|Andrew Cuomo Confronts Public School Teacher
Shortly after the November elections public school teachers were warned that this was the year Cuomo and the ed reform class would bend our arm behind our backs and made us cry Uncle! They'd been scheming and donating and hedge funding and deck stacking in some elaborate protracted pre-game warm up all meant to come to fruition when Sheriff Andy removed his hand from the bible after lying his way through the oath of office. We were comforted thinly in the belief that House Speaker Sheldon Silver was somehow going to intervene and save us from the worst of Cumo's wrath. Out of nowhere though our Lancelot was hauled away like the common white collar thief he is. Teachers cringed as the one guy in Albany standing between us and the big bad wolf was dragged off calling for a lawyer to protect his own chinny chin chin.
Forgive me for asking though but I could never quite square this: If Sheldon Silver was such a great ace up our sleeve how did we account for the way he helped to promote and protect Meryl Tisch as Empress of The Regents? Tisch of the test and punish and let's throw all the peasants into the deep end mentality. It was always one of those political inequalities I couldn't quite solve.
Well Silver is out and so is any influence he might have held to keep Tisch grimacing and screwfacing the small people from her catbird seat as Chancellor. She still holds the title but I think she knows as well as we do that she's a lame duck at best and probably something closer to crowbait among the sharpened elbows of Albany's infighters. In Shelly's place, the guy Heastie, whom we were warned was going to be a party liner and loyal Cuomo soldier, played a serious role in ousting Regentus Flatulentus Old Bob Bennett, replacing him with an African American woman named Catherine Collins. Heastie has also questioned Sheriff Andy's hamfisted "my way or the highway" budgeteering. We were told Heastie was a Cuomo rubber stamp but so far he's been anything but. If I were a Cuomphile I'd be wondering who got to him and what the hell is going on.
A lot of people cringed when Lil John King was bundled off to refill Arne Duncan's office grit dispensers and make coffee for the Ed. Dept. dullards. There was some trepidation that King was going to ascend the chain of command to exert his petulant people skill deficient worldview on the country at large. I never saw the move as anything but Cuomo calling in a favor or two in D.C. to rid himself of a public relations train wreck whose performance as Commissioner of S.E.D. couldn't be whitewashed. King was an unholy disaster and a liability for someone as toxic as belligerent as Cuomo with enough p.r. brushfires of his own to put out. At Cuomo's request John King was made to disappear. King's puppet master and publicist Old Bob Bennett has also been sent packing. As Bennett's main duty was to serve as John King's Winston Wolfe there's no call for a cleaner when the mess maker has been disppeared.
So far we're shut of Lil John, Old Bob and Shelly the Queenmaker whose departure places Tisch with one foot on a banana peel and the other on a bar of Ivory soap. I don't know about you but I'm not feeling much of a need to say "uncle" to anyone wearing a "Don'tStealPossible" t shirt just yet.
Here in B-Lo proper the Ed Reforming slam dunk Board of Ed that was going to strut into City Hall and have us begging for chalk and flashlights so we could keep teaching after dark had their slam dunk swatted aside not by any of the Sisterhood but by Donald Effing Ogilve himself. Ogie's the guy they wrongly assumed to be a stooge and yes man who'd follow orders with no backtalk. Who ever thought at the end of the meeting where they'd planned to rip 4 schools from the public and hand them over to private charter pals that the summary statement would come not from Sampson or Quinn gloating over the transfer of schools but from Sharon Belton Cottman? Or that she'd bring down the curtain telling Larry Quinn that Ogilve's "not your boy and this aint a hockey game?" Currently, there's a movement afoot in Buffalo, an energy we haven't seen or felt in a long long time. And this wealthy old white man's board is not as effective against a full court press from parents, teachers and community activists as they are in their traditional roles as CEOs telling lackeys to jump then watching in bemusment as they take turns hitting their heads on the ceiling. Quinn thinks public input at board meetings is a collossal waste of time. Sampson thinks he can cut off and eject speakers whose message he doesn't care to hear. Paladino is comfortable calling teachers parasitic. Clearly these are old men who haven't had to deal with the unwashed masses, with people who are unimpressed by their stock portfolios or the number of buildings their fathers in law gave them as wedding gifts. For all of the anxiety and dread we've had to fight our way through I'd say things are looking a lot better for public education than they did back in January. This isn't to say that we're anywhere near out of the woods yet but here in the woods the big bad ed reformers don't maneuver so well. And as long as we're consigned to this David and Goliath scenario I say we embrace it and keep coming. Vegas put all the odds on Goliath and then David found a rock.