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The following is from a UFT Chapter Leader to the members with important and useful information regarding the “Advance” ratings that NYC teachers received in their NYC DOE email. 

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you had a restful and fulfilling summer away from Danielsons and MOSLs and Common Core.

The coming school year will present many unique challenges for us. We will start the school year most likely not even knowing how we will be evaluated. The city has until October to decide if it wants to implement the state’s new evaluation plan passed last school year or delay it. (http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/09/01/with-school-year-set-to-begin-teachers-dont-know-yet-how-they-will-be-rated/)

Furthermore, an expected spate of teachers rated “ineffective” and “developing” around the city ensures we will be hearing stories about appeals and Teacher Improvement Plans for the next 12 months.

If you do not know what your rating is yet for the year, it was sent to your DOE email.

Continue Reading…

MORE has sent the following letter of solidarity along with a monetary donation to support the Dyett hunger strikers in Chicago.

Please post black and white pictures to twitter under the hashtag #FightForDyett to show your solidarity (or email to more@morecaucusnyc.org and we can tweet for you) – below see a few of the MORE members who have done so…

August 28, 2015

The Movement of Rank and File Educators, of the United Federation of Teachers, stand in solidarity with the Dyett Hunger Strikers: Jitu Brown, Prudence Brown, Anna Jones, Jeanette Taylor-Ramaan, Monique Redeaux-Smith, Aisha Wade-Bey, Nelson Soza, Cathy Dale, Robert Jones, Irene Robinson, April Stogner, Marc Kaplan and their entire community. Dyett is all of us.

We support the notion that the Dyett school community has a vision and solutions to preserving their public schools. We support the highest moral and ethical stand of putting their basic needs at the same place as their need for democratic decision making. The action of denying themselves basic sustenance to support life is the height to which they’ve reached in protecting their right to public schools their children deserve.

As we send our solidarity, we call on those elected to represent their constituents to stand with their community when the only thing they are demanding is their school.

Representative steering members of the MORE caucus,

John Antush, Lauren Cohen, Peter Lamphere August Leppelmeier, Jia Lee, Dan Lupkin, Megan Moskop, Mike Shirtzer, Kit Wainer

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The election results are in! Congratulations to everyone – we have a great team of activists!

But remember it’s crucial that every member of MORE, whether on the Steering Committee or not, continue the ongoing work to build our caucus.

Following are the 9 new Members of the Steering Committee.

In solidarity,
Gloria for Outgoing Steering

 

John Antush

John Antush
This school year let’s build MORE through the UFT elections. By identifying people to run for positions in the union, producing campaign lit, petitioning with others, and conducting outreach we can involve co-workers, recruit members, develop leaders, and promote MORE’s agenda: contract enforcement, pro-tenure, supporting parents’ right to opt out of tests, hiring more teachers of color, opposing unfair evaluations, creating a participatory democratic network of rank and file UFTers across the city, etc.. On Steering I will work with members in different districts and regions to build regional MORE clubs or chapters to hold meetings; conduct outreach to new schools; offer mutual support; and take actions. I will also work to involve members in collectively generating election materials and the “MORE Newsletter.” I’ve taught high school for 14 years and currently work at CIty-As-School. I’m a founding member of MORE and one of the downtown MORE chapter organizers.

 

Lauren CohenLauren Cohen
I am a 5th grade ICT teacher at P.S. 321 Brooklyn. As chapter leader of a large elementary school in politically-active District 15, my organizing focus will be folding that work into MORE, to increase caucus membership and prepare for the UFT election.  The work in my district has often focused on big-picture issues such as testing and evaluations, but it is equally important to develop MORE as a resource for UFT members to receive answers, assistance, and advocacy on school-based issues. I will use Nationbuilder to communicate more regularly with school workers in my district and will help create spaces –both real and virtual- for them to raise their concerns and seek support.

I enjoy public speaking and will continue to build MORE’s presence at Delegate Assemblies, rallies, and in the media. MORE’s members can depend on me to represent the caucus fearlessly in all venues. I’ve served on two prior Steering Committees and therefore bring a strong understanding of our organizational norms and goals.

