September 14, 2008

Which side are YOU on?

The New York Teacher calls itself “the official publication of the UFT,” which I daresay it’s supposed to be.

Trouble is, I’m not really recognizing a labor union here in this rag. I’m thinking instead the UFT has morphed into some kind of arm of the DoE.

But, you be the judge. Here are the titles of the news articles in the the Sept 12th issue, and then maybe there’ll be time for a little song.

The ones in RED are Tweed friendly, Tweed collaborative, Tweed duped, or Much Ado About Nothing. The BROWN are informational or anemic.

What the content clearly does NOT show are the issues that most concern the membership: outrageous class size, DoE thuggery, rubber rooms, autonomy in the classroom, inexperienced non-educator administrators, the ramifications of three restructurings in 5 years, fake accountability, teaching to the test, one-size-fits all methodologies and staff development, abuses in the parking and merit pay deals, overambitious excessing, and the gross corruption in the whole system of grievances and arbitrations.

Let the list begin:

“UFT, city reach parking agreement”

“Union gets hazardous condition repaired at Queens school”
(If it was that bad, it took many years to get that way. Where was the union during all that?)
"Arbitrator upholds 3-mo. time limit for placing letters in file”
(Not much of a victory, since the arbitrator said that “Given that there never was any right to place the LIF in the first place, due to its untimeliness, it obviously cannot be kept in the file.” Ho-hum.)
“Good first impression: Hardly a glitch in ‘one of the smoothest’ school openings”

“Union’s Green Dot ‘adventure’ begins”
(In case you didn’t know, that’s a unionized charter school. Charter schools mean the demise of public education.)
“41,500 take advantage of 55/25 plan”
(Remember the trade-off was merit pay, and remember how they linked 55/25 to merit pay behind our backs.)
“Hard work by all pays off in improved graduation rate”
(If you buy into any of BloomKlein’s faked statistics and general dis-transparent accountability.)
“Public schools spared mid-year state cuts; property tax cap averted”

“Weingarten boosts Obama at DNC”
(After backing Hillary for a year and making power moves towards Washington on our paychecks.)
“Members urged: Join COPE now!”

“Finding meaning as a new teacher”
(Welcome to Disneyworld, where everyone's happy and finding meaning!!! Never mind the brutal attacks — nowhere mentioned— on senior teachers, especially those who no longer have position.)
“New teachers ‘thrilled,’ ‘excited’ — and ‘terrified’”
(As if one article for new teachers wasn't enough.)
“UFT, DOE laud school crime drop”
(Again if you believe BloomKlein statistics, which I guess they do, since it's the second article in this issue that implies as much.)
“UFT, allies fighting to protect, improve public pensions”

“Union makes recommendations on mayoral control”

“New early literacy curriculum to be tried at high-needs schools”
(That's the 3-yr pilot program the union is supporting.)
“UFT: K-2 testing pilot a ‘bad idea’”

“Union: Added [11.471] seats welcome, but mayor’s real test lies ahead”

A good year to teach!’”
(A fluff article about the HS for Civil Rights in East NY: Keep fiddling while Rome burns, I always say.)
“A perfect learning lab”
(Another fluff article about PS 266 in Queens, with staff in full throttle and smiling. And what about all the schools with MISERABLE conditions, like the ones squshed into the top floor of an existing school, or those with classrooms in trailers, or all those campus schools fighting each other for space and governance.)
“UFT shows new teachers a good — and informative — time”
(Again with the new teachers? What’s with this paper?)
“Are you ready to vote on Nov. 4”
(A reminder to vote, as if our membership, one of the most educated sectors of society, need a reminder to vote. It's condescending but relatively harmless. )
“P credits: Another way to earn differentials”

And now for the song, which I invite you to join in on at the top of your lungs:

Come all of you good workers
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

Don't scab for the bosses
Don't listen to their lies
Us poor folks haven't got a chance
Unless we organize!

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?


  1. I was quite shocked how much the paper seemed to praise the DOE. Where are the stories about how the union is handling the ATR problem or how many teachers in the "rubber room" under 3020-a charges were sent back after the UFT/DOE July 2 agreement?

    How about increased UFT attention to abusing principals? Not one article.

  2. You're correct, Woodlass. It has become a "rag". I used to read it when I was much more naive. It now goes, unread, straight to my paper recycling pile with the "Valpak" coupon envelope.

  3. I don't think charters need represent the demise of unions. Green Dot, however, seems to be a real scam. They unionize, but recognize neither tenure nor seniority rights. They have a "just cause" clause for dismissal in the contract, but without seniority rights, they can fire senior people whenever enrollment is down.

    Also, "just cause" in CA, where Green Dot is, is nothing remotely as good as tenure. I've yet to hear, though, that they've actually tested their "just cause" procedure, let alone whether it's actually protected any working teacher.