January Observation Report for the UFT Leadership

Summary: United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew effectively addressed the census crisis in our city, victim-blaming residents in disenfranchised and disadvantaged neighborhoods for not properly filing their census surveys and causing a lack of funding for our city’s schools. As will be discussed below, Mr. Mulgrew was also able to differentiate this victim-blaming with anecdotes about the behavior of residents in areas such as Flatbush and Harlem, as well as provide later demonstration for the same mindset he was trying to teach, through his procedural avoidance of any discussion of the movement for black lives. 

Time: 4:34-6:07 PM, January 15, 2020

Location: UFT Delegate Hall, 52 Broadway, New York, NY

Planning and Preparation: Effective

Mr. Mulgrew shows a readiness to cover a wide range of topics, with a knack for improvisation and other extemporaneous speech, such as an interactive discussion with the audience about the population of Aspen, which has 3,765 residents, as of an estimate in 2018. 

Mr. Mulgrew also showed a readiness to challenge members to wake up and take the census seriously this time. His well-prepared remarks admonishing the membership of the union to take the census seriously were effective because they made it evident that if he had been the UFT president in 2010 during the last census no such shortage of activism on this issue would have occurred. Unfortunately, he did not become president until 2009.

The use of time management is an area of growth for Mr. Mulgrew, as he went several minutes over his allotted time for his President’s Report, after having started late and having made a few too many off-topic jokes throughout this report. However, Staff Director Leroy Barr was able to make effective and minimal amount of his time, merely reciting well-phrased promotions for different upcoming UFT event. More on this will be discussed in Next Steps. 

Classroom Environment: Highly Effective

The UFT delegate hall is filled with padded chairs. There are enough padded chairs to seat almost 20% of the teacher delegates from around the city. Every seat was filled, plus there were some members in the standing room-only section in the back as well as a few other members sitting on the carpeted hallways outside the hall watching on large plasma screens, not to mention a few other members watching through video conference on the 19th floor of the building. Because of the fact that Mr. Mulgrew has a delegate hall almost big enough to fit almost 20% of the elected voting members from the union, one can instantly tell that the UFT leadership values the democratic voice of the rank-and-file membership. 

Instruction: Effective

Mr. Mulgrew was able to talk about the UFT’s new online Chapter Leader Community, where leaders can discuss issues in their schools and in the city. Like many UFT online applications, it may or may not work and will allow Chapter Leaders to spend more time with bureaucratic fun. 

Mr. Mulgrew applied appropriate repetition of moderate-Demcratic talking points about the dire state of our nation. 

Mr. Mulgrew was especially eloquent in his delivery of the lesson when he decried New York’s low census survey return rates in 2010. He was able to show how this was both the failure of working class neighborhoods and the inability of members of the UFT to listen to guidance on this topic that was not provided by the UFT leadership. 

Additionally, he provided relevant examples for these admonitions. Residents of Flatbush were loud and knew everything, but they couldn’t fill out the census. Residents of Harlem can walk all over the sidewalk however they want, but they can’t fill out the census. South Queens? Don’t even get him started. This flow of examples after a stirring PowerPoint presentation really helped illustrate the lesson Mr. Mulgrew was teaching about the need to be passionate about helping with the census in order to get more funding for those most in need. 

Professional Responsibilities: Highly Effective 

Mr. Mulgrew attends to all of his business with the utmost professionalism. He has allowed for a culturally responsive atmosphere where almost 20% of the UFT’s democratically-elected representatives can pretend to voice themselves. He also has built a strong and passionate relationship with the Department of Education’s Chancellor, who has spent his tenure in that role helping to maintain the system of screening and segregation in our schools. 

Further, Mr. Mulgrew appropriately organized and motivated the time of almost 20% of UFT’s democratic voice to allow himself to speak for over 65% of the meeting time. Consequently, he was able to thwart, for the 3rd year in a row, any attempt by the UFT rank-and-file to present motions for the UFT to support the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools with funding, meeting space, and a spirit of solidarity. The success of this approach shows how Mr. Mulgrew is able to properly promote his own democratic voice in the room and silence any members interested in directly acting to change civil rights in our city. 

Next Steps 

Mr. Mulgrew, 

For the next assembly, please try to reduce the numbers of jokes you make. Further, you need to keep an eye on the time, especially considering you have assistants keeping track of time for you. Continue to harness your unique personality, but rely a little less on improvisation, such as your discussion of the population of Aspen for ~5 minutes, and instead focus on more victim-blaming of community members and the UFT rank-and-file. With this, you will be able to create an even more highly effective corporate business unionism for the UFT leadership. 

Please sign below to acknowledge your receipt of this report ,and thank you for all the work you don’t do for our students and teachers. 

Teacher’s Signature: ____________________________________________________

(By signing above you recognize that a copy of this report will be placed in your file.) 

Evaluator’s Signature: The Rank-and-File Educators of New York City 

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