In a spirited session last week with 3,400 members of the United Federation of Teachers Delegate Assembly, President Michael Mulgrew proclaimed that the UFT’s $5.5 billion tentative contract with the city represents the union’s best shot at winning the “war with the reformers,” according to the website Chalkbeat.
This revelation is big.
For generations the UFT has argued — if dubiously — that it is the only genuine reformer at the table. Its core message has been that the interests of the system’s students, teachers and ancillary workers are identical.
The agreement was supposed to be a critical showpiece.
For one thing, it’s a major component of the $74-billion executive budget that Mayor Bill de Blasio put on the table a few days ago.
Since forging the UFT deal and rolling out his citywide budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, the mayor has celebrated his eager collaboration with the union as a healthy relief from the wary — if not aggressively hostile — negotiating postures of past mayors.
The problem is, the mayor didn’t count on Mulgrew sneering at “reformers” in a packed hall where at least one very efficient voice recorder somehow got smuggled out.
Meanwhile, the story gets worse.
Mulgrew also asserted in his pep talk to the troops that UFT negotiations on teacher evaluations aimed to “gum up the works — because we knew what the lawyers were trying to do.”
Well, we know, too.
They were trying to strengthen an accountability process that over the years has grown notoriously lax.
Mulgrew’s remarks came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo — under intense pressure from the UFT as well as New York State United Teachers — considers a delay in using statewide tests as part of the teacher evaluation process.
The major difficulty is serious flaws in the rollout of new curriculum based on Common Core standards. But while the evaluations should be fair, in no way should the state allow the teachers’ unions to “gum up the works.”