Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ed Reformers/Charter Profiteers Put on Notice in B-Lo

Assemblyman Ryan Shortly Before M.O.B. Brought the Thunder

Today's rally against the corporate takeover of Buffalo Public Schools was a good old fashioned (and long overdue) shot in the arm for me and I think a lot of other people who are weary and wary of the creeping creeps who've emerged as the "New Majority" of B-lo's Board of Education.
It was good to hear that so many other people are hip to the games being played behind closed doors among the NYSED friendly, wealthy insider's Caucasian Caucus.
I was glad to hear others laughing out loud at Larry the Liar Quinn's lame assertion that neither he nor any of his Brahmin associates has had any talks with charter school operators. Hearken back to school board election night as the Buffalo News reported breathlessly on Quinn sitting in an elevated table at Bacchus wine bar shoveling prawns and scallops down his gullet seated alongside Frank McGuire, the guy whose company is teaming with Paladino's to convert the Holy Angels building to a charter school. Yeah, that's who he's chilling with on election night but we are all supposed to believe that they haven't been sharing spread sheets on Lafayette, Bennett and the rest. Get real.
It was great to hear the teachers and Principal Naomi Cere from Lafayette, the kids from Lafayette with signs in Arabic and Burmese asking Can You Pass this Test?
It was good to hear someone point out that Carl Paladino a sitting board of education member is collecting over a million per year in rent from just one of the three charter schools he leases property to. I am not happy about it but I am thrilled to hear a Parent Teacher Group representative talk about it. Curious too that the Buffalo News wrote a fawning fellation of said school for Sunday's feature yet somehow neglected that tiny detail in their reportage.
I enjoyed watching idiot Dumbocrat Assemblyman Sean Ryan being eviscerated as he tried to talk by local educational loose cannon and gadfly Michael O'Bowen. Ryan didn't seem to know what to do as Michael strode toward him his trade mark top hat and monopoly character costume in full effect roaring "You are a disgrace! You don't stand for kids! How dare you stand up here!"It was a little like watching Beth Dimino of PJSTA lay into Tisch and King and tell them to resign last year during their star crossed and ill fated barnstorming of the Empire State. Phil Rumore eventually intervened to belly bump O'Bowen aside but not before Michael made his point. I truly hope the smattering of people who tried to shush him have looked into Ryan's antics on both sides of the argument to comprehend why Michael ambushed him as he did. It more than paid for my downtown parking.
I am no fan of Dumbocrat Sean Ryan's as he invited Dowager Empress Tisch here last year supposedly to prove to her that our international schools are thriving and the failing schools myth is exactly that. At least that's what NYSUT Regional Poobah Deely told me when I asked for his support in organizing a protest against Tisch showing her face on B-lo turf. He is bringing her here to show her that the failing schools story is bullshit, why protest that? Deely wrote back. But when the day came and Ryan went to say something to Tisch she interrupted him, attacked low scores of Buffalo's immigrant kids and said I know what success looks like, come to Brooklyn. So instead of putting her in her place, he got punked by Tisch and silenced like a twerpy bell hop with a wave of her imperious hand. Fortunately, loose cannon Bowen was once again on hand outside to fling monopoly money in Tisch and Bennett's faces as they scurried like rats to their CIA-ish black Suburban.
After Ryan we heard from South Buffalo blogger and political analyst Mike Blake's favorite chewtoy, NYSUT darling and Dumbocrat Tim Kennedy. Kind of comical that Phil Rumore had to introduce Kennedy as some stalwart friend of public education when any sentient being in the 716 knows Phil is a dyed in the wool Betty Jean Grantophile to the point that NYSUT's ensorsement of Kennedy and their nifty $10K donation to him last cycle likely had everything to do with Phil's eager endorsement of the current crew of stooges running NYSUT as it offered a chance to bury an axe in what remained of outgoing Prez Dick Ianuzzi's career. Ianuzzi, the story goes, is the one mainly responsible for giving the nod to Kennedy instead of Grant. Custom previously allowed the local Prez to make the call in such matters but for whatever reason, Ianuzzi put the wood to Phil and handed it to Kennedy over Rumore's objections. And while Timmy bloviated his way through a list of memorized data bullets, essentially hitting all the right notes for the assembled crowd, it was not lost on the assemblage that this SB resident may have overdone it with the bloody blarney. For all of his public education blather Tim surely hoped nobody remembers as far back as a week ago when a charter school proposal with his big fat Imprimatur all over it was shot down by NYSED.  Here's a little quote about the SMART charter getting denied from our champion of public schools Timmy K: Senator Kennedy said, "The indication that we've gotten is that the application is not only viable but very strong and that the denial should not have happened, and we're trying to figure out exactly where the application went wrong and get those answers over to those folks." Mmmm yeah. I am thinking of an old Pete Seeger tune about now can you guess which one it is?
In spite of the gasbaggery and specious blarney from Ryan and Kennedy, the other speakers were highly energized, on point and eager to take the fight to the boys' club who are looking all too eager to cozy up to rookie amateur John King and privatize as much of B-Lo as they can sink their hooks into. Once the politicians were disposed of the message was loud and clear. The energy was good, the focus was 20/20 and the kids from Bennett and Lafayette were a joy to behold. We are apparently stuck with the Dumbocratic Party and NYSUT in a strangely selective symbiotic waltz. I say strangely symbiotic as it only seems to benefit the hacks who've attached themselves to teacher's unions and the hacks who serve as administrators of those unions. Double strange that the governor himself claims to be a Democrat but could give Scot Walker a run for his Republican money on any given day. I look forward to reclaiming our unions, reclaiming our schools and ridding ourselves of parasites who show up for photo ops and to collect endorsements and donations then run out and work very very hard against us. If we can keep this moving and maintain a shred of the energy I felt this afternoon in Niagara Square I believe the Rich Guys' Charter School Club may be headed for the dustbin.

