Has UFT Leadership stopped censoring T*#^@&’$ name yet?
The headline in the NY Teacher (online, January 19, 2017) reads: “DeVos flunks first test”
But more interestingly, in the first line: “Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. education secretary…”
In fact, Trump’s name and actions have been popping up in UFT and New York Teacher stuff since the New Year. But that was after an unofficial moratorium since the election. Over a month of the UFT leadership avoiding his name.
Are we there yet? After two months of confusion? cowardice? caution? is the UFT Leadership now ok using his name, or is it not?
We are worried here. Two stories.
On the UFT Website, a new article (last week?), with a fascinating title: “Mike Pence & Betsy Devos: The Threat to the Nation’s Public Schools”
I’m not making this up. Go look. You can see his name once, as if he were tangentially connected to the people he appoints. Who let this get published like that? What warped mind doesn’t say “you know, any member who reads this is going to think we are complete idiots, or that we are totaled scared of Trump, and neither of those is the best message to send just now”?
Right after the election, remember those days? Remember how scared so many kids and adults were in school – worried about the future? Worried about tomorrow? Worried about women’s rights? LGBTQ rights? About deportation? About harassment by thugs? Violence by police?
Anyway, this story is then. Right after the election Unity leadership brought New Action and MORE a resolution about the atmosphere of hate that Trump’s candidacy had generated. I signed it. Exec Board voted it up, unanimously.
Then the leadership e-mails. Someone wants to change it. They don’t even say who. Here’s the language from the e-mail: “Several executive board members asked that we amend the resolution. The presidential campaign has provided the current tenor in this country, and the resolution below addresses those concerns.”
But look at the change they wanted:
WHEREAS, president-elect Donald Trump targeted communities on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and displayed abusive behavior toward women, has threatened the nation’s promise that all people are worthy of respect; and
WHEREAS, president-elect Donald Trump has outlined an education agenda overtly hostile to public schools and teachers, promising to prioritize vouchers and charter schools at the expense of public schools ; and
WHEREAS, the presidential election targeted communities on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and displayed abusive behavior toward women, has threatened the nation’s promise that all people are worthy of respect; and
WHEREAS, the presidential election has outlined an education agenda overtly hostile to public schools and teachers, promising to prioritize vouchers and charter schools at the expense of public schools ; and
They didn’t even have the decency to say they were taking out his name.
To their credit, they allowed debate at the next Exec Board. And they took responsibility for making the change (the e-mail says “several exec board members” – I called them on it and the Secretary corrected it to “the leadership”). But every argument they made was an argument against ever endorsing a candidate. And they voted, party line, to keep his name out.
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I wonder why they did it. My first thought is that they had not allowed the AFT to vet the reso, and that the AFT wanted to play footsie with the Trump. Certainly the Bloomberg era taught has how susceptible Weingarten is to not very subtle flattery, and we know how little Casey is to be trusted. But no, the AFT had one cautious statement, and then started using his name. NYSUT, right off the bat was critical. So this was the UFT. Maybe pressure from the pro-civil rights in Washington but not in my neighborhood wing of Unity Caucus old-timers? Possible. Or maybe some half-baked idea that calling Trump “Trump” would alienate conservative UFTers (but without much logic – if they could be turned off to the union for a political stance, that would have been the Hillary endorsement). Or maybe it was just cowardice. If we stand up, we become a target. Silly, of course, because being a union makes us a target, no matter what we say about Trump.