March 6, 2010

The UFT — the "lions of treachery"

Don't you just love it when our own union gets giggly happy over designing new ways to evaluate us?

Just look at that smile over there on the right.

That picture was circulated in the Chapter Leader Weekly this week, with a caption that read:

"Enthusiasm was in the air at UFT headquarters during the March 3 kickoff for the Measures of Effective Teaching Project, a two-year study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in which volunteer teachers will help create objective and reliable measures of effective teaching."
It's not enough that the city hires grad students, calls them "teachers" the first year on the job, and uses them to kill tenure and push veteran members out of their jobs. The UFT accepted that. It talks a good game, sure enough, but it's positioning itself beautifully: when we lose tenure and the ATRs are all fired, they can claim it's not their fault.

And it's not enough that know-nothing administrators — sometimes unsuccessful, unmotivated, or unlicensed teachers before they jumped into admin — get absurd freedoms to evaluate us. The UFT accepted that too, and even gave up the right to grieve the truly wicked stuff.

And it's also not enough that the Steve Brills, Nick Kristofs and so many others of the capitulating press continue to heckle from the sidelines, passing off the EdDeform press releases as if they were real news. The UFT buys into the same jargon just as much as the press. It took them way too long to reject the profound deception of the school report cards and faulty test data.

Now the UFT has signed on big time to the new Gates project on teacher evaluation.

When I first heard about this project in the fall, I thought Bill and Melinda were just bored in bed and looking for a way to spice up their sex life. Why not hit teachers again. It was fun last time when we destabilized the system with those new small schools.

But I'm clear now, thanks to the NY Times Sunday magazine article, which says the reason they're spending big bucks on teacher evaluation is because Bill's just "personally very curious." It's nothing to do with sex at all.

As I write this, Ednotes is posting something on the same article.
Next day, he writes this one.

We learned about the UFT involvement in this project months ago, when a ripple of shock went through the Delegate Assembly as Mulgrew announced it. Not much of a ripple, it's true. Unity delegates were by that time comatose or running on automatic.

The union's total commitment to both Gates and EdDeform can't be more clear in the article describing the project in the Dec. 11th issue of the NY Teacher. :
Another Gates focus is teacher quality. The foundation would pour $500 million into three to five “deep dive sites” around the nation, including big urban districts, which will act as laboratories for new ways to measure teacher performance and better link it to tenure and salaries. It will pay for research on using data systems to measure student and teacher performance.
More horrifying is this other paragraph talking about the November event at which Gates unveiled his project:
Invited were such lions of education reform as New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, his Washington, D.C., counterpart Michelle Rhee and Bush Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, along with top advisors to President-elect Obama and AFT/UFT President Randi Weingarten.
This is not the outside press. This is our union rag calling Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and Margaret Spellings "lions of education reform."

In my experience, calling a person a "lion" of something is a compliment. The term is never used to describe someone's antisocial accomplishments. Take George Bush, for example. I hate what he did to the US Constitution. It was a massive offensive, but I don't go around calling him a "lion of Constitutional reform."

I see no reason for our union paper to call Joel Klein a lion of anything, except that he eats red meat and takes no prisoners.

You can blame Mulgrew for this new collaboration with Gates — and you must — but don't forget Weingarten, who's a one-woman steering committee at the national level.






  1. I believe the number of disenfranchised UFT members is, if not at an all-time high, close to it. Yet in my conversations with these members, of which I am one, there is an overwhelming sense of resignation, as Unity has become a paper "tiger" (pun intended) and the ICE consortium is too weak to effect any real change. I believe the way to really shake up the status quo is to encourage the opting-out of payment of dues, in effect resgning from the union. I know this is pretty radical, and I don't want to see the total disintegration of the union. Yet I do want to see a change in leadership and ideas, and perhaps this could be a starting point. Ideas/comments?

  2. to teacher,

    I hear your concerns and I truly understand your feelings. At one of Leo Casey's meeting, a C.L. was so upset with the closing of so many schools, the unnecessary paperwork, and the growing number of ATRs, she told Leo that she plans to tell her members to withdraw from COPE. Leo was uneasy with her statement, but it was obvious how it did stir him.

