Devil's Deal in AFT? The Treasonous Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson may be on his way to a national AFT job

From the Detroit Federation of Teachers' Web Site: "Detroit Federation of Teachers' Johnson Voted AFT Vice President [7.12.10] — "DFT President Keith Johnson was voted an AFT vice president at the national AFT conference in Seattle July 11. He joins 42 other AFT vice presidents across the country, including two others from Michigan: David Hecker, AFT Michigan president, and Ruby Newbold, president of the Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees. The Progressive Caucus with Randi Weingarten as president won with a 95 percent vote."

Detroit's Keith Johnson speaking during the 2010 AFT convention in Seattle. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Johnson, who could not be elected to anything in DFT as things now stand, was the architect of what may be the worst school worker contract in US history.

In that contract which DFT president Johnson and AFT over-boss Randi Weingarten jammed down members' throats under threats of massive layoffs, Johnson sold labor peace to the bosses, plus $500 from each educator's check, big cuts in health benefits, the loss of real tenure, gave up on merit pay, and more as reported in Substance here:§ion=Article

What was speculation during the contract ratification is now reality. Johnson was promised a top AFT spot in exchange for his quisling behavior, betraying the rank and file.

Later, Johnson came under attack by Steve Conn and the By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) group. However, in yet another dubious bargain, Bamn quit attacking Johnson and joined him, along with the bizarre school board in Detroit, in opposing the rule of the Broad Foundation's Bob Bobb over the Detroit Public Schools (DPS).

One of many forms of DPS zaniness, the school board president masturbating repeatedly in front of the female superintendent, was reported here in Substance:§ion=Article

Now Detroit citizens face the dreadful choice of the corrupt, weird, and incompetent School Board married to the duplicitous Johnson, or Bob Bobb, allied with former Detroit Piston and new Mayor, Dave Bing.

For a decade and more, the Detroit Public Schools have been the sole hope for the community. Granted, as early as the sixties, the drop out rate in the rapidly declining, and more severely segregated, system was at 50%. In the early seventies, a Detroit High School study Commission said, "our high schools are appallingly inadequate--a disgrace to the community and a tragedy to the thousands of young men and women who we cajol and compel to sit in them." (B.J. Widdick, Detroit, City of Race and Class Violence p215).

Class consciousness, even what most people would think of as Solidarity Union consciousness, has for the time being been trumped in Detroit by racism (it is still the most segregated city in the US, a real ghetto) and unreason itself--mysticism. Add in the opportunism and greed fostered by the social system, capital, and the war of all on all appears in a thousand forms.

As de-industrialization joined out-sourcing and suburbanization to maximize auto profits, only the schools remained as the central organizing points of life and rationalism in the city.

When Detroit lost a million residents and more from the late 50's on, the only lure to return for families who could serve as a tax base was the school system.

The upshot of this is that the Detroit Federation of Teachers was, and is, the last organized group with the power, interest, and capabilities to reverse or delay the death by a thousand cuts that Detroit suffers — and which may lead to a sudden horrific crisis. Johnson's efforts as a satrap for the rich, racist, and believers in magic means the union is far less prepared to be positioned to resist because of his treachery.

Lamentably, corruption and incompetence run by a majority white racist Detroit school system largely became mirrored by a black majority in the city later. Incompetence and outright theft remained. No one could or did believe any figures DPS produced, especially not the attendance figures as it is in the interest of all concerned to inflate them--and they did.

Once, 300,000 students attended DPS. Now, the district claims 90,000 students, a figure I believe is inflated by at least 5,000 and probably more.

Bob Bobb arrived to restore hope in the school system, real or false, and thus win a measure of social control in a city where hope nearly vanished. When that happens, rebellions often occur: Detroit 1967 or France 1968 — or California and the USA, March 4th 2010.

Bob Bobb took a contradictory tact when assigned by the Broad Foundation and local elites to become the Financial Director of DPS. He caught some of the little crooks, computer thieves and others, and a few big crooks, like the boss of finances, but he simultaneously funneled DPS money to old cronies and employers of his, sullying his highly touted arrival.

The DFT said nearly nothing; did less. Not about the utter incompetence in its midst. Not about the obvious corruption. Since the members took matters in their own hands with a heroic and exemplary wildcat strike in 1999, led by Bamn's Steve Conn, it has been one form of organized decay after another.

Now, Keith Johnson guarantees his own retirement with his "election" to the AFT Board. He can slink away in cowardly fashion, leaving all he touched, and especially hope rooted in the teachers' union, worse for his presence.

There should be a DFT election in the fall. We shall see if new, rising, resisters can connect reason to power--answering the question: Community or barbarism? 


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