Archives For October 2016

As reported by Arthur Goldstein- MORE/New Action UFT Executive Board
Secretary Schoor welcomes us.

Approval of Minutes—accepted, seconded

President’s Report

Mulgrew is not here 6:04

Staff Director’s Report—not here either

Questions


David Garcia Rosen
MORE—Last week we brought up a very important resolution about the mass incarceration of people of color in the USA. I think the only valid point against it was that many people in this room had not seen the movie yet. I am hopeful that many more people in this room have seen the movie. We heard some moving speeches against the resolution that were draped in language that implied we share a common understanding that this union must take action. I would like to hear an update about what our leaders, who I’d hoped would be seated on the dais but are not yet, propose we do to address the continued enslavement of people of color by the United States of America.

Secretary—will refer to proper people when they arrive. Resolution was tabled. Asks Leroy Barr, who has just arrived. Garcia Rosen repeats.

Leroy Barr—Says no one spoke against it, it was tabled. Says there were other questions, conversation needs to be had, we will have it and come up with a plan. Says concepts and film are part of it. Says he leaves it to future conversations.

DGH—What happened here this week?

Sec—You’ve gotten as much of an update as you’re going to get tonight. You will get an update.

6:10 Mulgrew arrives—Says we’ve already passed resolutions, worked in coalitions, says we pushed AFT to make stronger resolution nationally. Says it’s coalition building and work that we do. After presidential race will become one of the biggest topic, candidates talk about it in very different ways. We questioned Sanders and Clinton and Malloy about this with AFT Exec. Board.

Hoping for positive outcome in pres. race. Thanks phone banks. Doesn’t want people taking for granted. PA is very important. Thanks to bus volunteers. PA had better response than FL. We are pushing FL and NC. We always believed we could win with ground game. We have it in place, Trump does not.

Curriculum survey—1000 schools responded. We are doing well in general performance, but everyone needs support, PD aligned to curriculum. Teachers shouldn’t do curriculum maps or scope and sequence. Leaders do that. Our system doing as well as rest of state, but we need this for next step. Thanks CLs, DRs. We specifically put this and paperwork in last contract. Paperwork complaints have good results. Praises parent conferences. 6:15 Mulgrew leaves.



Leroy Barr

Pushes teacher union day. Mentions middle school luncheon. Says we will give away coats and winter wear, asks we share items. November 19th. Next DA November 9th, EB November 14th.

Questions continues:

Marcus McArthurMORE—Asks about civil rights and how union organizes around it. Heard there was coalition building and money to support different candidates. Last week Seattle TU work Black Lives Matter shirts. Interested in hearing if there’s any public demonstrations of support that we will be making. What about Civll and Human rights task force? Do we still have one and can we bring it back?

Sec—No such plans now. What do you mean task force?

MM—Asking about the task force he believed was formed in 2007.

Sec. says we will check on that.

MM—if we aren’t planning to do anything…

Sec—Don’t say that—This union takes second place to no one…

MM—If we aren’t doing anything visible is there a reason why?

Leroy Barr—we do have a social justice committee. AFT formed a civil and human rights task force, had a recommendation and a resolution. We are part of the AFT. I will copy it for you. We spoke to the issue. There is no protest at this point like wearing BLM shirt. Doesn’t mean we don’t take a position. Doesn’t mean we haven’t got partners on civill and human rights. We do take positions, voted on and approved by AFT, and we are currently engaged in many such issues.

Howard Sandell—wants to remind people there are more than just teachers represented. Nurses could not wear protest shirts. Respects your request, but there are 70-80K more people who can’t take this action.

Kuljit Ahluwalia
New Action—Will there be a conference and workshop for ATRs, and if not, why not?

Amy Arundell—Informational meetings we normally held were held off due to negotiations with DOE. We have have informational meetings for November.

Mike SchirtzerMORE—Art and Design HS—abusive principal—seems directed to go after staff, micromanagement, paperwork, emails on weekends, goes after CLs. DRs response is very good. Other schools hearing about it become demoralized and fearful. What is our public response?

Sec—Will bring up to DOE. Give us your info

Duane Clark
—Been in this school over a year. Principal turnover high. Communication issues between CL and principal. We are pros, and CL has to be pro too. Superintendent doesn’t recognize principal is problem. We have a consistent group, an action plan. I need clarity.

Mike S.
—R and F hears about it, rumors are flying, and there is no public response, Should be one. We need to show how we react.

DC—Principals in need of improvement program. Problems with passive members.

