Monday, April 26, 2010

Pols UFT-icked off

Three cheers for State Sen. Craig Johnson ( and Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, two of the lonely voices of courage in Albany!

Pols UFT-icked off

Last Updated: 4:04 AM, April 23, 2010

In an unusually harsh attack, two state lawmakers yesterday accused teachers-union leaders of recklessly smearing charter schools.

Sen. Craig Johnson (D-LI) and Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (D-Bronx) said they were outraged that a hearing chaired by Harlem Sen. Bill Perkins turned into a one-sided, union-inspired charter-school inquisition -- with little recognition of the schools' success.

Both legislators unloaded criticism on United Federation of Teachers bosses, accusing them of protecting incompetent teachers and low-performing schools.

Low "graduation rates, teacher tenure and paying teachers who don't even teach -- all of them are defended by your union," Johnson told UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

"When are you going to address these problems?"

Mulgrew fired back, "You don't even have a fact in your question."

Johnson accused the unions of scuttling legislation to lift a state cap on charter schools, claiming they had undue influence over Perkins and other lawmakers.

Labor leaders said they support lifting the cap only if there's additional oversight of charters.

Benjamin also took Mulgrew and other union leaders to task.

"It's sad to me that for the second time in my lifetime, the UFT stood opposed to change," said Benjamin, referring to a racially divisive teachers strike in the 1960s.

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