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In Praise of Teachers: Remember Who You Are!

12 May

It’s very important that you get the word out to all of your friends, family and neighbors before Mary 21, 2013. Do your part get out the vote and to clean up the RCS district and to put good, competent, and experienced women and men on the RCS board of Education!


 We Are Directing this Article, this Letter Actually, to the Teachers in the RCS Central School District, in the Appeal to Consider Who You Are in this Community, and How You are Being Misused and Misrepresented.

RCS Teachers Association President Matthew J. Miller Resorts to Poison Pen Letter But Will the RCS Teachers Fall for It?

RCS Teachers Association President Matthew J. Miller Resorts to Poison Pen Letter
But Will the RCS Teachers Fall for It?

I am addressing this letter to you as a colleague, as a fellow educator, as a teacher. I am addressing this letter to you, our teachers, as members of our community. I am addressing this communiation to our teachers and to our community because I am concerned.

Since ancient times, men, women, boys, girls have looked upon their teachers with admiration, respect, reverence, gratitude. Yes, even love. We have a certain spiritual connection with our teachers, whether in the early years, our growing up years, even into our adult years when “teachers” become “professors” and “supervisors.”

i love my teacherWe read the teachings of saints by whose example we are taught how to live a moral and ethical life. We read the lessons of sages and philosophers who teach us the metaphysical, and the transcendent nature of knowledge, mind, life, meaning.

There was a time when teachers were encouraged to be celibate because it was considered such a sensitive vocation, yes a vocation, similar to that of religious orders. By not marrying, they could exist in the world but not necessarily be of the world. Things change and so they ought to, but some things lose some of their special essence when they or the times change, don’t they?

With the workers movements in the late 19th century we saw churches and politics turn towards social justice for workers. We saw the creation and growth of workers unions, collective bargaining, and the improvement of the lot of the working class. Later, professions joined in the union movement. And so we have it today.

That was both a bane and a blessing, dear colleagues. We know why in the depths of our hearts and we can cogitate about it and rationalize it all but when we do so, we must never lose our hold on what a teacher is and her and his role in society.

Who in today’s society has such responsibility where parents, whole communities entrust their children to the care of one group almost every day, almost all day? Who in today’s society can say that they have the power, authority, and responsibility to build young persons in mind, body and spirit? It’s an awesome responsibility and an awesome privilege. Why on earth would anyone allow anyone from within their group to blacken or to diminish that sacred responsibility? Why would someone, anyone abuse that sacred trust?

Well, dear brothers and sisters, colleagues, that has happened insidiously when the teaching profession was taken over by unions and organized from outside of the community in which the teacher lives and works. That’s what happened when the holy vocation of teaching jumped with both feet into the world and became of the world. (We see similar changes after Vatican II when female religious communities were taken from their schools and thrown out into the world; their entire image changed as did their primary concerns. A tragedy!)

Even worse, the situation is aggravated when teachers become politically motivated, when they divorce themselves from their sacred function as arbiters of morality, ethics, and community, and start becoming, for lack of a better description, profane, ordinary, tainted.

Have you ever wondered why many denominations and religions prohibit their clergy and religious orders from running for public office or holding political office? Why judges cannot campaign on issues but only on the promise to be non-partisan in their interpretation of the law? For the same reasons that teachers are discouraged from public political activity and public dissent: they have an elevated status in the community that requires them to remain “clean.”

When one individual usurps the right to be the public voice of all teachers, all teachers lose.

We are all aware that the RCSTA (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Teachers Association) is the local arm of the New York State United Teachers, NYSUT, the teachers union.

 That’s what’s happening now in your very midst. Matt Miller, writing “on behalf of the entire RCS Teachers Association Politial Action Committee,”” is endorsing some RCS board of education candidates and smearing others. Matt Miller the calls this blog “vile,” while publishing vague, ambiguous, and spurious statements on behalf of the RCSTA!  Does the teachers’ Code of Professional Ethics espouse double standards? Is that how the teachers of the RCS school district conduct their business?

We are publishing the full-text of that specious letter to allow the public, this community to make its own decision as to its appropriateness, its intent, and its purpose. Teachers and Mr Miller are employees of this community and the public and this community will be their judge.

Doesn’t a Teachers’ Association, a local teachers union chapter, lose some of it’s sacrosanct status when it jumps into the fray of profane partisan politics—especially when it presumes to endorse candidates of very questionable character on behalf of the district teachers? Since when does our district need a “Political Action Committee?” And shouldn’t that political action committee be advocating that teachers meet their statutory requirements, like training in the provisions of the Dignity Act and ensuring that the teachers are fairly treated. Not acting as the long-arm of local political agendas? Aren’t you embarassed by this display? 

