Saturday, November 21, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving



   Well, Thanksgiving is almost here. One of my friends had a type of half humorous pool as to when the schools would close down – most had a guessed around Halloween and the day after election day. My own guess has been the Friday before Thanksgiving. That’s when the weather starts to take a turn and teachers nerves are frayed and kids even need a break. Thanksgiving week should always have been taken off. For many it always has been. In my long running jaunt as an ATR, it was one of the worst weeks to work. In many of the schools I was in, 50% of the staff had taken off. Those hires from the Bloomberg days had to fly back to Oshkosh and Boise to see their families. Subs and ATR‘s were left trying to control their classes. I still remember those days vividly, I often felt like a lion tamer without a whip or a tranquilizer (for me or the students). The Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving was like reaching the finish line of a grueling marathon, in what was in actuality a three day week. But enough of that, DeBlasio finally did the right thing while working on an assembly line of a year that has left him looking like a lobotomized Lucy trying to keep up. 

This year has been rough for all of us and it’s not over yet. I’ve been working since September and it’s not easy on anyone. The school here does everything correctly. Zooming and teaching physical classes simultaneously with another teacher can be grueling in a new way. It’s all the little things that can make you feel like Bruce Campbell being attacked by tiny evil miniatures of himself. Zooming, ahem... Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Then there’s the mask. The F**king mask. The first week wearing it all day was pure torture. The chafing on the ears and face! Worse than that, many a masked pedagog, including me, realized we couldn’t stand our own breath and dentists starting seeing flocks of new patients in the quest to solve many a student’s insultingly true perennial complaint. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking - stay home, but it’s a thousand times better than  tip-toeing around the house while my family are all working and attending classes on Zoom. I like getting dressed and leaving, and I love teaching and/or helping students. For the millions of newly homebound, sweatpants and tee shirts are the 2020 uniform of choice. Many have seemed to embrace this new life of isolation and I’m starting to wonder if anything will be the same. If I’m honest to you and myself, I’d say no. Why go anywhere if you can do it from the comfort of your home? It’s easy to start thinking that way, but it’s a dangerous and false paradigm shift in thinking. Will we all become a type of soap opera, novella loving junkie living our lives once, twice or exponentially removed from living in the physical world? A technological life trade that seems free and easy, but in actuality is extremely expensive and will continue to be so. 

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Remember life and don’t get too comfortable. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

On the Edge of a Precipice

“We are living in dangerously weird times now.  Smart people just shrug and admit they’re dazed and confused.  The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb.  It’s the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it.  Doom is the operative ethic.”  Hunter S. Thompson    

     Some folks have been asking me to post about our current state of affairs. Where do I begin? Mulgrew and DeBlasio screwed us again. We get half our money this month and half in July. This is money that was owed to us interest free from a decade ago. Very soon those two less than quarter wits will be going to the rank and file looking for another loan, screaming that layoffs are coming. Layoffs for the bright and shiny new clones they just hired with our money. And don’t forget all those lovely dues that made up for the 7% that opted out. (Wait until next June, Mulgrew, it will hit 30%) The layoffs will come anyway, but your money may save DeBlasio and Carrananza’s crew from getting laid off. You know - the three tiers of Bureaucrats, that no one has any idea about.  Remember how the DOE treated us and that they had the unmitigated gall to renege on an owed debt. Vote accordingly. I don’t believe NYC can survive another year with DeBlasio in office. If Mulgrew had any sense he’d make an ugly public fight on everything with him and try to regain some trust and respect from the rank and file. 

     Mulgrew is a walking, talking joke of a Union president. No one believes anything out of his mouth. Everything he accuses Trump of he is guilty of himself. If someone, anyone would challenge him, he/she would get incredible traction. You listening Lydia? Press him, hard. Go on YouTube and blast him for his betrayals, stupidity and cowardice. You will succeed. Even retirees are cursing him - especially those who were ATRs, owed money or were forced to leave because the filthy warehouses, called schools, were opened for free babysitting services, while every other large cities’ school systems remained closed. 

