Educator Letter to Support Immigrant New Yorkers

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Hello all!

In the coming months we will potentially face a myriad of threats to our students, communities and public schools under a President Trump administration.  Immigrants in particular have been the targets and subjects of some of Trump’s most vile and vicious campaign rhetoric.  We must stand prepared and ready to act should he follow through.

 

Last May a resolution was brought to the UFT Delegate Assembly by TeachDream that called for an Immigrant Liaison in every school (similar to the sustainability coordinator).  That resolution passed, nothing has been done however.  MORE HS Exec Board members have raised this issue and we still have not been given any assurance this resolution is being moved forward with the DOE.

 

Please find  here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_GNaeUA10XeZTgiwyK6HJ2S9TerP7XxOYebnyHqIygA/edit (and pasted below) a letter for folks to use at their schools, with their chapters, to sign on and support a call for the UFT and DOE to work together to ensure there is an Immigration Liaison in every school  with immigrant students by September 2017.  The letter further calls on the UFT to work with other groups to create a toolkit for school communities to educate our members and families about immigrant rights and law as well as calling to work together to plan actions to support immigrant students and families.  A more specific resolution is already drafted to push for NYC DOE schools to be sanctuary schools (among other points).

Please report the number of signatures you collect in your chapter OR if your chapter votes to support, indicate that here:https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1BBaQueTeZczZGNmWA9LzaZ1O9v8MBq80didgzRkc5Eo/edit?ts=5840da00

Or you can email your numbers/chapter support to:  jcavanagh15@gmail.com

Please report your chapter’s support to the link or the email by December 21st.

 

When we have a significant number of signatures/chapters supporting, we will again bring this issue to the leadership and bring forward the additional resolution that is, as of now, drafted by TeachDream.  TeachDream also has the workings of a toolkit up and running that should be ready for distribution in the near future.

 

Finally, check out John G’s article on teaching and learning with students who are immigrants in a time of fear and uncertainty: http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2016/12/02/my-students-are-worried-about-their-families-being-deported-heres-what-i-stopped-world-history-class-to-tell-them/

Please share this information, the chapter letter, and the link/email to indicate support far and wide.

 

In Solidarity.

 

 

Chapter support letter:

Dear President Mulgrew and Chancellor Farina,

 

In May 2016, a resolution, brought by rank and file members who have been working to support immigrant students for years, was passed by the entire UFT Delegate Assembly. This resolution calls for … “the NYC Department of Education to require that each school with immigrant students appoint an ‘Immigration Adviser’ (similar to the ‘sustainability coordinator’ or ‘anti-bullying liaison’) to ensure that school processes are welcoming and safe for immigrant students and families.”

 

Our chapter (or organization) believes that it is important that this resolution be fiercely advocated for, and we call on the UFT to ensure that, in cooperation with the DOE, each school have immigration advisors by the start of the 2017-2018 school year

 

In the days since the election, many of NYC’s diverse students and families have been nervous and afraid because of the racist, Islamophobic, sexist and anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric of Donald Trump. Advisers with connections to white nationalist groups have been given positions of extraordinary importance in this nation’s government.

 

Many rank and filers alongside leaders in the UFT participated in a day of action to defend and reassure our students on November 21st. Groups of teachers, including, NYCoRE, TeachDream, MORE, and Teachers Unite have held forums and created curricula to address the situation. We call on the UFT leadership to bring together as wide a group of educators as possible to create a toolkit for educators and schools to support school communities with education, organization and mobilization around immigrant rights and protections.

 

Finally, we would also like to see a resolution modeled after the one passed by the Los Angeles Unified School Board.  On Tuesday, November 15th, 2016,  “The Los Angeles Board of Education voted to approve a resolution reaffirming L.A. Unified’s current policy, which directs school staff members not to allow federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents onto school campuses unless their visit has been approved by the superintendent and the district’s lawyers. Board members also seconded a policy that protects the immigration information and identities of students, family members and school staff.  Given the policy changes that are coming from Washington, we believe the safety of our students requires  similar regulations for New York City.

 

New York City’s public school teachers can and should play a critical role in educating, organizing, and mobilizing its members to fight for those in our communities most at risk during the current political climate. We are eager to begin this work together.

 

In Solidarity,

 

 

 

Names of members of your chapter and/or take a vote at a chapter meeting that is open to all UFT members.

Name Position

 

 

The Movement of Rank and File Educators stand in solidarity with the people’s fight for environmental justice in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico. The Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR), a teachers’ union of Puerto Rico, is decrying the injustice occurring in the Peñuelas community with the unapproved disposal of coal ashes in Peñuelas Valley Landfill. The community has been taking a stand against the dumping through peaceful acts of resistance. So far, sixty three people have been arrested and jailed, including Puerto Rican Senator Maria de Lourdes Santiago.

