The UFT and the DOE: Reflections On A Deal Gone Bust

January 17, 2013

When the email proclaiming no deal between the DOE and the UFT arrived at 2:00 in the afternoon or so I could scarcely believe my eyes.  I suspect that there were many teachers who felt the same  way.     For days I was expecting to arrive at tonight’s Delegate Assembly   to protest what many (myself included) had believed to be a long ago done deal, one inexplicably validating the pseudo science of Value Added Metrics, (VAM) and one rammed into reality without the consensus of the dues paying rank and file whose careers and lives would sure to be hugely affected by it.  My suspicions were made much greater after reading the repugnant post of one Peter Goodman, a retired teacher in no way affected by the evaluation plan, who nonetheless attempted to paint those who opposed the plan as nothing less than Tea Partiers whose small minds failed to realize that the UFT had to please not only the rank and file but Mike Bloomberg, the sleazebags of DFER, and even Michelle Rhee.

Goodman, it was said, was merely a mouthpiece for UFT leadership,

Good God, I thought, is this the true thinking of the UFT?  Needing to please the very forces that have made no secret of their desire to eradicate the very idea of union from human consciousness?  Can it really be this bad ?

With thoughts like this in mind the email at 2:00 came as a jolt —  a jolt that also came with a long over due and unfamiliar feeling of pride in the UFT.  Here they stood up to the venal little bastard in City Hall after all.   Yippie!  Michael Mulgrew even went so far as to publicly call Bloomberg a liar —  six times, he said.

About time, I thought.

When I arrived at UFT headquarters   I encountered something I never  imagined  possible:  a line to get in to the DA that snaked two blocks up Broadway.  Seemed like every chapter leader and delegate in the city had arrived  — but to do what?  There was a strange and almost giddy feel in the air when Mulgrew at last arrived (to great applause) to speak about what happened.

There was, apparently, a deal said Mulgrew,  but Bloomberg being Bloomberg imploded it at the 11th hour.   Mulgrew clearly lamented Bloomberg’s maneuver and spent a lot of time explaining what he felt was good about the plan.  The foolishness of the initial buying into Race To the Top and the presence  of the aforementioned error ridden Value Added Metrics (now apparently called “growth”) were never mentioned.

Little by little the air went out of the balloon.

I was happy to see the thing torpedoed but I have no illusions about the lousiness of the state of things as they are.  Wind up with a psycho principal (a reality I am all too familiar with even if I do not live with it now) and you can kiss your career goodbye and there is nothing the union can do about it.    Such is the reality after a decade of capitulations to those who live to destroy you.

I’m glad I was wrong about the UFT standing up to Bloomberg and his allies.  I’m glad to see it happen at the very moment the bus drivers have gone on strike and further expose this man Bloomberg for the union busting pathological monster that he is.  I was glad to see the smiles on the faces of my long-suffering colleagues.  But I have no illusions that what transpired in the past 24 hours is anything but a brief respite in a war of life or death.  I would like to think it could signal a new beginning but I can’t quite believe that.

I would love to be wrong about that as well.

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