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. 

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