Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Copy of a Copy of a Copy or the Leadership of the UFT


   What happens when you make a copy of a copy of a copy? Strange question and concept. It can be an artistic, scientific or social experiment. Andy Warhol did some interesting art work based on it. I remember working at a temp job in the 1980s and having a conversation about this concept with an art lover. We decided to take a very detailed print and make a hundred Xerox copies. Each copy became slightly less detailed. The hundredth copy was blurry and very subtly different. Not the same and technically inferior. Cloning mammals in the 1990s brought out some interesting findings. It seems that the clones were unfortunately also inferior to the original. They had many problems. On a social front we can look at the UFT. Albert Shanker being the original president, a great union leader. He chose Sandra Feldman as his successor. She was a little less effective, but still very good. Sandra chose Randi who started out good but sank to rock bottom with the 2005 contract. (She left to become AFT president and has basically destroyed us with her preemtive endorsement of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.) Her pick for UFT president was Mike Mulgrew. How has this copy of a copy of a copy been for us? Well we are facing a Republican president, Senate, House of Representatives and tie breaking Supreme Court Justice. Mike's answer is a letter of displeasure that refuses to name president elect Trump. His reason being he doesn't want to alienate Teachers for Trump. Ridiculous on so many levels, but insulting because of the implication of our stupidity.
   Just to cover all artistic fronts here's a little bit of the lyrics of a great song by Nine Inch Nails, A Copy of A Copy of A -
I am just a copy of a copy of a copy
Everything I say has come before
Assembled into something into something into something
I don't know for certain anymore
I am just a shadow of a shadow of a shadow
Always trying to catch up with myself
I am just an echo of an echo of an echo
Listening to someone's cry for help

Look what you had to start
Why all the change of heart?
You need to play your part
A copy of a copy of a
Now look what you've gone and done
Well that doesn't sound like fun
See I'm not the only one
A copy of a copy of a
  And here's a funny little video with the song playing in the background

Monday, November 28, 2016

Poseurs - Randi, Mike and the Guy with the Drum

Vintage 2016 - Bitter Grapes  
  Many years ago I watched a movie called Tales of Terror with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. One story, The Cask of Amontillado, was hilariously enacted by Lorre and Price. Price played a dandy wine connoisseur at a wine tasting exhibition who is interrupted by an almost blindly drunk Peter Lorre looking for free alcohol. Lorre challenges him to a wine testing. The upright gentlemen there are about to throw him out when Lorre calls Price a 'Poseur'. A poseur is playing a part, not the real thing. The term silences the room and Vincent accepts the challenge. (That is my favorite scene from Vincent Price, who has always been my favorite actor.)
   What has me thinking of all this? The term 'Poseur'. The entitled and many of us, have our 'knickers in a twist' over Trump's winning the election. Many of us are outraged. Ok, get over it. How are we going to help those who will be targeted - the poor and the illegal (or undocumented, if you prefer)? Well, we are a sanctuary city that will be heavily fined. I don't believe we should be breaking up families and those fines are not going to be paid for by those protesting. It's going to be paid for by the city's poor and their children. Child protective services, subsidized housing, etc. I watched some protesting Poseurs in front of Trump Tower. I imagine many took mojito breaks in Fidel's memory. Forgive me if I am underwhelmed.
    Poseurs are not only to be found at Trump Tower, but are encamped at 52 Broadway and similarly encapsulated at the AFT headquarters in Washington D.C. Lots of tough talk and letter writing after a life changing mistake by Randi Weingarten in her endorsement of Hillary, (after denigrating Sanders supporters as a bunch of thugs). Why did we allow her to do this in our collective names? Randi in her recent indignant posturing seems tougher than Mike, in that she names Donald Trump in her letter of protest. Randi and Mike, you are both Poseurs - prove me wrong.

Friday, November 25, 2016

What Will a 7 Billion Dollar Federal Reduction Do For NYC?


     As NYC is a Sanctuary City (one that is a safe haven for illegal immigrants), Trump has announced a 7 billion dollar reduction in federal funds Most of those funds go to the most vulnerable populations in the city . Subsidized housing would be drastically cut, causing the shelter population to skyrocket. Free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs would be cut; child protective services and counterterrorism policing would also be greatly curtailed. The city will become a much more difficult place for the poor to live and could become much riskier for potential terrorism. Some I have spoken to say there will be a reduction in the general police force and teachers. Realistically, that could happen. If AFT=Randi Weingarten wants to write a letter of criticism, she should write one about this - instead of antagonizing those who have the potential to make our lives miserable.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Trump Smiles

Trump: Ivanka, how the f-ck am I going to stop the media from attacking me over all this fraud nonsense? 25 million! What else do they want? They need to shut up!