If you're looking for your next fix or you missed this one you will have to attend A Forum on Corporate School Reform and a Public Vison for Public Education on Saturday November 15 at 12:30 pm. The location is the Karpeles Library Manuscript Museum 453 Porter Ave. Buffalo NY. Be There and Bring a Friend. Local educational savant Professor Mark Garrison and NYC Parent Advocate extraordinaire Leonie Hamison will share their invaluable insights into dealing with the ed reform class. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Cronies and Phonies in the Philly School Mess

When the crony stacked School Reform Commission decided to cancel the Philly Teachers' contract in one of those clever clandestine ed reform meetings here is a sampling of the bullshit rhetoric Commissoner Goodhair ejaculated for the cameras:

“We can’t say to students, ‘We would like to give you millions of dollars to improve schools, but the PFT won’t let its members pay for some of its health insurance,’” School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green said, referring to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. It is time for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to share in the sacrifice,” Green said in an interview before the vote.
Lawyer, Stooge and Corbett Appointed Douchebag Bill Green

And when Governor Tom Corbett took office he issued similar rumblings, surely aiming to rouse the teabagger sentiments of Keystone staters: 

"If government is here to share the taxpayer's wealth then everyone needs to share in the sacrifice," said the new governor, whose relaxed posture and shock of white hair threw off an aura of imperial calm, even as he metaphorically jabbed a budget dagger so sharp that would have made Caligula proud. "Educators, Pennsylvanians await your decision."

A lot of "tough talk" and "rugged individual responsibility" being shoveled around in PA. Time for teachers to get a haircut as one of our local ed reform erections likes to suggest would happen if he and his pals ever get their hands on a public school. Here, Corbett calls teachers out directly, much the same way Commissioner Goodhair his handpicked lawyer and stooge who runs the "Reform Commission" in Philly. (The other members of this bogus "commission" include another lawyer, an HMO executive, The Principal of an Honors School and a "Parent Advocate" of some sort. We have a similar situation here in B-Lo with a so called Parent Advocate who serves as the ed reform stooge and poop boy.)

