The statutory limit on the number of charter schools was approaching and the charter-o-philes and the unions each introduced bills that raised the cap, the bills, however, contained very different views.
Negotiations require an end date, a finality. Under the New York State public employee labor laws contracts continue in “full force and effect” after expiration, (“Triborough Doctrine“), contracts routinely run well past their expiration dates.
The June 1 RttT phase 2 filing deadline provided the finality needed. For days, round the clock, the sides lunged and parried, parsed language and crafted a law, with a few artfully vague passages.
Vague or ambiguous provisions of union contracts or laws are not the failings of negotiators, the ambiguity satisfies both parties, the precise meaning to be decided later, or not. The section may fade into obscurity, be determined in court, or require a further legislative “fix.” (Gotham School muses on “meanings.”)
The lead negotiators: Howard Wolfson for the Mayor and Micah Lasher for the Chancellor, and the surrogates for NYSUT prez Dick Ianuzzi and UFT Prez Mulgrew grappled with a host of issues. Whatever settlement reached also had to satisfy the dems in the Assembly and garner a majority (dems + repubs) in the Senate plus the Governor.
Who are the winners and losers?
At first glance Chancellor Tisch and Commissioner Steiner should be glowing. If in mid-September New York picks up the golden ring, the RttT dollars, the State Ed Department will receive hundreds of millions to implement a range of programs, none of the dollars can be used to close the State budget gap. If we miss the ring, so be it.
For the unions only time will tell. RttT dollars are welcome. The law does not specifically address the issue of saturation, the large number of charter schools in Albany and Buffalo, however, the language may give school district leadership greater authority.
For the UFT the charter schools fight was “sucking up” all the air. Rather than a laser like focus on the lack of a budget the charter school issue dominated, with millions upon millions of hedge fund dollars pasting ads on the Internet and all over TV screens. Will a budget resolution follow the charter law?
We don’t know, and may never know, whether the Michaels, Howard, Meryl, David shook over some other loosely related issue, that “player to be named.”
* will the Mayor support a teacher retirement incentive? It would both save the city money in year one as well as reduce or eliminate layoffs.
* will Joel’s unrestrained powers continue or will the Mayor pull in the reins?
* the DOE has functioned as an independent entity, ignoring the State Ed Dept and the amended governance law, i.e., the role and powers of the superintendents, will Steiner and the Regents reassert themselves in New York City?
* Rubber Rooms will be gone, a charter school law in place, can an ATR deal be far behind?
For commenters on blog threads Joel Klein is evil incarnate with nothing short of Incan human sacrifice as acceptable.
Dust settles slowly.
It will take months, probably years before we can evaluate the impact of the new law.
Diane Ravitch may be right. The entire Obama/Duncan agenda, built on shifting sands may slide into the warehouse of failed reforms, along with billions and a generation of children.
For Randi Weingarten and her members, endless skirmishes, building alliances with the poorest and most vulnerable communities and their electeds, buying time and slowly redirecting the reform (deform) agenda. A George Washington Revolutionary War strategy, losing the battles and winning the war, may delay the current administration blueprint until Obama is in a fight for his political life and Arne is in an ashram.
On December 1, 1968 teachers staggered back to school after two months of a bruising strike, a decentralization law followed and the reformers gleefully pronounced eulogies over the body of the union.
Decentralization was a disaster for the school system and on the wings of the Phoenix the union re-emerged, more united, more powerful and more determined.
Democracy can be a bitch.
Teachers and their allies flocking to the polls, supporting their friends and punishing their enemies.
It’s the American way.