responses. I also have nothing but S ratings for almost 2 decades. And excellent attendance...

Anonymous said...

Approximately 10% of us are ATRs because of 3020a, 90% from shuttered schools. More stereotypes curtesy of the UFT/DOE.

Anonymous said...

Everyone who is responding how bad things are now because the class size is too big or I'm an ATR and it's the unions fault will be unemployed if we don't stick together. You blame the UFT for ATR's, but being an ATR has allowed you full pay and benefits so you can pay your mortgage and send your kids to school no matter how much you hate your job(BTW, you must be a great teacher hating your job so much!) the alternatives of the creation of the ATR position might have been much worse and if you can't see it you need some glasses. You do realize most of America is anti-Union. The tax payers who make less, have two weeks off per year and shitty healthcare(that they pay 15% into) do not want to pay for us anymore. They are angry and pissed off and instead of organizing themselves for better pay and benefits they want to bring everyone else down to their shitty world. It's the have nots against the have littles. As bad as you think you have it, many others have it much worse, which is why most of you complain but refuse to find employment elsewhere. So if you need this job and the benefits and the pension, you need to help fend off the storm that is coming or you'll be on another blog in a few years writing about how good you used to have it and wishing you were still a unionized employee.

Anonymous said...


All excuses. If you were the guy who said you have been screwed for 20 years and you have 25 years in then YOU should have done something years ago. Go to night school and switch professions or if you only hate teaching in NYC public schools then get a job in the suburbs or in a charter or private school. There are no laws that bind you to work in a job you hate. You are making this decision. Doing something you hate has to be tough on you, your family and the kids you teach. If you feel "trapped and locked in" because the mortgage and the kids then you need to channel some of your anger constructively and try to preserve the only things keeping you at this job: your pay and benefits. These will all be under attack. If you sit back and do nothing because you hate the UFT, you will end up having wasted all those years You have suffered. Make no mistake, they want to privatize public education and do away with uniform salaries and increases, healthcare, dental, prescription drugs, the180 day work year, pensions, due process rights, prep periods, seniority, LHFF, 6H 20M workday, grievance procedures, sabbaticals and everything else that we have that you might not realize. Now is the time to engage and fight for your unions rights and benefits.

Anonymous said...

The UFT people do quite well for themselves. Have you ever thought of giving up high pay and extra pensions to make what we make? They might have some credibility if they showed they are with us but they are not. They are up in an ivory tower looking down on us. People will cry when our conditions worsen but nobody will feel bad if Randi or Mulgrew is taken down a peg or two or three.

Anonymous said...

Americans are not anti union. Read a poll on that topic. They are scared. Unions don't really care about their members when leadership looks out for themselves. That is big part of our problem.

Anonymous said...

Your logic is deeply flawed. I don't blame the UFT for being an ATR, I blame them for pushing through a contract that allowed for the mass closing of schools and the displacement of thousands of teachers. Weingarten did that after having a closed meeting with Bloomberg. Someone she formerly refused to deal with. She then put in Mulgrew as head of the UFT and she became head of the AFT. The UFT/AFT is complicit, corrupt and endorsed Clinton without regard to their members. It is better to be an ATR than unemployed, but the UFT is not responsible for that. LIFO is. If the UFT could have gotten rid of us it would have, but its better to put on a show and claim credit for saving us since the city can't terminate us. The UFT is exclusionary, decisive and will not survive. How do people come together to protect an organization that would prefer them on the unemployment line? I'll fight to protect LIFO first. The UFT is afraid to even write Trump's name while criticizing him.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the membership vote on contracts? If the contract was bad, the membership has the right to vote it down. Being educators most should be able to read and make decisions on their own. If the membership didn't like the contract they should have kept voting it down until they got what they wanted.

Anonymous said...

Well, as i have stated before, the intelligence of the teacher has gotten worse just like the students. This has become a job for losers who cant do anything else in life, who are desperate for medical or whatever. No, they dont understand the contract because they are too stupid.

Anonymous said...

10:05 AM

There are not too many polls specific to teacher unions but this is from the DailyKos:

"This, clearly, is a chasm shared by a nation. A total of 71% of Americans have confidence in the teachers that occupy their public schools (versus just 27% that do not). That is unchanged from last year. However, public opinions of teachers unions have endured a modest-but-clear slide. A generation ago, 38% of Americans thought teachers unions hurt the quality of American public education. Today, that number is up to 47%."

Also, in 2014, exit polls in Wisconsin showed people against public sector unions 52-44.

Anonymous said...

I will vote with my dues. The UFT will only care about individual members when each member has value to them. As a veteran I have seen the UFT trick and pander to the you-newbies and ignore the persecution of the old. Earn my dues, standup for us! Or I'll take my dues and fight my own battles, as I am forced to do now.

Anonymous said...

When contracts have undefined terms and conditions it should be voted down. Unfortunately most teachers trusted the UFT to represent them and present those proposed contracts honestly, which the UFT did not. Many teachers are intellectuals, are trusting, idealistic and deeply lacking that uncommon quality- common sense. That broken trust in the UFT will now become its and our downfall.

Anonymous said...

As long as you said its and our downfall you are correct. It is all of us in trouble.

Anonymous said...

I think Bloomberg's agenda was divide and conquer. His legacy remains. The UFT leaders must listen and understand what is happening. We, the teachers, are drowning. The members must stick together. The younger, less experienced must take the advice of the older more experienced. Unfortunately, I don't see or hear this happening.