Archives For social justice

Teachers in St. Paul, MN are preparing for a strike authorization vote on February 24th.

The union is holding informational meetings in the lead up to the vote. If the strike is authorized, the union is required to give 10 days notice before calling a strike.

The strength and unity of the membership was evident on January 30th when “walk-ins” were organized at 55 of 62 sites with over 2500 of the city’s 3200 members participating along with parents, on one of the snowiest mornings of the year.

The St. Paul Federation of Teachers has done extensive outreach to parents and other community members for months, holding open meetings, and even open negotiation sessions, to discuss contract demands and involve teachers, parents and community members in shaping their demands. As in Chicago, the union has put forth its own blueprint for “The Schools St. Paul’s Children Deserve.” As a result, the SPFT has gained immense support. Parents recently helped to start a Facebook page called “I Stand with SPFT” that quickly grew to 900 members. On February 18th, hundreds of teachers and community members rallied at a school board meeting and many parents provided testimony in support of the teachers’ demands. 

The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers is fighting for reduced class size, increased staffing (more nurses, librarians, social workers and counselors), access to pre-k for ALL students, and less standardized testing to allow for more genuine teaching.

MORE calls on all UFT members to stand in solidarity with the St.Paul teachers and students by following their struggle and taking action.

For more information, visit the St. Paul Federation of Teacher’s website at: http://www.spft.org/

You can also follow the St. Paul Federation of Teachers on Facebook,  join the “I Stand with SPFT” page and post messages of solidarity to show your support.

In addition,  you can call the  Superintendent and school board members of St. Paul and urge them to come to an agreement with the St. Paul Federation of Teachers to lower class sizes, increase staffing and provide universal access to Pre-K.

Valeria Silva – Superintendent supt.silva@spps.org 651-767-8152

Mary Doran – Chair mary.doran@spps.org 651-387-2361

Keith Hardy – keith.hardy@spps.org 651-200-5032
John Brodrick – john.brodrick@spps.org 651-645-7500

Anne Carroll – anne.carroll@spps.org 651-690-9156

Jean O’Connell – jean.oconnell@spps.org 651-295-1623

Louise Seeba – louise.seeba@spps.org 651-335-4263

Chue Vue – chue.vue@spps.org 651-291-8569

Finally, you can sign a petition in support of the St. Paul teachers here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/st-paul-public-schools?source=s.fwd&r_by=4379504

MORE Member Brian Jones speaks out on behalf of parents and students, echoing MORE’s call for a socially just system in which all students have “the kind of humane, relaxed, resource-rich, joyful learning environments that wealthy children already enjoy.” Brian has taught in New York City public schools for nine years and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in urban education at the CUNY Graduate Center.  He is also a parent.

Check it out here: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/02/09/blaming-parents-for-poor-schools/parents-value-schools-but-society-doesnt

You can enjoy more of Brian’s work by watching the film “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” (co-narrated and produced with other MOREistas!)” and by reading his blog.

Sign the Petition!

Occupational and physical therapists are an unseen part of New York City’s education community. But without OTs and PTs, thousands of the city’s promising – yet disabled – students would fall through the cracks.

That’s why we’re alarmed that these therapists continue to be valued less than their equally critical peers: the teachers, social workers, school psychologists and others – who along with OTs and PTs provide immeasurable support for the city’s youths.  Surprisingly, experienced OTs and PTs are paid 38 percent less than teachers and speech therapists with the same levels of education.

New York City’s OTs and PTs are quietly turning around the lives of physically and emotionally challenged students, helping them overcome profound disabilities to reach their potential in the classroom. That’s not just good for families – it saves taxpayers money and generates revenues for the school system.

All we ask for is fairness. Without equity, students with disabilities are in danger of losing a critical support network, a lifeline that will help them graduate and become productive New Yorkers.

The best OTs and PTs often choose other jobs where they’re paid according to their value. Those who stay – because of their commitment to the kids they’ve helped for years – often work second jobs to support their families.

We can all agree that our school children are our most precious resource. They represent the future of our wonderful city. Helping OTs and PTs remain in the New York City School System is another tool to help vulnerable students overcome obstacles and thrive.

Let’s work together in support of our children. Let’s work together to support our OTs and PTs.

Sign the Petition!

