Faux May Day and historical revisionism are part of a long tradition of duplicity in AFT... UFT has always censored words the leadership didn't like...

During his years as president, first of New York's United Federation of Teachers (Local 2, AFT) and then as president of the American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker always made sure that the information and analysis provided to the union's more than one million national members was heavily censored. Following Shanker to the helm of the AFT, Sandra Feldman continued that tradition.I read Rich Gibson’s April 23, 2017 Substance analysis “May Day... False Flags Flying: Fake unions plan Faux Mayday” with great interest and gratitude. Rich offers words in the long Substance tradition—information. In Chicago, of all places, the failure of the union to inform teachers about May Day is a travesty. It’s also a mistake.

I have my own small experience with the AFT shunning of information. For several years I wrote book reviews for the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) monthly publication. The staff sent me free unreadable books along the lines of The History of Concrete. So I bought and reviewed books of more interest and importance to the lives of teachers. My reviews were long and contentious--and a whole lot of fun.

First the editor complained that I was reviewing books he hadn’t sent. Then he complained they were too long. Then he informed me “No more reviews.” He said book reviews just didn’t meet the needs of teachers.

Funny thing. People at my school used to joke that there was no evidence of anything in the paper meeting any need of any teacher. In our school we had a standing bet of how many pictures of NYSUT second vice president Toni Cortese would appear in each month’s pages. We had no idea what job function she performed besides getting her picture in the paper.

When my husband organized an Einstein conference at his college, he invited Banesh Hoffman as keynote speaker. At that time Hoffman, a mathematician, physicist, and Einstein collaborator, taught at Queens College, part of the City University of New York. I knew him as the author of The Tyranny of Testing. First published in 1962. it took on the issues parvenus claim to be discovering today. When my husband met Hoffman’s plane, the first thing Hoffman said was, “You related to the Ohanian who writes book reviews?”

The union, operating on the principle that nobody reads, likewise ignores the basics we all--teachers, parents, professors, students-- have in common. Years ago, I wrote a piece for USA Today about why everyone in the US should care about the fact that Chicago couldn't open its schoolhouse doors. This hit sort of a nerve, and I got numerous calls from radio hosts, asking me to explain why people in Maryland or Arizona should care about Chicago. The answer then, and now, seems obvious to me. But I'd like to say that first of all, Chicago had better care about Chicago. And that means getting informed.

I applaud George Schmidt—for continuing to insist that teachers need to be informed. I applaud Rich Gibson for insisting that we need to know dangerous things.


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

5 + 1 =