Archives For Movement of Rank and File Educators. MORE

On Wednesday July 16th 2014 we are hosting a summer series panel and open discussion on the history of groups that have competed for power and influence within the UFT. We will also examine the implications for MORE. More event Information here

Below are readings and video lectures from union/UFT historians on the background of the founding of UFT and Unity caucus, the ruling party of our union.

Suggested Readings

Democracy & Politics in the UFT, 1976 Edition

Democracy and Politics in the UFT is being reprinted in its original with no changes in order to provide a snapshot of the state of the UFT and education circa 1976 and how one opposition group approached these issues.Thanks to Vera Pavone, Ira Goldfine and Norm Scott for creating an online version of the pamphlet they produced almost 40 years ago.

UFT/Unity Caucus Early History from “City Unions”

This chapter on the founding of the UFT and how Shanker consolidated power from the book “City Unions”. There is a lot of insight into how Unity has controlled the UFT since its inception.



Here we have a series of videos about the history of our union, it’s founding, some discussions on past caucuses and dissident groups, and the relationship between non-Unity activists and the union leadership.

Historical roots of the UFT presented by Michael Fiorillo and Peter Lamphere at the State of the Union conference (Feb. 4. 2012).

Michael: Teacher unions up to 1968 (22 minutes):

Peter: Post 1968 (15 minutes):

Both videos plus the Q&A (1 hour):

UFT Friend or Foe- from 2013 Summer Series- How non-Unity Chapter leaders and activists relate to UFT leadership

Norm Scott:

Vera Pavone

Ira Goldfine

Peter Lamphere

MORE Summer Series 2012- UFT Caucus History Since 1968 

Norm Scott

Michael Fiorillo


Join the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) for Summer Series 2014. Discussions exploring the past, present and future of teacher unionism. All are welcome!

Wednesdays 4:00pm-7:00pm
The Dark Horse
17 Murray St. NYC
Near City Hall, Chambers St, WTC

July 16th
Who Runs the UFT? Why Are There Alternatives? A Historical Perspective 1960-2014

The UFT formed in 1960 as a merger of several organizations. By 1964 the Unity caucus emerged as the ruling party of the UFT, which they remain to this day. Throughout the union’s history various dissident groups and caucuses have contested this dominance. At different times these groups merged, ran joint slates, or disbanded. We will discuss why these groups formed and their differing visions and strategies. How is MORE related to this history? What can we learn from it?

Other Summer Series Events

July 30th
Life Under the New UFT Contract

August 13th
Lessons from the Chicago Teachers’ Union- Featuring Guest Speakers from Chicago

August 20th
UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers’ Union Matter?
[email protected]
press inquiries [email protected]



MORE’s 3rd Annual Summer Series: Discuss, Debate, Educate!

Join the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) for discussions exploring the past, present and future of teacher unionism.  All are welcome!

Wednesdays 4:00pm-7:00pm

The Dark Horse
17 Murray St. NYC
Near City Hall, Chambers St, WTC

$5 Drafts & Well Drinks

July 16th

Who Runs the UFT?  Why Are There Alternatives? A Historical Perspective 1960-2014

RSVP Here and Share our Facebook event
The UFT formed in 1960 as a merger of several organizations. By 1964 the Unity caucus emerged as the ruling party of the UFT, which they remain to this day. Throughout the union’s history various dissident groups and caucuses have contested this dominance.  At different times these groups merged, ran joint slates, or disbanded. We will discuss why these groups formed and their differing visions and strategies. How is MORE related to this history? What can we learn from it?

July 30th

Life Under the New Contract
RSVP Here and Share our Facebook event

This fall we will be returning to a radically changed work environment, which educators are approaching with a mix of hope and anxiety.  How can school workers use the new contract to advocate for themselves and their students?  How can we activate new people, strengthen our union chapters, and empower ourselves at work?  Which members are more vulnerable under the new contract, and how can we support them?  MORE wants to campaign this year around tenure, paperwork reduction, ATR rights and chapter leader elections, and we need your ideas and energy!


August 13th

Lessons from the Chicago Teachers’ Union Featuring Guest Speakers from Chicago

RSVP Here and Share our Facebook event
In 2010, activists in the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) took over their union – successful displacing a conservative leadership with a team of organizers headed by dynamo Karen Lewis. This group would lead the CTU on its strike against Rahm Emmanuel that mobilized teachers and school communities. The strike electrified the labor movement, however Chicago is very different than New York City.  What lessons can we learn from Chicago?  Can we adapt the model of CORE to the conditions of New York City?


August 20th
UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers’ Union Matter?

