Tuesday, August 05, 2014


A call to action came in my email three times in the last day (see below).  The first one came from AFT President Randi Weingarten; then the same email arrived from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and finally version three was sent from NYSUT President Karen Magee. The final time it was signed by all three to show its importance.

The email says the UFT and NYSUT are already mobilized to fight Campbell Brown as she goes after tenure with a lawsuit and a public relations offensive against teachers' fundamental rights.  Even though I will support almost any union action, including this one, I am sorry but I am not feeling enthusiastic about battling for my rights alongside leaders who regularly surrender them.

Randi Weingarten routinely weakened tenure and seniority rights for teachers in NYC with deals she negotiated when she was running the UFT. The UFT gave away the right for teachers in the city to have a three person panel hear our tenure trials.  City teachers must face a single arbitrator in dismissal hearings instead of a three person panel as happens in the rest of the state.  NYC teachers can also be suspended without pay before a tenure hearing based on probable cause from what are often biased Special Commissioner of Investigations reports thanks to Weingarten's appeasement strategy. 

Add to this when schools close or downsize, as happens all the time in NYC, seniority means next to nothing.  Thanks to Weingarten's 2005 giveaway contract, teachers are thrown into the Absent Teacher Reserve pool when schools phase out or programs are cut.  Teachers become substitutes who are tossed around the system and have fewer rights than colleagues. She also agreed to weaker due process for teachers having difficulty with time and attendance.  As AFT President, Weingarten has continued her concessionary strategy when helping to negotiate contracts in places such as Newark, NJ and for other locals.

Under Michael Mulgrew's stewardship, tenure-seniority rights have been further eroded in NYC as he and NYSUT accepted a dreadful new teacher evaluation system to get some federal Race to the Top peanuts.  Under the new system, much of our annual rating is based on student test score results which research shows are not reliable measures of teacher effectiveness (junk science).  After two annual ineffective ratings, as long as a validator agrees a teacher is ineffective, the burden of proof in tenure hearings will soon shift to the teacher to prove he/she is not incompetent.  Ask any teacher who went through the similar Peer Intervention Plus program under the old system if they had any chance in their dismissal hearing after an outside (non Department of Education) intervener said they were incompetent? The answer will be no from what I have been told. Note the burden of proof was still on the employer; by next year it will move to the teacher. 

Absent Teacher Reserves have had tenure protections further diminished under Mulgrew as ATRs are now shifted from school-to-school on a weekly basis.  In addition under our latest contract, if two principals can cite an ATR for undefined "problematic behavior", the Department of Education can bring the ATR up on charges in an expedited one day State Law Section 3020a discipline hearing within 50 days.  The ATR can then be summarily dismissed based on whatever problematic behavior turns out to be.

Under the new contract if an ATR misses two mandated interviews without giving adequate notice (up to the DOE to say what that means), that teacher is considered to have resigned without any tenure hearing and will have to fight to get back on payroll. 

Tenure has been so eroded in New York City that it is a shell of what it once was.  Statistics show many cases end up with teachers resigning or retiring so don't buy it when someone claims how it is impossible to fire teachers. Forcing someone to quit has the same result.  Anybody who believes the myth that tenure guarantees teachers jobs for life (or even full due process in NYC) does not know what they are talking about.

Furthermore, almost half the teachers in the city have their probationary period extended or don't receive tenure at all and the union does nothing but complain about why so many new teachers are leaving on their own.  Maybe one of the causes of newer teachers quitting is because they have so little union protection. The great myth is the union is so powerful.  In reality it is a paper tiger, declawed long ago and therefore an easy target.

The endgame for this fight against tenure led by Brown, high powered attorney David Boies and their secret huge donors is our union will fight back loudly (busy work for the membership) and then quietly appease the Democratic party establishment by possibly agreeing to chip away a little more at the tenure law in New York State, particularly for New York City teachers. That's right, we will face further concessions where our union will declare victory when we give up more of what is left of our rights.

