Seriously, What Is Up at UFT?

February 28, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

I’m catching up on this a little late, but ALELR has connected a couple of dots and drawn a picture of things at the UFT that can only make you say “Epic Facepalm.”

OK, you do remember the whole Cue Card Check scandal? At the time, Randi Weingarten was so embarrassed that she was forced to go out and claim she knew nothing about all this – cue cards? what cue cards? – and would “make some changes in the union.”

I missed this at the time, but last summer Elizabeth Green (who also broke the Cue Card Check story) reported that Marvin Reiskin, the UFT political director, had taken early retirement in the aftermath of the scandal. He was lined up for retirement at the end of the year anyway, but forcing him out early – even a month early – beats doing nothing. It sends an internal signal, however muted.

Obviously UFT had to be looking for a replacement who would restore credibility. Their number one priority after such a humiliation must have been to bring in someone who would restore adult supervision – and, more importantly, be seen to do so – show the watching world that the grownups were back in charge at UFT.

So get this: the person tapped to play that role was Paul Egan.

I think the question now becomes: why does UFT have an organizational culture in which people like this consistently rise to the top, no matter how strong the external incentives against it?

Building Rock Star Teachers

March 7, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Elizabeth Green of Gotham Schools turns in a very important article on building rock star teachers in New York Times Magazine.

I am having the same reaction to this article that I had to roller bags: why did it take so long? After all, we only spend hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars a year on Colleges of Education, and, well, what exactly have they been doing for the last 50 years?

Next reaction, this article hints at what may be a growing trend for Teach for America to work with universities to revamp their Ed Schools. It’s not mentioned in the article, but this process is underway at Arizona State University and the article mentions others.  Given that traditional certification shows no relation to student learning gains and many states are getting a large percentage of their new teachers through alternative routes, the handwriting is on the wall for Colleges of Education: improve or else.

The UFT’s “Cue Card Check”

April 15, 2009


All images from GothamSchools, whose Elizabeth Green broke the story

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Last week, the UFT got caught handing out cue cards to New York City Council members before a public hearing of the council’s education committee. The council members dutifully asked the questions they had been given, which pointedly invited anti-charter diatribes from the teacher-union and DOE witnesses.

The members then unanimously voted to make Grigori Potemkin their new committee chairman.

Internet wags are calling the scandal “cue card check.” ALELR has consulted his deep moles within UFT and offered an intriguing report on the union’s strategy for the Council’s next hearing.

The cue cards have to be seen to be believed:




That’s “questions for Leo” as in our dear friend and Sith apprentice Leo Casey, who testified at the hearing. My pledge to you, the reader: from now on, every time Leo posts calumnies about Jay, I will post a link to this story.


And that’s “questions for DOE” as in officials from the Department of Education. The cue cards were handed out by the UFT, but is it plausible that the department officials had no idea they were being asked scripted questions?

HILARIOUS UPDATE! When I first posted this, I didn’t look closely at the handwritten edit made to this cue card. Check it out – note the spelling. And this is from an organization of teachers!

This story doesn’t seem to have broken out of the local circuit yet, but it’s getting a whole lot of attention in the city media. The Daily News is leading the way, documenting the extent of UFT political contributions to the council members who got cue cards and covering Randi Weingarten’s attempts to deflect blame by claiming that a charter school organizer once did the same thing. (Not true, says the organizer – and who has more credibility here?)

But ALELR notes that props are not being given to Elizabeth Green of the blog GothamSchools, who broke the story and snapped all the pictures you see above (and more, which you can enjoy in all their glory by following the link).

Green wryly notes that the cue cards with accusatory anti-charter questions were handed out by “a representative of the city teachers union, which describes itself as in favor of charter schools.”

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