Tag Archives: Michael Mulgrew

Gov. Cuomo Condemns NY Teacher Unions: “Don’t Say You Represent The Students”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized New York’s teacher unions last week following his State of the State Address, claiming that the unions become overly self-serving and their purpose has been “flipped.”

Speaking with the New York Daily News Editorial Board last Thursday, Cuomo called teacher unions an “industry” that is supposed to be working to improve the educational system but has instead prioritized preserving the rights of its own members. Cuomo told the board about a disagreement he said that he had with a teacher union member who’d stated he was protecting his students.

Cuomo said that he told the teacher “You represent the teachers. Teacher salaries, teacher pensions, teacher tenure, teacher vacation rights. I respect that. But don’t say you represent the students.”

“Somewhere along the way, I believe we flipped the purpose of this,” Cuomo said. “This was never a teacher employment program and this was never an industry to hire superintendents and teachers.”

Cuomo said that the public must be made aware of the problems in the state’s education system. “If (the public) understood what was happening with education to their children, there would be an outrage in this city,” Cuomo said. “I’m telling you, they would take City Hall down brick by brick.”

“It’s only because it’s complicated that people don’t get it,” Cuomo said. He added that “Education reform will come when people understand the story of education fully.”

Cuomo’s remarks to the editorial board followed his State of the State Address last Wednesday, where he had noted plans to reform the state’s education system as part of his $141.6 billion 2015-16 budget proposal. Included in those education reform proposals:

  • Granting more power to the state to fix failing schools
  • Expanding charter schools
  • Creating new standards that incoming teachers must meet; Cuomo said that almost a third of incoming teachers were not reading at a high school senior level.
  • A $20 million “Teacher Excellence Fund” in which teachers deemed highly effective would be eligible for a $20,000 bonus
  • “Expeditiously but fairly” firing ineffective teachers by streamlining the current discipline and termination system
  • Changing teacher tenure policy that currently grants tenure to teachers after 3 years to a new standard that “proposes that a teacher must receive five consecutive annual ratings of effective or highly effective before tenure is granted.”

Cuomo also placed the state DREAM ACT, which would provide state financial assistance to college students who are the children of undocumented immigrants, alongside an education tax credit for those who donate money to public or private schools in his budget bill.

“I understand there’s going to be political problems for people on both sides of the aisle,” Cuomo said last Wednesday. “And they will be besieged by lobbyists.”

Cuomo’s proposals for education reform were rebuked by United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew. “What the Governor’s clearly saying, that he’s going to fix education by attacking the people who work in the school buildings,” Mulgrew said.

Teacher’s Union President Threatened To Punch Common Core Opponents In The Face

United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew, who was defending Common Core standards while speaking during a debate at July’s American Federation of Teachers convention in Los Angeles, displayed increasing irritation toward opponents of the standards as his speech went on.

The debate was centered around a resolution for the American Federation of Teachers that would continue supporting and implementing Common Core standards. The video of Mulgrew’s argument was released last Thursday by the education blog Ed Notes Online.

Mulgrew declared that “standards are our tools. They are the tools of the teachers.” He went on to criticize the implementation of Common Core in New York, saying “As a local who had one of the worst implementations in the entire country of Common Core, I understand my brothers’ and sisters’ frustration and anger about the Common Core.”

“And I have 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, referring to critics of the standards.

“What bothers me more than anything is the idea is that the American Federation of Teachers would back down from a fight. The standards are ours. Tests are ours. We are fighting now because they took tests away from them to bring them back to us. You don’t back down from a fight. They took our standards away from us, we’re going to take them back from them because that is our tool. We are the teachers. They are not the teachers. It is our profession,” said Mulgrew.

“So I stand here in support of this for one simple reason: if someone takes something from me, I’m gonna rip it right back out of their cold, twisted, sick hands and say it is mine. You do not take what is mine. And I’m gonna punch you in the face and push you in the dirt because this is the teachers, these are our tools and you sick people need to deal with us and the children that we teach. Thank you very much,” Mulgrew concluded.

UFT assistant secretary Leroy Barr followed Mulgrew’s speech and echoed the same support for the standards. “There is no question in my mind that we cannot allow to have different standards in different states. We have to have standards, we have to have standards that are common, we have to do everything that we can to take back what belongs to us,” said Barr.

The debate continued with Timothy Meegan of the Chicago Teacher’s Union, who supports education standards but not Common Core standards because “education is not business“.

“Privatizers estimate the education market to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Their plan is to deliver pre-loaded content on tablet computers. This isn’t personalized instruction. It de-professionalizes teachers and alienates students from each other and their teachers,” said Meegan.