Archives For social justice unionism

TestingTomorrow, April 1st, students across NY State will take the second year of Common Core aligned tests.  Last year’s test administration was a disaster, but continue rollout this year of the standards revealed what a deeply flawed project they are. The resistance, however, is growing: parents are opting their children out of the tests in large numbers, and some teachers are refusing to administer them.*

MORE adds its voice with the following statement about why we oppose the common core:

MORE is opposed to the Common Core standards because they are inextricably linked to a reform package that includes punitive high-stakes testing, unproven and unreliable measurements of student and teacher performance and scripted curriculum produced not by teachers, but by corporations. After 30 years of manufactured crises and failed solutions, the elements of this package, including the standards, are being used as ideological battering rams to attack the very concept of public education, replacing it with a profit-making privatization scheme.

The Common Core standards are undemocratic. They were written without meaningful teacher input, and educators do not have the freedom to use them as they see fit.   Continue Reading…

Taking Back OUR Schools

March 26, 2014 — 1 Comment

Click HERE for more information
Don’t Forget to RSVP

"Taking back OUR schools NYC metro march and rally"

Parent, Student, and Educator groups united to fight corporate education “reform”

Calling all NYC Metro community activists (“voices of resistance”), families, students, civil rights advocates, voters, immigrant families, policymakers and legislators, union members, teachers, and faith leaders…

This rally and march is part of the national Testing Resistance & Reform Spring campaign. We aim to support the efforts of parents, teachers and community members to have public schools that work for the community.

Join us on May 17, 2014 in NYC!
City Hall Park (permit pending)

2:00 p.m.
Click here to RSVP Today! Continue Reading…

Stop and Reverse the Disappearing of Black and Latino Educators in NYC

Public Meeting Notice

 Join us to move NYC teacher diversity on to the Public Agenda

this spring through Diversity committee presentations to the new

Chancellor and Mayor.

Speak out at Panel for Educational Policy.

Outreach to educators, parents and students.

Information table at teacher certification exam sites.

Testimonials for Teachers Unite’s upcoming report.

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Time:    4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

The Church of St. Luke and

St. Matthew’s Parish Hall

520 Clinton Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(C train to Clinton/Washington stop.

Church is between Fulton St & Atlantic Ave).

A 42% decline in the number of new Black and Latino teachers hired to teach in NYC public schools since 2002 is movement in the wrong direction.

The DOE hires graduates from private universities over those from CUNY and SUNY.

A NYS teacher certification exam is not validated yet disproportionately excludes Black and Latino applicants.

Over 100 public schools have been closed in NYC’s Black and Latino communities.

Mayoral control over the DOE with its $25 billion yearly budget shuts out the voices and accountability to parents – over 80% of whom are Black, Latino and Asian.

Privately run charter schools are given a free ride to crowd existing public schools and to divide parents against parents.

The absence of DOE or mayoral oversight or direction to monitor and promote diversity in the teaching staff provides a cover for growing indifference and hostility to demands for equity.  “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

The undermining of teacher tenure, seniority and due process disproportionately impacts Black and Latino teachers, denigrates the teaching profession, inhibits student advocacy and contributes to chaos and demoralization in our public schools.

The disappearing of Black and Latino educators removes the most consistent advocates for a historically accurate, culturally relevant and inclusive curriculum.

Calling all “drum majors” for diversity now.  Join with educator, parent, student and community leaders to stop and reverse the disappearing of Black and Latino educators.

Endorsed by

  • Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence.
  • Coalition for Public Education.
  • Movement of Rank and File Educators.
  • National Black Education Agenda.
  • New York Collective of Radical Educators.
  • People Power.
  • Progressive Action Caucus.
  • Teachers Unite

Organized by:

The Teacher Diversity Committee (TDC) of NYC

 Email: [email protected]

 

moreunion-This list of the main improvements we would like to see in the 2014 NYC teachers’ contract was developed based on democratic discussion and a vote at the 1/18/2014 meeting of the Movement of Rank and File Educators. Join us to continue the discussion!

