Archives For democracy

Business Unionsim

By Mike Schirtzer

Teacher and UFT Delegate: Leon M. Goldstein High School

 

Like most classroom teachers, I didn’t attend last weekend’s AFT convention. In fact, few working teachers knew it was going on, or had reason to care. Our delegates represented none of what we believe in and nothing that happened there will make any difference in our classroom. There was no call for Arne Duncan’s resignation, no resolution for a repeal of the Common Core Standards, and no new strategies for increasing union mobilization or supporting our students. Actually nothing of consequence was achieved. Members will go back to their respective locals and continue the same methods: Chicago Teachers Unions (CTU) will the lead the fight against so called reform that hurts our children and profession, while the AFT/UFT leadership will go back to a style of unionism that ensures that none of my friends become any more engaged in union activities. Continue Reading…

Congratulations for those who have accepted nominations for the new MORE Steering Committee which takes office for a 6 month term starting on August 1. 
 
The current steering committee has proposed, that rather than having an election to choose 9 out of these 11 (or 10?) qualified candidates, that we simply accept all of them as new member of the steering committee.  This decision will be ratified at the MORE Retreat this coming week on Thursday, July 17 (11am-5pm, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 5th Ave. @ 34th st., 6 to 33rd, D,F,M,N,R to Herald Square).


Megan Behrent
has taught English at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn for 15 years. She has been a UFT delegate for FDR since 2007. In the Delegate Assembly, she has raised resolutions to support the rights of ATRs, to fight school closings/turnarounds, and to show solidarity with other unions. She is a founding member of MORE and active in the National Network of Social Justice Educators. As an education activist, she has appeared on the Melissa Harris Parry show on MSNBC and written for diverse publications including Socialist Worker, New Politics, Labor Notes and the Harvard Education Review.
Lauren Cohen entered teaching through the NYC Teaching Fellows in 2005 as a mid-year replacement for a K-2 self-contained special education teacher at a high-needs school in Harlem. She taught there for two more full school years. She spent the next 5 years at a Title 1 school in the East Village where she gained a reputation among her colleagues for speaking out against administrative mandates that were detrimental to student learning (such as canceling extended day enrichment programs in favor of test prep aligned to faulty and inaccurate Acuity results). She currently teaches at P.S. 321 in Park Slope, where the privileges available to her current students have only strengthened her resolve to fight for a more equitable system on behalf of the students she left behind. For the past two years, Lauren has worked with parents, teachers, and others in Change the Stakes, fighting against the use of standardized tests to punish schools, teachers, and students. She attended her first MORE meeting in the spring of 2012 and was thrilled to meet so many like-minded educators. She ran on the MORE slate for Elementary Executive Board in the UFT election, and she now serves as the chapter delegate for P.S. 321.
Francesca Gomes is an 8th Grade Humanities (ELA and Social Studies) Teacher at New Voices MS 443 in District 15.  She has been a member of the UFT for 13 years, and the only UFT Delegate for her school for the last five years.  She led the “Vote No” campaign at her school beginning on the first day after the 2014 contract proposal was announced.  Originally a member of Teachers for a Just Contract, she then became a member of the Independent Caucus of Educators, and is proud to have been a member of MORE since its early days.