RSVP Here and Share our Facebook event

Are you entering the teaching profession or new to NYC schools?  Are you wondering what the teacher union is all about and what it means to you and your students? Is it something you should be active in?  Do educators, parents and students share common interests? Can unions be vehicles for social justice?  Meet with new and veteran teachers to discuss these questions and more in this introduction to teacher unionism

Here is the flyer for distribution MORE summer 14 Announce-1


Faces of MORE


By James Eterno

Chapter Leader Jamaica High School

MORE”s monthly UFT Delegate Assembly Report

The March 19 Delegate Assembly was highlighted by MORE’s Kit Wainer speaking in favor of a MORE sponsored resolution for the UFT to escalate their defense of  Chapter Leaders and others who speak out against abusive administrators.  Although the motion failed, it received strong support from the Delegates
The resolution is printed here in its link

In motivating this resolution for placement on next month’s agenda, Kit told the Delegates there are many abusive principals and assistant principals out there and some have real personality defects. He added how some are outright anti-union and are using the disciplinary process as an intimidation tactic.

Kit then pointed out how our union provides good legal representation but this is for individuals.  We now need to raise the stakes against these supervisors by taking collective action in picketing or engaging in other public actions as a union!

UFT Secretary Emil Pietromonaco spoke against MORE’s motion.  His main argument was to say he understands the intent of the resolution but we already rigorously defend our chapter leaders and take action so there is no need for a further resolution.

The vote followed and although MORE did not win a majority, the minority is growing.  I would say close to 40% of the vote was in favor of the motion.

President Michael Mulgrew then tried to comment but was stopped dead in his tracks by MORE’s Megan Moskop who shouted for a Point of Order and didn’t wait for a microphone to tell Mulgrew he was speaking out against a resolution that had already been voted on.  Mulgrew tried to continue but Megan wouldn’t have it so Mulgrew moved on and closed the new motion period.

President’s Report
I missed the start as I was a little late but when I arrived President Michael Mulgrew was talking about Albany.
State Senate Budget
Senate introduced a bill for public scholarships for private schools.  Much of the Senate budget plan is not good, particularly with charter schools.  We expect to be at war with Eva Moskowitz.  The $4.4 million she spent on ads the last few weeks could have been used to buy a building for her schools.  There are also some good things in the Senate budget.
Where we really have friends is in the State Assembly where Speaker Sheldon Silver is speaking out for public school kids who are going to school in trailers and buildings that are falling apart.
NYC Campaign
UFT is highlighting teacher retention crisis.  It has traditionally been a problem for teachers with 0-6 years to quit but teachers with 6-15 years of experience are leaving at a rate that is up 28% in just the last two years.  These are the teachers who stabilize schools.  Abusive administrators, paperwork and large class sizes are cited as reasons for leaving as well as the salary disparity between NYC compared to the suburban districts.
Evaluation system with observations and artifacts is a mess.  We must simplify the evaluation system. We are now sitting with people across the table on the Department of Education side who understand the need for teacher voice in the schools.
We need to be treated as professionals but we also have to act as responsible professionals.
Negotiating Committee met last week.  We have many enemies out there who want to sabotage a contract so it’s best to keep things private and not negotiate in public.
It was a great success.  We have 24,000 UFT paras.
Specialized High School Admissions
Lowest number of black and brown students admitted ever this year.  UFT Task Force led by Janella Hinds made seven recommendations which basically say that there should be more than just a test to base specialized admissions on.
Staff Director’s Report
Leroy Barr reported on the aforementioned para conference and guidance conference and he gave some dates for upcoming activities.
Mulgrew came back and reported on how Chancellor Carmen Fariña wants to talk to teachers and will be at many events in the near future. He also told Delegates how the Disaster Relief Fund needs to raise funds to assist victims of the East Harlem building explosion. (By the end of the meeting well over $2,000 was collected.)
Question Period
Question: What is our relationship like with governor Cuomo?
Mulgrew Answer: Mulgrew has a good relationship with the governor but they have had some difficult conversations with him lately because of his standing with Eva Moskowitz.
Question: What does the appeals process look like for next year?
Answer: Each side will now have four hours, instead of two, to present cases.  13% of the ineffective ratings, those caused by harassment and not incompetent teaching, will be pulled to go to arbitration.  The rest of those rated ineffective will get an independent validator next year.
Question: Any signs of the hostility of the last twelve years toward us being taken away at DOE?
Answer: Yes
Question: What is the UFT’s position concerning the horse carriage drivers?
Answer: We are working through the Central labor Council.
Question: Is the ATR pool down compared to the past?
Answer: It is down to around 900 with many counselors placed for the remainder of the year.  It should not be increased much as there are no closing schools but some phase outs continue.  We are working with the DOE to come up with a common sense plan on hiring.  Previous administration contracting with Teach for America and the New Teacher Project made no sense.
Question: What should we do about many Public School Athletic League problems?
Answer: Contact Kenny Achiron.
Question: Any plans for a demonstration to counter Eva Moskowitz activities?
Answer: Our focus is on Albany and getting a contract.  She closed her schools for demonstrations and arm-twisted parents into coming.  Imagine what we could do if we took everyone from just one district to Albany.  We are very concerned with the way she uses children for political reasons.
New Motion Period
See above
Special Order of Business
There was a resolution to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the UFT that caused surprising controversy as someone spoke strongly against it, which prompted Leroy Barr to respond by recognizing the founders of the union who are still part of the DA.  The motion carried easily.
There was the Brown v Board of Education resolution that led to my regular battle with Mulgrew concerning him calling on speakers opposed to a motion.  This carried easily.  It was followed by a resolution supporting California teachers as they fight to keep due process protections and one recognizing Chicago teachers who brought national attention to the growing concerns about the overemphasis on standardized testing.  These both passed. I believe time ran out here but if the last two resolutions were acted upon, they were not controversial.  One was on raising the minimum wage and the other was on Avonte’s Law (help autistic children and their parents).




