Archives For UFT elections

MORE is moving forward on our priorities and campaigns for the fall.  We need YOU to get involved and help us campaign around tenure, charter schools, high-stakes testing, chapter leader elections, local UFT member support, diversity petition and MORE!

Ways to get involved – email us at MORE@morecaucusnyc.org or call at (347) 766-7319 to join any of these campaigns.

Please check out our events calendar at more.nationbuilder.com/calendar

  • Distribute Our Newsletter! – This is the most essential thing every member should do to build our caucus.  The newsletter is how we raise our collective voice and recruit new activists. MORE members should distribute MORE newsletters to all UFT members in their school mailboxes and try to make contacts at nearby schools as well. Download our recent copy here

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MORE CAUCUS OF UFT TO CHALLENGE CURRENT UFT LEADERSHIP IN STATEWIDE UNION ELECTIONS

RANK AND FILE EDUCATORS WILL BRING REAL CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE TO UNION POSITIONS

New York – The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), best known for opposing UFT’s President Michael Mulgrew and his Unity caucus in the 2013 UFT elections will now offer a positive alternative for leadership in the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) officer elections. This is unprecedented- never before has the Unity caucus or a sitting UFT president been challenged in NYSUT elections.

MORE is running in this election against the Unity Caucus because, according to candidate special education elementary teacher Julie Cavanagh,

 
“…Rather than collaborating with those who seek to destroy us, we must harness our collective power and stand with parents and youth to end destructive education policies and fight for the economic, racial, and social justice our teachers, students, and society need and deserve.”

In a break from his union’s leadership, MORE candidate and high school teacher Mike Schirtzer calls for an immediate repeal of the Common Core State Standards,

“Teachers did not develop it, nor does it have the best interests of our students at heart.”

The standards have been supported by the current union leadership despite they way they force classroom teachers to do ever-increasing amounts of test preparation at the expense of real instruction. Students are bored with the the constant “drilling”, which deprives them of an authentic, engaging education.

MORE is challenging for statewide union office in order to initiate a change in direction, towards standards developed by pedagogical experts and field tested before implementation. MORE candidate and elementary school teacher Lauren Cohen adds,

“The Common Core is fundamentally undemocratic – not only in its implementation but in its conception. Handing teachers rigid, scripted curricula benefits corporate interests while neglecting students’ need for a developmentally-appropriate and well-rounded education.”

Public school parent, teacher, and MORE candidate Jia Lee explains that she is running for this position because,

“Our union leadership has allowed for the high-stakes use of invalid standardized tests, putting an entire generation of youth, educators, and schools at risk, and has promoted a culture of fear. It is time for democratic policies that respect the diverse needs of New York’s public schools.”

Our union leadership has done precious little to stop the over-reliance on testing, even though a plethora of research proves that measuring students only on test scores does not provide a complete picture of what a child has learned. Mike Schirtzer reiterated,

“The Unity caucus strategy has been political lobbying; they have not mobilized the UFT membership, even as schools are closed, high stakes tests proliferate, and student data is sold to the highest bidder. “

MORE believes our union must stand up in defense of our students. Reducing class size, funding the arts, offering a wide array of after-school programs, and providing full social-emotional and medical services for families would be the type of reform that would truly move our schools forward. Addressing poverty, racism, sexism, and other issues that our children face every day is what real union leadership is about.

Unfortunately, Unity caucus is stubbornly clinging to obsolete tactics that have resulted in the nearly unopposed corporate takeover of our schools. NYSUT and UFT must fight to allow working educators, students, and their parents, to determine educational policy. Policy should no longer be determined by those who seek to profit financially from our public education.MORE is challenging Unity in order to offer a slate of candidates that truly represents classroom teachers. Any policies the MORE candidates negotiate will affect them directly, because they are in the classroom each school day. That is not the case for the small clique of high-ranking Unity grandees currently dictating UFT policy.

Each new bureaucratic diktat, from Common Core to the cookie-cutter Danielson rubric to High Stakes testing, has resulted in less time for grading, lesson planning, and collaboration with administrators, parents, and colleagues. These failed policies have buried teachers under mounds of useless paperwork that do not positively impact our students. A new NYSUT leadership that includes the MORE slate will mobilize rank and file educators in the five boroughs and locals from around the state to take back our schools. Education policy should never be dictated in corporate boardrooms or political back rooms. It should be created with the input of the real experts- working teachers and parents.