Janice Manning is currently a fifth grade Special Education Teacher in an Integrated Co-Teaching Classroom at P.S. 503 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  This is her 10th year teaching in New York City Public Schools.  She started her teaching career as a fourth grade teacher in Fort Worth, Texas.  After teaching in Fort Worth for a year, she taught English as a foreign language in Znamenka, Ukraine as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  She began attending MORE meetings in January of this year and is passionate about working with other educators to organize ways to improve education for ALL students.
Megan Moskop is a current member of the steering committee. She is a Special Education teacher and UFT delegate at M.S. 324 in Washington Heights, where she began teaching in 2009 through Teach for America. Megan was raised by educators in North Carolina, and her first “real” teaching job was in Malta as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.  In addition to her work MORE, she serves as Learning Labs Director for the Manhattan Young Democrats, and she is a member of Teachers Unite. Deeply thankful for and inspired by her own teachers and students, Megan is committed to the improvement of learning and working conditions in schools everywhere, starting here.
Francesco Portelos is an engineer turned middle school STEM teacher. Over the last two years he has become a very strong advocate for educators and students. His advocacy did not come without sacrifice. After speaking up, he became a target and was removed from his teaching position. This did not stop Francesco. He ran and won the UFT Chapter Leader position in his school even though he is forbidden from entering the building. He has been successfully mobilizing and supporting his chapter and many other educators who read about his fight and seek his guidance from around the city and around the country. His objective is use his knowledge, leadership skills and out-of-the-box thinking to bring MORE to a point where they are successfully filling the great void left by our UFT Leaders. Read more at www.educatorfightsback.org  Follow on Twitter: @MrPortelos
Kevin Prosen is chapter leader at I.S. 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens.  He campaigned as part of MORE’s slate for the executive board in last year’s elections, and has organized mass grievance campaigns at his school involving up to 35 members of his chapter.  He has been active in the MORE chapter organizing committee this year and has been organizing outreach to other chapter leaders in the city. His writings on UFT issues have appeared inJacobin andSocialist Worker.
Mindy Rosier is a native New Yorker who graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education and Fordham University with an M.S. Ed in Early Childhood Special Education. She has been a teacher for 17 years, including 3 years at the NY Foundling Hospital and currently 8 years with the Department of Education in a District 75 school.After seeing the hardships that her school has endured and after researching the education system itself, she became active to promote an improvement in the quality of education for all children.
Mike Schirtzer is a lifelong Brooklynite, graduate of the NYC public schools and CUNY, teacher and UFT Delegate. Teaching has always been and still is his lifelong dream and his work here in MORE is just a continuation of fulfilling the goal of being the best teacher he can be! He has planned and mobilized several events, forums, and ran for UFT & NYSUT office as MORE. He was on the original planning committee, first steering committee, and organized MORE’s social media, press, contract campaign, and South Brooklyn groups.
Patrick Walsh a three-time elected UFT chapter who believes that the only force  that can  save our profession from the predators is our union and the only force that can save our union from itself is us.

 

On Wednesday July 16th 2014 we are hosting a summer series panel and open discussion on the history of groups that have competed for power and influence within the UFT. We will also examine the implications for MORE. More event Information here

Below are readings and video lectures from union/UFT historians on the background of the founding of UFT and Unity caucus, the ruling party of our union.

Suggested Readings

Democracy & Politics in the UFT, 1976 Edition

Democracy and Politics in the UFT is being reprinted in its original with no changes in order to provide a snapshot of the state of the UFT and education circa 1976 and how one opposition group approached these issues.Thanks to Vera Pavone, Ira Goldfine and Norm Scott for creating an online version of the pamphlet they produced almost 40 years ago.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/233191682/Democracy-Politics-in-the-UFT-1976-Ed

UFT/Unity Caucus Early History from “City Unions”

This chapter on the founding of the UFT and how Shanker consolidated power from the book “City Unions”. There is a lot of insight into how Unity has controlled the UFT since its inception.

 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/158371024/City-Unions-chapter-8

 

 

Here we have a series of videos about the history of our union, it’s founding, some discussions on past caucuses and dissident groups, and the relationship between non-Unity activists and the union leadership.

Historical roots of the UFT presented by Michael Fiorillo and Peter Lamphere at the State of the Union conference (Feb. 4. 2012).