New York – The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), best known for opposing UFT’s President Michael Mulgrew and his Unity caucus in the 2013 UFT elections will now offer a positive alternative for leadership in the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) officer elections. This is unprecedented- never before has the Unity caucus or a sitting UFT president been challenged in NYSUT elections.

MORE is running in this election against the Unity Caucus because, according to candidate special education elementary teacher Julie Cavanagh,

“…Rather than collaborating with those who seek to destroy us, we must harness our collective power and stand with parents and youth to end destructive education policies and fight for the economic, racial, and social justice our teachers, students, and society need and deserve.”

In a break from his union’s leadership, MORE candidate and high school teacher Mike Schirtzer calls for an immediate repeal of the Common Core State Standards,

“Teachers did not develop it, nor does it have the best interests of our students at heart.”

The standards have been supported by the current union leadership despite they way they force classroom teachers to do ever-increasing amounts of test preparation at the expense of real instruction. Students are bored with the the constant “drilling”, which deprives them of an authentic, engaging education.

MORE is challenging for statewide union office in order to initiate a change in direction, towards standards developed by pedagogical experts and field tested before implementation. MORE candidate and elementary school teacher Lauren Cohen adds,

“The Common Core is fundamentally undemocratic – not only in its implementation but in its conception. Handing teachers rigid, scripted curricula benefits corporate interests while neglecting students’ need for a developmentally-appropriate and well-rounded education.”

Public school parent, teacher, and MORE candidate Jia Lee explains that she is running for this position because,

“Our union leadership has allowed for the high-stakes use of invalid standardized tests, putting an entire generation of youth, educators, and schools at risk, and has promoted a culture of fear. It is time for democratic policies that respect the diverse needs of New York’s public schools.”

Our union leadership has done precious little to stop the over-reliance on testing, even though a plethora of research proves that measuring students only on test scores does not provide a complete picture of what a child has learned. Mike Schirtzer reiterated,

“The Unity caucus strategy has been political lobbying; they have not mobilized the UFT membership, even as schools are closed, high stakes tests proliferate, and student data is sold to the highest bidder. “

MORE believes our union must stand up in defense of our students. Reducing class size, funding the arts, offering a wide array of after-school programs, and providing full social-emotional and medical services for families would be the type of reform that would truly move our schools forward. Addressing poverty, racism, sexism, and other issues that our children face every day is what real union leadership is about.

Unfortunately, Unity caucus is stubbornly clinging to obsolete tactics that have resulted in the nearly unopposed corporate takeover of our schools. NYSUT and UFT must fight to allow working educators, students, and their parents, to determine educational policy. Policy should no longer be determined by those who seek to profit financially from our public education.MORE is challenging Unity in order to offer a slate of candidates that truly represents classroom teachers. Any policies the MORE candidates negotiate will affect them directly, because they are in the classroom each school day. That is not the case for the small clique of high-ranking Unity grandees currently dictating UFT policy.

Each new bureaucratic diktat, from Common Core to the cookie-cutter Danielson rubric to High Stakes testing, has resulted in less time for grading, lesson planning, and collaboration with administrators, parents, and colleagues. These failed policies have buried teachers under mounds of useless paperwork that do not positively impact our students. A new NYSUT leadership that includes the MORE slate will mobilize rank and file educators in the five boroughs and locals from around the state to take back our schools. Education policy should never be dictated in corporate boardrooms or political back rooms. It should be created with the input of the real experts- working teachers and parents.

