Tip of the cap to Whitney Tilson for directing me to this article by Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice, who calls on mayor Bloomberg to “roll the union.” My, how far attitudes toward charters have changed on Left. Everywhere, that is, except in Massachusetts.
If Bloomberg wins this year, it will be the fifth consecutive time that a Republican candidate has carried a 5-1 Democratic city. This time, the mayor isn’t running as a registered Republican—as he did the first two times—and he wants us to believe that he is an Independent with a Democratic tilt.
Democrats just can’t take back the big office in Gotham, and the Union of Federated Teachers has learned new tactics to gain the best contracts they can.
Neutral in the 1993, 1997, and 2005 mayoral elections, the UFT has learned that it can reap its grandest rewards at the bargaining table when it does nothing to help the Democratic loser, even an incumbent like David Dinkins…
Weingarten is using raging controversies over charters and mayoral control to get the best contract she can at a time when there’s no money in the till. The charter war is already dirty and destructive. And with Weingarten acting like an unguided missile, launching attacks on the mayor she must also woo, there’s no telling where it’ll go.
What’s baffling is why Weingarten has embroiled herself in a Harlem street fight below her $350,000-a-year pay grade. Her slugfest over charter schools in Harlem—where 24 of these public schools, run by nonprofit boards, are changing the education landscape—pits her against the mayor who’s done more to promote charter schools than any local leader in the country, and who is promising 20 more schools by September…
The charter school war is also making Weingarten a target of the mostly minority parents of the 24,000 children in city charters, as well as the 44,000 on waiting lists. With 77 percent of charter school kids reading above grade level, the charter movement has an activist army of thousands that cheered the mayor wildly at a March rally in Harlem.
The champions of charters believe the union is hostile because these numbers are embarrassingly better than those of traditional schools in the same districts, and because almost all city charters have opted out of the master contract that the city has with the UFT, a privilege granted under state law. Even a charter school that the UFT is running in partnership with a California-based sponsor of charters, Green Dot, is negotiating a school-based contract, having opted out of the citywide agreement, a striking admission of what a work-rule straitjacket it is. The contract regulates everything from the hiring, firing, transfering, and assignments of teachers to the length of the school day and year, and each teaching or non-teaching period.
Takeaways? There are so many, but the most important is New York 20, Boston 0. That’s the number of new charters — and that correlates to the number of kids who will now have access to a good education.
Oh, there are more takeaways — hardly know where to begin? There’s the pay-the-teachers-more-but-kill-the-rules lesson that Bloomberg and Green Dot have learned. There’s the great sucking sound of charter entrepreneurs still heading to NYC. There’s the sighing takeaway of why-do-I-have-to-live-in-a-state-with-neanderthal-leaders…
You don’t want me to continue.