The elections will take place April 5th, 2014 at the NYSUT representative assembly held at the New York Midtown Hilton. Local union presidents and delegates from around New York state will converge at this convention to cast their ballots and determine the statewide union’s direction. MORE is running an independent slate of six candidates for Board of Directors At-Large representing UFT members; Julie Cavanagh, James Eterno, Jia Lee, Mike Schirtzer, Lauren Cohen, and Francesco Portelos. They have also endorsed the candidacy of Arthur Goldstein for NYSUT Executive Vice President and Beth Dimino, President of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, for a Director At-Large for Suffolk. Only elected delegates from last year’s UFT election may vote in the NYSUT election, not rank and file members. MORE represents thousands of UFT members (including over 40% of the high school teachers who voted in the 2013 elections). UFT’s undemocratic rules do not allow for proportional representation, therefore all the NYC delegates at NYSUT convention are from the Unity caucus. These are at-large positions, meaning that any NYSUT delegate may vote for us, including those not from the UFT.

By Kit Wainer- Teacher & UFT Chapter Leader at Leon M. Goldstein High School

2007 TJC/ICE UFT Presidential Candidate

2013 MORE UFT Executive Board Candidate

The results of the 2013 UFT election revealed a startling fact: Just 18% of eligible active employees (20,728 of 115,050)  decided to vote.  On June 19th the UFT Delegate Assembly will entertain a motion to charge the election committee with the task of analyzing the problem of low voter turnout in the 2013 union elections. While it is easy to focus on the organizational minutiae of whether the election committee is the correct body to consider this question, or whether it is representative enough, it is important to keep an eye on the broader issue of the origins of low voter participation and its significance for the union as a whole. The declining participation is both a product and a symptom of our union’s weakness. More importantly, it poses an existential threat to the future of the UFT.

Low voter turnout is part of a long-term trend of increasing voter apathy over the last several union elections. It is also part of a larger and equally disturbing trend within the UFT as a whole. When I was first elected chapter leader in 1996 several of the oppositional high school chapter leaders would sit together at high school meetings and complain about the low attendance rates at monthly divisional meetings. At that time there were slightly more than 200 high schools but rarely would more than 40 chapter leaders show up at the monthly meetings. Over the past two years the number of high schools has increased to more than 400 and the turnout of chapter leaders at monthly meetings has declined to fewer than 20. At some meetings participation has been in the single digits if we count only those chapter leaders without part-time staff positions.

Although attendance at Delegate Assemblies has been steady over the past 20 years, it has been very low. The UFT’s meeting hall is large enough to seat no more than 30% of the delegates and there is only slight spillover into the secondary meeting room upstairs. Consider that a delegate’s only job is to show up at the monthly meetings. A delegate who is not coming to DAs is, therefore, not performing any aspect of his/her responsibilities. The fact that thousands of delegates have behaved the same way over decades indicates that this isn’t a problem of individual behavior. It is a larger trend. Inactive delegates are replaced by other inactive delegates.

The success of the June 12 rally is a hopeful sign. However, past membership turnout at union rallies has been uneven, at best. In spring 2005 the UFT did manage to pull off several successful protest events as a build-up to what should have been an activist contract fight. However, more recent results have been disappointing. On December 1, 2011, in the wake of the Occupy protests, the UFT participated in a city-wide union protest. Michael Mulgrew advertised the December 1 march as the one we were “building” — as opposed to other Occupy-inspired actions we were only “supporting.” Then-staff member Janella Hinds came to a high school meeting in November to impress upon us the importance of the march. She argued that if we show up with only 1000 members it will be a show of weakness. I marched in the UFT contingent that day along with the 300-400 other UFT members who heeded the President’s rallying cry.

Analyzing the causes of membership apathy requires some educated speculation. We have no polling data to indicate why people don’t vote or don’t show up. We know that we are in a larger historic climate of low levels of activism, at least compared to the decades of labor upsurges of the 1930s and 1940s, or compared to the growth of social movements in the 1950s and 1960s. However, that is only part of the explanation. Our members vote in U.S. elections at a much higher rate than they vote in UFT elections, despite the fact that going to the polls in November requires more effort than filling out and returning a mail ballot. (And despite the fact that, in my view, decisions of President Mulgrew have a greater impact on the daily lives of UFT members than do decisions of President Obama).

