Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Update: NYSUT Vote on King: Iannuzzi - 1, Mulgrew - 0 / King/Tisch Declare War on ELA Students

Update: King and Tisch have moved the high-stakes test war on children up a notch. This makes the struggle against King/Cuomo and against Mulgrew all the more urgent. Scroll down for the analysis.

Yeah, OK, so the vote reports nowhere say this is Iannuzzi v. Mulgrew. However, inescapably, the vote represents a repudiation of what New York City teachers union United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew represents. This is a hopeful hint of shifting winds to come, in the coming battle between Mulgrew and Iannuzzi.

To remind readers, perhaps lost amidst other stories, there were reports of a major event this weekend, the NYSUT board of directors vote on president Iannuzzi's vote of no confidence against New York State Education Department Commissioner John King, as reported in EdNotes and in Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet column at the Washington Post.

King Jeani XIV, "I am the State Education Department"
The vote set out a vote of no confidence against John King. We can recall no instance of Mulgrew point-blank criticizing King. Rather, the nearest we see is a tepid whine that teachers' Common Core problems will be solved by a beefed up curriculum.

Teachers in New York City and New York State must recognize that there are profound flaws in Michael Mulgrew that are vociferous defenses for the indefensible policies of John King. Perdido Street did some extremely important compilations of old posts that quintessentially capture the nightmarish betrayals that Mulgrew committed against the teachers of New York City. NYS teachers and their representatives would do well to study those missteps with the most exacting attention. See "Oldie But Goodie: Mulgrew "Frightened" By Opposition To Common Core," "Another Oldie But Goodie: Michael Mulgrew On Why John King Was A Great Figure To Impose A NYC Teacher Evaluation System," "And Yet Three More Oldies But Goodies: Michael Mulgrew Defends John King's APPR Teacher Evaluation System."

Update: for an excellent analysis of the behind the facades significance of this battle, see the analysis at the ICEUFT blog, MAKING SOME SENSE OF THE NYSUT LEADERSHIP SPLIT.

Why should NYS teachers and representatives care about what Michael Mulgrew or his proxy Andy Pallotta say or think? Pay close attention to what Mulgrew said for months last year: apologies for some of the worst policies that are destroying teachers' working conditions and their spirits. Reading Mulgrew's words, aren't you unsettled by what Mulgrew did in New York City? Would you for a minute risk his disastrous policies' being shoved over to the rest of New York State?

Heed the words of teachers that quit the profession or write poetry over the destruction of the teaching profession that they once loved. From this blog, last June: "Surveys: teacher morale at record lows; when the profession "no longer exists"; 2013-2014 for NYC teachers under new evaluations"
Given the pressures, is it any wonder that we are seeing plaintive "I Quit" postings on the Internet and on videos going viral? --video resignations like that of history teacher Jerry Conti of Westhill High School (see at right, and see his letter republished at Huffington Post about how testing and number crunching means that the teaching profession "no longer exists"), and the western New York state teacher that penned the "I am a teacher and I am tired" poem, published at the NYSUT blog site. Even principals are quitting over the over-emphasis on tests.
And which teachers union leader clearly has been the figure that has been committed great damage to the teaching profession in New York State? Hmm. Make no mistake, Saturday's NYSUT board vote was not just a repudiation of Comm. King but also a repudiation of Mulgrew who has not stood up to John King in his worsening of teacher working conditions.
Never forget: Mulgrew supports Cuomo. This is a major political point of political dispute between Mulgrew and Iannuzzi. Read on the political urgency to stop Cuomo: The Prime Directive: Stop Cuomo in this post.

 * * *
The prospect of a Michael Mulgrew takeover of NYSUT is ominous for another reason: the fundamentally undemocratic essence of his caucus, the Unity Caucus, which has dominated the UFT for the last 50 years. How can there be democracy in a union body dominated by the Unity caucus, considering the second clause of the Unity caucus' infamous loyalty oath? (Thanks to NYC Educator blog for publishing the oath.):
The Unity caucus loyal oath:

  • To express criticism of caucus policies within the Caucus;
  • To support the decisions of Caucus / Union leadership in public or Union forums;
  • To support in Union elections only those individuals who are endorsed by the Caucus, and to actively campaign for his / her election;
  • To run for Union office only with the support of the caucus;
  • To serve, if elected to Union office, in a manner consistent with Union / Caucus policies
    and to give full and faithful service in that office; 

  • Imagine this caucus controlling the state union. It is bad enough already that they control the city union.
     * * *
    You know the scene in "The Pianist" when the Germans are in Warsaw, with tanks relentlessly pounding apartment blocks? One blast right after another.

    I could not help but think that this is what King and Tisch did with the ELA exam this week. I don't have time to summarize. The story is excellently discussed at NYC Educator here and at Perdido Street here and here.

    The ELA Regents test was brutal --a brutal blast. The percentage of students passing will be a record low. What on earth is going on in the minds of King/Tisch? Have they no conscience? Thousands of students will not get their diploma because of this. You can envision that many will get demoralized and not bother to try try again in future ELA Regents.

    Think of the state tests last spring and their results. A merciless tank blast at students. Think of the students engaging in self-injury.

    Make no mistake: the Regents are declaring war on New York State's schoolchildren.
    It might take a few years to replace the Regents and the Common Core. But New York teachers have a moral duty to go against this madness at every opportunity.

    Mulgrew has said NOTHING directly critical of King/Tisch. By contrast, we are seeing growing discontent from Iannuzzi and his allies. The coming stand off between the two is a battle with high moral stakes. Teachers are duty-bound to support the Iannuzzi side to reverse this sick trend in education. Parents, citizens, support those teachers and teacher locals that are backing Iannuzzi and opposing Mulgrew. This time it's personal. Your children are at stake.

    Additionally, the episode of this week's ELA Regents is a shining example of what is going on in high stakes testing. New York City teachers, parents, concerned citizens, there is an important forum this Saturday on the upper west side on the issue of high stakes testing, More Than a Score: Talking Back to Testing, co-sponsored by the MORE UFT caucus and Change the Stakes. (February 1, 2014 at 11:00 am – 3:00 pm Edward A. Reynolds Westside High School. 140 W 102 St., New York , New York 10025) Attend the conference, get informed, get active.

    The children are at stake.

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