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Briefly on the DA and the New Teacher Evaluation Plan

May 13, 2010 am31 6:44 am

Last night’s Delegate Assembly was an hour or so of President Michael Mulgrew reporting on the plan. This was followed by some debate (I lost track of the clock, but in the range 20 – 30 minutes). After the vote, there was a brief report on budget.

Unity called out all the guns. They prepared heavy spin in advance. Leo wrote a fact sheet. They gathered objections, and had Mulgrew reply to them without them being asked. Howie Solomon and Michael Mendel spoke from the floor.

The discussion was of three types:  Unity supporting the agreement, a few speakers opposing it (I’ll get back in a moment), and a lot of questions about how the agreement would work.

That was interesting. Mulgrew avoided talking much about tests (part of the hard spin), but there really are a gazillion nagging details. As this thing goes into effect, those of us who oppose it will need to decide how to look at implementation:  how will these details be worked out?  It was at times hard to tell what is in the agreeement (need to find and read the actual language) as Mulgrew artfully stepped between what it says, what it guarantees, and what could be possible.

Another side note:  Mulgrew was genuinely impressed with Steiner (he talked about Tisch, as well). I will write more about the guy. He’s smart, knows education, knows what he is talking about. And I think he’s moving New York State from one bad direction smack dab into another. (I don’t mean this current agreement).

It turned out that New Action’s leaflet was the only “anti” piece of literature I saw circulating. Marjorie Stamberg had a pair of resolutions. There was other literature focused on the budget cuts.

In the discussion, Marjorie spoke early (and didn’t get to introduce her resolution, which, honestly, did not make much of a difference; it was essentially a call for a NO vote). Peter Lamphere from TJC spoke clearly against, making 3 or 4 strong points.

ICE was conspicuous by its absence from both the debate and the literature. If I did not recognize them sitting there or standing in the corridor, I’d have thought they disappeared. But they haven’t. NYC Educator showed up at Gotham Schools (ICE’s favorite charter supporters) to denounce…. (the agreement? no)… to denounce New Action. Usual mishmash of half-truth and at least one complete lie.

In the end, Unity got their 90% or so of the vote, with only the committed voting against it. It did seem that there were a lot of delegates sitting on their cards, more declining to vote than usual. The tests, the open details, these things make people nervous. And for good reason.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2010 pm31 10:39 pm 10:39 pm

    I don’t know about ICE being absent — not that it really matters, since the election is over.

    I’m ICE, and I stood up and asked a point of information about why Mulgrew didn’t give us more notice with this resolution. After all, they have our emails and could have sent us the resolution and the Q and A’s at least the night before. They wanted to do this in secrecy, and they achieved that. Secrecy from Klein and secrecy from the membership.

    Marjorie Stamberg has certainly worked with ICE in the past, particularly during the beginnings of the ATR crisis. John Powers, who also tried a point of information, attended ICE meetings for a while around the time he was spearheading fight against the GHI merger. You already said that Peter Lamphere of TJC made strong points; TJC shared a slate with ICE in the past three elections. So, for as short a discussion as that was at the D.A., and for as small a caucus as ICE is in comparison to the gazillion members who rubber stamp whatever Unity wants, that’s a pretty high percentage of speakers associated with ICE in one way or another.

    What people don’t seem to understand about ICE is that the group is just what the name says: an Independent Community of Educators. Even if it can’t win seats in this extraordinarily undemocratic union, it is an amazing think tank that has taken on some of the most important teacher issues we face these days, mostly in opposition to Unity but not always.

  2. May 18, 2010 am31 7:48 am 7:48 am

    Yes, you raised a point of information; I forgot it in the sea of Points of Information that came after…

    (PoI can take precedence over the next speaker, to it can be used to grab the floor for an instant. It is not to supply information… which is what many of the delegates were trying to do… but more of an attempt to ask for clarification on the matter at hand… And so, with ‘regular’ delegates and Chapter Leaders iffy about how using test scores would play out, and in the body, having heard “Point of Information!” shouted successfully a couple of times, it became a veritable chorus)

    But “people who once worked with ICE” is not the same as ICE. TJC had a leaflet (directed to budget cuts) and a speaker. New Action had a leaflet directed against the new teacher evaluation system. ICE? Not having much to say outside the election period is not a positive thing.

    And it’s not personal, but sometimes it seems that way (in the other direction). “Independent” seems like a routine excuse for “irresponsible” on the part of some of your associates.

  3. May 18, 2010 pm31 5:58 pm 5:58 pm

    If you equate being “independent” with being “irresponsible,” I’m afraid we’re not speaking the same language.

    I did not know of the new evaluation system until the D.A. on 5/12. Mulgrew himself said he negotiated it in secret and only handed out the explanatory materials during the course of the meeting. I’m not sure how I could have produced a leaflet if I had wanted to, nor even understand why you value doing it at such short notice. Surely the vote was rigged anyway, because that’s the way Unity works. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that with the chokehold UFT managers have on the democratic process, none of the opposition groups have to produce ANY leaflets at ANY time! All Unity has to do is continue to negotiate in secret, manipulate Robert’s Rules, stifle debate, change the meeting place, offer retirees dinner, and use similar dissent-suppressing tactics and they get passed whatever they want.

    The best ICE, TJC, NAC or any of us individually can do is speak up when we can, publish when we want to, and hold onto our integrity for dear life.

    And I don’t have to remind you that more than one ICEr (or ICE-leaning person) has a national readership, either on their own blogs or as a guest writer. Who needs to distribute 500 copies of a leaflet once a month at a DA — 450 of which will most likely be thrown away without even being read — when the opinions of such educators, unionists and activists are read weekly by thousands of people.

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