The low membership participation is an ironic — and dangerous — consequence of the UFT’s failures to defend the basic rights of our members.  The impact of the 2005 contract was disastrous. Our work day was lengthened. We lost the right to grieve letters in the file or transfer to other schools and the ATR crisis was born. Now we will be evaluated based on standardized test scores. And at 3020-a hearings the burden of proof will now be on us to convince a hearing officer that we should not be fired. The problem is not simply that we have lost ground. It is that the UFT leaders have spun each giveback as a victory and argued that we are better off than we used to be. Members may not analyze the causes of our decline but when bureaucrats tell them that steps backward are really strides forward, when they tell them things that contradict what they see and feel at work every day,  members simply tune the union out. UFT members have become acclimated to bureaucratic double-speak. We hear it from supervisors, from the Department of Education, from politicians. We have learned over the years to mentally change the channel. When our union representatives speak the same bureaucratic language we respond the same way.

Members respond to the union’s failures — and its refusal to admit failure — by tuning the entire union out. They don’t show up at meetings or rallies and they don’t vote. Ironically, this strengthens Unity’s hand as it frees them of the obligation of formulating coherent arguments that can convince independent delegates that they are right. Delegate Assemblies attract mostly Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus members and have become pro-leadership rallies in which the President speaks for most of the 2 hours and there is little room for serious conversation or debate. Nor does the leadership have to win over activist, critically-minded voters in order to prevail in union elections. Ironically, membership inactivity feeds the very forces that lead to more discouragement and more inaction. And an increasingly isolated union leadership is weaker, more prone to make concessions, and more likely to alienate members. The cycle is tragic but not illogical. Members who are disenchanted with the  union’s trajectory have thus far chosen apathy rather than than the project of building an alternative vision. Frustrating as it is, this decision makes sense for members who have no live experience of any other version of unionism. So many members infer from Unity’s failures that unions in general are bankrupt, or at least irrelevant.

The Unity leadership has turned off the membership and that may soon pose a serious crisis for the UFT as a whole. As some MORE members have pointed out, by acquiescing to the new evaluation procedure, Mulgrew has negotiated contractual concessions without anything in return — not even a contract. Invariably, the state and the city will want more in the very near future and the UFT leaders no longer have the ability (assuming they had the desire) to mobilize the membership to defend what rights we still have. Worse still, the 18% turnout among active members in the 2013 UFT election is a signal that the membership’s lack of investment in the UFT has now reached crisis proportions. This opens the possibility of a direct challenge to the very existence of the UFT. In the national climate of declining union membership and state legislatures moving to eliminate collective bargaining in historic union strongholds such as Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, to ignore the possibility of an assault on our collective bargaining rights would be foolish. An attack from a Tea-Party dominated legislature is unlikely in blue New York. However, a decertification drive from “reform” groups such as Educators For Excellence or Children First is a possibility. Can we be certain that the 82% of active members who don’t care who our union president is will vote to continue paying $100 per month in union dues if given the choice not to? By failing to mobilize our members for the kind of fight we should be waging in this political climate the Mulgrew regime is endangering the very union it leads. That is nothing short of grotesque dereliction of duty.

The good news is that our union’s decline is not inevitable. We can turn things around. The Chicago Teachers Union, which launched a successful strike in September 2012, has shown us that an activist, mobilized membership can fight back and win. The corporate reformers are still on the move in Chicago, but the strike checked at least part of their agenda and provided a living example that participating and organizing are worth the effort. We need that kind of change in mentality in New York.

The Unity leadership seems impervious to the lessons of our defeats in New York or the successes in Chicago. But the Movement of Rank and File Educators is committed to a unionism that is based on mobilized members in alliance with a broader social movement to save our schools from destructive reforms. We believe that a revitalized UFT can energize our members and fend off even Bloomberg-style attacks. We urge you to get involved. The future of your union may depend on it.

The Unity caucus has won the 2013 UFT elections. The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) congratulates them on their victory, and looks forward to working alongside our union brothers and sisters to defend and improve our union and our schools.

The election totals, however, tell an important story about the state of our union. MORE members and supporters should be extremely proud of our results, but all UFT members have cause for concern.