Yes, no doubt Governor Tom Corbett is a weapons grade asshole when it comes to public employees. He seems to be a much nicer guy to some folks though. And at this point we see there are certain rules for some and vastly different rules for others in Pennsyltucky. If you are a teacher in PA you are part of the problem, you steal money from kids and their classrooms and Governor Corbett is going to put you in check, fast. If you don't like it that's just too goddamned bad. 

If you are an out of state hydrofracker though your rules are a lot more accommodating. And if by some chance your business friendly rules put you ahead by a few billion there's nobody in the Governor's mansion who's going to refuse a little baksheesh toward the campaign fund: 

The companies take in hundreds of millions of dollars without paying any dedicated Pennsylvania tax -- even as such levies are imposed in the other 14 of the top 15 gas-producing states, even in red-state bastions of free-market libertarianism like Dick Cheney's native Wyoming and George W. Bush's Texas.

In a remarkable coincidence, 2010 gubernatorial candidate Corbett received a whopping $835,720 from oil-and-natural gas interests, including his largest single contributor - Marcellus Shale driller Terry Pegula and his wife Kim, who gave $305,000 to the Republican's campaign at the same time Pegula was selling his exploration firm to Royal Dutch Shell and pocketing a $3 billion check. Indeed, Corbett's career in elective Pennsylvania politics was launched in 2004 when an Oklahoma gas driller - Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy - funneled most of the dollars for an eye-popping $480,000 donation that went to Corbett's attorney general campaign from an obscure GOP fund.

As a Buffalo Bills' fan I am in some real way glad the team is staying here. In a more abstract way I am glad the Sabres will remain here too for the foreseeable future. But the fact that the guy who owns both teams donated more money to a piece of shit like Tom Corbett than anyone else makes me wonder just how bad would it have been if the Bills ended up in Toronto? 

Tom Corbett thinks a teacher earning 50K with kids, a mortgage, car payments and college tuition to worry about needs to "share in the sacrifice." But somehow on Planet Corbett, a billionaire who writes him a  campaign donation for almost half a million is somehow exempt from sharing even one penny in state taxes in that same "sacrifice." Repeat that, teachers salaries are slashed, frackers pay not one cent in taxes on billion dollar earnings. "Wealthy drillers are making tons of money while dramatically changing the character of the countryside - and they ought to pay their fair share,"  Senator Greg Vitali said. "It's absolute insanity. It's absolutely indefensible." Governor Corbett, his Reform Commission and the Pegulas can all go fuck themselves. This is why we need a revolution. The sooner the better. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Move Over Ed Reformers, You Have Corporate Company

Hipster retailer Urban Outfitters, aside from being an overpriced boutique for  affluent young douchebags, has rung the Asshole Capitalism bell in a huge way this season. Obviously UO's not my kinda joint and what the hell does this have to do with Common Core, the abysmal state of American Labor or the Buffalo Board of Ed? both of my readers are asking. 

It's one of those coverups that's more egregious than the crime situations. And when all the shuck and jive, the spin and the heartfelt yet non incriminating mea culpas are issued, it's clear that this was never about anything more than making a buck. Not unlike the dazzling rifts of rhetoric our amusing friends from the ed reform industry concoct in an effort to paint their own motives as altruistic when we can simply plug our ears and follow the money as it flows into their already teeming coffers. 

If you've been living under the other half of the rock I usually use for cover here's what they did : 

In case your lasiks surgery is failing you, yes, they colored a Kent State shirt to look blood spattered, called it "Vintage" and put it up for $129.00. US. And when the blowback started, as I guess everyone but the snarky shitheads at UO knew it would they consulted the Michael Vick/ Rob Ford handbook for non apologies and offered this dubious ejaculation : 

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

"Any offense it may have caused". Assumed of course is that some hypersensitive knee jerk consumer watchdog with serious wood for these hapless hipsters went off the deep end about something that happened in Ohio for God's sake and it was decades ago...

