Wednesday, December 07, 2016


In the school system I work in, teachers and other UFT members feel almost like they are under siege on a daily basis in multiple schools. Many of us fear drive by Danielson observations by abusive administrators, being rated based on student test scores in schools where the students are not exactly well prepared, overburdened paperwork demands made by those abusive principals and their assistants, the war on seniority with (un)fair student funding which makes senior teachers a burden on school budgets and much, much more.

Our job has been turned into a nightmare in many school buildings. In spite of the working conditions deteriorating to the point where a large number of teachers cannot physically or emotionally take it much longer, our Union President's response is hinting that we want more of the same. President Michael Mulgrew told the Executive Board on Monday that we have to get a committee together on a Mayoral endorsement soon.

Unions are coming out early for Bill de Blasio's reelection according to the President . What is the argument for another four years?

NYC Educator in his Executive Board report gives us Mulgrew's reasoning:

Mayor inherited no contracts, now we all have them. There will be general election candidate, will run against UFT and school system.

If we use Mulgrew's rationale, then we haven't had any bad mayors since I have been a teacher. We had contracts under Mayors Koch, Dinkins, Giuliani and even Bloomberg in his first two terms. I don't believe we supported any of their reelection bids even when they had easy roads to victory. The question is not if we have a contract but does the city and its agencies respect their workers?

At the Department of Education, the answer clearly is no.

If anyone can see any improvement in our working conditions since Bill de Blasio became Mayor and Carmen Farina was appointed Chancellor, please let us know. Maybe I am missing something.

The ICEBlog 2017 crystal ball sees an early UFT endorsement of de Blasio's reelection. Meanwhile, conditions in the schools will not improve at all and many of our members will grow further disillusioned with the UFT when they come in and fear monger about how Mayor (fill in the name of your favorite Republican villain here) will mean the end of public schools. I don't doubt that this argument will have some validity but some of our members who are hurting under our current mayor and see no hope will have no problem backing a Republican who wants to destroy the UFT and public schools. People are at the point where they will cut off their noses to spite their face.

When union activists ask teachers to support the mayor's reelection bid, members will respond by asking us what has he done for us?

We would look absurd if we were honest. Here's what we would have to say:

  • Be grateful that we got that contract that gives us 10% total in raises over 7 years and a month. That averages to over 1% a year and we threw in healthcare cost increases. You want more?
  • We are fortunate enough to be saving our city some serious cash by giving them an interest free loan of our 2009-2011 salary increases that other city unions received back then but we won't get paid back in full until 2020 as city surpluses bulge. 
  • We are also extremely lucky to work for Chancellor Farina. She has been the wise steady hand who decided to keep the vast majority of the anti-union Bloomberg team at the DOE in place and she supports budgeting that hurts senior teachers. She has done next to nothing to ease the burden our members face because of abusive administrators, oversize classes or unruly students. She hasn't been very friendly on evaluations either but we still like her. At least she takes our phone calls.
  • Be happy that we are treated like garbage. If we worked in a charter school, it would be worse under Eva Moskowitz.
  • We need not worry that the school system is a mess because we can keep filing grievances and getting money for work we do on SESIS.
There are alternatives that could be better than trying to prop up a mayor who has been fairly awful to us because we believe if he loses his opponent will attempt to kill public education in NYC. We should at least discuss the options openly.

Option 1: Why can't we find someone to primary de Blasio? 

There has to be a Democrat out there with some pro-public school credentials who wants to be mayor and will move the debate in a pro-teacher direction. Whether they can win or not is not really the issue right now. It is that we can finally assert ourselves by having someone who will move our issues to the center of the agenda. Let's back a long-shot if we are so inclined. 

We're now about to hear all of the excuses on why this is impossible. It's too late for a challenger to raise the money; de Blasio is an incumbent with a huge war chest; we will only weaken him for the fall if a Democrat runs in a primary, blah, blah, blah.

Option 2: Why can't we stay out of the mayor's race?

I completely understand that it is very difficult for us to just keep our mouths shut and not make an endorsement however I personally am sick of choosing between the lesser of the evils when it comes to  public schools. How else can we let this mayor know we are not at all satisfied by how he has treated us since taking office in 2014 then by telling him our members are disgusted so we can't support his reelection? It is anecdotal but in the progressive school where I am presently employed, the mayor is not a popular figure.

I think most of us can agree that conditions in hundreds of schools are atrocious. There is consensus among teachers I talk to that nothing much has improved under de Blasio. 

Giving him our unqualified support means we want more of the same as a best case scenario. 

Small wonder the UFT will lose plenty of members if and when we lose the next Friedrichs case and union dues aren't mandatory any longer. 


TeachmyclassMrMayor(andyoutooMrMayor) said...

