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Saturday, January 18th 2014

12:00-3:00pm

 Facebook link here

If want to know more about how Movement of Rank and File Educators is mobilizing:
FOR a fair contract and a genuine voice for working educators within the UFT
AGAINST the deliberate undermining of public education and over-testing of our students, then this is your meeting.
Open meeting-all are welcome!

MORE 101 for the curious- find out what Social Justice Unionism is all about! Ask questions, raise your voice, join a committee.
Contract – What do UFTers want, how do we organize and fight against a bad contract proposal, what is the process for voting on a new contract?

Be sure to RSVP before Monday, January 13 to reserve childcare on-location (more@morecaucusnyc.org)

The Commons Brooklyn
388 Atlantic Avenue btw. Hoyt and Bond St
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Directions to The Commons

By train
Hoyt-Schermerhorn; A, C and G
Bergen Street; F
Atlantic-Pacific; B, M, Q, R, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Flatbush Avenue; LIRR
Check MTA.info before you leave, weekend travel changes due to repairs

By bus
B63 and B65

Don’t forget about our forum on High Stakes Testing on Saturday 2/1

More information here

There are 2 parking lots on Schermerhorn st btw. Hoyt and Bond for less than $10
Street and metered parking may be available

by Megan Moskop

Teacher/UFT Delegate

M.S. 324- Patria Mirabal

Note: I am an active UFT and MORE member because I believe that our union can be a powerful voice for the teaching profession, the quality of our education system, and ultimately the quality of our society.  Though I am critical of our current UFT leadership, my criticism is meant to be constructive and is directed towards the goal of building a stronger, smarter, more democratic UFT.  If you’d like to get involved with the work of building a stronger union, click here to join MORE online, or come meet us at our Holiday Party this Friday (Dec 6th).

If you read my last post, you know that I came to the November 20th UFT delegate assembly ready to speak in favor of our Resolution for an End to the New Evaluation System.  Despite preparation and support from my colleagues and fellow MORE members, I was nervous.

Why was I nervous? In UFT delegate assemblies, Robert’s Rules of Order (with the addition of extra Rules of Order printed on each agenda) enable completion of the planned agenda before 6pm.  They also severely limit discussion. There are 15 minutes allotted for questions from delegates, and only 10 minutes for motions directed to the agenda from delegates. (The President’s report, however, does not have a time limit, and often occupies the majority of the meeting time.)  I have also observed many occasions on which delegates who rise to speak are belittled or treated disrespectfully.

I knew that I would need to speak as well and as concisely as I could.  So I planned, drafted, and re-drafted what I might say.  To read my plan, click here.

Armed with this plan and copies of the resolution, I arrived at the delegate assembly early to pass out the resolution so that delegates could read over it before it was time to vote.  UNITY, the caucus to which all the UFT leadership belongs,  distributed its own flyer at the beginning of the meeting. Among other things, the flyer criticized MORE, in an inaccurate and deceptive way, saying that MORE “believes that principals should have complete and unchecked authority when it comes to a teacher’s evaluation.”  I was shocked and insulted that the UNITY leadership thought their own delegates would accept such a  spurious claim.  No group of teachers would ever advocate for such a simple way of assessing our complex and valuable work, and any group of elected delegates should easily recognize such a statement as a distortion of MORE’s view.

Additionally, the flyer and the President’s report asserted that the UFT leadership was fighting “Advance. ”  I wonder, where is this fight? Most teachers I know do not feel involved in, or even aware of any kind of larger resistance to “Advance.” Instead, they are stressed out about extra standardized tests, frustrated with pushing paperwork until late at night, and striving to infuse as much genuine joy as possible into common-core aligned lessons.

The teachers I know, despite being overworked and undervalued, are tough. They are warriors who show up every day ready to help their students fight for a brighter future. President Mulgrew must see things differently though, because when he asked us to rally around the  “New Day, New York Dec 5th Day of Action”  (which is a great call for social justice involving many unions- check out the UFT flyer here) he undermined the call to action, saying, “I know we’re tired, but…”  Later, with regards to contract negotiations, the prevailing sentiment was that “our members aren’t ready for action.”

If UFT members are tired, we are tired of being forced to implement poorly planned dictates that mean more paper work, more time testing, and less time focused on our students.  We are tired of being told to do stupid things, but we are ready to fight them. We need our union to lead us in the fight for a system in which we can focus on what we love—teaching our students.

