In light of the reports today that NYSUT is working to strong-arm the Working Families Party (they vehemently deny this is happening) and that NYSUT will remain silent at AFL-CIO endorsements for Andrew Cuomo, I feel it is necessary to revisit the “REVIVAL” that the leadership team elected in April promised us as NYSUT members. Interestingly, only a few days after the
coup election, the “Revive NYSUT” website and twitter accounts were either wiped clean or locked. In the days leading up the election, I printed several copies of the “Where We Stand” and “Action Plan” pages from the web site. I have held on to them for a couple of months – hoping that my gut feeling that this election would just bring new faces to same old problems was wrong.
Today, NYSUT tweeted 2 things that grabbed my attention. One was what can only be deemed a strongly worded reply to those saying that NYSUT was working behind the scenes to get the Working Families Party to endorse Cuomo. They tweeted: “NYSUT has NOT endorsed Cuomo nor pushed WFP to endorse him. All rumors to the contrary are false. There is no chance of it happening.” The second was “NYSUT issues early endorsements for DiNapoli, Schneiderman” This was most interesting as the “REVIVAL” folks talked the talk about member engagement and transparency, yet on a Saturday afternoon the Board of Directors decided to issue early endorsements BEFORE the endorsement conference. Transparency? I suppose so, since they proudly tweeted it out, but member engagement? I hardly see how they can say that there was member engagement on these endorsements since there has NOT been an endorsement conference!
From their own campaign website: WHERE WE STAND
- We will defend public education. Period. Ok, so there was the “Picket in the Pines” which NYSUT jumped on when some grassroots chatter was going on about attending and picketing the Gov’s “Philosophy Camp” in the Adirondacks. All one has to do is to follow the Long Island Opt Out folks on Facebook, and one would quickly see that grassroots demonstrations are happening all over LI defending public education – but NO NYSUT! WNYers4PublicEducation have held their fair share of events – NO NYSUT! Perhaps all the defending goes on in the glass tower of Latham? Other than the Picket in the Pines-full of photo ops with Randi of AFT fame- I haven’t seen much defense of public education.
- We bring experience. Yes, they are experienced leaders. Yes, they are experienced educators but they also promised to “bring forward new ideas in these troubled times.” If a photo-op with Randi is a new idea – well, then I must have just fallen off the turnip truck because photo ops are NOT a new idea.
- We do not support Common Core as it is. I was especially encouraged by the line “a curriculum that is developmentally appropriate”. However, visit the NYSUT web site and you will see they are still encouraging members to use and upload lessons to “Share My Lesson” – the AFT attempt to make it appear that teachers are just in LOVE with the CCSS and are having a grand old time writing lessons that are aligned with it. And, additionally, haven’t there been plenty of NYSUT members saying that the CCSS have to GO – not be fixed, not be more slowly implemented, not ‘tweaked’?
- We do not support Iannuzzi’s APPR or the way it was created. Here’s their take: “When a Board of Directors vote was requested, Dick refused and kept local Presidents in the dark until the deal was done.” Uhm, sort of like the early endorsements??
- We are not afraid of the Commissioner of Education and Regents. This is especially interesting, because when Meryl Tisch visited Buffalo, a BTF teacher asked for NYSUT to show up and protest. Buffalo Teachers’ Federation was asked to show up and protest. What did this dues paying member get?? CRICKETS! Not a one of them showed – not a NYSUT leader, not a NYSUT LRS, not a BTF leader.
- We are for transparency. You know what, they have this one right – I haven’t seen financials, but I do know that my dues keep going up. They also pledge to be “accountable to the membership.” I’m going to reserve judgement on this one for now.
- The tax cap was a terrible mistake. “We will fight to get rid of the tax cap completely. Recognizing that this will not be an easy task or one achieved overnight, we will chip away at the cap by going after short – term exemptions.” I don’t think there was one exemption this year – but there were several districts that voted YES on school budgets that were over the cap.
- OPT OUT “REVIVE supports a parent’s right to opt out of unnecessary state tests.” That’s great news, but I would love to see the crack legal team at NYSUT also supporting the right of members to have an opinion outside of the school day – so that the unnecessary harassment of teachers who also support a parent’s right to opt out STOPS!
- Social justice to bring real change. “We will continue to establish REAL coalitions, not only in name but instead in action.” Don’t see it happening, don’t hear about it being planned ……and heck, I still get the weekly leader briefing. Maybe if so much space wasn’t taken up promoting “Share My Lesson” I would see social justice there.
- We support NYSUT Constituency Groups. Unless you’re in MORE, or in the North Country, or in Western NY, or in Southwestern NY …… hmm…. UFT UNITY much?
- Ed Reform “NY’s education reform agenda, under the direction of the Board of Regents and Commissioner King is not working. Revive will use data to push back.” UHM – but isn’t part of this fight we’re in all about excessive data collection – data collection that goes beyond FERPA? Who exactly will collect this data? Honestly, I have no more time in day to collect data for the glass tower dwellers to use.
- WHERE WE STAND ON GOVERNOR CUOMO: I’m going to be honest – this one scared me the most and continues to scare the crap out of me. I will let the REVIVE TEAM speak for themselves and you, dear reader, can draw your own conclusions: “Have you ever been so mad at your principal or superintendent that you did not talk to them for a couple of days? We all have. But have you ever gone months without speaking? ” “The REVIVE team recognizes that there is no support for an endorsement of the Governor, nor do we think he has earned one. This is not entirely the Governor’s fault. When the President of NYSUT does not meet the Governor to educate him about member concerns for months at a time we should not be surprised at the result. We will engage the Governor to address your concerns….hopefully to win him over. We will be the voice he cannot ignore; be it every week, day or hour until he understands our issues and concerns.”
I fear these are dark days for NYSUT members …..unless you travel to Latham and join the “revival”.