Sunday, December 18, 2016

Does De Blasio Care More About Sustaining Ed Deform Attack on Teachers Than in Sustaining His Mayoralty?

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is seriously on the ropes. Every day, seemingly, there are scandal stories published in the city's daily tabloids. (The New York Times largely ignored his mounting scandals until this fall, when the troubles grew too large to ignore.) Just Google <de Blasio donations scandals>, and you will see innumerable stories on what looks like pay to play, with real estate developers.

So, de Blasio is in trouble. He is highly vulnerable to a challenge. You would think that he would value having support from the city's unions. Yet, de Blasio has done little to part from Mike Bloomberg's war on teachers. He did slow down Bloomberg's closing of schools, but in terms of the working conditions for teachers, the Department of Education is continuing its attack on teachers posture.

In fact, the New York Times, once reticent to acknowledge his financial impropriety (or appearance thereof) issues, suggested that city unions might consider a challenger. From "For Unions and New York City Hall, an Open-Door Relationship Turns Complex":

In the case of 1199, which represents 220,000 workers in New York City, the union figures prominently in two health care deals under investigation as well: a federal inquiry into the sale of Long Island College Hospital to developers in 2014, and the lifting of a city-imposed deed restriction on the Lower East Side nursing home, known as Rivington House, which was subsequently sold to a developer planning to build luxury condominiums.
Now, with Mr. de Blasio’s approval numbers sagging below 50 percent and the possibility of a re-election fight next year, the city’s powerful public and private unions — which apart from 1199 did not rally around him in the fractious Democratic primary last time — are beginning to consider whether to stick with an embattled mayor or risk abandoning their champion to back a challenger.


Teachers see from many examples that they know of first hand in their schools, and now on the ICE blog. The latter carries a report, "Randi Holding Fundraiser for Mayor de Blasio While AFT Members in NYC Including My Wife Suffer under Mayor," (referring to American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten's sponsorship of a de Blasio fundraiser) of administrator harassment of a teacher at the Campus Magnet complex in Cambria Heights, Queens. The harassment is suspect because the teacher is a seasoned veteran. The blog says that the UFT is helping, but the DOE and its administrators get away with this; teachers see that the admins get away with this scot-free, and this all sends a chilling message to the teachers witnessing the attacks-- that there are no standards of admin decency, and further that they can get away with attacks on activists. Clearly, the admin attacks on Ms. Eterno are also an attack on teachers' workplace advocacy, as she has been a chapter leader at the school. The UFT needs to make a more serious effort against the abusive administrators. Ironically, under Weingarten the union ran a column in its paper on Administrators in Need of Improvement. The UFT under successor Mulgrew needs to end its concern for making nice with its supposed "sister" union, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA); it needs to put the welfare of its own members before its relationship with the CSA admin union.

De Blasio first ought to recognize that these attacks make for an unhealthy environment. (The Campus Magnet situation, with its principals Ateyiwa and Cruz in need of improvement, is not alone. Note these other cases in the Queens high schools alone.) But for his self-survival he ought to be concerned, very concerned. The teachers see very clearly that he has hardly been an improvement over the previous mayor. De Blasio secondly needs to be concerned that he is living in a new environment. Not only do teachers read in the blogs of the harassment that his admins get away with; but now he needs to realize that in this era of social media every Facebook user is virtually a micro-blogger --that the story of administrator venality tolerated by the mayor will snowball through "Likes" and "Shares" into wider negative publicity and will hurt his popularity.

Bill de Blasio is seriously suffering. His poll numbers are sinking. Potentially challengers are appearing. The scandal stories are so serious that even the Times is paying attention.
The imbecilic UFT leadership will support him no matter how bad things get. But other municipal union leaders see through his insincerity.
“There is a self-righteous hypocrisy about de Blasio,” said John Samuelsen, the president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents city subway and bus workers. Mr. Samuelsen criticized the mayor for, among other things, his support for bringing a Wegman’s grocery store to Brooklyn Navy Yard, even though the chain does not use union workers. (He also clashed with the mayor over the plan to restrict horse carriages to Central Park and ban pedicabs in the process.)

He needs all the friends he can get. Bill, keep tolerating Farina and her minions' attacks on teachers and you will be a one term mayor. Your affinity for sustaining the Bloomberg era attack on activist teachers and teachers approaching full pension years suggests that you are just another pro- neoliberal education reform Democrat. You need to make a decision: will you side with the reformers or do you seriously want to get reelected.