Archives For January 2016

The Baizerman Decision

January 31, 2016 — Leave a comment

The Baizerman decision, which is still in effect, formally established the right of UFT members to distribute union material, including caucus election materials, in mailboxes of NYC public schools on their own time. If you are distributing MORE material in school mailboxes, consider printing out this decision and having it ready in case your right to place MORE materials in mailboxes is challenged.

"Baizerman"

UFT members have a right to place material in their colleagues’ mailboxes

"Baizerman"

UFT members have a right to place material in their colleagues’ mailboxes

"Baizerman"

UFT members have a right to place material in their colleagues’ mailboxes

"Baizerman"

UFT members have a right to place material in their colleagues’ mailboxes

 

 

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In order for MORE/New Action UFT members to appear on the officer’s ballots, we will need signatures from you and members of your chapter. We will have several events through-out NYC for you to pick up these petitions, or we can drop off at your school along with our election fliers to hand-out
email: More@morecaucusnyc.org to set up a drop-off

On May 3rd ballots will be sent to your house from American Arbitration Association. Voting for the leadership of your union is an important responsibility that directly influences our working conditions.

It is very important that you vote! Without an engaged membership the union will not be able to defend our rights. Politicians around the country have been limiting the rights of public sector employees for the past five years and the U.S. Supreme Court may be about to deal us an even bigger blow. If you care about your future, get involved! Vote!

 

Wednesday 2/3

UFT Delegate Assembly 4-6pm
52 Broadway NYC
During the union meeting we will have members in the lobby distributing fliers and petitions
Post DA Happy Hour 6-7:30pm (1 block west of UFT)
Blarney Stone
11 Trinity place NYC
We will sign petitions at the happy hour and have petitions/election fliers for you to bring back to your chapter
Facebook Event Here

Friday 2/5 4:00-6:00pm
Happy Hour
Fontanas Bar
105 Eldridge St NYC
We will sign petitions at the happy hour and have petitions/election fliers for you to bring back to your chapter

Saturday 2/6 12:00-3:00pm: UFT After Friedrichs
Join us for a lively discussion on the future of our union after the Supreme Court’s decision. What can UFT leadership do to better engage our members? How will the decision impact rank and file members?
Pizza, soft drinks, and snacks will be served
Free Childcare is available: reserve at more@morecaucusnyc.org
CUNY Graduate Center
34th st and 5th ave Midtown NYC
room 5414
Facebook Event Here

Tuesday February 9th 5:00pm-7:00pm 
Dr. Lois Weiner Presents Urban Education and Teacher Unionism Policy
CUNY Graduate Center
34th st and 5th ave Midtown NYC
Room 6304.01
Facebook Event Here
MORE-UFT is a co-sponsor and will have petitions and fliers available to pick-up at this event

"expect MORE from your union"

We are a coalition of educators motivated by a desire to provide our students with an authentic, developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant, and child-centered public education. As we near the 2016 testing season, hundreds of thousands of young learners will be asked to submit to 9 hours of flawed and harmful state assessments that, reduce teaching and learning to a test score, narrow the curriculum, label the majority of children failures, squander resources, and provide no educational benefit.

 

While the opt out movement has captured the attention of policymakers, there has been no substantive change. In fact, nothing has changed in our public schools.  The only thing that has changed is that school districts must now use limited time and resources to negotiate another APPR plan that requires more testing for NYS children and a continued focus on evaluating teachers on test scores.

 

Despite this glaring lack of relief for students, the state teachers union, NYSUT, has failed to sound the alarm and instead, has launched a million dollar member-funded “multi-media campaign to highlight progress.” While a campaign video vaguely states that “there is still a lot of work to do”, the campaign is absent of any call to action. A similar campaign by the UFT, the state’s largest local union based in NYC, goes so far as to spread misinformation, making the false claim that teachers will not be evaluated by test scores for the next 4 years. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

As educators, we are committed to sharing factual information so that those impacted by these policies can make informed decisions. Here are the facts:

 

  • The Education Transformation Act of 2015 requires that 50% of  a teacher’s evaluation be based on a student performance measure. This will not change unless the law is amended.  Teachers, under the moratorium will be rated on a  locally determined assessment per the law.

