Archives For election

I’m running in the elections because the #RedForEd rebellions that have swept the nation have shown that educators who organize a strong network of rank and file union members can win impressive changes in their unions and school districts. The fightback in Washington State, LA, Oakland,  West Virginia and Arizona have inspired me to build that kind of organization here in New York City.

I became an educator straight out of college because it was a stable job in the midst of a recession. I saw many of the folks I started with not last through their first years, and realized that we needed a stronger union to defend untenured teachers.  I’ve been working as a math teacher for 15 years now and currently teach at a bilingual school for Latin American immigrants where I teach Algebra II and Robotics.

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The omnipresent (and unaddressed) segregation of the public schools where I grew up had a profound political effect on me. Now that I teach in the most segregated school system in the country, the impacts of race and class on the education of our students is to stark to be ignored  – and must therefore be central to any project of changing education for the better.  We have to make #BlackLivesMatter in school, too.

The vision of MORE is shaped by the ongoing fights of educator-organizers across the country who galvanized their coworkers, students, parents and neighbors.  It couldn’t be a starker contrast to the strategy put forward by Mulgrew and co. in the UFT leadership, who rely on their cozy relationship with politicians like Andrew Cuomo to get things done in Albany.  This means that we don’t fight around the things that we need in our classrooms – like lower class sizes, freedom from high-stakes testing, or defense against autocratic administrators. And, as a result the majority of union members don’t see the UFT as a vehicle for change in their workplace. We have to organize to change that.

The 2019 UFT elections are crucial moment to reach out to our coworkers and communities and convince them of the need for knitting together educators and parents who want to see change into a common network of activists. De Blasio and Cuomo have already started talking about looming budget cuts – the current economic expansion will not last forever. We need to build a strong network now in order to be prepared to fight for stronger funding for our students and our jobs going forward.

Peter Lamphere

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.

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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)

 

 

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PRINTABLE PDF: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_rTIKQeq2LLMzd2UUc0b3pjNHVNUVh1ZUVrWjc1Y05BTEsw/view?usp=sharing

 

As New York City gives away billions to Amazon and sits on billions in budget surplus we still have an underfunded and segregated school system, and raises in the recent contract fell behind the pace of inflation.

 

UFT Members and NYC students deserve better. Join MORE in our fight for:

 

    • Fair funding for all schools
    • Reversing the givebacks on health care
    • Strong protections against harassment and abuse
    • Parity for all titles, including OT/PTs
    • More diverse teaching and support staff

 

  • Adequate counselors, social workers and other support staff for students

 

 

Here is what educators around the country were able to win by taking action in the street as the wave of teacher rebellions spreads across the country.

  • In Washington State, teachers strikes netted raises of up to 10% this fall
  • West Virginia teachers and school support workers earned an immediate 5% pay increase statewide
  • Arizona teachers won a 19% pay raise after a 5-day strike.

 

Carranza calls Mulgrew his brother from another mother, the City has a budget surplus, and a teacher strike wave is sweeping the country with massive public support. In the meantime, Paraprofessionals make subsistence wages, and Occupational and Physical Therapists lag behind their colleagues by tens of thousands of dollars. If this is what we get in good times, what happens when we get another Bloomberg or Giuliani? Now is the time to organize and fight for MORE.

 

Get in Touch with MORE:

fb.com/MoreCaucusNYC

more@morecaucusnyc.org

@morecaucusnyc

http://morecaucusnyc.org

Call: (347) 766-7319

 

What is wrong with the UFT leadership’s strategy and how can we fix it?

 

The UFT’s longtime strategy has been to cultivate relationships with “friendly politicians,” by supporting them in elections, lobbying on their behalf, and supporting legislation those leaders want. Perhaps most importantly, they guarantee labor peace.

But as a result, the leadership is hesitant to take any action that might upset these politicians, like holding rallies or even going on strike.

The limits of this strategy are apparent in our new contract. We have a Democratic Governor who is eager to show his progressive credentials. Our mayor is the most progressive NYC has had in decades. The city has a surplus of $4 billion. Yet despite all this, we still got wage increases below the rate of inflation and were forced to make givebacks in our healthcare. So even in the best of circumstances, this strategy is limited at best. What will happen if those circumstances change – like say in a recession?