1. Improved Learning and Working Conditions: Our schools should have lower class sizes, and they should be fully funded and staffed with sufficient support services. Therapists, Guidance Counselors, and Special Educators should have reduced caseloads so our high-needs students get what they need to grow, and educators have enough time during the school day to complete necessary recordkeeping and planning.

2. A Better Evaluation System: Teachers should be part of the team that builds our new evaluation system. It should not be tied to high-stakes standardized test scores. Instead, each school’s staff should play an active role in choosing meaningful, student-friendly assessments that can be used to inform instruction and measure growth. Extra paperwork and quantitative data creation should be eliminated.

3. Competitive Salaries: We deserve full retroactivity and fair raises based on the rising cost-of-living, and to retain teachers. To demonstrate respect for all of our work, there should be a move toward salary equity for all UFT members.

4. Restoration of Due Process and Fairness: All teachers deserve to be treated fairly, thus our contract should restore the right to transfer and to grieve material in our files. Teachers should be considered innocent until proven guilty at 3020a hearings, and the “fair student funding” budget system (that penalizes hiring of experienced teachers) should be reversed. If enacted, these changes will effectively end the ATR crisis.

Please download a flyer-version of these ideas to spark discussion within your UFT chapter or community here! MORE Top 4 Contract Flyer. And, if you’re interested in thinking about an ideal contract in more detail, check out “The Contract NYC’s Educators Deserve” that we shared in an earlier blog post. You can also find more resources under the “Contract” tab above.

Panelists Anthony Lackhan, Marcus McArthur, Sean Petty, and moderator Kit Wainer sparked an insightful discussion about unity and fair contracts during the forum.

Panelists Anthony Lackhan, Marcus McArthur, Sean Petty, and moderator Kit Wainer sparked an insightful discussion about unity and fair contracts during the forum.

NEW YORK: Over 75 rank and file union members gathered on Thursday (3/7/2014) night to mobilize against

Those rank and file workers have already garnered over 1,000 signatures on a letter demanding that union leaders prioritize retroactive pay.  Furthermore, they urge Mayor de Blasio to stay true to his campaign promise of “ending the tale of two cities,” and ask him to demonstrate his commitment to ending income inequality, starting at the bargaining table.

The forum was organized by the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the ACS Coalition of Union Members, 99 Pickets and rank and file activists from NYSNA, District Council 37, and the Professional Staff Congress.  Members of TWU Local 100, Organization of Staff Analysts, Teamsters Local 237, 1199 SIEU and other city unions were represented in a lively discussion.

“It’s clear that the anger that city workers feel about losing ground for the past five years is starting to find expression,” said Sean Petty, a nurse at the HHC. “The fact is that we’ve given up our free time, we’ve come in during snowstorms, we’ve stayed overnight in hospitals, and we’ve worked overtime to cleanup the city after Superstorm Sandy. That is being repaid with a new mayor who is saying there is not enough money for the raises we deserve. What tonight showed,” he continued, “is that there is a growing unrest among city workers and that we are not going to accept the status quo excuses from the administration.  It’s clear to all of us there is enough money to pay for the things that we all need, whether you are a city worker or depend on city services.”

Anthony Lackhan, a member of Local 1549, DC37 said,“Tonight I learned that there are a lot more of us willing to fight for what we’ve earned. I’m excited that I’m not alone and reinvigorated to find brothers and sisters of like mind.”

“Its okay for us to ask for more right now.  It’s OK for us to demand a strong middle class.  It’s our duty as public sector unions to demand it,” said Marcus McArthur, a city teacher and member of the MORE caucus of the UFT.

“De Blasio campaigned on a tale of two cities.  Well, here’s the other city coming forward,” said Lucy Herschel, a member of 1199 SEIU. “I don’t think I’ve ever been at a meeting of this many rank and file union members from different unions before,” she added.

“The thing we all have in common as teachers, as city workers, as nurses, is that we all care about the people we serve, and the people in our community care about our services, so we need to work together and really build locally.” said Rosie Frascella, a teacher and member of the MORE caucus of the UFT.

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The Movement of Rank and File Educators is the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers.  For MORE information: http://morecaucusnyc.org/about/

RSVP here!

