Halabi looks at the UFT election numbers.

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UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

-Jonathan Halabi blogs at JD2718

  1. We won the high schools. This was the race worth watching (no one knew the result in advance). Margin was just over 200 votes…
  2. Look at this….

In 2004, ICE/TJC had 1,239 elementary votes, NAC had 556, combined 1,795.
In 2007, ICE/TJC had 1,337 elementary votes, NAC had 562, combined 1,899.
In 2010, ICE/TJC had 703 elementary votes, NAC had 978, combined 1,681.
In 2013, MORE had 1,140 elementary votes, NAC had 534, combined 1,674.
In 2016, MORE/NAC had 2,306.
Together, we got the best result in over a decade.

In 2004, ICE/TJC had 422 middle school votes, NAC had 311, combined 733.
In 2007, ICE/TJC had 444 middle school votes, NAC had 273, combined 717.
In 2010, ICE/TJC had 248 middle school votes, NAC had 421, combined 669.
In 2013, MORE had 398 middle school votes, NAC had 161, combined 559.
In 2016, MORE/NAC had 882.
Together, we got the best result in over a decade.

In 2004, ICE/TJC had 1,417 high school votes, NAC had 700, combined 2,117.
In 2007, ICE/TJC had 1,524 high school  votes, NAC had 521, combined 2,045.
In 2010, ICE/TJC had 1,369 high school  votes, NAC had 774, combined 2,143.
In 2013, MORE had 1,430 high school  votes, NAC had 452, combined 1,882.
In 2016, MORE/NAC had 2,275.
Together, we got the best result in over a decade.

In 2004, ICE/TJC had 990 functional votes, NAC had 512, combined 1,502.
In 2007, ICE/TJC had 1,032 functional votes, NAC had 548, combined 1,580.
In 2010, ICE/TJC had 703 functional votes, NAC had 708, combined 1,411.
In 2013, MORE had 1,140 functional votes, NAC had 951, combined 2,091.
In 2016, MORE/NAC had 2,232.
Together, we got the best result in over a decade.

“Teachers now have a real voice in the United Federation of Teachers, and that voice will not be silenced.”

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AFT President Randi Weingarten and her UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

-Arthur Goldstein posted on his blog NYC Educator

I’m sure Michael Mulgrew is happy to hold on to his job for another three years, and I congratulate him on his victory. I’m not at all sure he will be happy to see MORE/ New Action on the UFT Executive Board. And I’m sure that a lot of Unity members are not happy at all.

But the smart ones ought to know better. We are activists, and we are the real deal. If you don’t believe that, why have we decided to forgo the easy route? It would be a whole lot easier, and a whole lot less time-consuming to just join Unity. We could be up for union jobs and go to conventions. What’s better than that?

What’s better than that is an activist union. What’s better than that is being represented by people who do this work every day. What’s better than that is having people who have experienced the Danielson thing speaking for us. The last time Michael Mulgrew was judged by the Danielson rubric was never. And that’s not a dig, but a fact.

Now you may say, hey, NYC Educator, that may be true but there are hundreds of chapter leaders and teachers who go to these conventions. They’re working in schools and they know what’s going on. And you’re right. But what difference does it make what they know if they’ve actually signed an oath to do whatever the Unity Caucus tells them to?

Change is hard. But a union needs to work for its members. And that involves moving out of the comfort zone from time to time. You can’t move forward if you live in an echo chamber filled with people sworn to utter only good news. And from my vantage point, close to the ground, I see teachers suffering under the weight of idiotic rules and laws that leadership has consistently supported. I see an unfair and unreasonable evaluation system, easily manipulated by crazy supervisors. I see teachers crushed under the weight of ridiculous mandates that help neither them nor their students.

Michael Mulgrew doesn’t see that, because he has an army of people sworn to report that this is the best of all possible worlds on a daily basis. Michael Mulgrew can believe that the Open Market transfer system is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but who’s gonna remind him of the thousands of teachers trapped in the ATR, living without hope of a classroom, and looking forward only to the light at the end of the tunnel–retirement. Who’s gonna remind him of the teachers discontinued for no good reason, their careers and futures ruined? Who’s gonna remind him of what working teachers feel each and every day of their lives?