"The red stains are discoloration and the holes from natural wear and fray" in case anyone thought we were trying to make it look like someone was shot while wearing it...

"We regret that it was perceived negatively..." How in hell that happened we will never know... "and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset..." big hearted sensitive slobs that we are.

Urban Outfitters are getting pretty skilled in this kind of damage control it turns out. Among the store's other misperceptions of reality were their t shirts picturing a 15 year old model Hailey Clauson in this pose. One her parents said the store had no permission to use let alone slap on a t shirt for $29.00. Any question what they're selling here? 

Cashing in on protesting college kids gunned down on a campus, underage girl crotch shots, promoting prescription drug and alcohol use and minting faux "Navajo" panties in China is how Urban Outfitters rolls. In Post Ferguson America it's no stretch to imagine any number of yahooized law enforcement agencies in their helmets and armored rigs mowing down a hell of a lot more than 4 kids with their battlefield ready equipage. Somehow, though, a corporate entity like Urban Outfitters manages to excuse itself from the larger contextual responsibilities the rest of us try to obey. We don't yell fire! in multiplexes or Bingo! in crowded smoke filled casinos. But then again if we were desperate to make a buck, desperate as the lilliputian minds at urban Outfitters we might just be yelling both of those things and worse. An article in Business Insider from May of this year points out three of the company's biggest problems including their tone deaf attempts at being edgy that all end up about as edgy as your drunken uncle groping your 12 year old sister on the dance floor of a family wedding. Here's yet another of their zany misfires.  

There's edgy. And then there's just being an asshole. Someone at this place doesn't seem to know there's a difference. And in the name of profit they keep blundering ahead offering denial after lame apology after denial. It's not like they can say, hey it's for the children, even though their target audience is the 18-24 crowd. It really is for the children. Well, more accurately, it's aimed at the children in the most cynical and prehensile vision of capitalism you can imagine. But in the end it's for the company, the wrong headed, assholic, overpriced and socially inept company who thinks no matter how insulting, insensitive, demeaning or stupid their message is, some dumbass with Daddy's AmEx card is going to walk out of the mall  $29.00 lighter pleased with himself and his edgy gear. Say it aint so America.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why I Refuse to Wear a Blue Shirt to School and Why You Shouldn't Either


Fifteen or so years ago I didn't mind wearing a BTF t shirt to school on Fridays, adhering BTF stickers to said shirt and parading back and forth across the parking lot before school carrying a picket sign. At the time it seemed we were in some sort of solidarity or at very least we were able to project the image of solidarity to the community, the school board and the odd parent or two who genuinely seemed to support us in our plight.

Currently, the school I teach in has 3 Buffalo teachers and assorted other teachers from BOCES. We are a treatment facility, a psychiatric day school and, technically, a hospital setting. So it wouldn't look terribly cool for us to march up and down on a very narrow sidewalk creating an obstruction for foot traffic and kids who already have enough on their plates that they don't need to start their day wondering what teachers are pissed off about. Phil Rumore's call to picketing is a non starter at my school. I see roll upon roll of those damned stickers jammed into an empty mail slot and I imagine if I was of a mind to I could probably cover myself in them on Fridays for dramatic effect as per Phil's recommendation. Today on Twitter I saw a pic of some teachers all wearing blue as a show of support for their students. I think this is nice. Teachers are generally nice people, if a bit know-it-allish, control freakish, chicken-shittish and possibly passive aggressive-ish. But still, nice people, teachers, for the most part.

