Archives For Movement of Rank and File Educators
Dear NYC Opt Out allies,
We signed petitions. Wrote letters. Got on the bus to Albany. All to no avail.
Boycott/refusal/opt out—however you phrase it—remains the ONLY tactic that we have to force change so that ALL our children have the enriching, citizen-building public education they deserve.
The 2018 NYS ELA test is less than 4 weeks away! For opt out to be effective, we need families refusing the tests in every district and in numbers. That can only happen if we all pull together to organize and get the word out. Seriously, this is an all-hands-on-deck situation.
Can we count on you commit to one or more of the following?
1) Distribute postcards. We are especially trying to reach parents who have less access to information (whether due to language barriers or other disempowering factors) and so may not know their rights. We have 2 flavors of postcard this year, one of which is in both English & Spanish. Hand them out in person at schools, playgrounds, etc or leave a stack at a café, laundromat, library, etc. If you can do this, email email@example.com and write Postcard Distribution in the subject line. Indicate in your message how many cards you want and which design or designs.
2) Help organize a press conference. The Department of Education has been pressuring administrators and feeding the public flat-out lies in a deliberate effort to squelch opt out. So we’re joining with students to push back and to demand that the city respect parent and student rights. Our student-centered press conference is tentatively scheduled for 4 PM on either Thurs March 22 or Tues March 27 (depending on availability of the City Hall steps). Please email firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject: Press Conference) right away if you can help with this.
Who we need:
- Spanish speakers. More and more Spanish-speaking parents are interested in opt out. If you are able to help organize or translate, please contact us.
- kid speakers (possible topics: what opt out has meant to them, learning in a test-prep-heavy environment, learning in a non-test-prep-heavy environment, attending a school where test score-based closure is imminent, the experience of testing days, how their family found out about opt out, etc)
- point person to be a liaison with student organizers
- elected officials point person (getting quotes, requesting and facilitating their appearance at presser)
- press release/media alert (writing and sending)
- social media pushers (do any or all: create memes, FB event, social media blasts—in conjunction with students)
- day-of media (shooting video, taking photographs, etc)
- your body! (check NYC Opt Out on Facebook or optoutnyc.com/events for details once we confirm a date)
3) Be a speaker/presenter at community meetings. We are being asked to send speakers to various parent meetings throughout the city. Some of you have lead meetings before. Others have not, but you can learn! (If at all possible, we would try to have you buddy up with someone who is more experienced.) If you are willing and able to assist as a parent speaker, please email email@example.com (Subject: Parent Speaker)
Please do your best to pitch in to the full extent you’re able. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, join our Facebook group and use (and share!) our newly redesigned website, optoutnyc.com. Both are incredible resources!
Special thanks to Amy Gropp Forbes for all her hard work on the website redesign and to Ilana Greenberg for another attention-grabbing postcard design.
During the week of February 5th-9th, in schools across the country, educators are taking part in a National Black Lives Matter Week of Action. The week of action has three central demands: 1) to end zero tolerance discipline policies and implement restorative justice, 2) to hire more Black teachers, and 3) to mandate Black history and ethnic studies be taught throughout the K-12 curriculum.
The Black Lives Matter Week of Action is part of a long history of teachers standing up for what is right, in our classrooms, in our schools, and in our communities. Most teacher unions agree: The Chicago Teachers Union, the New Jersey Education Association, the United Teachers Los Angeles, the Seattle Education Association and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association are among the growing list of teachers unions that have voted to support this crucial and timely week of anti-racist action in schools. The National Education Association’s Human & Civil Rights Department has even developed a website for teachers to share stories and resources.
Yet at the United Federation of Teachers Delegates Assembly on January 17, 2018, the largest teachers’ local in the country, at the leadership’s suggestion and after only five minutes of debate, voted against supporting the NYC Black Lives Matter Week of Action. Delivering the union leadership’s rationale against the resolution, LeRoy Barr, the Assistant Secretary of the UFT and the chair of the ruling Unity caucus, called Black Lives Matter a “divisive” issue. He argued that with the anticipated Supreme Court ruling on Janus v. AFSCME, which will likely allow public sector workers to receive union representation and benefits without paying union dues, it is crucial to remain “united.”
But united in support of what? The Black Lives Matter week of action is about uniting to support students by implementing restorative justice, hiring Black teachers, and teaching Black history and ethnic studies. These are basic anti-racist demands that any organization of educators should get behind. Furthermore, most of the students we teach and the families we serve in NYC are Black and Latino. No doubt they can unite behind these demands. This week of action is just one of the ways educators can build greater solidarity with the communities we serve. Far from being divisive, this is about unifying and strengthening our union and the communities we serve.
