June 29, 2008

Jump in, the water's not so great

Some comments for Randi Weingarten, UFT pres. and just yesterday, the newly elected president of the AFT. You could read the press release on it, but honestly, you'd need to take almost all of it with that proverbial grain of salt. Or a bottle of Scotch.

Over at
EdNotes there's a story about a guidance counselor who'd been harassed by the principal and other administrators for some time. At the school's end-term party a few days ago, she got a heart attack and died.

I don't know a thing about this case, but I do know that the UFT knows very well that harassment and brutality towards teachers go rampant in every borough.

Weingarten's position remains on a scale of 1 to 10 neutral. If she cared to do anything about it, there would have been work-to-rule protests and media campaigns against anti-labor practices. She wouldn't have bothered with anemic surveys aimed at Klein, or TV ads on how important teachers are. She would never have gutted the grievance system, signing onto something that wasn't designed to handle the techniques promulgated at Klein's Leadership Academy or the sheer magnitude of his aggression.

I heard one of the hosts on Air America yesterday say the tide is turning in this country, that the unions are coming back. I don't see it.

I see a self-serving union president who loves playing in the political pool but who wasn't born a fish. Without the instinct for the job we do, she can't really defend us. Heck, she can't even recognize what's killing us.

There is a level of fear in this profession I don't remember feeling a decade ago. If you made a mistake in the old days, as we all have done, the principal might have had a word with you. If the mistake was a little more serious, maybe there would have been a letter, and maybe there should have been one.

Nowadays you don't know what you're dealing with. Is your principal on your back in particular or on everyone's back in general?
When you get a letter for your file, is it written by him or by one of those lawyers hired by Klein to provide instructions and text on how to admonish staff? And is the principal's gripe personal, or has he been advised by the bosses higher up on the food chain that rule by intimidation is the way to go and that there are all kinds of ways to cut the costs of high salaries?

There's a sickness in our schools that can no longer be eradicated by union collaboration. With the kind of hypocrisy, intimidation, and brutality that have become pandemic in this city under the Klein chancellorship, the union has to change course and push for desensitized administrators to be put somewhere far away from teachers and far away from kids.

It's time for Weingarten to be the fish she never was and swim in our schools. Let her jump in and experience for herself what Klein and all his bottom-feeders have been up to. Maybe then she'll be able to figure out how to fight our fight, the one we're seriously losing the longer she takes some middle, collaborative course out there on dry theoretical land.

PS: Norm gave this some contextual underpinning in his Ednotes
post of July 16th.


  1. Great piece, maybe your best. I couldn't agree more.

  2. Thanks! I'm just trying to catch up with all this "stuff" you guys have been reporting.

  3. Your posts certainly do cut to the heart of the matter.
    From experience, I can safely say that the bullying is coming from the top. Only the most independent minds can navigate through the b.s.
    Let's face it, how many people can afford to be independent anymore?

  4. Great post. Only thing I disagree with is asking her to be the fish she never was - that train left the station a long time ago.

  5. I agree with nyc educator. Your best post yet!

  6. "There's a sickness in our schools that can no longer be eradicated by union collaboration. "

    This is one of the most powerful statements ever made about the problems in NYC schools.