December 3, 2008

Building blocks

From the pen of Angel Gonzalez, one of the powerhouses behind the ATR protest Weingarten did her best to sabotage on the 24th but which took on a life of its own:
"The lack of information, transparency and open debate in our union denies member input into critical issues about pedagogy and historic union rights. An uninformed membership gives even a well-intentioned leadership free rein to function as it pleases. As the economy worsens, we need to take a strong stand in defense of the rights of teachers and communities, rather than to facilitate the erosion of all that has been built over the years."
You can read Gonzalez's whole column over at Ednotes, which Norm posted this afternoon just as I was writing up another example of how Unity keeps gaming the word democracy. It centers around Leo Casey's post over at Edwize on the ATR settlement, and before I get into that, let me just say that anyone can tell from the title where Unity's affections lie: "UFT, DoE Agreement Addresses ATR Educator Issue, Saves Money for Schools." They'll support the DoE's need to save money for schools all right, and throw career security for all union members out the bloody window. That stinks, and Norm is so right when he says "their idea is to give the union leaders a seat at the table while the rank and file gain little."

Weingarten's lost her way. She's been weakening the whole structure of the union for more than a decade, disinforming the membership, letting the abusive, misguided DoE degrade our profession and turn us into facilitators, and collaborating on simply horrible goals for the children entrusted to our care.

I don't like the new ATR agreement, and have already said so in my own column. It lays the groundwork for making tiers for tenured educators, and we don't need no tiers at this point. No one's tenure should be better than or different from anyone else's, but that's what they've agreed to. What we need is solidarity, and that message is not getting out to the rank and file. That's because Weingarten's not sending it.

In fact, none of the oppositional voices in the union like this agreement or the false notion of democracy Unity keeps hiding behind. And these people make up a substantial part of the fully credentialed membership. (We can discount the untenured thousands, since they're mostly too afraid to get involved with union at all at this stage in their careers and are in general too busy with grad school anyway.)

TJC thinks the agreement paves the way for firing ATRs and the membership needs to get educated. ICE member James Eterno put it through a strainer last Sunday on the ICE blog (a must-read), and various bloggers have been posting a fair amount all along on Unity's unrecognizable democracy. Examples can be seen in Ednotes ("That is why unless power within the union is shifted from the top, teachers will be given the illusion they are professionals but treated as drones"), on the ICE blog (pseudo-democracy), in NYC Educator (when only a quarter of the members vote, there's no check on Unity's tactics), and a couple of times already on this blog (here for how distribution and costs makes it difficult to get our message out and here for democracy or demogoguery).

It's funny how it's coming from all sides. In Weingarten's vision of labor unionism, totalitarianism is in and democracy is most definitely out.

Getting back to Leo's blog, here's the comment I tried to post:
Any union leader who backs this agreement should resign.

You people have created 4 kinds of tenure, which paves the way for throwing some of us under the bus in the next contract. That’s cause for concern or condemnation, but not for surprise: it’s the way you always negotiate our givebacks — incrementally, hoping we don’t notice.

This agreement only creates incentives to re-hire SOME of the ATRs back, the centrally funded ones, and Weingarten was very clever in her press release to avoid mentioning there’s more than one kind. She says there more than once that the DoE can hire “from the ATR pool,” avoiding any mention of the fact that there is no incentive whatsoever to hire back ATRs whose positions have been cut and who remain on the school’s budget.

So, here are the 4 kinds of tenure, though I’m sure you’re not losing any sleep over what you’ve done:
1. Tenured educators in real positions, paid out of the school’s budget.

2. Tenured educators in real positions, paid in part by central for eight years; principals get extra money the first year to sweeten the deal.

3. Tenured educators in provisional positions one year at a time, paid in part by central. Principals will get that extra cash only if they keep them on permanently. It’s like an auditioning for your job. Disgraceful that you allowed this.

4. Tenured educators who will remain ATRs, paid for by central or by the school. Obviously, the least privileged category: the teacher’s qualifications and years of service make absolutely no difference to anyone. In fact, the vets are worse off, because two-for-the-price-one hiring still flourishes citywide.

Comment by woodlass — November 29, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

When I checked it today, not being logged on, it seemed to have been removed: there were 6 comments, but not mine. Then I logged in and tried again. Oddly enough, it showed up just the way I wrote it, time-stamped and all. What's going on? Either it wasn't deleted properly by the site administrator, or they've devised a way to make you believe your comment is viewable (i.e., if you're logged in, you'll see it), but it really isn't. That would be a whole other level of deception I don't care to think about. I prefer to think it's just a technical glitch, and they meant to take it out entirely.

