Black Parents vs. the Teachers' Union

Union intransigence hits a low point

Campanile tells of a surprise (to me) during a UFT presentation of its John Dewey Award to the NAACP for working with the union to block the Michael Bloomberg–Joel Klein attempt to shut down 19 "failing schools." (As I reported in my last column: "The union announced an initiative with three community groups aimed at reducing student absenteeism in nine low-performing schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. They're applying for a $30 million federal grant to fund the program.")

With whom did the UFT partner in this crucial venture? The Harlem Children's Zone, Children's Aid Society, and Good Shepherd Services. Did the AFL-CIO give Mike Mulgrew permission to include that notorious charter school leader, Geoffrey Canada, in that partnership?

Importantly, Campanile's story adds that "the proposal includes after-school instruction, keeping schools open until 6 p.m., and providing medical and family services in the school buildings" (emphasis added).

That's called "Community Schools." Mulgrew's predecessor, Randi Weingarten, and I were often at odds during her leadership of the UFT. But we became allies, to our mutual surprise, when—accepting the leadership of the national United Federation of Teachers—she got to the true core and soul of education reform, including all gaps, even the racial one: "Can you imagine a federal law that promoted community schools—schools that serve the neediest children by bringing together under one roof all the services and activities they and their families need. . . . A new vision of schools for the 21st century . . . open all day and offer after-school and evening recreational activities and homework assistance [including] child care and dental, medical, and counseling clinics (Times, July 15, 2008).

To Mike Mulgrew and Bill Perkins I ask a question—not for argumentative purposes but as seriously as I listen to Duke Ellington: Would you oppose any thoroughly verified community school if it chose not to have union teachers?

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