On Friday I decided it would be a good idea to have a forum in which both sides of the contract proposal are examined. I asked my friend Julie Cavanagh if she would be interested in presenting the con side, and she agreed. I went to my principal and asked if we could use the school auditorium. He said if we got a permit and did so after school hours it was fine.
I then happened to be speaking to Geoff Decker from Chalkbeat NY, and he offered to moderate if we could find a time to fit his schedule. We envisioned either that a panel of him, me and someone pro-contract to select questions from the audience. We wanted to do something balanced. I asked my district rep, who said this would have to go before a UFT officer. So I wrote the following email to Janella Hinds, UFT VP for Academic High Schools:
We are trying to organize a forum on the contract, and are thinking about doing it next Thursday afternoon at FLHS. My committee would get a permit, and anyone who wished to co-sponsor could help pay. We think it will be between 100-300, depending on how large a room we use, with auditorium at 300.
We envision a pro and con speaker, equal opening and closing statements, and questions from the crowd taken by a committee consisting of one pro, one con, and one non-partisan, perhaps Geoff Decker of Chalkbeat NY. We envision giving each speaker equal time to answer each question.
Do you think UFT would be interested in participating in such a forum?
NYC Educator reports that thus far, there has been no response from the UFT leadership.
Now to be fair, the email went out on Friday and chances are, many of the UFT leadership were already well into their weekend cups and unavailable for response.
But I for one would like to hear the UFT leadership agree to the public debate of the contract proposal - and if the UFT leadership are so sure this proposal "scrapes the skies" it's so good, they ought to come to the public debate and demonstrate it to the rest of us.
As NYC Educator wrote:
If they have such great faith they've made a good decision, it behooves them to subject it to the sunlight of reasonable scrutiny.
If it's such a great deal, why wouldn't they jump at the opportunity? If we bloggers and opponents are spouting myths, as UFT President Mike Mulgrew repeatedly told the DA last Wednesday, why doesn't he grab this, a golden opportunity to demonstrate it?
Here's hoping the UFT leadership takes the opportunity to publicly debate the pros and cons of the contract proposal.
But I won't hold my breath waiting for this to happen.
A union leadership as top-down autocratic and Stalinst as this one isn't big on submitting to public scrutiny or debates they cannot control.