I know that there are not thousands of people who, during the AFT national convention in Los Angeles, sat in front of their computers watching the live link to the debate on Common Core.
Raise your hands if you were one of us.
That’s what I thought.
I watched it, even though the outcome was never in doubt.
I watched the profoundly professional presentations by Chicago teachers like Michelle Gunderson, Tim Meegan and Sarah Chambers opposed to the AFT resolution supporting Common Core.
And I watched New York’s United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.
He stepped to the microphone and did a low-rent version of Charlton Heston at an NRA convention. Mulgrew yelled into the microphone, “I’ll punch anyone in the face who tries to take away my Common Core from my clenched fist.”
I remember thinking to myself at the time, “What a jerk! Couldn’t get a contract from Bloomberg for six years and now he’s talking about punching people in the face during a debate over Common Core.”
The camera shifted to AFT President Randi Weingarten and she smiled proudly at her local bully-boy.
You might think that the AFT would be so proud of their leadership’s militancy that they would post his threats on their AFT video page.
But it has been scrubbed.
Maybe because they realize that parent and teacher support for Common Core is evaporating. And that Mulgrew’s phony macho bravado looked pretty silly.
NYC Educator writes about it today on his blog.
It was pretty surprising to read that Mike Mulgrew told the AFT convention that if anyone tried to take his Common Core, he’d punch them in the face. Evidently, this particular corporate reform is so valuable to us that we must fight for it. And since we have no voice whatsoever in AFT matters, with all union voice vested in the 800 rubber stamp loyalty oath signers we paid two million dollars in dues for Mulgrew to drag to LA, I guess that’s the only voice we get.
When Bill Gates decided that teachers needed to be rated by test scores, Mulgrew was not punchy in the least. In fact, he told the DA a few years back that we needed to be part of this great experiment, and in my school several teachers got paid as he conducted an important experiment that none of his employees appeared to understand. This, of course, was a precursor to the brilliant Race to the Top, which led to NY State’s APPR law. In fact, the UFT President participated in negotiating this law, and though I know not one single teacher who likes it, he was far from putting up his dukes over it.
When mayoral control came in, the UFT supported it. When it was proven beyond question to be a disaster, we supported it again. As a result of mayoral control, schools all over the city closed, and thousands of teachers ended up as ATRs. Some will never teach their own classes again. In fact, when Bill de Blasio became mayor and tried to stop this nonsense, he was overridden by Governor Cuomo and the legislature. Mike Mulgrew not only punched no one in the face, but lifted not a finger to stop this from happening. Could this have been some quid pro Cuomo? Only he and the UFT Prez know for sure.
The biggie, though, is the UFT Contract. Some of you may recall that we waited six years for it. While cops and firefighters and just about everyone got 8% salary increases between 2008-2010, we got diddly squat. And even after the contract was negotiated, we won’t get what they got in 2010 until 2020. What did our two-fisted union leader have to say about that? He said something about retro pay not being a God-given right. This, in fact, is the sort of thing we should have been hearing from management.
And that’s not all. We passed the worst pattern increase in my living memory onto our union brothers and sisters. Also, though most of the city unions didn’t have any givebacks, we managed to establish a two-tier system of due process—one for most teachers, and another for ATR teachers. Mulgrew himself gave, as an example, shouting in the hall on two occasions as sufficient reason to dismiss an ATR. However, like the health care agreement that’s uncertain, this will ultimately fall in the hands of arbitrators.
So when does union leadership get tough? Apparently, when parents statewide determine Common Core is a disaster. When parents are disgusted an arbitrary cutoff fails 70% of our children, rather than get behind them, we will oppose them. We’ll say it’s the implementation, which is sheer nonsense. In fact this was designed to fail 70% of our kids, and the results were announced before they were publicly released.
The AFT can scrub the video of Mulgrew.
But there were all those people in the hall who heard him.
And even a few of us watching at home.