If, in the face of the attack on collective bargaining that Janus represents, we are in fact divided, it is because we have failed to engage and organize the union’s membership. The privatization of schools has disproportionately hurt the careers of Black teachers. As a union, we should know that an injury to one is literally an injury to all. A union that can’t support a movement to make “Black Lives Matter” won’t be able to build the solidarity necessary to overcome Janus and other right-wing attacks on working people.
We have to rebuild our union from the bottom-up and educate ourselves and each other about the problems we face and the steps we can take together to confront them. Grassroots collective actions in our schools—such as the Black Lives Matter Week of Action—can be part of this process. We invite teachers across New York City to join us and other teachers around the country by taking part in February’s Black Lives Matter week of action as a first step to building a school system where Black Lives Matter.
NYC Black Lives Matter Week of Action Organizing Committee
Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) Steering Committee
New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCORE)
We are asking UFT members and members of the community that support our statement to sign on as an individual. We will release the names of everyone who has signed on after February’s week of action to show the broad support this statement has and encourage UFT leaders and members to support the week of action in the future. If you’d like to sign on as an individual please fill out this form.
The Oaxacan teachers union has been at the center of a broad-based movement for educational and social justice in Mexico. Last year Oaxaca was the center of violent clashes and police repression as teachers mobilized to resist neoliberal education reforms. They have long been campaigning against privatization, police repression, corruption among the union leadership. The organization now finds itself at the forefront of mobilizations for earthquake relief.
We will hear a presentation about the struggles of Oaxaca’s teachers, the situation after the recent earthquakes, and the movement for educational justice in Mexico. We will be raising funds for local earthquake relief.
Rene Gonzalez Pizarro is a member of the Oaxaca teachers union and former delegate to the general assembly. He is a researcher at Oaxaca’s center for indigenous languages (CEDELIO) and a co-founder of the artist collective Colectivo Zape. He writes about the struggle for education in Mexico and his street art is featured in several books about the Oaxaca uprising in 2006.
Afsaneh Moradian is a former UFT member, educator, writer, and is finishing her Phd in Education. Her dissertation is on the Oaxaca teachers union’s opposition to neoliberal education reform.
UFT Chapter Leader
PS 58 – Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
What is a union for? Why do we belong to one? In these times of looming national “Right to Work” laws that are likely to impede or cripple the ability of labor unions to sustain themselves financially, it seems like a relevant question to ask ourselves. Is a union for Meet the President dinners? Patronage jobs in exchange for political loyalty? Social media campaigns? What are we getting in exchange for the hard-earned dues we pay to the UFT?
Protecting members from abuse by management is a core function, if not THE core function, of a labor union. If a chapter leader or delegate speaking out and organizing against an abusive administrator is subject to retaliation with impunity, what chance is there for a rank-and-file member to actually exercise their contractual rights? The abuse of staff, students, and parents that has been going on, unchecked, at Central Park East 1, an elementary school in East Harlem, is indicative of a union local decayed to the point of paralysis, and so out of touch with its membership and their concerns that it is approaching complete irrelevance.
MORE-UFT stands in support of A628/S579, a bill to help workers collect stolen wages.
As educators and school workers in the New York City public school system, we see the devastating impact that long hours and low wages have on our students’ families and their lives. When parents have to work long hours for low wages, our students sometimes have to go without necessities — adequate meals, warm coats in the winter, even permanent housing. Many children must take greater responsibility in the home for taking care of younger siblings or the elderly and disabled. This can lead to missing school, lack of rest, anxiety, depression, and makes participation in school communities harder. If parents are not even paid wages owed these problems are compounded.
As unionists and members of the United Federation of Teachers we find it outrageous that employers can get away with failing to pay workers wages they are legally owed. If there is no enforced floor in legal working conditions, inequality will increase and working and living conditions for all working people will deteriorate.
As unionists, educators, workers and residents of New York, we will not sit by while exploitative employers refuse to pay people for work they have done. If scofflaw employers can get away with hiding or transferring assets to avoid paying these stolen wages, then workers cannot collect the money they are owed, even if they win an award in court. A628/S579, Securing Wages Earned Against Theft (“SWEAT”) brings New York law up to the same standard as other states that provide legal tools so that workers can make sure their employers will pay them once they are awarded a judgment in court.
The Movement of Rank and File Educators-United Federation of Teachers
Join CPE1 Parents and Teachers as they fight back against abusive principal Monika Garg. MORE-UFT has attempted to rally our union to stand up for the students, parents, and teachers at Central Park East 1, but UFT leadership (Unity caucus) punted. Now it’s up to the community.
Thursday, April 6th at 4:30pm
Central Park East 1 – 1573 Madison Ave. (106th btw. Park and Madison)