Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mulgrew Writes A Letter - I Respond

I got this letter from UFT President Mulgrew this morning:

Dear colleague,

WE NEED YOUR HELP TODAY in the ongoing battle to prevent devastating school budget cuts and avoid layoffs. Right now in Washington, the Senate is considering $15 billion in emergency education funding as part of an appropriations bill. This important assistance, which the House has already approved, includes billions to avert educator layoffs, maintain core academic programs for kids, and help disadvantaged students receive the assistance they need to attend college through Pell grants.

Without this help, we are facing an education catastrophe that will directly affect the quality of our students’ education: larger class sizes, shortened school days and weeks, and the elimination of summer school and other education courses and programs.

The House has found a way to pay for this package through a series of cost offsets, and now it’s up to the Senate to make sure that the funding remains intact as part of the final supplemental appropriations bill. When it comes to preventing school cuts and layoffs, small sacrifices from other programs isn’t too much to ask. (It is deeply disturbing and disappointing that a Democratic administration would threaten to derail a bill supporting jobs and education because of those cost offsets, but that threat is very real.)

The time to act is NOW. Congress must move swiftly to approve this aid, and must not alter the bill’s underlying provisions. Please call your senators TODAY through the AFT toll-free hotline at 866-327-8670. They will connect you with your senators so that you can tell them to stand up for education.

Thank you for helping us keep the heat on Washington!

OK, it's good to see the UFT (and since you know Mulgrew takes his marching orders from Randi, the AFT) is pushing back against the Obama administration's refusal to cut RttT money and use it to keep teachers employed.

The Obama administration would rather use the RttT money to close schools, fire teachers, and create data-tracking systems that will enable school districts to collect and collate student test scores and fire more teachers in the future.

But the infuriating part about all of this is, why haven't they been fighting back against the Obama administration's education policies before this rather than acceding to them and saying "Well, at least we have a seat at the table"?

Because we don't have a seat at the table.

Obama and Duncan do not give a shit what unionized teachers or parents or students or professional educators think about public education.

They only care what their little education deform cohort (Rhee, Klein, Bloomberg, Gates, Broad, et al.) think.

So when Mulgrew writes "It is deeply disturbing and disappointing that a Democratic administration would threaten to derail a bill supporting jobs and education because of those cost offsets, but that threat is very real," I say that


Instead they threw their hands up in the air and said stupid stuff that sounds like this:

“We have to recognize that with Obama we have a voice in the decision-making, they listen to us,” said Earl Wiman, president of the Tennessee Education Association. But he added, “Mostly what we’ve seen out of this administration is a top-down, put-your-thumb-on-somebody kind of philosophy, and it’s aroused more frustration around federal education policy than I’ve ever seen.”

OK, that's an NEA guy saying that, not a AFT'er, but we have heard plenty from Randi, Mulgrew and company about how this administration listens to us unlike the last one.

But it's not true.

I dunno if they are actually listening to anything teachers, parents and students are saying about their policies, but I CAN tell you, they're not hearing anything that they don't want to hear.

And what they want to hear is - fire teachers, close schools, open more charters, privatize the public school system, add standardized tests to every subject at every level, track scores, hold teachers "accountable" for those scores, pay teachers according to those scores, use those scores to fire teachers.

There is no common ground here.

There is NO reason to support this administration or any Democrat who buys into deform policies.

Instead the unions must fight for their very survival against these pro-privatization politicians and their ilk from the Gates and Broad foundations.

So it is nice to see Mulgrew and Randi finally take a step against President Hopey/Changey and his ed deform policies, but it is not enough.

Not nearly enough.

They must tell Hopey/Changey and all the Dems on board with his ed policies that they will work AGAINST them come November 2010 and 2012 if they continue with these destructive, short-sighted policies.

I am under no illusion that the union leadership will do this.

Apparently since Rahmbo and some of the other Obama political operative scum take their calls they still operate under the delusion that they have influence with the Obama administration.

But they have no influence with the administration.

The only influence they have is to organize and fight against Obama, Duncan, and the rest of the ed deform Dems.


  1. Problem is, though, who do we work for? At this point, I will absolutely not vote for these Dems, but it appears our alternative is the GOP.

    Best case scenario is Dems start again to fight anti-labor GOP--much better would be pols that actually represent us.

  2. One of my favorite bloggers, Atrios, always says we want to fight for more, better Democrats.

    The ones we have now fit the "more" part, but not the "better" part.

    Dems are scared shitless right now that they are going to get hammered in November. They ought to be. The economy is worsening, perhaps sliding back into recession or even worse, unemployment is going to ramp up heading into the fall, the market is tanking again.

    Dems need to have their core constituency come out and save them come November or it really will be a 1994 slaughtering all over again.

    I have been calling and writing my NJ Dems and having my friends write their NY Dems to let them know TEACHERS ARE PISSED as a result of Obama's RttT policy and if they support the policy, they will NOT be getting our support.

    The hedge fund managers may pay them in campaign contributions, but they aren't going to vote for them.

    Those guys vote straight GOP.

    So why in the world Dems turn their backs on a core constituency in order to suck up to the hedge fundies and other ed deformers is beyond me.

    But it is incumbent upon us to point out that those folks are NOT going to vote for them and if core Dem constituencies do NOT vote for them either, it is going to be a rough couple of years.

    Perhaps this will bring some Dems around.

    I doubt it. But at least we can let them know.