Peter LampherePeter Lamphere
I teach math and robotics at Gregorio Luperón HS in Manhattan. During four UFT elections since 2004, I have learned the need to prioritize building a strong base and organization through our campaign.

This year, I will focus on developing literature, fundraising and outreach plans, including a strong fall conference and membership drive.  Also, I will continue to develop MORE’s organizing committee and the database of thousands of contacts we maintain, and contribute to local organizing in Washington Heights.

I have a long record as a MORE/UFT activist, Chapter Leader and Delegate. But more important is my commitment to MORE’s social justice unionism model. This means that we can’t win against the deformers without broader support from families, communities and working people generally.  We need not only parent and community support of our demands but also to support wider class demands against budget cuts, for #BlackLivesMatter, and so on.

Jia LeeJia Lee has been a Special Education Teacher in New York City public schools since 2001. She taught in a District 75 high school for four years before teaching in elementary schools. For the last seven years, she has served as chapter leader and is involved in local organizing as a way of empowering school communities. She served on the first MORE steering committee and sits on the most recent term. She works alongside other MOREistas and Change the Stakes, a grassroots coalition of parents, teachers and community members who are concerned with the destructive use of high stakes standardized testing and to bring awareness to the inextricable link between teachers’ working conditions and students’ learning conditions.

 

 

August Leppelmeier

August Leppelmeier
I am social studies teacher and have been active in MORE since its beginning, contributing to the original planning committee. I aim to strengthen the caucus in the union’s challenging period by seeking to advocate for all of the teachers, including the most vulnerable, such as the pre-tenured teachers and the ATRs. In addition, I believe that we also need to advocate for the students, who also can be vulnerable.

 

 

 

Dan LupkinDan Lupkin
I have been a special education teacher in a variety of schools and settings across NYC since 2005, and am currently the Technology Coordinator and UFT Chapter Leader at PS 58, a prek-5 school in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. I am eager to use the 2016 UFT elections as a springboard to spread awareness of MORE, and of our alternate vision for how our union ought to run. I also plan to continue organizing around high stakes testing, uniting teachers with parents across the city and the country to fight the privatization of public education. I am deeply committed to both the social justice and bread-and-butter unionism aspects of MORE, and seek a balanced, pragmatic approach to fusing these currents into a coherent and effective set of strategies. 

Megan MoskopMegan Moskop
Since I jumped into MORE organizing two years ago, I’ve grown as an event-planner, facilitator, speaker, strategist, and most importantly, as an organizer. Grounded in lessons learned from all of you, and from my school community, I’m motivated to keep helping our caucus grow, whether that means planning a press conference, as I did during our “Vote No” contract campaign, or helping plan local campaigns at our uptown educator support meetings.This year, I’ll focus on using our election campaign to build our membership and to sharpen and spread our movement’s vision for better schools through a better UFT.

I’ve been teaching special education at MS 324 in Washington Heights for 6 years, and this year I’ve stepped back from other leadership roles to dedicate time to our work. I am deeply committed to building and bringing more teachers into our community of honest engagement, shared learning, love and support.

Mike Schirtzer

Michael Schirtzer
I’m so excited to run for steering. MORE must defend public schools and advocate for our members. I will work hard to increase the membership in my school and get out the vote for MORE. As Delegate I will help write/raise resolutions and recruit at DAs. I will organize additional chapter leader/delegate workshops. We will hold meetings for teachers that need help in south Brooklyn and build that network. I will be the point person to steering for the high school committee to win UFT executive board seats, create a campaign, and add MORE members from those schools. I will work with union members statewide to opt-out and fight anti-public education policies in my role as VP of ST caucus. Unions are critical in ending social, economic, and racial injustice. Together we can transform and take back our union.

I am a HS teacher for 8 years and currently teach Social Studies at Leon Goldstein HS in Brooklyn where I am also the UFT Delegate.

