Diplomacy or Arrogance on the Edge of an Abyss: Can the Power Brokers, the Legislature, the Unions, Charter Pros, the State Ed, Negotiate a Win-Win? Will There Be Winners and Losers? or, Endless Trench Warfare?

Crises bring opportunity.
With less fanfare than phase 1 the deadline for phase 2 of Race to the Top is fast approaching. Applications must be filed by June 1st.  The recent NYSED, NYSUT, UFT agreement on the use of data in teacher evaluation  and the streamlined process will probably bump the NYS application up a few points. Whether or not the charter school cap is raised is unresolved. The legislature will have to make a decision next week.
The charter school acolytes have been spending millions on TV and Internet ads, pummeling teacher unions and advocating for raising the cap, without what they refer to as “poison pills.” The teacher unions and other sponsors of the Silver-Sampson “fairness and transparency” bill have strong support in the Assembly.
* Will the coalition of democrats and republicans hold firm in the Senate, supporting the Malcolm Smith bill that is the pro charter school “raise the cap” bill. It more than doubles the cap but has no teeth re percentages of ELL and children with disabilities, or auditing, or co-location or saturation?
* Will the democratic leadership in the Assembly continue to support a bill that requires at least equal percentages of ELL and Special Education, require auditing, limits saturation and give parents in the home school a voice in co-location?
Bloomberg, Patterson, Tisch, Steiner, Duncan and company will be leaning on the unions to negotiate a settlement. With mid term state and congressional elections in November and growing concern over 2012 having teachers “on board” is important to the Obama team. 700 million or so in RttT dollars will enable the State Ed folks to move forward with a host of aggressive plans
For the pro charter folk pounding the union has become commonplace, the upcoming NY Times magazine piece sounds like a NY Post op ed unabashedly trashing teacher unions. Why resolve anything without total victory? Hedge fund dollars are flowing, the “wave” is building, victory, however that is defined, is in sight. But, issues du jour have a habit of peaking and joining that dustbin of history.  After the RttT apps are in, budget are done, a November election takes place, the charter school cap issue may have faded away.
Teacher unions are on the defensive. The Obama-Duncan symphony blares, states hunger for dollars, and legislatures rapidly fold, state after state is caving and changing laws to make themselves eligible for the Washington “pieces of silver.”  Crafty union leaders can use this crisis to extract something, an “apples for oranges” deal. Would a deal for raising the cap justify a teacher retirement incentive? or, abolishing the ATR pool? or, increasing teacher voice on School Leadership Teams?  Or, will a crushing democratic defeat at the polls in November make teacher unions far more attractive, and, maybe Arne will decide his future lies in coaching basketball in Australia?
With the Senate unable to get a majority on any issue is it possible to negotiate anything?  It’s a lot easier to say no than to negotiate a yes. The republicans in the Senate combined with half the democrats to pass the pro charter bill, the democrats supported the bill fearing an avalanche of dollars financing opponents. Teacher unions, parents and community activists are threatening the pro charter vote dems, seeking candidates in primaries and deciding whether it might be easier to negotiate with  a republican-controlled Senate.
Without a state budget I do not see a charter school deal.
The legislature commonly adjourns in June and comes back into session for a few days in August, sometimes after election day. The charter school law passed at a lame duck session in December in exchange for a legislative salary increase.
If Obama really wants a deal perhaps someone whispers to the right folk: union agreement on lifting the cap in exchange for LeBron coming to the Knicks!!



One response to “Diplomacy or Arrogance on the Edge of an Abyss: Can the Power Brokers, the Legislature, the Unions, Charter Pros, the State Ed, Negotiate a Win-Win? Will There Be Winners and Losers? or, Endless Trench Warfare?

  1. Philip Nobile

    The NYC school sysytem is a house divided. The gap behind the achievement gap is the split between the DOE and the UFT, between administrators and teachers, between a Chancellor who swiftboated Randi by leaking her personnel file to the Village Voice and a union President who ridiculed the Chancellor as “Numbnuts.”

    With the stakes involved, that is, the lives of millions of young people, mostly minorities in desperate need of a superior education, how awful that the white masters of our hyper-segregated schools can’t get along?

    Only one person can to stop the madness, but Obama has already cast his lot with the generals against the privates.

    A simple, sustained, and creative presidential initiative on homework, sort of like the First Ladies campaign v. child obesity, would narrow the racial achievement gap far quicker than the ill-fated Race to the Top (wait and see).


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