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Did you know that although more than 67.5% of our NYC students are Black and Latino/a, only 37% of teachers share their background? Did you know that since 2002 that number (based on new hires) has fallen by over half (57.4%), while the number of white teachers hired in the city has increased by 23%?

It’s true. BUT, our educational leaders have a clear path towards remedying this problem, and we’re helping the Teacher Diversity Committee of NYC push for those changes with the Petition to Increase Teacher Diversity in New York City.  The clock is ticking though- you have just 10 more days to get involved, and we need everyone!

On Tuesday, November 25, we will go to the PEP (Panel for Educational Policy) meeting to support the Teacher Diversity Committee as they present the Petition to Increase Teacher Diversity in New York City!

Now, join us in the push to get as many signatures as possible before then. If you’ve been gathering  signatures since August from your co-workers and community members, thank you! It’s time to finish up and turn in your petitions.

We’ve already gathered several hundred signatures, but if we want Chancellor Fariña and the PEP to prioritize this important work, we still need your help! If you haven’t already begun, sign on, and share the petition online.  Then print a hard copy and collect signatures around your school/community so that you can have conversations about this important work.

Finally, bring hard copies of the petition to the UFT Delegate Assembly on Tuesday, November 18th, and join us in formally asking our union to sign on in support of a more diverse teaching corps. If you can’t make it to the meeting, mail your completed petitions ASAP to: Teacher Diversity Committee of NYC, c/o Ahern, P.O. Box 1025, New York, NY 10002.

To read the petition in it’s entirety, download a hard copy here, or read our August blog post.

If you’re sharing the petition online here are some sample Tweets or messages that you can use:

Get Out The Vote!

November 2, 2014 — Leave a comment

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MORE’s Election Guide

MORE has endorsed Howie Hawkins for Governor  and Brian Jones for Lieutenant Governor (Green Party-Row F on the NYS ballot). We urge all UFT members get out the vote! Let’s send Albany a message that attacking teachers and privatizing our education is not acceptable.

While UFT/NYSUT leadership under Unity caucus has responded to Cuomo’s anti-teacher comments  in an unconcerned manner and has even expressed gratitude to Rob Astorino for writing an open letter to teachers, they have ignored the candidacy of Howie Hawkins. Hawkins is a fellow union brother and is running with UFT member Brian Jones for Lieutenant Governor on a pro-public education and pro-union platform. We know full well that Hawkins/Jones are not being acknowledged by union leadership because of Jones’ role as a founder of MORE, our dissident caucus that has challenged Unity caucus for leadership of UFT and NYSUT. This is a great disservice to educators, parents, and students across our state. UFT/NYSUT ought to use their vast resources to educate union members and parents of all their choices in this critical election. UFT/NYSUT has allowed Cuomo to run on the Working Families line, instead of a pro-labor Hawkins.

NYSUT Locals throughout the state have endorsed Howie Hawkins/Brian Jones and their pro-education, anti-high stakes testing stance including, Buffalo Teachers Association and Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association.

 Please see Hawkins/Jones letter to teachers here.

 Here is NYSUT’s voter guide.

There are three referendum proposals on this year’s ballot.

These are suggestions from former Deputy Comptroller for New York State and special education teacher Harris Lirtzman:

 

Proposition 1:  Revising State’s Redistricting Process

 

It is a sham piece of “reform” brought to us by Governor Cuomo and the Legislature in the form of a “special commission” that would handle the decennial reapportionment of election districts. When you read the text you think, “Well, can’t be worse than what we’ve now got with ‘Three Men in a Room.’”

 

But it’s much worse and will only make the electoral process and district apportionment more complex and less democratic.

 

http://www.noprop1ny.com/endorsements#.VErweIndNvc.

 

Proposition 2:  Permitting Electronic Distribution of State Legislative Bills

 

I’ve seen the results of paper distribution.  The Legislature has its own printing shop and during the end of session it runs 24/7 because the State Constitution requires a bill to be presented three days before it can be voted upon.  The Governor generally issues a “statement of necessity” that eliminates the three day wait so that all the paper bills can be piled up on a legislator’s desk at the end of session and voted on without the least chance of review.

 

Whether any legislator will actually read an electronically distributed bill v. a paper bill is highly doubtful but vast acres of trees in the Adirondacks will be preserved so we might as well vote to “help a tree.” Seriously, won’t improve the states’ broken legislative process but will make it more green.  Can’t hurt.  And the next tree you see in Central Park, since they all talk to each other, will hug you if you stop long enough to tell it you voted for Prop 2.