We stand with the FMPR and affected community who are requesting their governor support and back Bill #340 on the Senate floor, which would prohibit coal ash disposals in their landfills. The coal ash pose dangers to the health and life of the people who reside nearby. The ash, left in mounds, is blown by the wind contaminating the air and water. Deadly and chronic diseases such as cancer have been linked to these disposals.

MORE is the social justice caucus of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City. We believe that our working conditions are inextricably linked to our students’ learning conditions. Clean and healthful communities are a basic human right that must be prioritized over convenience and profit. We stand with FMPR and the Peñuelas community.

 

Secretary Schoor welcomes us.

Open Mike

Sara Shapiro From Adult ed chapter.  Presents incident about AE consultation meeting. Mentions Ms. Mills, superintendent, who runs meeting. Says she was verbally attacked by Mills. Asks for help. Says when CL addressed issue of interruptions of classes demanding data, Ms. Mills said it was needed, and that it should be resolved amongst UFT members. Said it was also admin.

Says Mills lost control and began screaming. Says she shouted at principals it was their job. Says Mills was hostile and frightening, yelling. Says she shouted to her, “Some people should never be teachers.” Asks for help. What recourse does UFT have for this type of abusive behavior? How can we ensure there is no retaliation? What steps does UFT recommend for me? What can UFT do to ensure this not occur again? Will they officially censure Mills and report this to chancellor?

Schoor—Thank you for coming forward. We’d like to bring this up in meeting with deputy chancellors. Shapiro approves and Schoor says it’s a good first step.

Minutes—approved

Jonathan Halabi
New Action—There’s a motion, but no indication of who made it. This is highly unusual. Who made motion?

Schoor—Leadership of union.

Halabi—Why didn’t this address what was taken away? Chief effect was to remove language. Thinks there should be open discussion on this. Name of Donald Trump was removed without indication. Pretty big step. Merits discussion here.

Schoor—approval is on minutes. If you want to bring up issue in front of body, you may.

Halabi—May I amend resolution via email? Is this province of regular executive board member?

Schoor—We’re gonna vote on minutes. If you wish to debate, you may.

Minutes passed. MORE-New Action votes no

President’s Report

Mulgrew is not here.

Staff director’s report

Leroy Barr
—CL training this weekend

DA January moved to January 18th. This month 14th. Exec. Board next week.

David Garcia RosenMORE—Sad seeing how people vote and we just take Trump’s name off. Would like update on issue of mass incarceration in USA. Last time we were told what AFT did. What will UFT do? NYC students are impacted by these laws. Concerned that leadership more concerned with political correctness than being leaders. We have Pres. elect who has sworn to vigorously enforce drug laws. What is update? Why is leadership afraid to use Trump’s name?

Janella Hinds—Regarding mass incarceration, we are doing research. Many of us have viewed 13 and are doing research. We have taken specific action on Riker’s Island. We want to raise age so fewer teenagers are there and make sure students receive education. Today there was meeting with Council member Danny Drone. We are actively engaged in work around making sure our students don’t end up there and that they are treated well if they are.

Rosen—Why was Trump’s name removed?

Schoor—Union represents different people, parties, ethnicities. We have membership that voted for Trump. We didn’t change resolved, only Whereas/.

Arthur GoldsteinMORE—When are we gonna debate this?

Schoor—A little later

Schirtzer—Many members voted for Trump. We know who the ed. secretary will be. Friedrichs will come back under new name. We have to be honest, this will happen. We have to do things now. The only reason we won was because Scalia died. What are we going to do differently to better engage our members? We want union to grow.

Schoor—Loud and proud campaign.

Hinds—We had day of action to kick off our Loud and Proud campaign. Activists demonstrated support and showed solidarity. There were safety pins, posters. This work will continue. Not just about 52 giving info, but about us working to have all our voices heard.

Schoor—Mike we share your concern and will be responsive.

Ashraya GuptaMORE—Asking about resolution calling for immigrant liaison at every school. Were reports of teachers saying insulting and threatening things to undocumented students. Should be ally at every school for those students and their families.

Schoor—On our agenda with deputy chancellors, who are very concerned.

Marcus McArthurMORE—I read Mayor de Blasio has received endorsements from other unions. What is our position and what mechanisms are there for members to weigh in?

Schoor—Personally, he’s been a good mayor for us. No union had contract when he took over, now most do.  We believe he will continue to be fair with labor if re-elected. Sanitation endorsed.  We look favorably. UFT controls endorsements. Asks Paul Egan to discuss this. Will first come to AdCom.

