Klein As Lenin: Creating Class Conflict, Setting Teacher Against Teacher Is A Failed Approach, We Need Collaboration Not Conflict.


Several hundred teachers met in a steamy high school auditorium Wednesday night for the year end meeting of the Unity Caucus, the majority political party within the UFT. Mulgrew thanked them for their work in his smashing victory – 91% –  explained the charter school and teacher evaluation laws, and recounted his early morning phone call from the Mayor and the non-wage freeze discussion.
The same night Joel Klein was partying with Teacher4Excellence, mostly Teacher for America, funded by Joe Williams, the architect of the anti-union hedge funders who have plastered the Internet and TV screens with nasty attacks on the UFT.
The Gotham Schools post resulted in an avalanche of comments, ranging from thoughtful to critical to incredibly nasty. T4E is advocating for the eradication of seniority based layoff and calling for a principal’s choice system.
The bill introduced by Assemblyman Jonathan Bing is languishing in the Assembly with no chance of passage, and the Chapter Leader of Washington Irving, Gregg Lundhal has announced his candidacy (see Our Town article here) opposing Bing.
Generational divides are an issue within unions, and Susan Moore  Johnson at Harvard  has investigated the issue in detail.

As a cohort, they are more likely than their predecessors to treat teaching as a short-term career and to be less satisfied with its professional isolation, standardized pay, undifferentiated roles, and lack of opportunities for influence and advancement. In an effort to inform policy and practice,
Each month a thousand or delegates, elected in schools, attend the UFT Delegate Assembly. They are newer and senior teachers, men and women, all colors and ethnic groups, a cross section of union membership. Debate is ofttimes vigorous, a wide range of opinions, however, the delegates are extremely supportive of Mulgrew and despise Joel Klein.
If Joel Klein thinks he can “divide and conquer,” split the union along generational lines, he is wrong. His attacks on senior teachers and attacks on the union have strengthened the union.
What is sad is that everything that comes out of Joel’s mouth is looked upon with suspicion by teachers. I have never seen a chancellor who has antagonized teachers as much as Klein.
On June 1st the Department, once again re-organized, DOE 4.0 is yet another structural change.
What is disturbing is that the Klein approach is losing it’s luster yet Joel continues to parade, the emperor without clothes phenomenon.
James Stigler, in a thoughtful article in Education Week challenges the very core of the Klein (via Obama-Duncan) teacher accountability system,

The accountability system favored by Duncan and Gates would also change the culture of teaching: It might become less collaborative (if that is possible), as teachers sought to outperform their colleagues for higher pay. Lost in their approach would be the individual satisfactions that can come from working as a team to achieve tangible student benefits. Under the Duncan-Gates approach, many good teachers likely would leave the profession, not wishing to be held accountable for variations in outcomes not under their control.

Before beginning this difficult journey toward an untested accountability system, perhaps we should rethink the direction we are going. Even if we achieve a perfect test of teacher effectiveness (and if we don’t, it won’t be for lack of money), will it get us where we need to go? Shouldn’t we at least look seriously at some alternative accountability systems that provide mechanisms for improvement, not just a means of inspection and sorting?

Weakening and dividing the union by setting teacher against teacher is antithetical to creating high quality schools. Collaboration, teachers working in teams with colleagues, teachers sharing lessons, discussing students, eventually teachers hiring new teachers and participating in a peer view process will result in an accountable school system.

Mulgrew’s 91% victory was as much a vote against Klein as it was in favor of Mulgrew. The more Joel tries to undercut the union the more he antagonizes the very people he needs, classroom teachers.



3 responses to “Klein As Lenin: Creating Class Conflict, Setting Teacher Against Teacher Is A Failed Approach, We Need Collaboration Not Conflict.

  1. Harold Hashinsky

    I retired from the NYC B’d. of Educ. in 6/95. I was a very hard working UFT Chapter Leader for almost 30 years, and an excellent teacher. I cannot believe how the educational system has “eroded”, as I understand it, since I left. This chancellor has anything but education as his motivation. He, and the current major, are “power crazy” human beings, with their own agenda. I hope the teachers of NYC see this, with ope eyes, and stay even more united, and don’t fall into this trap.
    Harold Hashinsky
    10325 Jennifer Ct.
    Seminole, Fl. 33778-3416


  2. Hi, thanks for your post. It is really informative.
    Keep the good work! 😀


  3. Nice post … In fact, it’s the coolest post I read this month and deserve a Facebook share!


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