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May Day is a national day of protest for immigrant and labor rights, dating back to the mass 2006 demonstrations to defend immigrants against the Republican congress and over a century of labor mobilization for International Workers Day.
Today, May Day will be even more urgent as the Trump administration accelerates its deportation machinery, and prepares assaults on union rights.
Here are 10 simple things that you can do in your school chapter on Monday, May 1st.
A Day of Action Toolkit – Ten things you and your coworkers can do to celebrate May Day
  1. Ask your colleagues to all wear red in solidarity. Wear stickers celebrating labor and immigrant rights [Here are stickers for Avery 5163 labels]
  2. Take photos of your chapter together and post on social media with the hashtag #MayDay – check out examples here.
  3. Ask local immigrant rights organizations in your neighborhood to come and speak to students, parents and staff. Hold an immigrants and labor rights teach-in. Make the Road NY, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant RightsICE Free NY, and New York Immigration Coalition, to name just a few.
  4. Involve the Parent Association in your activities – ask what support immigrant families need, how they can be involved in showing solidarity 
  5. Ask teachers to plan lessons around labor and immigrant rights themes. See the TeachDream toolkit here.
  6. Email Chancellor Fariña to support the UFT demand for for a immigrant liaison in every school to help students and families with immigration issues. 
  7. Gather a group to join UFT members from around the city at the 5pm rally at Foley Square – look for the MORE banner. Feminist contingents who organized the International Women’s Strike on March 8 will also be participating and connecting women’s with immigrant and labor issues.
  8. Involve neighboring schools! If you need help connecting to schools in your building or neighborhood – email us to find out who nearby is involved
  9. Organize a field trip of students (with administrative approval, of course) to the daytime immigrant rights events at 12 in Union Square. 
  10. Hold a picket / demonstration for Labor and Immigrant Rights at the beginning of the school day. Show your teachers’ unity by all walking into work simultaneously. 

 

By Marcus B. McArthur, UFT Executive Board, City As School HS

On March 22nd at the Panel for Education Policy Meeting (PEP), the DOE Chancellor and other appointed cronies, sat doe-eyed as teachers, alumni, parents, and community members spoke out against Central Park East 1’s wrecking-ball principal and the unjust closing of J.H.S. 145. A neighborhood zoned school in the Bronx, J.H.S. 145 occupies the same building as a Success Academy charter school, the test-prep suspension factory run by Eva Moskowitz, leading Wall Street’s charge to colonize our schools. J.H.S. 145 was designated a “renewal school” in need of resources and institutional support to meet the needs of the children served by their community. They were promised resources. They were promised three years to right the ship. The resources never came. The DOE cut their turn around time by a year.

One more betrayal and counting…

 

The Chancellor offered little beyond the absurd declaration that these decisions were made “with the best interests of the kids at heart.” Translation: Eva and her hedge fund backers want more space and rather than paying rent for a political rival, we prefer to throw under the bus an under resourced school serving a politically expendable community. I have news for our elected officials.

 

Expendability will no longer be tolerated!

 

At the UFT Executive Board meeting two days before the PEP, MORE and New Action urged the UFT leadership to shorten the March 22nd Delegate Assembly to rally delegates and chapter leaders at the PEP against these betrayals of our public school system. I argued that we live in extraordinary times that require extraordinary responses. Normal protocols and rules of political engagement no longer apply. Our “elected officials” do not respond to our congenial ‘seat at the table’ politics, where our mayor accepts our endorsement with one hand, while his Chancellor stabs us in the back with the other. Take note that our leadership voted down our call to action.

 

Make no mistake about it, every neighborhood public school, serving every working-class racial, ethnic, and religious community that populates our city, is threatened by the proliferation of segregated, Wall Street backed, union busting charters. Furthermore, the enduring culture of dictatorial leadership fostered by the Bloomberg era DOE, has bred a new generation of catastrophic principals that are destroying democratic school communities across the city. Fifty-seven years ago, after enduring years of egregious injustice in the workplace, our union drew a red line and said no more. This is our generation’s opportunity to do precisely that.

