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Threatened Cuts to Education Demand a different Response

April 30, 2020 pm30 1:54 pm

Trump and McConnell won’t send money to the states.  What does that mean for our schools?

Cuomo’s first pandemic, he’s treating it like a candy store during a blackout. And not like Mario who would have been helping out the storekeeper, Andy’s helping himself. Who raised him? Dumping Bernie from the ballot, getting the Working Families Party off the ballot (the way he tried before, but a judge saw through his illegal scheme), promoting the interests of his big donor pals (his reopening committee is over 50% businessmen, mostly big business.  And no teachers. Out of 116 people. Except for Dennis Walcott, who I don’t think counts). He’s cutting medicare! But his deepest cuts:  to localities, which will be universally, schools.

And then, outdone as usual, but still trying, bill de blasio. He and his chancellor have proposed an unconscionably high level of cuts to the schools (which will be cuts mostly to the classroom) while maintaining wasteful contracts, bloat at Tweed, unnecessary levels of administration, and lawyers (lots).  He’s keeping money where it can’t help kids, and taking it from where the kids need it.

And central administration is less useful than usual. Teachers (and principals) figured out various ways to do remote teaching. Most of it functions, but not so great. A lot of it sucks. We had to do this under pressure, because we had to run “classes” – and when we noticed mistakes, we had to try to make corrections under pressure. And Central’s contribution? Failure to distribute IPads (and why IPads instead of cheap laptops?). Banning the most popular platform (that they had let us train ourselves on). Announcing a new much-anticipated grading scheme, which accomplishes almost nothing, except annoying us. And handing out resources for remote teaching THIS WEEK, to teachers who are knee deep in remote teaching.

Central administration has been late, has been incompetent, has been an impediment. But Carranza thinks they are vital.

And back to Cuomo and de blasio, which one of these two is responsible for siphoning off public school money to privates and charters, when there’s not enough for public school? Not to let Trump and De Vos off the hook – but today they are in a position to turn off money – not force anti-education policy changes (wouldn’t they wish).

The threats today are massive. They are coming from all three layers of government. Cuomo points at Trump, but at the same time he kicks us as hard as he possibly can. Trump in turn is performing for his base, who delight when he turns on New York. And de blasio? I can’t even.

That is why our response has been so massive? But what response?  I see some newspaper columns. That’s not enough, guys. This is not business as usual. Where are the petitions, the campaigns, the phone calls, the email drives? Where are the virtual phone banks getting members and parents involved?  Where is the outreach in solidarity with the rent cancelation and tax the billionaires community groups? Where is the recognition that this time is unlike any we have experienced.

Where is the semi-threatening potential job action language? (even if you would never follow through). Well, we have that, in the form of pronouncements from leaders. But has there been any preparation? Any involvement of membership? Any sign that the membership will be mobilized, for anything?

The strength of a union lies in its potential for collective action. We must begin to wield this power. The threats today are far greater than at any time since you became teachers. You need to toss “business as usual” out the window, or allow someone else to lead.


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