Thursday, March 19, 2015


From the Diane Ravitch blog we learn that the Rochester Teachers Association has passed an anti-high stakes testing resolution. Look at this resolved clause which is quite strong:

RESOLVED, that the Rochester Teachers Association declares its opposition to the use of state-or federal-mandated standardized tests for the purposes of making grade promotion, graduation, or other high-stakes decisions regarding students or teachers.

Or how about these clauses:

RESOLVED, that the RTA supports the rights of parents and guardians to choose to absent their children from any or all state-or federal-mandated testing, and supports the rights of teachers to discuss freely with parents and guardians their rights and responsibilities with respect to such testing, all without any negative consequences from RCSD, and

RESOLVED, that the RTA will, to the best of its ability, support and protect members and others who may suffer any negative consequences as a result of speaking about their views of such testing or about the rights and obligations of parents and guardians with respect to such testing,

This resolution was passed unanimously on Monday.

Compare it to the lame UFT resolution on testing the Executive Board passed earlier this month.  Our union in NYC favors high stakes testing.  This is clear.

Meanwhile, the public is on our side as latest Quinnipiac poll shows 55% back teacher unions compared to 28% for Governor Andrew Cuomo on who can best improve schools. That's two to one for our side. Cuomo's disapproval numbers on schools are up to a whopping 63%.  His overall approval rating is down to 50%.

Will this make a difference in negotiations over his unpopular education reforms?  The needle will be moved a little in our direction but stay with Perdido Street School for continuous coverage of politics in Albany.  Perdido shows Cuomo and new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie hugging yesterday after their new ethics reform deal. Perdido is prognosticating a deal on education with parts we will not like even with the people on our side.

I also expect teachers will lose something in negotiations on education reform but maybe not as much as we would have lost a couple of months back. 

However, if we had a real militant pushback, we might not be giving in on anything. 


Harris L. said...

I think RBE of Perdido Street makes a little too much of the Cuomo/Heastie "hug" over what so far is a "one house" ethics bill that the State Senate has rejected.

Carl Heastie was made Speaker because Sheldon Silver, his predecessor, was lead away in hand-cuffs. Heastie "needed" an ethics bill to consolidate his position as much as Cuomo wanted to "give" him one.

I'm not sure the hug portends anything in particular about where the Assembly will come out on the Governor's education proposals though I do agree with you that the Q-Poll should stiffen the spines of members who might otherwise have been willing to accept whatever mealy compromise was put in front of them.

James Eterno said...

There will still be a compromise. You can bet Cuomo will get something. Charter cap will be increased and evaluation will be tweaked against us. Those are my early am predictions. Q poll helps for sure. Numbers are overwhelming. Momentum is moving our way. We should be standing firm. It would be nice if we did.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe this union needs to be more militant. I do believe however, that we need to be represented by someone who is intelligent and has innovative ideas. Someone who is respected and truly represents us as a union of professional educators.Think about the UFT being represented by someone who made these politicians look stupid and small in their thinking.
Instead we are represented by a former woodshop teacher, who is as dumb as wood himself. He aligns himself with the riffraff of "Occupy Wall Street", talks a lot of smack, but gets no respect from those in positions of power. There is no hope for New York City teachers until we rid ourselves of this clown Michael Mulgrew.

James Eterno said...

Union power comes from the rank and file, not the top. It might be marginally better if Mulgrew - Unity were replaced but without an activist membership, we still would not be in much better shape. I only had success as a Chapter Leader because the vast majority of the chapter contributed to our policies and then was with us when asked to be active.One of my concerns is people looking only for a leader and then waiting for success when their person is in power. Leaders are important but a rank and file willing to work collectively can do so much more.

Anonymous said...

Well said James.
Yes, the leadership of NYSUT, AFT, and UFT couldn't be worse. And yes, the numbers are against us.
But if more members expressed their outrage through actions and refused to back down, these leaders could be toppled.
Too many of our members are disengaged, uninvolved and unaware. Corrupt and incompetent leaders like Magee, Mulgrew, Weingarten, Pallotta and the wonderless boy Messner count on a majority of the membership to be complacent and uninvolved. They could never survive if a mass movement was formed to elect actual leaders.