Ivanka: Dad, just wait and give them something else to talk about. Then Tweet about it.

Trump: Thanks. You're right. Twitter is the best thing invented since I invented the red power tie - and I was nice enough to give Mike Wallace credit for it.  I'd be lost without you honey, I wish I could have you as my VP. I'm surrounded by idiots. Where is Pence?

Ivanka: Thanks, Dad. He's gone to some musical. I have to get back to finding you a Secretary of Education. Just stay in today and interview a few people for maids and cabinet posts.

Trump: I couldn't leave if I wanted to. DeBlasio's got a bullhorn downstairs and a thousand dancing liberals.

Ivanka: Well, just stay in and watch some Celebrity Apprentice - that always cheers you up. I'll check on you later.

Later that evening, the news breaks that Pence is publicly chastised by a cast member at Hamilton. Trump falls off his plush golden couch when he hears it. He races to his Twitter account and demands an apology. The media is all over it. Trump smiles to himself .

Friday, November 18, 2016

Oh, Hello, I'm Eva

Fill in your own caption. 

     I've been reading of Trump's meetings with Eva and his planed redirection of large chucks of  school funding to school choice. So what does this mean to public school education in NYC? It means that many parents will have a choice of marginal/failing/receivership schools or charter/ private schools. Charter/private schools that have plenty of funding. Which would you choose for your child? This will effectively close many public schools due to low enrollment. These schools would then close and reopen as charters. What will happen to those public school teachers? Well, I guess we can apply to work in the charters - for far less money, less benefits, no job protections, a longer work day and year. You will be lucky if you are hired, as many charters view public school teachers (not just ATRs) as sub-par teachers. Realistically many of us may find ourselves on the unemployment line. There's always the future hope that the charter schools (that could replace 50-80% of the public schools, especially in the Bronx) could become unionized. President elect Trump will of course, place a Supreme Court judge that will make Justice Clarence Thomas and the former Justice Scalia look like wild and crazy liberals. Goodbye mandatory dues and we know what that would mean for the UFT. All of this could have been avoided if Randi Weingarten legitimately polled  AFT members. (If she did poll anyone - as is claimed, she should release the statistics, the sample population and how that population was chosen. It was probably a sample of two, Mulgrew and herself.)  I believe most of us would have endorsed Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump. There needs to be major changes at the AFT and UFT, if they are to survive - which is extremely doubtful. The 'they' in the previous sentence has to become 'we'. The one saving grace we have is Mayor deBlasio, don't forget that at election time. He has my full support - at least he stood up. The UFT seems afraid to utter Trump's name while writing a manifesto condemning him, but I believe it's worse than that - they are trying to minimally irritate him so as to cause the least negative reaction from 'the president elect' while appearing strong and ethical to it members.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Trump's Election Will Get deBlasio Re-elected


  deBlasio has become the self appointed spokesman for liberal angst in NYC following the aftermath of Trump's victory. Bill counterintuitivly encourages Trump protestors in midtown Manhattan at the start of the holiday season and is completely smitten with the sound of his own voice, emboldened with the righteous tone of indignation. To that I say, bravo! Billy boy, if I were a city resident, I would vote for you. I believe you will now be re-elected, you didn't have a chance before the Trump debacle.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Advice for Herding Cats and ATRs

Please don't compare me to an ATR.
     I'm happy to hear that MORE/ICE are having a meeting with ATRs. Many of us are very frustrated and in different places emotionally, pragmatically and in a variety of surreal ways. Some of us are social workers, guidance counselors, school psychologists and teachers. Some of us just became ATRs, while other have started their second decade in the pool. Some have been targeted. Some are are angry, while others are complacent. Some want to be permanently placed, while others prefer to rotate. Some of us became ATRs via 3020a hearings, while most became ATRs via school closings. I remember a quote from Norm likening organizing ATRs to herding cats. Well, we are all very different, but have some important similarities - just like cats.
   The vast majority of us are seasoned professionals, middle aged and have never been rated negatively. We have not been adequately represented by the UFT in an open and transparent manner. We have never been asked for input into negotiations that may have a major affect on our working conditions. Indeed, we aren't even notified of negotiations and only hear it second or third hand. We are an after thought. We are ignored - or when pressed, lied to and openly discriminated against. There has been a highly effective marketing campaign that branded us as sub-par teachers. The demographics that would prove the veracity of that branding has not been released, even after a suit by the NY Post. An easy fix for Mulgrew- release the info from the UFT. Instead he put provisions into the 2014 contract that made it much easier to terminate ATRs. When commenting he said these provisions would make it easier for those who shouldn't be teaching to find a different career. When ATRs attempted to start a chapter we were refused, the UFT saying that this would solidify a temporary group. A group that is over a decade old, with no end in sight. These are the items we have in common. The most egregious items however have not been listed. Rotating from school to school (we haven't  been told how long this year), subbing in classes out of our license area and sometimes out of our grade level. We are treated like defacto homeless babysitters. Often no place to put our belongings, no restroom key, no rights to school parking and often we are treated with an undisguised level of distain by everyone.
   My advice when herding cats or ATRs is to find common ground and get consensus from that starting point. Thank you MORE/ICE for taking this iniative.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Resign, Randi, Resign !