"MORE general meeting march 8th 2014"

Teachers in St. Paul, MN are preparing for a strike authorization vote on February 24th.

The union is holding informational meetings in the lead up to the vote. If the strike is authorized, the union is required to give 10 days notice before calling a strike.

The strength and unity of the membership was evident on January 30th when “walk-ins” were organized at 55 of 62 sites with over 2500 of the city’s 3200 members participating along with parents, on one of the snowiest mornings of the year.

The St. Paul Federation of Teachers has done extensive outreach to parents and other community members for months, holding open meetings, and even open negotiation sessions, to discuss contract demands and involve teachers, parents and community members in shaping their demands. As in Chicago, the union has put forth its own blueprint for “The Schools St. Paul’s Children Deserve.” As a result, the SPFT has gained immense support. Parents recently helped to start a Facebook page called “I Stand with SPFT” that quickly grew to 900 members. On February 18th, hundreds of teachers and community members rallied at a school board meeting and many parents provided testimony in support of the teachers’ demands. 

The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers is fighting for reduced class size, increased staffing (more nurses, librarians, social workers and counselors), access to pre-k for ALL students, and less standardized testing to allow for more genuine teaching.

MORE calls on all UFT members to stand in solidarity with the St.Paul teachers and students by following their struggle and taking action.

For more information, visit the St. Paul Federation of Teacher’s website at: http://www.spft.org/

You can also follow the St. Paul Federation of Teachers on Facebook,  join the “I Stand with SPFT” page and post messages of solidarity to show your support.

In addition,  you can call the  Superintendent and school board members of St. Paul and urge them to come to an agreement with the St. Paul Federation of Teachers to lower class sizes, increase staffing and provide universal access to Pre-K.

Valeria Silva – Superintendent [email protected] 651-767-8152

Mary Doran – Chair [email protected] 651-387-2361

Keith Hardy - [email protected] 651-200-5032
John Brodrick - [email protected] 651-645-7500

Anne Carroll - [email protected] 651-690-9156

Jean O’Connell - [email protected] 651-295-1623

Louise Seeba - [email protected] 651-335-4263

Chue Vue - [email protected] 651-291-8569

Finally, you can sign a petition in support of the St. Paul teachers here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/st-paul-public-schools?source=s.fwd&r_by=4379504

MORE Member Brian Jones speaks out on behalf of parents and students, echoing MORE’s call for a socially just system in which all students have “the kind of humane, relaxed, resource-rich, joyful learning environments that wealthy children already enjoy.” Brian has taught in New York City public schools for nine years and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in urban education at the CUNY Graduate Center.  He is also a parent.

Check it out here: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/02/09/blaming-parents-for-poor-schools/parents-value-schools-but-society-doesnt

You can enjoy more of Brian’s work by watching the film “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” (co-narrated and produced with other MOREistas!)” and by reading his blog.

This is our list of demands that the UFT ought to be mobilizing the rank and file to fight for:

Please find the flier for distribution here and an explanation of the process for ratifying a new contract here

  • Improve Our Students’ Learning Conditions: Funding must be made available for Creative Arts (Music, Art, Drama, Digital Arts), Physical Education, Technology, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Science, Math, and electives. Every school shall be equipped with working computers, interactive boards, internet, heat, air conditioning, and have a fully staffed library and media center. Class size limits should be reduced by at least 10%, with no exceptions. Research has proven that students learn better with individualized attention.

  • Pay Raises: They reflect the importance of the work teachers do, & include full retroactive pay consistent with pattern bargaining. We shall receive 4% retroactive back-pay for the 2008/09 and 2009/10 rounds as other NYC municipal workers did, as well as a 3% raise in each subsequent year to adjust for inflation and cost of living. The money IS in the DOE budget!

  • Teacher Evaluation: With its unscientific use of test scores, increased testing, and additional paperwork, the new evaluation system is a disaster. This contract shall eliminate the use of test scores for teacher evaluations and reduce the amount of evaluation paperwork.

  • Due Process: Restore the principle of innocent until proven guilty in all reassignments with faster and fairer investigations in 3020-a hearings.  An independent arbitrator jointly selected and paid for by the DOE and UFT shall  judge all grievances and removals.

