Labor Notes Polemics [was: Unions and Education]
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Labor Notes Polemics [was: Unions and Education]
- From: LeoCasey@aol.com
- Date: Fri, 05 Mar 2004 12:56:25 -0500
When ideological journals are reduced to quoting themselves to make a point, as this article in Labor Notes did on this subject of NYC public education and the UFT, you have a very good idea about the paucity of evidence that underlies the hyperbolic rhetoric. Indeed, there should be a mandatory class in rhetoric for journals of this sort, so that those of us who have to read them could at least see an occasional trope other than hyperbole, maybe a stray metaphor or two.
What is at issue here is the complete lack of political imagination and vision in this small opposition, such that it can see no further than an adamant defense of every last detail of an industrial unionism, in which every school is cut out of the same cookie cutter, and every teacher in every school teaches the same number of classes of the same length for the same number of days in the same year. The notion that there might be a different vision for public education, one that allows for the flowering of diverse schools, organized around different themes and in different ways, and that a union contract should support -- not prevent -- such diversity, and that it should focus on a real teacher voice in those schools, rather than insisting upon a blind application of rules made for factory model schools, is translated by Teachers for A Just Contract and Labor Notes as "concessions." Every step that the UFT has taken in that direction in the last 20 years has been condemned by them, so it is not surprising that they should continue their thoughtless opposition when Randi proposed a school based contract, where in small schools with a demonstrated history of collaborative governance, teachers and the school adminstration could establish their own agreement on such questions as the length of periods, the number of periods in a day and in a week, and so on. And this complete lack of imagination and vision is covered by personal nastiness and personal attacks, and all at a time when the attacks on the very existence of the union from the city and the Department of Education are so ferocious, that the main opposition group understood the importance of closing ranks. All in all, not the sort of thing that makes you want to stand up and say, "what they are doing makes me proud to be a teacher and an unionist."
But take heart, there is a different vision of unionism, with a different view of the future of public education, out there, and they are not a small, marginal group reduced to substituting personal attacks for political analysis.
In a message dated 3/5/2004 6:20:20 AM Eastern Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
> Date: Thu, 04 Mar 2004 09:08:59 -0500
> From: "John Lawhead" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: On Unions and Education
> Message-ID: <BAY15-F34UW9OteXwez0004b2b8@hotmail.com
> Here's a less favorable treatment of Randi Weingarten's offer for a "thin
> contract" in a limited number of schools.
> Labor Notes / March 2004
> New York Teachers Fear for Working Conditions as Union Leader Offers Preemptive
> by William Johnson
> Though contract negotiations between New York
> City's United Federation of
> Teachers and the city are just getting
> started, UFT President Randi Weingarten
> publicly declared six months ago that
> she'll consider massive concessions on
> working conditions for teachers and
> staff in the New York's
> public schools.
Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never has, and it never will.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters.
-- Frederick Douglass --
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