BOSTON MAYOR RACE : SCHOOLS FLAP — THE BTU FIGHTS BACK

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^ The BTU’s Richard Stutman : a man who insists.

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The fat is in the fire. Boy, is it ever. A Mayor campaign that was already hotting up pretty good has now, beginning with yesterday’s announcement by SFC that it would spend at least $ 500,000 on John Connolly’s campaign, become a heat wave. Even yesterday, the Felix G. Arroyo campaign expressed its anger at the SFC money dump and at the schools agenda it advocates. Now comes the release, by the Boston Teachers Union (BTU), of a poll which — so it told the Globe — that it had intended to keep private until the SFC money dump made it imperative to release to the public.

Believe that one, and I’ll offer you a bridge in Brooklyn.

In any case, the BTU now has its poll, which, according to the Globe, reported low support for an increase in charter schools and strong support for “working with” the BTU. Upon its poll the BTU has now made explicit that it will endorse a candidate, for the first time in twenty years, and it will almost certainly endorse a candidate who opposes any increase in the number of charter schools, any lengthening of the school day, and any additions to the rigor of teacher evaluations and of school performance.

Here the BTU has set itself against state schools policy enacted into law in 2010 and further agreed to by all parties in 2012; against Governor Patrick’s schools agenda; against what the Boston Globe, the Boston business community, and most school parents want.

Of course the BTU doesn’t need to take the entire State into account as does the statewide Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA). It need only answer to Boston voters. The BTU is relying upon Boston voters’ well-attested favorability to Labor Unions and their mission, indeed hoping that Boston voters will put protection of the Union’s bargains above the large changes that candidate Connolly — and others — want to bring about in the ways of Boston schools. This is a risky move for the BTU to make. After all, schools exist for the benefit of children first, the society at large second. Schools do not exist to give teachers jobs. Teachers obtain school jobs because they are wanted for the work of educating children.

As children, not teachers, are the focus of schools, so the BTU must recognize that, either it gets on board the school priorities that best educate children for the workplace they will face in this age of technology, social media, and a world economy, or parents and the workplace community will have to act without the BTU.

This would be unfortunate. No one wants to consider teachers an adversary. their job is difficult, the pay less than they could make, with similar skills, in the corporate workplace. Teachers make the City stronger.

The changes enacted into State law, and which Mayoral candidates like Connolly are now resolving to establish in Boston, do not erase the BTU. All they intend is to get the city’s public school teachers to adjust their job descriptions to the needs of schools today. Adjustment is difficult for labor unions; only by hard bargaining did they win the job rules that they now have. Their reluctance to unbargain those bargains is understandable.

Understandable, but not final.

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^ Felix G. Arroyo : will the BTU endorse him ?

Combat about Boston schools policy has given Felix G. Arroyo his chance to break free of the five other “new Boston” candidates and become a serious contender in the Primary. If Arroyo secures a BTU endorsement, his rise will almost certainly cut down the prospects of John Connolly, already a bit embarrassed by the infusion of “outside” money into his campaign.

And more : the rise of Arroyo and the downturn of Connolly will almost certainly advantage the campaign of Marty Walsh, whose strong Labor support, accompanied by a compromise approach to schools policy, looks — for now — like the ultimately winning agenda in November.

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^ Marty Walsh : the winner in any Arroyo vs. Connolly donnybrook

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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