|Oh But We Love Our Peer Validators|
Here in Buffalo, known to Cuomophiles as BuffHochul, the city's teachers haven't had a contract since, oh since about the time George Dubya was getting his second term on. Pockets of giddiness were reported last week as certain folk claiming to have an inside track were dancing and tittering that BTF would have a new contract by September. I haven't vetted these squeals of delight with any of the people I know damned well DO know, maybe because I am content to live in the present unburdened with the certainty of the obnoxious concessions we are sure to endure.
Awww, why so serious? You may query in your best Heath Ledger's joker snivel. Why is my cup half emtpy? Why did my teacher in seventh grade point at me when a kid asked what "cynical" meant? Well, the good union people down in New York City were stuck without a contract for a bit too. And things weren't going so well. That was when Randi Weingarten's (member her?) handpicked successor Mike Mulgrew decided to start trashing NYSUT President Dick Ianuzzi. This caught the attention of some people who could help speed things along with the contract. It also led to the NYSUT Revive caucus's emergence onto the scene heralding an end to the same old same old of the Ianuzzi way of doing business. The Revivers were going to jump start our union and get us feeling good about all those goddamned dues we pay to people who find ways to screw us in return. Yes, Sir, with Andy Palotta, whether he bought that $10,000 table at the Billy Joel birthday performance or not, and Karen Magee in full trim we would sail to victory and it would be a new world.
And so it is. A Brave New World of sorts if you favor the dystopian reference. In fact the new contract in New York is so Brave and New it even contains special new duties for really great teachers who are talented, highly effective, or maybe just effective it all depends. They must be able to work in situations with "a high degree of ambiguity" which sounds funny until you realize they are being hired for extra pay to do "unannounced" observations of fellow teachers who were rated "ineffective" the previous year. If you've ever had a Principal who preferred the "unannounced" method, you'll understand there's a certain message involved in it. Peer Validators will earn their contractual salary plus $15,000 -- and 30 pieces of silver. And since these "ineffective" teachers being observed are already behind the 8 ball with one bad evaluation, the "peer validators" (wtf?) may now enjoy the thrill of administering the coup de grace to their colleagues. Psshaww you say, teachers running down fellow teachers, landing the death blow to their careers? Who ever heard of such a thing? But what's really sad, scary and disgusting is when you ask yourself what teachers do I know who could do this to their colleagues and you realize within a minute you've run out of fingers. That's the part that really sucks.
I am not clever enough to cut and paste from a pdf so I will link the thing HERE for your perusal.
Remember this contract also has a provision for a special "No Waiting Express Lane as it were, subjecting ATR teachers in NYC to a one day 3020-a hearing so they can be fired with microwave like celerity. If I didn't know better, I'd almost think someone negotiating on the union's side was cool with seeing teachers fired or at very least didn't much give a fuck if they were. Revivers were all over Facebook patting themselves on the back in smug congratulations for this contract. If this is the kind of unionism we can expect from Magee, Palotta, Messner et al in Revive, then I guess there's really nothing to fear from the anti-tenure lawsuits to come. We'll have one foot in the ground and the other on a Revive banana peel before StudentsLast! or whoever can even get to our tenure. I don't know if it's too late for this battle, I suspect it is. But until then I wonder if maybe we teachers might want to learn to pull together for a change before some of us start taking money to pull others of us apart.