Posts Tagged ‘United Federation of Teachers’

19th October

First Published in The New York Sun, October 19, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Anyone who harbors the notion that Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have just won a victory over the teachers’ union by gaining approval of a merit pay scheme had best look more closely. The plan announced on Tuesday was indeed a “slam dunk,” but not by the mayor and chancellor. It is the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, who leaves the bargaining table victorious. It may be a “historic” deal with national implications, but it is one that increases the power of the union.

At the center of most merit pay plans is the idea that individual performance should be rewarded. That is not part of this initiative. Rather it skews power to the group, each school becoming a sort of kibbutz, collectively governed, dividing the fruits of labor by committee. Even participation in the plan will be determined by a vote of the union members, 55% of whom will have to go along.


11th May

First Published by The New York Sun, May 11, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

The chancellor’s announcement on Monday of the implementation of the mayor’s Fair School Funding initiative sounded wonderful — on the surface. Chancellor Klein declared, “Our new Fair Student Funding formula will help us level the financial playing field, making sure that all schools receive what they need to educate their students, so all schools can be held to the same high standards.”

In reality, this plan will come back to haunt Mr. Bloomberg, the next mayor, and the taxpayers. Recent history tells us that it is unlikely that students will benefit from more funds and that some may suffer from what looks a lot like income redistribution. (more…)

4th May

First Published in The New York Sun, May 4, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

After last night’s GOP presidential debate, speculation is growing that Mayor Bloomberg is running for president, a prospect that is as incredible in 2007 as his initial run for mayor was in 2000.

What is the scenario that would lead to such a campaign?

Aides suggest that if the candidates of the two major parties tilt to “extremes,” the mayor would enter the fray as a “centrist” alternative. It may come as a shock to the mayor that in much of America, he is not perceived as a centrist. He has clearly earned his stripes as a liberal. (more…)

20th April

First Published in The New York Sun, April 20, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Last week the mayor was calling the United Federation of Teachers the “number one” impediment to progress in his Children First education reform.

But before the ink was dry on press accounts of the mayor’s tirade, his aides, including Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey, were in negotiation with the union to get it to end its campaign against the new round of reforms. As a result, the mayor is willing to drop his plan for Weighted School Funding in exchange for de facto acquiescence to the new restructuring by the UFT and its coalition of parents and officials, the Working Families Party, and the community organization ACORN. (more…)

13th April

First Published in The New York Sun, April 13, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

History repeated itself Monday when the mayor and Chancellor Klein released a list of 100 or so supporters of the latest version of his ever-changing educational reform. Rather than listen to their critics and perhaps modify their own position, they dug in and attempted to blunt that criticism with the club of a petition.

That’s what happened in 2003 after a group of eight prominent experts in the field of teaching reading wrote the chancellor that the strategy he selected, Month-by-Month Phonics, was not backed by scientifically validated research and would not pass the scrutiny of the federal government for funding under the Reading First program of No Child Left Behind. (more…)

2nd March

First Published in The New York Sun, March 2, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

When the history books are written, it will be noted that the beginning of the end of New York’s grand experiment with mayoral control of the schools came at 6:30 a.m. on January 29, 2007. It was then that the city’s school buses began to roll on new routes suggested by an extraordinarily expensive outside consultant, hand-picked without competitive bidding by the Department of Education.

In a certain sense it is a sad reflection of our times that the outrage over the direction of the schools came as a result of the peripheral issue of bus routes. That eighth-grade reading scores haven’t budged in eight years, a reflection of educational stagnation impacting tens of thousands of our students, doesn’t seem quite as compelling as one child waiting in the cold for a bus that never comes. (more…)

16th June

First Published in The New York Sun, June 16, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Councilman Albert Vann is playing the race card again in Brooklyn, something he has been doing for 40 years. In the late 1960s, as the head of the African Teachers Association, he crossed swords with UFT President Albert Shanker over community control of the schools, creating a racial schism in Gotham that lingers to this day.

In 1968, the demonstration school board in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation, interpreted community control to mean that teachers should be fired at will by the “community” (and 17 white teachers were). Mr. Shanker and the UFT wouldn’t budge in their resistance to race-based dismissals, resulting in the famous citywide strike that became the defining moment in the city’s race relations for decades. (more…)

6th June

First Published in The New York Sun,  June 6, 2002
By Andrew Wolf

Pity the poor children of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Their parents may be among the most well-to-do in the city, and the public school children there perform better than kids in just about every other New York neighborhood, but they still lack one thing that every child should be entitled to: A neighborhood high school of excellence.

You may have read that there will indeed be such a school on the Upper East Side, but I can report to you that calling it an “Upper East Side High School” belies the truth. Yes, there will be a new small high school located there. Yes, a lease for a new facility has been approved and the first freshman class has been chosen to start in temporary quarters this September. Yes, the politicians will be claiming credit for a great victory for the community. Their claims are empty. (more…)