The elections will take place April 5th, 2014 at the NYSUT representative assembly held at the New York Midtown Hilton. Local union presidents and delegates from around New York state will converge at this convention to cast their ballots and determine the statewide union’s direction. MORE is running an independent slate of six candidates for Board of Directors At-Large representing UFT members; Julie Cavanagh, James Eterno, Jia Lee, Mike Schirtzer, Lauren Cohen, and Francesco Portelos. They have also endorsed the candidacy of Arthur Goldstein for NYSUT Executive Vice President and Beth Dimino, President of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, for a Director At-Large for Suffolk. Only elected delegates from last year’s UFT election may vote in the NYSUT election, not rank and file members. MORE represents thousands of UFT members (including over 40% of the high school teachers who voted in the 2013 elections). UFT’s undemocratic rules do not allow for proportional representation, therefore all the NYC delegates at NYSUT convention are from the Unity caucus. These are at-large positions, meaning that any NYSUT delegate may vote for us, including those not from the UFT.

"A say in the priorites of our Union? (UFT) Sure, we'd like MORE."

A plea for union democracy

Dictionary definition of debate:

To discuss a question by considering opposed arguments.

UFT Delegate Assemblies are awash in a sea of undemocratic procedures. One of the most egregious has been the abuse of the rules that govern debate. The leadership and its UNITY Caucus supporters have 100 minutes to present their case plus a 10-minute question period, with the President’s report taking up a good chunk of the time. Alternate voices have a 10 minute “new motion” period. But even those 10 minutes are encroached upon when the leadership uses the pretense of presenting its own “new” motions despite the fact they have the power to add them to the regular agenda. But they go even further by restricting or shutting down debate.

President Mulgrew is violating Robert’s Rules of Order overtly when he calls exclusively on supporters of motions. His argument that he doesn’t know where people stand when he calls on them holds little water given that most of the speakers are members of his own Unity Caucus and are often, in fact, UFT officials on the UFT payroll. His job as president is to alternate between those who are in favor and those who are against a motion. Therefore, after a Unity person motivates a motion, Mulgrew’s obligation is to call on someone opposed as long as someone rises and demands the floor at the same time as a friend of a motion. The Rules call, for not just one speaker on the other side, but half of them in every debate.

Delegates have seen this basic principle of democratic debate routinely ignored, often with only a one-sided point of view being aired. There can be no “union” without a democratic union. In the interests of having a democratic union that follows the rule of law and welcomes vigorous, open debate, we urge all union members to support a movement for a more democratic union. Let us begin this movement at the Delegate Assembly.

Question for UFT’s leadership at the Delegate Assembly:

Randi Weingarten recently wrote in an article titled “Time to End Failed Policies of NCLB & RTTT.” Will the UFT refuse to sign on to any renewals of RTTT in NYC?

Now that we passed a resolution to end high stakes associated with Common Core tests, what is our political follow up?

Are there plans for childcare at DA meetings?

Join us at the next MORE Meeting

Jan. 18th, 2014, 12pm-3pm
New Location!
The Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Our Fliers for the 12/11 DA

MORE DA Dec 12 13REV2


NYC Educators Defense Fund

November 15, 2013 — 1 Comment



NYC Educators Defense Fund Will Press UFT Leadership to Stand with Students and Teachers, Break Ties with Corporate ‘Privatizers and Profiteers’

 NYCEDF Founding Donation Provided by Harris Lirtzman, Former Teacher and Whistleblower Who Stood Up for Students with Disabilities

New York – The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), known as ‘the social justice caucus’ of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), announced today the formation of a new tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, the New York City Educators Defense Fund (NYCEDF), with the support of an initial contribution of $12,500 by a former public school teacher, Harris Lirtzman. NYCEDF will help MORE achieve its vision of a transformed and fully empowered UFT that “organizes and educates members to resist all efforts to deprive them of their rights and to stop the corporate education ‘reform’ agenda.”

By forming NYCEDF, MORE and its allies intend to increase grassroots support for a fair contract and to organize effective opposition to the new teacher evaluation system imposed on city teachers by State Education Commissioner John King and the high-stakes testing regime that has been so detrimental to the City’s public schools and students.

“The groundswell against the so-called ‘education reform’ agenda is rapidly gaining strength here in the City and across the country. Educators now understand what a truly democratic and revitalized teachers union, working arm in arm with parents and students, can do to protect public education in New York City,” Kit Wainer public school teacher and MORE member, said. “Our hope is that NYCEDF can be a catalyst for the sort of change that will make the UFT a real leader in the fight on behalf of city teachers and the public school system.”