I want to take this opportunity to re-visit Edwize's General Rules for commenters. Keep in mind when you read these rules that Unity keeps proclaiming far and wide how democratic our union is. No. 8 below specifically says so, and nos. 4 and 10 imply the same. Then keep in mind how much money is going directly out of our salaries into theirs.

1. You should treat this form of discussion just as you would a face-to-face conversation. There will be no tolerance for foul language, abusive attacks or threatening of members or moderators, or any other form of harassment. If this rule is broken, you will be immediately removed from this blog. Proper etiquette and charity must be observed at ALL times by ALL users. Others here may be as adamant in their opinions and ideas as you are.
[While I did say that anyone who backs this agreement "should resign," it's only an opinion. I didn't use any foul language, and I would certainly be comfortable telling Casey face-to-face that I think he should resign. Even if I had said something a little more threatening, like: "Let's get these bums out of office!" it'd be like throwing a pebble at the Hoover Dam, a threat to nobody, and they'd all probably have a good laugh. That's actually the problem with the totalitarian structure they've built. They've made themselves impervious.]

2. If in the judgment of the moderators we believe that comments are frivolous and non-constructive, we will delete them.
[My comment was hardly frivolous or non-constructive. I think it is totally in the members' interest to know when tenure has been diluted, because the next step is tenure eliminated.]

3. If a moderator has declined your post, please drop that thread. Advice from the moderators that your post is inappropriate should be taken seriously. Your participation is desired, but a person’s right and desire to participate ends where it begins to violate the right and desire of others to participate and harms Edwize’s capacity to maintain a welcoming forum for all. If you disagree with the host or moderator you may appeal in the proper place at
[A forum for "all"? I object to this boldface lie. No need to check the dictionary definition of the word "all," we know exactly who "all" means to the Unity moderators, and it doesn't include the oppositional voices.]

4. All points of view are welcome on EdWize, with the following exceptions: EdWize will limit commenters to one comment a day if, in its sole discretion, the commenter is “trolling“: (We’re not trying to insult anyone it’s an actual term to describe an activity on blogs.)
["All points of view are welcome" — another boldface lie. And I certainly wasn't trolling. The whole agreement is pertinent to my career, having been an unplaced ATR — or a displaced teacher, if you like — for more than a year.]
a. Posts numerous times a day with the intent of dominating, re-directing or hijacking the thread.
[Not guilty.]; or

b. Posts numerous times a day and insults or calls other commenters names or repeatedly makes the same point with the effect of annoying other commenters.
[Not guilty.]

c. Cross Posting articles from other sites, from copyrighted sources or posting the same message to multiple threads is considered spamming.
[Not guilty.]
5. Obscene, slanderous, abusive, attacks, expressions of prejudice and bigotry, or use of profanity by any commenter will not be tolerated and will result in the deletion of the comment and the banning of the commenter.
[Not guilty, but I wonder if they notify you that you've been banned. I didn't get notified yet. It must be something like Guantanamo, where they accuse you and diminish your rights in secret. I'm going to post a favorable comment and see if I've been banned outright.]

6. Comments will remain editable for 20 minutes to allow the commenter to correct grammatical errors.

7. The first comment from new users automatically goes into the moderation queue.

8. The UFT is a democratic organization. However, since the Landrum-Griffin Act prohibits the use of union dues for internal election activity and since the union’s political caucuses run candidates for elective offices within the leadership, comments that argue for or against one political caucus or another will be removed.

[Not guilty on the 2nd sentence. As for being democratic, when does misrepresentation become fraud?]

9. Please use upper and lower case letters, as appropriate, for better legibility.

10. EdWize was built as an advocacy vehicle for labor and education issues, if you are a member of the UFT and need help in any way feel free to contact your borough office, or program directly, or send an email to

[Might do.]

Whether this particular comment of mine has been deleted or not, we all know Edwize for what it is: a Unity armband. But, does everyone?

Our first job will always be towards our students, but in this degraded union, we need to be talking to our newest colleagues as well, and to everyone else who's bought the Unity line.

After all, that's what education's all about.

1 comment:

  1. "You should treat this form of discussion just as you would a face-to-face conversation. There will be no tolerance for foul language, abusive attacks or threatening of members or moderators, or any other form of harassment. If this rule is broken, you will be immediately removed from this blog"
    In my experience, people who post such warnings are doing something to create some very negative emotions in people.