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A flier attacking UFT members that are not in President Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus was distributed at the June UFT Delegate Assembly. This is a response by the members of P.S. 8 in the Bronx.

Dear Mr. Mulgrew and His Unity Caucus:

We the undersigned read your Unity flyer that was distributed at the UFT Delegate Assembly. We take the insults contained therein as further evidence of the disconnect that exists between working teachers on the frontlines of classrooms and UFT Leadership.

You claim that those of us who are dissatisfied with our union’s representation are “detractors” categorized as either “alarmists,” “oppositional” or “Monday morning quarterbacks.” You toss in a French phrase and a George Orwell quote as if they demonstrate deep intellect that somehow lends credence to your insult—as if George Orwell wrote to warn about the rebels in society instead of those in power desperate to take any measure to retain that power. If you’re going to quote Orwell, the following Orwell quote best represents the Unity Caucus, “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.”

To claim that we “never have led the fight against our enemies” is an inaccurate and disingenuous claim. Firstly, we are not in positions of leadership. More importantly we HAVE fought and ARE fighting our enemies in ways that UFT-leadership refuses to do such as writing our elected officials and challenging the absurd notion of tying our evaluations to test scores, challenging the reasonableness of the Danielson Framework which was never meant to be used as an evaluative tool, being actively engaged in the opt-out movement in our home communities, and rejecting the AFT endorsement of Hochul because we recognized that an endorsement of her was also a back-alley endorsement of Cuomo. We would also argue that challenging the Unity-controlled UFT that continues to disenfranchise working teachers is fighting the good fight.

Your claim that you know “better than anyone” because you “have been fighting these bad guys for over sixty years” is also inaccurate. You may not have noticed, but we most certainly have noticed, that for the past twenty plus years all you have been doing is ducking and weaving in the form of appeasement and as a result we, the working teachers, have been getting our derrières kicked while you remain in your ivory tower safe from all that we have been subjected to.

Contrary to the Japanese proverb you quoted, we definitely have a vision and we are taking action to see it materialize. We want a union run by those who have felt the pain of the unreasonable NYS teacher evaluation system and are committed to dismantling it and building a reasonable system in its place (and the MATRIX is not it). We want a union leadership that cries “foul” instead of “victory” when we have, in fact, been fouled.

Sincerely,

(64) PS 8 UFT Members

Roseanne McCosh                              Jemely Rosario                       Christopher Fusco

Lori Matta                                          Melissa Lugo                          Sebastian DiFatta

Cynthia Pacelli                                    Bridget Valvano                      Doug Sheeran

Stefanie Gotkin                                   Rosie Pichardo                        MaryAlice Moylan

Bernadette Centrone                           Michele Bombace                   Suzana Califano

Kate Mills                                           Mary Blastos-Chile                Christina Chiu

Justin Russello                                    MaryEllen Eager                     Monique Morales

Caitlyn Applegate                              Sandra Mejia                           Meredith Kertis

Amanda Hughes                                  Christina Rados                      Dawn Meron

Lourdes Sepulveda                              Jeanine Caughey                     Andrea Brown

Kellie Griffin                                       B. Wehr                                   Harold Beniquez

Gloria Jacobo                                      Vanessa Acevedo                    Theresa Rivas

Priscilla Roldan                                   Eudenis Estrella                      Renee Beckett

Z. Torres                                             Ivy Castore                             Nicole Sofia

Lynn Mccarthy                                  Nicole Reardon                       Joni Ernst

Lucy Lukaj                                          Greg Fusco                              Richard Moran

H.S. Lee                                              Theresa Rizzuto                     Rita Tynan

M. Lukic                                           Katrina Nrekic                        Audrey Lynch

Mary Mastrogeannes                         Stephanie Moran                    N. Mooddeen

Vicky Abbate                                      Christopher Saxton                 Tara Foley

A.M. Drain                                         Tara Foley                              Jorge Mejia

Eileen McArdle

 

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Please join MORE caucus UFT 4th Annual Summer Series.  It’s a great chance to Discuss, Debate, and Organize!