Mr. Lirtzman was the New York State deputy comptroller for administration from 2003 to 2007 and became a NYC public school teacher at 54.  He taught mathematics to students with disabilities at a high school in the Soundview section of the Bronx from 2009 to 2012. Mr. Lirtzman became aware of serious violations of federal law and state regulation concerning students with disabilities in his school and warned his principal about them, with no response. After being stonewalled by the NYC Department of Education, he refused to be silenced and took his case to the State Education Department (NYSED) and the US Department of Education. NYSED sustained the most serious of his allegations and placed the school and its principal under state supervision for six months to ensure that a wide-ranging compliance plan was fully implemented.

Mr. Lirtzman, who has since retired, is now an ardent supporter and friend of MORE. His donation provides money to pay for the costs of setting up and operating NYCEDF and to support its ongoing advocacy and education efforts.

“I am proud to be a member of MORE.” Mr. Lirtzman said. “The city’s teachers have been unfairly attacked for the last few years by corporate voices of something called ‘education reform.’ What these people really want to do is destroy public education and the union that represents City teachers, who work under impossible conditions every day to educate our children. I hope that NYCEDF can become a powerful advocate on behalf of public education in NYC and force the UFT to become the strong and democratic union that it should be.”

Marissa Torres, teacher and founding member of MORE, expressed the gratitude and enthusiasm felt by members of her caucus at the formation of NYCEDF. “Harris Lirtzman put his job on the line to defend the most vulnerable and marginalized students in the system,” Torres said. “His fierce determination and commitment to justice add fuel to our fire and give people hope. Now, because of his generous gift to NYCEDF, we can take our movement to a new level. We are honored and grateful for his support.”

For information on the fund or how to donate please email [email protected]

By Mike Schirtzer

Teacher/UFT Delegate

Leon M. Goldstein High School- Brooklyn

2013 MORE Vice Presidential Candidate for UFT


On October 9th at 4:00 p.m., activists from all over the city will gather at UFT headquarters (52 Broadway NYC) to protest the emphasis on high stakes testing that is harming our children, educators, and public schools. This action will be led by the grassroots organizations of Movement of Rank & File Educators (MORE), the Social Justice Caucus of the UFT, and Change the Stakes, a group of parents who refuse to allow their children to be measured by standardized test scores.


The rally is being called “Win Back Wednesday” because it’s time for public education to be reclaimed from the profit-driven “reformers” and returned to the real stakeholders; parents, students, and teachers. Our children’s education should never be thought of as “common”, “standardized”, or “data-driven”. Recent educational policies that have swept our city and nation have put an emphasis on high-stakes testing that narrows curriculum, turns teachers into test-prep machines, and takes the fun out of learning. Common Core standards, Danielson rubrics, and value added measures are untested, unproven schemes that have been developed with little to no input from public school teachers or parents. It’s time for us to take back our schools from those who seek to exploit our children. Public education should never be a for-profit endeavor- it should be  the foundation of a community where children feel secure and receive an education that provides an opportunity for them to develop critical thinking skills and express creativity.


We are joining together to let the public know that our teachers, students, and public schools are “MORE than a SCORE”. The new evaluation system called “Advance”  is rating teachers based on test scores for courses they don’t even teach. There is no conclusive evidence that rating teachers based on test scores will make them better instructors or have a positive effect on our children’s education. The worst part of the new evaluation scheme is that 40% of a teacher’s rating will be based on test score growth, algorithms that have never been proven to accurately determine if a teacher is “effective”. 40% or not, New York State Education Commissioner John King has declared that any teacher who is rated ineffective on the test based measures will be rated ineffective overall. Our education leaders have somehow decided that 40% equals 100%.


Common Core standards and the new teacher evaluation system have led to a proliferation of testing that is having a terrible effect on our youngest students. Children enter school with a natural curiosity to learn about the world we live in, but constant preparation for, and execution of standardized testing takes has taken that from them. Students need to have a chance to develop skills, and we must engage them in their innate love of learning.


When many veteran teachers entered the public school system the emphasis was on helping students to foster their “multiple intelligences” and talents. Learning was designed to be differentiated based on student’s individualized needs. Now our school system has fallen under the dark cloud of standardized testing and “one size fits all” standards which wrongly assumes that all children learn the same way. This is a tragic turn in public education, driven by nefarious preference for profits over what’s best for our children. While corporations and consultants makes millions of dollars, our students are conditioned to take tests, not to provide solutions to real world problems. This is not what education is about, nor can our democracy thrive or survive if this trend continues.


We have chosen the UFT headquarters for the rally because we believe they can be the sole voice of real reform. As nation’s largest, most powerful union local, the UFT can lead the charge for legitimate educational innovation ensuring that the real stakeholders- parents, students, and teachers – have a voice in how to best educate our children. We will be there to urge  the UFT leadership to join us in calling for a moratorium of the new hastily implemented evaluation system. Instead of a champion for the Common Core standards and “Advance”, rank and file teachers and public school parents want an advocate for children that says loudly and unambiguously what we all know to be true: the testing regime has run amok.


