Saturday, September 07, 2013


The Primary Election is Tuesday, September 10 and this has been one really strange race for mayor.  Yes it matters for teachers, parents and students who the next mayor will be and people have been asking me who I will be voting for in Tuesday's primary for the citywide offices. 

The Independent Community of Educators (ICE) has discussed the races but not taken a position.   What follows is my view and my view only that is based mostly on education issues.  It does not reflect the position of ICE or MORE, or Jeff Kaufman or anyone but me.

The UFT has been strongly pushing Bill Thompson, the former comptroller and one time president of the old Board of Education, for mayor. Like NYC Educator, I have made phone calls for UFT endorsed candidates I support, written newsletters and talked to my chapter about solid candidates who are backed by the UFT.  However, I cannot support Thompson for three reasons. 

First, he said Bloomberg was correct in not offering the same 4%+4% raises to teachers in 2009 that most other city unions received in the last round of collective bargaining back then. In the debate last Tuesday (go to around 8 minute 45 second mark for the question), Thompson did not come out and say we are owed retroactive money which is a small fortune after five years without the raise that most other city employees received and the city owes us because of pattern bargaining (one union settles on a contract and the rest of the unions receive the same financial terms).
Second, the co-chair of his campaign is Merryl Tisch, the Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents and architect of much of the teacher bashing-privatization agenda that is killing us.  Third, Republican former Senator Al D'Amato, a renowned teacher basher, is a key Thompson supporter and fundraiser.  Do you really think Thompson will ignore Tisch and D'Amato and side with us if he is elected?  Expect a modified version of Ed deform if he wins.  
The question must be asked about why the UFT has been so strong in their advocacy of Thompson.  It is the biggest push from the leadership that I have ever seen. Does anyone ever recall emails from the president asking us to contribute money to a political campaign?  Isn't COPE (political funds we voluntarily contribute from our checks) enough?

Once again paralleling NYC Educator, I received phone calls asking me to make phone calls for Thompson.  Unlike NYC Educator, I was not home and didn't respond.  Mailings from Thompson show up regularly in my mail at home.  There are UFT sponsored TV ads in support of his candidacy and last Tuesday the District Representative for Queens High Schools made an urgent plea for chapter leaders to go to every member to individually convince each member to vote for Thompson.  They are calling it the most important vote we ever have had.  I don't agree that Thompson is worth all of this fuss. To me it looks like the union leadership is looking out for their own reputation and really not considering its rank and file.
People have asked me if the union will be weakened if another UFT endorsed candidate loses in the primary. Remember we supported three candidates who each lost in 2001.  The answer is it will hurt us but we would be weaker supporting another winning Democratic candidate who is in bed with the same interests that want to privatize public education. Ask yourself what we have gotten back for endorsing Barack Obama for president.  What did the AFL-CIO get for supporting Andrew Cuomo for governor? I do not think Thompson would be as bad as those two but I don't see anything but marginal improvements for us under a Thompson mayoralty.
Based on the evidence, at this time I do not think a Thompson endorsement is wise but I would consider supporting Thompson in a runoff against Christine Quinn which now appears to be a highly unlikely prospect. 
What about the other candidates? 
Christine Quinn, as Speaker of the City Council, could have told Bloomberg to take a hike when he asked for a third term by never bringing the bill to end term limits to the City Council floor but she didn't do it.  Instead, she made a political deal in 2008 to overturn two votes of the people supporting term limits for city officials.  She paved the way for Bloomberg's disastrous third term.  In return, I will not be supporting her. The fact that she is endorsed by the anti teacher NY Times, NY Post and Daily News just clinches my anti Quinn vote.  People are saying that a vote for Quinn is a  vote for a de facto term four for Bloomberg and I concur.
Sal Albanese is a former teacher who says as part of his education plan that he will "Stand up to the UFT."  He goes on to say the following concerning teachers, "...a Mayor who represents the whole city must be willing to put his foot down, be a smart financial steward, and protect the interests of all New Yorkers."  I don't want a mayor who is putting his foot down on me.
Case closed on Sal.
John Liu makes many good points on issues but he has little chance of winning and he has run a radio ad saying that he is going to get rid of bad teachers.  Is that based on student test scores? That is a deal breaker for me.
Bill de Blasio is kind of an unknown as to where he really stands.  The current Public Advocate is running a progressive campaign with his "tale of two cities" advocacy for the poor and middle class.  His big proposal is to tax people making over $500,000 a year to fund universal pre-kindergarten and after school programs.  Having a four year old daughter myself and knowing how difficult (basically impossible) it was to get her into a city pre-K program this fall, de Blasio's proposal strikes me as being very sound. 
Bill deBlasio also has the endorsement of the leading fighters against the school privatization movement: Diane Ravitch and Leonie Haimson.  In addition, the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY teachers union), an American Federation of Teachers local, is endorsing deBlasio as is Local 1199, the biggest union in the city. 
Public advocate deBlasio has been criticized for changing positions on issues such as ending term limits which he supported in 2005 but then opposed, when it mattered in 2008, when Bloomberg and Quinn engineered the mayor's third term. 
My biggest concern is seeing that de Blasio has worked closely with the real estate interests that have certainly not done much to improve life in this city for average New Yorkers.  If elected, will he help his money people or the other New York he is campaigning for?  I am skeptical.
My wife and I met with the Public Advocate to ask him to assist Jamaica High School back in 2010. He was sympathetic but there hasn't been much help since then from his office. In fairness, there wasn't much he could have done other than join lawsuits. 
The rest of the Democrats and Republicans in the field are obviously not viable including Anthony Weiner, aka Carlos Danger.  When the UFT made their ill timed endorsement of Thompson in June, Danger was still riding high in the polls.  His latest sexting scandal had not yet been exposed. 
Unlike some of my fellow bloggers and others who write regularly on NYC education matters, I am a NYC resident and registered Democrat.  My vote will be for Bill deBlasio. Although I am not convinced that de Blasio is a great candidate, I'm betting that having support from people like Diane Ravitch, Leonie Haimson and Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen will persuade him to do what is right for public education more than Bill Thompson who is backed by Merryl Tisch, Al D'Amato, AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

