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My name is Aixa Rodriguez. I am an ESL teacher and I am running on the MORE-UFT slate for Vice President for Education-At-Large.

Aixa Rodriguez 6

I’m running in the 2019 UFT elections because MORE has the values and the work ethic that most closely match mine. When I heard who was running on the MORE-UFT slate, I was convinced that this was the time to put my hat in the ring. This slate is deeply involved in social justice movements and has the experience, savvy, creativity and energy needed to give voice and analysis to the issues impacting our profession. Privatization is destroying public education and teachers need to be plugged in to counter that. We can no longer just blindly pay dues to a status quo, appeasement-oriented union; in the post-Janus reality, rank and file need to participate and make our voices heard as members of our union.

Educational Justice is an intersectional issue. Every social justice issue that you hear about intersects with the problems in public education. Unions have the power to make change happen that benefits society as a whole; in housing justice, food justice, environmental justice, and racial justice. Under mayoral control, community participation is limited, democracy is limited.  Our jobs are impacted by outside realities that are out of our individual control. This is why our union has to push for justice.

When bad decisions on real estate development are made, local school enrollment shrinks, teachers get excessed, space gets taken by charter school parasites, class sizes in co-located schools rise, programs get cut, and students get a narrower curriculum. When kids become homeless, go into the shelter system, and struggle academically and socially, they bring those challenges to our schools. The kids who are hungry, sleepy, wearing dirty, unwashed clothes, and getting bullied are our students.Those conditions become our working conditions at schools that are underfunded, under-resourced and understaffed.  We teachers live and teach in that reality. We need more counselors, social workers, community workers, paras, and school aides, and therapists. CFE must be fully funded by Albany. Fair student funding is a failed formula.

When we chose to work in schools that serve struggling kids we get judged and evaluated on their progress on inappropriate tests. To survive, many teachers teach to the test even as it kills their passion and creativity, burns them out, then leads to turnover and unstable schools. The kids get a test prep curriculum and are robbed of a well rounded quality education. Our autonomy and professionalism is impacted by high stakes testing. We are blamed and scapegoated, and our schools closed, our positions lost. Those of us who get a new position are lucky. The Absent Teacher Reserve has become a next stop for many a veteran teacher. Our working conditions are impacted by the culture of testocracy compounded by funding inequities that institutionalize ageism.

As teachers we need our contracts respected, our salaries to keep up with inflation, and our schools to be well staffed, resourced and funded. We need support with discipline, smaller class sizes, prep periods that are not taken away lightly. We need an evaluation and tenure system that doesn’t push out teachers from the profession.These needs coincide with student needs for recess, small group tutoring and reading intervention, sports, clubs and electives. We have seen in the #Red4Ed movement across the nation that parents and students are our natural allies in the fight for public schools that serve all children well. Let’s join that fight.

 

Aixa Rodriguez for UFT Vice President for Education-At-Large 2019

 

 

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[Aixa taking a group selfie at the MORE general meeting in January 2019]

There is a disconnect between UFT leadership and rank and file membership. As a result, there is a void and that void has to be filled at a time when unions and labor movements are being attacked and destroyed by unfriendly forces: right wingers, ed deformers, and many of the 1% who have accumulated most of the wealth, all aggressively pushing to disrupt and destabilize public education. The UFT leadership has shown utter silence on what matters to our students, teachers, parents, and communities. I declare my candidacy with an affirmation that, when I am elected as President of the UFT in April, I will continue the fight for our schools. 

There is no mincing of words when I declare that social justice matters in public education and it matters now more than ever. The UFT leadership should not dance around these issues. That is why I am running on the social justice slate of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) in the UFT elections this March. We are a collective of educators ranging from Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists to Counselors and Social Workers to Classroom Teachers to Paraprofessionals to School Secretaries to all of the other members of our union. 

 

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In solidarity with OT/PTs for Pay Parity at Panel for Educational Policy meeting.

(Myrie on left after speaking at the podium)

 

Our caucus is also a part of a nationwide collective called the United Caucuses of Rank and File Educators (UCORE). We are fighting for social justice in many states: Arizona, California, Colorado, and North Carolina, to name a few, and here at home in New York.

Our students and educators deserve schools with low student to counselor ratios. Our schools deserve more counselors and restorative justice coordinators. Each school must be rated on the equitable hiring and retention of Black, Asian and Latinx educators. Culturally Relevant Curriculum must be implemented in each school and measured by the Scorecard developed by NYU. In addition, resources must match the demographics of student populations in individual schools. The UFT does not have a contract that addresses pay parity for Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists. The UFT leadership has used parliamentary maneuvers to avoid a vote from the  UFT Delegate Assembly on the Black Lives Matter at School resolution two years in a row. Our schools and our students deserve better.