Thursdays this summer, 4pm-7pm

All are welcome!

The Dark Horse, 17 Murray St. NYC
Near City Hall, Chambers St, WTC
Drink specials: $4 domestic drafts, $6 well drinks and $7 wine.

Please click on the links to RSVP on Facebook

July 9th
Hardcore MORE Chapter Leader Training: The Nuts and Bolts of Leading Your Chapter – Part I

Open to all newly elected or veteran chapter leaders, delegates, consultation/SLT committee members, para-reps, and anyone interested in getting more involved in their chapter. Some of the topics include: Getting members involved, Enforcing contractual rights, Planning chapter & consultation meetings, Fighting back against administration, Building allies in PTA/SLT, Filing grievances

July 23rd
How To Build an Opt-Out Movement in Your School

High Stakes Testing and the Teacher Evaluation System are suffocating public education. As Diane Ravitch states – the only way to save our schools is to starve the data beast. That is the mission of the opt out movement. Find out how teachers around the state are working together with parents to organize against high stakes testing and fight for the schools our students deserve!

July 30th
MORE/UFT 101 Who, What, Why?

Are you wondering what the teacher union is all about and what it means to you and your students? Is it something you should be active in?  Can unions be vehicles for social justice? What is a caucus? How has the UNITY Caucus kept control of the UFT for over 40 years? Why did MORE form?   Meet with new and veteran teachers to discuss these questions and more in this introduction to the inner workings of the UFT.

August 13th
What is the role of UFT Elections in Building a caucus?

What should a 2016 grassroots UFT election campaign look like? Does MORE have the resources and activists to mount an effective campaign? How can we use new tools and lessons learned to ensure that organizing  for the election will build MORE? Come learn election nuts and bolts, brainstorm creative election strategies, and plan ahead for how we’ll build a campaign that builds a better union.

August 20th
Hardcore MORE Chapter Leader Training: The Nuts and Bolts of Leading Your Chapter – Part II
(See Part 1 Above)

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Jia Lee, Chapter Leader of The Earth School and a member of MORE, brought a MORE-sponsored resolution before the Delegate Assembly (DA) calling for a statement expressing opposition to the appointment of recently appointed state education commissioner Mary Ellen Elia pointing to the lack of transparency and democracy in the process of her appointment which took place under a veil of secrecy. UFT High School VP and Unity Caucus member Janella Hinds spoke in favor of Commissioner Elia, calling her a “friend to teachers unions and someone we can work with”.

Ms. Lee explained that the UFT’s support of the new commissioner  is a mistake because, “In the day after her appointment, Elia stated strong support for the Common Core Standards and high stakes testing, while criticizing parents who opt their children out of these tests.”In supporting the sentiment of Regent leader Meryl Tisch, to Elia it is just a matter of re-packaging rather than fundamental change. Elia has been a supporter of using student test scores to rate teachers. “We have an opportunity to harness and galvanize the experiences of teachers to proactively call for what students need in our schools and for our working conditions,” Ms. Lee said. “These things can no longer be compromised”.

The DA, dominated by Unity Caucus chapter leaders and delegates, voted against the resolution.

Resolution: No Confidence in New State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia

Whereas, the top down education policies under No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and high stakes accountability tied to Common Core Standards have had disastrous effects on whole child education and democratic, school-based decision making in New York State

Whereas, there was no transparency in the selection process, no public vetting of candidates, no opportunity for public input in the appointment of the new State Education Commissioner, Mary Ellen Elia

Whereas, Ms. Elia’s record makes it clear she is a strong supporter of the Common Core State Standards (even though Florida has pulled  out of Common Core) and high-stakes testing; she was an early proponent of using test scores to evaluate teachers, complete with $100 million in funding from the Gates Foundation. She also negotiated a merit pay system and supports school choice

Whereas, last January, the Hillsborough Board of Education voted 4-3 to dismiss her. Members who voted her out have been on record as criticizing her for board-superintendent tension, her salary and benefits, and constituent complaints about too much high-stakes standardized testing, some said her tough disciplinary policy disproportionately affected black students and employees who said her management style was heavy-handed.

