Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why Won't Mulgrew Defend LIFO?

I just want to open with a cat report since our Unity/union official friend seems so anxious to get an update: no doody, no vomit. Now you can relax for the day.

I just watched Mulgrew on Diana Williams on ABC and wasn't surprised he wouldn't defend LIFO. He didn't at the DA last Wednesday and he didn't went he went to speak to E4E (I have to comment later on the E4E correct point about retirees voting in UFT elections). Instead he shifts the debate to not having layoffs at all or talks about class size. Not a bad strategy but ducking the LIFO issue when he has a platform to make a rational case does everyone a disservice. Why not bring up the Peter Lamphere case in a vast public forum? Does the fact that Peter is a long-time member of the opposition have anything to do with it? At the very least he should bring up Iris Blige.

Arthur Goldstein did a piece on LIFO at HufPo: merits of LIFO  and Peter did his own piece at Gotham: “Merit”? My Experience With Arbitrary U Ratings

Making the connection between political use of U ratings and LIFO should be at the top of Mulgrew's agenda. But it isn't and that avoidence is what puts him on the Randi Weingarten camp (see part 2 of our GEM TFA blogger's reactions to Randi's appearance yesterday for a sample of Randi doublespeak -Live Blogging from Teach for America 20th Anniversary Summit, Part 2 - Randi Weingarten).

I know people think Mulgrew is different - and later I may do a piece on my reaction to him at the DA where I also saw some differences - but more in style than substance.

Mulgrew also missed a chance to explain and defend the ATRs - which he did at the DA to the members - but doesn't really do when he talks to the public - I mean give the full case with facts and figures how these people are often covering real programs.

I left this comment at Gotham, a comment that is waiting moderation, so I'll reprint it here:
Is a democratic system of government always fair? There are all sorts if distortions. But can anyone point to an alternative. The same with LIFO. Not always fair to all but in fact is the only system that works over the long term. It is a system put in place well over a hundred years ago way before there were teacher unions  because of the corruption and patronage that went on.

Why would that change now? Just read Peter Lamphere's story in the Community section - he would be out of a job if LIFO ends. Then there's Iris Blige. But we can talk about hundreds of principals who would not make a fair and rational judgement.

Other principals I know absolutely support LIFO in spite of what it costs them.

By that I mean the fair funding formula which was designed to force principals to get rid of the highest paid teachers. I have a simple way to eliminate that as a factor - go back the old system of not charging a school for the costs of teacher salaries. There can be no LIFO modifications until that ends. But you will never see that happen because that is the very reason for the Fair funding formula in the first place and it reveals the entire intention behind the move to end LIFO.

I was at a school the other day as a speaker and a 4th year teacher told me she supported the idea of LIFO but also doesn't think it fair for her to lose her job while she can point to people in the school who don't pull their weight. A fair point.

But let's drill a bit. First, she has no guarantee that the principal sees it the way she does. I had a principal who favored people who sucked up to her - to her that was pulling the weight.

Secondly, as a 4th year teacher she already had a buffer over teachers with less seniority than she has. If she is laid off LIFO seniority rules should protect her when people are called back - though I don't know how this would work in reality. In 1975 when there were massive layoffs, most people were called back within a year or two - and in the order in which they were laid off and at the salary that were making.  Teaching at that point became a tough job to get.

In fact, you will never find everyone working to the same capacity in any job - I know young lawyers at big firms who chafe over the seniority that goes on - there are forms of LIFO in almost every profession. My wife was at a hospital and even among doctors, the longer you are there the more perks you get. There are also all sorts of politics that keep certain people around while more competent people can't get ahead. What do you think goes on the police dept - and these guys have guns - no one seems upset that a young cop might be cut to keep a vet who may not have the ability to chase someone down in the street anymore. To make teachers the focal point is just part of the general assault on public education - to ruin teaching as  career and replace them with a cheap, transient force. As Ravitch points out, there are 4 million teachers in this nation - do they think they can work on the Peace Corps idea? 

Has the uft has made any of these points amongst all the other defense of lifo arguments so many bloggers are making?

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