Michael: Teacher unions up to 1968 (22 minutes): https://vimeo.com/45094559

Peter: Post 1968 (15 minutes):  https://vimeo.com/45094560

Both videos plus the Q&A (1 hour):  https://vimeo.com/45094713

UFT Friend or Foe- from 2013 Summer Series- How non-Unity Chapter leaders and activists relate to UFT leadership

Norm Scott: http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/07/27/uft-friend-or-foe-event/

Vera Pavone http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/08/14/uftaft-leadership-friend-or-foe-series-vera-pavone/

Ira Goldfine http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/08/14/uftaft-leadership-friend-or-foe-series-ira-goldfine/

Peter Lamphere http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/08/14/uftaft-leadership-friend-or-foe-series-peter-lamphere/

MORE Summer Series 2012- UFT Caucus History Since 1968 

Norm Scott http://vimeo.com/45705700

Michael Fiorillo http://vimeo.com/45698849

 

Join the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) for Summer Series 2014. Discussions exploring the past, present and future of teacher unionism. All are welcome!

Wednesdays 4:00pm-7:00pm
The Dark Horse
17 Murray St. NYC
Near City Hall, Chambers St, WTC

July 16th
Who Runs the UFT? Why Are There Alternatives? A Historical Perspective 1960-2014

The UFT formed in 1960 as a merger of several organizations. By 1964 the Unity caucus emerged as the ruling party of the UFT, which they remain to this day. Throughout the union’s history various dissident groups and caucuses have contested this dominance. At different times these groups merged, ran joint slates, or disbanded. We will discuss why these groups formed and their differing visions and strategies. How is MORE related to this history? What can we learn from it?

Other Summer Series Events

July 30th
Life Under the New UFT Contract

August 13th
Lessons from the Chicago Teachers’ Union- Featuring Guest Speakers from Chicago

August 20th
UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers’ Union Matter?

twitter.com/morecaucusnyc
morecaucusnyc.org
more@morecaucusnyc.org
press inquiries media@morecaucusnyc.org

 

 

Today, our six MORE candidates for NYSUT Board of Directors will contend for votes at the the NYSUT Representative Assembly.  They are Julie CavanaghLauren CohenJames EternoJia LeeFrancesco Portelos, and Mike Schirtzer

We are also supporting Arthur Goldstein for Executive Vice President and Beth Dimino for At Large Director.

New, Positive & Independent Leadership for NYSUT

  • A Strong Rank & File Member Driven Union That Will Take Action in Defense of Our Educators and Students
  • Repeal The Common Core Standards
  • Teacher Autonomy Without High-Stakes Testing
  • Evaluation Based on Collaboration, Not Measured by Test Scores and Cookie-Cutter Rubrics

Continue Reading…

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

By Kit Wainer
Chapter Leader, Leon M. Goldstein High School

In part 1 we explored the ways in which UFT contracts have riveted the attention of union members toward their union and toward their contract. In 1995, for the first time in the union’s history, the membership voted down a contract package that UFT leaders had negotiated. Although the union was able to get a new version of the contract approved in the spring with a few minor improvements, I argued that the Unity Caucus leaders recognized that they would have to be much more active in selling any future contract, especially one with concessions. In this segment we examine the lessons of the 2005 contract – a deal which devastated members’ working conditions and rights on the job like no contract before or since. I hope that activists interested in defending our contractual rights will join MORE and help us build a movement for democratic, rank and file unionism. That way, in the future, we’ll be able to learn from past union victories rather than defeats.

I probably knew the 2005 contract would pass from the beginning but the
struggle against it seemed very promising. In the spring of 2005 we had been without a contract for 1.5 years. UFT President Randi Weingarten seemed to feel some heat to launch something resembling a fight. Teachers for a Just contract and the Independent Community of Educators, the two main opposition caucuses within the union, had won the high school seats on the UFT Executive Board the previous year and both groups were calling on the union to fight the Bloomberg administration to win us a good contract. One of TJC’s members on the UFT Executive Board proposed that the UFT should set a strike deadline for November 2005 which would have coincided with election day when Mayor Michael Bloomberg was seeking a second term. Rejecting what UFT Secretary Michael Mendel called the “worst proposal ever made to the Executive Board” the UFT nevertheless began to mobilize that spring. It encouraged chapter leaders to hold rallies outside of schools, and even highlighted those chapters that held “honor pickets”
(pickets before school at which all members walk into school as a group just one minute before the beginning of the work day), even though the honor pickets were organized by opposition chapter leaders. Every district and borough held rallies and there was a city- wide rally at Madison Square Garden in June. At one DA Randi boasted that in all the UFT organized more than 6000 actions, and her number may have been correct.