President Mulgrew and I agree that Advance gets in the way of our teaching. He called advance a “paperwork disaster” created by “the people who hate us” (referring to the corporate interests that usually bash teachers).  When I stood to raise our resolution, I adjusted my planned words to echo these ideas, and to include many of the thoughts above. Recording is not allowed in the delegate assembly, so I’m not sure exactly what words I used, but my main idea remained the same.

“Advance” reinforces the corporate notion that our teaching, and our children, are standardizable products to be quantifiably measured. We must fight for the collaborative creation of a teacher evaluation system that empowers teachers, not testing companies, not administrators, and not bureaucrats. We deserve that smart system, and so do our students.

After I spoke, Janella Hines, one of the UFT Vice-Presidents, spoke against our resolution. Debate was over, as per the rules of the Delegate Assembly*, and there was a vote as to whether or not a debate and vote on our resolution would be added to the agenda for next month. Since votes are not counted in UFT meetings (problematic!), we don’t know exactly what the totals were (I’ve heard estimates at 30-70 and 40-60), but a “visual majority” did not support adding our resolution to the next agenda.

Perhaps the majority of the UFT delegate assembly isn’t ready to fight Advance, but are you?

If so, join MORE’s campaign to reject “Advance!” Help us push the UFT leadership to be more democratic and inclusive of rank-and-file teacher input, and lend your expertise towards fighting what Diane Ravitch calls the “corporate education deform movement.” Continue this conversation with your colleagues, sign our petition, come to a meeting, contact us, or come celebrate with us at our holiday party this Friday!

 

*A side-note on the use of parliamentary procedure:

When I asked President Mulgrew about our rules of order after the meeting, he advised me to start researching. I’ll continue my research, but my first google search resulted in the following key points from the website www.robertsrules.org:

“Complementary is the right of at least a strong minority to require the majority to be deliberate- to act according to its considered judgment AFTER a full and fair “working through” of the issues involved. Robert’s Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly.”

Though a “for” and “against” position on our resolution (as per UFT rules) was presented during the meeting, I don’t believe this constitutes a full and fair “working through, ” and I think that this rushed treatment is all too often the case with important topics in the delegate assembly.

Furthermore, the website states that, “Under no circumstances should “undue strictness” be allowed to intimidate members or limit full participation.”  I know I’m not the only delegate who feels intimidated by speaking. As for full participation, it is already decidedly limited when only 15 percent of our membership voted in the 2012 UFT elections, and the Union Hall doesn’t even have enough space to hold close to the 3, 406 elected delegates.

by Megan Moskop

Teacher/UFT Delegate

M.S. 324 Patria Mirabal, Washington Heights

On Wednesday, November 20th, the MORE caucus brought our Resolution for an End to the New Evaluation System (Advance) to the UFT’s Delegate Assembly. I came to the meeting prepared to present our resolution and ask that it be placed on the agenda for our December meeting. Below are the words I prepared to motivate our resolution if called upon. Stay tuned for my personal account of what happened at the meeting. 

In our last Delegate Assembly, President Mulgrew asserted that “We are losing teachers at a faster rate than ever before. The evaluation system is exacerbating the problem.”  For this reason, and many others, we know that Advance is detrimental to our profession. Our fellow teachers wouldn’t quit at such alarming rates if we as the governing body of their Union show them we’re fighting for them, by really fighting this evaluation system.

As a union of educational leaders, as elected delegates to the largest AFT local, we can’t just make concessions and tweaks to a broken system that fuels what we’ve termed (in the agenda’s resolution 1) “a destructive testing mania.”  Resolutions 1, 2, and 3, already on today’s agenda [to ban standardized testing in grades K-2, to create more options for local measures within advance, and to protect lesson planning freedom] are a step in the right direction, but they are not enough.

We must completely denounce the bureaucratic mess that is “Advance.” It undermines our professional judgement, jeopardizes our academic freedom, rejects our expertise, and eliminates our classroom autonomy.  Furthermore, it pushes our schools to spend precious time on paperwork, and takes focus away from our essential responsibility to educate the next generation of citizens.

Our leadership has been calling for new curriculum and more support.  Since we are good educators, we deeply value good curriculum and good professional support.  Right now, however, those things are not what we need. We don’t need new systems that are hastily shoved into our hands.   What we need is a good system within which to work and grow.  We deserve a system that enhances our work instead of undermining it.