    Maybe that's the route we might have to take or at least give warn the status quo of those intentions. I don't our union to fall apart, but the ed deformers are already tearing us into pieces.

    I would like the following blogsite to be passed on to others. Diane Ravitch and Juan Gonzalez were recently on Democracy Now. She speaks about Obama's continuation of NCLB with his focus on increasing charter schools. Diane clearly states that reason why charters is not the solution to reforms in education. She also mentioned that the obsession of testing is nothing else but "institutionalized fraud". Here's where the UFT's mantra of DoE's Mismanagement should be replaced with those words.

    Please Under Assault if you can post this on your website, too.

    Saturday, March 6, 2010
    Diane Ravitch: No Child Left Behind Has Left US Schools with Legacy of “Institutionalized Fraud”

  3. Re the Lady in the photo with all the teeth who just stepped out of Colgate Toothpaste commercial:

    As she ropes in another well meaning idealist who surely cares about children, I wonder if Ms. Teeth also has informed this poor Soul what will be expected of her if she has any hope of surviving in the "New Order" that is rapidly taking over Education in America ?

    Has she handed her a copy of the new play book and the new rules of the game ?

    That is to say, all new teachers should be aware you surrender not only all your First Amendment and similar Constitutional Rights at the schoolhouse door. But much more than that.

    You also surrender all your self respect, your sense of simple Human dignity and your sense of self worth. Regardless of your educational background and experience you are henceforth just a file number, a living creature who will be worked to death and be consumed and spat out by a faceless, heartless system long before you ever get within a million miles of your lofty and grandiose promised Pension benefits in old age.

    Has Ms. Colgate informed this woman that she should expect to be used and abused by people young enough to be her daughter and/or even grand-daughter. Has Ms. Teeth explained to this poor woman that any original and/or creative ideas she may have regarding anything and everything will be treated as worthless and not worth listening to and that her only expected function in the New Order of Education will be to serve at the whim of others, to expect to accept without complaint and on a daily basis- the slings and arrows of sadistic and clinically pathological bullies, both male and female, who feed off and get off, on inflicting pain on others and watching them squirm and grovel incessantly in the desperate hope of not being bullied even more and perhaps- but just perhaps, attaining that precious "S"- for satisfactory- rating at year's end.

    That is to say the rating that will allow that teacher to return to the school in the new term just so they can start the above process of victimization all over again.

    In an economy that is rigged for anyone but the Masters of the Universe, would it be more kind of me to not explain to those just starting out in Education just what they are getting into when there are so few jobs out there to be had at all.

    Is it kinder to hold my tongue in the new era of privatization of America's school systems and hope that a small, a very, very small, infinitesimal number of the new idealists, (of which I myself was one, so long ago in another time and place), going into Education today will manage to find ways and means to survive and last long enough in the "Lion's" steel barred cages to maybe, just maybe, inspire the next Paul Robeson or Martin Luther King, Jr. or other similar "pathbreaker" who comes along once in a generation to lead the world out of its Darkness.

    The NYC Dept of Education has been illegally withholding my checks since last September in the hope the mounting lost wages, which have now approached the Fifty Thousand dollar threshhold will convince me that continuing with my NY State Education Law 3020-a Teacher Trial is not worth the financial havoc the Trial is costing me.

    But what would my four decades of students from every school district in New York City, think of me if they saw me capitulate to the Evil that "King Klein" and his lackeys and stooges represent- yes you know who I mean-- that driveling, sniveling, prevaricating, bullying, pathetic, Legend in his own Mind, Joel Klein, Esq. who, is it not fair to say, speaking of the new "Lions", is the most cowardly "Lion" of them all.

  4. I'm rushing to school now, but 3:16: I don't think it's possible to opt out of dues paying.
    Anon., I'll get to the Ravitch book shortly. Had to do marks this weekend. Thanks for the push.

  5. no opt out on dues. Agency shop.
    cope withdrawal? union makes it tough.
    best strategy? ask for card to change cope amount and reduce it to a nickel.