Saturday, September 24, 2005

As Usual, NY Times Editorial Writers Get It Wrong On Education

Usually the fuckers at the NY Times are writing editorials comparing jailed Times "reporter" Judith Miller to Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Today they take on the PERB recommendations and the impasse between the United Federation of Teachers and the Mayor of Money in the teachers contract negotiations.

This is a must-read for all of you teachers out there who think every editorial writer and education "journalist" in the business today should have to teach three years in a SURR school under Chancellor Klein's 8 page contract before they're allowed to write a fucking word about the job teachers do or the contract provisions they should work under:

Since the State Legislature gave him direct control of the city's school system, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has created clear lines of authority and cut back a sprawling, ineffectual bureaucracy. But further progress toward a first-rate public school system will require a respectful relationship between the city and the union that represents its 80,000 teachers. Unfortunately, that relationship is probably worse than it has been in decades.

After going two and a half years without a contract, teachers are understandably demoralized and angry. The conflict is hurting New York's attempt to attract good teachers and radicalizing the United Federation of Teachers, which has historically been a cooperative partner in New York's most successful education experiments.

A nonbinding report just out from a contract arbitration panel provides a reasonable road map for an agreement. Wisely, the arbitrators recommend doing away with seniority rules that allow experienced teachers to bump new teachers out of their jobs - even over the objection of the principals. That makes no sense, particularly now that principals are being held responsible for how their schools and their teachers perform. Another good recommendation, based on a proposal made by the union earlier this year, calls for lengthening the school day slightly so the system can provide a small-group instruction period. That would be a boon for students who are struggling to meet rising standards.

The arbitrators favor a salary increase of a little more than 11 percent over three years. By one estimate, this would cost an additional half-billion dollars a year. The city could not afford it without state aid, but that might come as part of the resolution of the court ruling on fiscal equity, which requires improved schooling for poor city students. The pay issue is certainly connected to quality education. Higher-paying suburban districts have lured away thousands of New York's most experienced teachers. The city finally stanched these losses with the last contract, in 2002, when teachers received solid raises that were partly subsidized by the state.

The school reform effort depends on the teachers, but the city is at a perilous juncture in its relationship with their union. Mr. Bloomberg has told us time and again that he wants us to judge him on his education record. What he does to solve this nasty dispute should weigh heavily in that judgment.

Two points: the Times claims to worry about the NYC system losing good teachers to higher-paying suburbs, yet they support creating a sixth class of "small-group instruction" for high school teachers as partial compensation for an 11.4% salary hike.

Do the fuckers at the NY Times really think adding a sixth class for a measly 11.4% (about three grand after taxes for a fifth year teacher) will help retain good teachers in a system already bereft of sufficient funding, morale, and physical conditions and/or environments conducive to both learning and teaching (e.g., buildings that aren't 110 degrees in September and June, 100 degrees the rest of the year when the boilers are turned on)?

Do the fuckers at the NY Times really think by making New York City public high school teachers the most overworked, underpaid teachers in the metropolitan area (as NYC Educator put it), Mayor Bloomberg will be benefiting the kids and bettering the public school system?

Do the fuckers at the NY Times know anything about teaching or how to retain good teachers.

It's simple really. You offer respect, a safe working envirnoment, and competitive wages commensurate to education level and the salaries of teachers in surrounding areas and you stop bashing teachers in the press every chance you get.

That's it. In fact, if you offered a few of those conditions above, I'd bet quite a few members of the UFT would be open to some concessions or reforms in the contract negotiations.

But instead the Mayor of Money and his union-busting chancellor offer an 8 page contract that completely eradicates 30 years of labor negotiations overnight, a shitty wage that doesn't come close to covering either the increased time, work or cost of living adjustments since the last contract, and a litany of "Fuck You's!" in the press every time one of them opens their mouths.

No wonder the relationship between the city and the teachers is "worse than it has been in decades."

Secondly, for the NY Times to claim that the UFT "has historically been a cooperative partner in New York's most successful education experiments" is disingenuous at best, scandalous at worst. From the comfort of their air conditioned, carpeted offices, the fuckers at the Times consistently bash the United Federation of Teachers as a labor dinosaur out of touch with contemporary progressive education reforms and pillory individual UFT members as selfish, do- nothing, ne'er-do-wells who need to be treated like the children they teach in order to get improvements in the system.

For the fuckers at the Times to suck up to UFT members and admonish the mayor for wrecking the relationship with NYC teachers on the one hand while consistently hammering the union as a harmful entity that keeps children from being properly educated on the other is laugh out loud funny. It is also about as accurate and reality-based as the "Free Judy" opinion pieces they've been publishing ever since the Queen of All Iraq got sent to the pokey for refusing to cooperate with a federal treason investigation involving Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.


We'll find out whether or not the Times are correct about teachers when the membership gets to vote on that miserable contract. We do get the chance to reject it.

Hopefully, the majority of teachers will do so. It happened once before, under Rudy, when they raised the maximum to 25 and gave two zeroes. Though based on a fraudulent dc37 vote, all the other unions knuckled under, and the UFTW took two zeroes and 22 years, from 20.

During this contract, the city experienced an economic boom. Anyway, let's see if the membership accepts this.
I remember when the union members rejected the contract, back in 1995, right?

I hope if this abomination (or anything resembling it) goes to a full vote, the current membership has the same foresight and courage.

I think the contract would be defeated by a pretty big margin in my school (a straw poll had 78% of the union members in my school rejecting the PERB recommendations as a basis for negotiation.) But we are a high school and have the most to lose with the changes to time and coverages and the addition of a sixth class, along with the middle school teachers.

Will elementary schools be willing to vote down a contract resembling the PERB recommendations, however? I would vote down any contract that screwed elementary school teachers, and I'm hoping elementary school teachers feel the same way about this. But I truly don't know. I don't know any elementary school teachers.
Good questions.

I've often read inaccuracies about education in the Times. When we got the week in February, a Times reporter complined that the UFT was burdening parents with child care because they didn't want to come in two days that week, notwithstanding the fact that surrounding communities had taken the week for years.

But every teacher know the Board wnated us to come in for conference days, and that the kids wouldn't be attending anyway.
I work in a K-8 school, and I can tell you right now, elementary school teachers could give 2 shits about middle school teachers (that would be me) teaching an extra period. They already resent the hell out of us for our 10 preps.

The straw poll in my school, however, was 50-1 against the PERB recommendations- I still don't understand how Randi forced this through the DA.

We are screwed.
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