I do believe that the UFT will jump on board the deBlasio bandwagon if he wins the primary and is the Democratic nominee.
One final point on the mayor's race. The UFT is supposed to have such a smart political insider operation under Mulgrew but they didn't know that Carlos Danger might implode and much of his support could go to deBlasio.  Had they waited for this race to break a little in the summer, they may have not locked themselves into the Thompson corner that they are now stuck in with much of their membership not at all impressed.
Scott Stringer as Manhattan Borough President appointed Patrick Sullivan as his representative on the Bloomberg controlled Panel for Educational Policy.  Right from the start, Patrick has been a real friend of public education and a thorn in the side of the Department of Education.  He has been the only one to consistently expose the waste of taxpayer money in DOE contracts. Stringer has allowed Patrick to vote his conscience and he has come through for public schools, not only in Manhattan but citywide.
Stringer's representative is a true friend of Jamaica High School and not only supported us but advocated for our cause vocally at the PEP and behind the scenes.  In a rational political system, my school would not be phasing out.
I know some friends have some real issues with Stinger because of development in Manhattan but for me as a teacher, I am strongly persuaded that he has some principles because of Sullivan and the alternative of a return of Elliot Spitzer to office does not seem that appealing.
Tish James signed onto the lawsuit to save Jamaica and many other schools.  When Leonie Haimson convinced me to come with a group of students to testify before the City Council Education Committee, Councilwoman James treated our kids like the experts on education that they truly are.  I think she would be a strong public advocate, particularly for public education.
This summer, while away, my family kept up with the political and education news each day by going to the Perdido Street School blog.  I urge everyone to read Reality Based Educator daily.


Pissedoffteacher said...

I am a NYC voter as well and am voting with you.

NYC Educator said...

RBE is great. I also read him daily.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked ICE is not endorsing. While I too no longer trust any candidate, I distrust the UFT picks more. However, you failed to mention Quinn is very much in favor of charters. And Thompson's ties to Tish is hard to overcome.

deBlasio is no saint because no pol is a saint. People thought Obama walked on water, and the UFT gave him a big endorsement but refused to get any deal regarding Duncan or RTTT.

I am not voting for James, but for Cathie for PA. If you saw the debates you would know why. She is the strongest candidate for unions, union rights and union benefits I have ever seen.

I noticed that... said...

I, too, am in favor of your selection.

However, Liu is the only one that mentioned in the WNYC, 9/4, debate that under Thompson watch as comptroller the city lost millions especially with the $700M citytime scam.

Another thing that bothers me is the Thompson campaign commercial of his daughter, Jennifer Thompson, stating that she "used to be a teacher". So what is she now? Why did she leave teaching? Her NYS teacher certificate shows that she got her teaching certificates in 8/31/2008 and they expired in 9/1/2011. Why? I am very curious to know what's her profession now.

Anonymous said...

>>>The question must be asked about why the UFT has been so strong in their advocacy of Thompson. It is the biggest push from the leadership that I have ever seen.>>>>

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Thomson - as city comptroller - was responsible for reviewing and approving DOE contracts 'til 2010. No?

Anonymous said...

First time they ever asked me for money for someone. Go deBlasio.