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Reorganization agreement – what now?

April 28, 2007 pm30 11:59 pm

A few days ago I wrote:

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. (post is here)

I was disappointed that the agreement the UFT (and a parent/community coalition) wrested from the Mayor did not address the one item aimed directly at teachers (a funding formula that will make it hard for senior teachers to transfer – and those in closing schools must transfer). Arguably the only real gain was a related piece of funding that keeps many schools from taking hits the first two years.

(read more beneath the fold –>)

Tenure

Folks, the UFT secured a seat at the table when the City starts to try to tamper with it again. I heard informally that we will be there to prevent changes to tenure. Now, maybe I heard wrong. But if I heard right, it’s time to talk about another problem we face: how do we prioritize and organize communication with our own membership? How do we get clear, accurate information to our membership in as timely a way as possible? And do we understand the difference between communicating with members on the one hand, and communicating with the DoE, the papers, the City, the State, and Important People on the other?

All that most members know about the new agreement and tenure is “The UFT will participate in the process of developing any changes.” * Speak to the membership clearly, and promptly. This fact sheet language is not acceptable. I don’t care if our leaders deceive the Post or the governor. But our members? No. No “nuanced” statements. They harm our organization’s credibility.

It sounds like we negotiated the right thing here. But UFT central fumbled by not sending a clear, complete message to the membership. This must be remedied, prominently, in the next UFT Update (to Chapter Leaders) and the next New York Teacher (to everyone).

Privatization

This is the core of the reorganization. It is not aimed at teachers in particular, but at the entire school system. Of course, teachers lose as they continue to privatize. We goofed on the implication of charters. But we understand the meaning of empowerment (privatize ancillary services), of PSO’s (privatize support services), of school-based budgeting… So what’s the response? The May 9th demonstration was cancelled. I should mention that I was concerned about the event. I don’t want to call a major demonstration and have a so-so turnout, which is where I thought that this one might have been headed.

What next? The coalition we built with parent/community organizations, we need to hold it together. The anti-privatization message must be clear. And pointing out just what Bloomberg’s Chancellor is doing must be as well.

Do we have a Labor Day parade in September? That might be a good time to test our ability to bring out members. The Action Committee will meet again, soon. They will plan the next step.

And this is the one area where we really gained something. Being held to no cuts in school budgets for two years means the DoE can’t fully implement their school-based budgeting. Maybe they didn’t really mean to… but we’ve taken away the option, for now.

Transfers

This is where we are getting hurt, directly. I will address transfers in a separate post.

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