We are, of course. And whatever Unity stalwarts may believe otherwise, this can and will only strengthen our union. Even with this small crack of light in the Unity Cone of Silence, only one out of four working UFT members found it worth the time to return their ballots. We are teachers. We are role models. Are we fostering a generation that believes voting to be a waste of time?

We can do better, and we need to show membership that we will do better. There needs to be some sliver of truth facing our leadership, and for now, that is us. We will endeavor to work together to improve our union and the education of the 1.1 million students we serve. We will reach across the aisle and try to cooperate.

Is that how Unity wants to do things? Only time will tell. But real teachers now have a real voice in the United Federation of Teachers, and that voice will not be silenced.


Union democracy: compare and contrast.

When the votes were counted yesterday the MORE/New Action challenge to UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus won the high school seats on the union’s executive board.

This was a great win for union democracy.

Here is Michael Mulgrew, President of the UFT and leader of the entrenched Unity Caucus:

Here is Marcus McArthur who won a high school seat yesterday:

See the difference?

In New York’s UFT, MORE/New Action challenges the Mulgrew Gang.

Voting in the United Federation Teachers ends in 8 days.

Jonathan Halibi, an old friend from New Action, posted this on his blog:


You’ve probably received your UFT Election ballot, and may be considering your options.

Let me share my thoughts.

First, turnout is important. Last election only 18% of in-service teachers voted – that sends a terrible message. No matter who you end up supporting, please vote, and please encourage your members to vote.

But I’d also like to urge you to vote for the MORE/New Action slate.  You can read the standard literature here:  http://files.uft.org/more-caucus.pdf  I mean, it’s good literature. Read it. But that’s not what I want to discuss.


Fariña has been a disappointment. Most of us think so, including people on both sides in the election.

MORE/New Action – we would have asked her to get rid of 200 lawyers. We would have asked to end the crazy funding system that discriminates against experienced teachers. We would have asked to revise or throw out the Quality Reviews. We would have insisted she crack down on (and in some cases remove) abusive administrators.

UNITY leadership has done NONE of this. I don’t think they disagree with all of it; they just have other priorities.


Unity has prioritized writing and rewriting the teacher evaluation law and NYC’s plan. They have devoted considerable resources to getting MOSL right (that’s a waste, isn’t it?  MOSL will never really make sense). They are committed to using test scores as part of teachers’ evaluations (see Mulgrew’s comments at the April DA).  Many working teachers, probably most of us, do not agree.

High Schools:

I like high school people, including people running against me. But where are the high school issues on the UFT agenda?
Why are we still sending people out of the building for scoring regents?
Why have we not addressed campus issues? Why aren’t we combining schools where the little schools aren’t working?
And why are we not insisting that incompetent or abusive principals get removed?
We need leaders who will make high schools a priority again.


Who will you elect to the 7 high school executive board seats? With Unity?  Unity voters are only choosing 3 full-time teachers.

But when you vote MORE/New Action, you are filling 7 seats with 7 full-time teachers. We represent large schools, small schools, alternative schools, transfer schools, consortium schools, and a specialized high school.

Arthur Goldstein, Chapter Leader Francis Lewis HS in Queens. Teaches ESL. The best NYC education blogger there is. You might know him as nyc educator  http://nyceducator.com/

Mike Schirtzer, Delegate, Leon Goldstein HS in Brooklyn. Social Studies.

Ashraya Gupta, Delegate, Harvest Collegiate in Manhattan (that’s a consortium school). Chemistry.

David Garcia Rosen, Bronx Academy of Letters. Social Studies. David has been the driving force in getting PSAL teams for small schools.

Kuljit Ahluwalia, Queens Academy. Science. KJ was the former Chapter Leader at Canarie HS.

