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.
- 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”.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.