One person, power-drunk, vindictive, retaliatory, egomaniacal is painting our entire community of teachers one single color, is speaking for all of you with one single voice, is announcing to this community one single political message: division, discord, misinformation. How long are the teachers of this district going to tolerate Mr Miller’s agendas?

We would be in a most regrettable situation if we expected our teachers to be clones of an ideal. It’s frightening even as a possibility because our educators must certainly represent not only the diversity of Knowlege we expect them to master but also to reflect the diversity of our world. This is what makes an exceptional education model truly superiorly exceptional. But it also has a darker side because it also means that the community of teachers must also reflect the moral composition of the community, that is, there will be saints and devils. We’d like to think the saints keep the devils in check but devils, by their very nature, are slippery little critters, and they’re crazy clever, too. Tradition teaches us that devils are master deceivers, master liars, masters of disguise. I’d only have to remind you of C.F. Lewis’ remarkable and instructive essay, The Screwtape Letters, for a wonderfully entertaining and eye-opening lesson in devilishness. You have devils among the saints and they are working their demonic agenda to poison this community as a whole, but also are taking a terrible toll on your reputation, on your image in this community.

You must do your own housekeeping, though. You must self-police.

Not only has it come to the point of putting a very questionable character, Gerald Deluca, in a position to spy and report on the RCS CSD transporation department and its employees, even despite the fact that a professionally trained, competent investigator/detective Stephen Prokrym, is on the Coeymans police force; your own union representative, Matt Miller, has gone rogue rabid.

While it is true that Mr Matthew J. Miller, your NYSUT representative, has experienced a number of crushing defeats, starting with the present BoE’s refusal to renew his $18,000+ a year double-dipping scam as “energy manager,” and culminating in recent defeats, it should be obvious that Miller’s recent desperate attacks on the board are more the result of desperation and retaliation in the guise of his official mandates. Miller obviously has lost self-confidence and reasonably has also lost the confidence of his constituency, and as a direct consequence of his personal failures, his professional shortcomings, and his political failurs, he is no longer capable of leadership. While I realize I am probably preaching to the choir, it is imperative that the majority of teachers, which is probably not involved in the deplorable, spurious, and specious political agendas we are suffering in this broken community, take this situation in hand and out of Mr Miller’s hands. He is making a tragic mess of a situation in which he should not be involved.

As you are probably aware, many professions include in their ethical statutes or Codes of Professional Conduct admonitions and prohibitions of multiple roles in professional relations. Put simply, you simply cannot serve two masters; one or both is going to get a bum deal, and that’s what we find happening in the RCS Central School District, particularly in the present example of Mr Miller’s role as teacher, taxpayer, union advocate, and political activist. He is spread all over the place and making a vainglorious attempt to establish himself as a leader. He is failing miserably.

One of the reasons for that failure is that he is not focused, and is blinded by his past failures. His agenda is one of half-truth and misinformation, finger-pointing, and polarization.

We have come to possess a recent letter that demonstrates perfectly all of our above points. The letter was provided to us by a teacher who has had enough of the cloak-and-daggar, it is dated May 4, 2013, it was sent out to “Fellow NYSUT MEmbers”, and it is underwritten by Matthew J. Miller and the RCSTA Executive Committee. One paragraph of that letter stands out as a glaring testimony to the spurious and specious tactics that Mr Miller and his associates employ when dealing with what should be dialogue partners. I am certain you know of the letter and its content but in order to refresh your information and to provide the entire text to our readers, we are providing a copy at RCSTA to NYSUT Members.

Taken in or out of context this single paragraph clearly illustrates the scandal, the mean spirit, the paranoia, the vindictiveness, the despair of the signatories, but especially of Matthew J. Miller, who is writing as YOUR, the teachers’,  representative. It is not a communication that should come from the pen of your representative, from the pen of someone who claims to be seeking consensus, much less from a teacher, from a person or persons to whom we entrust the hearts, minds, bodies and spirits of our children. You, as teachers, as professionals, as community members should be shocked that you should be addressed such a missive by a collegue who allegedy speaks with YOUR voices!

stop the lies

The offending paragraph (read the entire letter at Letter) reads in its entirety, as Mr Miller writes:

“It has become very clear that the present majority of the BOE is anti-tax and anti-government, not to mention anti-teacher. Ignore their rhetoric and examine their actions and this becomes very clear. Mr. Vadney, through his wife and child, still has a $15 million dollar notice of claim against the District while stating at the same time that he is looking out for the taxpayers. He has been arrested for his behavior against fellow BOE members and has a history of making threats against fellow members, yet claims to be bullied. He has been dismissive and rude to the minority and to any community member who does not share his views (and let’s not forget his brother’s vile blog and what info he supplies to that blog). Mrs. Sylvester, who ran as an “independent” voice last year, has voted 100% lockstep with the majority and even refused to speak on record about her stance on the budget. We need to restore the respect and integrity to this school community that these folks have wantonly destroyed in the process of making RCS a laughingstock in the Capital Region.”