Marcus McArthur, Satellite Academy, Manhattan. Special Ed. Marcus is an activist, an advocate, and a writer http://nycwritingproject.org/2015/09/nycwp-voices-test-day-by-marcus-b-mcarthur/

And me. Jonathan Halabi.  HS of American Studies at Lehman College. Chapter Leader since 2002. Mathematics.

That’s me, at a DA, speaking against a Unity proposal. The proposal was good for me, personally, but it would have meant that new teachers would pay into the pension for their entire careers, instead of just 10 years.

Some people have to speak up for what’s right. You should vote for them.

Please mark the MORE/New Action box on your ballot, and return it.

Please urge your friends, members, and colleagues to vote, and encourage them to vote for MORE/New Action as well.

Jonathan Halabi

Chapter Leader, HS of American Studies at Lehman College

Arthur Goldstein, an old friend and blogger posted this:

I’ve been involved on and off with MORE for a few years now. I didn’t run with them in the last election, but I’m very happy to be doing so this time. MORE is not just Jia, or James Eterno, or Norm, or me, or anyone. It really is a working group of teachers with diverse backgrounds and beliefs, and it really is open.

I don’t agree with everything MORE does, and everyone who shows up. But I’ve come to see that it doesn’t matter. Small things keep us apart, but big things, like supporting our brothers and sisters in tumultuous times, are universal. We’re all in this pressure cooker situation, with guns to our heads saying, “Be highly effective or else!” Michael Mulgrew says it’s wonderful. Of course, he hasn’t got teachers coming to him on a daily basis telling him how tortured they are. If you’ve signed a loyalty oath, and all you value are free trips to Schenectady and your after school gig at UFT HQ, you don’t bother the President with such things.

No one in MORE has signed the oath. That’s why we not only know what teachers are feeling, but are also free to talk about it. And in these times, we need people who will see and tell the truth. Without that, how are we going to fix our problems? Mulgrew thought is was wonderful when we added junk science to our evaluations, and boasted of helping to write the law that enabled it. He thought it was wonderful when we “won” the right to be evaluated by all 22 parts of Danielson, and also thought it was wonderful when we reduced it to 8. In fact, when junk science rises from 40 to 50%, when outside evaluators who know neither us, our schools nor our students, when stakes become even higher, Mulgrew thanks the legislators for having passed the law that enables it.

Michael Mulgrew is not a teacher, has not been one for years, and has never worked under Danielson. We have. We talk to everyone, and we don’t live in the UFT Unity bubble. That’s why we see, know and lives what’s happening. Unlike folks pursuing gigs and trips, we know we are all in this together, and that we all have to work together to improve it. And unlike Mulgrew, we invite you to come and participate. You don’t have to sign an oath to do so.

The loyalty oath is a vestige of an old and dead system. It’s the cement wall that blocks out and quells teacher voice. It’s the flip phone that Michael Mulgrew uses so the present cannot intrude on his comfortable indifference to what working teachers experience every day. MORE is the future, and we invite you to join us as we work and fight together to improve it.

I’m proud to stand for change with MORE. It’s time to stop reading the propaganda, stop being afraid and stand for what we know to be right. Opt-out is the wave of the future. We’re all in the water while Michael Mulgrew is still stuck on a bench trying to tie his roller skates. We’re running an opt-out leader for President and we are not afraid. We’re tired of being afraid. We’re tired of having a leader who wants to punch us in the face if we don’t support his pet corporate reforms.

If you want to move into the future with us, you’ll have to break down, get offline for a moment, and use a US mailbox. Fill out the ballot you’ve got or will get in the mail. Tear off the front page, check the MORE-New Action box, place it in the secret envelope, place it in the main envelope, and drop it in that big blue box.

When we win, we’ll move the vote to your school because we want to encourage rather than discourage your participation. Meanwhile, get up, open the envelope, and VOTE.


From my friend Arthur in New York. Vote M.O.R.E./New Action.