When we returned to school in September 2005, however, the only action asked of us was that we sign a postcard to Bloomberg demanding that he bargain in good faith. The UFT had asked the Public Employees Relations Board for a declaration of impasse more than a year earlier. Impasse triggered the creation of a fact-finding panel whose report came out in September 2005. The Fact-finders recommended a further extension of the work day, the creation of the 37.5 minute tutoring block, the elimination of the right to grieve letters in the file, the elimination of the right to transfer between schools based on seniority, the right of principals to decide which excessed teachers they will hire (from which the ATR crisis was born) and on and on. That month, against the objections of

ICE and TJC delegates, the Delegate Assembly accepted Unity’s proposal to accept the Fact-finders’ report as the basis for contract negotiations. By October the city and the UFT had agreed to a deal along the lines of the Fact-finders’ report. Unlike the 1995 deal, the 2005 agreement included raises, pro-rata pay increases to compensate for the

longer work day, and full retroactive pay. Members were being offered substantial pay hikes and retroactive checks that, for some, would approach $10,000.

But there was great anger. Roughly 200 protesters showed up outside the Delegate Assembly, even though no group had prioritized building the protest. Weingarten moved the Delegate Assembly to the Brooklyn Marriott so that it could pack the room with retirees and union staff. Nearly 2000 delegates attended. Randi spoke for an hour to provide “context” for the contract. Then Elementary School VP Michelle Bodden spoke for ten minutes to argue for ratification. Weingarten asked speakers in favor of the deal to line up on one side and those against to line up on the other side.
The first speaker “against” was actually a speaker in favor of the contract. She said she had a bad knee and couldn’t walk over to the “for” line. Randi let her speak nonetheless and then called on another speaker “for.” I was the fourth speaker and the first one to oppose the contract. I spoke for 7-8 minutes. My strategy was to ignore most of the justifications Randi and Bodden had just made and address the issues I knew members were talking about. After me, only two others were allowed to speak “against” before District Representative Marty Plotkin called the question. On the first vote the delegates overwhelmingly approved the deal. Then Randi, responding to shouts from the audience, asked for a vote of only active members (non-retirees). This time the vote was roughly 60-40 in favor, not a good showing for the leadership at a meeting it controlled.

Dozens of people approached me at the DA, took “vote no” leaflets to distribute to their schools, and filled out TJC coupons to get on our mailing list. We held an open meeting about a week later at which several ICE members, one New Action/UFT member, and a few dozen independents showed up. The meeting decided to organize a picket outside UFT headquarters before the membership ratification vote. I believed at the time, and still believe, that was a mistake. The priority should have been literature distribution in the schools, doing everything possible to reach out to new people who were angry about the proposed contract but had not been involved in union issues before. Those kinds of people were not the types who would show up at a rally. But the rally idea prevailed and we held one in November. About 175 people came out.

Meanwhile Unity stuffed mailboxes around the city with literature claiming the proposed contract didn’t actually mean what it said. They said that by giving up the right to transfer more teachers would have the right to transfer. They said giving up the right to grieve letters in the file was insignificant because we never won those grievances anyway. They said the new C6 assignments would always be professional activities controlled by members. At a high school chapter leaders’ meeting one District Representative said that no students would actually show up for 37.5 minutes, that this was something that would only hurt elementary school teachers.

My sense (and I admit that I can’t prove it) was that in schools where there were oppositionists (TJC, ICE, or unaffiliated) who distributed “vote no” leaflets we convinced the membership. But in the majority of schools only Unity’s deceptive literature was seen.

In late 2005 the membership ratified the contract by a 63-37 margin. Among teachers the vote was 60-40. However, the anger over the deal was significant, even among those who voted “yes.” Both TJC and ICE gained many new contacts around the city and the momentum pushed us a little closer together. We ran a join slate in the 2007 UFT elections.

