By Jia Lee
Teacher/UFT Chapter-Leader The Earth School
MORE/New Action UFT Presidential Candidate
How do we want to feel as we prepare each day to work in our schools? What do we want to look forward to? What would we change? And more importantly what would it take? The last decade and more has left more casualties under the use of divide and conquer policies. The driving force behind corporate ed reform has imposed competition based practices, and it has incentivized our union leadership to adopt and negotiate under those terms. These values are in direct conflict with what brought us all to the profession to begin with‐ a belief that the function of education has more to do with human value rather than monetary capital. Many of us have become disenchanted with what we are being forced to do, rendering our work meaningless in the real sense of whole student education. Enough is enough.
The UFT elections occur every three years, and this year, there is an anticipative feeling in the air. With the growing engagement of NYC public school educators, like yourself, joining and actively building the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), our voices are getting louder. It is time that working teachers are integral decision makers when it comes to policies that affect our working conditions.
We envision a union where we feel empowered to prevent the kind of negotiations that led to our current teacher evaluation system and contract, where we know that all of our members are confident in their ability to advocate for their work and their students.
Where fear is not a factor in our day to day lives and we can return to discussing pedagogy and the needs of our students.
Where decisions are not made top down through mayoral control, and we can demand that our schools receive their full funding and services.
Where we are part of a union that recognizes and calls out policies that rank and sort rather than help usher them in.
Where renewal and receivership labels disappear along with state sanctioned microaggressions and where members of struggling school communities are given the full support to develop the programs and resources they need in order to thrive.
Where all teachers are trusted and respected. Where an injustice to one is an injustice to all, and we have the ability to organize on positions of principle and take job actions or move to strike.
Sunday nights have never been this rough. There are approximately 120,000 active teachers, paraprofessionals, related service providers, school psychologists, nurses and secretaries who are the driving force behind the largest public school community in the nation. The UFT is the largest local and has the potential to contribute great influence at the state and national levels. Yet, there is a deep chasm between the decisions of our leadership and our day to day experiences. How are we feeling about our ability to collectively organize around the issues that affect us and our ability to have a voice in decision making? Our vision for nurturing and thriving working and learning conditions is not only possible, it is here. Vote MORE/New Action, and then join us in democratizing our union.