For a glimpse into Newark’s educational politics, Newark Teacher Union President Joseph Del Grosso barely squeaked out a victory in this week’s contentious battle for the top spot in the association: he won by a scant nine votes. However, his opposition – represented under a new faction called “NEW Vision” or “Newark Education Workers Caucus” – won 18 of 31 seats on NTU’s Executive Board. NJ Spotlight, in recounting the story, says that this will be the “first time since his first term that Del Grosso’s slate will not control the board.”
Del Grosso has been widely criticized by by some NTU members for agreeing to a merit pay structure in NTU’s new contract and associating with Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson. Consorting with the enemy, if you will.
So what does NEW Vision want?
Handily, Intercepts has posted NEW Vision’s “manifesto,” a thoughtful and well-written strategic plan that defines this union’s activism as “a movement of social justice, a “supreme act of devotion” to schoolchildren in Newark and the city’s future. Part of that devotion is declaring enmity to “the privatization of public schools, the corporatization of public life, and the commodification of human life in general.”
NEW Caucus stands in opposition to the Democrat-Republican attack on public education at the local, state, and national levels. We are critical of big corporate financiers who fund each political party in order to have their own economic and political self-interests served at the expense of the common good of the working people, especially those who live in poor neighborhoods in cities across the United States. Those who joined NEW Caucus since January are determined to resist such efforts as well as to energize and revitalize the NTU to make it ther fighting force it once was and will be again.
The language has a kind of Marxist or Engelian feel to it: the working man (woman) is in a class conflict with capitalists, who make profit at the expense of the working class. Of course, these are not bricklayers; these are professional educators who make between $53K and $94K per year, with generous benefits packages. (Numbers are from 2010 salary guides; I can’t find the most recent contract, which included raises.) For more on the linkage of socialism and teacher unions, check out Lois Weiner’s “The Future of Our Schools; Teacher Unions & Social Justice.”
The manifesto includes short, medium, and long-term plans (NEW Caucus appears right on schedule), organizational charts, and mission statements. Also included is an unpublished response to an pro-education reform editorial in the Star-Ledger. The response’s rejection, says NEW Caucus, was “a virtual admission of bias towards elite powerbrokers in the city.”
The response itself says that education reformers are “actually taking their cue from cabal of billionaires who claim to have the best interests of working class students at heart but in reality are looking to making the American working class cheaper, more malleable, more technocratic, and better to be good soldiers…more economically efficient and better qualified for military service.” Oh no! Our secret is out!