Archives For social justice unionism

 

4.8.14 Eng-flyer

Join parents, students, educators and community members at this important rally on Thursday at 4:00. Meet in front of the steps of the New York City Public Library @5th Ave. and 41st Street with a march to Governor Cuomo’s office to follow. On Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/savenycpubliceducation

By Julie Cavanagh

Teacher/Chapter-Leader P.S.15k

Last week charter schools received a windfall to the tune of tens of millions of potential dollars in free space, either in a public school or in a city-subsidized private space, more per pupil funding than public schools, and an essentially unfettered ability to expand at the expense of existing public schools.

The charter school giveaways in last week’s budget were nothing short of a death sentence for the sustainability of New York City’s public school system:

  • The financial burden of providing and paying for charter school space and services for co-locations will be crippling. This will be especially difficult once the cap of 200 charter schools is reached. There are 52 charter schools left on the cap in NYC, but there will be “more” because existing charters can expand grades without being included in the cap. So, for example, if a charter opened as an elementary, it can expand to include middle school and/or high school grades without a cap deduction. In addition, the Cuomo-led legislation to provide space to charters — only in NYC — is an unfunded mandate. The city is required to find the resources to pay. Only after $40 million is spent on private charter rent, will the state contribute to an undetermined amount of assistance. We need funding policies that will support the facilities and space needed for the approximately 94%[i] of public school children learning in overcrowded and substandard facilities.
  • Charters schools receive MORE per pupil funding than public schools. This creates even greater inequity in our school system favoring the approximately 6% of NYC’s school children who currently attend charter schools. Combine that with the millions in private funding charters receive from millionaire and billionaire donors who have an interest in privatizing our education system and the goal becomes clear: undermine and dismantle every child’s right to go to the school of his or her choice. The new policy will force students fill out an application, win a lottery, and adhere to undemocratic governance and a set of rules that leave families vulnerable to discrimination and push-out, not to mention increased segregation in an already segregated school system. We need policies that seek to create equity and increase the integration of our school system, not make it worse.
  • The language in the budget seems to suggest that an existing charter in a public school cannot be prevented from expanding, which it will do at the expense of the existing public school. We need policies that seek to expand our existing public schools. There are many more public schools serving ALL of NYC’s children well and those schools and their best practices should be held up as models. Charters, by contrast, serve far fewer of our neediest children while boasting achievement numbers similar to public schools. The overwhelming majority of New York City families choose public schools and their rights should be respected and protected. They should not be forced into charters.
  • The new law requiring charter space puts the expansion of public schools in New York City at risk because it encourages charter school expansion over the expansion of public schools. New York City schools have some of the highest class sizes and most overcrowding in the state. We need support to help end this crisis, not make it worse.
  • The financial sustainability of our school system is at risk. As more public dollars are funneled into education corporations and charter schools, fewer public dollars are available for our public schools. At a certain point, and I have heard the “tipping point” is 10% enrollment in charter schools in NYC, we will reach a financial crisis that will make it impossible to balance the funding needs for both charters and public schools, thus allowing the kind of wholesale transfer of public schools to charter operators as we have seen in New Orleans and Philadelphia.

 

Governor Cuomo not only allowed the charter school windfall to be central to this year’s budget, he was one of, if not the, architect(s). The self-proclaimed “student lobbyist” is truly a charter-hedge-funder lobbyist beholden to campaign dollars in an election year and further influenced by his national political aspirations.

 

Legislators from around the state, save a brave few such as my own state Senator Montgomery and Harlem’s Senator Perkins whose constituents have experienced the horrors and inequity of charter co-locations and expansion first hand, said precious little and took no stand in rejecting this budget.

 

Our Mayor, who ran on putting an end to the favor of charters at the expense of our public schools and received a clear mandate to do so by the voters in our city, was at the very least powerless to stop the giveaway and at worst raised no vocal objection, perhaps considering funding for universal Pre-K a worthy enough win, even though charters will also have the right to open Pre-K.

