April 23, 2009

Reading between her lines

It's getting harder and harder to listen to Weingarten plod through her President's Report at the Delegates Assembly each month just to eat up time.

Because that's what it's all about: eating up time — so she doesn't have to deal with any tiresome member complaints and horror stories coming from the chapters.

Weingarten could say everything she has to say and still have loads of time left if she'd just write it all down for us let us read it. 5 minutes, 10 at most. Not the hour we have to sit listening to her, and listening to all the puppets she puts up to convince us she's doing a great job fighting the fight. Ho very hum.

The only way to get through her reports is to keep track of some of the crazy things she says, which is what I did at yesterday's meeting.

According to Weingarten, the UFT is the "voice for the voiceless." Yes, she says, she's "out to protect our money," but the UFT is also the "safety net for the most vulnerable."
Silly me, I didn't know I was paying dues so that she or the union could be a "voice for the voiceless" or a "safety net" for the most vulnerable. I thought my dues were for some job protections.

[ALERT: There's a new Norm's comment in the comments. He's right, of course.]

Come to think of it, though, if anyone is the most vulnerable at this point, it's the veteran teachers and the probationers
, and I can't see how the UFT is being a voice or a safety net for any of these people.

Weingarten also said it's the main job (or most important job) of the union to protect children. If someone wrote down those exact words, I'd love to have them verbatim. It's hard for me to believe she hasn't yet figured out what her main job is as president of a teachers' union.

Weingarten then tried to say that her goal is to be the person whom BloomKlein and the rest of the politicians "can focus their ire on," instead of the members.
Cracky. Ask any ATR, any maligned chapter leader, or any of the many members in the rubber room for no cause if they feel BloomKlein is focusing its ire on Randi Weingarten. Most of us think she's making deals with them all the time. And if you need proof of that, look how many times we hear about something way down the line when it's no turning back and the delegates so-called voice is just a rubber stamp.

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong here, but Weingarten seemed never to have heard of TAGNYC — the Teachers Advocacy Group NYC — since she referred to it as an "organization called TAGNY," and pronouncing it Tag-nee.
TAGNYC is one of the most articulate teacher activist groups in the union, and for starters, you can read the testimony they put into the record at the recent Mayoral Control hearings. If she meant the TAGNYC I think she meant and mispronounced its name, it speaks volumes about her callousness towards the members.

In response to a complaint that older teachers are being really hurt and marginalized, Weingarten responded professorially: Well, this kind of thing is going on across all professions nationwide.
Trouble is we're not looking for a sociology lesson here. Compassion would be far more appropriate. Steaming mad would be the best — angry enough to really go to the mat for us.

A person behind me rightly remarked at this point that if such a trend for youth existed and that's all Weingarten had to say about it, maybe the president of this union should be replaced by a 25-year-old.

In response to a complaint about not being able to remove Letters in the File by grievance, Weingarten said she couldn't think of a single substantive thing that couldn't be changed with the Todd Friedman arbitration.
Darn it. And I thought she actually knew about the lies being allowed to fester in teachers' files. Surely she knows there's no vehicle to get these malicious letters removed, and surely she knows that once upon a time when we did have the right to grieve these things, principals tended to use their power of the pen a bit more judiciously.

No one's saying the Todd Friedman arbitration hasn't done some good, but it only works when you can attack a contractual violation. Then part of the remedy is to remove the offending LIF. But I'd venture to say most LIFs these days contain a potpourri of misstatements, distortions and downright lies. There's no way we'll be getting these out any time soon.

If anyone has any more of these RW "messages" from yesterday's DA, I'd love to keep a record of what we're dealing with here.

And I'm starting to get why she doesn't ever put her President's Reports in writing. Who'd want this doublespeak out in the public domain.

[For a full report on yesterday's DA, read James Eterno's detailed account on the ICE blog.]


  1. Hey hey, ho ho! Randi's got to go!!

  2. Woodlass:

    Good job in countering Randi's disinformation speech.

  3. Woodlass [reporting Norm's take on this]April 26, 2009 at 8:43 AM

    Here's what he told me:

    "You lay out the strict trade union line. I do think the union should fight for children. Even with a strict trade union concept, they are our raw materials. And better health care and social services make our job more doable.

    "On the other hand, Randi does not fight for children. That is just another line to read through. She really loves what you wrote in that it is the image she wants to project to the world. See what a brave union leader and so reform minded? She suffers the slings and arrows of people like Julie [at the last DA] to protect children. A real hero. [See ICE-blog for the incident Norm's referring to at the DA.]

    "But Randi's all talk on that too. Her protection of children comes down to helping them remove teachers that THEY have determined. She promotes the line and the lie that teacher quality is the key. She appeals to TFA and charters as her future constituency."

  4. I never said the Union shouldn't fight for children. I said that Weingarten specifically referred to it as the union's main, or most important, job. I didn't write down the exact words, but remember being shocked when she said it.

    My priorities in this struggle go in this order: my job, the children, and teachers. (I don't fight for admin unless they're nice to me.)

    Weingarten got elected by a teachers' union to fight for the membership. We're paying for her to do this. If she feels obligated to fight for the children first, let her become a social worker or child advocate. If that's where her heart is, she'd probably do better at that than half-heartedly campaigning for educators.

  5. Criticsm of Weingarten comes in various flavors. I will try to spend some time analyzing these various trends at another time. But in fact most of it is correct no matter where it comes from. She does nothing to make things better for children or teachers - what better way than to make class size reducation a priority - not with words or expensive petition campaigns but with real action?