MORE INCREASED THE OPPOSITION VOTE IN EVERY DIVISION

MORE members and supporters can be proud of the fact that MORE increased the opposition vote (previously ICE/TJC) in every division. Meanwhile votes for UNITY and New Action declined in every division. Compare this year’s results with those of the last election (see chart at the bottom). Most significantly, MORE ran neck-and-neck with Unity in the High Schools — with an elementary school teacher as our presidential candidate! We got 40% of the vote there, while Unity got 45%. We still have a long way to go, but MORE’s growth is the result of all the hard work of our members and supporters who carried petitions, distributed leaflets, and promoted MORE’s message far and wide — THANK YOU!
75% OF UFT MEMBERS DID NOT PARTICIPATE — WHY?
The majority of UFT members did not bother to participate in these elections. Out of 173,407 ballots mailed, only 43,138 were returned. When 75% of the membership doesn’t think voting is worth their time, that’s a serious problem. We can’t read the minds of those roughly 130,000 non-voting members, but we can imagine that frustration, demoralization, and basic alienation from the union at the chapter level must be ingredients in the explanation. While public education is facing an historic crisis, our union has thus far failed to involve the majority of members in a struggle to defend our rights and to improve our schools.
The participation results, listed by division, are shameful:
                               Mailed  ballots           Returned ballots
High School:      19,040                          3,808
Middle School:   10,807                          1,879
Elementary:         34,163                          7,331
Functional:         51,040                          7,704
Retirees:              58,357                          22,462
Retirees contributed the majority (52%) of the ballots. Among UFT members who are still on the job, only 18% voted. When the active membership is less engaged in the life of the union than those who have stopped working (and, in many cases, live in other states!), that is cause for serious concern.
HOW CAN WE BUILD A STRONGER UFT?
MORE wants to invite UFT members — whether they voted for us or not — to join us in the struggles ahead. We’re going to have to organize fights against cookie-cutter evaluation rubrics (such as Danielson), against the plan to tie teacher evaluation to high stakes standardized test scores, and in defense of basic protections such as tenure.
In this election, most UFT members did not vote for any group. But everywhere we go, we find educators and other school-based workers are responding to MORE’s basic message: we don’t have to lie down and accept the logic of corporate education reform. We can and will stand up and fight back!
Join MORE at our next city-wide membership meeting:
Saturday, May 11
12 to 3pm
224 West 29th Street, 14th Floor
CHART: VOTING SHIFTS FROM 2010 TO 2013
slate votes only * remainders are split ballots
Elementary Division
                                    2013                                                        2010
MORE                       1,140                                                 703 for ICE/TJC
New Action              534                                                    978
Unity                          5,111                                                7,761
Middle School Division
MORE                       398                                                  248 for ICE/TJC
New Action             161                                                     421
Unity                        1,185                                                 1,981
High School Division
MORE                       1,430                                              1,369 for ICE/TJC
New Action             452                                                  774
Unity                         1,592                                              2,595
Functional Division (non-teachers)
MORE                       951                                                 708 for ICE/TJC
New Action             754                                                  1,175
Unity                         5,167                                              7,337
Retiree Division
MORE                       1,490                                             1,037 for ICE/TJC
New Action              1,880                                            2,234
Unity                          18,155                                          20,744

The UFT election results will be announced Thursday, April 25. After the ballots are counted, the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) will continue to support and strengthen our union. If we do not win this vote, we will work with the elected UFT leadership when they stand up and fight for educators, students, and parents. We will also continue to challenge the UFT leadership when they don’t. Unfortunately, the corporate education “reform movement” isn’t going away anytime soon. Educators, parents and students who want to defend and improve public education have many battles ahead of us, and MORE intends to be in this fight every step of the way.

MORE had two goals in this election campaign: To build a grassroots movement of educators and school-based workers and to replace the current UFT leadership. Whether or not we succeed in the latter goal, we are confident that we made important strides toward the former. Thanks to those of you who wore our buttons and T-shirts, distributed leaflets, signed petitions, forwarded emails, and promoted us to your colleagues, we have made a bigger splash in this election than we thought possible. Our growing presence on social media is just one indicator: we have more than 700 followers on Twitter, almost 1,000 “likes” on Facebook, nearly 2,000 followers on our blog, and our first election commercial has over 3,000 views. We have distributed our election literature in thousands of schools across all five boroughs. We take these as signs that the Movement of Rank and File Educators is a thriving pro-education group that is ready to lead the battle to save our public schools.

This election gave us the opportunity to meet and collaborate with like-minded educators and activists who believe in building a stronger union from the bottom up. One MORE chapter leader explained that handing out our leaflets led to “developing stronger relationships with the other chapter leaders and UFT members in the building. It will be easier to work together now.” We heard from members who said that talking to their colleagues about our movement created “more discussion among our staff about educational issues and the direction of our union.” One person even shared that there were many members in her school who “were not even aware that there was a UFT election and there were choices other than the current leadership.” until they connected with MORE. Many of our members do not have a history of being involved in union activities or of advocating for public education in larger forums. This election has provided valuable lessons for all of us in how to educate and organize our colleagues to fight for the kind of schools our children deserve and the kind of union that we deserve.