 -Arthur Goldstein on NYC Educator blog

Dear colleagues:

There is a UFT election coming up. I am running for High School Executive Board with MORE/ New Action. Running for High School Academic Vice President is James Eterno, longtime chapter leader of Jamaica High School. James is one of the most competent and knowledgeable chapter leaders I’ve ever met. I often go to him for advice when trying to help members at Lewis. He seems to know everything.

We are running a great slate for High School Executive Board. While of course I would like you to vote for me, so that I can represent you both in and out of our building, we also have Mike Schirtzer, a friend of mine who’s dedicated himself for years to growing MORE, a relatively new opposition caucus. Mike helped lead MORE to a coalition with the oldest opposition caucus, New Action, which finally ended its long partnership with the controlling Unity Caucus. Together we expect to win these seats and finally achieve a real opposition voice in our union.

At the top of our ticket is Jia Lee, recently featured in the NY Post and on NBC news for defying the Chancellor’s admonition to not speak of opt out. I personally believe opt-out to have been the most effective pushback against the nonsense that’s been imposed on us over the last fifteen years or so. Also on our ticket are my friends Lauren Cohenand Katie Lapham, among other opt-out activists.

Unfortunately our leadership, Michael Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus, has supported, to one extent or another, almost every single education reform that’s come down the pike. They supported teachers being rated by test scores. They supported the Danielson Framework. They supported a contract that got us paid eleven years later than NYPD, FDNY, and most other city unions.

Teachers facing dismissal go through a process called 3020a. In the past, the city had to prove teachers were incompetent in order to fire them. Now, most teachers who face that process will have to prove they are NOT incompetent. I find this tantamount to being guilty until proven innocent and therefore un-American. Michael Mulgrew and Unity Caucus, amazingly, not only support this but have thanked the Assembly for enabling it.

Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus is an elite, invitation-only group that operates in secret. All of its members sign an oath to support its decisions. Those who fail to do so are thrown out. While I would love to be more active in union, like everyone in MORE-New Action, I refuse to sign an oath promising to support leadership rather than membership.

I’ve been teaching for over thirty years. It breaks my heart when young teachers approach me contemplating job changes, and that’s been happening more and more frequently. This is the best job there is, and it’s on us to keep it that way, Please vote for MORE/ New Action, and demand the common sense changes that we support, that Diane Ravitch supports, and that both we and our students need.

Best regards,


Senior moments. You don’t own me.

CORE is the caucus representing rank-and-file educators within the Chicago Teachers Union, although anyone can join.

First. Good on them for endorsing Sanders last week, even though the CTU’s parent union, the AFT, was among first to jump on the Clinton campaign bus.

In spite of AFT President Randi Weingarten’s groupie-like non-stop tweets for Clinton and the AFT endorsement of Hillary Clinton, it is no way binding on AFT members.

And it is certainly not binding on a caucus like CORE.

I am an NEA Retired member. The NEA’s leadership and political action committee has also recommended Hillary Clinton. Their endorsement is not binding on me or any member of the NEA. I vote as I please for who I please and sometimes not at all.  There are many, many Bernie supporters among the rank and file of the NEA and the AFT.

Former IEA President Bob Haisman is the official go-to retiree for the IEA Retired’s Clinton campaign efforts. Even he recognizes that the NEA endorsement of Clinton is not supported by many in the IEA Retired.

His letter asking for retired volunteers reads almost defensive.

“We know that this information might be received with some disagreement. We feel the best way to handle this controversy is straight on. Members need to know that the NEA and The IEA have procedures for Presidential Recommendations. There is a rigorous process for recommendation of a candidate for President.  ALL of those procedures were followed. The support for the Hillary Clinton recommendation was overwhelming.” 

The procedures may have been followed, but the first time most NEA Retired and active members read about the endorsement of Clinton was in the newspaper post facto.

Most union recommendations are a good thing if they are for the person I support and don’t matter if they are for the person I oppose. I assume that is true for you as well.

And I suppose they help a candidate with the undecided voter.

But no way are they binding on a member.