 

Our own United Federation of Teachers did not mount a fight back against this. In fact, their poor policy choices have made it difficult for UFT leaders to do since they have co-located two union-run charter schools themselves. New York Communities for Change has withdrawn its participation in the parent-led co-location lawsuit, a lawsuit that seeks to charge charters rent for use of public space — a policy that will now be illegal in New York City if the provision in the state budget is not changed.

 

The true student-lobbyists, parents, students, rank-and-file educators and community members, must stand together to demand full funding and support for our public schools. We must make it clear that an investment in a system that serves ALL children that is governed by the people (however flawed in a system with mayoral control), not private unaccountable and non-transparent interests, is vital to the health and success of our children.

 

We must stand together and demand the schools our children deserve: facilities deserving of the wealthiest nation in the world, rich and well-rounded curriculum and services, experienced and supported educators, smaller class sizes, and the right to attend a neighborhood public school that is excellent AND open to all.

 

My school community experienced co-location first hand. We were fortunate to mount a fight back that ended our co-location. However, that win was bitter sweet, because the charter, PAVE Academy, was awarded more than 20 million dollars in precious capital funds to build its own building in our neighborhood. We also engaged in a less-known fight back for another charter expansion in our neighborhood, a charter that sought to further segregate the neighborhood by creating a “boutique” charter targeted at the gentrifying population of Red Hook. Thankfully that charter was not approved. We have learned from both of these experiences that charter space support and expansion in communities results in a negative impact on the community itself, causing unnecessary strain and tension, as well as on the existing schools, and in our case, a school that was and is a high quality option. But equally important, because these issues were at our doorstep, we also understand the deep systemic issues surrounding charters: the drive to privatize our public education system, the impact of charter push-out, the impact of a two-tiered system where one school is privileged over another, and the bigger picture of the undermining of public education and all that entails from worker protections, to funding, to the way children are treated.

 

MORE stands in solidarity with the approximately 94% of families who want high quality neighborhood schools for their children. We cannot achieve the promise of public education if the funding, facilities and services we need to provide are at-risk. Please join us and families across the city and send Governor Cuomo a message this Thursday: you are not our student’s lobbyist. You do not stand for children. You stand for your own political interests fueled by charter school dollars and we will hold you accountable!

 

[i] Charter school enrollment in 2011-2012 was 47,780 (according to www.nycsca.org’s report for capital fund projections) out of approximately 1.1 million school children in New York City., yielding an approximate 4% enrollment in charter schools at that time. Cited numbers currently range from 3%-6%. The New York City Charter school Center states approximately 70,000 children attend charter schools in NYC . Based on this information this post estimates current charter enrollment at 6% and public school enrollment at 94%.

Arthur Goldstein is a UFT Chapter Leader of Francis Lewis High School in Queens and is running for Executive Vice President of NYSUT, with MORE’s support.

Beth Dimino is the president of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association and is running for NYSUT Board of Directors, also endorsed by MORE.

 

Jia Lee, MORE candidate and teacher at the Earth School is one of the conscientious objectors who refuses to administer the NY State Test this year.

Jia Lee, MORE candidate and teacher at the Earth School, is one of the conscientious objectors who refuses to administer the NY State Test this year.

New York City public school students in grades 3-8 are currently taking the controversial New York State (NYS) Common Core tests.  

MORE opposes the administration of these corporate-created high-stakes exams, and we stand in support of parents who are refusing to have their child(ren) take the test, and in support of those teachers who are refusing to administer them.

Jia Lee, one of the MORE candidates running for NYSUT (state union) office this weekend, is one of these brave teachers. Jia and two other teachers at the Manhattan’s Earth School, as an act of conscience, are declining the role of test administrators for the 2014 NYS Common Core tests. In a letter to Chancellor Fariña, they write “we are acting in solidarity with countless public school teachers who have paved their own paths of resistance and spoken truthfully about the decay of their profession under market-based reforms. These acts of conscience have been necessary because we are accountable to the children we teach and our pedagogy, both of which are dishonored daily by current policies.”  Please read their thoroughly researched position paper on the Teachers of Conscience blog.**  Continue Reading…