Kit Wainer

Kit Wainer
I have been a teacher for 27 years and the Chapter Leader of Leon M. Goldstein High School for 17 years. For the past two years I have been working on local organizing, focusing on pulling together a group of MORE supporters in southern Brooklyn to discuss how they can handle issues in their schools. I have served two terms on the MORE steering committee. My plan is to continue working on southern Brooklyn local organizing and also to work on our election campaign. As someone who has played a substantial role in each of the last four UFT elections I believe I have a lot of specific knowledge of how to run election campaigns which I plan to contribute this coming year. I also want to work with some of the younger MORE members to train them in some of the nuts and bolts of petitioning and literature distribution so that they can take over the process in the future. I have also been the point person in the establishment of our non-profit corporation and hope to be able to wrap that up sometime in the fall of 2015.

E4E and Democracy

August 17, 2015 — Leave a comment

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By Mike Schirtzer

UFT Delegate/Teacher Leon M. Goldstein High School-Brooklyn

 

E4E is an organization that seeks to recruit young educators entering the school system here in New York City. Many of these teachers are attracted to the chance to meet other teachers, many of whom may be new the city as well, and a message that your voice counts. In reality it is a privately funded group that works against the best interests of our public school and educators that work in community schools. For  the most part these teachers are well intentioned, but experienced educators  have to challenge their membership in a group that works against, not for, NYC’s schools.

 

One E4E teacher I know told me how seniority rights need to change. He told me what matters most is “teachers’ performance based on test scores and how many absences they had”. We know that seniority rights are there to protect workers. Experience matters and we should never devalue that, especially when working in NYC where our schools have a variety of differences. The teachers from E4E need to be aware that our workforce is predominately women, seniority and tenure protect women’s right by ensuring they are not unfairly targeted because they take (unpaid) childcare leave or are the primary caregivers. We also need to take into account how absences may be because of childcare issues and one should not be penalized for it. It is important to recognize that age discrimination is occurring all throughout this country, companies are hiring cheaper workers who can work longer hours. Our seniority and tenure rights protect workers’ rights.

 

On the matter of rating teachers based on tests scores or the convoluted “Value Added Measures”  (VAM), all teachers and groups they may belong to need to be aware that there is not any evidence this is a fair scientific method for evaluating us. The E4E teacher told me “as a special education teacher he values test scores and can learn about the progress of his students. It should be one of multiple measures, but an important measure”. These thoughts seem to reflect the narrative that have been delivered by politicians and corporate-reformers nationwide, but again we who are in the classroom for a long time must challenge this flawed message. We know some students do not perform well on tests, because they only measure a narrow spectrum of content knowledge, if they measure anything at all. Standardized tests or VAM can not measure musical, artistic, or other creative talents. There is conclusive research from the American Statistical Association stating that VAM is an invalid form of evaluation. The other startling fact is that children from wealthy families do better on standardized exams. The direct correlation between one’s economic background and their results on these tests should never be ignored. Simply stated, poverty matters and if an educator chooses to teach in a school where there is not economic privilege, they should not be unfairly evaluated by tests.

 

I explained to the member of E4E that best teaching practices means having experienced administrators who are recognized as expert instructors  working with teachers. These administrators stress collaboration among staff members and work with newer teachers to support the development of their pedagogy. Current evaluation schemes have a negative connotation, as if the administrator or peer is there to grade you, whereas collaboration is about making everyone better for the sake of the students.

 

My fellow teacher from E4E met with me to discuss the topic of democracy in the UFT. I explained to him the view we have in MORE is it’s our responsibility to democratize our chapters. We emphasize chapters that are inclusive, work together, organize with the community, and work as a collective, because there is strength in numbers. MORE-UFT chapters have open chapter leader and delegate elections, active UFT representatives on School Leadership Teams (SLT) and PTAs, and a diverse group of educators on a consultation team that meets with the principal monthly. There has to be regular chapter meetings where member’s input is welcome and encouraged. We believe that working with parents, students, and community members is integral to ensuring our schools serve the needs of all our children. If chapters have all these elements then the UFT is democratic.