  • Equity for All Students: All schools and students should receive the same amount of services and resources regardless of the socio-economic class of the neighborhood. Public schools should not be funded by outside sources such as corporations. We must support schools in high poverty neighborhoods in order to equalize some of the advantages enjoyed by students with more financial resources. Every school shall be fully staffed with a nurse, a social worker, services available to parents, as well as afterschool and weekend programs. Each child, regardless of economic status, must be offered free breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  • Fair Student Assessment: Standardized tests should be only one tool used for assessing student learning and growth. Portfolios, written assignments, verbal presentations, digital presentations, and projects shall all be available options.

  • Salary Equity: Teachers at the bottom of the pay scale are being paid substantially less than veteran teachers. This gap is being used against senior teachers. There shall be additional pay increases for new teachers to close this tremendous difference, without an effect on the raises of veteran teachers.

  • Right to Grieve Letters in the File and Ratings: All employees shall have the right to respond to accusations and demonstrate that they are inaccurate or unfair. Disciplinary red flags in files of active teachers who were not terminated in 3020-a hearings must be eliminated.

  • Initiatives: Too many new mandates flood our schools each year.  When any new, significant education policy is agreed upon for implementation in classrooms, it shall be limited to one per academic year, be administered with a minimum of two years professional development, and be continuously reviewed by a jointly agreed upon panel of experts for effectiveness.

  • Revise the “Fair Student Funding” Formula: The DOE shall return to the system in which each school’s budget was charged the same, fixed amount per teacher. The current system incentivizes principals to hire inexperienced teachers. We must restore the right of an educator to transfer on the basis of seniority or to further integration.

  • Changes in Hiring/ATRs: Due to the lack of educators of color, students of color are implicitly taught not to identify members of their community with intellectual growth. We must stop and reverse the disproportionate disappearance of Black and Latino/a educators from the City school system. NO new hires shall be made, including Teach for America, Teaching Fellows, or any other exceptions, until all excessed staff from the ATR pool are permanently assigned to any available position they choose.

  • Workload for Special Educators: Assign professional educators working with special education students reasonable caseloads that will allow for all mandated services and paperwork, including work in SESIS, to be completed during the work day. Educators working with special education students shall be able to safely report any inconsistencies between the mandated services included in a student IEP and the services that the student is actually receiving.

  • C-6 Assignments: These shall be restored to the system prior to 2005 in which the use of that time was decided on collaboratively between the UFT Chapter and the Principal, not unilaterally imposed by the administration.

  • Better Pay for PT’s, OT’s, and Paraprofessionals: Experienced OT’s and PT’s are paid 38 percent less than teachers and speech therapists with the same levels of education. Paraprofessionals, some of our most important members, are not paid enough to live in the same city as the children they care for. All their salaries shall be dramatically increased and they shall be offered the same job protections as teachers.

  • Academic Freedom: Educators shall be responsible for decisions regarding the methods and materials used for the instruction of students. Administrators and the DOE are not in classrooms on a daily basis, and so do not understand our students’ individual needs, yet they currently have nearly unchecked power to determine how we teach.

  • Caseload for Guidance Counselors: These professionals are increasingly being forced to take on an overwhelming number of additional responsibilities, which often means that students who need psychological counseling are not receiving it. Our schools need to be fully staffed with the professionals who provide direct college and career guidance as well as emotional support. 250:1 is the state recommended ratio, but as NYC needs are greater than average for the state, 200 students per counselor with at least one in every school is appropriate.

  • Education Leadership and Iron-Clad Contract Enforcement: The C-30 panel should have the final determination of any administrative hiring. We must demand that administrators’ behaviors are consistent with promoting a respectful working/learning environment. Any administrator that is found to be routinely violating the contract at their school shall be automatically removed and face charges for permanent removal.

  • Tenure: There shall be a clear, explicit path to tenure negotiated between UFT and DOE, stating what is expected from new faculty in order to receive it. All denials must include a written explanation and be eligible for appeal before an independent arbitrator.

Consistent with the democratic process, this platform is a living document. This is in no particular order, all demands are of equal importance to our members, UFT educators and the communities we serve.