When United Teachers of Dade “Sold Out” (again) Public Education, Florida’s Teaching Force and Children by Endorsing Race to the Top, Ushering in SB736

short link:  http://shawnbeightol.com/blog/?p=955

This is somewhat of a place holding entry.  More links and documentation will follow.

There are probably no more damaging policies to public education and therefore to the children (and the adults they become, which means the communities, the families, the businesses…the entire fabric of society) than the consecutive policies of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” and Obama’s “Race to the Top” (RTTT).

The first time Florida attempted to sell teacher tenure and autonomy to the federal government in return for billions in aid, our Florida application was rejected for (properly) a lack of teacher union support.  Indeed, what possible union of professionals would agree to sell out their profession and harm the clients we serve?  Answer?  No kind of true union.

The second application for RTTT was initiated by the governor wisely tapping MDCPS’ superintendent Alberto Carvalho to be the chair of the Florida RTTT committee, knowing that Carvalho “owned” United Teachers of Dade (UTD), the largest teachers union in the Southern United States.  With UTD on board and its influence in the state umbrella union, the Florida Education Association (FEA, of which UTD’s former president is now Vice President and running for FEA’s president position), full state union support was soon delivered and the Federal Grant application approved.

UTD had sold public education out.

The problem was, UTD had a history of  standing firmly (and correctly) against merit pay and the trade-off (sell off) of teacher rights.  In order to get UTD to support RTTT, Carvalho had to get UTD’s president Aronowitz to do a 180 degree flip flop on all of the prior statements of opposition.

He did.

However, after its disastrous federal approval, introduction and implementation between 2010 and the end of the  2012 school year, Miami teachers and their volunteer union representatives who worked among them in the schools (called union stewards) almost unanimously communicated to UTD leadership that they did not want to renew their involvement in RTTT when it was time to renew the grants in the fall of 2012.

The stewards took these wishes to the steward council meeting in the fall of 2012 and officially voted down renewed involvement in RTTT.

The problem was, RTTT involvement was important to Carvalho’s personal professional and political climb…and so Carvalho stopped the ongoing salary negotiations and told stewards in the middle of the school day that they must immediately reconvene the stewards in an emergency vote DURING the day and vote to get it right (in other words, to stay until they agreed to renew their support).

Here’s what I and the herald wrote about this manipulative exploitation of the union by Carvalho then:  ”pulling 400+ stewards out of their classrooms (10,000 plus students left without teachers for an afternoon) to revote an RTTT proposal Stewards had already said NO to: “Union stewards had previously voted against it…UTD President Karen Aronowitz…called an emergency meeting at Miami Jackson Senior High School…Stewards — teachers and education support professionals elected to represent their schools — left work early to discuss and vote.”  - The joke here is that she said changing their vote would turn into powerful bargaining leverage…right, so the $300 raise for 3 years is her idea of powerful?”

The following are communications related to the above information:

—– Original Message —–

From: United Teachers of Dade

Sent: Monday, October 29, 2012 11:41 AM

Subject: Emergency Council of Stewards Meeting Today at 1:00 p.m.

Dear Stewards:

During contract negotiations today issues arose that require the attention of Union Building Stewards.  President Karen Aronowitz requested that the District release all Stewards to attend an emergency meeting at Miami Jackson Senior High School at 1:00 p.m. today.  District officials have agreed and are notifying all Principals to release Stewards by noon today to attend the 1:00 p.m. meeting.

Any questions should be directed to M-DCPS Labor Relations at 305-995-1000.

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Shawn,

I am the designated union steward at XXXXX School.

Once again our Union sold us down the river today.  I want to contest what they did.

We were called to this meeting today, pulled away from our students to vote on an issue that the council had already voted on and voted no.

We were presented with the following;

That the District would not negotiate with us if we id not approve the RTTT-D.

The [council of stewards] voted on this last month and voted no because we did not feel it was equitable, efficient, or transparent.  The grant would only be for Middle School Math teachers (2 at each school) and was to be used to implement the Cambridge math program for select students in each middle school at a cost, to be covered by the grant, of 30 million dollars.  The districts needs are so many and to spend 30 million on such a small group

1) The stewards were told that if we voted for Karen to sign the grant that we could retract are offer later if we could not reach an agreement in bargaining.  (I don’t believe this to be true.)

2) There were approximately 400 stewards there.  The way the vote was conducted was by oral response.  All in favor, all opposed.  Really fast and over 1/2 the people did not vote.  It was clear that UTD leadership wanted the measure to pass.  Only about 50 responded in favor and then maybe 8 had the courage to vote opposed.  I’ve already notified them that I want to challenge the vote.  I need your insight in how to do this. I believe this needed to be presented to members before we voted.

