Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Uncivil Union

In the fight over charter schools, our main beef has been over the hypocrisy of some of the proponents-in particular the comedy team of Morticia and Murdoch who, with straight faces, fail to talk about how the bum rushing for admittance to these educational alternatives is a direct indictment of, both the failure of the mayoral control regime, and of the bill of particulars for its continuance that they foisted on a hapless public last year. The same holds for their current charges against the UFT-a force that the NY Post in particular went out of its way to praise for its role in insuring another Bloomberg tenure at the helm of the leaky boat.

In fact, as Sol Stern has pointed out, the Bloomberg regime and the UFT were co-conspiritors in the continuance of a mayoral control system that the two tabs promoted with out sized zealotry. As we pointed out: "But perhaps the most egregious nature of this campaign was the role played by the double dippers at the UFT-the one player that could have derailed the mayor's legislative effort. Here's what the union did: "In undermining the integrity of the tests, the Bloomberg administration had many powerful enablers, including the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). At the celebratory press conferences each year, union president Randi Weingarten appeared beside the mayor, nodding in approval as he detailed amazing stories of student improvement. Weingarten told confidants that the test scores were too good to be true. But in public, she maintained the fiction: Didn't the rising scores prove, after all, that teachers had earned their unprecedented raises of 43 percent since Bloomberg took over the schools?"

But that being said-and we owe a debt to our new editor Wayne Barret for the clarification-it needs to be pointed out the the UFT is once again four square behind the unsupportable status quo. We say once again, because that's where the union was when we first came on to the scene over forty years ago at PS 128 in Washington Heights-at the start of the controversy over community control of the schools. We, as per what was to become our MO, were on the side of the community activists; at least until the outpouring of anti-Semitism became to much for us to maintain the allegiance. But before we parted ways, we were featured on Page 2 of the NY Post , and interviewed by the lovely young Gloria Rojas at Channel 2 News; teaching a class on the sidewalk in front of a locked school.

That was then, and this is, as they say, now-but the dysfunction that we witnessed in the public school arena back then hasn't miraculously disappeared by any means; and mayoral control has done little to alter that status quo that, once again, the UFT is fighting furiously to manintain. Which is why it is time to give choices to those parents who are searching for a better education for their children. Instead of the DOE giving schools a phony letter grade, let parents vote with their feet.

But why stop at charters if we're looking to provide parents with as much choice as possible? Why not an experimental voucher program that gives kids with untapped potential the ability to shop among existing private schools? That's why we supported the DC voucher experiment that was killed by all of the hypocritical private school loving Washington pols.

But are most pressing gripe on this controversy remains-the sheer effrontery of Morticia and Murdoch in their charter school cheerleading. What they should be forced to preface all of their hoo ha with, is an admission that their current enthusiasm is a direct contradiction of their sycophantic promotion of mayoral control. Let them say clearly that the parent stampede to charters is the failing grade for mayoral control that the tabloids should have been honest enough to award Kleinberg with last year.