Reports from districts:

Rich Mandel—reports about 3rd annual Thanksgiving drive. Was big success. 150 children from temporary housing played games and got new winter coat, hat, scarf. Thanks for donations. Collected over 500 jackets. Delivering to schools. Also delivered ten turkeys.

Alan ?—Tenure workshop for new teachers. Superintendent was there. Plugged TDA.

Elis Ranu?—December 12th tenure workshop with superintendent.

Karen Allford—Coalition for homeless holiday party. Asks for unwrapped toys. Collecting in borough offices or will pick up in schools.

Schoor—More homeless students than ever before?

Allford—83,000 but probably more, as some families live “doubled up.”

George Altomore—While politicking goes on, our teacher’s best contribution is what it’s all about. Were two big conferences—FL committee—paid $55 each and gave own presentations. Saturday—NYC Art teachers—growing in numbers. We are union of professionals. Let’s always remember what we do best is for children we teach.

Camille Evey—DR District 16—tenure workshop, over 65 teachers with new supe. Almost zero teachers got tenure before, but now 27, with support from UFT. Praises superintendent for support.

Schoor—UFT has teacher center people at tenure workshops.

Ellie Engler—Camille and superintendent came up with model for a district. We’re trying to get it funded by DOE. People with BA in area would be invited into fellows program to get Master’s in teaching and would intern at schools with benefits, credits. salary.

Schoor—This is cooperation from new admin we didn’t get from Bloomberg. We have input, and this is indicative.

Legislative reportPaul Egan

Much discussion of football game. There will be several recounts. These numbers, though, are likely to hold up. Great every vote is counted, unlikely to change results. While we may be disgusted be Sec. of Ed., it requires Cabinet appointees to be reviewed. She never had job, married into money, made mess in Detroit. Even is she is approved, she is walking into job wounded. Many turned down by Senate.

State Senate—Simka Felder—caucus with GOP. Means GOP is in power, two races under recount. Marcelino, will probably win. Venditto going back and forth. Today, lead is now 9 for Venditto. More people stayed home than voted for candidates in national election. We have to tell people the importance of voting.

Talk about march in DC week of inauguration. Unclear whether it will happen.

Resolutions—Opposition to Constitutional convention

Mel Aaronson—urge we make this most important thing for ourselves and state for next year. Constitution says every 20 years convention is on ballot.  Last time this was voted on was 1997 and we defeated it. Can open every single law in this state at same time to group of people who will discuss every issue. In 1977 there was one with recommendations. Every one was turned down by people of state.

If we lose, next year, 2018, there will be election. Will be 200 delegates with salary and expenses. Could cost with just that, tens of millions. We have to tell people. Biggest problem for us is, in 1938, amendment added that once pension credit granted, it can never be diminished or impaired. That’s why we have tiers. We have many allies, unions, conservationists. Support for separation of church and state. Public funds, now, not used for parochial schools.

Our constitution must stand. We have best plan to supplement pensions anywhere in country. Can be changed. Urges we support this resolution.

Amemdment—we work with other orgs. and individuals to defeat.

Mike SchirtzerMORE—propose UFT launch immediate educational campaign in our chapters and workplaces about the threat that this Constitutional Convention presents.

Paul Egan—Asks we delete word immediate. We are in contact with other groups. This is in our plans.

Schirtzer—Okay.

Vince Gatley
—Add word after UFT, “chapter leaders and delegates.”

Schirtzer—Says leadership has resources CLs and delegates don’t.

Amendments pass.

Vince Gatley—Work has to be done in schools, not on 14th floor.

Schoor—Resolved, that UFT urge CLs and delegates lead campaign to defeat Convention.

Passes.

Jonathan HalabiNew Action—Moves to reconsider Respect for all people to restore language we unanimously voted on.

Schoor—You have to vote in favor to consider.

Leroy Barr—Starts discussion.

Halabi—Original language specified Trump’s abusive behavior toward women. Now says presidential election did. It is a resolution that was motivated by hostility Trump displayed toward communities, schools, immigrants. That’s why it was unanimous. Wasn’t presidential election. Can’t understand not using name.

Dolores ?
—thinks of Thanksgiving meal. This body has been body that includes everyone. Though I don’t support Trump I don’t want to alienate people.

?—Agrees, sorry, opposes Trump being there. Heated discussions in my school. Have to respect person who voted for Trump. We need all members to stand up together. We are family.

Ellen Driesen—District straddled communities—mine voted heavily toward Trump. Can’t alienate even one CL. Will lose quarter of schools.