We need our union  leadership to call for real reform, smaller class size, renewed focus on the arts, music, civics, physical education and funding for afterschool programs. While millions of dollars are being wasted on implementing these new “reform” policies, our children lack the services they deserve and our educators enter their fifth year without a contract. The UFT leadership must use its power to say “enough is enough”! We are calling on them to join us in telling the public, politicians, and those that say they care about education that our children, teachers, and public schools are more than a test score!

Details and Facebook Link Here


Jamie Fidler, who starred in the documentary American Teacher, has been teaching in the NYC public schools for 10 years, at PS 261 in Brooklyn for most of that time and has been an education and social activist for the past decade.

“I am running with MORE because I believe in the power of a strong union when it speaks for their members and accurately represents their voices. As a parent and teacher in the public school system, I want our children to develop strong voices and independent ideas. This can’t be accomplished in a fearful environment where the teacher is relegated to a binder and test prep. I believe in public education, where teachers, parents and students’ voices are at the center of a strong curriculum and sound policies.”

Emily Miller has been teaching for 6 years and is a second grade teacher in a Spanish/English dual language program in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

“I am running with MORE because students, families, communities and teachers are all in it together. We all want our students to have a high quality education. As MORE says, our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Smaller class sizes are good for teachers and are very important for students. Evaluating teachers based on student performance on standardized test scores is not fair to teachers and the over emphasis on high-stakes standardized tests is harmful to students.

Lauren Cohen has taught elementary schools for eight years in self-contained special education, inclusion, and general education classes and currently teaches 5th grade at P.S. 321 in Park Slope.

“I am running with MORE because I believe that teachers need to collaborate and mobilize against the attacks on our profession and our students. I used to work in a school with an abusive administration, where I earned a reputation among my colleagues for speaking out against policies that were both harmful to children and violations of our contract. Without the backing of a democratic union, however, it was difficult to effect change and stop the onslaught of excessive paperwork, arbitrary denial of tenure, and inappropriate letters in our files. My renewed passion and drive came from the realization that the threat to the teaching profession was much larger: the systemic obsession with quantitative measures of success has narrowed the curriculum in many schools and marginalized any student whose strengths lie in areas other than reading and math. I am a member of Change the Stakes, a group of parents, teachers, and other NYC residents who are fighting back against the use of high-stakes tests to punish schools, teachers, and students.”

Jia Lee has taught since 2002 in a self-contained Bronx high school, then a middle and now an elementary school in the East Village.

“As a special educator, I held high hopes the UFT leadership would advocate for our profession and students against value-added models of evaluation that have caused devastating school closures and the demeaning treatment of teachers. My faith in our current political and union leadership has waned as our voices have been ignored in the current climate of top-down educational reform. I joined MORE because it is an integral voice in our union against corporate infiltration. MORE pushes for a democratic process within our union. MORE understands that union leadership represents its members. As a special education teacher and parent, I find myself feeling hopeful again. Being asked to run with MORE is not only an honor, it is an obligation to my colleagues and our students. Thank you.

Mari Caputo has been teaching at PS 84, D.14, Brooklyn, for close to 25 years. She has served as UFT delegate and is currently serving her first term as Chapter Leader. She is a longtime education activist, advocating for developmentally appropriate, child-centered and experienced-based education for all students.

“We need a union that hears and respects more voices. We need a union that is dedicated to creating, supporting, and protecting excellent working conditions for teachers in every school across our city. I am running with MORE because this caucus has taken a position against the value-added method of ranking teachers which reduces us all to numbers. I am running with MORE in an effort to bring respect, debate, understanding, and joy back to our profession.”

Karla Tobar is a 3rd grade bilingual teacher in her fifth year of teaching. She is a delegate at P.S. 443 in the Bronx and a core member of the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE).

“I am running with MORE because I believe in a democratic member-driven union that takes the voices of all members into account. My vision of a union is one that actively organizes, educates, mobilizes, empowers, and transforms not just members, but all people.”

Patrick Walsh is an ESL teacher in PS/ MS 149 in Harlem for 8 years and a thrice elected chapter leader of the UFT.

“I am running with MORE because I believe that unions, to be effective and just, must be run democratically and that is not the case now. I believe fiercely in participatory democracy in across all aspects of the UFT.”

Yelena Siwinski has spent 18 years teaching at P.S. 193 in Brooklyn, elected co-chapter leader 8 years ago.