Take the CTU’s endorsement in the 40th state representative district in Illinois. The CTU recommends the incumbent who is a Democratic Machine hack. Why the CTU is endorsing him is a mystery to me. No way am I supporting that guy.

I’m supporting Harish I Patel in that race.

On the other hand, the CTU is supporting Kim Foxx for States Attorney and Jay Travis for State Rep in the 26th district. Those are two good choices.

The AFT and NEA endorsement of Clinton was made too early with no membership input. The leadership made no demands upon Clinton in return for the endorsement and was based more on a mistaken assumption of her inevitable election instead of her history or policies.

The lie that union dues money is being spent on Clinton and other candidates is one that is being spread by union-bashers to justify ending agency fees and Fair Share.

Raising money for political activity comes from voluntary membership contributions to union PACs. Not from dues. Nobody is required to give a dime to a union PAC.

There have been exceptions. But in general, I don’t contribute to the state union PAC called IPACE. I make individual donations to individual candidates. That is a way of showing my disapproval when the IEA’s IPACE gives to people like former Illinois state ALEC chair Kirk Dillard or to U.S. Senator Mark Kirk.


Randi Weingarten: Labor is united in support of Clinton.

Photo by Jocelyn Augustino©2004

NEA President Eskelsen Garcia. Buyer’s remorse?

AFT President Randi Weingarten thinks political election campaigns are like differences in her union.

It’s works like her vision of democracy.

All she has to do is declare it so and that’s the way is.

So she tell’s the New York Times that all labor union members support Hillary. There is no other opinion. And it is so. Facts don’t get in the way.

In an effort to dispute what they say is a false narrative that union voters are closely split between Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Hillary Clinton, a group of more than 20 unions representing more than 10 million workers is releasing a statement on Monday reaffirming support for Mrs. Clinton.

“Secretary Clinton has proven herself as the fighter and champion working people and their families need in the White House,” the statement says. “That is why, of all unions endorsing a candidate in the Democratic primary, the vast majority of the membership in these unions has endorsed her.”

Leading the charge for Hillary among labor union leaders is the AFT President.

“Because there’s now a story where there should not have been one — certain people in the Bernie camp wanted to take advantage of it — the unions that endorsed Hillary want to make really clear to people that we are incredibly supportive of her.”

How dare the news report a story without Randi’s approval.

Even if it’s true.

It is obvious that the union leadership that supports Hillary would not feel the need to issue a statement like this if they were feeling comfortable.

Saturday’s Nevada Democratic Party caucus voters were split between Sanders and Clinton in heavily unionized Las Vegas with Clinton squeezing out a win.

The AFL-CIO is hedging their bets and has decided to stay neutral. Their neutrality contrasts with the NEA and the AFT making early primary endorsements with no demands made of the Clinton campaign or strings attached.

What I find interesting is that the NEA and its President, Lily Eskelson Garcia have been relatively silent about the presidential race since declaring their early support for Clinton.

Her name does not appear in the New York Times article.

There was a lot of unhappiness among the rank and file when the NEA and AFT early endorsement was made.

Not only is labor divided, maybe Lily has buyer’s remorse.

Random thoughts. Union leadership conspiracy theories.


Don’t go to a state or national union convention thinking there will be real debate or democracy. As a delegate to a state convention one year I needed a bright orange sweater and my whole region waving their arms around behind me for the state president to recognize me at a microphone. At last year’s national meeting we had a two hour debate about the Confederate flag, the result being that my item passed and was filed in a deep dark hole somewhere, never to be seen or heard from again.

Union democracy. Frequently an oxymoron.

AFT President Randi Weingarten is a lawyer, so she knows how to use rhetorical devices.

When I made note on Facebook of her approving repost of a hack piece (The Right Baits the Left to Turn Against Hillary Clinton) from the New York Times suggesting the Bernie Sanders campaign was a conservative conspiracy to deprive Hillary Clinton of her earned nomination, she responded, “Fred-so when you disagree you call someone a hack?”

