“For months Andrew Cuomo attacked teachers and public schools. Now, with his support at record lows, so-called education reformers and their billionaire backers are running TV ads trying to rewrite history. But we know the truth.
“Cuomo wants to pile on high stakes testing, privatize classrooms, and divert money away from public schools by giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy.”
“Governor, New Yorkers agree: Put politics aside and put our kids first.”
First off, UFT President Mulgrew already declared victory after the budget:
The United Federation of Teachers on Sunday night declared victory in an email to its members, writing that most of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Draconian agenda” had been turned back by state lawmakers.
“Now all of our hard work is paying dividends,” the teachers union that represents mostly New York City teachers wrote in the email to members. “The governor’s Draconian agenda has, in large part, been turned back. We want to thank the Assembly and the Senate for standing up for our schools and school communities.”
It turned out that the governor's draconian agenda had not been turned back, that he had, in fact, gotten almost everything he wanted in the budget (including higher weight of test scores in evaluations, merit pay, school receivership for the state, tenure changes and certification changes), but that didn't stop Mulgrew and the UFT leadership from doing what they always do and declaring everything a victory.
This came after Mulgrew and the UFT gave Assembly Dems the okay to vote for the budget while NYSUT leadership told legislators not support the education provisions:
ALBANY — State lawmakers raced to finish work on New York’s budget Tuesday amid simmering resentment over Gov. Cuomo’s education reforms - which opened up an unusual rift between the city and state teachers’ unions.
City teacher union president Michael Mulgrew angered NYSUT President Karen Magee and her team after he put out a statement Sunday night - before the education bill was even in print- claiming victory in beating back some of Cuomo's more strident proposals, sources said.
While Magee urged lawmakers to reject the education measures, city lawmakers said they were told by Mulgrew's team that voting for the package would not be held against them.
"They just weren't on the same page," said one legislator of the two unions. "The issue between them was whether to strike the best deal they could or whether to oppose it outright."
Then came the opt out movement, which the NYSUT leadership supported but Mulgrew and the UFT leadership criticized.
And we got UFT functionary Peter Goodman blogging how the new Cuomo APPR evaluation isn't so bad and Randi Weingarten, Mulgrew's mentor, retweeting that post.
This is not to mention that when the time to really fight Cuomo was at hand - during the election - Mulgrew and the UFT did all it could to help him out without looking like they were helping him.
When the Working Families Party was fighting over whether to put Cuomo on its ballot or give the nod to Zephyr Teachout, Mulgrew and the UFT ensured that Cuomo got the nod by threatening WFP with financial dissolution if Teachout were nominated by WFP.
When Teachout's running mate, Tim Wu, had a really good shot to knock off Cuomo's running mate, bank lobbyist Kathy Hochul, Randi Weingarten took to the air with robocalls for Hochul, helping her beat back Wu's challenge.
Now, after all the help Weingarten, Mulgrew, and the UFT have given to Cuomo, both before his re-election and since by barely fighting against his agenda, they send out an ad that's hard-hitting and calls Cuomo on his attacks.
It's too little, too late and useless for anything other PR for people not paying close attention - which is emblematic of nearly everything the UFT and AFT do.
Norm at Ed Notes called them a company union yesterday in a post.
Looking at how this re-election season and budget process unfolded, I think you can make a very good argument that is the case.
First the AFT and UFT ensured Cuomo would not have to face a third party challenger in November by threatening WFP with financial ruin if Teachout were given the nod, then helped ensure Cuomo would have his running mate, the bank lobbyist, instead of Teachout's running mate, the law professor, win in the primary.
When it came time to fight Cuomo's education reform agenda, they did just enough to make it look like they were fighting it without effectively fighting it.
Then they gave the okay to Assembly Dems to vote for it even as NYSUT leaders were saying not to.
The time for the tough ads attacking Cuomo, the really tough ones, was before the budget was passed, not after.
Alas, now that the battle is over and Cuomo won big time, the UFT trots out the attack ad.
Maybe that will fool a few rank-and-file that the UFT is fighting Cuomo.
But it doesn't fool those of us who have paid attention to this fight and have seen with our own eyes how they helped Cuomo out at critical junctures to ensure he got everything he wanted.