    As for the admin, sorry, they have got to go. No compromise there. They are ALWAYS going to Sistah Souljah teachers unions and get their pals in the media like Alter, Brooks, Thomas et al. to carry their water.

    Fuck them. And it is good to call and tell them that too.

    At least you'll get to vent.

  3. You need not apologize for their having to go. I don't disagree. I'm not sure hedge fund guys vote GOP, particularly after they've bought and paid for perfectly good Democrats. What I am sure of is they constitute a much smaller group than, say, teachers, and their votes are not what makes them a force to be reckoned with. It's the money with which they buy off folks like Andy Cuomo.

    Better Democrats, yes. Throw the bums out, yes. But my main point is the alternative to Democrats is Republicans, who don't exactly make me jump up and down either.

  4. Let us say traditionally hedge fund managers and the rest of the Wall Streeters vote straight Repub. Turn on CNBC and watch Larry Kudlow or the Fast Money traders and you'll see what I mean. Yes, some are more socially liberal and they may be more open to neo-liberals like Clinton or Obama(our friend Whitney Tilson would be in that camp) but many sound exactly like the WSJ op-ed page. That's been my experience, at any rate. it is true that Obama, Schumer and others have reached out to the Wall Streeters and made pals, but some of that was a result of just how awful Bush was too.

    As for Repubs not exciting you, yes, it is true that in the short run they will make things worse (God knows, things are so bad now, it's hard to see how, until I think the words "President Palin"), but if they teach Dems a lesson about how they treat core constituencies, than maybe that would benefit both us and public education in the long run.

    The key is for Dems to take the right message from a Nov trouncing. I bet they'll take the "Obama overreached and was too liberal" message (even though he has been oh so corporate friendly it is not even funny) and become even more center right.

    Hope I'm wrong. But I bet I won't be.

    Which means, maybe it just doesn't matter who the fuck is in - the multi-nationals win.

  5. As someone who was skeptical about Obama from the beginning, and believes the teachers unions should use his and the Democrats vulnerability to wring major concessions from them on education (a guy can fantasize, can't he?) I don't want this to come off as any kind of apology for him.

    Nevertheless, as NYC Educator writes, we face a real dilemma. While Obama is responsible for many of the political and economic problems he faces, many of those who oppose him are not only enemies of his liberal corporatism (since it's not sufficiently slavish to business, and because they are moved to apoplexy by racial panic) but of constitutional government altogether.

    In addition to the privatization of the public realm (schools, Social Security, prisons, war-making, etc.) that is upon us, we also face replacement of our atrophied political system with a rabid, racist mob mentality, easily manipulated by financial and media oligarchs.

    While it may not be the best historical analogy, keep in mind that in 1933, the Communists allowed Hitler to take power, so convinced were they of his political insignificance, and so hateful did they find any common cause with the Social Democrats. The weak and compromised liberalism of the Weimar government didn't look so bad in retrospect.

    Heaven help us all if a charismatic Republican emerges to bring full-fledged corporate fascism into power; there will be few if any benefits for the likes of us.

    As awful as Obama's big picture moves have been, the fact remains that, when in power, Democrats tend to appoint people who at least believe in the mission of the agencies (NLRB, OSHA, EPA, the Courts, etc.) they are appointed to oversee, and can make some incremental gains or at least temper the worst corporate avarice. Obviously, Arne Duncan and RttT fly in the face of what I've just written, but I don't think negate it altogether.

    I know this may sound dangerously close to an apology and rationalization for Clinton/Obama/Weingarten/Mulgrew-style political triangulation, which is not my purpose. Still, how much better off will we realistically be if the Repugs get control of Congress? Yes, we will have vented, and taught the Dems a lesson (which they will promptly forget), but then where will we be?

    As teachers, we have to first educate our colleagues, and then the populace, to simultaneously push for a real progressive agenda that focuses on rebuilding the concept of the Public Good, while not spitefully helping to open the door to the fascists who really are out there.

    Yeah, I know, that's a tough one.

  6. Points taken, NYC and Michael.

    But what do we do?

    Vent at Dems and support them anyway?

    I can't.

    Just can't.

    I know what happened in 2000 could have been prevented had some people who voted for Nader voted for Gore.

    I know that not supporting Dems this November could cause worse problems in so many ways.

    But in good conscience, I cannot vote for any Dem who has supported RttT nor is supporting NCLB Jr.

    I also cannot vote for Obama in 2012.

    As a former very actively involved Dem, I keep writing both the national party and the WH to let them know how I feel re: RttT.

    Dunno if they care, but at least I feel like I am making some effort.

  7. The political analysis thus far on this thread is thoughtful, intelligent, and grounded in a will to do what is right within the political/social/economic/military system as it is presently constituted.

    That is the problem.

    In unions such as the New York City UFT, there is no leadership and it is no union as such. Those who are collecting salaries to dress up in suits and fob teachers off represent no one other than their own greedy, selfish, conscienceless, materialistic selves. This is true for many so-called unions.

    The nation's Democratic and Republican parties are two peas in a pod. Just as many of the unions need to be decertified and dismantled, so do most folks purporting to govern us need to be sent packing.

    Short form: the citizens of this country need to establish a catastrophe, which means a complete overturning of things as they are now.

    Unions, education, government . . . will not be fixed, nor even improved, if they are suffered to continue to breathe.

    They will not be changed from the inside or outside. They must be swept away.

    People of conscience, compassion, intelligence and humility can then provide leadership.