 

The democratic pageantry of PEP meetings, where we implore unelected bureaucrats to represent the will of the people, must be recognized for the colossal sham that they embody. The bureaucrats attend simply to maintain appearances—the guise of democracy in the midst of an oligarchy. Their body language and unresponsiveness communicates their disdain louder than the few words they may muster the energy to utter. PEP meetings exemplify the farce of mayoral control where the voice of parents, teachers, and students can be ignored unchecked. With each school closure, co-location, and rogue administrator run amok, our union leadership’s support of mayoral control becomes more absurd by the day.

 

In 1857 in front of an audience of American Abolition Society members and allies, Frederick Douglass offered a prescient message that we, union members and teachers, should heed:

 

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress…Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing on the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning.”

 

Have our political elites yet breached the threshold of injustice and wrong to which we quietly submit?

 

Have we yet recognized that those who profess to represent our interests, but attempt to pacify us, want rain without thunder and lightning?

 

Have we yet devised a set of cogent demands that will trigger genuine resistance?

 

The time for revolt is now.

 

Full issue of latest DA newsletter is here

 

 

How do we think a department of education should respond to teachers who consistently advocate and organize their community around policies for educational justice?

In Chicago, the governing elite go after the teacher. Sarah Chambers, special educator at  Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy and co-chairwoman of the Chicago teachers union’s special education task force, has been speaking out against the devastating cuts that have led to many of Chicago’s public schools to be out of compliance in providing special education services. Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, millions of dollars in budget cuts have meant millions diverted to corporate interests. Sarah has been at the forefront of exposing the privatization efforts in Chicago. Her fearless and relentless commitment to justice, for all public school students and educators, landed her a letter of suspension from the Chicago Public Schools earlier this month. While specific charges are still being contrived by officials and pending a hearing date, she cannot return to her school community or school.

Watch Sarah speak out at this city budget hearing : 

Continue Reading…

CPE1 UFT members and supporters at the last Executive Board meeting

By Peter Lamphere, Chapter Leader, Gregory Luperon HS

Parental anger boiled over at a Harlem elementary school as parents, demanding the resignation of a principal who has targeted tenured teachers and lied to parents repeatedly, occupied the school auditorium and remained overnight despite a massive police presence inside and outside the school. The action was preceded by a four hour SLT meeting attended by over 100 families, teachers and local politicians where they presented their demands and then proceeded with the sit-in when principal Monika Garg replied that she answers only to her superiors, to her superintendent and to the chancellor. Supporters rallied outside the school for hours. The parent activists at CPE 1 have blamed mayoral control for leading to continuous examples of ignoring the stakeholders.

Sixty percent of families at Central Park East 1 signed a letter stating no-confidence in the leadership of Garg.

Continue Reading…

Please sign this petition and help to defend Sarah Chambers. Sarah Chambers has been a tireless advocate for Special Education Students in Chicago. Now she is under attack.

 

Central Park East 1 has had several teachers removed by its principal, some have left because of harassment, and others that are still there are facing threats to their jobs. The MORE/New Action representatives raised the below resolution at Monday’s Executive Board meeting. Leroy Barr, head of Unity caucus and staff director for UFT spoke to “table the motion” which in effect is going against the resolution. Mr. Barr said “we need time to meet with the DOE about this” and “we are already doing some of what the resolution calls for”. Arthur Goldstein of MORE motivated this resolution by calling on the UFT to take aggressive, public actions against abusive principals and New Action’s Jonathan Halabi asked that the body pass the resolution, because in the last couple of weeks untenured teachers at CPE1 have come under attack. Earlier in the evening during the open question period for UFT members, MORE’s Norm Scott said the biggest threat to our union is “the unchecked power of principals and that the union has allowed them to get away with hurting our members”. Unity caucus voted as a bloc to table the resolution.

Members of CPE1, including the Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez, showed up in force to support the resolution. Photos above.