 

  • During the 4 year moratorium, state provided growth scores for the state ELA and Math tests in grades 3-8 may not be used in teacher evaluations.

 

  • However, teachers who receive a growth score based on the state ELA and math tests will still be subject to a 50% test based evaluation as per the law. Schools must administer an additional, locally determined assessment  (approved by the state department of education) and scores from that test will supplant the state test derived growth score in a teacher’s evaluation. Same evaluation, different test.

 

  • Teachers will receive a “transitional score” during the moratorium. 50% of this score will be based on observation, and 50% will be based on a test. This transitional score will be used for making tenure decisions and as per the law and can be used to fire a teacher.

 

  • While growth scores derived from the state tests may not be used for purposes of evaluation during the moratorium, they will still be recorded and upon request, be made available to parents.

 

  • Once the moratorium is over, NYS will move to a three year average growth score. In other words, teachers will receive a growth score based on student performance from the previous 3 years. It is unclear whether or not state test growth scores captured during the moratorium will be used in the average growth score in 2019.

 

  • Schools, based on flawed growth scores, will continue to be placed into receivership and subject to autocratic control. This will happen disproportionately in schools located in economically disadvantaged Black and Brown communities, as laid out in the Economic Policy Institute’s report, “The Racial Achievement Gap, Segregated Schools, and Segregated Neighborhoods – A Constitutional Insult”.

 

NYSUT officials responded to educators on social media calling for NYSUT to pursue an amendment to the law, by stating that they believe the Regents will enact the 21 recommendations of the Common Core Task Force. It should be noted that the Task Force has not recommended ANY changes to the focus on test scores in teacher evaluations making this response irrelevant. While the task force pays lip service to the need for shorter tests, it fails to recommend any substantial change. For example, the Task Force report calls upon New York to follow the examples set by North Carolina, Texas, and New Mexico. The testing practices in these States are hardly positive role models for a reduction in testing. In North Carolina, testing has been reduced to a one day, four hour exam. In Texas, testing has been capped forcing the average student to sit for 120 minutes with no administration lasting more than eight hours. And in New Mexico, testing has been reduced by a paltry 15%. In New York, that would reduce 9 hours of testing for 10 year olds to 7.5 hours and some students with disabilities would still be forced to endure 15 hours of testing. This is cold comfort.

 

We call on the leaders of NYSUT and the UFT to suspend their misleading media campaigns and call for NYSUT to work for an immediate amendment to the education law 3012d that requires teacher evaluations be based on high stakes tests that will continue to count for 50% of their evaluation.  Additionally, we call upon NYSUT leaders to launch a new, fact-based media campaign informing their members and the public that very little has changed for the children we serve. The continued requirement of students to participate in flawed and inappropriate testing this spring, as well additional, local assessments solely for the purposes of teacher evaluations must stop. Furthermore, we demand that NYSUT urge all teachers to join the effort to save our profession and protect our students by refusing NYS tests in grades 3-8 for their own children.

 

Parents across New York State have labored for the past three years to protect their children and support educators. It is time that NYSUT and UFT leaders do the same. Now is not the time to lose the support of the public and our allies.

 

Rothstein, Richard. “The Racial Achievement Gap, Segregated Schools and Segregated Neighborhoods- A Constitutional Insult.” The Economic Policy Institute. www.epi.org.  November 12, 2014. Web. January 23, 2016.

Jia Lee for UFT President

By Jia Lee, MORE/New Action’s UFT Presidential Candidate and Chapter Leader: The Earth School

and

Mike Schirtzer, MORE/New Action’s UFT Executive Board Candidate and Delegate: Leon M. Goldstein H.S.