   Oh yeah, and those schools aren’t managed even marginally correctly in terms of virus control. There is no mandatory testing for anyone and if many are asymptotic, the ‘middle age spread’ will have a new deadly meaning with the onset of cold weather. Some are saying we are in for a very cold winter. I’ve never seen so many fat squirrels with bushy tails. They have never dug up my plants and flowers, but this fall they have destroyed everything while hiding their acorns. (I know life is rough for me.) I also ran into a scientist who told me the sun spots have him concerned. They can cut the warmth from the sun by 1/3 or more. Hopefully the squirrels and scientists are wrong. But, if they are right and we have a bad winter, the virus could get very bad again.

    That leads me to the presidential election. Could Trump be any more boorish? That debate was a disgrace, how about some civility? Biden would have put his foot in his mouth if given half a chance. I don’t hate Trump. (I love the fact that he’s anti-abortion. It is the single greatest evil in this country. Read up on it objectively.) I don’t hate Biden. I think I once helped him find his way out of the restroom of Peter Luger’s. I’m joking, of course, but you get my point. He has some issues, but they are more or less equalized by Trump’s. At least he finally admitted he’s Irish Catholic. (I’m tired of self hating Irish Americans claiming or acquiescing to be Wasps (Pence), Italians (half of LI and Queens) or Mexicans (Beto).) Why isn’t the Roman Catholic Church excommunicating Biden, Cuomo and the rest of the gang that are stomping for abortion? The RC Church is a lot like the UFT. They have incredible unused power in an extremely undemocratic setting. No offense intended and I left both. 

   Let’s get back to the title. We are on a precipice. We can lose everything that most of us have spent our whole lives working for. You can sit back and allow it or you can vote, speak up and fight. Remember there is no shame in being afraid - it allows you to be careful while you fight. Never allow fear to freeze you up, allow it to spur you to great things. Our best days are not over unless we allow them to be. Stand up, refuse, revolt and fight for what you believe in. That time has come. Stay strong and think for yourself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

National Karma

    I got home last night after a restful hiatus in the bucolic Hudson, NY. There was a large protest on Sunday in the local park against police brutality. It was peaceful and well represented by all groups, young and old, Black and White, and rich and poor. There was also a police presence there and in front of Hudson Correctional. I got up this morning and my Bronx/Yonkers neighborhood looked like it was invaded by human locusts, which indeed it was. Stores were looted and trash cans burned. These locusts weren’t protestors. They are using Mr. Floyd’s death and the protestors for their own thievery and violence. It’s disgusting and it seems that the mayor and governor don’t truly understand the difference between the looters and the protestors. If they did none of this would have happened. Their fawning accommodations to liberalism for political gain has allowed countless people to get hurt and businesses looted. I would remind them that NYC is one of the most segregated cities in the country.

   Segregation condones and manifests the foul intangibility of stereotypes into profound evil. How long before roving packs or individuals take out their fear and anger on those of the offending race? How long before store owners start shooting into the marauding crowds of teens, like the ones we have all babysat for those fake grades and diplomas? I’ve heard many times today that if the schools were open this wouldn’t have happened.   I’ve also heard many times today that if the country was open and people were working this wouldn’t have happened.. There may be some truth to that. (You can bet your bottom dollar you’ll be back in the classroom ASAP, virus or no virus.) But, there’s also the truth that systemic racism is alive and well in this country and our history of slavery, on which this country was built, has not been adequately resolved. Until it is, and dealt with openly, there will always be another Eric Gardner, another jail built, more drug addiction, more welfare, more homelessness and those, let’s not forget those, worthless high school diplomas. The UFT speaks out to honor Mr. Floyd, while staying silent on educational fraud and behavioral negligence. We should all be marching about that.

