Sunday, March 19, 2017

UFT Breaks 45 Year Gentleman's Agreement Concerning NYSUT

For those who might have read my recent posts concerning the upcoming NYSUT elections and have interpreted my writings as an endorsement of Unity and not Stronger Together, well you are wrong.

Though I and The Crack Team disagree with ST's tactics, we here at SBSB hope that ST comes out victorious at the RA at the posh and quite expensive New York Hilton April 7-8.

But something reaks within the upcoming NYSUT election and the smell is permeating from Unity. Read on. Be patient.

Several sources reached out to The Crack Team and suggested that we read pages 67-8, and 114 from "Teachers United: The Rise of New York State United Teachers." We did.

Though we didn't read it all, we did read the pages that were suggested. We read how in 1972 Long Island assemblyman Charles Jerebek was attacking our profession. How the UFT, while quite powerful in NYC, was weak within the confines of Albany.

There was a lot of bad blood amongst the teachers unions of New York State. The UFT was aligned with the AFT, upstate with the NEA. Albert Shanker knew that to have clout in Albany the disparate parties must join together.

Shanker reached out to then Yonkers Federation of Teachers president Walter Tice. Shanker shared with Tice how the Albnay politicians played one group off of another. In unity (pardon the pun) there was strength. Not only will this reconciliation help NYC and upstate teachers unions, but help the thousands of fence sitters organize as well.

But, and this is what brings us to 2017, there was something more. Something that was never memorialized, something that was never put in writing, but initiated by Shanker.

There is (or maybe now WAS) a gentleman's agreement that a UFT member will never, ever run nor be president of NYSUT (Again, this is from several well qualified inner sanctum sources). Today in 2017, with the nomination of Andy Pallotta, that agreement as the same worth as a $3 bill.

Look back to the forming of NYSUT. There has never been someone from the UFT as president. Why is this year different? Why now?

Chances are, the way the election and it's process is stacked, the UFT/Unity backed candidate will win. Yes, Karen Magee was the pre-ordained UFT/Unity candidate but she showed to much independent thought (especially when it came to testing) that she was "promoted" and asked to go away. And besides, Karen was not a UFT member.

Could the UFT/Unity machine had selected someone other than a UFT member to run as president of NYSUT? Surely yes, but that would run the risk again of someone exhibiting independent thought. So what to do?

Violate the gentleman's agreement that Shanker made and insert someone you can control. Someone who will tow the party line. Someone who will ask permission first then speak.

Shanker must be rolling over in his grave right now.

With the shitstorm on the education horizon. what with HB-610, a rehearing of Friedrich's, Betsy DeVos, Trump, Cuomo, why the hell is UFT/Unity so tone deaf?? If they are so desperate to keep power isn't the easiest method to that end to work for the betterment of it's members instead of power grab after power grab? Aren't we a better union and able to serve our core constituents (our students) more appropriately when there are more voices and more ideas and coming together in a natural, organic method?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

When it is Time to Move On

Everything is over. Done. Kaput. Finis.

The lawsuits are done. We settled both suits (I believe last time I discussed this, one suit had been settled). A tremendous weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I can't say enough about my wife who unconditionally stood by my side through all this craziness the last, almost, 5 years and showed me such strength when I was at my lowest. She turned out, as I would tell her, to be my Yoko Ono.

Enough also can't be said for my brilliant lawyer Bryan Glass as well as his partner Jordan Harlow. Both Bryan and Jordan are beyond honorable men and lawyers and both complement each other in very unique ways. If you are in trouble with the DOE and need a lawyer you can not go wrong at all with either. Just don't bring up the Red Sox with Jordan. He for some reason thinks they are going to win the World Series this year.

Anyway, it is time for me to move on. 

I'm thinking this today for some things I have read about this week.

One, is the articles in the Post earlier this week (I refuse to even link to them) about the Renewal Schools. Someone, I shan't say who, tried to rope me into commenting for the articles. I didn't want to. That chapter in my life is over. It is time to move on. I don't need the attention. I don't need to be the center of the teacher universe.

Another article is from one minor NYC newspaper about a teacher suing the DOE.

I wish this teacher the best. But sometimes, and I learned this, there is a time to say enough is enough. As a lawyer who is a close personal friend of mine once shared with me, "Our system is not about justice, it is about how money I can get for you." And, "You never know what a jury will do."

There are two kinds of justice. First is Revenge, and if this is your aim, your soul and katra will wither and die. Then, there is True Justice, in which a wrong is righted, but it must be for the correct reasons.

Let God or whatever deity or spiritual power you believe in, take care of the "Revenge" (I don't even like using that word).

I didn't want my lawsuit to consume me nor define me. Yes, there were times that I wanted blood (figuratively). There were also times through this lawsuit,  that I got very down, that I said "FUCK IT!", and just wanted to quit.

But I could let it define me, or give up. There are much more important things in my life. One, is my peace of mind, my mental state. The others are right here in my house. My wife and my son.