We have to radically rethink the way we have these conversations. We have been told that teachers must be held accountable and that experience does not equate to good teaching. These are both myths that were never supported by facts, rather by the intention to fire teachers en masse, as if we were somehow to blame for the country’s refusal to deal with structural inequality. First, let’s start by reclaiming the language from corporate and political reformers who have never spent a day in a public school classroom. In New York City, schools have diverse needs: we teach students who come from multiple backgrounds, with more native languages than anywhere in the world, and many with academic challenges. If we start from the premise that teachers, students, our backgrounds, and our learning styles are all very different,  then logic will dictate that we can not have one, catch-all, standardized way to evaluate teachers. Sorry Danielson rubric! Let’s take take it one step further.  The idea that teachers need to be evaluated supports the “bad teacher” narrative. There is no proof that teachers are the problem, but there is plenty of evidence that other factors such as poverty, lack of resources, and failed top-down educational policies affect our students. Who decided that we MUST have teacher evaluations? Teachers were never part of this conversation!

We were told that years of teaching do not equal good teaching, yet, we beg to differ. In our profession over 50% of new teachers will leave before reaching the 5 year mark. Any classroom teacher knows that if you can survive those first few years, then you must have done  something right, you must be good and you must love your profession. It is time we move away from the terms “evaluation and accountability” and start emphasizing “collaboration and mentoring”. Evaluations are meant to be punitive, they are not there to better our educators or to help our students. Several administrators have told us that the orders coming down from district offices is not to give too many fours.  This alone proves the invalidity of the system.

Here are our proposals:

  1. End alternative certifications: Every teacher should be mandated to student teach for one entire year under the guidance of an experienced teacher, with daily support.
  2. Strong mentoring- Every teacher should have four years of active mentoring. This may be in place now on paper, but it is not fully implemented. They will have common preparation time, ensure that mentors and new teachers are compensated with a period off and/or per-session. This will also serve as the professional assignment/C-6 in high schools for both members . They should observe each other teach and share helpful feedback.
  3. Inter-visitation and collaboration:  Like the so called “Finnish model”, this will be the main part that replaces the current flawed system. There will no longer be top-down Professional Developments. Instead, all teachers will work together to develop units, assignments, activities, and common themes. Teachers will have inter-visitation, which is not peer review. They will visit each other’s class, observe and share thoughts afterwards.  There will be no review, nor grade; just a conversation. This will ensure discussions are productive and solidarity and trust is built  among each other.
  4. Administrators- Must have 10 years experience minimum and a real C-30 process made up of PA/PTA parents, UFT chapter leader and members , and Student Government members at the high school level, that will interview and select educational leaders for our schools. Experience counts!

10.-Represents-the-people

As the Supreme Court is poised to remove the right for the UFT to collect mandatory agency fees in the Friedrichs case, threatening to starve our union of income and imperil its ability to maintain its organization, the question of how to involve members in the union becomes an urgent one for very survival of the labor movement.

How can the UFT motivate members to voluntarily pay dues to an organization over which they have very little democratic control?  This will become a life and death question for our union in the next couple years.

 

We need a union that is structured to insure that no matter who is elected to leadership they will be accountable to those of us who are working in the schools. An active, well-informed and honestly represented membership is the necessary backbone of a union that is capable of standing up to the attacks on teachers, children and the public schools.

Instead, what we have is a union that has become progressively weaker, members that are defenseless, demoralized, disengaged from unionism and resigned to tolerate all manner of abuse, and now fears that any change will be for the worse. A large part of the problem is the fact that our union is led by those that are removed from the reality of our schools.

Since its inception in the early 1960s our union has been dominated by one group, Unity Caucus which constantly adjusts its methods to insure that it monopolizes decision-making. President Michael Mulgrew knows how to portray himself as a tough leader at union meetings and in the pages of the NY Teacher, but his number one concern is to have a seat at the table with politicians and wealthy investors, rather than advocate for us and represent our best interests.

The three levels of decision-making in our union are the ADCOM (citywide officers), the executive board, and the delegate assembly. All three are tightly controlled by the overwhelming presence of Unity Caucus members, beholden to their caucus, recipients of patronage, who rubber-stamp all of President Mulgrew’s policies, even when they themselves disagree.

 

Our platform calls for “Democratic,Transparent and Accountable Member Driven Union” In order to achieve this MORE will propose the following when we serve on the Executive Board.

 

  1. Divisional vice-presidents (high school, middle school, elementary, functional) should be elected by those they serve, members in their respective divisions.