Unfortunately, I think the lesson Unity learned from this was that the mobilizations it authorized in spring 2005 raised membership expectations and made the contract a tougher sell. After that the UFT called for far fewer rallies. The union, for example, has done nothing comparable in recent years even though we have been without a contract for more than four years.

My take-­‐away is that there are opportunities that come and go and are somewhat beyond our control. No one has yet shown a way to manufacture the kind of activism and engagement that the 1995 and 2005 contracts stirred up. Nor has anyone come up with a strategy to prevent that enthusiasm from fading after the contract is settled. I believe our task is to figure out how to be ready to seize opportunities when they arise and hold on to as many new activists as possible after the opportunities recede. There is no clear road map for doing this. The best we can do is learn from past experiences and try to apply those lessons to future opportunities, recognizing that the specifics of each case will be different. Activists who want to see a stronger union, one that will mobilize a larger struggle for a good contract, should join MORE so we can continue this struggle together.

"A say in the priorites of our Union? (UFT) Sure, we'd like MORE."

A plea for union democracy

Dictionary definition of debate:

To discuss a question by considering opposed arguments.

UFT Delegate Assemblies are awash in a sea of undemocratic procedures. One of the most egregious has been the abuse of the rules that govern debate. The leadership and its UNITY Caucus supporters have 100 minutes to present their case plus a 10-minute question period, with the President’s report taking up a good chunk of the time. Alternate voices have a 10 minute “new motion” period. But even those 10 minutes are encroached upon when the leadership uses the pretense of presenting its own “new” motions despite the fact they have the power to add them to the regular agenda. But they go even further by restricting or shutting down debate.

President Mulgrew is violating Robert’s Rules of Order overtly when he calls exclusively on supporters of motions. His argument that he doesn’t know where people stand when he calls on them holds little water given that most of the speakers are members of his own Unity Caucus and are often, in fact, UFT officials on the UFT payroll. His job as president is to alternate between those who are in favor and those who are against a motion. Therefore, after a Unity person motivates a motion, Mulgrew’s obligation is to call on someone opposed as long as someone rises and demands the floor at the same time as a friend of a motion. The Rules call, for not just one speaker on the other side, but half of them in every debate.

Delegates have seen this basic principle of democratic debate routinely ignored, often with only a one-sided point of view being aired. There can be no “union” without a democratic union. In the interests of having a democratic union that follows the rule of law and welcomes vigorous, open debate, we urge all union members to support a movement for a more democratic union. Let us begin this movement at the Delegate Assembly.

Question for UFT’s leadership at the Delegate Assembly:

Randi Weingarten recently wrote in an article titled “Time to End Failed Policies of NCLB & RTTT.” Will the UFT refuse to sign on to any renewals of RTTT in NYC?

Now that we passed a resolution to end high stakes associated with Common Core tests, what is our political follow up?

Are there plans for childcare at DA meetings?

Join us at the next MORE Meeting

Jan. 18th, 2014, 12pm-3pm
New Location!
The Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Our Fliers for the 12/11 DA

MORE DA Dec 12 13REV2

2013Contractbulletpoints

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.

[MORE's statement on the UFT leadership's change of position on testing is followed by James Eterno's full report on the Delegate Assembly]

Yesterday the Unity and New Action caucuses put forth a resolution that was passed at the Delegate Assembly calling for a moratorium on high stakes decisions for the state tests this year. While we applaud the effort to stop teachers from having their evaluations tied to flawed exams as well as a curriculum and evaluation system that has been poorly implemented and largely unsupported, we have serious reservations about the resolution as it stands.

The resolution accepts Common Core Standards and the structure of the teacher evaluation system, including the use of Danielson. These current policies are harmful to our students and our teachers.

Further, the resolution offers no plan in terms of member-driven input and action to fight the destructive policies we face nor regarding the effort to stop these policies’ high stakes impact.