MORE also ran in this election because we wanted to ensure democracy within our union. In order for any organization to properly serve it’s members there must be room for discussion with the dissenting point of view.  When we agree with the current leadership, we will proudly stand up and support our leaders. There will be times we have a different vision for a more organized and mobilized membership. In our view, a strong union is one that is member-driven as opposed to the current top-down system. We will continue to press our leadership to recognize the importance of rank and file voice in any decision that affects our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions. Our entrance in this election ensured the presence of democracy within our union and allowed our members to have a choice in this election

For these reasons, the election has already been a victory for MORE. We are proud to have appeared on the ballot of one the largest educator’s unions in America. It is truly an honor to even have the opportunity to represent our UFT brothers and sisters.

MORE will continue to work with our fellow UFT members, parents, student groups, and communities to stop school closings, charter school co-locations, the misuse of standardized tests and the attack on our union rights. You can fully expect that we will continue to hold social events, forums, rally’s, general meetings, have a newly elected steering committee, continue to be a strong presence on social media, offer full support for UFT members being harassed by administrators, demand excessed educators get placed in permanent positions, fight for the services our children need, and the great education our students deserve!

MORE TShirt Logo
*Election VICTORY Party*
THE DAY OF THE COUNT, THURSDAY, APRIL 25TH 
Come out and celebrate a MOVEMENT in the making!  UFT Election Ballots will be in and counted.  We have known from the beginning that running in the UFT election is about building something bigger, a MOVEMENT ready to defend Public Education!  We’ve learned lessons, built new alliances, drastically grown our membership and spread the word far and wide about a different vision of our union.
 
Now it’s time to celebrate!
Please join us for some fun.  
We ALL deserve it.
 

WHEN: THURSDAY 4/25, 5-8PM                   

 WHERE:  O’REILLY’S Bar (Upstairs)

21 W. 35TH St. btwn 5th and 6th Ave NYC

 

 Please RSVP to more@morecaucusnyc.com 

or Facebook so we can reserve the proper space

In this UFT election there is finally an ALTERNATIVE to the union leadership (UNITY) that has dominated UFT politics for decades. Finally there is an opening to begin to fight for what our students, parents, and we as teachers deserve, a union that fights for the schools our children deserve!

A Unity Chapter Leader, the caucus of current President Michael Mulgrew,  sent an email out to the UFT members at his school. Our own Fred Arcoleo answered by making a case for MORE and explaining why we are running against the current leadership as a positive alternative.

The lines in bold were sent by the Unity chapter leader, the follow-up for each is MORE’s  response to each point by Mr. Arcoleo:

In the Last Three Years  a lot of UFT Victories were achieved because of Michael Mulgrew

Fighting endlessly for a Fair Contract with no give backs and without giving up the Contract we have to get a new Contract (Taylor Law allows us work under an expired contract until we get a new Contract)

UNITY allowed our contract to expire in 2009 without ANY mobilization of the membership and have allowed us to work without a new contract for FOUR YEARS! They have refused countless times to mobilize the membership to fight for a new contract, claiming they couldn’t work with Bloomberg, but it was UNITY who 1) REFUSED to criticize Bloomberg when he CHANGED THE LAW to run for a third term and REFUSED to endorse his opponent William Thompson in the 2009 election (that Bloomberg didn’t win by much). Furthermore, UNITY REFUSES to publicly attack the Taylor Law. It is the Taylor Law that expressly forbids job actions (or even threats of job actions). If UNITY would have led a campaign against the Taylor Law, in effect since 1967, all these years—especially in light of a 2011 decision by the International Labor Organization (ILO) that says the Taylor Law violates international labor law—we then could threaten labor actions like strikes when under attack, like the Chicago teachers did. Their strike won them numerous improvements for teachers and students and served notice that the teachers were a force to be reckoned with.

Ask yourself this: Have we ever been mobilized to fight for a new contract? Have we ever even been asked what we would want in a new contract? Think of it this way: our working conditions and wages have not improved since at least 2006 when the last contract was approved. Most of us weren’t even teaching then! And in that same time, our budget has been cut almost 20%. That is the contract situation.