Sterling Robeson—Happy about continued work. Routine visits are happening, conversations are happening. When we talk about scope and size of what’s happening in other schools we need to find how to share these things in real time. Appreciate idea of issues coming forth, wants communication in real Time

Alice O’Neil
—Met with HS Supe for that school for paperwork complaint. Members didn’t wish to upload anything on their system. Only 1/3 of chapter met with me. CL needs to fill out complaint, was filled out perfectly. Problem is no one in chapter had addressed it with new principal. Chapter first has to see remedy. Asking that school participates in committees. Complaint needs to be in writing. 100 members at that school, incredible group, more work to be done,

MS—When members see principals go after CL, creates culture of fear.

DC—CL has to have his act together as well. Are cases where CLs are targeted. For them we need to go in. if they need support we

Arthur GoldsteinMORE—In the Daily News last week there was a piece stating that only 17% of city schools were fully air-conditioned. CTU just negotiated a contract that promised full AC for 2017-2018. We are asked to engage all students. I tried doing that in a third floor room with southern exposure during the sweltering month of September, and I’m 100% certain I could’ve done a better job had there been AC. I’m sure the students would’ve benefited as well.

Two years ago Chancellor Fariña said it was a beautiful day and opened the schools during a blizzard. She said Macy’s was open. I thought about that a lot as I spent four hours driving 23 miles to my home. Using that Macy’s yardstick, every Macy’s I’ve ever entered in the summertime had AC. So I hope we can count on the Chancellor’s support.

I propose we start a conversation with Tweed, those folks who put children first, always, and ask them, now that we’ve finally gotten rid of the last coal furnace, to bring our schools into 2016. Let’s show Tweed that we, the UFT, not Families for Excellent Schools, not Students First NY, are the people who spend every day with the city’s children, and that we, in fact, are the ones who act in their best interests, always.

Sec
Will bring up with health and safety committee

Jonathan HalabiNew Action–What are results of our survey about schools with high turnover?

Sec—will report next meeting.

Ashraya GuptaMORE—Science teacher. Wants to ask about chemical supply closets. Is nightmarish fire hazard. We have ATR lab specialist, who helped us, but when we asked for hazardous materials to be picked up, we came to a standstill. She can’t do anything until we fix this. How can we move forward?

Sec—Send it to me or Ellie Engler.

Ellie Engler—Someone will be there in two days

Helen Rezan—DRs said having survey in June was helpful but not complete. We want to count further.

EE—We’re doing last minute churn data. High rate in all schools.

Report from Districts

none

Legislative Report

Paul Egan—Great weekend. Had three buses to PA, thanks people, election is in two weeks, polls moving right way. State Senate and Assembly races important. Nassau County Exec. arrested. Could be opportunities.

Special Order of Business


Functional Executive Board Nominations

Mike SchirtzerMORE—nominates Norm Scott, taught 27 years, was CL, involved in public ed. and this union. Built coalitions, worked with secretaries, paras, parents, continues to work with robotics, at Rockaway Theatre with teachers, coined term ed. deform movement. Norm helped lead this movement that charters did not have best interests of our students at heart. Stood against testing, with opt-out movement. Goes to AFT on own dime, goes to UFT DA, many ask him for help. Knows we are democratic union, welcomes dissent, and Norm offers it from time to time.

Anne Goldman—Nancy Barth Miller, worked with for 20 years, original organizer of nurses, unlike many she chose which union she wanted to be part of. She led successful organizing effort. Went to Supreme Court, kept momentum over 3 year litigation. For last 20 year has participated in negotiation. Participated at city, state and national level. Worked on accreditation for hospitals, helped other locals to understand how to use power of union. Is articulate, brought forth momentum and message of union. Participated in and led strikes. Part of UFT initiative, made us stronger and more efficient.

Sec—Next EB between 5 and 6 there will be a secret ballot. After 6 we will count.

Resolution in Support of the Association of PA State College and University Faculties

Strike was settled–no need for resolution.

Adjourned.

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UFT Executive Board 10/17/16
Report by Ashraya Gupta
Harvest Collegiate High School, Delegate

Two significant resolutions were passed at the Executive Board this Monday, and a third was unfortunately tabled. We passed a resolution calling for the integration of arts education into school curricula and a resolution supporting the NAACP call for a moratorium on charter schools. MORE/New Action successfully amended the arts resolution by adding clauses encouraging the union to connect with parent and community groups and to expand high school arts electives. David Garcia-Rosen made a passionate case for a resolution addressing mass incarceration, which he identified as the civil rights issue of our time. There was more debate than I’ve yet seen at an Executive Board meeting, but the resolution was ultimately tabled.

