Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bennett Out - Collins In. What About Licata?

“I do know that the New York State United Teachers (union) in no uncertain terms were opposed to Bob Bennett. Their position was ‘not Bob Bennett,’ and I think that factored in very heavily to the thinking of the speaker and his people,” Schimminger said.

This quote from today's B-Lo Snooze mirrors exactly what I was told came down from the local NYSUT braintrust in advising teachers what their message should be. Not that I am wearing a black armband to commemorate the departure of Grumpus Old Emeritus himself or anything, in fact I couldn't be happier that Bennett's been stripped of his power to destroy public education any further than he already has. 

The rub here is that teachers weren't all that crazy about Catherine Fisher Collins who got the gig. She's friends with some people who drink a little too deeply from the ed reform jug for many of our comfort. Her name appears as a trustee on at least one charter school prospectus. On the other hand, many remembered John Licata as the lone, sane Eddie Albert figure on a Green Acres crazy Board of Ed during James Williams roughshod trample through the Buffalo Public Schools. When we needed someone to say something insightful and incisive Licata was the one to step up and do it. When the merde was up the ceiling you could count on Licata to show up in his boots with a shovel over his shoulder. In short, by working with loonies on the Board and for an idiot in the Super's office, Licata gained a lot of respect from people who were paying attention. Many of us felt he was our guy in City Hall, our guy on the Board of Ed. 

But yet again, what members want and believe has little to do with what the so called message makers had in mind. And as always the wants and needs of constituents were trumped by the Daddy Knows Best mentality of the entrenched, out of the classroom paid employees who  work for themselves and answer to nobody. I was messaged last week by a colleague who said NYSUT is telling people to say NO to Bennett. Period. While many of us naive classroom grunts would say, yeah NO to Bennett and YES to John Licata, that message was muted at best. I am glad or maybe relieved for Sean Ryan's sake that he stuck his two cents in to support the guy but after that it seems to be crickets from everywhere else. I'll admit to a surge of malicious Schadenfreudean warmth that Bennett and Schimminger both ate dirt in the proceeding. I've never been a fan of Schimminger and his sister the nun played a particularly disgusting role in railroading my daughter from a private school on behalf of a rich donor's grandchild and her psychotic mother. Full disclosure, that's me all right. See how easy that was Donn Esmonde? Nothing to it. 

Maybe it's because on my next birthday I'll reach that magic Sammy Hagar number that people assume all teachers retire upon. Maybe I'm enough of a teacher that I can find fault and something to bitch about even in a moment of victory like uncoupling Robert Bennett's pullman car from the train wreck that we call The Board of Regents. Or maybe I've been paying attention for too long and the irritating conclusion I keep reaching is that our representatives never seem to represent us as much as their own political interests. It seems we never get the one we want but the one the politicians agree is in their best interests. Maybe I'm just cursed in the Confucian (or was it a fortune cookie, I can't recall which) sense that says May you live in times of great change. Just once I think I'd like to see our great message makers come to us and ask us what our message is and why we are feeling that to be our message instead of screwfacing us when they hear it and explaining in a manner most condescending why we're wrong. Maybe Licata never stood a chance politically and it would have been a moot point to support him. Maybe someone in NYSUT doesn't like the way he ties his ties. From my experience around politicians one is equally as likely as the other. But for reasons beyond the ken of mere pedagogues like us it's going to be Catherine Fisher Collins. We'll know soon enough whose girl she is. 

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