Preserving the Collective Bargaining Agreement by working strategically to fight DOE using Legal means and winning those battles

Again, UNITY Caucus routinely defends the Taylor Law, a law that has made virtually all job actions illegal. They claim that the Taylor Law protects our (expired) contract, but in practice, it has led time and time again to NYC public employees working FOR YEARS without a new contract.

Consider this startling fact: there are NO public employees working under a contract right now in NYC—that’s 152 bargaining units and 300,000 workers!!!

 Listen to The Wall Street Journal: “The lack of contracts presents Mr. Bloomberg’s successor with a set of thorny problems: Roughly 300,000 public workers and their labor leaders seeking raises and benefit sweeteners, as the city faces an estimated $4 billion budget deficit in 2014…. The major Democratic hopefuls have all said they would make deals only in the city’s best interest.”

Where to you think that will realistically leave us? By not mobilizing UFT members BEFORE our contract expired to FIGHT collectively—85,000 strong—for what we need, UNITY has betrayed us, built dangerous illusions, and fattened us up for slaughter with the new mayor.

Chicago CORE teachers, on the other hand, built strong, active chapters that educated and involved their members in decision-making. It was exciting! They did not rely primarily on legal means, but on the strength of the masses of teachers, mobilizing in the streets, and in the end, refusing to work until (some of) their and their students’ needs were met. They have a contract now, and defeated Mayor Emanuel on many of his most stubborn plans, by FIGHTING BACK for the good of our students we love so much and our careers.

Worked endlessly for a fair State Mandated Evaluation, and refused to settle one that would worsen our working conditions

UNITY has REFUSED to oppose the new evaluation system that will make it much easier to fire teachers and will effectively end tenure protections. The new system is the opposite of fair: it will allow administrators to rate teachers from a complex list in 4 domains, 22 categories, and 76 elements, making it far easier than before to point to alleged “deficiencies” in teachers who make too much money, or who they don’t like, or who challenge educational policies or conditions. The DOE plan to conduct 10 unannounced observations a year will make it impossible to have thoughtful pre- and post-observation conferences (as UNITY claims). Furthermore, teachers who don’t follow this litany of qualities will now be able to be fired much more easily. The founder of this rubric herself, Charlotte Danielson, has denounced the plan as UNFAIR (!) and contrary to her intentions in developing it. She recognizes that her instructional aid is being transformed into an instrument for the wielding of power.

UNITY’s opportunistic appeal to and defense of Governor Cuomo over Bloomberg is just Republican/Democratic party politics: it was Democrat Cuomo who took away the $250 million in funds from NYC schools this past January, punishing NYC students and teachers for the DOE’s failing to make a deal. Cuomo and Bloomberg’s aims are much more similar than different. UNITY would have us choose the lesser of two evils.

By signing onto this evaluation plan, UNITY is actually playing into the DOE’s plans to drastically increase teachers’ workloads, pressure teachers to enforce a more narrow, lock-step curriculum, and force out thousands of experienced (i.e., higher-paid) teachers, as well as teachers who speak up about deplorable conditions in the schools. All without doing a single thing to IMPROVE CONDITIONS that would make learning and teaching easier. Who is criticizing them for this? Not UNITY. They’re making a deal and going along with the plan.

The new evaluation system will ABSOLUTELY worsen teacher working conditions in NYC. Tying teacher evaluation to student test scores will create much more stress for our students and as well as ourselves; divide teachers against students and pit teachers against each other; and essentially blame students and teachers for the inadequate education system both parties are forced to endure. Not to mention the fact that it’s scientifically unsound on its face. This kind of draconian pedagogy will not lead to improved learning.

Bloomberg himself has said he wants to use the new evaluation system to get rid of half the teaching force. How could that be fair? How could that not worsen conditions for the rest of us?

Won the PERB Case ensuring that Danielson is not included in Teachers files until an agreement is reached regarding the Evaluation

By making such a big deal now about the Danielson rubric not being used in formal evaluations “yet,” UNITY is distracting us from the fact that they have been instrumental in ALLOWING the framework to become the standard measurement tool in NYC by refusing to oppose it in the first place. It’s insulting to our intelligence, not to mention demoralizing, when we know that the day an agreement is reached (with UNITY’s blessing), Danielson will be the standard tool. Principals are already training us in its implementation!

In fact, instead of denouncing it, UNITY has organized its own UFT TRAININGS in the Danielson framework (!), sealing its legitimization. Again, Danielson herself has said on multiple occasions that the DOE is distorting the reasons she created the rubric in the first place and does not support it.