“I educate my members about the issues at the city, state, and national levels, motivate them to take action, and lead them to fight for their students and themselves. After sitting on several UFT committees (two Negotiation and the Evaluation committees) I witnessed first-hand how Unity leaders inform us of decisions they made and deals they had brokered with very little voice was given to committee members. I am honored to be running with MORE so that my voice, and the voice of my members, is truly heard. Their vision of the union is one that is run democratically, engaging the voices of teachers, students, parents, and their communities. The only way I can ever really be part of the fight is with a MORE leadership.”

Lisa North has taught at PS 3 in Brookly’s D. 13 in Bed-Stuy for 24 years. She has been a chapter leader and delegate for over 15 years as well as active in many groups that include parents, community members, and educators in the fight for a better education for our students.

“I am running as a member of MORE because our union must rebuild from the bottom up. Every school chapter in the city must be organized to fight for an education system that provides the education our students deserve and the working conditions for us to make that possible. Our students need developmentally appropriate learning, experiential learning that builds background knowledge and critical thinking skills, NOT test prep. No more use of testing to punish schools, educators and students.

Patricia Dobosz has been teaching for 30 years (20 in the NYC Public School System) mostly in Early Childhood, currently at PS 157 in D 14, Brooklyn. She is an education/community activist belonging to several grassroots education groups.

“I am running with MORE because I want our union to fight for a fair multi-year contract with retroactive pay, tenure protections, and a call for the immediate end to mayoral control of our public school system.”

Christine Wong is a special education teacher at P.S. 1 in Manhattan in her 11th year teaching. She has been chapter leader for 4 years.

“I am running with MORE because I want to be part of a movement that expands the political voice of all teachers, and deepens our relationship with parents and communities. I think MORE offers an analysis of the deeper political reasons behind the attacks on public education, and the type of social justice strategy it will take to defend it.”

Reports From the Field

February 5, 2013 — 9 Comments

Many thanks to the teachers, from all across the city, who responded to our request to share their experiences with the Danielson observation process in their classrooms. The insights below paint a clear picture of a framework doesn’t fit all disciplines, is being implemented by supervisors who aren’t competent enough to do so and, by disrupting our colleagues’ working conditions, is having an adverse effect on our students’ learning conditions. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment and share your experiences here so that we may post them in the next Reports From the Field edition in two weeks.

James, a music teacher at an elementary school in Brooklyn wrote:

“We see kids once a week and are supposed to have open ended conversations about specific skills like fingering an instrument, when they need to be just practicing the way its done and has been done. Proper technique. Developing a voice. Improvising. Rehearsing songs with a group. [But] Oh wait ‘the kids don’t have an opportunity to talk to each other, that’s ineffective’. ‘Your still life must match this photo of our still life or I can’t prove I have added any value to your arts education” and I will be…INEFFECTIVE!’…”

, a high school teacher from Queens writes that in his school:

“Danielson is being used to frame the [formal] observation. Regardless of whether or not they are using it to “announce” the final observation result, they are using it to actually breakdown the observation.”

Karl, who teaches elementary school in the Bronx shares:

“…in the over dozen years as a NYC teacher, I have never experienced as many “informal walk through” visits than in the past 2 years during the pilot … Everybody is walking on egg shells and lives with a sense of anxiety every time an administrator walks down the halls.”

Rooney, a high school in Brooklyn describes abuses at his school with Danielson-based observations:

“Faculty attendance is being taken/noted at school events (not sure whether all faculty members are even aware of this…) This corresponds to Danielson’s Domain 4, “Professional Responsibilities.” The AP [wrote up] “informal” observation reports, which we were then asked to sign; these were then put INTO OUR OFFICIAL TEACHER FILES, even though they are not supposed to count as formal observations (which do go in our files). When our union Executive Board
brought this up at a meeting with the principal, she spoke to the APs and eventually a “compromise” was reached: from now on, “informal” observation reports will go into our DEPARTMENTAL files (held by both the APs and the principal), not our official teacher file. However, reports of “informal” observations performed before Dec. 21, 2012 will remain in each teacher’s official file, but will be removed upon teacher request.”

teaches high school in Queens:

“Admin was visiting classes at the beginning of the year but they never followed up with the feedback. I haven’t had anyone visit my class all year even after I have invited them and have received no feedback. I’ve been asked to join a teacher effectiveness team at school. We’ve met twice and nothing has come of the brief work we’ve done.  It doesn’t seem to be working”

, who teaches high school in Brooklyn, wrote:

“The UFT leader has stated to teachers a number of times that the admin is not supposed to be using this framework and has sent out emails to the admin asking them to stop, but they have not, responding that the framework is the future and that teachers need to accept the reality in order to be “better prepared to serve the students”.

