2007-04-06 / Columnists

School Scope

Commentary By Norman Scott

Commentary By Norman Scott

Norman Scott
Norman Scott Well, the results of the UFT election are in and they are dismal. Preliminary figures indicate that the overwhelming majority of working teachers (approximately 77%) either don't care, are too depressed, or are too demoralized to return their ballots, which were sent to their homes.

Retirees on the other hand seem to be in fine spirits (gee, I wonder why) with 45% of the 50,000 retirees sending back their ballots, 95% of them voting for Randi Weingarten's Unity Caucus and her allies New Action. Being one third of the total of 161,000 members of the UFT, the votes of retirees increasingly have an impact on UFT elections. Of the roughly 47,500 votes returned, 22,500 were from retirees. Over one half of UFT President Randi Weingarten's total votes came from retirees.

The numbers (approximate) are staggering when we look at the teachers who work in the schools.

Elementary schools - 9,000 returns out of 37,000 ballots - 24%

Middle schools - 2,400 returns out of 13,000 ballots - 18.6%

High schools - 4,500 returns out of 20,000 ballots - 23%

Thus, out of 70,000 ballots mailed out, roughly 16,000 teachers voted - around 23%. Out of almost 43,000 ballots sent out to the so-called functional chapters of the UFT (secretaries, paras, social workers, teachers not assigned to one school) only 9,000 were returned (21%).

Even more telling was the drop from the last election in 2004 when over 30% of the classroom teachers voted. Weingarten's Unity Caucus total vote dropped in each division.

Elementary: from 9,750 (84%) to 6,252 (76%)

Middle: from 2,800 (79%) to 1,500 (68%)

High: from 2,900 (58%) to 2200 (51%)

The drop of over 3,300 votes for Unity in the elementary schools, where Unity had always enjoyed the support of 85%, is a sign of increasing dissatisfaction in that division with the impact of micromanagement and harassment by supervisors.

Weingarten's personal vote was higher because New Action, which ran in the election as a stalking horse for Unity Caucus, endorsed her. New Action, which had established brand name recognition over 20 years as the main opposition to Unity but had seen most of their support erode due to their becoming an adjunct of Unity, was the big loser in the vote, garnering less than 2,000 votes from teachers in the 3 divisions and the functionals. Almost half their votes came from retirees. It is surmised that many of New Action's votes came from people who were not aware of their sell-out to Weingarten.

The coalition of ICE (Independent Community of Educators) and TJC (Teachers for a Just Contract) has replaced New Action as the major opposition to Unity for the few working UFT members who are interested in union affairs, getting 36% of the high school, 20% of the middle school and 17% of the elementary school vote, higher numbers than they received in 2004 when they ran for the first time.

ICE/TJC did not meet their goal of holding onto the six high school Executive Board seats they won last time. They will hold no seats on the Executive Board this time. The "democracy inaction" theme of the UFT was driven home in that New Action with only 7% elementary, 9% of middle school and only 14% of the high school vote gets eight Executive Board seats and ICE/TJC get none. In the total tally including retirees, ICE/TJC received 12% of the vote, New Action 8% and Unity 80%. Unity gets 100% of the delegates to the AFT convention due to take place in Chicago in July 2008, where Weingarten is expected to move up to the AFT Presidency.

Our favorite blogger NYC Educator ( http://nyceducator.com/ ) had this take: "To celebrate her grand victory, UFT President Randi Weingarten has decreed that tomorrow, April 1, will hereafter be known as 'Apathy Day.' Ms. Weingarten is particularly grateful to the overwhelming majority of teachers for not voting. A grand celebration has not been arranged at UFT headquarters tomorrow, and many famous celebrities will not be appearing.

The legendary rock and roll band, The Rolling Stones, will not be there. The original cast from Annie will not be singing the inspiring ballad 'Tomorrow.' And the Beatles will not be performing 'Yesterday' either.

"Ms. Weingarten wants to personally assure dues payers that hall patrol will not be repealed, seniority transfers will not reappear, the ATR corps will not be discontinued, the punishment days in August will not be cancelled, mayoral control will not sunset, and Mayor Bloomberg will not give up in his plan to make it even less attractive for principals to hire experienced teachers.

"We'd break out the champagne, but the patronage mill drank it all at borough headquarters yesterday. Let's celebrate what made Ms. Weingarten's victory possible.

"Let's make tomorrow the best Apathy Day ever!"

In a follow-up entry on April 1, NYC Educator wrote: "Due to lack of interest, Apathy Day has been cancelled until further notice."

Norman Scott's blog is at: http://ed notesonline.blogspot.com/ Email: norm sco@gmail.com

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