Ashraya GuptaMORE—also knows Trump voters. Are friends. Don’t want to alienate them. But I don’t see how presidential election can do these things. Also, if we’re getting ready for fight membership must recognize what Trump said will disempower us. They need to know we see them Trump’s potential victims as friends. Hasn’t yet happened.

Vince Gagley
—proposes after words presidential election, campaign rhetoric. Can we neutralize language to get agreement?

David Garcia-Rosen MORE–there are times in history that call for something different. When someone votes to deport my friends, incarcerate my friends, convert my friends- they can not be in my circle of love. We represent all ethnicities, Trump attacks women, muslims, immigrants, LGBT, Blacks and Latinos not the presidential election.

Maria Kallo– I get what my brothers and sisters are saying, but were need to build a family together. we need to represent all members, build family? We can’t take off the gloves and say Trump’s name to build family. we have to be united, we cant antagonize our members. We stand on the leadership’s shoulders. They are more experienced than all of us. Mike Schirtzer is my daughter and son’s teacher. we agree to disagree, but we stand united in the union. We have to pull our own ego back and do what is good for everyone.


Arthur Goldstein
MORE–We cant risk antagonizing people – using your logic we should not have supported Hillary, you antagonized me because I’m a Bernie supporter. the Trump supporters were antagonized the entire election. By this logic we should never take sides or endorse anybody.

Struck by absurdity of not wanting to take sides after having Hillary office at 52.

We, the high school representatives,  enthusiastically supported the resolution brought to us last week. In the weeks following the election, there have been hundreds of racists, bigots and homophobes feeling emboldened and acting against our brothers and sisters all across this country. In Queens there are three incidents I know of.

I’d wager, or at least hope, that every single person in this room was part of the presidential election. We didn’t vote for swastikas in playgrounds. We didn’t vote for hijabs being torn from people’s heads. We didn’t vote for abuse of anyone based on race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation. It’s not us standing around using Nazi salutes and shouting Hail Trump.

But people who indulge in that nonsense invoke the name of the man who calls Mexicans rapists, the man who wants a blanket ban on Muslim immigration, the man who has railed against Hamilton and counting votes, but has yet to utter one word against racism, bigotry, homophobia and all the things we collectively deplore.

By refusing to mention the name of Donald Trump, we are pandering to racists, bigots, and homophobes.

I ask  name of Donald Trump be restored.

Sandy ?– Doesn’t need Trump’s name. We should place Hitler’s name. Trump is not important enough. He is a nothing.

Speaker—believes we should use Trump’s name. If we do not want to be decisive, why did we support Hillary? We endorsed her. Stein, Johnson and Clinton did not push racism.

Jackie Bennett
—supports amendment Vince brought up. Wants to clarify saying election increased hostilities.

Mike SchirtzerMORE—glad debate is happening. Jonathan’s point was everyone supported. 24 hours later was changed. We all know Trump supporters. We’re arguing not to be divisive, to antagonize. I try to have civil discourse. I have family who voted Trump, family undocumented, LGBT family. I understand we don’t want to antagonize.

Wasn’t Hillary who attacked my students, called them rapists and drug dealers. My students can’t sleep at night. We are the only thing between attacks on our kids. They want to make our kids data and money. We’re here because we love our kids. We have to tell people who voted for Trump they did something wrong. They are family. But I have to say to my students looking at deportation that Trump is problem.

Leroy Barr—You can’t make amendment of something not on the floor. Asks for motion to reconsider. We failed to engage members enough to understand dangers before them, damages to their way of life. We couldn’t get people to understand no vote was vote for Trump.
How do we get our members to table, to front lines in battle that is looming? If we don’t do that we will fail again. The education never stops. Can’t educate someone when you shut them down. In our passion we have to get members back to table, to understand dangers that lie ahead. They are not engaged. We need everyone. We have to vote up motion to reconsider.

Schoor—Motion to reconsider needs majority vote.

Halabi—discussion on motion? Thanks Leroy for opening debate, and thanks for vigorous debate. In spirit of compromise, we should support Vince’s amendment.

Schoor—We should add words campaign rhetoric.

Passes.
Mike SchirtzerMORE–Moves to put Trump’s name back.

Schoor—motion fails, we are adjourned.

Special thanks to Mike Schirtzer for helping with the notes while I waited on line to speak. 

 

Union-Contract

At the first UFT Executive Board meeting of the 2016/17 school year, MORE/New Actions’s 7 High School representatives raised a resolution with specific demands for addressing abusive administrators that attack our members.

UFT leadership voted to table the resolution, but agreed to meet with us on this matter “to work together to come up with a joint plan”.