TestingTomorrow, April 1st, students across NY State will take the second year of Common Core aligned tests.  Last year’s test administration was a disaster, but continue rollout this year of the standards revealed what a deeply flawed project they are. The resistance, however, is growing: parents are opting their children out of the tests in large numbers, and some teachers are refusing to administer them.*

MORE adds its voice with the following statement about why we oppose the common core:

MORE is opposed to the Common Core standards because they are inextricably linked to a reform package that includes punitive high-stakes testing, unproven and unreliable measurements of student and teacher performance and scripted curriculum produced not by teachers, but by corporations. After 30 years of manufactured crises and failed solutions, the elements of this package, including the standards, are being used as ideological battering rams to attack the very concept of public education, replacing it with a profit-making privatization scheme.

The Common Core standards are undemocratic. They were written without meaningful teacher input, and educators do not have the freedom to use them as they see fit.   Continue Reading…

Taking Back OUR Schools

March 26, 2014 — 1 Comment

Click HERE for more information
Don’t Forget to RSVP

"Taking back OUR schools NYC metro march and rally"

Parent, Student, and Educator groups united to fight corporate education “reform”

Calling all NYC Metro community activists (“voices of resistance”), families, students, civil rights advocates, voters, immigrant families, policymakers and legislators, union members, teachers, and faith leaders…

This rally and march is part of the national Testing Resistance & Reform Spring campaign. We aim to support the efforts of parents, teachers and community members to have public schools that work for the community.

Join us on May 17, 2014 in NYC!
City Hall Park (permit pending)

2:00 p.m.
Click here to RSVP Today! Continue Reading…

Stop and Reverse the Disappearing of Black and Latino Educators in NYC

Public Meeting Notice

 Join us to move NYC teacher diversity on to the Public Agenda

this spring through Diversity committee presentations to the new

Chancellor and Mayor.

Speak out at Panel for Educational Policy.

Outreach to educators, parents and students.

Information table at teacher certification exam sites.

Testimonials for Teachers Unite’s upcoming report.

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Time:    4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

The Church of St. Luke and

St. Matthew’s Parish Hall

520 Clinton Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(C train to Clinton/Washington stop.

Church is between Fulton St & Atlantic Ave).

A 42% decline in the number of new Black and Latino teachers hired to teach in NYC public schools since 2002 is movement in the wrong direction.

The DOE hires graduates from private universities over those from CUNY and SUNY.

A NYS teacher certification exam is not validated yet disproportionately excludes Black and Latino applicants.

Over 100 public schools have been closed in NYC’s Black and Latino communities.

Mayoral control over the DOE with its $25 billion yearly budget shuts out the voices and accountability to parents – over 80% of whom are Black, Latino and Asian.

Privately run charter schools are given a free ride to crowd existing public schools and to divide parents against parents.

The absence of DOE or mayoral oversight or direction to monitor and promote diversity in the teaching staff provides a cover for growing indifference and hostility to demands for equity.  “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

The undermining of teacher tenure, seniority and due process disproportionately impacts Black and Latino teachers, denigrates the teaching profession, inhibits student advocacy and contributes to chaos and demoralization in our public schools.

The disappearing of Black and Latino educators removes the most consistent advocates for a historically accurate, culturally relevant and inclusive curriculum.

Calling all “drum majors” for diversity now.  Join with educator, parent, student and community leaders to stop and reverse the disappearing of Black and Latino educators.

Endorsed by

  • Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence.
  • Coalition for Public Education.
  • Movement of Rank and File Educators.
  • National Black Education Agenda.
  • New York Collective of Radical Educators.
  • People Power.
  • Progressive Action Caucus.
  • Teachers Unite

Organized by:

The Teacher Diversity Committee (TDC) of NYC

 Email: TeacherDiversity@gmail.com

 

moreunion-This list of the main improvements we would like to see in the 2014 NYC teachers’ contract was developed based on democratic discussion and a vote at the 1/18/2014 meeting of the Movement of Rank and File Educators. Join us to continue the discussion!

