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Rating the August 13 UFT Town Hall

August 15, 2020 am31 11:44 am

Technical – calls seemed to have gone out on time. Some people needed to dial in. The audio quality was fine on my end, though several callers complained about theirs. They had trouble connecting some questioners, and lost at least one partway through the question.  I did try pushing the question button, and got silence, not even a “the queue is full” message. Overall the technical side was ok. It was certainly far better than the May DA. Grade: B

Pace – it seemed to me that the amount of light banter (which for people who want to ask questions is frustrating) was reduced from July. Honestly folks, it only makes one or two questions difference, but I get that you want to move ahead. Mulgrew had a longer opening report, but only slightly. My count had the number of questions drop from about 30 to about 25, which makes sense with the slightly longer report. The number of long, rambling answers was about the same, but that may have been intentional. Grade: B+

Clarity – some answers were quite clear, but many were not. There were veiled threats of doom and gloom when there should have been explicit discussion of what the city and state have already proposed. There was a direct question about teaching assignments, asking if we have an agreement in writing. Direct questions from members should have direct answers (even if the answer is “it’s complicated”). There was none. I did not get much clarification on what is actually happening now. The lines between what the UFT thinks should happen, what they’ve raised with the DoE, what they’ve agreed with the DoE – these were all left very fuzzy. There was also some weirdness around lunch – is it instructional, or not? is Mulgrew’s message “things must be safe” or “given that we are going in, this is the best we can do as far as safety”. Not clear, but I think there was a reason.  The only thing that was VERY CLEAR: the UFT’s leadership wants schools to open in September if they can be opened safely, but that is not where things are now. Grade: a very generous C

Big Message – This was clear:

the UFT’s leadership wants schools to open in September if they can be opened safely, but that is not where things are now. There was lots of info about how the UFT officers and staff are rushing to address the outstanding safety issues, and making progress, but we are not there.

This was completely the wrong message. Less than one month out, with a host of really serious safety issues unresolved, with scheduling issues unresolved (and probably unsolvable), and with bumbling counterparts in the DoE, the message should have been “It is now clear that we must go fully remote in September. We have changed our approach to get us there, to allow parents to plan for it, and to allow you in the schools to start preparing”.  Only the emphasis on safety saves this grade from being lower. Grade: D

Overall: Having the wrong message and not speaking clearly to members are big, big problems. I’m glad the phone lines work. If this were the July Town Hall, it would have gotten a B or B-, but it is August. There are less than four weeks left. This was not ok. Overall Grade: D+/C-

For those of you curious, here are three sets of minutes (I know there are many more floating out there).

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