We finally met of 11/14 for one hour. MORE’s Marcus McArthur, Ashraya Gupta, Mike Schirtzer and New Action’s Jonathan Halabi were our representatives, while Assistant Secretary and head of Unity Caucus Leroy Barr and VP of High Schools Janella Hinds represented UFT leadership.

We brought a list of demands based on our resolution, but expanded on from conversations with UFT members that are in terrible situations in their schools.

Below you will find MORE/New Action demands and under each one in Italics you will see the response from UFT leadership of Unity Caucus.

To summarize, it was cordial, everyone spoke and listed to each other. Unity spoke to many of the things they have done already, admitted there are varying degrees of success and said they were open to “new and creative ” methods of dealing with administrators that refuse to work with our members. Marcus presented his case from the last school he worked in, how the chapter was very well organized against a really abusive principal, with students and parents’ support, but felt they could have used more help from UFT leadership. Ashraya, Jonathan, and Mike reiterated the need to address this matter in a more immediate matter, be more transparent about what the union is doing, referred to cases we know about first-hand, and offered our below list of suggestions. Mr. Barr and Ms. Hinds took diligent notes during the meeting, said they would get back to us, and only agreed to one point, which was not from the resolution, but a follow-up meeting that includes Chapter-leaders and delegates that are dealing with bully administrators. They did state several times that they want to work together in order to protect our members.

  1. Principals in Need of Assistance Program
  • We are glad it is being restarted.
  • Which schools? How chosen?
  • What plan of action?

Unity response: Barr and Hinds said this program is now in place, but did not offer any specifics. They said some principals will not be removed, no matter what is done, therefore we they need a plan to “help them improve”.

 

  1. Identify Schools with abusive administrators that are NOT part of the Principals in Need of Assistance Program

 

  • Identify all schools with abusive administrators

a) the school survey, b) DRs’ personal knowledge (each DR knows some – should be required to provide the info. We suspect DR’s are not encouraged to report difficult situations when they are “quiet”, c) complaints from the school, or d) turnover rate – but we want them to use one or more of these (a combination is probably best)

 

Whichever method(s) used to identify them,

  • publicize the list

(through the NY teacher). Can call it a “Schools we are concerned about” or something like that. (large list, may not be able to vet all schools, may be special circumstances).  The publication keeps members from feeling alone, let’s members know we are aware of their circumstances, and empowers members

  • Include their “provenance”, ie Bloomberg holdover, Leadership Academy, only one year teaching, etc

Unity response: Once again Barr and Hinds did not agree to any specifics, nor did they directly response to this, they did point out that in the past they have used the media and protests, in some cases it has worked, but discussed one Bronx school where it did not. They said the lesson was once you did all that, “there was no where else to go after the principal was not removed”.

 

  1. Guidebook for dealing with abusive administrators.
  • Could be a handbook.
  • Could be modified from the New Action “39 Steps” list
  • Every DR should have it.
  • Every Chapter Leader should have it.
  • Available to every member

Unity response- “we have DRs who work chapter leaders” nothing else was said on this matter.

 

  1. There is a problem. Need to talk about it.
  • Standing item at every UFT Executive Board (for reports from the field)
  • Standing item at every DR/CL meeting (for reports from the field)
  • Regular items in the NY Teacher (especially about successful pushback by members)

 

Unity response: Never addressed, although we brought it up twice

  1. Need a special plan of action for Chapter Leaders under attack
  • Automatic 13% appeal for CLs who get I or U.
  • Special Plan to deal with principals who harass chapter leaders (including giving them Ds, bad programs, excessing, etc)

–      a meeting with chapter leaders, delegates, rank and file members who are under attack

Unity response : Barr and Hinds agreed to a follow-up meting with members under attack from abusive administrators.

Students and youth protest trump in Denver

Youth protest Trump in Denver, CO

The day after the election, UFT chapter leaders and delegates gathered to discuss the results and the impact on our schools and students. Read the report from MORE member and CL Peter Lamphere below about the reflection and debate that occurred.

Also, join MORE members on Sunday for Teachers Come Together: A Forum for NYC Educators on the Election and the Future

2:30-4:00pm, Sunday, November 20th
CUNY Graduate Center Room 5414
365 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016
RSVP Here 

This meeting will build toward a mass meeting of teachers in early December to organize resistance to intensified corporate and right-wing attacks in the months ahead.

Please RSVP so we can make sure we have enough space.  Spread the word on Facebook here.

Delegate Assembly Report

by Peter Lamphere, Chapter Leader, Gregorio Luperon High School

There have been few times in my fourteen year career that I have walked out of our union’s Delegate Assembly feeling like a real discussion had taken place. Usually, the proceedings are dominated by lengthy officer reports and debates about motions that are either bland and unanimous or dominated by the UNITY caucus’ overwhelming squelching of dissent.