Never! You need me more than ever!
   If Randi Weingarten had a trace of decency she would resign. She is a complete incompetent, mutes those who have differing viewpoints and has consistently made decisions that have threatened individual teacher's careers as well as that of teaching as a profession. From her constant capitulations, accommodations, and self serving interests - she as proven herself to be spectacularly destructive for us. The shit storm that will reign down on all of us could have been stopped by the AFT's endorsement of Sanders. Remember this while you're watching Trump, Christie, Guliani and Gingrich gleefully privatizing schools, dismantling unions, raising Social Security age, and drafting your kids. The only problem is she would hand pick a mindless sycophant, like Mulgrew, that would continue her dismal legacy of failure.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Media - A Profound Misunderstanding of the American People and Statistics

  I was certain Trump was going to be elected shortly after he announced his candidacy. Many people said I was wrong, crazy and delusional. The media vilified and mocked him, while their constant statistics proved he couldn't win at each juncture. I knew he would win because I have no faith in intelligent people to use common sense. That, reality TV and the constant need for entertainment won Trump the election. What sealed the pure certainty that Trump would win was the AFT/UFT  endorsement of  Clinton - a veritable kiss of death. Make no mistake Trump as president will profoundly change our lives.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Future Scenarios - Trump and Hillary

Former Teacher for Trump supporter, 2020
   I just received a pathetic plea from Mulgrew, for Hillary. Many have told me it's impossible for Trump to win. These are the same people who have continually told me Trump would be finished a month after his announcement to run, that this current contract is great, that our dues pay for medical, that the ATR pool is temporary, deBlasio is fabulous and that Mulgrew has our best interests at heart. Tonight while studying American history my daughter asked me to imagine our country's future. This is the frightening or wonderful scenario I foresee if Trump is our next president. (I know you're still planning on writing in Bernie Sanders, but that's nothing but a waste of time.) What will President Trump mean for us? Well, he has said he'll disband the DOE. What will replace it? Charters, of course. Look for the privatization of many civil service jobs and the end to most pensions. I do believe he will cut taxes, but most middle class people will be paid much less than they are now, as most states will continue to become right to work states. Many of us will lose our jobs. There will be cuts to everything including Social Security. Say goodbye to your 7% TDA. There is a very good chance we will have an economic collapse and climate change will accelerate with very crazy weather. Trump will continue to deny it. To end the economic collapse the military will be bulked up and the wall will be built. Immigration will come to a halt, except for those who are highly educated and trained in highly specialized fields.There will be a big push to revamp our infrastructure. There will also be at least two wars. Cyber terrorism will continue to grow. There will be some of us that will go off the grid - no technology. Russia will become a close ally. There will be a begrudging recognition that we have an empire and that we have to manage it to our advantage. There will be tremendous technological innovation. There will be continued massive displacement of workers because of it. Virtual  reality will change human interaction in a profound way. There will be a new drug developed that will replace marijuana and alcohol with no side effects and it will be legalized to keep the masses passive.That and Bitcoins will take the place of our devalued currency for a short time. There will be several attempts made on Trump's life from foreign countries. Pence will succeed Trump as president. Our country will be radically changed in every way imaginable. Trump's Supreme Court nominees will stop abortion, affirmative action, and effectively end gun control. We will have a much more conservative nation, the media will be actively controlled, and there will be no privacy.

    My daughter then asked me to imagine what will happen if Hillary wins. Most things will remain marginally the same, with charter schools very slowly growing and Obama care revamped. There will be an accelerated push to impeach her, but it will not succeed. Stronger gun control will be put into effect. Supreme Court nominees will keep the status quo. Bill will actively advise her, as she did him while in office. There will be an economic downturn and Hillary will stop immigration out of necessity. Her health may take a down turn and Bill would take defacto control, not Keane. Overall it's much better for all of us if Hillary gets in. 
     Just my dark musings on what could happen. The choice is scary or boring. I prefer boring to living in a tent in the park.