Whereas, she failed to notify the district immediately that a 7-year-old girl had stopped breathing on a school bus and died later; she said she didn’t know the scope of the tragedy until the family sued the district.

Be it Resolved that UFT will hold a press conference and issue a press statement of no confidence in the appointment of Ms. Elia, because it does not serve the best interests of our children, educators, or public schools

Resolved that the educators of the UFT seek public vetting and member discussion before the leadership of the largest local in the state supports the appointment of any state chancellor.

Resolved that our union leadership will organize meetings at the beginning of the 2015/16 school year throughout the boroughs, for working UFT educators to discuss this appointment, state educational policies, and develop our own vision of statewide educational policies that will best serve all our children

Be it further Resolved that the the UFT will fight for a renewed statewide emphasis on the arts, music, libraries and physical education for all of our children.

"A say in the priorites of our Union? (UFT) Sure, we'd like MORE."

A plea for union democracy

The Nuts and Bolts of Leading Your Chapter

Open to all newly elected or veteran chapter leaders, delegates, consultation/SLT committee members, para-reps, and anyone interested in getting more involved in their chapter.

Thursday July 9th and August 20 4pm-7pm

The Dark Horse Pub

17 Murray St. NYC (downstairs)

Near City Hall, Chambers St., WTC

 Experienced chapter leaders will provide workshops on:

Getting your members involved

Enforcing contractual rights

Planning chapter and consultation meetings

Fighting back against administration

Building allies in PTA/SLT

Filing grievances

Working with your District/Borough Representatives

RSVP and share our Facebook event here
Chapter Leaders and Delegates join our email support listserve here
Email: ChapterLeaderMeetup+subscribe@googlegroups.com
email more@morecaucusnyc.org

Why Join MORE?

May 12, 2015 — Leave a comment

"Demand MORE from the UFT"

MORE’s central priority will be the development of a UFT caucus. Our aim is to reach UFT members with our message of a more active and democratic union that can effectively fight back against what we have called the “ed deform” agenda and for the basic union rights of our members. We seek to reach members “where they are.” Different subsets of the membership experience the attacks on our profession and on our rights differently. For some, the testing frenzy has already transformed our work lives dramatically. For others, the new evaluation process and life under a terrible contract occupy center stage. Many of our members work under horrific and abusive administrators and that reality overshadows everything else.

Our hope is to reach rank and file members and help them become more actively involved in our efforts to turn things around. This will include helping members build stronger and more effective union chapters in their schools, connecting members with others around the city who are combatting the impacts of standardized testing on our working conditions and our students learning conditions, encouraging members to join us in various efforts to challenge the UFT leadership and turn the union into one that can lead the fight on all of these fronts.

Please join us now
http://more.nationbuilder.com/join_us

 

 

Monday 5:30-6:30pm

UFT Headquarters
Executive Board Meeting

52 Broadway in Manhattan 2nd Floor

Absent Teacher Reserves and Leave Replacement Teachers would appreciate your support. They have been asking for an ATR Chapter to represent our unique interests for a long time now.  We have filed a complaint with the UFT Executive Board concerning the Chapter Election process. ATRs are being compelled to vote and run for office at schools we are just passing through in May and might know nothing about instead of being permitted to vote for our own ATR representatives.

The UFT Executive Board will officially respond to our complaint and we will have an opportunity to voice our support.

 

NYC Teachers Rally & Speak Out

Against High Stakes Testing!

Tuesday May 5, 2015 @ 4:30pm

Washington Square Park

 

  We Speak Out For. . .

  • Diverse and authentic assessments used to inform instruction. Less time spent on test prep and bureaucratic paperwork so teachers can focus on planning meaningful instruction.

  • Culturally responsive, collaborative, and student-centered curriculum.

  • Well-rounded and robust programs including arts, physical education, and career and technical education for all.

  • Re-claiming a moral profession in unethical times.

