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Delegate Assembly

Mulgrew: Mayor hindering evaluation negotiations

Miller Photography UFT President Michael Mulgrew addresses the delegate body.

OK measure to change specialized HS admissions procedure

Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds, supported by delegate Peter Lamphere of Pan American International HS in Queens, motivated a resolution faulting the Department of Education for hinging admission to the city’s eight specialized high schools on student scores on one standardized test.

They argued that fewer than 10 percent of the students admitted to these schools are black or Latino because children from lower-income families cannot afford the tutoring often required to do well on the tests. Delegates voted to support the NAACP’s federal civil rights complaint as well as to establish a union committee to consider alternatives to the current admissions process.

Other resolutions passed were to:

  • Promote a petition telling public officials and candidates “to keep corporate money out of our schools and reject support from StudentsFirst New York.”
  • Criticize members of Congress looking to strike a “grand bargain” that would avoid a possible “fiscal cliff” by “a tradeoff of modest taxes in exchange for spending cuts” in such domestic programs as Social Security and Medicaid. The resolution also called on the AFT to endorse the expansion of President Obama’s American Jobs Act and to “keep the promise” made by the president during the election campaign to expand jobs, protect the social safety net, advance economic dignity and end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew told delegates at the union’s Dec. 12 Delegate Assembly that even as the union is working hard to reach an agreement on a new evaluation system by the governor’s Jan. 17 deadline, the city tabloids and Mayor Bloomberg are doing their best to torpedo the negotiations. Mulgrew pointed out that the mayor had never liked the state’s evaluation law.

“When Albany passed the law two and a half years ago, was the mayor standing with us?” said Mulgrew. “No.”

Mulgrew said that the mayor disapproved of the law because it capped the use of state test scores at 20 to 25 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, used a scientifically validated rubric on teaching practices instead of relying on a principal’s subjective judgment and required collective bargaining.

Mulgrew accused the mayor of “playing politics.” He pledged that the UFT would sign off on a new system “only if I am convinced it will help kids.”

The union’s greatest challenge, he said, would be ensuring that the DOE properly implemented any agreement.

Mulgrew said that the UFT’s success in electing pro-labor candidates in the November elections proved that the union can get out the vote for its endorsed candidates. Given that power, he said that the union had an opportunity to play a pivotal role in the 2013 mayoral race and help elect a mayor committed to rejecting the mayor’s failed policies.

Mulgrew said that the recent vote by Republican lawmakers to turn Michigan into a “right to work” state was a clear attempt to weaken unions. “This new law will make it hard for unions to organize and to do their work,” he said. “Our opponents want to make unions spend all their time collecting dues so they can’t do their political work.”

Mulgrew noted that StudentsFirst and other groups in New York State are being funded by the very same anti-union groups that spearheaded the right-to-work legislation in Michigan.

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