Monday, February 1, 2016

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Democrats Closer

This is Just Painful

The other day I commented on a candidate for the Buffalo Board of Education that nobody I know teaching in a Buffalo classroom seems to have heard of. A quick glance into her social media postings though reveals she seems to be very friendly with all of the local high profile Democrats and has a NYSUT guy answering questions directed at her on Twitter. I've been reminded that the current human occupying her seat, bartender to the stars, Jay McCarthy, is the devil we know whose departure would be an addition by subtraction. All well and good. I guess. 

The problem I anticipate in this scenario is that once McCarthy is out the door and the new NYSUT fueled Democrat darling is installed who's to say what degree of support we as BTF members can expect from her when it comes time to vote on stuff? Recent experience with the couplings of union leadership and Democrats has not always yielded positive results for those of us on the business end of things like receivership, APPR and the 2015 Cuomo Budget. Remember the number of state legislators with D's after their names who allowed themselves to be bullied into voting for every one of the anti teacher pogroms Cuomo embedded in his budget. Never mind what they tell you about your enemies in the GOP, you already knew about that. What you need to remember these days is that the Democrats are equally odious. In my book they're worse since you always knew where you stood with the GOP, they never pretended to be your friends. In fact one could make the case that one can never really tell where exactly one's union leadership is going to land on issues that seem to us in the classroom to be pretty damned straightforward. Asked about changing the Ed Transformation Act (more on this later) NYSUT Prez. Magee says it's premature to say whether it needs to be changed or not. Really? Do you know what it even says, Karen? Are you kidding or is this just more of the "top down say any old thing cause you don't owe the peasants a straight answer anyway" paradigm? 

Further evidence of the same top down union leadership attitude can be found in the following exchange between Brian St. Pierre of PJSTA and NYSUT President, Karen Magee.  In response to NYSUT's invitation to put some of his questions in writing, BSP did just that and sent them along. While he credits Magee with a prompt turnaround on the emails there's little more that can be said on a positive note. He summarizes Magee's response thusly: Ms. Magee’s response, unfortunately, was exactly what I expected.  In essence what I was told was, “We are member driven and representative of the rank and file’s voice because I say we are.  Also none of what we do is any of your damn business… and if you want to know how we spend VOTE-COPE money then you can come up to Albany!” 

The first question asked was what deep strategy was NYSUT using to have the Ed Transformation Act repealed. If you don't know what that is you should. It's the very mechanism that allows Cuomo and Elia and NYSED to continue with test and punish business as usual and the only way to end test and punish is by repealing it. Kind of like walking into your doctor's office with a sword stuck in your head and the doctor asking if he can have a look at your ankles. Seems like something we should be all over, no? Well the response was essentially that unless you're sitting in your "seat at the table" and actively negotiating you're not really entitled to know. And anyone cheeky enough to inquire how VOTE COPE funds are being wasted, errrr, spent can just hop in his little Prius and motor up to Albany for an audience with Andrew Pallotta. The fact that NYSUT recently released a glowing pro-Cuomo tv ad might have caused a few rank and filers some raised hackles but remember friends, it's not the domain of the small folk to reason why. Do you need Mike Mulgrew to punch you in the face and push you in the dirt or are you getting the picture? 

Our national unions NEA and AFT couldn't fling their endorsements at Hillary Clinton fast enough. They both claimed to have massive support for their actions but c'mon, we all know how this rigged game is played by Lawyer Weingarten. In some bizarre, convoluted legalistic wrangling of reality Weinie and Lily were able to fashion a poll or a series of smoke signals or whatever method they used to construct the illusion of membership support for their corporate sponsored, charter school loving, anti union Demohack girlfriend Hill. The rank and file response to their coronation of Bill's wife was hilarious. I scanned and scanned and scanned and could not find one rank and file comment that agreed with their choice. I found invective and contumely and verbal abuse, spitting, sputtering, pissed off pedagogues aplenty but nary a whiff of "Go Hill!" Yet we are again being told just as we were told about Common Core that a lot of teachers are voting Yea! No matter how hallucinogenic Randi's fantasies are we are again asked to suspend our disbelief and go along quietly.  Here's a piece David Sirota linked to on his Twitter account. In case you're not familiar, Sirotta understands ed reform and the charter scam better than most teachers you know: 

"In recent days, Clinton slammed Sanders’ push to expand Medicare to cover all Americans — a so-called single-payer healthcare initiative that many of the unions supporting her campaign have said is one of their top priorities. One such labor group, the American Federation of Teachers, gave $1 million to Priorities USA and $50,000 to Correct the Record in late December, one month after Clinton charged that Sanders’ single-payer plan would require a massive tax hike on the middle class. The teachers union money came to the Clinton-linked groups even though she has touted the charter school movement that unions oppose."

Why would "union leadership" behave any differently on a national level than they do on the state level? Why are we being misrepresented as supporting Hillary by two people who don't even support us? Why would anyone continue to pay dues for this kind of misrepresentation when they can get it for free after Friedrichs? Seems someone higher up on the chain should be asking this same question -- n'est-ce pas?

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