AFT Common Core update... Context for the Ed Notes publication and video on the AFT convention's 'standards' debate

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew began his speech in support of the Common Core (er, "standards") at the July 13, 2014 session of the convention of the American Federation of Teachers calmly, above. By the end of the speech, Mulgrew was ranting about Matrians and channeling his inner Clint Eastwood, to the delight of the AFT and United Caucus hard core, but to the shock and dismay of most of those who had been hoping for a straightforward debate over the Common Core. Ed Notes photo by Norm Scott. [Editor's Note: Substance is proud to update the news and analysis of the "debate" during the national convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) over the Common Core. Yesterday, August 7, 2014, we published Norm Scott's video of convention debate, which, for those of us who were there, gets a lot of what took place during that fateful hour. (Yes, the actual debate took place for nearly an hour). And as Norm reports this morning (August 8), the tabloid reports of the really silly statements by two leaders of the United Federation of Teachers are accurate, but also need the context (which Norm provides below and we will be sharing).

As we noted yesterday, and earlier in our report by Kati Gilson (a Substance reporter who was also a CTU delegate), the reason the AFT was debating that long-winded and bizarre resolution on the so-called "standards" was that the AFT and New York leaderships had killed the straightforward Chicago Teachers Union resolution -- to oppose the Common Core -- in committee. In an unprecedented move, as CTU and Substance have reported, the AFT and New York leadership stacked the "Ed Issues" committee which was charged with reviewing the resolutions on that topic to sort out what should go before the convention as a whole. This is standard procedure, as in any legislative body. But what was unusual was that "Ed Issues" had nearly 800 delegates assigned to it and that New York and supporters of the national union's party line were packed into the committee to guarantee that the Chicago Common Core resolution was "killed in committee."

I know these facts, and have reported some of them, because I was for the first time in my 45 years as a CTU member a delegate to the convention, and I was assigned to the Ed Issues committee, where Chicago delegates won the debate and then lost the vote. What most readers are now getting for the first time thanks to Norm's video was heard at least twice during the convention: The speeches by Michael Mulgrew and Leroy Barr were the same in "Ed Issues" as they were on the convention floor. And to be honest, I thought that since both speeches were so silly first time I heard them, in committee, that when they stood before the national convention and the 3,000 delegates that they would be more measured. To hear the same silliness twice convinced me that the AFT and New York leaderships were not going to tolerate any slip ups in crushing the Chicago Common Core resolution. We were discussing "standards" precisely because the leadership had edicted that we would not have a straight up and down discussion of the Common Core itself. Thanks again to Norm Scott for adding the information below to the national debate this morning. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].

Four years ago, veteran New York teacher Norm Scott (above left) congratulated the newly appointed President of the United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew (above right). This photo was taken at an executive board meeting at the New York union's headquarters a few blocks from Wall Street after former UFT President Randi Weingarten announced she was leaving New York to devote full time to her job at President of the national American Federation of Teachers. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. AUGUST 7, 2014. LATE.... By Norm Scott at Ed Notes

Re Mulgrew #AFT14 Tape: What I Told NY Daily News Reporter Steven Rex Brown

Oh, those Martians, who made stops in Seattle and Los Angeles to pick up Gates and Broad before heading for Washington DC to pick up their pal Randi. Conspiracy theories? Who me when there are so few grounds?

I told Brown flat out that I full well knew that the Daily News has an agenda in its interest in the video -- to paint Mulgrew and the union as thugs as part of its anti-union bias. He didn't contradict me or even pretend that wasn't the intention. I could tell by his questions how they were going to shape the story.

I rarely trust reporters, particularly from the tabloids. So when Steven Rex Brown, who unfortunately works with that snake, Ben Chapman, asked me to call him today about the Mulgrew AFT video I posted, I did so because he wanted some context.

And I gave him plenty of context, especially on this point of derision of CC critics by Mulgrew:

�I�ve heard the stories about how Eli Broad, Bill Gates, Joel Klein and a flying saucer full of Martians designed these things to brainwash us all,� said Mulgrew, mocking critics who deride Common Core as being imposed by billionaires and corporate bigwigs.

Oh, those Martians, who made stops in Seattle and Los Angeles to pick up Gates and Broad before heading for Washington DC to pick up their pal Randi. Conspiracy theories? Who me when there are so few grounds?