 

To get better contracts and improve our working and living conditions we need a new strategy that prioritizes building strong chapters at every school so members are organized and ready to take action both at the school and city-wide level.

 

Well before the expiration of the new contract our union should launch a member-driven campaign to set contract goals and decide on a course of action to win those goals. Borough and city-wide rallies can develop a sense of union solidarity and collective purpose. Finally, as a union we can appeal to various community organizations through joint actions which link our contract campaign to a collective effort to fund our schools and make our city livable again.  

 

Why we need to build independent rank and file organization: Join MORE today!

 

Only a stronger base of rank-and-file teachers, counselors, paras and all education workers, knit together in a common organization that can share strategies and mobilize our coworkers can push the union leadership to alter its approach, and eventually lead the union in a different direction entirely.

 

We have seen what a tremendous difference this kind of organization can make in Chicago and Los Angeles.  This spring and fall, the teachers rebellion was led by educators building up their rank-and-file networks so they could engage in workplace actions.

 

United, we are stronger – that’s why you should check out our website and find out how you can help now – www.morecaucusnyc.org.  Whether it’s something as simple as passing on a leaflet to an interested coworker in the teachers’ lounge, making a monetary donation, or organizing a solidarity photo for our brothers and sisters in struggle elsewhere in the country, your actions can make a difference.

The election results are in! Congratulations to everyone – we have a great team of activists!

But remember it’s crucial that every member of MORE, whether on the Steering Committee or not, continue the ongoing work to build our caucus.

Following are the 9 new Members of the Steering Committee.

In solidarity,
Gloria for Outgoing Steering

 

John Antush

John Antush
This school year let’s build MORE through the UFT elections. By identifying people to run for positions in the union, producing campaign lit, petitioning with others, and conducting outreach we can involve co-workers, recruit members, develop leaders, and promote MORE’s agenda: contract enforcement, pro-tenure, supporting parents’ right to opt out of tests, hiring more teachers of color, opposing unfair evaluations, creating a participatory democratic network of rank and file UFTers across the city, etc.. On Steering I will work with members in different districts and regions to build regional MORE clubs or chapters to hold meetings; conduct outreach to new schools; offer mutual support; and take actions. I will also work to involve members in collectively generating election materials and the “MORE Newsletter.” I’ve taught high school for 14 years and currently work at CIty-As-School. I’m a founding member of MORE and one of the downtown MORE chapter organizers.

 

Lauren CohenLauren Cohen
I am a 5th grade ICT teacher at P.S. 321 Brooklyn. As chapter leader of a large elementary school in politically-active District 15, my organizing focus will be folding that work into MORE, to increase caucus membership and prepare for the UFT election.  The work in my district has often focused on big-picture issues such as testing and evaluations, but it is equally important to develop MORE as a resource for UFT members to receive answers, assistance, and advocacy on school-based issues. I will use Nationbuilder to communicate more regularly with school workers in my district and will help create spaces –both real and virtual- for them to raise their concerns and seek support.

I enjoy public speaking and will continue to build MORE’s presence at Delegate Assemblies, rallies, and in the media. MORE’s members can depend on me to represent the caucus fearlessly in all venues. I’ve served on two prior Steering Committees and therefore bring a strong understanding of our organizational norms and goals.

Peter LampherePeter Lamphere
I teach math and robotics at Gregorio Luperón HS in Manhattan. During four UFT elections since 2004, I have learned the need to prioritize building a strong base and organization through our campaign.

This year, I will focus on developing literature, fundraising and outreach plans, including a strong fall conference and membership drive.  Also, I will continue to develop MORE’s organizing committee and the database of thousands of contacts we maintain, and contribute to local organizing in Washington Heights.

I have a long record as a MORE/UFT activist, Chapter Leader and Delegate. But more important is my commitment to MORE’s social justice unionism model. This means that we can’t win against the deformers without broader support from families, communities and working people generally.  We need not only parent and community support of our demands but also to support wider class demands against budget cuts, for #BlackLivesMatter, and so on.

Jia LeeJia Lee has been a Special Education Teacher in New York City public schools since 2001. She taught in a District 75 high school for four years before teaching in elementary schools. For the last seven years, she has served as chapter leader and is involved in local organizing as a way of empowering school communities. She served on the first MORE steering committee and sits on the most recent term. She works alongside other MOREistas and Change the Stakes, a grassroots coalition of parents, teachers and community members who are concerned with the destructive use of high stakes standardized testing and to bring awareness to the inextricable link between teachers’ working conditions and students’ learning conditions.

