Just when I thought it was impossible to think less of Governor Cuomo than I currently do, he expands my capacity for contempt. Seething with anger for the unions that failed to support him, he’s having a tantrum appropriate to his ego. First he lashed out at the Public Employees Federation (PEF) by sending letters to 1000 of their members announcing his intention to attempt to reclassify their jobs as management and therefore ineligible for union membership. Yesterday in was NYSUT’s turn, our state teachers union having taken no position in the race for governor, a position that I publically criticized in that I just knew he would come after us anyway.
Cuomo had his Director of State Operations write to Chancellor Tisch and Commissioner King, raising a number of questions on issues that he well knew would incite NYSUT members and their elected leaders. The letter ask Tisch and King how they would change the APPR process, assuming since only about 1 percent of teachers were found to be ineffective that change is required. How would the Chancellor and Commissioner make it easier to fire ineffective teachers? Should the teacher probationary be extended, and how financial incentives could be used to improve the teacher corps (merit pay). In all, 12 questions are posed, all carefully crafted to threaten NYSUT and its members.
While observing that the Governor has little direct influence on education issues, the letter makes clear that the budget process will be the vehicle that he will use to try to extract his revenge, all in the name of speaking for the children of the state. No one should be surprised by Cuomo’s move. His attack is his usual response to criticism of him. It is also the response expected of him by his Wall Street backers who have been financing the movement to privatize public education and convert it into a business profit center.
If NYSUT is serious about rededicating themselves to organizing, Cuomo has given them the perfect document to organize around. The Governor has openly declared himself to be our enemy. We need to respond accordingly.
I’m taking a break over the Holidays. I’ll resume blogging on January 5th. I wish all of you joyous Holidays and a very Happy New Year! See you again on the 5th.