 

Proposition 3: The “Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014″

 

Gov. Cuomo, without any consultation with academic leaders or school districts, proposed this $2 billion bond act early this year.  It would allow the following, which might seem hard for educators to oppose:

 

The proposal would allow the State to borrow up to two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000). This money would be expended on capital projects related to the design, planning, site acquisition, demolition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or acquisition or installation of equipment for the following types of projects:

  1. To acquire learning technology equipment or facilities including, but not limited to,
  2. Interactive whiteboards,
  3. Computer servers, and

c.Desktop, laptop, and tablet computers;

  • To install high-speed broadband or wireless internet connectivity for schools and communities;
  • To construct, enhance, and modernize educational facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs and provide instructional space to replace transportable classroom units (otherwise known as “Arthur Goldstein’s trailers”) and
  • To install high-tech security features in school buildings and on school campuses

This one comes down to whether you believe this is a good way for the state to bond $2 billion…..

 

Andrew Cuomo to himself in bed at 3 a.m. some winter night, early 2014:

 

“Andrew, what do you think would be a good way to spend $2 billion in state bonding this year?”

“Gee, I dunno.  I haven’t talked to anyone about this but then I don’t usually talk to anyone about anything.”

“What do most voters really like, come on, Andrew, this is not rocket science.”

“Well, most voters like ‘education” and that damned Astorino actually set up an anti Common Core party.”

“That’s true, but voters usually want to spend more money on schools without having to have their taxes raised.”

“Aha, Andrew, you are so smart, why don’t you put a really big, eye-catching proposal to spend $2 billion on technology in schools and then also put in a whole lot of other things that people might not be so concerned about such as building pre-K schools and stuff like that–nobody understands that the state is near its bonding limit and that all this stuff will be paid for over 30 years.”

 

Seriously, it might be hard for teachers to vote against something like this but $2 billion is a lot of money for something that no one other than Andrew Cuomo seriously seemed to think was necessary.  The interest cost estimates on the $2 billion range from $40-$50 million a year for a total 30 year cost of about $450-$500 million.  Usually, long-term bonds are used to finance long-term infrastructure, such as the building of roads, tunnels, bridges and buildings, not items with short term expected lives like school technology or even school wireless systems.  Think LAUSD where they handed out $1 billion in iPads and the entire thing was a disaster.  There don’t seem to be any particular controls over how the money will be spent but, in true election year fashion, the proceeds of the bonds, have already been apportioned among counties (see the charts in the links, below),

 

Some older school districts without a property tax base to support this sort of expenditure might benefit from the funds provided by Proposition 3.  But much of the stuff funded by the bond act will be obsolete long before the bonds are retired.

 

Albany has an addiction to bonding as away to get around tax increases but we all pay for this one way or another.  I’d say this one is doubtful but a case might be made for it if the right controls were in place to make sure the money was spent wisely.  There is a “Commission” that will review proposals but its findings are not binding.

http://www.nysut.org/~/media/Files/NYSUT/Resources/2014/April/FactSheet_1413_SmartSchoolsBondActof2014.pdf

http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5389-how-bright-smart-schools-bond-act-prop-3

The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE-UFT) voted unanimously at our last General Body meeting to propose that the United Federation of Teachers, instead of sitting out this gubernatorial race, endorse the pro-public education platform presented by Howie Hawkins for Governor and Brian Jones for Lieutenant Governor.

MORE prepared to present a resolution at Wednesday’s Delegate Assembly. The UFT leadership, however, did not allow this discussion. Despite being informed in advance that MORE chapter leaders and delegates intended to raise this resolution for debate and voting, UFT leadership called time on the ten-minute new motion period, thus prohibiting this conversation. In fact, though Michael Mulgrew’s President’s Report was longer than 45 minutes, there was no mention of this Governor’s race.

Though UFT and NYSUT leadership remain silent regarding the upcoming Gubernatorial race, we pledge go to the polls and vote for the only public school positive, teacher-and-student friendly candidates in this race.  We encourage fellow friends of public education to join us in voting Hawkins/Jones!

Why? Here are just a few of the many reasons:

  • Both Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino vocally support the privatization of education through the expansion of charter schools. In contrast, the Green Party ticket of Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones opposes charter schools.
  • Andrew Cuomo has pushed through an expansion of testing statewide and the punitive linking of test scores to teacher evaluations. The Hawkins/Jones ticket opposes an emphasis on high stakes testing.
  • Andrew Cuomo implemented a destructive tax cap that has forced massive layoffs of teachers in upstate districts.
  • New York State AFL-CIO and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) have declined to endorse Cuomo because of his anti-education policies.
  • Astorino and Cuomo are both millionaires while Hawkins and Jones are both union activists, Hawkins in Teamsters, Jones in the UFT and PSC.
  • The Hawkins/Jones platform of a Green New Deal calls for
    • equitable funding for all of our schools,
    • reduced class sizes across the state,
    • support for programs that promote desegregation in our schools,
    • an end to zero-tolerance discipline policies driving the school-to-prison pipeline,
    • and allowing schools to develop methods of assessment organic to the learning process. 
  • To learn more, Read their letter to teachers here, and spread the word using the voter guide below. 
MORE/UFT Caucus Pro-Education Positions Hawkins/ Jones (Green) Cuomo(Dem.) Astorino(Rep.)
Against the Expansion of Charter Schools
Against High Stakes Testing, Against APPR (New teacher evals) / Supports Parents & Students’ Right to Opt Out of High Stakes Tests
Against Common Core?
Union member or Millionaire Candidates? Union Millionaire Millionaire
Fight corporate ed deform by rescinding NY’s Race to the Top application and replacing NYSED commissioner John King
Tax Top 5% and Eliminate State Property Tax Cap to Fund Schools
Supports unionism, social movements and a $15/hr minimum wage

Don’t sit this election out, vote for a real change in Education Policy!  Vote Hawkins/Jones!

Local Educator Support

September 8, 2014 — 4 Comments

 

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UFT members in need of assistance please email: more@morecaucusnyc.org

Phone: (347) 766-7319

Contact us if you need support to:

-          mobilize your union chapter

-          run in the 2015 UFT Chapter Leader elections

-          challenge tenure denial

-          report contract violations

-          deal with an abusive administration

-          fight against infringements of members’ and/or students’ rights

-          file grievances

-          fight back against forced charter co-locations

 

You will be able to consult with one of our experienced chapter leaders. MORE can also help set up a meeting near your school. In the past, we have organized one-to-one phone calls, local happy hours, lunch meetings, study groups, and after-school diner meetings.

Contact MORE Local Educator Support in full confidentiality.

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This is MORE’s statement on the march with the Eric Garner’s family sponsored by the UFT

Last week the UFT announced sponsorship and support for A March for Unity and Justice.  The march, with Eric Garner’s family at the helm, is billed as a coming together and a call for transparency and accountability in the wake of several prominent cases of alleged police brutality.  A firestorm of criticism of the UFT’s sponsorship of this march has played out on the pages of newspapers, social media, and countless emails between educators, politicians, and community leaders.

Continue Reading…

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

A plea for union democracy

Our last summer series event of 2014 is Wednesday 8/20/14

Dark Horse Pub

17 Murray St NYC

Facebook invite here

 

UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers’ Union Matter?

Are you entering the teaching profession or new to NYC schools? 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? Do educators, parents and students share common interests? Can unions be vehicles for social justice? Meet with new and veteran teachers to discuss these questions and more in this introduction to teacher unionism.

This promises to be a fun, interactive meeting where you can meet educators that are just coming into the school system, some going into their second year, and experienced educators too!

Save the date, our first general meeting of the new school year will be Saturday Sept. 13th in Manhattan. Check back here for more information on this and meetings/happy hours in neighborhoods across NYC.

To be delivered to Carmen Fariña and The New York City Panel for Educational Policy

Since the 2001-2002 academic year, there has been a 57.4% decrease in the number of Black teachers hired by the New York City Department of Education, and a 22.9% increase for white teachers hired during this same period of time.

We ask Chancellor Fariña and the Panel for Education Policy to:

• Make a policy statement that acknowledges the value of teacher diversity and the lack of such diversity in New York City public schools.

• Centrally monitor the racial demographic of hiring and firing in NYC public and charter schools. In public school data reports include the racial profile for the teachers and administrators in each school as is currently done for the students.

• Raise the percentage of Black and Latino teachers hired in the system overall, with a special focus on raising the percentage of male teachers in those groups.

• Raise the percentage of persons of color in the NYC Teaching Fellows program to more closely match the NYC student body demographic. Make public the number and racial demographic of NYC Teaching Fellows hired.

• Settle Gulino vs. Board of Education, in which a recent court ruling found that the NY State LAST certification exam was not validated yet was used in 2002 to dismiss thousands of NYC teachers who were disproportionately Black and Latino.

• Invest in a clear and distinct paraprofessional-to-teacher career path that offers qualified applicants provisional teaching licenses while completing graduate degree requirements and subsidizes both undergraduate and graduate tuition at CUNY and SUNY

PETITION BACKGROUND

In a school system that is 67.5% Black and Latino (as of 2012 – 13), the 34% combined percentage of Black and Latino teachers in the system is disappointing at best.

This lack of diversity reinforces already existing practices of segregation and leaves out diverse cultural perspectives that inform curriculum, pedagogy and practice. It also shortchanges our students by replicating and reinforcing false societal structures that devalue the contribution and perspectives of non-dominant racial and cultural groups.