Saturday, September 26, 2015
The Failure Of Our Union To Make Life Better For Their Members - Part I, The Classroom.
This post is the first of a six part series on the union's failure to improve the hostile working conditions that the New York City public school teachers are subject to on a daily basis. Long gone are the days when Albert Shanker was willing to strike to ensure that the teachers were respected and protected from vindictive administrators and destructive policies from City Hall. Now we have an unaccountable and disconnected union leadership who uses member funds for their own political ambitions and wear blinders when it comes to the abuses of the Bill de Blasio/Farina administration that continues to make teaching in the classroom a living hell.
During the Bloomberg years it was understandable that the union was ineffective in improving the classroom environment considering who was running the union (the great appeaser, Randi Weingarten) and the hostility of the Bloomberg administration, in fact, the classroom environment actually deteriorated with rising class sizes, inadequate resources, and paperwork overload. Moreover, every contract negotiated with the Bloomberg administration contained "givebacks" and the pitiful raises came with extra time or other significant concessions by the union. Unfortunately, during those years the steadfastness of Albert Shanker was replaced by the wuss Randi Weingarten who, for raises that barely equaled the inflation rate saw the member due process rights eroded and the classroom environment worsen. However, when Bill de Blasio replaced Mayor Bloomberg the union leadership under Michael Mulgrew started a love affair with the new Mayor and his Chancellor, Carmen Farina, and promised the members that there will be significant improvements in the classroom. A new era of collaboration was to bring back the respect and cooperation between the DOE and the teachers in the trenches. Yeah right, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
It has been two years since the Bill de Blasio administration has been in charge of the DOE and little has changed in the hostile classroom environment. School budgets have been frozen since the Bloomberg Administration despite the economic recovery in the City and huge budget surpluses. Large class sizes, the highest in the State, has not been reduced as promised by the new Mayor when campaigning for his position, and many of the Bloomberg policies remain in place that encourages principals to hire the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their students. In fact, many of the Bloomberg 300 that run the DOE and implement policy are still in there positions and further damaging education with their education deformer mandates. Yet our disconnected union leadership will proclaim that things are improving as Michael Mulgrew continues his love affair with Chancellor Carmen Farina, while the terrible classroom environment remain unchanged.
As we start the 2015-16 school year class sizes are as large as ever, many incompetent and vindictive principals are still running their schools into the ground, and the paperwork reduction promised by our union leadership remains unfulfilled. The school budget is frozen and resources are scarce. In some schools teachers have to supply their own photocopy paper and materials that should be supplied by the schools. Moreover, the punitive Chancellor regulations of the Bloomberg administration have become more stringent and student discipline relaxed. The result is an overcrowded classroom and classroom management issues that make learning difficult and worsen the classroom environment.
Yet, the disconnected union leadership would have you believe that there is a new era of collaberation between the DOE and UFT but don't tell that to the teachers in the trenches, to us its still the same hostile classroom environment that the union refuses to see or do anything about.