It wasn't my intent to send a fastball into their wheelhouse but when I saw the NYSUT hashtag on the pic I couldn't resist asking if the teachers were also pressed into service making robocalls for Kathy Hochul too? Of course the response was confused. How would they know what the hell I was talking about and why was I being such an asshole? I am trying to be fair. The guy asked if I wore blue to support my students and I suddenly felt as though we were from different planets. He is from a place where they still do stuff like wear the same colored shirts so they can take a pic of themselves in said shirts and forward it to their regional NYSUT person who will then post it as a sign of the strong solidarity NYSUT engenders among those quaint, clueless rank and filers and a feather in his/her cap for managing the peons so adeptly. Sadly, on the planet I'm from in the current state of affairs --where NYSUT leadership still hasn't adequately explained a deal they cut to pad their retirements while they fought tooth and nail to keep an outgoing rep from enjoying the same benefit; where the President of AFT and the President of NEA both seem to have some addiction to Bill Gates money if not Gates his own self; where today it was reported that Randi Weingarten President of AFT was making robocalls on behalf of Andrew Cuomo's running mate thereby on behalf of Cuomo as well and where most of what union leadership does when it does anything seems to benefit them and exclude the membership -- when I hear of a group of teachers wearing blue shirts I visualize this:

While NYSUT members jeer CCSS powerpoint NYUST leadership supports CCSS at AFT Convention. This is known as Doublespeak.

As things stand I don't see our unions representing us, standing up for us or asking us what we think about issues and listening to our input. I see them throwing distractions at us like Pissed Off in the Pines where we were encouraged to sacrifice a Sunday from our families, ride a bus all day to Lake Placid, parade around in the rain for an hour or so while Randi Weingarten was handed a bullhorn to bloviate all of the usual rah rah bullshit they use to rile up the rubes then climb back on the bus wet and cold and spend the next 6 hours sodden and bedraggled wondering why we bothered. They distract us with stickers and rah rah and bullshit and make a bunch of fades like they are actually going to listen to us and then when it comes time they find a way to keep Zephyr Teachout from addressing the assembly no matter what kind of breach of protocol they have to commit. They simply don't give a fuck and they dare us to do something about it every time they shut us out or make excuses for their bullshit deals or for Weingarten being on the wrong side of every last goddamned issue that involves teachers getting bent over. They dare us to do something about it because they are certain we won't. And today they dared us again. I guess my question is what are we going to do about it? How do we got about replacing union leadership that refuses to unify and refuses to lead? What's the first step? I think it's time we let them know their 15 minutes are up and they are done screwing us to the wall and before we can get a word out they are asking us to wear t shirts decals and picket signs as some show of solidarity that doesn't exist to a community that largely has been turned against us by the very people our union leadership is in bed with. It's time to turn the page and make some history. Time to get rid of the self serving dead weight who think they can keep making backroom deals that benefit them and screw teachers. It's well past time. We, my friends, are long overdue for change. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Teacher Union President Weingarten Stabs Teachers in the Back - Again.

Vichy Quisling Leadership At Its Finest

Well, she's done it again. Yes, friends, Diane Ravitch's favorite protected species, Randi Weingarten President of American Federation of Teachers has been observed making robocalls on behalf of the Andrew Cuomo ticket. You can read about it here on the PJSTA blog. Before all of the NYSUT apologists get up out of their special chairs to call for order I will qualify the remark by saying it was a classic backdoor maneuver -- the type slimy political hacks with (or who happen to be) lawyers specialize in. Oh she wasn't actually shilling for Cuomo, no, far from it. What Randi was actually doing was shilling for Kathy Hochul, Cuomo's handpicked running mate whose anti immigrant/pro gun rhetoric aims to salvage some of the thousands of hunters and gun owners Cuomo pissed off in the middle of the night when his #GetMetotheWhiteHousein2016 SAFE Act was passed. Oh and she wears skirts and calls herself "Kathy" too, so we are to believe that will drive the X chromosome crowd back into Prince Andrew's camp. When asked about this, Hochul laughed and said with a straight face, Oh I think he already has the women's vote. Not sure exactly which ones, maybe the low self esteem kind who have a soft spot for bullies and control freaks? It's really tiresome to hear right wing gasbags popping off about corrupt union leadership. If there's anything worse than listening to that I think it must be agreeing with them when they say it about my own union leaders. The idea that Randi Weingarten, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, has anyone's interests at heart except her own is laughable. That she'd work on behalf of Andrew Cuomo's running mate and Andrew Cuomo, who despises teachers and unions and especially hates teacher unions is an egregious betrayal of membership, of parents and of the students she is forever telling us she cares so deeply about. What she cares about is Randi Weingarten. Period. Whether she's hunting down the lost Nigerian girls, marching with Al Sharpton agsint NYPD, supporting Bill Gates and Common Core or burning up the phones to support one of the most notorious teacher haters in New York history, you can be sure she's working for the same goal : a better situation for Randi Weingarten. And just as AFT is a sellout group who makes deals with teacher bashers behind our backs and to our detriment but to their own micro advantage, let's not forget the little blurb our own NYSUT chatterbox Mike Deely put on Facebook for all of his friends to see a while back: 