The only variable preventing this from being an almost surefire result is the ethically challenged, anti-public school teacher Governor Andrew Cuomo is making Nixonian style mistakes concerning his role in interfering with the Moreland Commission investigations of corruption in NYS government.  Thank you Reality Based Educator for nonstop coverage over at Perdido Street School. As a result of this scandal, teachers may not be frontline targets in Albany for a while.

The email from our three renowned union leaders is in full below.


From: NYSUT (leader@nysutinfo.org) This message is in your inbox because you've indicated interest in this sender.
Sent:Tue 8/05/14 3:05 AM

Defending Tenure

Teachers are under attack again. And we need your help to fight back.             
Last Monday, former journalist Campbell Brown announced a lawsuit in New York going after teachers' job protections.

That lawsuit, Wright v. New York, is a copycat of Vergara v. California.
Brown's organization -- cynically named the Partnership for Educational Justice -- has hired some of the fanciest PR firms in the country to sell their snake oil, including the firm that ran Mitt Romney's 2012 online campaign.
We need to make sure that our friends, neighbors and allies understand who Campbell Brown is, and who she really represents.

Will you help us spread the word by sharing this story with your friends and networks?
Share on Facebook and Twitter
Brown and her friends want to sell you the same "blame teachers" line we've seen from Michelle Rhee and right-wing politicians for years. They'll tell you tenure means a job for life and that due process makes it impossible to dismiss ineffective teachers. Now, emboldened by a radical ruling in California, they're spreading this case across the country, starting in New York.

This couldn't be further from the truth. In New York, teachers are granted tenure -- and due process protections -- after 3 years of success in the classroom. Once your boss grants you tenure, due process simply means they must produce just cause to discipline or terminate you. Due process gives teachers the protections to speak up for their students, stop cronyism and innovate in the classroom.
At the AFT convention, delegates said "enough is enough." We passed a special order of business to fight back so we could move our country forward. We need to stand together now.
It may seem like a small act, but sharing this story is important. Brown and her friends will spend millions of dollars on slick PR to confuse people and put the blame on teachers and our unions. She'll say she's fighting to represent students and parents. We need to make sure our friends hear the truth about who she represents from us.

Share the real story on Facebook
Share the real story on Twitter

We're going to fight this with everything we've got. In New York, NYSUT and the UFT are already mobilized. Together we'll fight in the courts, on the ground and in the media. But we have to start by making sure people know what's really going on.

You can make a difference, just by sharing this story and telling you friends what's really going on.

In Unity,

Randi Weingarten
Karen Magee
Michael Mulgrew

P.S. See how Campbell Brown dodged your questions last week on the Colbert Report here.

NYSUT - New York State United Teachers -- 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110-2455


Anonymous said...

Very very sad. And the UFT continues to collect almost double the dues from NYC members than what the local districts in Westchester require of their members. Our Westchester colleagues' salaries are so much higher than the city.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew has a lot of balls for even uttering that he is "fighting" the tenure battle. The UFT/Unity machine was responsible for the giant sell out when agreeing to evaluation changes with Race to the Top. He did not fool me then and he does not fool me now. Teachers in the know MUST share the facts of the mess that we are in with our fellow teachers. As mentioned in this blog. The ed-deformers are trying to put the final nails in the tenure coffin.

ed notes online said...

Isn't time to ask whose side the AFT/UFT/NYSUT leaders are really on? Why would they weaken tenure? What did they have to gain? Manchurian candidates?

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of hypocrisy out there and it is disgusting. Our union leaders are out of touch because they are not in the classroom. Randi and Mike should be required to teach a class so that they are subject to Danielson, VAM and Common Core. Oh I forgot they would have to attend FOUR parent teacher conferences too. What are they afraid of? Maybe Randi and Mike don't know how to teach.

James Eterno said...

No they already rigged the evaluation system so the union people who do have to teach a class (the district representatives) and the favorites of principals (compensatory time teachers who only teach one class) are not covered under Danielson or the test score nonsense. I will try to write about that in some detail soon.

