I have heard from teachers all over the system that they feel abandoned by the UFT leadership as the Common Core/education reform juggernaut finishes steamrolling over everybody.
ATR's, forced to live an itinerant work life as they move from school to school, have felt abandoned by the UFT leadership for years.
Chaz does a great job giving insight into the ATR existence at his blog.
Teachers who have been accused of wrongdoing by an administrator, have been pulled from their schools and currently languish in the rubber rooms that no longer exist also feel abandoned by the UFT leadership.
Francesco Portelos does a great job giving insight into that seemingly unending Kafkaesque nightmare at his blog.
But now teachers who haven't lost their full-time positions yet, haven't had their school slated for closure or haven't been accused of wrongdoing by the DOE are also getting some insight into how the UFT leadership fails to protect teachers.
From the sharp increase in "U" ratings at some schools to the systematic harassment of teachers by some principals and/or assistant principals to the dereliction of duty the UFT leadership has shown by happily abdicating the APPR/teacher evaluation negotiations to NYSED Commissioner John King to the failure of the UFT leadership to protect schools that have been set up for closure by years of neglect by the DOE to the UFT's hawking of the Danielson rubric as a great tool for teachers to improve when the 57 page rubric is absolutely unworkable in practice to the UFT leadership's failure to make sure the NYSED and the NYCDOE provided the resources teachers needed to get their students ready for this year's vaunted new Common Core tests, we have seen example after example of teachers being abandoned either individually or collectively by the UFT leadership.
I have written this before, but I will write it again:
The UFT leadership, through their failure to protect teachers individually and system-wide, through their refusal to articulate a coherent vision of the education system that counters the data-driven, high stakes test-driven corporate education reform vision, through the arrogance many in the leadership show when individual teachers reach out for help, has managed to politicize so many more teachers these past couple of years than I have seen politicized in 12 years of teaching.
I am under no illusion that Mulgrew and the current UFT leadership will lose this year's UFT elections.
They have finagled the election, creating just enough distance between Unity and New Action to make it look like New Action is a separate oppositional entity to Unity in an attempt to fool teachers looking for change into voting for the New Action slate (which actually is in cahoots with Mulgrew and the Unity slate.)
They've finagled the election in other ways, like giving a reliable block of Unity votes - the retirees - more say in the vote.
And of course they use the power of incumbency to minimize the only real opposition to Unity/New Action - the MORE caucus - or to push their own side. (For example, there have been reports of Unity propaganda showing up at official DOE school meetings and getting handed out with all the "official" paperwork.)
Despite all these advantages - real and manipulated - that Unity and New Action have for this election, I have also seen some people who I never thought would be politicized in a UFT election say they were going to vote against Mulgrew and Unity because they are sick of the way the leadership has abandoned teachers and schools.
This is just anecdotal, of course, but I see some really fed-up teachers out there ready for change.
I fully expect Mulgrew and the Unity caucus to win re-election handily, though I do hope they lose some percentages of support from the last election.
But I do see some signs of change on the horizon.
Whatever anger and frustration teachers are feeling now, they are going to be multiplied a hundred-fold after APPR is imposed on us by John King on June 1 and after Danielson become the official observation rubric.
This is why many in the MORE caucus say that, rather than disappear after the election as so often has happened for oppositional parties in the past, they are going to try and stay active with these issues that are destroying our school system, our schools and our careers.
I am glad that is the case.
Mulgrew and his cohorts in the UFT leadership are sowing the seeds of their own demise through their arrogance, their complacency and their refusal to take the DOE, the NYSED, the Regents or the governor on in the fight against the ravages of education reform.
Perhaps those seeds of destruction never blossom fully into serious problems for Unity and Mulgrew.
But I wouldn't bet on that because teachers have gone from feeling disheartened and fearful over the reform attacks to pissed off at the UFT for doing little-to-nothing to mitigate these attacks.
If Mulgrew and his leadership are not careful, they will have a rebellion from the rank-and-file on their hands that even election machinations, relentless propaganda and the powers of incumbency cannot save them from.