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Show Us the Money!

“Show me the money!” “Knowledge is power!”

Both these expressions were worn-out by overuse or misapplication until a UFT arbitration victory last spring fused them with a revived and original relevance. That victory mandates that the UFT chapter committee, including, of course the chapter leader of every school, be provided a view of its Galaxy Table of Organization.

The Consent Award stipulates that this access to their schools’ budget shall be furnished them before the end of each school year and again prior to the re-opening of school in September. The award further directs that the chapter committee be provided with budget modifications that may arise and that there be facilitated discussion by each school’s principal and chapter committee of such modifications.

The arbitration decision specifically cites and upholds Article 8C of the UFT contract which requires consultation, not simply sharing, budget proposals and modifications. There needs to be genuine discussion, explanations and input. That’s nothing new. It’s been in the contract for years and there’s nothing murky about the language or its intent.

Although Article 8C is crystal clear and binding, some principals have treated compliance as though it were just another option. It may not sit well with them, but they must meet their obligation, especially since the renewal of the governance/mayoral control law dictates that there be greater transparency and sharing of information, including but not limited to budgets, with teachers as well as parents and the general public.

It’s too bad that an arbitration case needed to be generated since it’s impossible to imagine a good-faith misinterpretation of the sense of Article 8C. Although this dispute should now be “water under the bridge,” there is no doubt that there will be new water and new bridges, because there are folks in high places who are oblivious or averse to the benefits of collaboration.

Let’s exercise our desire to be a partner, invoke our right to be be one, and seize the challenge of empowerment. Any school’s programs, materials and resources are only abstractions unless and until they take shape through funding. We must be wise to what principals are doing so that we can make sure that what they are doing is wise.

Let’s tell them to “show us the money” in their budgets so we can use the strength of that information to do credit to our profession by best serving our kids.