1. Improved Learning and Working Conditions: Our schools should have lower class sizes, and they should be fully funded and staffed with sufficient support services. Therapists, Guidance Counselors, and Special Educators should have reduced caseloads so our high-needs students get what they need to grow, and educators have enough time during the school day to complete necessary recordkeeping and planning.

2. A Better Evaluation System: Teachers should be part of the team that builds our new evaluation system. It should not be tied to high-stakes standardized test scores. Instead, each school’s staff should play an active role in choosing meaningful, student-friendly assessments that can be used to inform instruction and measure growth. Extra paperwork and quantitative data creation should be eliminated.

3. Competitive Salaries: We deserve full retroactivity and fair raises based on the rising cost-of-living, and to retain teachers. To demonstrate respect for all of our work, there should be a move toward salary equity for all UFT members.

4. Restoration of Due Process and Fairness: All teachers deserve to be treated fairly, thus our contract should restore the right to transfer and to grieve material in our files. Teachers should be considered innocent until proven guilty at 3020a hearings, and the “fair student funding” budget system (that penalizes hiring of experienced teachers) should be reversed. If enacted, these changes will effectively end the ATR crisis.

Please download a flyer-version of these ideas to spark discussion within your UFT chapter or community here! MORE Top 4 Contract Flyer. And, if you’re interested in thinking about an ideal contract in more detail, check out “The Contract NYC’s Educators Deserve” that we shared in an earlier blog post. You can also find more resources under the “Contract” tab above.

Panelists Anthony Lackhan, Marcus McArthur, Sean Petty, and moderator Kit Wainer sparked an insightful discussion about unity and fair contracts during the forum.

Panelists Anthony Lackhan, Marcus McArthur, Sean Petty, and moderator Kit Wainer sparked an insightful discussion about unity and fair contracts during the forum.

NEW YORK: Over 75 rank and file union members gathered on Thursday (3/7/2014) night to mobilize against

Those rank and file workers have already garnered over 1,000 signatures on a letter demanding that union leaders prioritize retroactive pay.  Furthermore, they urge Mayor de Blasio to stay true to his campaign promise of “ending the tale of two cities,” and ask him to demonstrate his commitment to ending income inequality, starting at the bargaining table.

The forum was organized by the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the ACS Coalition of Union Members, 99 Pickets and rank and file activists from NYSNA, District Council 37, and the Professional Staff Congress.  Members of TWU Local 100, Organization of Staff Analysts, Teamsters Local 237, 1199 SIEU and other city unions were represented in a lively discussion.

“It’s clear that the anger that city workers feel about losing ground for the past five years is starting to find expression,” said Sean Petty, a nurse at the HHC. “The fact is that we’ve given up our free time, we’ve come in during snowstorms, we’ve stayed overnight in hospitals, and we’ve worked overtime to cleanup the city after Superstorm Sandy. That is being repaid with a new mayor who is saying there is not enough money for the raises we deserve. What tonight showed,” he continued, “is that there is a growing unrest among city workers and that we are not going to accept the status quo excuses from the administration.  It’s clear to all of us there is enough money to pay for the things that we all need, whether you are a city worker or depend on city services.”

Anthony Lackhan, a member of Local 1549, DC37 said,“Tonight I learned that there are a lot more of us willing to fight for what we’ve earned. I’m excited that I’m not alone and reinvigorated to find brothers and sisters of like mind.”

“Its okay for us to ask for more right now.  It’s OK for us to demand a strong middle class.  It’s our duty as public sector unions to demand it,” said Marcus McArthur, a city teacher and member of the MORE caucus of the UFT.

“De Blasio campaigned on a tale of two cities.  Well, here’s the other city coming forward,” said Lucy Herschel, a member of 1199 SEIU. “I don’t think I’ve ever been at a meeting of this many rank and file union members from different unions before,” she added.

“The thing we all have in common as teachers, as city workers, as nurses, is that we all care about the people we serve, and the people in our community care about our services, so we need to work together and really build locally.” said Rosie Frascella, a teacher and member of the MORE caucus of the UFT.

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The Movement of Rank and File Educators is the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers.  For MORE information: http://morecaucusnyc.org/about/

RSVP here!

"MORE general meeting march 8th 2014"