The meeting started with the open mic period. A chapter leader shared her gratitude to the union for supporting her and her chapter when they lost a coworker, who unexpectedly passed away. Next, a music teacher from PS 79 in Queens, a former staff sergeant, spoke out on the ramifications of the evaluation system for arts teachers. She said, “I love teaching music — it doesn’t matter who it is, I can make them play. My problem that I’m coming to you with today is this: I’ve always been highly effective, effective. A new administration came in and I received a lower rating.” Turning to the evaluation system, she asked, “How can we get these educators who don’t understand the arts to receive some kind of professional development of how to actually observe music and arts teachers?” She shared that she had contacted Charlotte Danielson and told her that the Danielson rubric worked on an honor system — it makes it too easy to harass and target educators, particularly arts educators.

Secretary Howie Schoor noted that a resolution about integrating arts education into school curricula was up for debate.

The open mic period closed and the board approved the minutes of the previous meeting.

Howie then turned to the question of ATRs, which had been brought up by MORE/New Action’s KJ Ahluwalia previously. According to Schoor, “The numbers show there are 1304 ATRs in the system, 150 less than last year. The board right now is not looking to close any more schools, though there is one they might close, which we’ll be looking into.” UFT’s Amy Arundell then came to the mic to update us about the new ATR incentive being implemented. The incentive is meant “to encourage the permanent hiring of people from the ATR pool. If a school hires a person from the ATR pool permanently, this year, that person would not cost the school anything.” The incentive establishes that in their first year, 100% of their cost would be paid for by central. In the second year, 50% of the cost. In the third year, 25%. In the fourth year, the school would be responsible for the full salary. She added that “thus far, roughly 20 people have been hired permanently as a result of the incentive. The incentive has only been in place for about 6 school days.”

Unfortunately, the incentive does not apply to ATR social workers or guidance counselors. Later in the meeting, Howie suggested this may be because of the Single Shepherd program, which has meant more ATR counselors have been assigned places with schools in the two pilot districts.

Schoor then invited MORE/NA’s Arthur Goldstein to report back on a meeting in Queens regarding class size and space issues. Arthur reported that chapter leaders from four Queens schools met with the city. At the meeting, the DOE said they have money to create seats. They were inclined to extend existing schools and build on DOE property. They recently suffered a setback in Bayside when the community rose up against the school they wanted to establish in Bayside. There does appear to be some progress on this issue and possibly a way forward. Queens is the borough most affected by overcapacity issues.

Following Arthur, Staff Director Leroy Barr gave his report. He shared the success of a recent parent meeting, saying, “We had a lot of parents come out in the Bronx. We gave out 40,000 books. Sunday, we had our Making Strides event. We have some people still wearing pink — remember to wear pink on Wednesday.” He also reminded us that the Staten Island conference is this Sunday and the first ELLs conference is happening at 52 Broadway on October 29th. He closed by saying, “Thank you for making sure those events are going well and the ones coming up will go well.”

Howie gave a brief update from a few other locals — both CTU and the Buffalo Teachers Union have negotiated contracts.

Question Period opened and Arthur Goldstein came up first to ask about COPE contributions to Republican campaigns, pointedly asking, “Did we give $109,600 in state funds to the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee, and if so why?”

Paul Egan responded. Here are his comments, as best as I could get them down: “NYSUT does all the contributions for the state — what you’re looking at there is numbers form NYSUT. NYSUT endorses based on a number of things…When you get outside of NYC, there are a lot of Republicans out there. In order to get any of our legislation passed, the only people that are representing them are Republicans. The point of contributing to the parties is so we have access, lines of communication, and so we have ways of getting anything passed. For the last umpteen years, the Republicans have been in charge of the senate, so to get anything moving forward, we have to donate. The UFT membership is also 30% Republican.”

MORE/NA’s Mike Schirtzer then asked whether we were changing our policy on charter schools, given the NAACP call for a moratorium. At this point, we weren’t aware that a resolution had been added to the agenda addressing exactly this question.

MORE/NA’s Marcus McArthur then spoke about tenure issues and asked, “How many probationary teachers were able to achieve tenure and what the break down was in the different districts? How many were discontinued? What are we doing as a union to make sure that process is fair, equitable, and transparent? What can we do to make sure our members know what they need to know?”

Schoor replied, “Last year 64% of eligible teachers were granted tenure. The percentage of teachers getting tenure has gone up. We hope it continues to go up with this new administration. We will continue to support our members through this process. If you or anybody wants to complain to us about their tenure situation, first reach out to the district reps. We have tenure workshops in every district, with the superintendent. It’s really a good introduction for those folks into the UFT. I’ve gone to a bunch of them. It’s very enlightening. Some great new teachers who are looking to not only stay in this system but get tenure. If you have people who you think were denied tenure, please reach out and we’ll look into that.”