, who teaches Middle School in Brooklyn described this troubling experience:

“AP comes [and]  stayed for 10 minutes. At the post observation she handed me a rubric with a bunch if ‘ineffectives’ circled. We did not have discussion and she never asked me what I was doing before or after she came in. She said that student engagement was poor, but I was just transitioning from a pair share to a share out, so she only saw 5 students raise their hands and decided enough students were not participating.”

, who teaches Middle School in Queens, writes:

“Danielson is being used as a “gotcha” for myself and co-workers. Thanks to my good friend Charlotte, my fabulous and talented co-workers and I are receiving U ratings on our observations for the first time in our careers.”

Ethel, who teaches at a high school in Brooklyn observes that Danielson is being used to decided tenure:

“We use the Danielson framework to rate ourselves after  …observations and for our tenure.”

Francesco a middle school teacher in Staten Island shared his experience from last year:

“After being out for a week for jury duty, [the] first period bell rang, in walks in an AP and Children First Network rep with clipboards. It was a “short” frequent observation that lasted 90 minutes. Short right? During post observation meeting, AP started by saying we were looking at Danielson Framework Domain 1e. She however omitted that wording from the write up that became “unsatisfactory”

Rob, who teaches high school in Brooklyn takes exception with “the “talent coaches” who breeze into
your room unannounced” He exclaims:

“It is demeaning and offensive to have as many as 4 or 5 people wander into your room with this finite mechanism. They hover around the halls, in plain view to keep everyone “on their toes.”

And while Nicole, a Middle School, teacher in the Bronx describes a neutral experience with it:

“The Danielson rubric is used at my school as a feedback form for walk-throughs.  The principal or vice-principal complete the checklist and comment”

And Marc Anderson describes a downright positive experience at the Jonas Bronck Academy:

“I actually would like to forward an example of the correct application of the Danielson Framework. In my school, our UFT rep comes through with a video camera during our lessons every now and then. Every week, we rotate watching one another’s videos at our grade level team meetings and giving each other critical feedback based on the Danielson rubric. In other words, it’s being done the way it should — within a true professional learning community. Is it done perfectly? No. But we’re learning together and figuring it out!”

The experiences of Paul, who  teaches at a District 75 school in the Bronx were what stood out the most. His D75 school is, somehow, one of the 110 pilot TMP schools in the city. TMP evaluator was a building AP, and he shared her comments with MORE about his 10 minute walk-though observation.

When evaluated along Danielson Domain 1E “Designing Coherent Instruction”, Paul’s AP commented that the

“Lesson plan was from Unique. Standards were not listed on the plan. Plan not differentiated for individual student needs. Grouping of students not evident.” Rating: Developing”

However, Paul notes:

“the lesson plan was “required* by the school. It’s part of the required curriculum. It was downloaded directly from the Unique website and placed in my hands. We classroom teachers were directed… to use it…. The plan *IS* differentiated. That’s *why* we were told to use it. (because it’s *differentiated*.)”

When evaluated along Danielson Domain 2B “Establishing a Culture for Learning”, Paul’s AP noted “One paraprofessional was filing papers….” Rating: Ineffective.”

Yet, as Paul explains:

“One paraprofessional was indeed filing papers, at my direction, in an effort to execute the directive that [the AP] herself, made at [a] staff meeting. In a post-observation discussion, [the AP] told me that any clerical duties assigned to the paraprofessional had to be done during non-instructional time. I replied that I did not have paraprofessional services during … non-instructional time during the school day. I asked her to specify another period … She appeared to be unable to answer and instead asserted that I had to stay after school to do any needed clerical work.”

When evaluated along Danielson Domain 2d. ‘Managing Student Behavior’, Paul writes that his AP

“offers no evidence in the “Evidence” section; she leaves it blank.  Rating : Effective ( not “highly effective”.)

When evaluated along Danielson Domain 3c. ‘Engaging Students in Learning’, Paul disturbingly explains that his APs

“ ‘evidence’  section consists of unconnected narrative elements that do not match my memory or corresponding .. notes. Rating: Developing”

And although assessment was built-in to his lesson plan, Paul notes that his AP uses

“no evidence and applies the letters N/A [to] the rating and analysis columns” for Danielson Domain 3d (assessment).”

Paul asserts that he reached out to UFT President Mulgrew and sent a full anecdotal to UFT VP Catalina Fortino. She never responded, opting instead to share some notes from a meeting she had had with a department official.

This is the system that our union wants its members to evaluated along. We here at MORE recognize the disruptions it is causing to the learning process and strongly opposed to it. Help us share more ‘Danielson’ experiences of rank and file members. Click here to describe yours or convince your colleagues so that they can share theirs. The process only takes a few minutes.

“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions”  - [email protected]

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