Essentially, we have the same backdoor endorsement of Cuomo from the state union hacks that we got from the federal union hacks. Over the weekend I received my BTF endorsements in the mail and there was a soporific tangle of circumlocution prattling on about "supporting Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu" but in the box where the endorsements were listed there was none for Teachout/Wu. None. So Phil Rumore is apparently under the spell of the same demi gods as the rest of NYSUT/AFT and in spite of all the hot air and the signature raising and blah blah blah Phil is going to chicken out and say awww shucks. Well, gang I guess we have to vote for Cuomo... To which I say like hell we do. If Phil wants us parading back and forth with picket signs and hustling downtown to do the same before Board meetings he should have at least followed through on a gesture that would give us something to get fired up about. Instead he pulled another fast one, same as Deely, same as Randi and they all think we are going to shrug and pull the lever for the jackass ticket that butters their bread so nicely. The last thing I am going to do as a registered Democrat is vote for Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu tomorrow. It may well be another pointless gesture, a Quixotic tilt at the Cuomo/Hochul windmill. It will mean something to me though, something to my students and fellow teachers and parents who've had it up to here with Cuomo and his Common Core and the fucking corporatized, soulless, spineless Democrats who think teachers owe them a living. If all we have these days is gestures, voting for Teachout and Wu is the best one I've seen in a while. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

NYSUT Leadership. Explain Yourselves or Resign.

I hate "open letters." I almost never read them because I think they are pretentious and assume that the writer of said missive is so engaging that we should all want to peer over his shoulder and marvel at his wit and wisdom as he addresses A. a social ill B. some personal beef C. someone completely out of his umvelt who will never in a million years read the goddamned thing or respond to it. The third choice is most irritating as it posits the false scenario that writer and recipient are on some sort of equal footing and as soon as it lands in the inbox, said reader will respond to the push notice, drop whatever  he is doing and begin the fascinating journey through this open aired epistle that is certain to reconfigure every wrong thought he's ever had as delineated by our able scribe. Ahem. The only one I think I have read in recent memory that made a good impression on me was the Open Letter Bill Ayers wrote to Barack Obama about his wrong headed education policies.   The thing was dead on and best of all the two knew each other and worked together on various projects over the years. It was a white version of Cornell West's blistering observations about Obama's neoliberal proclivities. Yet, did Obama read it? Did it make one bit of difference in his thinking? Don't know and definitely not. It likely got Ayers taken off any remaining guest lists Sarah Palin hadn't already vetted him from but he made his point and in the best case scenario of the dreaded Open Letter genre it fell about as flat as the ones the BATS write to people like Arne Duncan and Jeb Bush.

