In Case You Missed It: Dignity and Democracy in Education at the Grad Center

February 24, 2013 — 6 Comments
Our forum on Dignity and Democracy in Education featuring Lois Weiner (find her book here), Francesco Portelos and Harris Lirtzman was a big success. Below is the collection of live-tweets from the event. Feel free to check it out.
  1. Getting ready to begin the Dignity and Democracy in Education forum at the CUNY Grad Center. Nice crowd arriving.
  2. Nice. Only ten minutes late in starting! Brian’s introduction, “This evening is organized by a group who is trying to change out union”
  3. Jones ” a climate of fear and intimidation is not good for teaching or for teachers”
  4. “@MOREcaucusNYC: Jones ” a climate of fear and intimidation is not good for teaching or for teachers”” especially detrimental to students!
  5. @MOREcaucusNYC I know in my school it would be very sad story!
  6. Panelists are being introduced. Harris Lirtzman introduced first. A frmr special Ed & math teacher & frmr deputy NYS Comptroller
  7. Lirtzmam, untenured, was terminated by the DOE after blowing the whistle on abuse of Special Ed rules #1u .
  8. To become familiar with Harris Lirtzman’s story, take a moment and read these two NYTimes pieces about him.
  9. Lirtzman “our school was a very average school” “whatever happened to me is happening all over the DOE” #1u
  10. Lirtzman says that when he tells his story to non teachers that their hair stands on end, but to experienced DOE staff, it seems routine #1u
  11. Lirtzman was hired on the spot in 2009. Over the first 2 yrs he gradually came to see that the services provided students weren’t adequate.
  12. Beginning of third year, his department was cut down to just 2 teachers and weekly ATRs were teaching Sp-Ed classes. So he began asking ?s
  13. He began emailing after a parent asked him to find out why his CTT child was placed in GenEd class. #1u
  14. After the emails, Lirtzman was told by his principal that tenure was denied (in November). So he resigned on December 14. #1u
  15. After he resigned, he went to OSI and complained, the OSI investigator opened an investigation on him. #1u
  16. Lirtzman contacted the press and was featured in the NYTimes. During that time, he requested whistleblower status (later denied).
  17. (His charges were substantiated AFTER his resignation). His complaint about refusal of tenure is currently being taken up by the USDOE.
  18. (Lirtzman is finished and we’re officially standing room only). @MrPortelos is getting ready to speak and talk about his story. #1u
  19. Francesco Portelos’ spoke next. Here a few links to help you learn some background about his story. The live-tweets follow.
  20. Portelos tells a great story About why he became a teacher. Very inspirational. #1u
  21. @MrPortelos worked all summer after his first year setting up his STEM lab & his robotics team won city-wide championship.
  22. He began asking questions abt the school, when he realized he was going 2B a father & had reservations abt having his son go 2his school.
  23. His principal targeted him when he asked one question about the school,’s budget. His UFT chapter leader abandoned him and the process(1/2)
  24. “Snitches get stitches” in @MikeBloomberg‘s world, says rubber-roomed teacher at @MOREcaucusNYC/Weiner panel.
  25. @MOREcaucusNYC Allegedly,according to agreement reached in04/2010,”rubber rooms” were dismantled BUT just like reports put out by NYP, …
  26. ..of forcing him out began. Was written up for staying 27 minutes too late & for cursing during a private meeting with his CL (he never did)
  27. In February, “2 men in suites” came to take his equipment. (He later found out that his UFT CL had called in 9 SCI complaints against him).
  28. Otherwise, SCI would have had their way with him.
  29. Francesco says that his saving grace was the FOIL process, where he was able to uncover corruption in his building, (1/2)
  30. Lois Weiner spoke next. She is the author of “The Future of Our Schools: Teachers Unions and Social Justice”. A link to her to book on Amazon and a review on Haymarket, followed by the live-tweets from her remarks are below.
  31. Lois Weiner, author of the Future of our Schools is up to speak next.
  32. Weiner opens by sharing that she is a form err NYC teacher. Thanks the crowd for working to change the UFT
  33. Weiner “I come to you as a critical friend” and about how the ideas in her book might challenge the fear & intimidation currently in schools
  34. Weiner: “We are witnessing the US version of what has been happening across the globe” by transnational corporations. #1u
  35. Weiner says that for this goal, trans national corporations would prefer minimally educated citizens (to abt 8th grades)
  36. Weiner “Minimally trained students require only minimally trained teachers”. Thus, the attack on teaching #1u
  37. Weiner says “solidarity and collective struggle” are very important in restoring honor to the profession. Can be dome with Teachers Unions
  38. Weiner “there is no one correct way to teach” #1u
  39. @MOREcaucusNYC Have been saying that for some time, and to say otherwise is truly ignorant and pernicious.
  40. Weiner says that, although not a template, Chicago’s example provides much to learn frame.
  41. Weiner ” we are facing the most powerful people in the world”.
  42. Weiner says that instead of focussing on the leadership apparatus of the union, activists must focus on building a presence at schools.
  43. Unions need to move beyond the “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” model of labor-community partnership, says Weiner to @MOREcaucusNYC.
  44. Weiner: Social Justice Unionism in Chicago has been around for a much longer period of time &is thriving. “CTU has a democratic structure”
  45. Weiner says as a reform caucus, MORE should focus on organizing at the school level.
  46. Weiner tells a story about a labor victory withing her department came only after five years of organizing.
  47. Weiner: the solution to victimization, to isolation in our schools is solidarity.
  48. Weiner says Mulgrew and Weingarten have become more concerned with their personal power and privilege than in protecting teachers. #wow
  49. Weiner: The UFT has no legitimacy among parents and among kids. That’s something we have got to change.
  50. @MOREcaucusNYC By this time, much of citizenry of NYC realize that & UFT is being batted around like a pesky fly;MoreAbtLegacyThanMembership
  51. The Q&A after the speakers were finished was very enlightening.
  52. Q&A session begins with A PTA president of a school; ” as parents, we get bullied too, just that they can’t fire us”.
  53. One statement was how the rubber school experience would make a great documentary. “Is there a way to record what is happening to teachers?”
  54. One speaker says what is happening with new teachers & union leaders are erasing any memory of strong unionism.
  55. @MOREcaucusNYC Yes! A Re-Write & No-Right of History! Strong Unionism brought Women, People of Color, LGBT, into the ranks, BloodSweatTears
  56. @Mikeofbrooklyn just took the floor: The only way to help our children is to start at the building level.
  57. Teacher from @MOREcaucusNYC / NYCoRE: union has gotta be about 1. Explicit antiracism. 2. Collective struggle.
  58. One MORE leader to the group: “This is exactly the type of meeting that our union SHOULD be having”.

6 responses to In Case You Missed It: Dignity and Democracy in Education at the Grad Center

    Communist Teacher February 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    thanks very much to MORE for providing this insightful coverage of Saturday’s meeting.

    I’ll be forwarding this to other teachers who were not able to attend.


    I will also forward this to all my colleagues…..Wish I could have been there but my son is a senior at Holy Trinity and I had to take him to practice for semi finals today….We won….on to championship game on Tues!……


    Is there a video? Will it be posted?

    Several people have asked. I want to see it also.

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