Nope. I call a hack a hack. Most of those I disagree with I call wrong or right. Or when I disagree with my wife, honey.

The problem with our union leadership is that they have a hard time with those they disagree with. Every difference among the membership is treated as if it were a conspiracy to destroy our unions.

Randi continued:

“I can’t believe you don’t want to know how the right manipulates us… We know how they do it overtly, but this is an astonishing example of how they do it covertly.”

See. Those supporting Sanders are just being manipulated. It’s not as if there are real issues here.

Is that why there was no rank-and-file input into the early, no-strings endorsement by the NEA and the AFT of Hillary?

In our short exchange I told Randi, “Nobody doubts games are played, but the assumption of this article and your comments suggest that the nomination is rightfully Clinton’s and that differences in policy and program exist in the Democratic Party because of a right-wing plot that created a progressive opposition to Clinton’s centrist corporate politics. Nonsense. These differences have always existed in the Democratic Party. Let them play out instead of treating it as if it were all a conspiracy. It should have been a debate in the AFT and the NEA. But that debate was shut down as well.


William Greider. Happy Labor Day, Mom.

– William Greider’s column appears in The Nation.

I know this sounds absurd—it is absurd—but for some odd reason Labor Day reminds me of my mother. She was a school teacher, and I think she would have a good laugh to learn that so-called “education reformers” are accusing school teachers of being too powerful and protected. My father, who was himself a long-time member of our local school board, would probably snort at the ignorance of highly educated experts.

Together, they could set the record straight on education from the facts of their own lives. They fell in love when they were young and optimistic and talented. This was the 1920s when women had just won the right to vote, and both were newly graduated from four-year colleges—the very first in my mother’s family. My father completed graduate work in chemistry and was hired as a researcher by a Philadelphia manufacturer where he later invented useful products.

They faced one obstacle in their promising lives. My mother had to sign a teaching contract with a local school district in western Pennsylvania that would prohibit her from getting married. This crude violation of a young woman’s civil rights was commonly enforced around the country. Years later, I learned that my wife’s mother had to do the same thing to get a teaching job in Iowa. Recently, I reread the steamy love letters my parents wrote to one another during that school year of frustrated desire. I blushed for them.

At the Thanksgiving break, they abandoned abstinence and broke the school contract. But secretly. On the long holiday, they eloped to West Virginia and got married there. They told no one. My parents, I should add, were no-nonsense conservative Republicans, not given to reckless adventure or inflammatory political statements. I did think of my mother as an assertive proto-feminist. In retirement, both became Democrats because they thought Goldwater was a dangerous crackpot. In 1972, my dad declared early for George McGovern, while Mom held out for Shirley Chisholm.

Keeping the secret of their marriage may have been done to protect her eligibility for many more years as a teacher. It worked. Toward the end of her long life (she died three days short of 100) my mother got a letter each year from Ohio governors, congratulating her on being the oldest living recipient in Ohio’s teacher retirement system.

I tell this intimate story to make a point that the latter-day reformers do not seem to grasp. They have left out the human dimensions of a harsh labor market where women were regularly punished for not being men. School teachers from the beginnings of America’s public schools have been vulnerable to blatant exploitation—lower wages and harsher terms—and they have been exploited. The jobs could be filled by an abundance of educated single young women in need of incomes. Married women might have babies in the middle of the school year—an inconvenience to school administrators—so married women were banned. Similar gender biases affected nursing and other caring occupations, and to some degree still do.

The fundamental power shift for school teachers did not occur until the 1960s, when frustrated teachers rebelled against traditional school systems run top-down by superintendents and principals. As a young reporter in Louisville, Kentucky, I witnessed one of the early skirmishes in 1962.

One day I got a phone call from an organizer for the American Federation of Teachers who blithely announced that AFT intended to shut down the Louisville schools the following week with a citywide strike. I thought he was joking. AFT was based in East Coast big cities and had no more than fifty members among Louisville’s 2,000 teachers. The National Education Association (NEA) dominated most states those days, and it was run by and for the administrators, not rank-and-file teachers.