A long way of explaining that this is not of that genre but in all honesty I guess it probably is. I just don't want it to be. Funny. It's a lot like my union leadership at both the state and national levels. It kind of sucks but I wish it didn't.  In a nutshell or two, I am hearing that one of the beneficiaries of NYSUT leadership's clever backroom deal on their retirement (one that was introduced by a guy they just happened to have endorsed) is trying to spin his way out of the implications of this secret deal. Word has it he's been spinning his version of events claiming it's not really all that great of a deal and it's coming out of his pocket and blah blah effing blah. I am interested in hearing any of the NYSUT officials involved in this quiet yet lightning quick backroom deal explain how it's perfectly acceptable and membership has no reason whatsoever to be upset with them or the way they do business to benefit themselves in secret. And if they were able to endorse the sponsor of this legislation Peter Abbate Jr. for whatever reasons yet refused to endorse Zephyr Teachout against Andrew Cuomo it does strain credulity. What they want counts but what we classroom grunt rank and filers want doesn't count. That's the message NYSUT is giving us. And if Karen Magoo thinks she can run around with Revive pixie dust on the campaign trail proudly denouncing CCSS with the rest of us then get up in front of Weingarten's AFT Coronation crowd and say we need CCSS or else there'd be dogs and cats sleeping together and complete bedlam across the land, I think we need to tell her we caught her lying to us and she needs to mend her ways or resign. And until I hear this retirement peach explained as yet another selfless bit of sacrifice from Palotta, Messner, Percorare and Magee, I think they need to resign. We are already up against liars and cheaters looking to feather their nests on the backs of our students. We don't need more of them running our union too. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

BUSTED!: NYSUT Leadership Caught Secretly Fattening Their Own Pensions

While we all knew the  NYSUT "Revive" party was watered down jive at best who knew the incredible balls they'd show in secretly working to fatten their own paychecks and swell their retirements but nobody else's?  This bunch is toast. Rather than waste your time and mine re-writing what Norm Scott has already exposed I'm going to pull a Norm and re-post his piece in its entirety here: 

Sellout Fever: Newly Elected Revile - er - Revise NYSUT Officers Get Special Pension Deal From Cuomo, Klein and Skelos

NYSUT is proud to announce the first pension enhancement since 2000. After a long string of pension setbacks our legislative office has finally “turned the tide” and won a remarkable benefit for some of our most needy members.... 
Despite overseeing the creation of Tier V and Tier VI NYSUT First VP Andy Pallotta was undaunted and insisted we take this fight on. When asked why he was so slow to put out a statement (it was signed by the Governor into law July, 22) regarding this huge victory he humbly pointed out that he has been remarkably busy working with Senators, Klein and Skelos on their endorsements.... 
                           (Satirical) press release....

NYSUT Sellout Fever not yet under control
Sellout Fever, running rampant through the "new" NYSUT leadership, is turning into a worse epidemic than Ebola. A team from NIH wearing hazmat suits has been called to Albany.

NYSUT officers got their pals, Klein and Skelos, to pass this law giving them leaves of absences at full pay, all of it pensionable, and get Cuomo to sign it at the speed of light - for the NY State legislature. 

Jun 9, 2014
Jun 19, 2014
Jun 20, 2014
Jul 22, 2014
A 10019
AN ACT to amend chapter 675 of the laws of 1984 relating to providing fringe benefits for certain employees of school districts and boards of cooperative educational services, in relation to leaves of absence...
Oh, who may these "certain employees" be? 
The salary paid shall be the salary the employee would have earned and received had THE EMPLOYEE remained in service in the position

A. 10019 2

1 Which THE EMPLOYEE held as a full time employee at the time 
2 THE EMPLOYEE was first elected as an elective officer, prior to the granting of the leave of absence based on the salary schedule in effect for the negotiating unit during each year of the leave of absence.
This act shall take effect immediately.
Why the newly elected NYSUT officers - of course, this is a priority matter. They will now get their full salary they from their old local (with pension credits) while they are state officers in NYSUT - the union reimburses their locals, but may not be asked too if the NYSUT state leadership sells out at a fast enough clip.

The law can be read in full here - -- if you have the stomach.

The NYSUT leaders also failed to announce this news at recent state meetings, and given passing any legislation at all would call for a victory party, there are some thoughts Karen Magee, Andy Palotta, and gang were pulling a coverup.