My marriage was at times strained due to the lawsuit. But my wife was very involved in my case. Coming to court. Reassuring me. Strengthening my resolve.

My son needed me too. In fact, I needed him more. He will be 16 this June and entering college in two years. I can't, could not, and would not, neglect my role as his father for this lawsuit. He needs a father full time. If anything good came out of this I believe he has a better understanding of how to stand up for himself, and for those who need help the most.

I see how some have become so consumed with their own lawsuits. One person I know, and I won't share his name, has continuously taken bad advice from the wrong person (time
after time) and has practically lost his mind wallowing and chasing every windmill both real and imagined.

Nor do I have any inclination that my lawsuit was going to deliver teachers to the promised land of freedom. I'm not that full of myself. I am happy with who I am.

Not every teacher can fight back like I, or others have. That is something that some just can't wrap their brains around. All I can do, and I have reached out and been reached out to, is give any teacher in distress what their options are, everything and anything they can do, and let them make the choice that is best for them. And at that point, support them unconditionally, in anyway that is required.

And another thing I have realized. For all the crap I have been through, there have been teachers that are much worse off than I can even fathom. I know I might have my moments, but there but for the grace of God go I. How can I truly grow and move on as a person and a teacher if I think I had it bad ,when so many of my brethren are hurting and in deep, deep pain?

I am not giving up the struggle for our schools, our communities, and our educators. But the wise thing  to know is when to use the chisel instead of a hammer and to remember the difference.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The NYCDOE Sues a Teacher and the Post Loves It!

Here we go again with the NYCDOE and attempting to separate teachers from their direct deposits.

Chaz touched on this Thursday in his blog. Math teacher Alan Herz of Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Queens was brought up on 3020-a charges. According to the New York Post in 2014 Mr Herz allegedly made a sexist remark as well as an anti-Semitic remark to students; 
 “Oh yeah you don’t get it because you’re a female” and another, “I know how you Jewish people are, and it’s okay because I am Jewish, I know how Jewish people run business”
Now. Let's think for minute. First one needs the context in which the remarks were made, (and that is if they were made). And secondly, why is the DOE spending all these thousands of dollars on going after Mr Herz whilst a simple letter to the file will suffice?

But the Post must throw even more inane and mundane crud at Mr Herz.

According to the cherry picking of the  Post, Mr Herz's
...students and their parents gave him a middling three out of five stars on the website Rate My Teachers.
“The worst teacher my daughter ever had,” said one reviewer in October.
“Not clear and boring,” said another in 2007.
All the while ignoring;
Me.Herz is the kind of teacher who teaches the lesson and gets his point across. Not only, does he teach you the cirriculum; but he gives you life lesssons on the side. His teaching methods were full proof and worked. He would always have a demonstration model for us or an analogy which helped the kids understand.  

Great teacher, helped me sooo much to get accustomed to common core math, has creative ways of teaching
But my favorite part of the Post's story is that (Hold on to your seats!) the NYCDOE is suing both Mr Herz and his arbitrator of his 3020-a, Philip Maier.

Why the arbitrator? Apparently it appears that Mr Maier follows the law.
(Meier) never even heard the merits of the case because he determined that education officials blew a 90-day deadline to issue written findings following an investigation.  
So the DOE screws up and sues the arbitrator and Mr Herz?

We here at SBSB are praying, hoping beyond hope that this case is seen through. Think about it. The DOE in its chutzpah and stupidity is doing everything it can to set a precedent for each and every arbitrator to be sued by whichever side does not like an arbitrator's decision. I even mentioned to Über lawyer Bryan Glass if we could have sued the arbitrator in my case. Bryan, and rightly so at the time, demurred and did not think anything can happen. Maybe now, any teacher that does not like an arbitrator's decision will be able to sue.

Yes, this also means that the DOE will be able to sue, but think if this. Would anyone want to be an arbitrator for 3020-a's if they risked themselves to civil litigation? This just might blow up the entire system.

As for suing Mr Herz, what is the DOE going to get from him? Blood? Again, Mr Herz is sitting in the catbird seat. Where is the standing the DOE has to go after Mr Herz for his comments? Mr Herz is not responsible for the arbitrator doing his job as well as the DOE not doing theirs. We here at SBSB look forward to both defendants having fun with the discovery that they will receive from the DOE. Mr Herz's case is in state court and this leaves one to wonder if he can seek court costs.

As for the Post feeling the need to use Rate My Teachers and the be all and end all of the type of teacher Mr Herz is, remember this. The ratings are subjective!!! In my house none of us cared for my son's baseball travel team coach last year. He knew his baseball, but he did not click with my son. Other parents liked him. Other parents were in the middle. Doesn't make him a horrible coach or that he doesn't know baseball. It was all subjective.

The DOE again is pissing away monies that are better spent on the learning process and the New York Post is once again the New York Post.