*Spread the word  *Bring signs & banners  * Encourage you organization or chapter to endorse the event.

 

CONTACT US AT TESTING@MORECAUCUSNYC.ORG

Let us know if you’d like to say a few words during the Speak Out.

Sponsored/Endorsed by: MORE (Movement of Rank and File Educators)

Who Controls the UFT?

April 30, 2015 — 2 Comments
By Michael Fiorillo, Teacher, Newcomers HS
MORE Steering Committee 
To most teachers, often overwhelmed by ever-increasing demands that have little or nothing to do with providing the best education for their students, the UFT seems remote from their daily experience. Beyond welfare fund services, when they think about the Union at all, it is often in terms of hefty dues deductions. Rarely so they think the union fighting for them, and with good reason: it rarely does other than little pantomimes of fighting back.Teachers less and less see the Union as a vehicle for improving their lives at an ever more demanding job where they are increasingly less secure and respected. Higher salaried senior teachers often feel they have a target on their backs. New teachers see achieving tenure as an ever-receding mirage – as an obstacle course as they engage in a 3, 4, or more year endurance contest with their principal and/or local Superintendent. And if they get past that will they survive long enough to get a pension? The silence and impotence of the Union is apparent. How often do we hear exasperated, demoralized teachers asking, “Where is the Union?”The Union often feels like a distant and largely irrelevant force because of the inbred, anti-Democratic practices of an ever-more indifferent leadership, which often seems complicit with the dysfunction and outrages we daily face in the schools. The UFT’s ruling faction, Unity Caucus, has been in power for over half a century, and suffers from most of the ills of too much power held over too long a time: out-of-touch, unwilling to consider new ideas, and often identifying more with management and so-called “education reformers” than with their own members.What is Unity Caucus?
Caucuses are the political parties that seek to govern the union. Unity caucus has had sole, unlimited policy-making control since the UFT was founded in the early 60’s. The UFT has had opposition caucuses vying for political power over the years, but Unity has structured the UFT in a way to assure them complete control and the creation of an entrenched political machine that has passively accepted, and sometimes actively collaborated with, policies inimical to teachers and students.

The lack of union democracy has very tangible consequences for teachers. Lately, virtually all of those consequences have been negative, and have correlated with declining participation from the rank and file. Less than 20% of active teachers voted in the last election and 52% of those who did vote were retirees. Unity has so rigged the election process, every single member of the 101 member UFT Executive Board is Unity endorsed.

Members must commit to a loyalty oath to ALWAYS support whatever dictates come down from the leadership and NEVER speak against them publicly. Hundred of chapter leaders are Unity Caucus members and if it comes down to supporting the interests of the teachers who elected them or the union leadership most Unity chapter leaders will force feed policies from the top to their members, thus putting the needs of the caucus over their colleagues.

Teachers who attempt to go above a Unity chapter leader to the borough or district reps are stonewalled since these reps have been appointed by the leadership since the UFT ended elections of District Reps in 2002, thus bringing Unity’s centralized, top-down governance to both the school, district and borough levels.

Other than a few exceptions, getting even part-time work at the Union is conditional on Unity Caucus membership, a powerful incentive for closely-policed conformity.

There are many reasons for the scapegoating, disrespect and attacks that public school teachers have been suffering for a generation. One of the reasons they’ve been so successful is that the Union leadership’s continuing anti-democratic practice has made it rigid and sclerotic, dangerously dependent on “friends in high places” – especially since their most important friend, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was recently indicted – and unwilling to tap into the knowledge and energy of its rank and file. Unity Caucus is so wedded to decades of power, so scared of the membership and intent on managing it instead of representing it, that they risk the destruction of the Union itself along with the mission of public education as we know it.

It follows that the survival of public education and teacher unions themselves are bound up with issues of union democracy. The continued entrenchment of the Unity Caucus Machine virtually guarantees the continuing success of attacks on teachers, their benefits, working conditions and dignity. If we are serious about saving public education and the teaching profession, then we must be serious about taking back our Union from the out-of-touch Unity Caucus Machine that controls it.

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