Monday, May 02, 2016

A Historic Moment

In just three days, ballots go out to UFT members, and we will have a big choice to make. That choice is between status quo and change. If you think the union has been moving in the right direction, vote for Unity. After all, the UFT Unity Caucus has been in charge of the union for half a century.

On the other hand, if you think we've been moving backward, there's only one choice for you and that is MORE/ New Action. It's remarkable that the most active and vital caucus, MORE, has been able to unite with the first opposition caucus, New Action. This is a testament to the reason and determination of the leaders of both caucuses. They saw an opportunity and grabbed it.

But you also have an opportunity right now. If you think that teachers are not only under attack, but that union leadership has enabled the attack, you need to vote for MORE/ New Action. (In particular, if you've agreed with the voice of this blog, you need to vote MORE/ New Action, because this voice happens to be on the ballot.)

We are hundreds of activists united to empower teachers. I kind of hate that word, "empower," because every time we accept a crap contract, enable junk science rating, or approve of a checklist that fails on multiple levels to define who we are or what we do, UFT Unity, or our reformy enemies, presents it as something that will "empower" us. But they don't know what we're about.

We're about tens of thousands of working teachers, all of whom have their own voices, and many of whom don't fit directly into the cookie-cutter mold designed by Charlotte Danielson, the one even she now rejects. We're about standing up to the endless testing regime enabled by politicians bought and paid for by DFER and their various BFFs.  We're about the common sense approach of Diane Ravitch. Unlike Unity, we don't pretend to support her ideas and then enable our enemies when we think she isn't looking.

We are the diversity of teachers, all over the city, from every background, young, old, and in between. We listen, and we don't ask anyone to sign a loyalty oath. We stand for this profession and don't apologize for trying to improve it. We reject the notion that teachers are pitted against students. Our working conditions are our students' learning conditions, and our present is their future. We will fight to protect their future, and we will fight to support union. We believe union will help raise all boats, particularly those of our students, and we believe they deserve better than a future as Wal-Mart associates struggling to make ends meet.

We are not afraid, and we will speak for the voiceless. We will speak for teachers who are abused and demoralized. We will do all in our power to bring them to the forefront, but the first step is not in our hands The very first step disenfranchised teachers have to take is placing an X on the UFT ballot for MORE/ New Action. If they throw away the ballot, as 83% of teachers did three years ago, they are placing their fate in the hands of those who cheer as we initiate second tier due process for our brothers and sisters in the ATR. Throwing away your ballot grants approval to carte blanche on our rights, and a continued open season against our voices.

We cannot allow that. We need a President who knows how to get along with people. We need a President who can listen to a diversity of voices, acknowledge and understand them, and move forward in the best interests of both us and the students we serve. We need a President who can build bridges with not only various UFT factions, but also our communities, parents and students. The only candidate who fits that criteria is Jia Lee.

And Jia will have a whole lot of help in the combined communities of MORE and New Action. In just a few days, you can join us. This is our moment, this is our year, and this is our time to move ahead.

2016 is the year we make our voices heard. Join us and help us help you.
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