It’s time to change the leadership when members in every borough are subject to harassment from supervisors.  Forget about the “strong contract” emphasized by leadership when probationary teachers and vulnerable staff members are scared to file a grievance and when chapter leaders and district representatives are unsupportive. Calls to activate and publish the names of abusive administrators have been ignored. I will have this list ready on Day One when I am elected.

Please look at what is happening around you in the communities where you work. Is there systemic racism and oppression?  Is there gentrification? Are any of your students homeless? Are students’ suspensions on the rise? Do you have space for art, music, a library, and an OT/PT room at your school? What about oversized classes? Are you nervous to talk about any of this? Are your ICT classes in compliance? Does the paraprofessional have a duty free lunch? Are you being forced to have meetings on your lunch? Are you being asked to give up your preps? Do your children have adequate materials and resources? Would you like to advocate for your students, but you are scared?

The MORE slate is here to advocate and agitate. Under our leadership, we will lead the UFT to the position where our working conditions will equate with our students’ learning conditions. 

Thank you for the work that you do for our students. 

 

Dermott Myrie for UFT President 2019  

 

Myrie Aixa Kevin Jia photo

MORE Caucus members running for UFT office  

(Front- Aixa Rodriguez- right, Jia Lee -left)

(Rear Kevin Prosen- left,  Dermott Myrie-right)

 

 

I’m a special education teacher at a Brooklyn high school, so I spend lots of time in meetings: meetings with co-teachers, meetings with parents, IEP meetings, meetings with paraprofessionals and speech therapists, department meetings, meetings with guidance counselors and social workers. I spend my lunch periods meeting with 12th graders to help them with their research papers and I spend my preps meeting with 9th graders to help them with…all the things 9th graders need help with. Running for union office means even more meetings, and if I’m elected to the UFT Executive Board, there will be meetings, meetings, meetings. Oh, and I forgot to mention: I kind of hate meetings. So, why am I running?

Our union’s leadership, the Unity Caucus, says that New York City teachers are doing well. In some ways, they’re right. We get paid pretty well. Our benefits are very solid. Our union contract is incredibly valuable and every teacher, paraprofessional, service provider, and other school employee needs to make sure that (especially after the Supreme Court’s terrible Janus decision), we keep our membership up to date and we work together to keep the union strong.

But if things are so good, why do so many veteran teachers say that things in our schools are worse than they’ve ever seen? They’re not talking abut pay and benefits. They’re talking about the fact that teachers are under attack and our UFT contract is not enough. It doesn’t protect us from the absurd, arbitrary humiliations that we’re subjected to daily under the Danielson rubric. Actually, Unity Caucus loves Danielson. UFT President Michael Mulgrew has called the Kafkaesque experience of having our teaching subjected to Danielson “a model” that should be used “statewide.”

Teacher evaluation isn’t the only problem. Our students with disabilities are woefully under-supported and the union’s mechanisms for enforcing compliance are a joke. Teachers who fight for our special ed students are routinely harassed and intimidated by administrators who threaten our livelihoods because we fight for our students. I know. It happened to me back at my first Brooklyn high school.

Teacher pay and benefits might be okay, but they’re not enough. The UFT doesn’t just represent teachers. Our union sisters and brothers who work as occupational and physical therapists are paid tens of thousands of dollars less than other school workers with comparable workloads and responsibilities, and they recently voted down the contract that Unity tried to force on them. And they’re not just frustrated about their low salaries: their working conditions are often abysmal. Many of them don’t even have designated workspaces. They deserve MORE.

We all deserve MORE. We work in a city that just gave Amazon — one of the richest corporations in the world — a $3 billion tax break, while our schools run out of paper and other basic supplies. Unity keeps telling us how great we’re doing, they keep telling us we’re winning, but every teacher I know is overworked, overtired, and overstressed. Veteran teachers keep saying things are the worst they’ve ever seen.

The Mayor’s not going to fix our schools. Unity won’t fix them either; they seem to think that all we care about is the size of our paychecks, but teachers care about MORE. Our union leaders should fight for more; vote for MORE-UFT and that’s what we’ll do! We’ll fight for smaller classes, for time to plan lessons, for clean buildings with adequate workspace, for an end to Danielson and abusive supervision, for a commitment to equity at every level. We may not win every fight right away, but we’ll never tell hard-working teachers that we should be grateful that we can (barely) cover the rent.

I don’t want more meetings, but I’m running for union office for MORE-UFT because I believe our schools should be better. And I believe the only thing that can fix our schools is teachers, OTs, PTs, and paraprofessionals coming together to demand what we deserve: We deserve MORE.

by: Will Johnson
Special Education/English Teacher

UFT Elections Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the UFT have elections?
Federal labor law requires union elections- LMRDA Title IV: “Every local labor organization shall elect its officers not less often than once every three years.” UFT is required to adhere to federal labor law.