Passed a Resolution to end Mayoral Dictatorship

UNITY has consistently FAILED to oppose Mayoral Control, going back to when it was first proposed in 2002. (I was one of the many chapter leaders and delegates who fought UNITY to oppose it.) The UFT could have denounced it and mobilized its full 185,000 membership to expose its dictatorial nature then. UNITY could have united teachers with the thousands of parents and others who also actively opposed Mayoral Control, which wiped out whatever voice parents had in their children’s education. Instead, UNITY ALLOWED Bloomberg to impose it without any fight whatsoever. Since then, UNITY has over and over REFUSED to oppose it or lead any campaign against it.

Notice the nuance: they call it Mayoral “Dictatorship.” JUST LAST MONTH UNITY released a major governance report that explicitly SUPPORTS Mayoral Control, arguing only for a few minor adjustments that give no direct voice to over a million parents, teachers, or students. Lastly, you can’t oppose major government policies with a resolution! You need to educate the members and mobilize them to take action in their/our interest, and mobilize the public to understand the important issues at stake.

MORE, on the other hand, unequivocally opposes Mayoral Control as inherently dictatorial and anti-student and is fighting RIGHT NOW in many public forums and inside parent groups to mobilize people to condemn it (we have been active organizers at Bloomberg’s rubber stamp Panel for Educational Policy [PEP] hearings, while UNITY has been NOWHERE TO BE FOUND). We fight for a united movement of teachers, parents, and students to have a direct voice in making decisions about education.

Won Arbitration stopping the DOE from shutting down 24 schools in 2012

UNITY has consistently FAILED TO MOBILIZE its membership to oppose rampant and frankly racist school closings, most taking place in the poorest neighborhoods with the largest percentages of Black and Latino students (some of the City’s best school buildings then taken over or co-located with middle class students and charter schools). Again, UNITY is ALMOST NEVER at the PEP hearings, leaving teachers, parents, and students from closing schools to fend for themselves. MORE, on the other hand, has been active in the Occupy the DOE movement and a consistent presence at PEP hearings, denouncing these draconian anti-student, anti-community attacks. We are (see above) absolutely opposed to Mayoral Control, advocating a direct voice for parents, teachers, and students in their education.

Stopped the city from Laying off Teachers

Though it’s true that NYC currently has no layoffs, thousands of ATRs wallow in limbo without permanent positions because UNITY refuses to make a cause célèbre out of the DOE’s deliberate attempts to isolate these mostly more experienced (and higher paid) teachers. One look at them and you can see they are disproportionately older (a discrimination suit BEGGING for action, but UNITY will not touch it) with a disproportionate percentage of them black and latino.

Thousands of these ATRs have essentially been forced out of their career or have become so cynical they have lost interest in the profession they dedicated their lives to.

Saved ATR’s from layoffs

UNITY CREATED THE ATR CRISIS by negotiating an end to seniority transfers in 2005. It used to be that more senior teachers were guaranteed positions when they were excessed from their schools. Now, when a veteran teacher is excessed, they are dumped into an ATR pool and must try to find a job on their own. Because they earn a higher salary, principals are choosing cheaper teachers and reducing the most experienced to function as day-to-day subs. Many of them languish for years before they quit or are (for now) lucky enough to be able to retire.

In addition, UNITY agreed last year in a side agreement never discussed with the membership that ATRs now rotate to a DIFFERENT SCHOOL EVERY WEEK, virtually ensuring that they can’t prove themselves with a particular school and earn a permanent position, as sometimes happened in the past. Uprooted and marginalized, ATRs are more disillusioned and bitter than ever.

Won the SESSIS Arbitration which will result is paying Special Education Teachers back for money owed due to SESSIS

UNITY has ALLOWED SESSIS to create mountains of more paperwork and stress, primarily for guidance counselors and special education teachers, with NO pay increase or added staff. Instead of sounding the alarm and FIGHTING for added staff or a contract that guarantees rights for teachers and counselors (like Chicago CORE teachers did), UNITY merely went to court to get back pay for teachers and counselors who have ALREADY sacrificed hours and hours of extra time and stress to conform to these new regulations.

Who is exposing this attack on teachers and counselors? Who is fighting for the needs of students? It’s always less money and more work, and UNITY REFUSING to fight back. As usual too, it’ll be students who suffer most.This court case is actually allowing principals to pressure counselors and teachers into working overtime to complete their work or face sanctions and letters in the file for not doing their jobs!