MORE stands firmly in calling for a moratorium on the current teacher evaluation system until an alternative that is rooted in research and what teachers, parents, and students know results in effective teaching and learning is thoroughly negotiated, vetted, and voted on by our members. Positive alternatives exist.  We need our union to stand firm in demanding a system that benefits students and supports teachers.
Continue Reading…

By Mike Schirtzer

Teacher/UFT Delegate

Leon M. Goldstein High School- Brooklyn

2013 MORE Vice Presidential Candidate for UFT

 

On October 9th at 4:00 p.m., activists from all over the city will gather at UFT headquarters (52 Broadway NYC) to protest the emphasis on high stakes testing that is harming our children, educators, and public schools. This action will be led by the grassroots organizations of Movement of Rank & File Educators (MORE), the Social Justice Caucus of the UFT, and Change the Stakes, a group of parents who refuse to allow their children to be measured by standardized test scores.

 

The rally is being called “Win Back Wednesday” because it’s time for public education to be reclaimed from the profit-driven “reformers” and returned to the real stakeholders; parents, students, and teachers. Our children’s education should never be thought of as “common”, “standardized”, or “data-driven”. Recent educational policies that have swept our city and nation have put an emphasis on high-stakes testing that narrows curriculum, turns teachers into test-prep machines, and takes the fun out of learning. Common Core standards, Danielson rubrics, and value added measures are untested, unproven schemes that have been developed with little to no input from public school teachers or parents. It’s time for us to take back our schools from those who seek to exploit our children. Public education should never be a for-profit endeavor- it should be  the foundation of a community where children feel secure and receive an education that provides an opportunity for them to develop critical thinking skills and express creativity.

 

We are joining together to let the public know that our teachers, students, and public schools are “MORE than a SCORE”. The new evaluation system called “Advance”  is rating teachers based on test scores for courses they don’t even teach. There is no conclusive evidence that rating teachers based on test scores will make them better instructors or have a positive effect on our children’s education. The worst part of the new evaluation scheme is that 40% of a teacher’s rating will be based on test score growth, algorithms that have never been proven to accurately determine if a teacher is “effective”. 40% or not, New York State Education Commissioner John King has declared that any teacher who is rated ineffective on the test based measures will be rated ineffective overall. Our education leaders have somehow decided that 40% equals 100%.

 

Common Core standards and the new teacher evaluation system have led to a proliferation of testing that is having a terrible effect on our youngest students. Children enter school with a natural curiosity to learn about the world we live in, but constant preparation for, and execution of standardized testing takes has taken that from them. Students need to have a chance to develop skills, and we must engage them in their innate love of learning.

 

When many veteran teachers entered the public school system the emphasis was on helping students to foster their “multiple intelligences” and talents. Learning was designed to be differentiated based on student’s individualized needs. Now our school system has fallen under the dark cloud of standardized testing and “one size fits all” standards which wrongly assumes that all children learn the same way. This is a tragic turn in public education, driven by nefarious preference for profits over what’s best for our children. While corporations and consultants makes millions of dollars, our students are conditioned to take tests, not to provide solutions to real world problems. This is not what education is about, nor can our democracy thrive or survive if this trend continues.

 

We have chosen the UFT headquarters for the rally because we believe they can be the sole voice of real reform. As nation’s largest, most powerful union local, the UFT can lead the charge for legitimate educational innovation ensuring that the real stakeholders- parents, students, and teachers – have a voice in how to best educate our children. We will be there to urge  the UFT leadership to join us in calling for a moratorium of the new hastily implemented evaluation system. Instead of a champion for the Common Core standards and “Advance”, rank and file teachers and public school parents want an advocate for children that says loudly and unambiguously what we all know to be true: the testing regime has run amok.

 

We need our union  leadership to call for real reform, smaller class size, renewed focus on the arts, music, civics, physical education and funding for afterschool programs. While millions of dollars are being wasted on implementing these new “reform” policies, 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!

Details and Facebook Link Here