3) Personnally they sold us out again.  It was my position that if the District was serious about this they would have put an offer on the table.  We give up our bargaining power when we sign the grant.  Too many times we have fallen for this and then the district renigs and does not follow through.  Last month UTD had a large number of people lined up to speak at the school board meeting and pulled everyone out at the last minute because they had reached an agreement, well the next day they went to bargaining and they were offered a 1% pay increase.  Even if it is legal for us to withdraw our signature (which to my knowledge it is not.) we will be portrayed as the villians again because we will be blamed for hurting the children when really we are just hurting their own personal income.  They did not worry about interrupting instruction to have this dirty vote.

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This is from another steward at the time:

This afternoon our principals were sent a notice from the district to allow all building stewards to attend and emergency meeting this afternoon at Jackson SHS.
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At the meeting our president informed us that we needed to approve the new RTTT grant [even though membership and then the stewards council had rejected it - Beightol's clarification].
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There was many people who went up to speak and not surprisingly Karen would not take questions from the floor that were not to her liking.  She also tried to take the mike away from speakers that when she didn’t like what they said.
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In the end she got the stewards to vote yes by telling them of the bad things that would happen if they did not approve:  “Tallahassee would cut funding to MDCPS”  “Tallahassee would be out to bust the Union” “we would get nothing from the district by a yes vote meant that she would have something to negotiate as if they didn’t give us the step increase we could chose to not implement it come December.”
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I feel this was all manipulated by both Karen and Carvalho.  For one thing if he really wanted this deal why did he not make an offer to go with the approval of the grant- but as of now he has offered nothing.  Karen told the stewards that voting yes would put UTD in a position of power.  She had her AFT lawyer there to back her up as well.
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I personally feel that RTTT is very bad legislation and we should never had been on-board with it from the start.
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But as usual Karen got her way and it was passed.  She says UTD is powerless because we do not have 80% membership – however membership is low primarily because of her and the way the union has been run.
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Most teachers feel that she has sold us out and members are leaving daily for this reason.  I feel that I was being set up with this meeting as I could tell that the administration knew before hand what it was about as id a teacher that they hold in confidence.  I did not approve but the majority of stewards voted yes like good little sheeple.

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from another steward:

10/29/12: This am UTD met MDCPS at the negotiation tables again. Apparently MDCPS tried to pressure UTD President Karen Aronowitz to sign off and allow MDCPS to pursue the next round of RTTT monies. However, through recent surveys, UTD members told Karen Aronowitz that they did NOT want to take RTTT $ the next round.

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To me [Shawn Beightol], what makes this especially grievous is UTD’s complete reversal in their position on merit pay and RTTT.  This is something I researched and wrote about in February of 2012…before Stewards voted (initially) to reject further implementation of RTTT in MDCPS…and were called back to revote it until they got it “right” as described above:

Subject: Flip Flops are standard footware in Miami

Some strong words from a strong “leader”

Re: Star Merit Pay

““Some legislators awoke to the punitive nature of STAR and were smart enough to stop it in its track.  Now MAP is taking its place.  The real discussion must still be the salaries offered in this state to teachers and ESPs.  Nothing replaces adequacy of salaries in recruiting and retaining educators – not E-COMP, not STAR, not MAP”…”

STAR “will also judge teachers on how well their students perform on the FCAT test, even though many of the teachers do not teach FCAT subjects.  These teachers would then be judged by other non-scientific, non-validated tests yet to be developed.”

“The STAR plan is a fiasco that undermines effective teaching and learning.  The state mandated features will unravel the fabric of collegiality and actually frustrate the mission of our public schools,””

““The state should be ashamed.  We are talking about the state punishing its own children so their teachers can get a bogus bonus,” said Aronowitz, referring to the program’s $19.6 million dollars being tied directly to FCAT scores.”  – May, 2008

Re: RTTT:

Race to the Top: Aronowitz Says ”NO” to Florida DOE

No Reform, Participation or Collaboration = No Agreement – “We are strongly opposed to DOE’s complete disregard for the needs of our students and teachers. I want you to know that I will never sign an agreement that puts our contract in jeopardy and ignores the voices of educators.”  – Dec 2009

“Aronowitz briefed the Board regarding Race to the Top stating that…after carefully reviewing the MOU from the State, there is no way we can sign the document – it undermines our collective bargaining agreement.” – UTD Executive Board Minutes, January 2010

Flip-Flop?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SUPERINTENDENT ALBERTO CARVALHO AND UTD PRESIDENT KAREN ARONOWITZ SIGN RACE TO THE TOP ASSURANCE AGREEMENT PUTS M-DCPS IN LINE FOR UP TO $70 MILLION IN FUNDING

MIAMI- Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho and UTD President Karen Aronowitz signed an agreement today assuring the state that the teachers union is in agreement with Florida’s Race to the Top (RTTT) grant application and agreeing to negotiate the terms and conditions for full implementation. The agreement puts Miami-Dade County Public Schools in line for up to $70 million in RTTT funding.

