Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Two Per Cent Solution

We have passed the two year mark in waiting for a contract. PERB is nowhere to be found, and the UFT has apparently decided to enter radio silence mode as not a single article in NY Teacher talks about our lack of a contract.

The UFT has apparently decided to "wait out" this mayor on the theory that we will get a better deal from whoever takes the reins when Mayor4life's 12 year siege on the public schools finally comes to an end in 2013.

Bad idea.

First of all, the union has often said that we should wait for a new mayor to get a better deal. We waited out Koch for 12 years, Dinkins did little for us for another 4, and Giuliani screwed us for 8. Now, ten years into the Bloomberg administration, we are supposed to wait another two years for our shining knight to come through and shower us with the money we deserve.

It's not gonna happen. We can't afford to wait this mayor out.

Let's do the math. We rightly want the 4% per year that other unions got in the last round of contracts. Let's assume that unions get the measly 1.25% that's been budgeted for unions over the next two years. That would mean that if we wait for Bloomberg to leave office before we negotiate, we will be 10.5% behind where we should be. Does anyone really think that any new mayor will give us a 10.5% raise as soon as he or she walks through the doors of City Hall? Do you believe that in 2013, we will receive all that money retroactive to 2009? No way in hell that will happen, even if Michael Mulgrew is elected mayor.


Apart from all that, can you wait another two or three years for a raise? I know my family is feeling the pinch right now.

I have a solution that might work--a two percent solution. Let's forget the 4% that we are never going to get no matter what. Let the mayor break the pattern, and we can once and for all break the bonds of pattern bargaining that has suppressed teacher salaries for too long. Let's ask for 2% retroactive for each year to 2009, and 2% for this year and next. That would be a total of 8% by 2012 when this mayor is set to leave office. It's not 10.5%, but it is close.

Would the mayor go for this? I think so. It's a pretty easy sell. He can claim that he gave us half what other unions got. In addition, we give him the Danielson framework that he wants and is going to get anyway eventually. He can then claim that his shrewd negotiating is what led to him being able to claim all that Race to the Top money, which he can't get without union support. In return, we get 8 of the 10.5% we deserve. Not perfect, but a hell of a lot more than we have now.

In 2013, we can start fresh with a new mayor and 8% in our pockets.

Any thoughts?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Saint? iDon'tThinkSo

I really don't want to speak ill of the dead, but there sure is one thing you can say about Steve Jobs--he hired the best PR folks money could buy. His recent death has inspired a deluge of fawning, drippy, worshipping fluff pieces such that the next step must surely be canonization.

Before we start ordering the stained glass, let's remind ourselves of a few things. The man was a billionaire many times over, and you don't get there without stepping on people. A LOT of people. Despite an estimated worth of over 8 billion dollars, he ended Apple's philanthropic efforts in 1997 because he wanted his company to make more profits. He never restored those efforts despite the knowledge that he was terminally ill and that Apple had grown into one of the most profitable companies in the world. Surely a smart man like Jobs knew that he couldn't take it with him, yet he was singularly reluctant to part with it. Even Bloomberg and Gates, for all their failings in the education sphere, have contributed far more of their wealth to charity.

Perdido Street School blog meticulously detailed how Apple and Jobs used child labor to help build their fortunes. And who can forget that there was a rash of factory workers in China committing suicide presumably because of the dreadful working conditions while putting together all those iPods? Jobs claimed that he was going to do something about it, but all I ever heard was that he put steel mesh over the windows to prevent more workers from jumping. Forcing assembly line workers to toil in 34 hour shifts isn't exactly the stuff saints are made of.

Since this is an education blog, I may as well mention that Jobs was anti-union and anti-teacher, having infamously said, "The problem [in education] of course is the unions. The unions are the worst thing that ever happened to education because it’s not a meritocracy. It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what has happened." Presumably, if Jobs had run the schools, he'd have broken the unions and installed mesh on classroom windows to keep teachers from jumping. Despite the fact that schools and teachers had a great deal to do with Apple's success, he wasted little time stabbing us in the back.

In the final analysis, Jobs did some great things. Some of his innovations have changed the way people live. Still, it seems clear that he also trampled workers' rights, vilified unions, and shunned corporate philanthropy despite running a wildly profitable business. Jobs was a rich man, and a flawed one, like most of us (I mean the flawed part, not the rich part, unfortunately).

It seems strange to me that the press can spend endless time and effort berating teachers while glorifying Jobs. Then again, we don't have the same PR team that he did.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Asshats 4 Relocation

I know this is difficult to fathom, but could it just be that Ruben Brosbe was the smartest of all the members of Asshats4Education? One might have to reach that conclusion, because even a rat has the sense to flee a sinking ship, while Ruben had the sense to get out of NYC and basically renounce the Asshats as soon as he was denied tenure for the second time. And before someone gets on me for the analogy, I am in no way suggesting that Ruben IS a rat. One is dirty bottom-feeding vermin who spreads contagion throughout a city. The other is a rodent.

I've felt that the Asshats were stagnating for a while now, as they seem stuck at about 1,800 "Likes" on Facebook. When I checked a month ago, they were at 1803 or so, and now they are at 1848. Not exactly a mad rush to join. And when you consider that all you have to do is click a button to "like" them, it calls into question how many members they really have. If people can't be bothered to click a button, it's unlikely many have filled out A4E's infamous loyalty oath.

So, is it curtains for Evan Stone and Sydney Morris? It may just be. South Bronx School reports that A4E may be fleeing NYC for the less unionized Los Angeles. Ed Notes tells us that the Asshats are having a tough time even getting a crowd together. And with all their corporate backing and free media publicity, their failure to attract members is embarrassing.

So while Ruben is living large at Harvard, Evan and Sydney are attempting to bail out their sinking ship with Dixie cups, hoping they can sail off to LA. And bloggers like me are left scratching for material as they flee.

Feels good, man.