UFT President Michael Mulgrew issued the following statement:
Today [Jan. 15] the UFT was informed by the mediator appointed by the state’s Public Employment Relations Board that the city and the Department of Education have refused to take part in mediation designed to help us reach an agreement on a new model for teacher evaluations.
In recent days, thanks to virtually round-the-clock bargaining, we have made progress, but important and difficult issues remain. The city’s blind rejection of outside help in resolving these remaining issues is unexplainable, and poses a serious threat to our ability to reach an agreement before Thursday’s deadline.
Ah, what to make of this?
NYCDOEnuts thinks it's a head fake, that the deal is actually done and this is just more theater to make it look like the UFT fought hard before caving in to a bad deal.
I'm not so sure about that.
It looks to me like the city is not giving any ground in negotiations, not giving Mulgrew any face-saving concessions and is saying "Take what we are offering or don't take it, it's your choice, but we're not changing our stance no matter what you do. It's a take it or leave it offer..."
This puts Mulgrew between a rock and a hard place.
APPR is partly his baby, he stood up on stage with Cuomo, Tisch, King and Ianuzzi last February after the governor successfully throttled the NYSUT/UFT lawsuit against the Regents/NYSED for changing the APPR test component system in violation of the Race to the Top legislation.
It's hard for him to head one of the few districts in the state that doesn't have an agreement, especially when he sent Leo Casey out to attack any naysayers about APPR last February and smiled over it with Cuomo, Tisch, and King.
And yet, it's also an election year and if he says yes to a destructive system, he's going to pay a heavy price both this year and the next time elections come around - especially if the DOE uses APPR to fire thousands of teachers as we all suspect they will.
He won't lose the election this time around, or even come close to losing, but a bad eval agreement could cause him some grief down the road.
So he seems to be laying down some markers, making some moves that allows him to push back against the city if a deal is not reached and say "Hey, we tried, but the DOE didn't want to meet us in mediation."
Whatever the city wants, it must be really, really bad for Mulgrew not to be able to agree to it.
I suspect he caves anyway and hopes he can bluster his way out of the inevitable backlash he gets once the rank and file get a true understanding of how bad this sell-out is.
But as I've told you before, I'm a cynic when it comes to Mulgrew, Weingarten and the AFT/UFT.
I always expect the worst out of them and usually I am unhappily rewarded with just that.
Of course I could be completely wrong about all of this and NYCDOEnuts could be right - maybe this is all just theater from the UFT to make it look like they're fighting the DOE tooth and nail and the agreement is already etched and notarized, just waiting some big wig signatures.
One thing I do know - if the bus union goes out on strike tomorrow, that really makes the whole Race to the Cuomo Evaluation Deadline even more chaotic a thing to watch.