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 https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/david-mcwilliams-we-are-living-through-a-pandession-here-s-how-we-escape-1.4253571?mode=amp.  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. https://www.lionsroar.com/buddhist-leaders-pen-open-letter-encouraging-americans-to-vote/?mc_cid=06dd7406f5&mc_eid=c3ab956fb1

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.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Trump: Save Yourself by Ingesting Disinfectants

    I watched Trump this morning, at one of his pow-wows, claim that disinfectant and/or UV light inside the body could have wonderful effects on the coronavirus. (There are many copies on YouTube - see it in its entirety.) At first, I thought I was watching some type of comedy sketch with an excellent Trump impersonator like John Didomenico.  https://youtu.be/ZkffnHnaPAU Unfortunately, that was not the case, it was real. I had to rewatch it four times to get the full impact. I’d have to say that in it’s implication, it was one of the more frightening things I’ve witnessed.  It tells everyone, with a half a brain, that this man is completely unfit to be President of the United States. Trump needs to be removed from office immediately. I’ve tried to be objective when it it comes to Trump - he has done some good things and he has done plenty of bad. He got us the ventilators we asked for; he stopped immigration from China at a crucial time, but he also initially downplayed the crisis - calling it a Democratic hoax. I don’t trust anything that comes out of his mouth. I just heard him say he was being sarcastic. He might have gotten away with that save for asking his cringing doctor to confirm his statements. Teen thugs are apt to say much the same, when caught threatening another student or teacher - I was only joking. Imagine Trump, as a teacher, going into a class and telling his students, during a long lecture on cleanliness, to clean themselves, from the inside out, by drinking some hand sanitizer. What would happen to that teacher? First, there would be calls from parents asking for an explanation. Then Donny Trump would be called into the principal’s office to explain himself (and it wouldn’t have been the first time). This could go one of three ways. If a student actually tried it, there would be a police arrest and termination proceedings. If no student tried it, the principal would ask for an explanation. ‘Sarcasm’ wouldn't cut it. He/ she would explain that those in authority positions can not endanger those they are entrusted with with ‘sarcasm’. She/he would then make an Oors report and investigators would remove Donny to a DOE rubber room. Eventually, Trump would be seen by a psychiatrist to ascertain if he was fit to teach. No matter what that determined, Donny would never again see the inside of classroom as a teacher. In all likelihood, his career would be over and he would be the poster boy of incompetent teachers on the front page of the NY Post, brought out each time teachers asked for a raise or stood up for their rights.

    As President, Trump must be held to a higher standard than that of a NYC teacher. There must be calls to ascertain his mental fitness. This is not the time for dangerous suggestions or dangerous  sarcasm. This wasn’t sarcasm, this is much scarier than the virus. (Here’s another video from John D. https://youtu.be/s72rHFrMn5U   ) Trump has the power to devastate this country more efficiently and effectively than a pandemic.

Stay well and safe, (and please don’t drink the disinfectant).

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Dr. Jekyll’s Point of View


    Another good friend, ‘Dr. Jekyll’, works tirelessly for teachers who have been abused, targeted and brought up for termination. He is what the entire UFT should be - fearless, out spoken, knowledgeable and personable. What follows is his writing. Thank you, Pat, for all your hard work on the behalf of teachers throughout NYC.

While some find it fashionable to slam the UFT for its' shortcomings, it is important to remember, that despite some missteps, members are in a good place as far as wages and benefits are concerned.  In addition, the latest contract has included several mechanisms that allow for increased member input into how their schools function.  (Full disclosure, I am a part time employee of the UFT) .      

Consider that the UFT, indeed all municipal unions, are prohibited from striking by the Taylor Law, thus depriving membership of its' most potent weapon in labor disputes, the strike.  While the previous contract postponed wage increases to future years, the provisions of the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law mandate that without a contract the terms of the previous contract remain in effect indefinitely.  This amendment does not contain any mechanism for wage increases during the period when the previous contract remains in effect, yet the UFT was able to make sure that wage increases were obtained, albeit deferred for several years. Considering the constraints imposed by law, this outcome should be considered a success. Better late than never, no?   

Deprived of the right to strike, the UFT has used its' muscle to help elect public officials who align with our goals and helped shape public opinion to mesh with these goals.  UFT members are currently educating their students under very challenging circumstances, further burnishing our image with the public.  The union has worked closely with the DOE during this crisis, at the same time protecting members from the predation of the DOE, as demonstrated by a previous posting which outlined the tradeoffs gained by agreeing to work during Spring Break.  

We have a strong, vibrant union.  Can things be improved?  Certainly, as no organization is perfect. Members need to become more involved in union matters if they desire change.  Those who have gripes should be working with Chapter Leaders and Delegates to confront these issues and/or consider running for positions within the union.