But I left the DA on Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 with the sense that our union had, at the very least, opened a real and valid conversation about the organizing failures exposed by the election, and the enormous mobilizing and organizing tasks facing our union, and the labor movement as a whole, in the coming years. I was proud to be a UFT member at that meeting, and got a sense that the gathered rank and file union activists have the capacity to grapple with the challenges to come, and to organize the fights we will need to wage.  We will need to overcome the overwhelming obstacle of the UNITY leadership, which has consistently been a drag on rank and file education, discussion,and initiative, but the potential is there.

__

Michael Mulgrew opened the discussion by asking the delegates to suspend the rules to have an open discussion about the Trump victory.  After the body agreed unanimously, he made some brief comments (under 10 minutes – the shortest report I can remember at a DA) about how the union would maintain its core beliefs in protecting students and defending public education. He also reminded delegates that the union was “at its best” when it was fighting Bloomberg.  It was refreshing to hear this kind of spirit – even if, in my personal assessment, the union was feeble in its attempts to beat back the attacks of the BloomKlien years.

The contributions from the assembled rank and file teachers – chapter leaders, delegates and retirees – were what made the meeting memorable and rich, however. Despite the somber atmosphere and the sober assessment of the attacks that are coming down the pipeline in short order, people had a number of insights into the situation and how we can fight back.  It was the beginning of what will need to be a conversation carried out in every union chapter, boro, and continued in future DAs – we will see if the union is willing to carry out that kind of discussion (I suspect they are not – groups like the MORE caucus will likely have to force that discussion forward).

The following is not by any means an exhaustive account of who spoke and what was said – I have picked some of the contributions that stood out to me.  I hope those who spoke will accept my apologies for any errors or misattributions in my transcriptions.

  • The discussion was rightly dominated by stories of how teachers dealt with fears, worries and questions of their students in the schools on Wednesday.  MORE members Ariella Rothstein, Delegate from  East Brooklyn Community HS and Tomas Hasler, Chapter Leader of International HS at Union Square, spoke eloquently of the fears of their undocumented students. Tomas shared a story of one student whose family was considering returning immediately of their homeland before they were deported or detained in a camp.
  • Other elementary school teachers spoke of the challenge of explaining the situation to younger students, and the heart wrenching comments from their classrooms.
  • Early in the discussion, Troy Sill, a mustachioed teacher in the D79 Pathways program, who grew up in Flint Michigan, reminded delegates that whatever the racism or sexism represented by Trump, many of those who voted for him were working class brothers and sisters who worked (or used to work) in the auto and steel factories. He emphasized the need to find some common ground with them or organize them.
  • Matthew Foglio, Chapter Leader at Wings Academy in the Bronx, dressed in all black, explained that he had started the day in a somber mood explaining the election results with his social studies classes, but that after discussing what students and others could do to fight back against Trump, gradually lessons turned to labor slogans and labor songs about collective organizing (!).
  • Kristen Lawlor of ELLIS Prep in the Bronx (and MORE supporter), spoke about the need to much broader political organizing, like discussions and voter registration with parents at parent teacher conferences. She also told a revealing story about her experience canvassing in Pennsylvania, where she talked to one person on a block full of foreclosed houses who said “21 people have talked to me about Hillary in the last week, but no one has been here in the last four years.”  I think this goes a long way to explaining why so many people, feeling abandoned by the Democratic party, decided to switch loyalty and support Trump.
  • Peter Goodman, longtime UNITY stalwart (now retired) whose positions I’ve disagreed with many times over the years, pointed out that this really represents an organizing challenge, and that we must unite with a multitude of different movements in order to provide a broad opposition to Trump.  I couldn’t agree MORE.
  • Evan Lowenthal, CL of A. Phillip Randolph High School in Manhattan, pointed out that much of the blame for the election loss has to rest with the corporate orientation of the Democratic party and its candidate.

One danger that was not discussed, surprisingly, was the impending loss of dues checkoff to the union.  Within the next two years it’s very likely that a Trump appointee replacing Scalia on the Supreme Court will help overturn the legal right of public sector unions to automatically collect agency fees (the “dues check-off” provision).

Loss of dues checkoff will undermine the financial stability of the union to the point where its actually ability to function, and even existence, is in jeopardy.  As TWU found out when they lost this right after the 2005 transit strike, it will force CLs to spend much of their time on dues collection instead of representing and organizing members.  The AFT and NEA in Wisconsin has lost large sections of their membership under the (more draconian) provisions there.