Next,MORE/NA’s Jonathan Halabi asked “Was there a reduction in the number of discontinuances from last year? For people who were discontinued, where do they go? Within the UFT, do we run workshops for people who have been discontinued?”

Amy Arundell said, “I don’t have data, but I have a lot of anecdotal evidence of people who were able to return to the system. When it goes wrong, it’s usually because the principals were not following the procedure. It’s bureaucratic because we work under a giant bureaucracy.” Howie added, “Again, if you have specifics, give us the names and we’ll look into it.”

The question period was followed by reports from the standing committees and the districts. In brief, the Making Strides breast cancer walk was a success, as was a Soles4Souls shoe drive. In November, the union will be hosting its Thanksgiving luncheon in partnership with Coalition for the Homeless. There’s also a vacancy on the board for a functional chapter representative. They’ll be accepting nominations at the next Executive Board.

The Legislative Report from Paul Egan followed. Here’s what I got from it — in the last push before the election, there are multiple buses heading to Pennsylvania. Showing up is important, so if plans change, notify them so the campaign can redirect resources. Here in New York, you can continue phone banking. Egan also commented further on our COPE contributions, connecting the contributions to concerns about a possible constitutional convention bill next year. According to Egan, “if they do that, that would mean New York state’s constitution would be thrown out. Our pension has constitutional protection, but if we throw out the constitution, we lose that protection and it goes to the legislation. That’s why I’m stressing it’s more than just an endorsement or donation to one candidate — it’s not a single party issue.” Egan’s argument is that to protect our pensions, we need to uphold the current constitution, which means we need to support Republican senators, even if they’re generally opposed to the very policies we lobby for.

Finally, we got to resolutions. Without much comment, other than a toast to George Altomare, we passed a resolution honoring the 1960 UFT strike. Then, Leroy motivated the arts resolution. Arthur stood to present our proposed amendments. We proposed to add, “RESOLVED, that the UFT will seek partnerships with parents and community groups to promote and publicize our stance on increasing arts education, and be it further RESOLVED that the UFT will negotiate with the NYCDOE to substantially increase the time for arts education for all NYC students, and be it further RESOLVED that the UFT strongly encourage high schools to increase the number of arts electives for our students.”

Leroy proposed an amendment accepting two of our “RESOLVED” statements, but striking the one about negotiating increased time for arts education. This amendment passed. Jonathan Halabi gently reminded Howie that we needed to vote on the actual resolution — Howie quipped, “I knew I voted for you for a reason.” The resolution passed.

Following this, Anthony Harmon, executive board representative and president of the New York branch of the NAACP, motivated the resolution in support of the NAACP call for a moratorium on charter schools. Jonathan rose in support of the resolution, noting that it was a significant moment in our union’s history. He added, however, that “Going forward, I do think we need to dig deeper and look at the issues,” indicating that the language of the resolution could have more explicitly made the case for public schools. The resolution passed.

MORE/NA’s David Garcia-Rosen then rose to speak for our proposed resolution on mass incarceration. I am including his comments in full:

“My name is David Garcia-Rosen. I am the Director of School Culture and Athletics at the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, have worked in NYC public schools for 19 years,and I am on the HS Executive Board here at the UFT.