What better kiss of death can you think of than an AFT/UFT endorsement? We should be threatening the mayor WITH AN ENDORSEMENT. Maybe then he will take our actual concerns seriously.

Anonymous said...

Hear about the student, 14, killed jumping in brooklyn from train to platform and getting run over? This is the problem. These are the students. Where is the, I assume, single parent? Where was the homework?

Anonymous said...

Or these...maybe we should have called their houses...Or maybe used danielson more effectively...

Three teens are accused of kidnapping their high school classmate from school so they could try to take turns having sex with her, according to police.

An 18-year-old girl said that a male student abducted her on Nov. 28 while walking to class in Cypress Springs, Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported.

She was dragged from the Cypress Springs High School hallway and forced into a vehicle, which was corroborated by surveillance video. Other males were already inside the vehicle, she said.

The group then drove her to a home, where they allegedly tried to get her to have sex with them. She declined their advances and left the house.

Another student told investigators that he heard the three male students discussing “flipping” the victim, according to news station KTRK. “Flipping” is a term for having sex with a person before giving them to another person for sex.

Cops have arrested Imanuel Rizig, 18; Justin Broadway, 18; and Ryan Jeng, 17, for the alleged incident.

Authorities charged Rizig on Tuesday, while the other two were charged last week. All three face aggravated kidnapping charges.

Broadway and Rizig are being held on $30,000 bail, while Jeng was freed after posting bail for the same amount.

School district officials told the Houston Chronicle that they are cooperating with the investigation.

“We are extremely concerned by the serious nature of the charges that lead to the arrest of three Cypress Springs High School students,” officials said.

Anonymous said...

Police in the Bronx are looking for two brutes who beat a 54-year-old man with a baseball bat.

The two suspects were caught on camera arguing with and then pummeling the victim outside the Go Go Gadget Mobile & More store on Jesup Ave. near Edward Grant Highway in Highbridge around 9:30 a.m. last Thursday, police said.

One man pounded the victim with punches and kicks, while the other bashed him with a baseball bat, cops said.

Surveillance footage shows the pair running from the scene.

The victim was treated at Lincoln Hospital for an injury to his right eye.

Anonymous said...

I guess the point is that the discipline code is gone, and when dealing with students like this, there must be zero tolerance.

Anonymous said...

How about total tolerance?

Highly Effective King Clovis said...

As an ATR I am frustrated bt de Blasio. Nothing has changed for the better, it's only gotten worse. When people like Jose Cruz in Queens or Anne Geiger in Manhattan are allowed to abuse teachers and get away with it, it's disgusting. So many horrid principals throughout the system, kids run wild ruining education for those who want to learn. Things get worse and worse and Mulgrew just takes it. Why am I in a union that does nothing for me?

Anonymous said...

Good question.

Anonymous said...

Look, it'as plain as the nose your face.

Mulgrew is corrupt as is Diblahsio.

Diblahsio may very well end up indicted and if he has the goods on Mulgrew he'll just use it as leverage to keep the meathead in line.

Anonymous said...

How did you taste? Maybe stop slathering yourself with sweets.

James Eterno said...

We had to delete the comment from the person who was bitten. We are sorry it happened but that is the type of language used in the comment that goes too far.

Anonymous said...

James, with all do respect, instead of worrying that the person used the word "black," maybe we should worry about the fact that teachers are being kicked, punched, slapped and bitten, principals tell the teacher they better not call 911, and the behavior continues. Maybe we should worry about a school of over sized classes, IN DECEMBER, when the deadline was September 15, and nothing happens. Maybe we should worry about the boatload of other issues. Its a big joke until one of these things happens to you.

Anonymous said...

We can't use the word black anymore? Please explain your editing policy James.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. We are getting destroyed at every turn, and thats what we are worried about, the students who cause most of the trouble cant be named. Teachers assaulted left and right, and not able to even report it?

Anonymous said...

Didn't see the original post that was removed but if it was removed because someone used the word black I am shocked. James has been very fair over the years allowing people to vent and upholding the right to free speech. But if this is the case the only thing I can do is stop reading his very informative posts and just say we all know the ethnicity of the students that bishave, fail and cause trouble in our classes. James can edit all he wants but facts are facts. Have a Merry Christmas and God Bless

James Eterno said...

Use the word black all you like but don't call a student a black s**thead here please. My wife was with me when I saw that one. It was a 2-0 vote to remove that one.

Kids read this blog. Do you really want them to think this is how their teachers write?

Vent all you want but ask yourself if you really have to use certain terms.

Anonymous said...

Like I said I didn't see the post and just wanted clarification. Thanks and I think you were correct to censor it. Enjoy the weekend james

Anonymous said...

Well, based on recent endorsements by the UFT, most notably in the recent presidential election, there may be unintended consequences should they decide to endorse the current mayor.