I am not going to parse and analyze this text in its acrid perversity. Everyone in this community should be able to read it and process it for what it is: unacceptable and inappropriate misinformation devoid of any credibility. It is an embarassment to the teachers, to the District, and to the community who supports its teachers and which will very soon be voting on a budget that is adequate, responsible, and responsive. Anyone who has taken the time to follow its development and to get the facts straight will appreciate and acknowledge the prudence of the proposed budget.

We do feel we should comment very briefly on several points, however:

  • There is absolutely no basis in fact that the present BoE is anti – tax or anti – government. Absent any documentation or any statement of real facts, the statement made by MrMiller and the RCSTA Executive Committee and Political Action Committee is ambiguous, vague, and ignorant.
  • The editorial contributors to this blog have NEVER received input of any kind whatsoever from any RCS board of education member, much less from it’s sitting president, Mr John Vadney. Mr Miller’s and the RCSTA’s assertion is entirely false and intended to misinform you, the teachers, and whomever else might chance to read Miller’s missive. In fact, if Mr Miller has facts or information to support his accusation, we invite him to publish it. But if he has no substantiation or documentation, it’s your duty to confront him, teachers.
  • While we have addressed the purpose of a Notice of Claim, it has little to do with any lawsuit, less to do with the taxpayers of this district, and a great deal to do with notifying the RCS CSD of a serious problem that is in violation of NYS law and which does expose the District to serious liability and risk if the District administrators, teachers and staff do not get it under control. It has been addressed myriad times both in BoE meetings and outside of meetings. In fact, Mr Vadney’s son was brutally attacked when entering the school building, the event was captured on video tape. The then administration tried its best to keep it under wraps and to sideline the parents (this was not an isolated incident at all) and only when met with the former district administrations’ stonewalling did the parents have to bite the bullet to get the administration’s attention. NO LAWSUIT WAS FILED! So what is Mr Miller’s point? why don’t you ask him, NYSUT members.

In fact, ladies and gentlemen, we acquired evidence that Mr Matthew Miller was actually inciting such bullying but because of his “connections” was never publicly disgraced but did receive discipline. As teachers at the high – school, you are probably eminently well aware of this fact.

  • Mr John Vadney was framed by Mr Miller’s associates, including Ms Josephine O’Connor and her father, Joseph Tracey, O’Connor, whom you know well and also should be aware of her personal difficulties and her relationship with local ringleader Gerald Deluca (the same Gerald Deluca who is spying on your busdrivers). There were many witnesses, including a higher level NYSED officer, present who stood ready to testify in favor of Mr Vadney. The whole issue was a set up as was Mr Vadney’s arrest by local Coeymans police even after an order of protection was granted by a Bethlehem town judge. The matter was after a protracted battle summarily dismissed as having no basis in fact. This is the truth. It is public information and has been widely published in local media. Why then, we must ask you, is Mr Miller propagating this disinformation to his own colleagues and constituents?!?
  • In view of Mr Miller’s unsubstantiated claim that Mr Vadney has been rude and dismissive, the public record, unlike Mr Miller, does not lie. All one has to do is randomly review any of the many video recordings of RCS BoE meetings and make an informed decision. Nowhere whatsoever is there any evidence of rudeness or dismissiveness by Mr Vadney; quite the contrary, he is uniformly courteous, dignified, and respectful. Reviewing those same videos we can hardly say the same for Mr Miller’s various performances, nor for Ms Whalen’s or Mr Latter’s, even less so for Mr Deluca, Miller’s godfather.
  • Miller has absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Mr Vadney’s brother is operating a “vile blog.” If  Miller has substantial factual information to prove his statement, we would be delighted to see it. We are sure you would be, too.
  • Why Mr Miller has to pick on Ms Judy Sylvester is beyond us.  How she ran in the campaigning last year and how she votes is nothing that Mr Miller is competent to judge. Ms Sylvester, moreover, has indeed spoken several times on the record about her position on the budget. All anyone has to do is review the videos! In fact, her finals stand on the budget was to vote to approve it to put it out to the public’s vote! Where have you been Mr Miller?
  • As to the candidates being promoted by Matthew Miller on YOUR behalf, as YOUR RCSTA president, as the representative of YOUR NYSUT teachers union, just a couple of words:
    • James Latter. Mr Latter has a substantial history of misconduct that ranges from FERPA confidentiality violations to verbal abuse of students. We have in our possession internal documents incriminating Latter in some very serious connections that should have resulted in his immediate removal from the RCS CSD BoE, but for some uncanny reason, did not (during the regrettable and dark Smith regime). We are in the process of redacting specific names in those documents and will be publishing them soon on this blog. Once published, Mr Latter’s BoE career will be finished. Miller is or should be aware of these documents but he continues to promote Latter. Perhaps the teachers would benefit from a more substantial reason why Miller is backing latter.
    • Patrick Brown. Patrick Brown, in a very brief space of time as a candidate, has managed to present himself as simply what he is: a shyster who uses lawyer doublespeak to flamboozle his listeners. We’ve already mentioned the fact that he lives and is registered to vote at an address in Feura Bush (town of New Scotland) but said at a recent Meet the Candidate event that he lives in the town of Coeymans. Liar or fraud? Whatever. He then said that he did not support the school budget and would not vote to approve it. Yet his campaign signs are flanked by Vote YES! signs. Which is it? To the extent of our investigations no one has ever seen him at a BoE meeting, much less address the meeting. Now he’s asking for residents’ votes and is supported by your RCSTA president, Mr Matt Miller but no reasoning is given for this recommendation of support. There is no basis for such support in view of Mr Brown’s past lack of involvement in this district.