Why should I vote?
The UFT needs an active membership participation to advocate effectively for the educators, students, and families of New York City! Now more than ever we need to show that we’re ready to bring every member’s voice to the table to fight the well-funded attacks targeting public schools and communities. If you are happy with our union’s direction, then vote for Michael Mulgrew and his Unity Caucus. If you believe we need new leadership, vote for the MORE slate. Either way, we urge you to vote in order to keep our union strong.

What is a caucus?
A caucus is a group of people with shared concerns within a larger organization, similar to a political party. There have been many caucuses in UFT’s history, but Unity caucus has been in uninterrupted control of our union since it began over 50 years ago.

Who is MORE?
The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) was formed in 2012 by a diverse group of active UFT members working in all five boroughs, from kindergarten through 12th grade and adult education. Through their experiences as educators, activists, and advocates for our students, MORE members became frustrated by UFT President Mulgrew and his Unity Caucus allowing our collective strength to deteriorate. Our members come together because we know; “Our working conditions are our student’s learning conditions.” We believe in a educated, engaged,  and mobilized membership that will fight for the schools our members and children deserve.

How Do I Vote?
Ballots will be mailed to your home address on March 25th from the American Arbitration Association. You will need to fill out the ballot, place it in the included prepaid, pre-addressed return envelope, and place it in a mailbox. It needs to arrive at AAA by April 16th at 5:00 p.m.

Will the UFT, my Chapter Leader, Principal or anyone else know how I voted?
No, not unless you tell them.

What if I don’t get a ballot in the mail?
If you do not receive a ballot by mail or if your ballot is damaged or tampered with, contact the American Arbitration Association before April 8th (5 p.m.) at 800-529-5218 or email boswells@adr.org. If you have moved you can notify UFT by going here: https://secure.www.uft.org/health-benefits/update

Do I have to vote for an entire slate, or can I pick and choose from each slate?
A slate is a group of candidates that were nominated by a caucus to run for positions on the ballot. MORE is running one slate. Michael Mulgrew and the current UFT leadership run as Unity. You can vote a “straight ticket/slate” by marking one of the boxes at the top of the ballot next to a slate name. You can also “split your ticket,” by marking boxes next to candidates of any slate. Most members vote for an entire slate by marking an X for one slate. Please keep in mind that if you try to vote for a slate and one or more individual candidates, your ballot will be invalidated.

Can UFT members place campaign materials in staff mailboxes in your school and other public schools?
Yes, You have the right to place union literature in the mailboxes within your school or within any other school, as long as you don’t do it while you are on duty. You can do it before or after school, or during your lunch period. Show the secretary, or any administrator who asks, the Department of Education memorandum which spells out your right to place election literature in the mailboxes. Do not agree to leave the stack with the secretary, the UFT chapter leader, or anyone else. You have a right to put them directly in the mailboxes. Difficulties? Email us at more@morecaucusnyc.org

Are these elections divisive and weakening our union?
No! elections bring many different perspectives to the table. There have been caucuses in the UFT since our founding.  Each caucus has different ideas for how to lead our union and each caucus deserves to have its voice heard. UFT elections are the chance for you to choose your leaders, which is the foundation of any good organization or government. We do not want to live in a country without elections, nor do we want a union leadership that is not democratically elected. UFT elections are healthy, because they allow for you to have a voice and a choice in who leads our union.

How can I help MORE?

  1. Vote and let others in your chapter know that they need to vote too! Host a ballot breakfast, lunch, or after-school party in your school. Email more@morecaucusnyc.org for more info.
  2. Distribute our election literature in your chapter and share with your UFT friends.
  3. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @morecaucusnyc.
  4. Join MORE– for a small donation you can help keep our election campaign strong. We have to design and print fliers, rent space for meetings, and hold election related events- all of which cost money. Go to http://tiny.cc/joinMORE  to get involved!
  5. Sign up for our weekly email list here and text updates.
  6. Get involved, come to an event- check our listings at facebook.com/morecaucusnyc or email us to set up a happy hour or after-school meeting near you!
  7. Share this FAQ with your friends 

Get a printer-friendly version of this FAQ here

The UFT/DOE Bronx Plan is a step in the right direction, but it is not the whole story. Genuine collaboration between chapter leaders and administrators, not just the appearance of it, will be key to creating schools New York’s students, parents, and teachers deserve.

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stand with la teachersUnless the LAUSD gives in to key demands of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, the 2nd largest school district in the country, with 40,000 educators will be on strike starting Monday, January 14th.

 

The strike will shut down public schools affecting 480,000 students. The teacher’s demands include higher pay, smaller classes, more support staff like librarians and counselors, fighting corporate backed privatization, and restricting the amount spent by the district on charter schools.

