Friday, April 22, 2016

Letter to Staff


Dear colleagues:

There is a UFT election coming up. I am running for High School Executive Board with MORE/ New Action. Running for High School Academic Vice President is James Eterno, longtime chapter leader of Jamaica High School. James is one of the most competent and knowledgeable chapter leaders I’ve ever met. I often go to him for advice when trying to help members at Lewis. He seems to know everything.

We are running a great slate for High School Executive Board. While of course I would like you to vote for me, so that I can represent you both in and out of our building, we also have Mike Schirtzer, a friend of mine who’s dedicated himself for years to growing MORE, a relatively new opposition caucus. Mike helped lead MORE to a coalition with the oldest opposition caucus, New Action, which finally ended its long partnership with the controlling Unity Caucus. Together we expect to win these seats and finally achieve a real opposition voice in our union.

At the top of our ticket is Jia Lee, recently featured in the NY Post and on NBC news for defying the Chancellor’s admonition to not speak of opt out. I personally believe opt-out to have been the most effective pushback against the nonsense that’s been imposed on us over the last fifteen years or so. Also on our ticket are my friends Lauren Cohen and Katie Lapham, among other opt-out activists.

Unfortunately our leadership, Michael Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus, has supported, to one extent or another, almost every single education reform that’s come down the pike. They supported teachers being rated by test scores. They supported the Danielson Framework. They supported a contract that got us paid eleven years later than NYPD, FDNY, and most other city unions.

Teachers facing dismissal go through a process called 3020a. In the past, the city had to prove teachers were incompetent in order to fire them. Now, most teachers who face that process will have to prove they are NOT incompetent. I find this tantamount to being guilty until proven innocent and therefore un-American. Michael Mulgrew and Unity Caucus, amazingly, not only support this but have thanked the Assembly for enabling it.

Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus is an elite, invitation-only group that operates in secret. All of its members sign an oath to support its decisions. Those who fail to do so are thrown out. While I would love to be more active in union, like everyone in MORE-New Action, I refuse to sign an oath promising to support leadership rather than membership.

I’ve been teaching for over thirty years. It breaks my heart when young teachers approach me contemplating job changes, and that’s been happening more and more frequently. This is the best job there is, and it’s on us to keep it that way, Please vote for MORE/ New Action, and demand the common sense changes that we support, that Diane Ravitch supports, and that both we and our students need.

Best regards,

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