Norm-Our union leaders get a seat at the table. It's nice to be a part of the power structure in this city, state and country. It would make their lives easier if conditions were favorable for teachers so I don't think they are out trying to harm us. We are just collateral damage as they do anything to keep that seat.

Anonymous said...

Here is the irony: Each little bit of job protection the UFT sells us out on is one more step to the full destruction of the public sector teaching profession. Once tenure and seniority rights are destroyed, there simply will not be a need for the UFT. If the UFT is decimated, Mulgrew and the Unity crew will be out of a job. How much longer can they go on destroying the teaching profession before they realize that they will have buried themselves in the process?

Anonymous said...


I disagree. There are two options. One is they are totally clueless and the other is they are trying to harm us.

In New Jersey, Christie is trying to eliminate pensions. Has Randi said anything about that?

Regarding that stupid e-mail, why would it be our job to inform people about the shit Campbell is propogating on TV?

I am in Newark and I am not waiting for Randi to ride in on a white horse and save my ass.

Wait until you see how it is to be an ATR. It will erase any lingering doubts.

Anonymous said...

In our not too distant future...there will be very few people interested in beoming a NYC teacher with a Tier 7 Pension and little job protections. Next deformer attack: Why isn't there be any school over the summer...why do teachers and students need so much time off?"

James Eterno said...

Ok, but I am trying to not assume the worst in people. I worked somewhat closely with Randi in the past and I didn't think for a second she was purposely trying to harm me or my school. I think she actually believes she is salvaging the profession.

Anonymous said...


I have never met Randi, nor do I have any interest. She has helped make my life a living hell. I do not share her view that she is salvaging the profession. At half a million a year, she is doing very nicely for herself.

Anonymous said...

Why did we lose seniority rights?

Why do we have ATRs?

Why are veteran teachers running for the exits?

Why do we have TFA?

Why do we have AFT TFA villages?

Why do we have Common Core, VAM, merit pay, Danielson?

Is it mere coincidence?

NO! It is AFT/Weingarten capitulation to Bill Gates and the "reform movement."

The world looks a lot different when you are sitting in your school than when you turn into a nomad with no place to call home.

James Eterno said...

I'm not arguing with your view nor did my post. There is no love lost between Randi, Mulgrew and me. I just don't assume evil intentions on Randi's part. I am not sold on Manchurian candidate theories. I'd like to think my disagreements with the union leadership are not personal even though they are not doing anything to make my life better as I have just been forced into the ATR pool.

As for the Gates money/corruption, Weingarten claims that if we don't work with the reformers, they have the power to bury us like the industrial unions have been virtually destroyed. She used to say I was naïve and didn't understand the forces we are up against. I totally disagree with that. I do understand what we are up against and the only way to beat them is to use our collective power to expose them for who they are. We do that by being a union and using all the weapons we have. Opposing Common Core and challenging the Democrats who have turned on us would be a nice start. Randi will not do that. Hence, my seat at the table argument.

If you think it goes deeper than that, ok I'm all ears.

Anonymous said...


I am now at a real computer and I can type faster than on my phone.

Take a look at my scenario.

In Newark, we have EWPS(ATR).

In 2012-2013, I was EWPS.

In 2013-2014, I was in a budgeted position. Mid year, I was transferred to a different school. At year end, I was told, "Adios," and I am EWPS again.

I ask myself why is this happening to me? Where did I go wrong?

There are no seniority rights. It is principal's choice. There are many teachers more compliant than I.

Cami Anderson requested a waiver from then Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf in order to fire teachers with seniority in favor of TFA and other novices. Thus far the waiver has not been granted.

Where has the AFT drawn the line in the sand? Which issue has Randi said, "That's it. My teachers are not going to accept this and these are the job actions we are going to take."?

Randi supports your Governor Cuomo, who has never seen a charter school he did not like.

Ras Baraka was recently elected Mayor of Newark on a platform of opposing the One Newark Plan. Randi gave him a generous envelope. He is now playing footsie with Christie, because Newark is beholden to the State for financial support.

Is there even a short list of Democrats who have not turned on us?