I am also the grandson of five survivors of the Holocaust. I grew up in my Grandparents house in Brooklyn, hearing stories about how the Nazislocked them up, starved them, beat them, and killed almost our entire family. The stories were horrific and I always wondered how could this have happened. Could everyone in Eastern Europe have been so evil to have just stood around and let this occur? As a history teacher I wondered this all the time. How do the most horrific things one can imagine happen? Why didn’t the good people use all of their resources and power to stop slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and countless genocides around the world.
But today I am in a room of good people and the question we must ask ourselves is what are we doing to stop the mass incarceration of people of color in the United States of America. How can we harness the incredible financial and political resources of the UFT to become an ally in the civil rights issue of our generation.
On October 7th Netflix released a documentary that shines a bright light on the historical connection between slavery and mass incarceration. It demonstrates clearly that the 13th amendment was never intended to actually set anyone free, because it included the clause that if you were convicted of a crime you could be enslaved. It took seconds for this clause to be exploited, as people of color have been locked up for every imaginable reason ever since, while white people have the privilege of a totally different criminal justice system.
This has led the so called land of the free to lock up 25 percent of the worlds prisoners despite having only five percent of the world population. We now live in a country where according to the NAACP African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites, and if current trends continue one in three black males born today will spend time in prison. We live in a country that has 2.3 million people locked up behind bars.
This mass incarceration of people of color is having profound effects on the lives of the students we all teach and we all love. According to the New York State Government 105,000 children have a parent serving time in prison. According to the journal of health and social behavior, children with incarcerated parents have higher rates of attention deficits, behavioral problems, speech and language delays, and other developmental delays.
We as a union can no longer stand idly by and allow this to occur. I for one plan to use my three year term on the executive to push the UFT to use all of its financial and political clout to fight for the civil rights of our students and their families.
Now I know many times resolutions here get tabled, never to be heard from again. I also have seen time and time again that everyone here votes as a block based on caucus. Today I urge that to change. I urge everyone in here to vote their conscience. Vote in a way that will allow you ten years from now, to look into the eyes of your children and grandchildren, and say I did everything I could to stop the mass incarceration of my black and latino brothers and sisters.
If there is any problem with this resolution it is that it does not do enough. It simply asks for Netflix to be unblocked, the union to allocate $50,000 for curriculum development about mass incarceration, and for the UFT to screen the movie 13th in every borough. This must only be a start.
One of the most powerful scenes in the movie Schindlers list is at the end, when Oscar Schindler looks down at his gold pin and car and cries about how he could have saved more people from being killed. Schindler says “I could have got more, I don’t know. If I just…I could have got more. If I had made more money. I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I just. I didn’t do enough. This car. Goethwould have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people. This pin…two people. This is gold. Two people. He would have given me two more, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern, for this. I could have got one more person, and I didn’t! I — I — I — I didn’t! I didn’t do enough.
We cant be an executive board that didn’t do enough.”

One representative came to the mic to speak against. She began, “I’m the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and also the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. The words that he said about people not speaking up are very powerful to me.” She added, “I understand what he says about mass incarceration and people turning away, but without seeing the movie, without knowing what it means to unblock Netflix, it’s unclear to me what he really wants here. I could not possibly vote on something that I don’t understand. I urge you to vote against this. I would never vote for something without having knowledge.”

Anthony Harmon moved to table, saying “I’d first like to say how glad I am that someone brought this resolution and opened the conversation. I want to move to table this until we can get more information about 13th.”

Secretary Schorr allowed some comment to continue, although the proposal to table had been made. Some representatives were concerned about the ramifications or mechanics of unblocking Netflix, unsure about how this would work. Leroy Barr spoke at length about the issues of race, policing, and mass incarceration, saying “it’s not a history lesson, it’s a current lesson.” He, too, moved the resolution be tabled, saying “I want a resolution that’s reflective of what people are going through every day.”

David attempted to respond with a call for some actual action or decision, saying, “I just don’t want us to table things and have them not go anywhere.”

Ultimately, the executive board voted to table.

Garcia-Rosen

My name is David Garcia-Rosen. I am the Director of School Culture and Athletics at the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, have worked in NYC public schools for 19 years, and I am on the HS Executive Board here at the UFT.

I am also the grandson of five survivors of the Holocaust. I grew up in my Grandparents house in Brooklyn, hearing stories about how the Nazis locked them up, starved them, beat them, and killed almost our entire family. The stories were horrific and I always wondered how could this have happened. Could everyone in Eastern Europe have been so evil to have just stood around and let this occur? As a history teacher I wondered this all the time. How do the most horrific things one can imagine happen? Why didn’t the good people use all of their resources and power to stop slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and countless genocides around the world.

But today I am in a room of good people and the question we must ask ourselves is what are we doing to stop the mass incarceration of people of color in the United States of America. How can we harness the incredible financial and political resources of the UFT to become an ally in the civil rights issue of our generation.

On October 7th Netflix released a documentary that shines a bright light on the historical connection between slavery and mass incarceration. It demonstrates clearly that the 13th amendment was never intended to actually set anyone free, because it included the clause that if you were convicted of a crime you could be enslaved. It took seconds for this clause to be exploited, as people of color have been locked up for every imaginable reason ever since, while white people have the privilege of a totally different criminal justice system.

This has led the so called land of the free to lock up 25 percent of the worlds prisoners despite having only five percent of the world population. We now live in a country where according to the NAACP African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites, and if current trends continue one in three black males born today will spend time in prison. We live in a country that has 2.3 million people locked up behind bars.

This mass incarceration of people of color is having profound effects on the lives of the students we all teach and we all love. According to the New York State Government 105,000 children have a parent serving time in prison. According to the journal of health and social behavior, children with incarcerated parents have higher rates of attention deficits, behavioral problems, speech and language delays, and other developmental delays.

We as a union can no longer stand idly by and allow this to occur. I for one plan to use my three year term on the executive to push the UFT to use all of its financial and political clout to fight for the civil rights of our students and their families.

