A MESSAGE TO THE UFT GRASSROOTS
2016 will be a year of great consequence for American democracy. Will we embrace or reject our highest ideals? Will we choose shared prosperity and justice or the sown seeds of discrimination, inequality, and violence? While the national presidential election dominates much political discussion, I am writing this letter to call attention to the election within our union occurring this May.
We are living in a once-in-a-generation moment to shape the soul of American democracy. While the distinct inevitability of enduring suffering feeds sentiments of futility in fights for social justice, we must not take this moment for granted. New York City, America, and the world can progress but only if citizens of conscience act. As public servants, union members, and educators this moment requires us to assume a leadership role in our era’s struggle for universal justice. It is our duty to utilize the vast resources of our union to be at the forefront of this fight.
Regrettably, under current leadership, a wind of apathy blows amongst our ranks. The culture of lethargy cultivated is strategic, self serving, and solidifies dictatorial control of our union. Rather than empowering and organizing the rank and file for progressive collective action on behalf of public education and everyday New Yorkers, our leadership pacifies our membership in exchange for feigned political influence.
Let us not forget our leadership’s support for the Danielson Framework which has been utilized as a political weapon to control teacher pedagogy, execute vendettas, and terminate senior teachers to cut pension costs. Do not forget our leadership’s refusal to support the Opt-Out Movement despite the unprecedented revolt against the reduction of education to one flawed numerical score. Please do not forget the pacifying contract negotiated in the absence of rank and file mobilization. Rather than exerting pressure on a City Hall that campaigned on fixing “a tale of two cities” our leadership offered the mayor an “apology contract” for endorsing failed mayoral candidate, Bill Thompson. The disempowered—immobilized rank and file were strategically calibrated with low expectations and forced to accept a discounted contract.
Let us not forget the betrayal.
To the UFT grassroots, I ask you to consider the candidacy of Jia Lee, the MORE Caucus nominee for President of the UFT and the candidacies of all MORE Caucus nominees. Jia Lee and a MORE led UFT will fight for a learning environment that values pedagogic freedom, authentic assessment, and meeting students’ needs inside and outside of the classroom. The UFT has the capacity to be the compass that orients NYC towards justice. We must be that compass.
Marcus B. McArthur
UFT Executive Board High School Candidate