Sunday, November 1, 2009

Michael Fiorillo Comments at Gotham Schools

ICE's Michael Fiorillo has garnered enormous respect for his thoughtful comments at Gotham Schools on many of the educational issues of the day. Michael has been very active in numerous debates at Gotham, the most recent on the UFT contract, quality teaching and other issues on a thread based on an article written by a pro ed deformer, Tom Carroll. You can follow the thread here and chip in yourself.

Here is Fiorillo's response to Stuyvesant HS teacher Matt Polazzo's piece in today's Daily News. (Fiorillo will be a candidate for the UFT Executive Board on the ICE/TJC slate in the upcoming UFT elections this spring.)

Whatever my criticisms of the UFT, I am a union member and will fight to defend it and the contract. I also think the contract protects students as well as teachers.

The only thing that limits class size in the public schools is the contract. The only thing that provides the many, but mostly unacknowledged, benefits of having teachers remain parts of their communities for years is the seniority provisions of the contract.

This deluded and self-important teacher — ooh, he teaches at Stuyvesant! — like most other critics of the union, makes that cliched, tired reference to the “165 page contract,” as if its length is by itself proof of its dark powers. Has this innocent ever considered that the contract’s length is in direct proportion to the idiocies enacted by management over the years? Provisions in the contract are there to protect teachers from the chronic over-reaching and intrusions by administrators. Whatever professional autonomy he has is because of the contract, the people who struggled to achieve it, and those who struggle everyday to see that it remains a viable thing.

I criticize the UFT all the time, but there are many hardworking and dedicated officers and staffers there and I sympathize with their professional obligation to represent management suck-ups like Mr. Polazzo.

If Mr. Polazzo is so convinced of his specialness and untouchability, a la Ariel Sacks, he is fooling himself and endangering the rest of us. Should the UFT ever strike again, he sounds like a certain fink (aka, a union member who crosses a picket line). How surprising that Mortimer Zuckerman should give him space on the opinion page.

Fiorillo on Charter School blather
Charter apologists and propagandists are quick to respond to criticism, but it seems they can rarely be bothered to fashion a response that differs from their robotic buzz word/talking points: "Blah, blah, blah... achievement gap... blah, blah, blah, teacher quality... blah, blah, blah... civil rights movement of our time... blah, blah, blah... laboratories of innovation... blah, blah, blah ...parent choice."

Is there a chip implanted in their brains that makes them unable to respond in any way other than a recurring loop? When it comes to real debate, it seems that all that money spent on Ivy League educations has been wasted.

Also see Fiorillo guest piece at NYC Educator blog

Duncan Shoots a Brick

by special guest blogger Michael Fiorillo

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