 

It is important that young educators come in to a school community and have conversations with veteran educators who will have valuable insights. You may have one position based on your experience in college or what you get from the media, but those that have been working with our children for a long time have different views that are based on empirical research. We work with our children each and every day for years. We see the impact of poverty, racism, child abuse, guns, drugs, and other injustices that may not fit into the “bad teacher” or “bad schools narrative”. Experienced teachers base their views on what works and what does not in their classrooms, conversations we have with educators in the chapter and around the city. Having discussions with members in your building and in nearby schools is extremely important in growing as an educator and democratizing our schools.

 
The E4E member reiterated to me that his voice needed to be heard. I told him we, in MORE-UFT, believe we do not speak for ourselves; we listen to each other at chapter meetings; we listen to our students; we build relationships with parents and the communities we serve. We organize together to make positive change. Since he sought me out to discuss democracy in our union, I think it was important for him to realize that the best way for his voice to matter was to start by listening to others in his chapter. He, like every E4E member, signs a declaration in order to become a member, this is not democratic at all. These few teachers who declare their loyalty to this organization and lobby politicians on their behalf, do not represent the many voices in our school communities. E4E may seem like a place where his voice is heard and he can “influence policy makers” as he said, but it is more important that we, as teachers, listen to the major stakeholders in our school, our children, their parents, the communities we are a part of, and experienced educators who have dedicated their lives to making their school community a better place.

Please see the attached fact sheet on E4E for more info and the links below

E4E-_An_Educator_Fact_Sheet-3

https://raginghorse.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/educator-4-excellence-and-the-strings-they-pull/

http://theassailedteacher.com/2013/02/19/the-shill-game-e4e/

http://chaz11.blogspot.com/2013/02/where-did-educators-4-excellence-get.html

http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2015/02/beware-of-e4e-geeks-bearing-gifts-for.html?m=1

 

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For Immediate Release

August 14, 2015

 

MORE-UFT, a rank-and-file caucus within the NYC teachers union, stands with parents of Change the Stakes, NYCOPTOUT and NYCpublic in response to New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia’s statement indicating that schools may be subject to sanction and have federal Title I funding withheld for having high percentage of opt outs. These funds are intended to support the neediest students in the state. The tests have sparked controversy, both in regards to the content, which many parents and educators consider poorly designed and developmentally inappropriate, and to the high stakes attached to them, in particular, their unreliable use in the teacher evaluation system, a practice that is widely criticized and currently under review in an Albany court.

Charmaine Dixon, parent of a soon to be fourth grader at P.S. 203 in District 22, Brooklyn, states, “We opt out for justice. High stakes testing has only had horrible consequences for schools with disproportionate number of Black and Latino students. Show us one instance in which a school was asked what they needed. Being aware of this, I’m horrified at her (Elia’s) response to punish our schools and our students.”

“These tests are used to rate my teachers. But the tests don’t nearly begin to reflect what I learned from them. I think this is totally unfair. That’s why I opted out in 8th grade,” says Evan Cauthen-Brown, a new Brooklyn Tech student that graduated in June from PS/IS 187 in Washington Heights.

“It is vital that someone speak up in defense of the brave parents and students who are standing up for their rights, their educators and schools, and public education at large by refusing to participate in a testing regime they deem harmful for their children, since our union leadership has so stubbornly refused to do so,” said Dan Lupkin, a UFT Chapter Leader and Brooklyn elementary school teacher.

Jia Lee is a public school parent, teacher and UFT Chapter Leader at the Earth School in Manhattan where more than 100 students boycotted the exams. She states that the expanding opt out movement is a, “growing ground-up awareness by parents, teachers and students who don’t want to be evaluated based on an invalid metric.” Ms. Lee testified to a U.S. Senate committee on the negative consequences of the high stakes attached to flawed standardized tests.

The UFT leadership has shown hesitancy in supporting the opt out movement, refusing to endorse the I Refuse resolution introduced by MORE-UFT that is supported by nearly every local across New York State. MORE also called for a resolution of “No Confidence” in Elia at the UFT delegate assembly, only to be told by the union leadership that Elia was “a friend to teachers unions and someone we can work with.”