Yet she has the gall to write a month later Re: Gov Scott’s & Republican Majority wins in Nov 2010 and the threat of changing teacher evaluation and compensation:
“Senate Bill 6 will be back. We will not back down from the fight.  We and our sister unions are the final line between strong public schools and privatization.
In the words of Winston Churchill, ‘Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never….’  That is who we are.  That is why we are union.”  – Karen Aronowitz, November 2010, UTD News
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Note: the press release and her quote in the UTD news (presumably 2 different audiences) are completely, diametrically opposed to each other.
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Publicly, she begins to tone down her previously staunch anti-merit pay rhetoric, now calling it a “debate” and “discussion”:
“The debate continues on merit pay, teacher tenure and the quality of teaching in Florida. Underlying the discussion is last year’s proposal to create a merit-based teacher pay system in which student test scores form part of the basis for teaching compensation. The proposal was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist.”
- Karen Aronowitz, UTD News, January 2011
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By August of 2011, Karen shifts from vocal opponent to vocal advocate of Merit Pay, including this statement from the August 2011 Tentative Agreement “What a Yes Vote Means” letter (promoting the new “IPEGS II” which bases teachers merit pay and potential non-rehirability on school average reading grades):
“we have secured funding from the Race to the Top Grant…$14 million dollars will be paid to teachers based on last year’s work…I cannot stress enough the significance…the UTD Executive Board and Bargaining Team strongly recommend this contract amendment.”
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And when the “sellout” plate comes back around in January 2012, Karen speaks out of both sides of her mouth with her hand held out to take RTTT blood money:
“the terms of Race to the Top are demeaning, divisive, and degrading to teachers and that what should be a positive work environment has been altered for the worse.
Even so, [we] want the $14 million dollars” – UTD News, January 2012
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What changed?  FEA’s lawsuit says RTTT/SB736 STILL undermines collective bargaining (if you think the RTTT and SB736 are unrelated, see http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2011/03/sb736-irresponsible-incompetent-or.html<https://legacy.dadeschools.net/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2011/03/sb736-irresponsible-incompetent-or.html>  – SB736 provided the legislative requirements needed to secure RTTT funds).
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What changed is this:
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UTD has long struggled with membership at less than 50% its unit.
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In 2010-2011 year, Florida Legislators along with American Legislative Exchange Council (see http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2012/07/26/report-says-alec-has-growing-influence-in-florida-education-policy/ ) and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (see  http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/tag/jeb-bush/page/2/ and http://www.excelined.org/Pages/About_Us/Team.aspx for their own assertion of their connection to ALEC) wrote 3 bills that threatened Public Employee Unions, in particular, UTD (SB 830 threatened to stop automatic dues deductions, HB 1023 threatened automatic decertification for membership below 50%, and HB 1025, which allowed any member at any time to call for decertification of the union.
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Such a multitude of attacks on the union is no mere coincidence:  Bush’s Chief of Staff, ” Patricia Levesque,…spoke to fellow reformers at a retreat in October 2010. Levesque noted that[2010 legislative] reform efforts had failed because the opposition had time to organize. Next year, Levesque advised, reformers should “spread” the unions thin “by playing offense” with decoy legislation. Levesque said she planned to sponsor a series of statewide reforms, like allowing taxpayer dollars to go to religious schools by overturning the so-called Blaine Amendment, “even if it doesn’t pass…to keep them busy on that front.” She also advised paycheck protection, a union-busting scheme, as well as a state-provided insurance program to encourage teachers to leave the union and a transparency law to force teachers unions to show additional information to the public. Needling the labor unions with all these bills, Levesque said, allows certain charter bills to fly “under the radar.””

To correct the falsehoods (lies) published by UTD then, I wrote in my analysis of the current healthcare “compromise”: “MDCPS [is] required to pay the $14 million RTTT funds as bonuses REGARDLESS of this healthcare vote (in other words, it should not be used as a scare tactic that the money would be repurposed by Tallahassee).

Does attaching the RTTT money to the healthcare vote mean it is “bait?”  Does stating that if we vote “yes” we get it but if we vote “no” it will go to testing emphasize that it is being used as bait?

Does saying it would be used for Testing constitute FRAUD since the District application for the RTTT funds says:” 9.6 c RTTT Funds will be used to reward teachers based on evaluation results” for school years “2010-11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14″ (see http://www.fldoe.org/arra/pdf/Dade.pdf  p.79 )

Doesn’t this mean MDCPS already told Florida and Federal DOE that RTTT money would be used “to reward teachers”?  So isn’t that disingenuous to use it as bait?”

Don’t forget to wear your flip-flops…it’s dangerous out there.

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