   This is my last post. I want to thank all my readers over the years. Always fight the good fight.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Pandemic, Pandession and False Prophets

    Did the title get you? Originally, I was going to add monster hornets and UFOs, as well. If you’ve ever read The Book of Revelations there are some signs.  Lately I haven’t been thinking as much of them and the pandemic as I have the pandession - I borrowed the term from The Irish Times  King Andrew Cuomo, self-proclaimed expert on everything - the pandemic, pandession, and everything else, is on his daily tirade telling us what to do, believe and trampling on our rights as Americans and as human beings, under the guise of an emergency. (No, I’m not a crazed Trump loving right wing Republican from Staten Island.) Now, he’s saying no one should be prosecuted for Corona Virus deaths. He’s doing that because he directly caused hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths by sending the infected into nursing homes - that previously had no virus cases. So add ‘treats us as stupid fools’ to my litany of complaints against him. Randy Andy also stopped deBlasio from quarantining the city a full five days before he deemed it necessary, all the while building a fan base for a future presidential and condom run. I guess that proved who’s the real Italian. Mussolini must be turning in his grave.

    Moving on to federal false prophets of the apocalypse - allow me a preface, I thought Obama was a terrible President and I’m not sure he would have done any better than the Toddler in Charge - Uncle Tweety, but at least he wasn’t a raving jackass. Now he’s bragging about taking a medicine that he’s heavily invested in, because doctors told the public it’s worthless. He claims to be popping pills like Judy Garland, in hopes it may get the stock prices up or perhaps it will rid us of him with the side effect of heart attacks for the morbidly obese. No, we’re not that lucky - he’s not taking them. He thinks everyone is stupid, same as our local prophets of doom. I’ve had enough of all them.

    Lest, you think I’ve forgotten your accommodating leader, Mulgrew - I haven’t. He’s telling you there will be no layoffs - only excessing. I hope that assuages your fears, but also hope you aren’t gullible enough to believe that. Follow it to its logical conclusion. There has to be a drastic reduction in class sizes for excessing to work based on the Fair Student Funding formula. With the pandemic there will be, but the number of classes will explode at a time when the budget will be cut by 50%. There’s no way there won’t be layoffs, unless Trump gives NYC several billion dollars. Between Betsy, Andy and Bill - there’s no way that’s happening.

    My impetus for writing this post was reading James Eterno’s ICEUFT blog this morning.  There always seems to be someone constantly urging everyone to out drop out of the union. The site they tout is an anti-Union organization that wants right to work states. I stayed in one of Boca Harry’s Ft. Lauderdale’s condos last year and met many teachers working like slaves for less than half what we make. I visited Kentucky three years ago and it was even worse. If you want a teachers pension, you give up your Social Security! Yeah, I know - I didn’t believe it either - but that’s what happens when you don’t have a strong union. That’s the path that’s being laid out for us.

   All the problems we are experiencing now are because we haven’t exercised our rights in voting for candidates that truly represent us. Trump, Cuomo, deBlasio and Mulgrew have to go if we want to have some semblance of safety, sanity and solvency. We all have to become actively involved or we will become stuck. Right now we are all stuck. When the next plague arrives, or war, or Monster Hornets or the UFOs land do you want the bozos in charge representing us? Not one of them has used common sense or compassion.

    What follows is a signed letter by Buddhist leaders. (I’m not a Buddhist.) Please read it and think about it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Wednesday, May 6th

