Friday, December 17, 2010

Follow-Up by John Powers, UFT Chapter Leader

John Powers joined Unity Caucus in August 2009 and left in June 2010. John is a high school chapter leader in Coney Island.

Norm, Thanks. I'd like to add some thoughts about the DA and "demo" in the last post.

(The UFT Non-demo at Tweed, Ad Hoc Committee to Fight School Closings to Hold First Meeting Dec. 21)

1. Unity put out an article about our pensions that Mulgrew published in Crain’s magazine. Summary: It’s Wall Street’s fault and they should pay. Fair enough. How do we do it?????????????????????

2. Marjorie Stamberg made an amendment that called for a mass rally/protest/walk across the Brooklyn Bridge as a lead up to the Feb. PEP rally. It was a one-line amendment that in light of the assault on education and teachers here in NYC, was actually rather "conservative" and should have been approved by the Unity body. The amendment was full of merit because it would’ve raised the profile on “school closings” and helped build for a better turnout in Feb. It was immediately shot down when one Unity delegate rose and actually said the following: "I do not support the amendment because the original resolution is just fine." No argument. No reasons. Pure conformity. Pure party line with no substance or call for debate.

Mulgrew spoke about the amendment from the podium, which is something I believe is against "Robert's Rules." He needed to vacate the chair and come to the floor but didn’t. He said that the amendment would not preclude the UFT from holding such a walk across the bridge. YEAH RIGHT.

The other thing he did which he learned from Randi was to repeat back the words/language for amendments with a certain emphasis or lack of emphasis which is Unity code for “Don’t vote for this.” For example, a tape recording playback would reveal how his voice changed in tenor when he repeated back the phrase Marjorie used in her amendment: “escalating action” (That’s code for: “Look out, this is a crazy radical idea”)

2. The Disco Party Rally a “football field” away from Tweed: 12-14-10 @ 5:15
When the DA adjourned, I grabbed a UFT cap but declined the “glow sticks” that were given out. How much did these glow sticks that are handed out at kids’ parties cost? My sons love them. Not me. Not for a union demonstration. I was one of the first to arrive at the police pen set up for us a half a block away from Tweed.

Once again, I was assaulted by Disco Music (Gloria Gaynor’s I will Survive). I watched union brothers and sisters walk into the pen bopping and dancing. PARTY. OH YEAH. DJ spin those records. Let’s get this party started.

AM I the only one who thinks this is weird. I admit I am biased. I love rock and jazz and play the drums but I just find this so offensive. How about some heavy “symphonic” masterpieces? Or some other form of “informational entertainment” while the crowd gathers.

We are in a crisis!!! Mulgrew gave a short and powerful speech but he had to bend his arm all the way back to point to Tweed when he railed against those inside. But powerful words alone will not save the day.

I can’t help thinking how Unity continues to rewrite history and pins all of this on Bloomberg and Klein.

Isn’t it time to take ownership over the destruction of our high schools? The regimentation of teaching and learning? The lack of a clear message about what K-12 education should do and include in order to teach the whole child? No sense in going on and on.

This is why listening to Leo Casey’s tremendous speech earlier at the DoE about school closings ultimately falls flat. The DoE was helped by Unity.

3. Everyone should recall last year's PEP rally and the DA that preceded it. Mulgrew played the tough, labor union leader while Barr played the cautious negotiator. It went like this: Mulgrew: I want a circus of chaos at the Brooklyn Tech PEP rally. A circus of chaos. I want to surround the building. Barr: (15 minutes later) We want to do this right. We need to be cautious. We can't walk into any traps. (Translation: Don't listen to Mulgrew. We have to be careful about how the media perceives us. We don't want it to appear that the PEP rally at Tech was heavily influenced by the UFT. Holy Crud.)

You can expect the same thing for the next big PEP rally. Instead of educating all teachers at all levels about the closings and mobilizing them, Unity still wants to play "patty-cake" with the DoE.

Until next time,

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