Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Time for Voting

In case you live in a cave or just hadn't heard, there's a New York State law that says you can take up to three hours off from work in order to vote in your local election. There's a form that's been made available to chapter leaders.

You can find further info and download the form you need right here. 
There are reasons why you ought to do this, whether or not you think you actually need the time. I mean sure, you can wake up at 4 instead of 4:30 that morning, go to your local polling place, and hope that you're the only one who had that idea. Maybe you won't have to wait on line. Then you'll be able to go to work and not miss a moment of whatever PD administration is offering that day.

On the other hand, this is now your right. It's a right that wasn't handed down from Mount Olympus by Zeus. Like the right to vote, it's a relatively new development. Now here's the thing about rights--if you don't assert them, you haven't actually got them. For example, a lot of people have the right to vote, but a whole lot of people can't be bothered. Your vote really matters. Look at the recent Queens DA race that came down to the wire.

Not persuaded? Look at who's President of the United States. Admittedly, he won the election fair and square by every possible measure (except votes cast). But a lot of people who'd voted for Barack Obama didn't bother to get off their keesters to vote for Hillary. And why should they have? The polls all said Hillary was a shoo-in. I didn't love Hillary myself, but with a choice between her and Trump, I voted for her. If I hadn't, I'd feel guilty.

Look at the UFT Contract. There are schools Bloomberg started that are still full of untenured teachers. The principal says everyone's C6 assignment is doing teacher teams five days a week, and poof! You have an entire building full of teachers, all of whom are already frazzled and overworked beyond, doing something they universally detest five days a week. Sure, the contract says you can choose a C6, and the menu needs to be negotiated by the chapter, but maybe there's no chapter leader.Or maybe the principal picked someone and said, "You are the chapter leader," and no one ran against that person. Who knows?

Nonetheless, in a building where no one asserts or defends the collective bargaining agreement, there may as well not be one. In a building ruled by fear, there's not a whole lot of teacher voice. I'd argue that teacher voice is one thing that really makes a building special. Even the best principal can't clone everyone in his own image and expect good results. In fact, the best principal would know that and actively interact with disparate voice. It's the worst principal who treads all over everyone no matter what, and that's why we have checks and balances written into the contract.

Are the checks and balances perfect? Do they always work? Of course they don't. But they are there, and it behooves us all to use them. Do you want to be in good physical shape? Then you have to exercise, one way or another. Do you want to enjoy the rights you have? You have to exercise them too.

If I were you, I'd copy and paste the form below and submit it to my AP. Then I'd have the AP give it to the principal. Also, I'd do it by Friday, because unless you're coming in Sunday, that's the only way to get it in two days before the election. I already submitted mine last week, the first time I saw it.

Don't say you don't need it. You don't need to vote either. But every single one of us, every time we look at the news or turn on the TV, is acutely aware of what happens when we don't.

This is your right. Use it or lose it. There's no middle ground.
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