 

 

August Leppelmeier

August Leppelmeier
I am social studies teacher and have been active in MORE since its beginning, contributing to the original planning committee. I aim to strengthen the caucus in the union’s challenging period by seeking to advocate for all of the teachers, including the most vulnerable, such as the pre-tenured teachers and the ATRs. In addition, I believe that we also need to advocate for the students, who also can be vulnerable.

 

 

 

Dan LupkinDan Lupkin
I have been a special education teacher in a variety of schools and settings across NYC since 2005, and am currently the Technology Coordinator and UFT Chapter Leader at PS 58, a prek-5 school in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. I am eager to use the 2016 UFT elections as a springboard to spread awareness of MORE, and of our alternate vision for how our union ought to run. I also plan to continue organizing around high stakes testing, uniting teachers with parents across the city and the country to fight the privatization of public education. I am deeply committed to both the social justice and bread-and-butter unionism aspects of MORE, and seek a balanced, pragmatic approach to fusing these currents into a coherent and effective set of strategies. 

Megan MoskopMegan Moskop
Since I jumped into MORE organizing two years ago, I’ve grown as an event-planner, facilitator, speaker, strategist, and most importantly, as an organizer. Grounded in lessons learned from all of you, and from my school community, I’m motivated to keep helping our caucus grow, whether that means planning a press conference, as I did during our “Vote No” contract campaign, or helping plan local campaigns at our uptown educator support meetings.This year, I’ll focus on using our election campaign to build our membership and to sharpen and spread our movement’s vision for better schools through a better UFT.

I’ve been teaching special education at MS 324 in Washington Heights for 6 years, and this year I’ve stepped back from other leadership roles to dedicate time to our work. I am deeply committed to building and bringing more teachers into our community of honest engagement, shared learning, love and support.

Mike Schirtzer

Michael Schirtzer
I’m so excited to run for steering. MORE must defend public schools and advocate for our members. I will work hard to increase the membership in my school and get out the vote for MORE. As Delegate I will help write/raise resolutions and recruit at DAs. I will organize additional chapter leader/delegate workshops. We will hold meetings for teachers that need help in south Brooklyn and build that network. I will be the point person to steering for the high school committee to win UFT executive board seats, create a campaign, and add MORE members from those schools. I will work with union members statewide to opt-out and fight anti-public education policies in my role as VP of ST caucus. Unions are critical in ending social, economic, and racial injustice. Together we can transform and take back our union.

I am a HS teacher for 8 years and currently teach Social Studies at Leon Goldstein HS in Brooklyn where I am also the UFT Delegate.

Kit Wainer

Kit Wainer
I have been a teacher for 27 years and the Chapter Leader of Leon M. Goldstein High School for 17 years. For the past two years I have been working on local organizing, focusing on pulling together a group of MORE supporters in southern Brooklyn to discuss how they can handle issues in their schools. I have served two terms on the MORE steering committee. My plan is to continue working on southern Brooklyn local organizing and also to work on our election campaign. As someone who has played a substantial role in each of the last four UFT elections I believe I have a lot of specific knowledge of how to run election campaigns which I plan to contribute this coming year. I also want to work with some of the younger MORE members to train them in some of the nuts and bolts of petitioning and literature distribution so that they can take over the process in the future. I have also been the point person in the establishment of our non-profit corporation and hope to be able to wrap that up sometime in the fall of 2015.

MORE Events

January 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

weneedunions

Monday, February 4th – 5-7pm

MORE Planning/Election Committee Meeting – Cosi Cafe, 55 Broad Street NY, NY

Wednesday February, 6th 3-6pm

UFT Delegate Assembly – 52 Broadway, New York, NY 10004

Saturday, February 9th  – 12pm – 3pm

MORE General Meeting/Signature Party – Location TBD

Saturday, February 23rd – 3:00pm – 5:00pm CUNY Graduate Center; 365 5th Avenue; New York, NY 10016 Room 5414 

PUBIC FORUM “Dignity and Democracy in Education: Blowing the Whistle on the Culture of Fear & Corruption in NYC Public Schools” with Lois Weiner