MORE-UFT is the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers. We are rank-and-file educators challenging the current leadership of the UFT in the 2016 union elections in order to fight for the public schools our children deserve.

Media Contact

Charmaine Dixon/ NYCOPTOUT/ Parent at P.S. 203, District 22

Nancy Cauthen/ Change the Stakes/ Parent of Brooklyn Technical H.S. Student

Dan Lupkin/ MORE/ Elementary School Teacher

Jia Lee/ MORE/ Special Education Teacher

media@morecaucusnyc.org

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Over 60 people, many of whom were newly elected Chapter Leaders and Delegates, joined us at our Hardcore Summer Series Training last week!

Veteran Chapter Leaders Kit Wainer, Yelena Siwinski, and Norm Scott (check out their video presentations) led workshops on the nuts and bolts of leading your chapter, gaining support in your building, working with the school community to build a strong union chapter, and being able to counter anti-teacher administrators.

Thank you to all those who came out!  There will be a second session will be August 20th and we will have a Fall workshop with mentoring for  Chapter Leader/ Delegates in October, details to follow.

THURSDAY, July 23rd How To Build an Opt‐Out Movement in Your School
4pm‐7pm
The Dark Horse, 17 Murray St. NYC, Near City Hall, Chambers St, WTC
Drink specials: $4 drafts, $6 well drinks & $7 wine

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!

 

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By Mike Schirtzer

Teacher/UFT Delegate- Leon M. Goldstein High School Brooklyn

Over a year before the 2016 Presidential election our AFT union leadership has already endorsed Hillary Clinton. The political move comes after two phone polls and one town hall meeting which supposedly included the input of 1,150 members. Our AFT is made up of over 1.6 million members. This is not a very scientific study or a good sample size. Mrs. Clinton may or may not be a good choice, but the manner in which our union endorsed her was problematic.

With the recent decision by the Supreme Court to hear a case that may mean the end of public sector unions as we know it and the continued anti-worker, union-busting policies from elected officials on both sides of the aisle from Scott Walker to Andrew Cuomo, now is the wrong time to be making back-room political deals that further distance our union from its members. This is the moment to engage our members, to make them feel like active participants in our union.

For far too long UFT/AFT leadership has been overly complacent and allowed member interest in the union to wither away. With this critical presidential election coming and the continued attacks on our unions, this should be the perfect moment to get all our members involved. They could have done that by offering more than a couple of limited phone polls and poorly advertised website questionnaire. They could have used this time to galvanize our members, to remind prospective nominees that anti-worker, anti-union, and anti-public education policies are not in the best interest of our nation. These very policies have widened the income gap and led our country to near financial ruin. Our union needs to properly vet each candidate to know where they stand on testing, common core, union rights, tenure, charter schools, and then share that information with each and every AFT member. We can then make informed decisions that will help our students, our schools, and our union.

It is fine if AFT President Weingarten is personal friends with Mrs. Clinton, but that is not a reason to give away our endorsement. The last twenty-five years of political endorsements have not helped our union or our schools, in fact, we could argue it has done further harm. They could have engaged the membership in a vibrant discussion on strategies and whether political endorsements are in the best interest of those we serve. AFT could have surveyed every member via email, held town hall meetings in all of the locals and throughout New York City with UFT members and parents like we did in the battle against Cuomo’s anti-education policies.

None of this was done, instead another top down decision was made in some back-room during the middle of the summer. This could have been the the right time for our union leadership to change direction, make our union more democratic, listen to diverse voices within the union, even to dissenters like ourselves who may disagree, but offer educated insights. Instead they chose to do what they always do; fail to engage the membership and then make a decision on our behalf.

We need new union leadership that is made up of members who are in the classroom, who speak with and for school based educators. A leadership that has new ideas, new voices, and actively seeks member participation. While we are upset at this endorsement process, it is just another example of the systematic failure of this leadership that has allowed our union to become weakened, our members to become disinterested, and public schools to be disenfranchised.