Now I know many times resolutions here get tabled, never to be heard from again. I also have seen time and time again that everyone here votes as a block based on caucus. Today I urge that to change. I urge everyone in here to vote their conscience. Vote in a way that will allow you ten years from now, to look into the eyes of your children and grandchildren, and say I did everything I could to stop the mass incarceration of my black and latino brothers and sisters.

If there is any problem with this resolution is that it does not do enough. It simply asks for Netflix to be unblocked, the union to allocate $50,000 for curriculum development about mass incarceration, and for the UFT to screen the movie 13th in every borough. This must only be a start.

One of the most powerful scenes in the movie Schindlers list is at the end, when Oscar Schindler looks down at his gold pin and car and cries about how he could have saved more people from being killed. Schindler says “I could have got more, I don’t know. If I just…I could have got more. If I had made more money. I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I just. I didn’t do enough. This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people. This pin…two people. This is gold. Two people. He would have given me two more, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern, for this. I could have got one more person, and I didn’t! I — I — I — I didn’t! I didn’t do enough

We cant be an executive board that didn’t do enough.

 

13th Resolution

Whereas mass incarceration of people of color is the civil rights issue of our generation

Whereas according to National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated 2.7 million American children and youths have at least one parent in federal or state prison

Whereas according to the New York State Government more than 105,000 children have a parent serving time in prison or jail in New York State

Whereas according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior children with incarcerated parents have higher rates of attention deficits, behavioral problems, speech and language delays, and other developmental delays

Whereas according to the NAACP from 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people

Whereas according to the NAACP today, the US is 5% of the World population and has 25% of world prisoners

Whereas according to the NAACP African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites

Whereas according to the NAACP, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population

Whereas according to Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons

Whereas according to the NAACP one in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime

Whereas according to the movie 13th 97 percent of people incarcerated never get a trial

Whereas Netflix on October 7th released 13th, a powerful teaching tool about the history and connections between slavery and mass incarceration in the United States of America

Whereas the New York City Department of Education currently blocks the use Netflix

Whereas 85 percent of NYC public school students are students of color

Whereas the UFT has a long history of advocating for civil rights

Resolved the UFT will send a letter to the Chancellor and Mayor requesting that Netflix be unblocked

Resolved the UFT will immediately allocate $50,000 to develop a k – 12 curriculum about mass incarceration

Resolved the UFT will publish an article in the New York Teacher about the movie 13th

Resolved the UFT will hold a screening of the movie 13th in each borough for all UFT members

 

13th

MORE/New Action brought forth this resolution at the 10/17/16 UFT Executive Board

David Garcia-Rosen, Director of School Culture and Athletics at The Urban Assembly Bronx Academy Of Letters wrote and motivated it at the board meeting.

UFT leadership of Unity caucus spoke in favoring of tabling it. The vote to table was split down party lines; Unity voting to table and MORE/NA voting against tabling. As Unity controls the board, it was tabled. They promise to work with us in bringing forth a new resolution that is acceptable to both groups.

 

13th Resolution

Whereas mass incarceration of people of color is the civil rights issue of our generation

Whereas according to National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated 2.7 million American children and youths have at least one parent in federal or state prison

Whereas according to the New York State Government more than 105,000 children have a parent serving time in prison or jail in New York State

Whereas according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior children with incarcerated parents have higher rates of attention deficits, behavioral problems, speech and language delays, and other developmental delays

Whereas according to the NAACP from 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people

Whereas according to the NAACP today, the US is 5% of the World population and has 25% of world prisoners

Whereas according to the NAACP African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites

Whereas according to the NAACP, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population

Whereas according to Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons

Whereas according to the NAACP one in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime

Whereas according to the movie 13th 97 percent of people incarcerated never get a trial

Whereas Netflix on October 7th released 13th, a powerful teaching tool about the history and connections between slavery and mass incarceration in the United States of America

Whereas the New York City Department of Education currently blocks the use Netflix

Whereas 85 percent of NYC public school students are students of color

Whereas the UFT has a long history of advocating for civil rights

Resolved the UFT will send a letter to the Chancellor and Mayor requesting that Netflix be unblocked

Resolved the UFT will immediately allocate $50,000 to develop a k – 12 curriculum about mass incarceration

Resolved the UFT will publish an article in the New York Teacher about the movie 13th

Resolved the UFT will hold a screening of the movie 13th in each borough for all UFT members

 

“I was born a slave, but nature gave me a soul of a free man….”
     -Toussaint Louverture