One of the defining features of mayoral control in NYC under Bloomberg has been a sharp decline in the hiring of Black and Latino educators since 2002. The pattern is shown in statistics released by the DOE to a reporter in 2009 (reprinted below).  The DOE has not released updated numbers as of this writing.
In response to this disappearing of Black and Latino educators, the UFT Delegate Assembly passed a resolution in 2011 (reprinted below).  To date this resolution has not been publicized among the membership nor have the resolves been carried out.

We urge the UFT leadership to carry out the resolves passed at the Delegate Assembly now!

Data on new hires (pdf)
RESOLUTION PROMOTING DIVERSITY IN THE NEW YORK CITY TEACHING FORCE  (passed by UFT Executive Committee November 2010 and UFT DA January 2011)

WHEREAS, it has been a long standing policy of the UFT to support the existence of a diverse teaching force, both in the interest of equity and because education research has consistently proven that African-American and Latino students who have had teachers of color as positive role models achieve greater educational progress; and

WHEREAS, a study of the UFT Committee on Civil and Human Rights found that in relation to the numbers of African-American and Latino students in New York City public schools, African-American and Latino educators are dramatically underrepresented; Continue Reading…

Support of Union Leaders is Sought in Call for Moratorium on New NYS ‘Test-Prep’ Teacher Evaluation Scheme

MORE and Change the Stakes Team Up for “Win Back Wednesday” Rally at UFT Delegate Assembly, UFT Headquarters, Oct. 9

 For Immediate Release

NEW YORK — On October 9th at 4:00 p.m, activists from all over the city will gather at UFT headquarters to protest the emphasis on high-stakes testing that education advocates denounce for harming students, educators, and public schools. This action will be led by two grassroots organizations: the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), known as ‘the social justice caucus’ of the UFT, and Change the Stakes, a group of parents who oppose reducing education to the pursuit of higher standardized test scores.

According to organizers, the rally is being called “Win Back Wednesday” because public education must be “won back” from the profit-driven entities behind high-stakes testing and school privatization schemes and returned to actual stakeholders: parents, students, and educators. Wednesday is the monthly UFT Delegate Assembly, when representatives elected by rank and file educators from every school in the city traditionally meet to vote on key decisions.

Organizers are hopeful that union leadership will change course, breaking alliances formed in recent years with self-described education “reformers,” whose agenda typically focuses on increased high-stakes testing and privatization of public schools. To highlight growing opposition to these policies, UFT members throughout NYC will wear anti-high-stakes testing stickers and buttons in their own schools on October 9th, and then gather for a united rally at UFT headquarters downtown after school.

“Our children’s education should never be thought of as ‘common’ or ‘standardized,’” said Mike Schirtzer, UFT delegate and MORE member, referring to the new Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluation system. “Recent educational policies have put a dangerous emphasis on high-stakes testing. The results? A narrowed curriculum. A climate of fear and competition in our classrooms. Students learning to bubble in the right answer, not how to think critically.”

“All too often, our leadership has been complicit in this assault on educational quality and equality,” Schirtzer said. “As the nation’s largest, most powerful union local, the UFT can and should lead the charge for real innovation in schools. Rank and file teachers and public school parents want leadership to say loudly and unambiguously what we all know to be true: the testing regime has run amok. We have chosen the UFT headquarters for the rally because we believe they can be a leading voice for real reform.”

Rally organizers will call on union leadership to demand a “real path to better public schools,” including reduced class sizes; a renewed focus on the arts, music, civics, and physical education; and funding for afterschool programs and wrap-around programs.

Jia Lee, NYC public school teacher and parent worries that, “Standardized testing only gives my son’s teacher this information: if he answered an item correctly or incorrectly. In my son’s school, mistakes are viewed as opportunities for learning; it’s never punitive as in these new high stakes tests. He doesn’t need the burden of thinking that his incorrect answers will cost his teacher her job.”

“While millions of dollars are being wasted on implementing these new ‘reform’ policies,” Schirtzer added, “our children lack the services they deserve and our educators enter their fifth year without a contract. The UFT leadership must use its power to say ‘enough is enough’! We are calling on them to join us in telling the public, politicians, and those that say they care about education that our children, teachers, and public schools are more than a test score!

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September 14, 2013 — Leave a comment
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