MORE wants to take the lead of the Chicago CORE teachers, who actually fought for and won a SIGNIFICANT INCREASE in guidance counselors and support staff (as well as a significant raise and many other concessions that are improving the lives of students and teachers).

Restored Teachers Choice

Ridiculous! For years teachers received $250 a year for teachers’ choice. Then, because UNITY FAILED to win a contract for its members that included teachers’ choice, the DOE canceled it altogether. This year we got only $45. To call this a victory is to turn reality upside down and insult the intelligence of our members. Our members spend hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars. Many educators, especially those in Elementary schools, are routinely evaluated on their class room environment and bulletin boards, thus they feel mandated to spend this type of money. Teachers have had to make up for budget short falls due to years of budget cuts, by bringing in; markers, pens, pencils, copy paper, posters, tissues, books, calculators, staples, toilet paper, just to name a few. Let’s remember this is on top of NO Contract!

Shut Down the Rubber Room

There continue to be rubber rooms scattered throughout the city where hundreds of teachers wallow for months and years, not allowed to return to teaching and often held without charges or any way to defend their reputations. UNITY allows this to continue while opportunistically and traitorously claiming victory.

Please see the story of MORE’s Francesco Portelos which proves that rubber rooms are still open http://protectportelos.org

The new evaluation process WILL perhaps eliminate rubber rooms, but with a bitter irony: it will be much easier—for the first time in many years—to fire teachers altogether.

Para’s (sic) no longer have to clock in when they arrive to work

Working conditions for paraprofessionals have consistently deteriorated over the years due to our lack of a contract. Paras have suffered disproportionately from working without a new contract because their salaries and benefits were lower to begin with. The fact that non-UFT paras’ hours are being cut across the City this year has meant an increased workload for educational paras, without a peep from UNITY.

Passed a Resolution to support ATR’s in low needed (sic) areas to get certified in high needed areas so they can get back into the classroom

As noted above, UNITY has allowed thousands of ATRs to roam the city week by week, functioning as day-to-day substitutes. Many have thus become bitter, cynical, and isolated from their colleagues, giving up on a lifelong vocation of helping young people. Since the DOE has been targeting more experienced teachers (which, again, would make a POWERFUL CAMPAIGN AGAINST AGE DISCRIMINATION), many are counting the days until retirement. This plays beautifully into the DOE’s plans to get rid of more experienced teachers.

MORE wants to fight to reinstate all ATRs in permanent positions, expand the teaching pool citywide, and expose Bloomberg’s campaign against experienced teachers. We additionally want to force the City to hire more black and latino teachers, whose numbers have been dwindling for the last ten years for many reasons.

I will only mention one of the countless other attacks UNITY has either acquiesced to or even orchestrated: the major cut in pensions (you could call it Tier “IV½”) for new teachers UNITY agreed to in 2009—again, without any member input whatsoever—in return for two school days off in September that UNITY had themselves negotiated away in 2006 (how’s that for turning defeat into “victory”?). That further opened the door for Tier VI in 2012 for the newest teachers, which is even worse! Observe:

“Tier (“IV½”) Teacher”…………………………….“Tier VI Teacher”

34 year service……………………………………… 34 year service

Age Retires 57………………………………………. Age Retires 57

Final 3-year FAS $100,000……………… Final 5 year FAS $100,000

Pension = $66,000………………………………. Pension = $38,430

(http://chaz11.blogspot.com/2012/03/newbie-teacher-and-tier-vi-why-teaching.html . See also http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2012/04/april-fool-no-joke-tier-4-pension-last.html for a comparison between Tier IV and Tier VI. It’ll open your eyes, whether you’re new or a veteran.)

That’s what I mean by steady erosion of conditions. And I’ll bet many of you didn’t even know this. That’s because UNITY doesn’t advertise these “victories.”

A QUICK SUMMARY OF MORE:

MORE represents an alternative to a passive UFT membership.

MORE represents an end to “let’s make a deal” politics that deceptively label defeats as “victories.” There is no substitute for educating and mobilizing teachers to fight for what we need. In fact, it’s exciting to take some control of our destinies for once!

MORE represents activating UFT members.

MORE represents educating UFT members about the issues that are threatening teachers and students.

MORE represents fighting for what we need as teachers, students, and parents.

A teachers’ union should not be about “let’s make a deal.” It should be about fighting for what we need, for ourselves, and mostly for our students, who are suffering the most in any of these attacks.