Whatever our problems with it, no UFT is far worse than some job protections and so we will have to do quite a bit of substantive organizing to convince the bulk of rank and filers to pay dues. (I had my hand up to raise this point but Mulgrew did his best to steadfastly ignore me).

The conversation revealed two things to me: First that teachers will be very much on the front lines of this fight over the years defending our undocumented students, funding for our schools, and our jobs, and that second, that out of the ashes of the Trump victory it may be possible to draw some real, hard conclusions about the problems with the dependency on corporate politicians to achieve our goals, and the failed strategy of our union leadership that pushed Hillary from the beginning as an outgrowth of its believe that relationships with politicians, rather than a mobilized rank and file, is our key weapon in the battle to defend public education, to change the lives of our students, and to improve our working conditions.

In Solidarity,

Peter

 

As Reported by Arthur Goldstein

Secretary Schoor--Minutes approved, 6:04

President’s report:

Mulgrew is not here.

Staff Director’s report:

Leroy Barr—Middle school luncheon, giving away clothes to homeless children on Saturday.
CL Training this weekend, Next EB two weeks from today, wishes us happy Thanksgiving.

Questions:

Mike SchirtzerMORE—Humanities and Arts a few teachers are under attack. Have filed grievances. DR doing all he can but principal drowning them in paperwork. Teacher well rated for 19 years rated ineffective for speaking against curriculum writing, bulletin boards, massive email.

Howie Schoor—Asks for exact details

Rona Freiser—Working very closely with members, paperwork filed, DR going to school tomorrow. Very much on top of this.

Schoor
—new paperwork process, and CL can go on, over 100 paperwork complaints. Exactly these issues. We need to know about them. Met with DOE this morning, deputy chancellor told all supes to resolve bulletin board issues.

Ashraya Gupta
MORE—asks about resolution passed last year, in light of election results Wondering about resolution about immigrant liaison. What have we done and can we get someonee appointed at each school?

Leroy Barr
—will check with DOE, we have a resolution coming tonight to stand with immigrant students and all people being disenfranchised. We want a stand up day of action. We will not allow this city to tolerate this rhetoric.

Jonathan HalabiNew Action—Last year there was a resolution that we begin the process of divesting TRS funds from fossil fuels. Funding has been held up by Stringer, I hear. What can we do?

Debbie Penny
—In process of divesting from fossil fuel.

Reports from districts—
none

Legislative ReportPaul Egan

Were also state elections, which went as badly as presidential. Once out of NYC, Westchester Rockland blue, beyond that red. Nassau county also went badly. However Venditto is behind. Will be maybe a month. We must turn out members against constitutional convention. I will be scaremongering because it is a scary prospect.


6:18 Mulgrew walks in
, waits for Egan to finish.

President’s report
:

Says he was downstairs with speech teachers, talking about SESIS and medicaid billing. Says Trump is president-elect. Will be call for state authority and less federal. Read Mike Pence education platform, half of which is about prayer in school. Happy governor and mayor talking about protection. We have to go there as a state.

Regulations about school accountability not done because John King obstructs. We are having discussions city, state and fed, but no one knows what’s going to happen.

Election based on worst of humanity and people fed up with govt. Spoke with DOE and with people nationally. We can do this better than most because we love this diversity. We want to say what we stand for, that we welcome people into our city, people with different ideas, different faith, we stand proudly by them. NYC is a safe place.

Clearly a lot of anger. We have a long road. They have all 3 branches. Will move quickly. We will work w partners, adhere to core beliefs. We have to come up with plan our system will be driving. We can combat bad policy by making sure schools work.

We’ve had bad incidents, but teachers, us, took care of it. If one place should be safe it’s the school.

6:29 Mulgrew leaves.

Arthur GoldsteinMORE–(I had to wait because I wanted to project the picture I ran here earlier.) My classes are going to see Wickedon Wednesday and we were talking about The Wizard of Oz character. I asked the kids if they knew of anyone else who looked really important but was really not and they all said Donald Trump, even though they’d only been here a short time. I spoke of the picture and how it addressed the needs of my kids, and how we only needed to add LGBT to it. (Janella Hinds had distributed a resolution which seemed to address my concerns, but I was unable to read it as I was furiously taking notes.)

Schorr—Upset there were no questions about ATRs. There are about 1100 ATRs. 110 were picked up under new program.

Kuljit AhluwaliaNew Action–Is there any way to find out how many years they have in system?

Arthur GoldsteinMORE–Does it include provisionally placed ATRs?

Schoor--Not sure, will see if he can find out.