Some anonymous oppositionists in NYSUT took umbrage and wrote this satirical press release with this intro:
The REVIVE team has actually had some success they just have not been transparent about it. They managed to get a pension enhancement bill signed into law on July 22. The quotes and press release above are fake, but the law is real.
Press Release Press Release Press Release Press Release
August 20, 2014, 

Albany, NY: NYSUT is proud to announce the first pension enhancement since 2000. After a long string of pension setbacks our legislative office has finally “turned the tide” and won a remarkable benefit for some of our most needy members.

Despite overseeing the creation of Tier V and Tier VI NYSUT First VP Andy Pallotta was undaunted and insisted we take this fight on. When asked why he was so slow to put out a statement (it was signed by the Governor into law July, 22) regarding this huge victory he humbly pointed out that he has been remarkably busy working with Senators, Klein and Skelos on their endorsements. He additionally wanted to credit the NYSUT legislative team and all of the new Officers for how quickly they were able to get this done.

When asked for a comment NYSUT President, Karen Magee said “This is what we campaigned on. We took a tough stand with the Governor and we demanded he do the right thing for these NYSUT members. That strategy really paid off here.” The new law allows, up to four, members of NYSUT who are on leave from their teaching positions and are elected Officers of NYSUT to continue to accrue time in the NYSTRS, if NYSUT reimburses the district for the Officer’s salary. Since NYSUT has it’s own pension plan for Officers this amounts to a legislative fix to allow for “double dipping”. When asked to comment President Magee said “ As a trustee to the NYSTRS I have witnessed the benefit of great pensions. If you can gain time in two systems simultaneously, all the better”.

If you are wondering if this new pension enhancement will help you in retirement, call the NYSTRS and see if you have the following name;

Karen Magee

Paul Percorale

Martin Messner

Some serious follow-up questions with my comments in [].

-What did Jeff Klein receive to get this into the senate? [UFT Endorsement].

-What did Dean Skelos receive to get his members to vote for it? [I can't imagine - a pony?]

-What did Andrew Cuomo get to sign it? [NYSUT neutrality].

-As a matter of principle shouldn't the officers of NYSUT refuse a pension deal until the Tier v and vi members are taken care of?

-Shouldn't a NYSUT officer resign their teaching position to gain independence from their home district? They need to serve all locals equally, we should not have to check and see that their district did not get more aid in order to keep the board and Superintendent willing to extend the leave. When you are a statewide officer you cannot have two masters!

-Who authorized the legislative department to push for this (It was not done at the RA or Bd of Directors Meetings)?

-Who wrote the legislation?

-Does NYC have comparable legislation in their retirement system?

-If this is good policy why doesn't it apply to the employee's retirement system, if an SRP became an officer shouldn't they be allowed to benefit?
Some more commentary from the ether:

Much was made last year by the REVIVE campaign that NYSUT needed to make itself much more grass roots oriented and reflective of the needs of the rank and file teachers.

The REVIVE slate campaigned on:
opposition to the common core
opposition to Cuomo
the need for greater transparency in the union.

The last month has shown just how disingenuous those arguments were. We now see that the new slate of officers are running NYSUT in a way that many feared. Rather than a revival this was the old guard (Randi and Unity Leadership) reclaiming control of the union's power to do it's unique bidding, membership be damned. 

At the AFT convention we saw how Karen Magee when given a chance to oppose the common core, instead fought passionately to defend it. Including a nonsensical claim that without the common core we would have no standards at all. This absurdity flies in the face of the history that New York has had in developing standards.

The next campaign promise was to oppose Cuomo, instead all they have produced is tough talk about Cuomo when talking to NYSUT members but when it comes to actually opposing Cuomo there is silence. Twice in the last month we could have endorsed a candidate, Zephyr Teachout, that will stand against testing abuse and for school funding fairness. The REVIVE team marginalized the voice of teachers by remaining silent. 

The reasonable question would be, Why? After so many legislative and policy failures at the hands of Andrew Cuomo, why wouldn't NYSUT take a proactive stand like our brothers and sisters in PEF.