The Union is also rightfully calling out the racism of the city of Los Angeles in chronically underfunding a school system of majority children of color. Just as we have seen in NYC, the superintendent (a former investment banker with no experience in education) and city are claiming that their is no money, when their is a surplus of billions in the city in one of the richest states in the world.

In short, this is huge, and is a continuation of the strike wave that happened last year in “Red” states now crossing over into a major city and will have implications for the entire country.   Here are things you can do:

1. Wear Red on Thursday and take a solidarity picture!
Teachers who struck this past spring across the country remarked how much courage and confidence it gave them seeing support from across the country.
Share the picture with us on Facebook and Twitter (@morecaucusnyc), and include the hashtag #RedforEd, #StrikeReady

2. Donate to the Strike Solidarity Fund!
Going on strike is a massive legal and financial risk, as the teachers will not be getting paid, and they may face attempts at criminal charges. They need all the monetary solidarity they can get!

Below are two links you can share among other UFT members, family, friends, and on social media. One is a strike solidarity fund and the other is a Tacos for Teachers fund to help feed the teachers while on the picket line. If your school would like to “adopt a school” in LA to develop a direct solidarity connect please check out this spreadsheet.

3. Follow the Strike and learn more!
Distribute this flyer to your coworkers to educate coworkers about the strike issues and demands.  Below are a number of articles to learn more as well as the UTLA website to keep updated.

4. Come to a meeting on Saturday to hear from Los Angeles Strike’s Themselves!!!
Meeting info. below!!

More information:
https://www.utla.net/

https://splinternews.com/teachers-in-the-nations-second-largest-school-district-1831538735

The United Teachers of Los Angeles, have rightly been fighting not just for their rights but for those of their students and families and rightly calling out the underfunding schools as racism in regards to class sizes, funding, school counselors, and librarians. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed on Sunday, Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the district’s main union, laid out the case the teachers are making:
“The district does not have nearly enough counselors, psychologists or librarians to give students the support they need, and 80% of schools don’t even have full-time nurses. Unnecessary standardized testing is pushing the arts and ethnic studies out of the curriculum.Parents have little say over how funding is spent at their schools. Charter schools, which are operated mostly by corporate chains, have expanded by 287% over the last 10 years, draining more than $600 million from non-charter schools every year. Salaries for educators are low compared to surrounding districts, a significant disadvantage as L.A. Unified tries to recruit and retain teachers during a national shortage.With the vast majority of our students coming from low-income neighborhoods of color, there is no way to describe the persistence of such conditions other than racial discrimination

https://jacobinmag.com/2019/01/utla-los-angeles-teachers-strike-privatization

https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/07/were-ready-for-the-fight-of-our-lives-in-la

https://socialistworker.org/2019/01/08/lausds-portfolio-model-gets-an-f
Saturday, January 12th, 7-9pm Brooklyn: Stand with UTLA Strike Solidarity Event!
https://www.facebook.com/events/212327729710852/

Featuring:

  • Gillian Russom, longtime UTLA leader and union activist
  • Martha Baumgarten, Acero charter school striker and CHI ACTS (Chicago Teachers Union) member
  • Oakland Education Association member and wildcat strike participant
  • Hannah Huerta, NYC UFT member and member of OTs/PTs for a Fair Contract

Co-Facilitated by:
Ryan Bruckenthal, DSA member and teacher
Leia Petty, ISO member and school counselor

Co-sponsored by: Movement of Rank and File Educators, NYC ISO, NYC DSA Labor Branch

The teacher’s rebellion that started last year in West Virginia is rolling on into Blue States. Some 34,000 teachers in Los Angeles are preparing for a strike in the second largest public school district in the United States. Their strike follows the wake of the nation’s first Charter School strike in Chicago and a wildcat strike of high school teachers in Oakland, CA.

Union members everywhere have a stake in supporting Los Angeles teachers in their fight against privatization and disinvestment in public schools. A victory for the United Teachers of Los Angeles will be a victory for the entire labor movement, and will continue to raise people’s confidence around the country that if our side fights back, we can win.

Join fellow union members and labor solidarity activists as we discuss the recent educator strikes, and hear from participants and workplace leaders themselves how they organized themselves and their coworkers to win. Union activists in NYC can learn from their struggles, and begin to generalize their lessons in our own organizing work.

The event will feature solidarity greetings from other unions, as well as a beer and wine fundraiser to send money to the Tacos for Teachers solidarity initiative. All proceeds will go to feeding strikers on the picket lines in Los Angeles. Co-sponsoring organizations will have information tables set up for attendees to learn more about their organizing and get involved in activism.

We should be organizing members and parents at the school, district, borough, and citywide level to demonstrate to elected officials that we have many concerns that have lone gone unmet – overcrowded classrooms, deteriorating school conditions, the disappearance of educators of color, and punitive discipline programs just to name a few.

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