Monday, May 29, 2017

Puerto Rican Teachers on Notice

This is a letter that teachers in Puerto Rico received. It says they're going to be reassigned, somewhere.Where? Who knows?

This is something that once happened to us. It was before I started teaching. I remember hearing about it at a borough meeting. We had a fiscal crisis in NYC and the contract was basically a quaint memory. Teachers were fired en masse. Those who remained were sent wherever to do whatever.

Of course, as big as NYC is, getting around there is just a matter of time. Maybe you spend too much time traveling, but Puerto Rico can be worse. There are more mountains, for example, in Puerto Rico than NYC. I don't think there's a subway and ferry system, or a lift to cross mountains with, but you can correct me if I'm wrong. There also aren't a whole lot of job opportunities these days.

I often heard stories about purged teachers in NYC who went into business and were successful. Some of my former colleagues would tell me they were jealous. I'm sure that wasn't 100%, of course, and there weren't any studies about what happened to all the former teachers. Puerto Rican teachers face worse prospects, unless they can figure out how to skim off the vulture capitalists who are sucking the lifeblood from their island.

Of course there are people of conscience, and few forward-thinking people want to see their schools drained of resources. There are not many people who want to see pension promises reversed, although we see that here on the mainland as well. There are just not a whole lot of great prospects over there right now.

This leaves one option for those with the means, and that's leaving the island. Maybe they can join the UFT. Who knows? That may solve the issue for a few, but what about those who remain? They're still stuck paying back predatory loans to people who have no regard whatsoever for their welfare. Unlike our President, who declared bankruptcy multiple times, they haven't got that option. And for some reason I don't envision the Trump administration bailing them out either.

I hear they've already experienced a whole lot of loss. I don't know--maybe if everyone just left, the vampires would have far fewer bones to pick.  Should we encourage them to come here? Should we somehow make it easier for them to get bilingual and/ or ESL certification so they could help us out in their time of need? Should we maintain our focus on trying to help the people that remain? Would it be possible to do both?

At the UFT Executive Board last week, we passed a resolution of support, though we seemed to limit it to one union. Also UFT supports collective bargaining but not collective action, the notion of which was entirely alien to at least one hand-picked Unity Executive Board member. Those in FMPR is 32,000 according to Wikipedia. However, I hear that AMPR is exclusive representative, that teachers were not permitted to select FMPR, and that FMPR is now really around 4500. FMPR is not officially recognized by the government for their rabblerousing. It's not recognized by AFT, I suppose for disaffiliating with AFT. Nonetheless, 4,500 people is a pretty large group to have no representation nowadays. (Actually 20,000 NYC high school teachers have no representation in NYSUT, NEA or AFT, so I kind of know how they feel.)

This notwithstanding, we on the high school executive board supported the resolution. I spoke in favor of it. I continue to be mystified as to why we can't give blanket support to all our brother and sister teachers. This is a crisis, and I know how I'd feel if I got a letter like this. Time for Puerto Rico, and for us, to get over our sibling rivalry and offer full-throated support to all teachers.

Thanks to Aixa
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