 

  1. The number of at-large members of the executive board should be greatly reduced and the majority of the executive board should be voted in by active members of their respective divisions

 

  1. The number of retiree members of the delegate assembly should be reduced and their election should also be on the basis of proportional representation.

 

  1. District representatives should be elected not appointed.

 

  1. Every issue of the NY Teacher and UFT’s website should be opened to every member’s viewpoints, with space available for the printing of statements both for and against ratification of proposed contracts.

 

  1. All caucuses who have met requirements to run in an election should be able to mail at least one piece of literature to all the members at union expense during election time.

 

  1. There should be an open microphone at all union meetings.

 

  1. Retirees should not vote for UFT officers, who are responsible for negotiating the contract for active members. 

 

  1. Monthly UFT borough and district meetings open to all members to discuss and direct union policies.

 

  1. UFT officers and/or organizers will visit every chapter throughout the school year to  listen to the concerns of their members, assist them,  and insure there is a functioning chapter.

 

Most important for democracy is an underpinning of active school chapters where meetings are held monthly and school issues are discussed openly. Chapter leaders are there to protect the interests of the members with respect to the administration and also to see that the flow of information between the chapters and the various levels of leadership of the union travels on a two-way street. This means that chapter leaders must do everything possible to encourage attendance at meetings and to carry out the wishes of the members, both within the school and as a representative to other union bodies. It is the concerns of chapter members, who are the best informed about the issues, that should be driving union policy.

Please reproduce and distribute this to your colleagues.  If you don’t have access – just email us and we’ll send you some.

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JIA LEE, UFT CHAPTER LEADER OF THE EARTH SCHOOL WILL REPRESENT CLASSROOM TEACHERS AND SCHOOL BASED EDUCATORS AS CANDIDATE FOR UFT PRESIDENT

 

Media@morecaucusnyc.org

For Immediate Release:

 

The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) and New Action, two opposition caucuses of the United Federation of Teachers, have come together to nominate Jia Lee for UFT President in the upcoming  officers’ elections. Ms. Lee has opted-out of standardized testing as a teacher and parent.  She testified in January 2015 before the U.S. Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Senate hearing on Testing and Accountability, for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), stating, “I decided that I am obligated and accountable to my students and families, and that is why, as a conscientious objector, I will not administer tests that reduce my students to a single metric and will continue to take this position until the role of standardized assessments are put in their proper place.” Her fundamental belief that the over reliance on multiple choice tests betrays the educational promise that our children deserve, is shared by parents and educators throughout the city. The opt-out movement has been credited with influencing New York and national educational shift away from Common Core based high stakes testing to an approach that involves parents and educators in the decision making process.

 

Jia Lee has been an active UFT Chapter Leader for seven years. She is running for President because, “For too long, our union leadership has been complicit to damaging educational policies, such as test-based teacher evaluations and mayoral control over the city’s schools. This has led to the void in community voice and democratic decision making our public school students deserve.” Ms. Lee raised a resolution at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly for a vote of “No confidence in the newly appointed State Education Commissioner, Mary Ellen Elia” which the leadership spoke against citing Ms. Elia “as a friend to public education.” Recently, the Commissioner affirmed her position to continue pushing accountability measures. Ms. Lee and MORE/New Action will continue to fight for our members to have a voice in our union and educational policies that impact the children we teach everyday.

 

MORE is a rank and file led caucus of the UFT,  that represents thousands of teachers, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and school based support staff.  In the 2013 UFT elections, MORE won over 40% of the High School votes and more than 5,000 votes from the 20,000 active members that cast ballots. MORE has announced it will run as a joint slate with the long established New Action Caucus of the UFT. Their combined votes in 2013 would have won them 7 seats on the UFT Executive Board.

 

MORE has established itself as the leading voice for active educators by holding union meetings in local communities, supporting parent’s right to opt-out of standardized testing, organizing conferences for parents, students and educators, defending UFT members, providing free workshops on contractual enforcement, and fighting for the schools all our children deserve. New Action is the the oldest opposition caucus in the UFT and their members currently serve on the union’s executive board.