Resolution

Janella Hinds—We have had lots of conversations about implications of election. Members have spoken that it’s important for union to stand up for members and each other. We are not only standing in support of our students. We want to create safe spaces in schools, workplaces, and communities. This resolution asks all members to create safe spaces.

Resolution Calling for Respect for All People (see below)

Next Monday is a day of action. We need to stand in solidarity with communities. Might look different in different places in city. We have to stand against discrimination and in support of encouragement. Asks we support reso.

Leroy Barr—Rises to add a whereas—people feel govt. has failed ,in divisive political atmosphere, no reason to give into a climate of fear.

Says a lot of rhetoric has caused a lot of people to feel fear, that govt. failed, but we ought not to give in to this climate. We know how to stand up and fight back. We will overcome this too.

Ashraya Gupta
MORE—Speaks to amend. Wants to include, sexual orientation, gender identity to communities Trump targets. Adds homophobia to Trump’s racism and misogyny in other whereas.

Passed unanimously.

Barr’s amendment also passed unanimously

Main resolution. Posted below

Passed unanimously.

Election results for Exec. Board functional chapter opening:

Nancy Barr 64 votes Norm Scott 10.

Sandy March—Reports on Retired Teacher Chapter. Teachers wanted to know why UFT didn’t tell them constitutional convention was on ballot. Couldn’t find out who started it. DR told her her mother was working polls in Douglaston and retirees said she failed to give them proper ballot. Said daughter didn’t say she had to vote no, so it wasn’t on ballot. If we can get rest of state out, NYC will be at polls.

Schoor
—Asking schools to send pictures of what goes on in schools.

Resolution Calling for Respect for All People

 

WHEREAS, Presidential-elect Donald Trump targeted communities on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and displayed abusive behavior toward women, has threatened the nation’s promise that all people are worthy of respect; and

WHEREAS, Presidential-elect Donald Trump has outlined an education agenda overtly hostile to public schools and teachers, promising to prioritize vouchers and charter schools at the expense of public schools ; and

WHEREAS, the recently-concluded preesidential campaign has returned open racism, homophobia and misogyny to the forefront of national politics and featured incendiary rhetoric with little precedent in modern history; and

WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the election, our communities have suffered hate-motivated violence and vandalism at a pace exceeding the wave of Islamophobic incidents in the wake of the September 11 attacks ; and

WHEREAS, this divisive political atmosphere has given rise to fear and anxiety among students and inflamed racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom ; and

WHEREAS, people are upset and feel that government has failed them, there’s no reason to give into a climate of fear; and

WHEREAS, the UFT remains committed to creating a safe and supportive environment as well as stamping out bias-based bullying and harassment in all its forms by providing training for compliance with the Dignity for All Students Act and by operating the Building Respect, Acceptance and Voice through Education campaign, which includes an anti-bullying hotline, fairs and presentations in schools; and

WHEREAS, the New York City Department of Education Respect for All campaign considers harassment and discriminatory behavior, physical injury or threat of injury, harassment, teasing, taunting, peer rejection or exclusion to humiliate or isolate a person to be a violation of Chancellor’s Regulations A-831, A-832 and A-443, and the Student Code of Conduct; and

WHEREAS, the Dignity for All Students Act approved in September, 2010, by the New York State Legislature contains the following provisions:

  • A policy that specifically prohibits discrimination and harassment in public schools based on actual or perceived race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, sexual or physical or mental disability, with procedures to ensure that the policy will be implemented and enforced;
  • Training of administrators, teachers, other school related professionals and students on how to deal with diversity in schools and address incidents of harassment and discrimination when they arise;
  • Documentation and data collection to determine just how prevalent the problem of harassment is in New York’s public schools and where the needs are most profound;
  • Funding to implement the principles above in a way that avoids unfunded mandates for school districts; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT affirms that public education is critical to the future of this country; that all communities inside our school communities deserve respect and dignity; and that workers have a right to unionize and be treated fairly; and that the UFT will aggressively fight the erosion of these core values; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls upon every school to launch a series of actions to defend our communities and our schools and affirm our values, beginning on Monday, November 21, with a Day of Action; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls upon every school to form an action committee to plan and execute these actions; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will partner with and encourage the DOE to support the expansion of the Respect for All initiative, so that school communities serve as sites where all students and staff are safe from acts of discrimination because of ongoing positive and developmentally appropriate behavior and speech in and out of the classroom; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT urges the DOE to require time during the school day for educators to engage in conversations and activities that will support learning communities that celebrate diversity while ensuring tolerance, respect and positive conflict resolution, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will urge the DOE to present professional learning to develop our abilities to design and implement learning activities during which differences are respected and celebrated.