Don't worry James. I am not going to let you have it all night. I respect you tremendously.

Brian said...

Nothing could be less comforting than knowing my tenure rights are being defended by these three.

Anonymous said...

James is right... it's like the UFT took us downfield to the 5 yard line of the end of tenure end zone and Campbell Brown now has the ball and UFT/AFT are freaking out. Members are going to wonder why they should pay dues if tenure is formally over. There will be a disinvestment campaign next, or an anti-dues check off lawsuit and a lot of members will be for it. Too many members are apathetic to be rallied. Many have given up on ever getting tenure. Sorry, I wish I could be optimistic.

Anonymous said...

Hey - Remember that $1000 signing bonus? That just paid for your union dues for the following year.

If NYC teachers really were "the brightest" , they would strike against the UFT and send Mulgrew out looking for a real job.

James Eterno said...

I agree with you mostly.Please keep commenting. I welcome the discussion. There is a short list of Democrats that have not turned on
us but it is not sufficient to combat Wall Street money. I would work for some of the local Democratic politicians who tried to help save Jamaica HS. It is our union's fault for not making others pay a political price for turning their backs on us.

Anonymous said...

We, the members of the UFT, are responsible for all the shit that is now raining down us. Randi had NO qualifications when she took over as head of the UFT. (Ever wonder how that happened?)Did anyone stop Sandy? No. (Actually Cathy Black had more qualifications as chancellor!) Randi then presents the 2005 contract, it passes and she leaves; while putting Mulgrew in. It's like the f--king mafia! There's absolutely no democracy or union. Randi and Mulgrew coffers are filled to the brim, no matter what.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with Anon 9:43. Randi had minimal experience in the classroom and should have never been selected to head the UFT. I keep reading about having a seat at the table with the reformers. Randi may have a seat at the table but at the time they keep trying to stab the teachers in the back. Randi's strategy has put our backs to the wall with Damielson, VAM and Commom Core. We as teachers deal with so many other issues during the course of the school day (lesson planning, grading, parent contact, discipline issues) that this other nonsense has definitely taken the fun out of teaching. If Randi thinks her strategy is the still best way to deal with the reformers I would advise teachers at some point in the next few years to seek new employment. I am starting to think that Randi and Mike do not have a conscience. There is definitely a disconnect between the union leadership and the struggles of teachers in the classroom today.

Anonymous said...

Name the Democrats who were supportive. Why did they close your school? Was it because of the Small School Theory that Gates admits was a failure? We come full circle. Randi kisses Bill's ass and Bill gives her money. He is like a sugar daddy. Do you know any educator formerly known as teacher who finds Gates credible as an education expert? Sure, one size testing for everybody. It does not matter if the kid has a below 70 IQ. By next week, he will be performing on grade level thanks to an effective teacher. The child has been in the country 18 months and is struggling to learn English? No problem! Seat him in front of a computer. The Red Sea will part and he will become English proficient right before your very eyes. Is Randi listening to any of this? No! She is sitting at the table seeking crumbs and flying hither and yon.

Assailed T said...

Union leaders helped fashion the noose from which we all now hang. While I have no confidence in the Weingarten/Mulgrew crew, I am crossing my fingers that judges in New York State are not as gullible or anti-union as that judge in California.

I applied for a Peer Validator position this summer. Despite the fact that I was rated Highly Effective, have a spotless record, a long, accomplished resume and knocked all of their application questions out of the park, I was not what they were looking for. I shudder to think who the UFT/DOE is hiring for these positions.

Anonymous said...

You are right

Anonymous said...

They want yes men and women who will validate ineffectives so they can terminate tenured teachers. They don't need Campbell Bwown to get rid of tenure, they have Michael Mulgrew.

Anonymous said...


They are looking for a quisling. Guess you didn't cut it.

Anonymous said...


ed notes online said...

However you look at it, for their seat - or stool at the table there is a cost - they must function not in our interests, but in the interests of the power structure -- their job is to manage and control the members. Whether conscious or not they are in essence agents for them, not for us.