Thursday, July 11, 2013
Randi Weingarten's Legacy That Has Made Teaching In The NYC Classroom A Minefield.
There is little doubt that teaching in the New York City classroom has become an increasingly hostile experience under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellors Joel Klein, Cathie Black, and Dennis Walcott. However, much of the blame must be laid on the doorstep of our ex UFT President, Randi Weingarten. The great appeaser. Under her destructive tenure as head of the UFT she eroded the rights of her members and allowed the DOE to impose programs that were damaging to the classroom teacher.
Let's start with the erosion of teacher "due process rights" under 3020-a for teachers accused of
incompetence. Until 2000, a teacher accursed of incompetence would go before a three member arbitration panel to determine the penalty. The result was the teacher would usually get a compromise verdict and keep their job. However, Randi Weingarten negotiated with the DOE and agreed to have only one Arbitrator review the incompetence charge and many teachers found themselves terminated. Moreover, in the same 2000 agreement the teacher had no choice in the assignment of an Arbitrator while teachers in the rest of the State have the right to refuse the first Arbitrator offered to them. In 2002 she allowed the Bloomberg Administration to have Mayoral control of the schools that has resulted in a "rubber stamp" PEP that echos the Mayor's policy.
Then there was the terrible 2005 contract that further reduced teacher "due process rights" and caused the ATR crises. Rather than describe the problems associated with the 2005 contract. Included, is a legacy of the awful "givebacks" that Randi negotiated for us: Here, here, here, here, and here! This contract was an unmitigated disaster and was considered a "sellout" by many of the rank and file.
In 2006 the Bloomberg/Klein Administration imposed a "fair student funding formula" on the NYC public schools. Had Randi sued or brought the issue to PERB, she would have won. Instead she remained silent and combined with the elimination of seniority transfer rights have resulted in older and more experienced teachers not being able to get a permanent position. Hence the ATR crises. She also allowed the co-location of charter schools, which was a shock to Joel Klein she since she could have stopped it in its tracks but failed to do so.
Even in the 2007 contract she allowed the voluntary but union endorsed, PIP+, the termination program for incompetent teachers and expanded the list of actions that fell under serious misconduct and ending up with a 90-day suspension without pay or health benefits. It was during this time that the "rubber rooms" exploded with a maximum of 744 reassigned teachers awaiting their fate.
In 2009 Randi remained silent as Mayor Bloomberg and Christine Quinn overturned term limits that resulted in the disastrous third term and an increase in vilifying teachers that result in the Bloomberg "last in, first out" bill.
Finally, her parting gift to her members in 2009 was to reclaim the two days before Labor Day that she gave up in 2005 but at what cost! We had to give up 1.25% interest in our TDA funds (8.25% to 7.00%). If the average member puts away $15,000 annually for twenty years, the members lose about $10,000! More, if you put in more. Interestingly, we actually owe the City 0.58% when we get the next contract in 2014.!
Now Randi works on destroying member rights in other school systems. Washington D.C., Baltimore Maryland, and now Newark New Jersey. Interestingly, the Chicago teachers told Randi Weingarten to "butt out" and won. Who can forget she invited Bill Gates as a keynote speaker at her AFT conference who's main idea is high stakes testing and video surveillance of the classroom. Goodbye and good riddance Randi, you have done enough damage to your members in New York City.