Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Jia Lee for UFT President

MORE/ New Action has selected Jia Lee as its candidate for UFT President. Though I had to leave early and run to Macungie, PA (don't ask), I was very pleased to be part of the meeting in Brooklyn where her candidacy was announced. I've met Jia on numerous occasions and have seen her speak in various venues. Jia is calm and thoughtful, two qualities wholly lacking in what I've seen from Michael Mulgrew. She is someone who can speak for public school teachers, parents and students.

While Michael Mulgrew wants to punch your face and push it in the dirt if you lay your filthy paws on his precious Common Core,  Jia thinks we ought not to have adopted it in the first place. While Mulgrew defends high-stakes testing, Jia not only opposes it, but has opted both her child and herself out of it. This can be a very risky stand for a working teacher, but Jia has taken it nonetheless. Fearlessness is a good quality in a leader. Risk-averse Michael Mulgrew and similar leaders have led us down a path of concession that has emboldened our enemies to the point of threatening to bankrupt public union.

Jia traveled to Washington DC to address the Senate on the travesty that is high-stakes testing. She spoke for us rather than union leadership. I know leadership tried unsuccessfully to co-opt her, and that she was not for sale. It's high time we had a leader who spoke for us. Current leadership thinks it's our job to speak for them, and forces everyone who allegedly represents us to do just that. That's simply ridiculous. It's one thing to present a common front, but quite another to support programs that actively hurt not only students, but also the working teachers you ostensibly represent. While Mulgrew can go to Albany and negotiate our current soul-crushing rating system, while Mulgrew can thank the Heavy Hearts Assembly for supporting and enabling one that's even worse, Jia Lee will stand with Diane Ravitch, with working teachers, with the American Statistical Association and spread the rational view that judging teachers on test scores is both invalid and counterproductive.

Jia, a UFT chapter leader, has been part of MORE for several years. She could easily have been on the road to Unity stardom if only she sold her soul for a few shekels, and who can't use the odd shekel these days? This is the sort of sacrifice we don't see from most chapter leaders. It's pretty easy to take the Unity road, take trips to conventions on our dime, pretend to represent us, but vote any damn way Leroy Barr tells you. Like everyone in MORE, Jia has forsaken trips and patronage to stand on principle. Jia has evidently determined union positions ought to be based on merit rather than a loyalty oath to ideas that frequently run counter to what's good for public school teachers, parents, and students.

Jia will not be drawn into petty nonsense or feuds for no good reason. She won't indulge in paranoiac innuendo, and she won't resort to logical fallacy to sell us a substandard contract. She won't personally insult people from the podium at 52 Broadway. She won't spend 90 minutes sharing private jokes with her BFFs on the stage. Who knows? With someone like Jia at the helm, maybe the DA will become something more than a few hours in which we're expected to heap adulation on the keeper of the patronage mill. Maybe we'll hire people on the basis of competence rather than loyalty. Maybe those people will inspire members to be active unionists rather than passive recipients of eyeglasses.

In short, Jia is a breath of fresh air, and NYC Educator endorses her without reservation or hesitation. Vote early, vote often, and vote for Jia.
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