The AFT’s strike in Louisville was like a thunderclap—teachers did walk off and virtually shut down the system. Teachers were fed up. They were demanding a stronger voice and power in school affairs and school politics. In rural states like Kentucky, the poorest counties were frequently dominated by matriarchal political machines—women superintendents who controlled more jobs in their county than the men in county offices. The NEA got the message and swiftly adjusted. It became a full-fledged labor union like AFT. Instead of fronting for old-style political bosses, both organizations now try to speak for the interests of teachers and to defend them against political intrusions and other abuses.

These are the relevant facts that self-appointed billionaire reformers skip past. By demonizing the teachers unions and denouncing the tenure laws that protect teachers from arbitrary political reprisals, the do-good foundations have unwittingly cast themselves as a malevolent Daddy Warbucks ready to bury their opposition with tons of money.The Gates Foundation and some others do seem to be belatedly backing away from obvious mistakes, but the reform engine still threatens to undermine the common public school in favor of a deeply fractured system of sectarian and secular private sponsors claiming public money.

Impatient hedge-fund billionaires do not attempt to conceal their contempt for the rest of us. They are used to making money—fast—with no excuses for dawdlers. Witness what they have done to large segments of the overall economy. Education does not thrive in those conditions, because there is no standard of perfection in any schoolhouse that can survive brutal suppression of uniformity imposed by clumsy testing. A successful school not only makes room for dissent. It constantly nourishes it.

Of course, I am biased. But I think that was my mother’s teaching style. She taught first grade in an “inner city” neighborhood of Cincinnati where the students were not not poor black kids but white kids from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. They shared many of the same handicaps. Mom developed her own theories on how to teach reading to such children. It inovlved hand-eye coordination and other elements I could not follow. I have no proof that she succeeded, but I have a hunch she drove the principal nuts.

The fight for union democracy you won’t read about in the Post.


A month after, finally and suddenly – the Mulgrew “punch you in the face” story has made the national news.

The Daily News. The New York Post. The right-wing Daily Caller and Breibart.


Because Mulgrew’s bellicose threats to the rank-and-file fit right into their anti-union narratives of union bosses and union thugs.

In fact, the performance by the New York UFT President, laughingly egged on by AFT President Randi Weingarten, was a gift to the anti-union forces. Wrapped in pretty paper with a big bow on top.


Make no mistake about whether this was actually thuggish behavior by Mulgrew.

Or whether he made this speech because he suddenly lost all control.

Based on my experience of the way leadership does things, this was premeditated thuggery.

Mulgrew showed nothing but disdain for union members who oppose corporate reform.

He clenched his fist.  He screamed and mocked those who argue that Common Core is the product of Broad and Gates and “martians.”

His anger – real or contrived – was reserved not for those who refused to bargain a contract for six long years, or create bogus teacher evaluation schemes or close schools.

It was reserved it for rank-and-file members.

He might as well have said, “How dare you come into my house and challenge what we in the leadership say or do.”

There were two resolutions. One from the AFT leadership supporting the Obama administration and Common Core, while criticizing its implementation.

Another resolution opposed the Common Core. It was brought by delegates from the Chicago Teachers Union, whose House of Delegates had adopted it a few months earlier.

When Mulgrew took to the microphone to speak in support of the leadership’s position, the debate turned ugly.

Where opponents of the leadership resolution spoke of educational practice and data and the negative impact of Common Core on students, Mulgrew threatened to “punch anyone in the face” who tried to take “my Common Core” away.

There were two things going on in Los Angeles that weekend.

There was a debate about curriculum and what is best for teachers and students.

And there was also a demonstration of union democracy. Or the lack of it.

Because there are such people who are union thugs and union bosses.

And there is a movement to replace them.

This debate over Common Core was about what counts as good classroom practice.

The convention was also about power and who gets to make decisions in our unions.

But you won’t read about that in the Daily News or the New York Post.