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Delegate Assembly

Change the law, delegates say

Delegates who had 100 percent attendance during the 2009-2010 school year celebr Miller Photography

Delegates who had 100 percent attendance during the 2009-2010 school year celebrate at a reception following the Nov. 17 meeting.

UFT Vice President Leo Casey Miller Photography

“We cannot have a selection for chancellor that is done over the tea party table of the rich and famous of New York City,” UFT Vice President Leo Casey tells the body.

Delegates erupted into loud cheers at the Nov. 17 Delegate Assembly after UFT President Michael Mulgrew declared that Schools Chancellor Joel Klein was resigning.

Parents and educators would have been “dancing in the streets,” Mulgrew said, had they not become quickly outraged by the absence of a public search for the next chancellor and the failure to vet the new candidate with education experts.

Blasting the “secret process” by which the mayor selected Cathleen Black, Mulgrew proposed a resolution, passed resoundingly by the delegates, to fight to change the law to require a public hiring process for chancellor in the future.

“The mayor couldn’t have handled this situation worse,” Mulgrew told delegates. “Because of that, the next chancellor will be coming in under a dark cloud.”
The resolution calls for legislation to amend the process so that it requires “(a) a nationwide search to attract the most qualified candidates; (b) a full and systematic vetting of the short list of the final candidates; [and] (c) a public process of engagement for the final candidates.”

“We cannot have a selection for chancellor that is done over the tea party table of the rich and famous of New York City,” said UFT Vice President Leo Casey in motivating the resolution.

An amendment to the resolution proposed by David Pecoraro, chapter leader at Beach Channel HS in Queens, which the Department of Education has threatened to close, called on the UFT not to support the waiver for Black unless she committed to personally visiting all the schools slated for closure before shutting them. The amendment did not muster the support of the majority of the delegates needed for approval. One delegate who spoke against it said it risked “clouding the issue.”

Mulgrew touched on two other hot items in his report: the recent elections and the impending court battle over the DOE’s attempt to release Teacher Data Reports.

On the elections, Mulgrew spoke of the “big wave” from the right that hit Democratic candidates at the national level but, he said, “that wave never hit New York and that was the work of this union.”

He highlighted three state Senate races that were unlikely victories for the union and NYSUT, its state affiliate: Tim Kennedy over Jack Quinn Jr. in Buffalo; David Carlucci over C. Scott Vanderhoeff in Rockland; and Tony Avella over Frank Padavan in Bayside, Queens.

Mulgrew described the Avella victory as particularly sweet.

“Everyone told us we couldn’t win that race,” he said. “UFT stood alone. All the other unions were with Frank Padavan.”

With three races — in Buffalo, Long Island and Westchester — still undecided, the Senate will likely remain evenly divided between the two parties or with a one-person majority for one party, leading to the possibility that it may once again fall into a “crisis of dysfunction,” Mulgrew said.

On the union’s ongoing legal battle with the DOE over the public release of individual Teacher Data Reports, Mulgrew informed delegates that the next court hearing has been postponed until Dec. 8.

Mulgrew pointed out that the UFT was breaking new ground.

“In Los Angeles, the teachers’ union had a big fight about the public release of its data reports, but they never went to court to try to stop it,” he said.
In preparation for the next hearing, Mulgrew said, the union is collecting error-ridden Teacher Data Reports from members who volunteered to provide them to prove its case that “the data is all wrong” and should not be released.

“Members can keep sending them,” he said. “Evidence from the schools is the best evidence of all.”

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