I told Brown how the UFT had accepted a million dollar donation from Broad for its charter school and how Broad backed the Al Shanker bio. And how Gates has funneled money to the AFT/UFT to support the common core. And oh that invite to the AFT 2010 convention. "Do you think Mulgrew looked sort of desperate in the video," I asked Brown? "Yes," he said. "Why do you think he might be desperate? Is it possible there is loads of money somehow involved and in danger?" I always start with "follow the money."

I told Brown flat out that I full well knew that the Daily News has an agenda in its interest in the video - to paint Mulgrew and the union as thugs as part of its anti-union bias. He didn't contradict me or even pretend that wasn't the intention. I could tell by his questions how they were going to shape the story.

I told him: "If you watch Mulgrew's defense of the common core you will see you guys are on the same side -- all the press supports the common core too. You should be cheering Mulgrew instead of attacking him."

I said my interest in posting the video is in defending the union and making it a better union by exposing the links of our union leaders to groups supporting the common core as a way to rally the rank and file to rise up and turn our union into a fighting union while his paper had nefarious reasons. As long as we were clear on where we each were coming from.

Remember the backdrop to Mulgrew's speech. The day before, Unity did a bum rush to push the Chicago people out of their seats near the microphones and reports of that left them with some egg on their faces. (Leroy Barr had pushed Sarah Chambers). And right before Mulgrew spoke it was Sarah and other CTU teachers who were very strong. So Mulgrew was doing this in some context.


Here is what I posted on July 13:

Gloria in visitor's section just texted - Unity [the leadership caucus within the United Federation of Teachers, New York City] are positioning themselves now near mikes.... Common Core debate begins...

[Common Core] will die no matter what the AFT does because, frankly, it doesn�t matter.... Ravitch

UFT throw heavy hitters Mulgrew, Barr - while CORE uses their rank and file - who are more than capable of holding their own. This is not to say that others around the nation are on the Randi team. So far only Chicago people are opposing the AFT/UFT reso.

UPDATE: See Chicago - reasons to oppose common core.

And this pic of Sarah in a Unity sandwich (though that may be NYSUT Pres Karen Magee, who is Unity clone) with hack Stuart Kaplan behind her, probably holding a bigger shot's spot or to call the question. Anyway - So when asked me how I felt about Mulgrew's demeanor I must have disappointed Brown when I said Mulgrew's demeanor is fine with me. I only wish he was like in defending teachers when instead his so-called anger (I forgot to tell Brown it was an act) was really being directed at classroom teachers who opposed the common fore.

I said I want that fighting spirit in a union leader (I certainly prefer Mulgrew's style to the insipid Randi's). But Mulgrew is using a phony fighting spirit on the side of the corporate interests who are pushing the common core instead of using it to defend classroom teachers. I urged him to watch the 2 classroom teachers who followed Mulgrew, Barr and Magee where they talked about the CC being tied to corporate interests, with the last speaker pointing out how it is copywrited.

Brown read back the quote he was going to use and it sounded good to me. I told him if it comes out that way (which I didn't believe it would - and it really didn't) I would get him a birthday present. I don't think so.

The Staten Island native�s fighting words left other teachers feeling insulted, however. �His style is not attacking the real enemies of teachers. He�s attacking the teachers trying to defend their children in the classroom!� said Norm Scott, a retired elementary school teacher living in Rockaway, Queens, who recorded the video and posted it to his Ed Notes blog.

Brown had asked me about Mulgrew's demeanor, which I am fine with, not insulted. But the rest of the quote looks good to me.

Oh, and when I told him I had a lot more unpublished footage he said he would talk to people about buying it. "Sorry I said, not interested." Ah, the benefits of being a Tier 1 retiree.

More videos of heroic Chicago teachers who spoke before and after Mulgrew.


People are telling me that the streamed video of the AFT convention seems to be missing the Mulgrew speech. I don't want to accuse them of playing the Richard Nixon card and deleting it.

Another point. Someone asked me how it worked out that Mulgrew and Barr spoke right after another -- these guys are big shots - do they have to race to the mic and stand in line? Surrogate Unity Caucus slugs do that work for them - they grab a spot at the mics and move aside for the biggies when strategically it is time for them to speak.


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