2012-05-25 / Columnists

School Scope

Commentary By Norman Scott

Name a school where a sex act never took place and I’ll show you a religious school. Wait, I take back that last part.

In case you didn’t hear, the NY Post’s hit girl, Susan Edelman, did a story about UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s alleged affair with a guidance counselor at his school when he was a teacher there after a recent lawsuit was filed by a teacher with poor ratings. The suit claimed they were caught in the act in 2005 and it was covered up by the union and the DOE in a blackmail deal to force the union to give away numerous teacher rights in the 2005 contract and beyond. Ergo, that is the reason the teacher is facing potential termination. A Hail Mary pass to save his job. What rubbish! The blackmail, I mean. And probably the “caught in the act charge.” As to the affair, I had heard something about it years ago, but, who cares? As I said above, name a school where a sex act never took place … The idea that the UFT had to be blackmailed to sell out the teaching corps is ludicrous when we know it is in their DNA to give away decades of hard won rights and pieces of the contract, whole chunks at a time. The interesting part of the charge was that Mulgrew took his supposed lady up the ladder with him to a juicy full-time patronage job at UFT headquarters. But really, does anyone expect people in power to function differently? Corporate leaders, government leaders, union leaders and just about anyone running anything always bring their lovers and pals along for the ride. I mean, why else do you want to come out on top if not for perks like that?

Well, the questions being asked on many of the blogs and in school lunchrooms is, did he or didn’t he? If he didn’t he has a hell of a libel suit against the Post and the teacher and lawyer spreading the charges. But really, who cares?

My basic take is that it will be a hill of beans. How can it be proven? In today’s world what difference does it make if Mulgrew had a relationship with someone in the school other than the fact she got a full-time union position? The UFT is top-loaded with political patronage people feeding at the union dues trough, what’s one more? They used to say the same thing about Al Shanker and Sandy Feldman, whom he tapped as his successor. She only worked one year as a teacher before going to work for the union. Rumors floated around for many years. If it was true, which I doubt, really, how quaint to think it wrong for union leaders to put their lovers on the payroll?

The court case will go nowhere. I totally disagree that there was any blackmail involved in getting the Unity Caucus leadership to sell us out. Selling out has been in their DNA since the early ’70s – you should see the materials we put out in those years. Like nothing changes. Why would a party like Unity Caucus with absolute power after running the UFT into the ground for 50 years worry about actually fighting the ed deformers when there are loads of opportunities for a union hierarchy to jump on the gravy train sucking money out of public ed and putting it in private hands?

Will the scandal affect the Unity/Mulgrew team in the UFT elections in March 2013? I doubt it. I’m working with a new group, Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), which has announced it is running a slate against Unity/Mulgrew in the elections. MORE put out a statement that said: “MORE is committed to democratic, activist unionism and accountable leadership. Our members have devoted years to challenging the Unity leadership’s pattern of bargaining away our rights and calling each giveback a victory.

At the same time we will not join with the New York Post in its crusade against teacher unionism because it is a campaign not just against Michael Mulgrew but against all New York City educators. The recent scandal to which the Post has dedicated at least two days of coverage is typical of the journalistic standards one would expect from a Rupert Murdoch publication.”

Many bloggers, even internal critics of the union leader, have jumped all over the sleazy NY Post owned by the out and out criminal, Rupert Murdoch. (Did they hack Mulgrew’s phone?)

One of my fellow MORE members, Michael Fiorillo, commented: “John Kenneth Galbraith said that all revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door, and we all know the UFT structure is rotten, despite the presence of decent, hard working people in the union. That’s the destiny of every entrenched, single party state, and that’s the potential significance of this story: at a certain point, the superstructure is so internally compromised that it can no longer support itself, and crumbles before a gust of wind.” Well, I’m not so sure it is about to crumble, at least until a group like MORE can convince enough people to support them.

Blogger South Bronx School wrote: “We as teachers and UFT members in this time of constant change and attack from the outside must not let our petty little sh-t to get out, especially in the New York Post. The only method to remove Mulgrew and his ilk are to educate the teachers on how we can affect change from within and take ownership of the power many of us [are] yet to realize we have.”

NYC Educator said: “I don’t need to recount the stories about the UFT President. The Post has done a fine job of that, demonstrating it does not discriminate between lowly teachers and union leaders. It’s willing to convict any and all of us without a trial, without a hearing, without conscience, and without reservation.”

My guess is the Mulgrew story has a shelf life of about 10 minutes.

The one-sided role the Rupert Murdoch faux press plays will leave a lasting after-taste that hopefully will continue to discredit and undermine his entire agenda. And hopefully take Joel Klein, his BFF – at least until one or both of them are doing perp walks – with him.

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