    Brown proudly announces that he is thick in government relations and an advisor to the Cuomos (Mario and Andrew). But aren’t these the very same Cuomos who have a track record of pulling every possible trick to deprive local school districts of state funding? Aren’t these the same Cuomos who have sucked every possible support from local governments only to pad the pockets in Albany and to embellish downstate moneypits like NYC? Aren’t these the same Cuomos who started all of this complicated and ingenuous 2% tax levy nonsense? And your RCSTA president and the RCSTA Political Action Committee are endorsing this Brown shyster?!? What are we missing in this picture? Maybe some sanity?

    • Jason Hyslop. Hyslop is running as a member of the Friends of RCS troika or triumvirate, whichever you prefer. He is vanilla and unconvincing, not that that in and of itself would disqualify, discredit, or denounce him. Our concern is his choice of company and how that will play out in his performance on the board. Can he be his own person or will be an owned member. He is at best unconvincing and his scripted responses do not represent convincing initiative or vision. So why is Mr Miller stuffing him down your throats? Best ask Mr Miller.

James Latter is a complete embarassment and should never have continued on the RCS BoE after the debacle of his having violated the FERPA law and having profanely disparaged a student. Peter Brown is an opportunist who suddenly appears out of nowhere (but he’s the husband of Mary Partridge-Brown, a close social and political associate of Matt Miller). Peter Brown’s record is one that is diametrically opposed to anything that would benefit our local school district. Moreover, Mr Brown has cast certain doubt on his integrity by openly misrepresenting his residence and making contradictory statements on the 2013-14 school budget. Mr Brown is patently a liar and a fraud. Jason Hyslop is his own unfavorable recommendation. Mr Hyslop had the option of running on his own, independently, honestly. Instead, he chose to be part of a troika in union with Latter and Brown. That was a very regrettable choice but it was a choice freely made by Mr Hyslop. Hyslop has thus identified himself and has made a clear statement of his principles and his agenda. Together with his inexperience, his ambiguous, scripted statements, his choice of running mates has spoken volumes. He’s part of the agenda and unworthy of the trust to be a board of education member.

 But the real challenge for Mr Miller is to put up or shut up. It’s inane to send out a letter to a group of sophisticated and highly educated colleagues when such letter is gibberish, a perfect example of a defense tactic. Don’t you want solid facts? Reliable information? Truth?

If one of your own number has had the courage to disclose this letter it can only mean that many more in your ranks are probably feeling the same way. Enough is enough!

But our question to you is this: How long are you going to allow Mr Miller to play his ridiculous games making believe he represents your interests. How much longer do you feel this community is going to tolerate this sort of doubledealing before there’s a backlash…against the very people the present board majority has supported 200%.

How long will the good teachers in this district continue to put up with being fed total nonsense, total dysinformation, outright lies before you step up to the plate and do the responsible thing: Say NO! to the lies, and YES! to the facts. In short be the educators we hope you strive to be and the educators you are being paid by this community to be. Ethical, rational, exemplary.