 

Resolution in Support of Central Park East 1 Teachers and Parents
April 3, 2017

Whereas the Principal of Central Park East 1, Monika Garg, has engaged in a persistent pattern of harassment of teachers and other unionized staff over the last 18 months,

Whereas 4 out of 7 tenured teachers who exercised their free speech and union rights by signing an open letter to the principal have now either come under investigation or been pushed to resign, while all have faced some kind of disciplinary action, thus showing these actions to be retaliatory in intent,

Whereas these investigations have targeted the union’s strength specifically, with both the school’s chapter leader, Marilyn Martinez, and union delegate, Catlin Preston, facing charges,

Whereas parents at the school have organized an unprecedented show of support for these teachers, with more than 90 showing up to support Marilyn Martinez at her 3020a hearings, several attending our recent Executive Board hearing and dozens writing statements in support of the teachers,

Whereas parents believe that the principal’s actions are causing substantial harm to the children in the school by removing teachers without warning and carrying out investigations in which children as young as 6 and 7 are interviewed privately without their parent’s knowledge or consent, and in which parents feel that their families were manipulated in order to build cases against teachers while children were left without guidance or support,

Whereas the impact of these actions can be seen in the results of last year’s school survey, in which Monika Garg saw the steepest declines in both parent and teacher dissatisfaction of any school in the city, with 0% of teachers saying that they trust the principal and 0% of parents saying that the principal works hard to build trusting relationships,

Whereas both the teachers and the parents of Central Park East 1 have asked us for their support, and parents have been demanding the removal of the principal for over a year, with over two­thirds of last year’s parents having signed a petition stating this, and are planning a public rally in conjunction with their next SLT meeting on April 6th,

Whereas Superintendent Alexandra Estrella has received hundreds of emails from parents and has ignored most and has acknowledged few of their requests, and

Whereas Estrella promised a facilitator, to improve communication at the school, and told elected parents that is was already in place several times… even though no facilitator has ever shown up, and

Whereas Estrella appointed Garg, a principal with no commitment to CPE1’s mission, to head the school.

Therefore be it resolved that the UFT leadership join the UFT staff of CPE1 in taking a public stance against this pattern of harassment and retaliation against teachers at Central Park East 1; and

Be it further resolved that the leadership supports the return of Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez and Delegate Catlin Preston to their classrooms at Central Park East 1 immediately should their hearings find that they are entitled to retain their positions with the Department of Education and work in the classroom, and

Be it further resolved that the UFT publicly supports the overwhelming majority of parents at Central Park East 1 who are asking for the removal of Principal Garg and will support their planned April 6th rally, by utilizing the UFT press office, sending a speaker and issuing an action alert to mobilize UFT members and leaders to attend, and

Be it further resolved that the UFT leadership will publicly admonish Superintendent Estrella to respond to CPE1 parents and faculty, to respect agreements she has made with them, and to respect the mission of the school.

Please take a second to sign this open letter to Chancellor Fariña demanding she stop the railroading of Jill Bloomberg, the principal of Park Slope Collegiate, who had the gall to speak out publicly about racial discrimination her students have been experiencing at the hands of the NYCDOE!


Dear Chancellor Fariña,

We are parents, staff, students, alumni, and friends of Park Slope Collegiate (PSC). It has come to our attention that Principal Jill Bloomberg has been notified that she is the subject of an Office of Special Investigations investigation. We are writing to express our strong support for Ms. Bloomberg, who has provided exceptional, tireless leadership for the school, and has created a vibrant and supportive learning community for our children.

Ms. Bloomberg has built an outstanding academic environment, in which our children have thrived academically and socially. The school is a model of cutting-edge pedagogy and positive socio-emotional learning, and is a safe and nurturing space for students from a wide variety of backgrounds. None of this would be possible without the dedicated, thoughtful work of a principal who is a model of the highest standard of ethical behavior, engaged leadership and integrity.

The timing of this investigation suggests the real possibility it was initiated in retaliation for Principal Bloomberg’s frequent advocacy on part of her students; advocacy that would constitute a protected activity under Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as under related local anti-discrimination laws. Continue Reading…