On January 11, 2010 Haiti was struck with a massive earthquake at 7.0 magnitude. Immediate horror and fear spread amongst the people living in Haiti, especially those living by the epicenter located in Port au Prince. Much international aid was provided to Haiti militarily, economically and politically. On question 39 of the Global Studies NYS Regents comes from a political cartoon in the The Record, a newspaper based in New Jersey.  The cartoonist takes a cruel jab at Haitians. A white-appearing newscaster standing in front of palm trees and a few Haitians standing around states that “Haitians line the streets… devastation and despair are everywhere… and then the massive earthquake struck.” There are two critical errors in this question. One, the cartoon, and the correct answer that “the people of Haiti had been facing serious economic problems before the 2010 earthquake” states that Haitians alone are to blame for “devastation and despair” in their country. Second, the fact that this was the only  question about Haiti on this exam strongly implies that “devastation and despair” is all students in New York State should know about the country.

Just yesterday, also in 2016, the stupidity and racism of this type of attitude towards the Haitian people came to the fore again in American media coverage of the recent Hurricane Matthew. As a Category 4 storm pounded the island, the Weather Channel’s newscaster, Jennifer Delgado, said “They take all the trees down, they burn the trees,” Delgado said. “Even the kids there, they’re so hungry they actually eat the trees.”

After immense social media pressure, she apologized within 24 hours, saying “I want to begin by  apologizing  for a statement  I made yesterday that was found inappropriate. My intention is always to inform and educate.” Not only did the apology sound insincere, it also carries with it misplaced blame for deforestation on an island first deforested, not by “the Haitian people” as she faults for the cause of the risk from the Hurricane, but by Columbus’s soldiers in 1492.

I have come to the realization that the society in which I live has not and may never show Haiti as the beautiful country that it is, but instead it will always be quick to show the darkest moments of Haiti’s history. It is with great lost for the upcoming generation that they will never see the beauty that lies in the first black republic, yet instead society will eliminate the real history of Haiti and brainwash students with false information and ideologies.

As a Haitian-American, a teacher and someone who has spent the past decade highly invested in history, I was so appalled by the perspective of the cartoonist (and the newscaster this week), and the tacit agreement of the Board of the Regents with this perspective to actually put it on the Regents exams.

Let us not forget the history Haiti has gone through, prior to independence from France in 1804, and since then. In 1492, Columbus arrived representing the Spanish crown. His first order of business was to begin deforestation and resource-grabbing, which centuries of Spanish and then French conquest continued. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of the island of Hispaniola to France. The French  took the western portion of the island and focused their colonization efforts on the production of coffee and sugar. As sugar plantations became the prime money-making enterprise, sugar can not be grown in a forest, so what did European masters order to be done? Deforestation.

By the late 1700s, the island was producing nearly half the sugar and coffee imported to European countries. Who was the labor force in this wealth-producing effort for the French empire? Enslaved Africans, living under a racialized system of enslavement and segregation that has had lasting effects on Haitian society.

In 1791, former slave, turned military commander Toussaint L’ouverture led the Haitian Revolution with a rebel army of formerly enslaved Africans with the help of Georges Biassou, Jean-François Papillon, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe. They rose together to to become free from European influence. After three centuries of colonial rule, Haiti was declared an independent state.

The terms of independence were not neutral, however. Unlike the new United States, the new African-led republic of Haiti had to pay reparations to France, in the form of 150 million francs (21billion 2016 US dollars) in exchange for French recognition of the country’s sovereignty.  From the beginning of the new nation, a huge portion of income generated was immediately lost, returned to French coffers overseas.

100 years later, Haiti was physically occupied again, this time  by none other than the United States. From 1915 to 1934, US Marines occupied Haiti. President Woodrow Wilson sent the United States Marines into Haiti to “restore order and maintain political and economic stability” not only in Haiti but all of the Caribbean. United States government representatives took control of Haiti’s institutions, banks and including the national treasury. Almost half of Haiti’s national income was delegated to repay debts to American and French banks additionally to stripping away most of Haiti’s natural resources leaving little to nothing for the people of Haiti (similar to what’s happening in Puerto Rico today).

I wouldn’t necessarily put all the blame of Haiti’s economic situation today on France, our colonial oppressor, because many United States officials have intervened as well. Most dramatically, in 1991, the US backed a coup d’etat to remove a popularly elected president.

Jean Bertrand Aristide was the first democratically elected president of Haiti. He became a focal point for the democratic movement under “Baby Doc” Jean Claude Duvalier’s military transition. Aristide stepped into office in 1991, winning the election with 67% of the majority vote. In September of 1991, the United States threatened the Haitian government by performing a military coup under Operation Uphold Democracy (OUD). Ten years later, however, Aristide became president again (from 2001-2004) until the United States performed another coup, sending him to exile in Central Africa and later South Africa.

