Skip to content

A question – de Blasio or Cuomo?

April 5, 2020 pm30 2:11 pm

Who took away Pesach and Good Friday – de Blasio or Cuomo?

There were reports that some districts were off for Good Friday. Turns out, untrue.

I have heard it said that, in court, lawyers should not ask a question unless they know the answer. Those kinds of questions elicit testimony, not information.

This is different. I don’t know the answer. I am asking a question to learn something.

Before I continue, I do not support Bill de Blasio. Once I defended him, but those days are past. I believe that when this crisis is over, his conduct should be examined, not because I dislike him, but because I believe his decisions showed callous disregard for life, and caused the deaths of New Yorkers. I think his behavior may have been criminal, and that he should be held to account for his crimes.

How did we lose the first two days of break?

Version I (UFT Leadership)

Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order on Friday, March 27. The order involved State funding for school districts, and the 180 day requirement – but the import was that public schools in NY State would have to stay open for remote learning from April 1 – April 15, even if they had scheduled breaks.

Monday the UFT leadership seemed ready to fight, but Tuesday March 31 announced that we are supporting the Governor’s order, and that we would be open for “family service and support” April 13 – 17. The same e-mail, over Mulgrew’s signature, also said “Therefore, UFT members will be off from Thursday, April 9, to Sunday, April 12, for the religious holidays.” Sounds like 4 days, actually 2, but “off” is “off.”

The leadership had trouble with its messaging, moving from rah-rah to we-did-not-want-this – but the content (open April 13 – 17, closed April 9 and April 10) was consistent.

Friday, April 3, just after 9PM, I got an e-mail over Mulgrew’s signature that began: “The schools chancellor has informed me that Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to keep New York City public schools open on Thursday, April 9, and Friday, April 10, even though those days are major religious holidays. I told him flat out that I disagreed with that decision, but the city is going ahead with it anyway. Under the state of emergency he declared in New York City, the mayor has the authority to do that.”

The leadership encouraged and amplified a tweet and facebook storm of indignation. I participated (including this blog post).

Saturday AM, with teachers already enraged, Carranza e-mailed us: “As the coronavirus pandemic persists in New York City, and social distancing remains an imperative for all New Yorkers, we must take a new approach to Spring Recess, originally scheduled for Thursday, April 9 through Friday, April 17, 2020. For the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers, the City and the State are in agreement that schools must continue to offer remote learning, including during days that were previously scheduled as breaks. As a result, our schools will continue with remote learning through the time originally scheduled for Spring Recess.”

Version II (Cynical)

Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order on Friday, March 27. The order involved State funding for school districts, and the 180 day requirement – but the import was that public schools in NY State would have to stay open for remote learning from April 1 – April 15, even if they had scheduled breaks.

Monday the UFT leadership seemed ready to fight, but Tuesday March 31 announced that we are supporting the Governor’s order, and that we would be open for “family service and support” April 13 – 17.

The UFT leadership spent a day going after members who challenged Cuomo’s decision on social media. They were avoiding conflict with a Governor with a 70% approval rating.

The same e-mail, over Mulgrew’s signature, also said “Therefore, UFT members will be off from Thursday, April 9, to Sunday, April 12, for the religious holidays.”

But Cuomo’s order had already taken away Pesach and Good Friday. There was no distinction between break and holidays.

Friday, April 3, just after 9PM, I got an e-mail over Mulgrew’s signature that began: “The schools chancellor has informed me that Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to keep New York City public schools open on Thursday, April 9, and Friday, April 10,…”

The leadership encouraged and amplified a tweet and facebook storm of indignation at de Blasio, even though this had been Cuomo. They directed it at de Blasio, whose incompetence and unpopularity make him an easy target.

Problems with Version I (UFT Leadership)

Every district* is closed.

The political convenience of attacking an unpopular mayor but praising a popular governor is obvious.

No one (including Cuomo and de Blasio and Carranza) has made a distinction between April 9/10 on the one hand, and April 13-17 on the other, except for Mulgrew. The Executive Order covers all days. Here’s NYS Education Department’s clarification:

Problems with Version II (Cynical)

If this were true, why hasn’t Carranza or de Blasio blamed Cuomo? Why did they wait until this Friday, over a week and a few hours after the Executive Order, to make a public announcement? They seem shifty and sneaky.

And de Blasio’s behavior HAS been abysmal. This would not have been out of character.

Discussion/What would be helpful

The UFT leadership had discussions with Cuomo. I wrote “negotiation”, but in a lawyerly trick an officer called that a lie (withholding that conversations, but not negotiations, had occurred). Knowing the content of those “conversations” would be helpful for understanding what had happened.

*Other districts. There are many districts in the state, and between direct contact, and surveying a representative sample on-line, all seem to be working the holidays. But a district that is closing for the holiday, even one, would be strong evidence that Version I/UFT Leadership is correct.

Anything in writing from the State, saying they were considering appeals or case-by-case exemptions to the Executive Order.

Anything in writing between the UFT and the DoE discussing/arguing/negotiating the 9th and the 10th.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: