There’s a national assault on teacher pensions. I wonder if the AFT and the NEA heard? (Corrected)


Michael “Macho Man” Mulgrew.

Yesterday I began the afternoon watching the live streaming of the debate over Common Core at the AFT convention in LA.

What could be more moving than hearing my friend Michelle Gunderson speaking about the damage Common Core is doing to her babies?

Imagine. An urban public school teacher talking about her students as if they were her own children – her babies. It’s more common than the media would have you think. And knowing Michelle as I do, there was nothing disingenuous about the reference.

Correction: Michelle Gunderson wrote to correct me. It was Saucedo teacher Sarah Chambers who referred to her students as “my babies.” Michelle added, “aptly so.” Sarah Chambers was one of the courageous teachers who boycotted the pointless testing at Saucedo this past year.

Naturally she was mocked by a delegate supporting the AFT leadership’s defense of Common Core. “They’re not my babies,” she proclaimed.

Thank God for that.

And then there was New York’s UFT President Michael Mulgrew. He put on a show of macho bluster, claiming that he would punch anybody in the face who took away Common Core from his clenched fist.

He should only have been so tough-talking over the past years of Bloomberg and no contract.

Or while bargaining the recent one.

It was the kind of tough talk you see at professional wrestling. All phony bullshit.

AFT President Randi Weingarten proclaimed satisfaction over the “passion” exhibited in the 40 minute debate. I think she said it was the longest debate ever over an issue in the history of AFT conventions.

Anne and I spend more time discussing the week’s dinner menu. And we eat out at Dunlay’s on Tuesday.

But the result was all a foregone conclusion. In spite of the tough fight put on by the CTU rank-and-file delegates to defeat the leadership’s white washing of Common Core, the votes were locked up.

You can read about the UFT loyalty oath in the post below.

And just as the national assault on pensions was ignored at the NEA meeting in Denver, there was it seems not a whisper about it at the AFT.

At least not that I heard.

No Michael Mulgrew promising to punch anyone in the face who tried to steal teacher pensions.

After watching the live streaming of the AFT meeting I went upstairs to watch Germany beat Argentina in the World Cup.

I don’t understand a thing about soccer, but it still made more sense than watching what the AFT leadership did in LA.

UFT’s creaky wheels are being pushed.

From Brooklyn:

I’ve been a NYC public school teacher and a member of the UFT for 12 years. I don’t hear from my union very much on issues of the day. Occasionally I get a robo-call encouraging me to vote for this or that Democratic candidate. A few times they have mobilized a contingent in a city-wide anti-budget cut demonstration. But during the past few years, I haven’t heard a thing. During solidarity protests with Wisconsin teachers last year the UFT was nowhere to be found. This past fall when unions organized a solidarity demo with Occupy Wall Street, the UFT nominally supported the march but didn’t mobilize its members. I ended up just going on my own without a contingent. Even when it comes down to our own contract, which has been expired now for over two years, the union hasn’t called upon the membership to do anything at all.

All around the union however, people are moving on educational issues. Smaller activist-teacher groups in NYC like NYCORE, GEM and Teachers Unite have mobilized teachers and others to protest school closings and high-stakes testing. Teachers in NYC have been inspired by the protests in support of collective bargaining in Wisconsin, the strike authorization vote by teachers in Chicago, and the occupy movement. Where is my union in all of this, I’ve often wondered? So it was a pleasant surprise to see a message from Michael Mulgrew, my union president, in my inbox this morning encouraging the membership to sign on to a resolution against high-stakes testing. A small move, to be sure. But it is the first time my union has asked me to do anything ever in support of educational issues. And I did it with pleasure and pride. It’s clear that the union is finally starting to respond to the pressure of its membership to act. Its wheels are creaky and slow but they are being pushed.