Common Core Sparks Infighting in New York Unions

Common Core Sparks Infighting in New York Unions

Last year, the depth of frustration with New York’s Common Core burst into the public when parents and teachers confronted State Education Commissioner John King in Poughkeepsie, NY, with their concerns and difficulties. 

Nobody is happy about it – not the kids, not the parents, and especially, with their jobs on the line, not the teachers, both union and non-union. Nevertheless, the Democrats from the federal level on down continue to push it. Why shouldn’t they? It centralized control of the schools’ curricula in the hands of the government and allows them to keep files on our kids that will follow them wherever they go. In other words, it’s a Democrat control freak’s wet dream.

Tellingly, Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, chose to stand with the Democrats in opposition to the interests of her union members. A good thermometer of the attitude of the rank-and-file in the union is the socialist press. Here is a taste of their frustration, as reported by the newspaper of the International Socialist Organization:

UNFORTUNATELY, THE New York State United Teachers actually has a mixed record on Common Core. Led by its largest affiliate, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the union officially supports the Common Core, but disagrees with the implementation that has occurred, calling for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes consequences to teachers and students for the new tests, so that they can be “properly aligned” with the standards.

A variety of suburban teachers locals have taken much stronger positions than the state teachers union – and, even more importantly, organized their members to attend these hearings en masse. Many teachers seem to have also come independently.

The Common Core standards were designed without teacher input and dominated by the Gates Foundation and testing companies… Thus, the proliferation of scripted teaching guides that de-skill the teaching profession and workbooks that promote the worst kind of rote learning, even though the new standards are supposed to promote “critical thinking” and better instruction.

The teachers’ unions have ignored this inherent contradiction in an eager rush not to appear as “opponents of reform.” This is part of their overall conservative strategy that led to concession after concession to high-stakes testing and an erosion of teacher job protections and working conditions statewide. It remains to be seen whether the grassroots upsurge succeeds in reversing the contradictory policy of the state union… The teachers’ unions will have to become involved more centrally as well and play a role in knitting together the resistance to the testing. This is likely to occur first in upstate and suburban locals, free of the bureaucratic domination of the UFT leadership, but is a call that is increasingly being taken up by rank and filers in New York City as well.

It is worth noting that what is best for the children is never at the forefront of the conversation among the different factions of the left’s education cadre. If it were, they would have taken up the mantle of school choice long ago.