    Every passing day seems more and more surreal. I have a friend who used to say when asked about his day - ‘Same shit, different day’ ; now he says - ‘Different shit, same day’. Sorry for the vulgarity, but you get my point. I haven’t felt like this since I jumped out of the ATR pool. Like then every day seems the same. Like then I don’t trust those I should. Like then it feels as if there’s another hidden agenda being played out. Like then I feel like a pawn in a chess game. I haven’t verbalized that feeling until now. I think it was the shock of Chaz’s passing. Those daily routines, especially under times of stress, can be very comforting. Chaz was both that and empowering. I noticed he hadn’t written in a while and there were no comments - which was very unusual. Upon reading of his passing, I felt a shift. An end of an era. Most of my ATR buddies have retired. Teacher friends are all getting out for good in June. ‘For good’ Finally and for their own well being. What happens when there’s no one left that remembers teachers have rights and that teaching is a profession?
     Chaz was loathed by some in both the UFT and DOE, for keeping us informed of our rights. I remember a meeting in which an ATR called out a UFT rep on the true number of ATRs and rotations: “False! Where did you hear that? , “Chaz’s blog”, “What?! You believe a blogger over your own Union?!”  I sure did, and he never steered me wrong. I also remember an ATR refusing a principal’s demand to sub in a different school for the day. The ATR refused, citing Chaz’s blog. The principal called the Chapter Leader (who didn’t know the rule) and the DOE (which didn’t know the rule). Both said it was ridiculous to follow a blogger’s assertion over a principal’s demand, but the ATR rightfully stood his ground. That ATR was me. I also remember friends calling me from a school in which teachers were being assaulted daily. This was before I was blogging and I contacted Chaz. Chaz did a expose on the school and the UFT finally became involved and the principal was removed. Chaz and blogging was not something the UFT and DOE had anticipated.  During the Bloomberg regime there was a  campaign of divide and conquer. The schools were broken up, teacher cafeterias and lounges closed and everything that was once shared became isolated.  Veteran teachers were  primarily targeted for their institutional memory, rather than their salary. Salaries became a means in which to rid the system of the institutional memory via Fair Student Funding.The evidence  was the DOE started replacing veteran teachers with new teachers and had to pay both salaries. The UFT became a silent partner of the DOE, as their precious dues were doubled with the new hires. Divide and conquer in all its glory. I suppose they figured no one would realize it. How would they? Everyone was isolated in their classroom; if they were lucky enough to have one, and all these new teachers didn’t know better. Chaz changed all that. He became a resource.  He became a font for our institutional memory. He was the bee that stung.

     Chaz is gone. Many of us are no longer teaching. Teaching and the UFT have become frightening caricatures of what they once were. We can remember and hope for better days or we can do as Chaz did - fight for them. May G-d bless Chaz and his family.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

R.I.P. Chaz

Incredibly saddened to hear Eric (Chaz) passed. My condolences to his friends and family. We sat together on a now defunct UFT ATR committee. He encouraged my perseverance as an ATR and blogging in numerous ways. He tirelessly helped many ATRs, teachers and students. May he rest in peace.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Trump and Mulgrew - During This Crisis we Must Remain Loyal

    I’ve been getting a lot of hits from a post I did over five years ago - I’ll reprint it. The particulars have changed  - Cuomo is now seen positively - but, somethings remain the same - Cuomo is still the devil.  Mulgrew remains spectacularly incompetent and riding the ever growing wave of apathy and fear. He has company with his very own nicknamed ‘45’, Trump. Both will cry for loyalty and support because of the current crisis. June and November will eventually arrive - if we can ever get out of April.

Thursday, January 29, 2015.

Should Union Members give Unconditional Loyality During this Perceived Time of Crisis?

Interesting question. Let's delve into its meanings, both overt and hidden. What exactly is a union member? The obvious answer is someone who pays dues. The less obvious is someone who is represented and has a voice. Are you a union member? Am I? As one of 1800 ATRs, with no chapter and one representative, I certainly don't feel like one. We have been given an abject and subordinate role - solidified and legitimized by the last contract.

What is unconditional loyalty? For most that would mean showing fidelity, unity, and solidarity.  For our union it is silencing the calls for fairness and democracy. It is taking oaths of loyality. It is voting as a drone, not as a representative.
It is allowing yourself to be purposely led astray, despite your mind and very being screaming, STOP!     UFT: "Don't be silly, be good sheep and follow.".

What does a time of crisis mean? I would say its when there is a threat of irreparable damage. Does Cuomo represent a crisis? He would like to think so. He wants to be noticed and he wants a fight. Does he have the power to do what he wants? In my humble opinion, he does not. Am I forgetting Silver? No. That sword cuts both ways and its still swinging. Does the UFT feel threatened? I don't think so. You don't respond to a threat with a "tweet". It does however feel threatened by its dissenting members. The rallying cry for (and from) unity is a ploy.