Some Haitians may say Aristide made the country unlivable by trying to control power by any means necessary which opened the doors for the United States to intervene. Kids could not go to school for a period of time because of political turmoil but it does not mean the Haitian people wanted the US to intervene and maintain order. Other Haitians may differ and say he put fear in his people to obtain power and order in the streets.

Superpowers  have done a lot to harm Haiti, starting with France making us pay back for our independence and United States that invaded and occupied Haiti as well as the UN’s disastrous role in the cholera outbreak after the earthquake..

Today and prior to the earthquake with the help of the UN they have stepped to the plate to help create order. Under the UN branch of Haiti known as Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haiti (MINUSTAH) they have been the peacekeepers in Haiti, led by the Brazilian Army. Haiti has gotten help from other foreign countries before the earthquake, they were not desperately in need of United States to intervene in Haiti’s government. After the earthquake there were  far more European and Latin American countries providing long term aid to Haiti as I witness for my own eyes from traveling back and forth.

The inaccuracy on question 39 states that people were standing in lines on the street or Haitians were in despair prior to the earthquake. Where were these Haitian people going anyway? As a Haitian native the only time people stand on line in Haiti is at church, for election or festivals. Thanks to the UN under MINUSTAH Haiti is slowly progressing and it has become safer to travel to Haiti for both natives and foreigners.

Hurricane Matthew’s course, I hope, is not too devastating for my country. The last thing we need, though, is ignorant newscasters placing blame on Haitian children, and then Haitian entrepreneurs, for problems like climate change and deforestation which originate continents away, in the countries that now control the global markets. The last thing our students need is to face the racist perspective of ignorant newscasters as they take high stakes exams required for graduation. It is time for New York State graduation requirements to reflect better values; changing the racism within the multiple choice portion of the Global Regents is one small step towards achieving this aim.

Dominique Jerome
Teacher, East Brooklyn Community High School

On September 28th, 95.6% of Chicago teachers voted to go on strike. They have been negotiating since 2014 for a just contract on top of non-negotiable items for the public schools and students they serve.

There are some striking similarities to NYC public schools, in the kind of attacks they have faced: disastrous budget cuts that have had effects on the equitable allocation of resources and professionals for mandated services in special education, libraries and other programs, such as arts and physical education. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, under the advisory of Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist who is leading the way for the charterization of Chicago’s schools, has withheld and cut funding to the public schools.

The Chicago Teachers’ Union want something very simple- the assurance that public school educators and students have what they need in order to have thriving public schools in Chicago. If an agreement cannot be made, teachers could go out on strike as soon as October 11. In 2012, Chicago teachers led the national educational justice movement when they went on a successful strike that gathered the help of communities and parents to fight for the schools that Chicago students deserve.

Now they need support from everywhere across the country!

Here are some of the core issues for CTU:

– No more budget cuts
– Restore the jobs lost (1,000 teachers laid off without recall rights)
– Keep salary steps and lanes

To learn more details, go to the Chicago Teachers Union site

ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE: Continue Reading…

RSVP Today!

Power on the job is the basic building block of strong unionism, however many of us find ourselves in situations where we face oppressive school administrations, weak union chapters, and co-workers who are either fearful or apathetic or both.  As social justice unionists, its up to us to rebuild union power at at the grassroots, but nobody is a born organizer and the UFT provides very little support to its membership when it comes to training us to do the hard work of organizing.

In partnership with Labor Notes, MORE is sponsoring a series of organizer trainings to help us develop our members’ capacity to do organizing in their schools, strengthen our chapters, and build power on the job.  The workshop will include sessions on:

Confronting Apathy
Identifying Organizing Issues
How to have an Organizing Conversation
Mapping Our Workplace
Turning Issues into Campaigns
How to “Turn Up the Heat”

The workshop is interactive and participatory, and participants will be planning campaigns for their schools.  We will make plans to support each other in doing the work of organizing when we go back to our schools, and continue to meet regionally to reach out to more organizers.

Participants are asked to bring a copy of their school organization sheet and an issue that is currently affecting their staff at their school.  Copies of the New Labor Notes book “Secrets of a Successful Organizer” will also be available for purchase, with the proceeds benefiting MORE.

Secrets of a Successful Organizer
Presented by the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators and Labor Notes
October 15th
1:00-3:30

CUNY Graduate Center Room 5414 (bring ID)

Please RSVP on Facebook and share and distribute the flyers below to anyone you think would be interested.

secrets-of-a-succesful-organizer-flyer-color