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Reorganization agreement – a comment

April 22, 2007 pm30 9:57 pm

At the March Delegate Assembly, Randi Weingarten spelled out at length the problems with the proposed reorganization. Two days earlier, Joe Colletti gave a perhaps more detailed description of the effect the changes would have on funding.

I took a few things away from their remarks: Bloomberg and his Chancellor are targetting public education in NYC. This is bad for teachers, among others, but the teachers are not the primary target. In response to a question, Joe talked about the teachers who might be directly affected, and identified this as a small group. I was not convinced that he was completely correct, but his answers were certainly thoughtful and well-reasoned. He was quite concerned with the damage they would inflict with their version of weighted student funding.

Randi’s remarks two days later were broader in scope. She ran through the different aspects of the reorganization, and asked the Delegate Assembly to approve a rally (May 9) to oppose it. Her speech was wonkish, and drew weak applause. She regrouped, tried again with more emotion, and got a rousing endorsement for May 9.

Did we get the DoE to include us in decision making, and then forget about the threat to public education, and the creeping privatization of our school system?

(More, beneath the fold –>)

Edwize has had running commentary on the reorganization for several months.

Now here’s what gets me: except for the teacher pay issue, which hits some of our members directly, all this reorganization was aimed at disrupting or privatizing the system. They are bringing in contractors to run the equivalent of small districts (PSOs)? They are empowering schools (which means contracting out support services to private firms) (ESOs)? They are commoditizing children (FSF)?

So we are angry that they didn’t talk to us, and we are angry that they are targeting public education. But this agreement has not addressed the stuff aimed at damaging public education (based on the summary and discussion I have seen).

So what are we getting that we did not already have?

  • An agreement that a principal will not lose a higher-paid teacher’s salary when that teacher leaves. That doesn’t benefit us, although it does aviod penalizing schools with more senior staff. It actually gives principals who are strapped incentive to encourage senior teachers to leave.
  • No school will have its budget cut for the next two years. And after? I have a kid who just turned down a college… financial aid was fixed, but tuition was likely to rise.
  • Extra funding for ELLs and Special Ed. Good. But why in the context of weighted student funding? Don’t we know better? We’ve had long arguments against this framework on Edwize, for example in this article: Weighted student funding-100% questionable, and here, and here, and here.
  • Fair Student Funding? We’ve won a task force, empowered to make recommendations….
  • Class size? They have to consult with us. We didn’t need this agreement to force that. And they still decide.
  • Tenure? No changes for a year, then the UFT will participate in the process of developing changes. Huh? Why are we changing tenure?
  • The rest doesn’t even pretend to deal with reorganization. Middle school reform (we’ll work on a pilot program). Parent engagement (a committee to study…. Mister, can I use the bathroom? It’s possible. Let’s organize a committee to study that). A commitment (a commitment!) to improve college and career preparedness, graduation rates and college admissions.

What happened? Perhaps I have details wrong. But perhaps our negotiators were so focused on getting the DoE to include us in decision making, that we forgot about the threat to public education, the creeping privatization of our school system.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2007 am30 12:35 am 12:35 am

    I agree completely. And the thing about tenure, well, by agreeing to no changes for a year, aren’t they agreeing to changes after a year? I forget where I read this, maybe in the Times, but the agreement actually contains some clause that Bloomberg will comply with the class size legislation, as though it weren’t altogether nebulous to begin with, and as though he had the option not to comply with legislation.

    It seems like the city plans and we don’t.

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