|Just a Matter of Time|
It strikes me that we missed an opportunity here in B-Lo. It also occurs to me that I am as guilty as anyone else of allowing it to slip away without as much as a crisis of the soul in which I faltered and took the path most traveled, called myself a coward and spit on the ground in disgust. It was suggested somewhere that one way to fight back against the ever encroaching ed reform beast would be to refuse to participate in writing SLO's. The proposition put forth on social media was that if you refused to write them the district would create them for you.
The defiant statement being I'm not going to help you tie the rope you're using hang me. Tie it yourself if you want it that bad. I admit it caught my eye and I toyed with the idea for a bit as did a few others from what I was reading on various platforms but in the end it was eventually shouted down by upper union management. The rationale was that it could be construed as a job action/strike and we could all be punished accordingly. Now I understand in the event of a traditional strike the most glaring repercussion is that we get docked 2 days wages for every day spent on the picket line. As the SLO refusal isn't an actual strike with teachers refusing to go to work I can't exactly say how they would go about punishing us for it.
Would we be docked double for every day our SLO's were late? I guess that's as close to a strategy as they'd need but the real problem is nobody as far as I know even took it that far. The idea came up, flew around the room for a few minutes and created a little excitement among rank and file who are desperate to strike back against the incessant barrage of harassment and hectoring we've been subjected to by the state and the board and City Hall's winged minions. But the thing with feathers was shot down and removed from circulation before very many teachers even considered it as a possibility.
I remember fuming at Dick Ianuzzi when he came to a Town Hall Meeting at UB a few years ago as President of NYSUT. His mantra was "We do ourselves no good dying on the barricades." I interpreted this as an order to cower behind them while King and Tisch and Old Bob Bennett flung everything they could lay their hands on at us. I didn't care much for the message then and I'm surprised now that the very people responsible for throwing Ianuzzi out of office have embraced his "seat at the table" mentality in spite of the fact that they're handed kids menus and served NA beer while the rest are feasting on steak and scotch.
Just when Ianuzzi was beginning to get focused and dig his heels in to fight Cuomo and Tisch and the rest of them is about when Weingarten and Mulgrew decided Dick had to go. Yet here we remain. Stagnant and under siege from receivership, APPR, arbitrary SLO deadlines, an out of town carpbetbagger of a Superintendent calling receivership school teachers "dregs" a department head calling teachers who followed established Regents exam protocol "terrorists" and not to be forgotten we're hearing from NYC that a serial wackjob Principal has had all the adult desks dragged from classrooms and tossed on the curb because she doesn't think teachers should be sitting down. Yet, we continue to play ball, to accept our high chair at "the table" waiting Job-like for something to give.
Once I saw a pre-strike rally in Philly on the evening news. I think I was still in college. The place was jammed and they were all wearing red. You couldn't hear anything anyone was saying and there was a maniacal baritone voice booming into a mic. Nobody had to hear what was being said. You knew. The auditorium huge and electrified. The place was rocking and they were saying We've had it with your bullshit and we're not taking it any more. The roar of the place was indescribable. Lit nerd that I am I thought of MacBeth as he readies for the inevitable and girds himself for battle:
—Arm, arm, and out!—
If this which he avouches does appear,
There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here.
I 'gin to be aweary of the sun,
And wish th' estate o' th' world were now undone.—
Ring the alarum-bell!—Blow, wind! Come, wrack!
At least we’ll die with harness on our back.
Bold talk for a one eyed fatman yes, but you have to love the spirit of the guy as he knows what's coming is not going to end well but he embraces it anyway. Defiant, resigned, determined. Grim.
The longer I observe the machinations of NYSUT on Latham the less I hear of MacBeth, the less raucous red clad rank and file ire I feel. When I hear what our union leadership is preaching now I long for Dick Ianuzzi's barricade bravado. Compared to this lot he's Pete Seeger singing Which Side Are You On? In place of Mac I hear the voice of Twenty Something T.S. Eliot's J. Edgar Prufrock sniveling permission to wear his trousers rolled and wondering if he dares to eat a peach. The voice I hear through the NYSUT bullhorn sounds more like:
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
Accent on "Politic, cautious, and meticulous, Full of high sentence but a bit obtuse." It bears mentioning that this passage is a reference to Polonius who was skewered by Hamlet while hiding behind a curtain. So much for the seat at the table. It's high time we shed our Prufrock and channeled our inner Old School Philly while we still can.