For-profit interests, who, unlike us, did play a role in creating Advance, often paint teachers as a problem to be fixed. We are not a problem, and as long as we go along with this broken, demoralizing system, we implicitly agree that teachers, not poverty, not inequality of resources, not failing systems, not inept bureaucracies, that teachers are the problem to be fixed in our education system.

We must stand together in opposition to this system of evaluation, which reinforces the corporate-fueled notion that our teaching, and our children are standardized products to be quantified and measured.

Unlike corporate education deformers, this delegate assembly was never given input into the creation of Advance, so now, before it is too late, we must give our input by rejecting it vehemently along with the dozens of chapters and over 1,000 individuals who have signed this petition.

On behalf of our colleagues and our communities, it is our job to fully reject “Advance” and push for the creation of a collaboratively created evaluation system that demonstrates respect for our skill and our judgement as educators.

It is not enough for us to whine about waiting for curriculum and to ask for minor adjustments to a system that is fundamentally flawed because it rests on the assumption that bad teaching is the problem in the American education system.

Therefore, I call on the delegate assembly to  (reading from resolution) resolve that the UFT should mobilize teachers, parents and students towards a repeal of the Education Law 3012c and the new evaluation scheme.

One exciting and quick way to support MORE’s work is by asking your school’s UFT chapter to vote on endorsing our petition for a moratorium on the new “Advance” teacher evaluation system.

We’re all fed up with “Advance,” and all the teachers I’ve talked to wish the UFT was doing more to oppose this system and stand up for a better one.  My chapter was so excited to hear about this way of pushing the UFT to act that they suggested voting to endorsing this petition right after I showed it to them in our union meeting.

I wanted to make sure everyone had time to read up and consider their options before a vote though, so I sent them an informational e-mail, and we scheduled a secret-ballot vote for the next week.  Teachers cast simple paper ballots, they were counted by an impartial committee, and then my chapter leader and I composed a letter like the one below.

Voila!

It only took about 30 minutes, and my chapter is excited about their involvement in our fight to build a stronger union and a better evaluation system.

You can also take a vote to endorse at your next chapter meeting.

We will present the petitions and chapter endorsements at the November 20th delegate assembly, when we raise a resolution calling for a full repeal of this flawed evaluation scheme that was imposed on us.

Let us know your chapter endorsed our petition by emailing us at more@morecaucusnyc.org

Moratorium endorsement model

Date
(school name)
UFT Chapter
On (date) we, the UFT chapter of (insert school name here), voted to formally endorse MORE caucus’s Petition for a Moratorium on the “Advance” Teacher Evaluation System.
 The chapter endorses this proposal and encourages our leadership to act quickly in the face of actions that jeopardize our profession and our students’ quality of learning.
Fraternally,
(name)
Chapter Leader 
(name)
Chapter Delegate
 

submitted by Megan Moskop- Teacher/ UFT Delegate at M.S. 324- Patria Mirabal

11/7 Day of Action

November 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

"It's NOT lack of curriculum or PR Reverse is rotten to the core! There's no right way to judge teachers on test scores"

Too Little, Too Late, Mike!

Too Little, Too Late

October 16, 2013 — 3 Comments
"Too Late, Mike. NYC educators trust MORE"

but, it’s just the way the city is implementing the plan, right?

October Meeting

October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment
"MORE General Meeting october 11 2013"

Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves and Get Busy!

RSVP Now!

By: Dan Lupkin
Special Education Teacher/ UFT Delegate
P.S. 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

My students did not take the news about the Performance Assessment well. In fact, it was kind of a wrenching experience- their faces could not have been more pained if I had run over their dogs.  I told them that it would not count on their report cards, that it would not affect their middle school prospects, and that if they did their best, I would be proud of them. Still, there was a lot of anxiety, and an unplanned Q & A session that went well beyond morning meeting time. I didn’t want to scare them, but nor did I want to lie, and there is no getting around the nature of what they would be asked to do. I got questions like “can I ask for help with hard words?” and “what if I don’t know what to write?” that I had no reassuring answers for.

The Performance Assessments thrust upon nearly all students in certain grades and selected students in others are similar to what my kids dealt with on last year’s New York State Common Core tests. Two complex texts, and a prompt calling upon my students to synthesize both texts into an essay. I am called upon to turn off all my training and experience and pretend that these are tasks at which my students can realistically be expected to succeed.

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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