When all else is collapsing around our ears in this community and beyond, we have to have our ideals, our heroes, if you will. But those ideals, those heroes have to be credible, honest, trustworthy. As always, as instructors and educators, even as public speakers and presenters, we have to be aware of the impression we make on our audience. And it’s time to ask yourselves as community leaders, as educators, is the image that is being presented to us by your spokesperson Matthew J. Miller, the impression and image you want us to walk away with? Do YOU really trust him to speak for you, to represent you, to inform you?

 Matt Miller is spent, he’s passé, he’s in on the slippery slope to nowhere; our teachers are in this for the long haul. Stick with us. We need your support and we need our experienced, honest, and committed boardmembers, not Miller’s political agenda lackeys!

To Our Teachers Our Readers The Edior

To Our Teachers
from
Our Readers
The Editor

If Our Readers Would Like to Register A Complaint with NYSUT here is the contact information:

New York State United Teachers, NYSUT, Board of Directors
NYSUT Board of Directors

NYSUT Contact Information

  • Headquarters:
    800 Troy-Schenectady Road
    Latham, NY 12110
    (518) 213-6000
  • Media Relations:
    (518) 213-6000 Ext. 6313
 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Accountability, AFL-CIO, Albany, Albany Schenectady BOCES, Alice Whalen, Anti-Bullying Law, Betsy Smith, Board of Education Member, BOCES, Bray Engel, Brian Bailey, Bridget Engelhardt, Brown and Weinraub, Bryan Rowzee, Capital District, Cathy Deluca, Cecilia Tkaczyk, Claudia Verga, Coeymans, Dawn Rogers, Denise Carl Hughes, Diane Hughes, Diane Malecki, Dick Iannuzzi, Dignity Act, Dignity for All Students Act, Donna Leput Hommel, Dr Alan R. McCartney, Edward "Teddy" Reville, Edward Reville, Eilleen Vosburgh, Elizabeth A. Varney, Elizabeth Smith, Elyse Loughlin, Fair Play, FERPA, Friends of RCS, Gail Stewart, Gerald Deluca, Greene County, H Andres Jimenez Uribe, Hakim Jones, HIPAA, Howard "Bray" Engel, Hudson Valley, Hypocrisy, Incompetence, Irresponsibility, James Latter, James Latter II, Jason Hyslop, Jena Misuraca, Jennifer Houck, Jerry "Dirty-Hands" Deluca, Jerry Deluca, John B. King, John Rousseau, John T. Bruno, Joseph Edward Tracey, Josephine O'Connor, Karen Miller, Latter-Hyslop-Brown, Liar, Lorraine Misuraca, Marlene McTigue, Martin Case, Marty Case, Mary Partridge-Brown, Matt "the Mutt", Matt Miller, Matthew J. Miller, Mayor Bruno, Melanie Lekocevic, Michael Biscone, Michael J. Biscone, Mike Varney, Misinformation, Moose Misuraca, Morality, New Baltimore, New York, New York State, New York State Education Department, New York State United Teachers, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, Notice of Claim, NYS Assembly, NYS Senate, NYSED, NYSUT, Pam Black, Pamela Hull, Patrick E. Brown, Pete Lopez, Property Taxes, PTO, Ravena, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, RCSTA, RCSTA Executive Committee, RCSTA PAC, Retaliation, Richard Ianuzzi, SABIC Innovative Plastics, Sarah Berchtold Engel, Sarah Engel, School Budget, Scott Andrews, Selkirk, Smalbany, Sports Association, Steven Prokrym, Tavia Rauch, Tax Levy, Teachers Association, Teachers Union, Teddy Reville, Thomas E. Dolan, Tom Dolan, Tracey Traver, Transparency, Uncategorized, Union Representative, United Federation of Teachers

 

2 responses to “In Praise of Teachers: Remember Who You Are!

  1. cookie

    May 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I was talking with an friend just yesterday about the upcoming BoE vote. One of the three recommended in Mr. Miller’s letter and listed on those group signs seen throughout town happens to be very disliked by my friend for personal reasons years ago. That person will not get her vote, but she said she will not vote for the other two mentioned on the sign. Yes, that seems like guilt by association, but they chose to run as a group and not as individuals, so they get what they asked for.

    Like

     
    • Simon

      May 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Unfortunately, guilt by association is a reality. When the majority of the signs show the 3 names together, it’s tough not to think of them as one person.

      However, I can also point out that there’s a candidate on the other side of the coin who will also suffer from guilt by association as well; so it’s a universal issue.

      S

      Like

       

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