Archives For solidarity

One exciting and quick way to support MORE’s work is by asking your school’s UFT chapter to vote on endorsing our petition for a moratorium on the new “Advance” teacher evaluation system.

We’re all fed up with “Advance,” and all the teachers I’ve talked to wish the UFT was doing more to oppose this system and stand up for a better one.  My chapter was so excited to hear about this way of pushing the UFT to act that they suggested voting to endorsing this petition right after I showed it to them in our union meeting.

I wanted to make sure everyone had time to read up and consider their options before a vote though, so I sent them an informational e-mail, and we scheduled a secret-ballot vote for the next week.  Teachers cast simple paper ballots, they were counted by an impartial committee, and then my chapter leader and I composed a letter like the one below.

Voila!

It only took about 30 minutes, and my chapter is excited about their involvement in our fight to build a stronger union and a better evaluation system.

You can also take a vote to endorse at your next chapter meeting.

We will present the petitions and chapter endorsements at the November 20th delegate assembly, when we raise a resolution calling for a full repeal of this flawed evaluation scheme that was imposed on us.

Let us know your chapter endorsed our petition by emailing us at [email protected]

Moratorium endorsement model

Date
(school name)
UFT Chapter
On (date) we, the UFT chapter of (insert school name here), voted to formally endorse MORE caucus’s Petition for a Moratorium on the “Advance” Teacher Evaluation System.
 The chapter endorses this proposal and encourages our leadership to act quickly in the face of actions that jeopardize our profession and our students’ quality of learning.
Fraternally,
(name)
Chapter Leader 
(name)
Chapter Delegate
 

submitted by Megan Moskop- Teacher/ UFT Delegate at M.S. 324- Patria Mirabal

11/7 Day of Action

November 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

October Meeting

October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment
"MORE General Meeting october 11 2013"

Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves and Get Busy!

RSVP Now!

Support of Union Leaders is Sought in Call for Moratorium on New NYS ‘Test-Prep’ Teacher Evaluation Scheme

MORE and Change the Stakes Team Up for “Win Back Wednesday” Rally at UFT Delegate Assembly, UFT Headquarters, Oct. 9

 For Immediate Release

NEW YORK — On October 9th at 4:00 p.m, activists from all over the city will gather at UFT headquarters to protest the emphasis on high-stakes testing that education advocates denounce for harming students, educators, and public schools. This action will be led by two grassroots organizations: the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), known as ‘the social justice caucus’ of the UFT, and Change the Stakes, a group of parents who oppose reducing education to the pursuit of higher standardized test scores.

According to organizers, the rally is being called “Win Back Wednesday” because public education must be “won back” from the profit-driven entities behind high-stakes testing and school privatization schemes and returned to actual stakeholders: parents, students, and educators. Wednesday is the monthly UFT Delegate Assembly, when representatives elected by rank and file educators from every school in the city traditionally meet to vote on key decisions.

Organizers are hopeful that union leadership will change course, breaking alliances formed in recent years with self-described education “reformers,” whose agenda typically focuses on increased high-stakes testing and privatization of public schools. To highlight growing opposition to these policies, UFT members throughout NYC will wear anti-high-stakes testing stickers and buttons in their own schools on October 9th, and then gather for a united rally at UFT headquarters downtown after school.

“Our children’s education should never be thought of as ‘common’ or ‘standardized,’” said Mike Schirtzer, UFT delegate and MORE member, referring to the new Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluation system. “Recent educational policies have put a dangerous emphasis on high-stakes testing. The results? A narrowed curriculum. A climate of fear and competition in our classrooms. Students learning to bubble in the right answer, not how to think critically.”

“All too often, our leadership has been complicit in this assault on educational quality and equality,” Schirtzer said. “As the nation’s largest, most powerful union local, the UFT can and should lead the charge for real innovation in schools. Rank and file teachers and public school parents want leadership to say loudly and unambiguously what we all know to be true: the testing regime has run amok. We have chosen the UFT headquarters for the rally because we believe they can be a leading voice for real reform.”

Rally organizers will call on union leadership to demand a “real path to better public schools,” including reduced class sizes; a renewed focus on the arts, music, civics, and physical education; and funding for afterschool programs and wrap-around programs.

Jia Lee, NYC public school teacher and parent worries that, “Standardized testing only gives my son’s teacher this information: if he answered an item correctly or incorrectly. In my son’s school, mistakes are viewed as opportunities for learning; it’s never punitive as in these new high stakes tests. He doesn’t need the burden of thinking that his incorrect answers will cost his teacher her job.”

“While millions of dollars are being wasted on implementing these new ‘reform’ policies,” Schirtzer added, “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!

###

By Dan Lupkin
Special Education Teacher & UFT Delegate
P.S. 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Parents and teachers are often set against each other by politicians engaging in demagoguery and cynical “divide and conquer” tactics, but the truth is that our interests and passions are far more similar than they are different. What it boils down to is that teachers (many of whom have kids in the public schools) and parents are working towards exactly the same goal: facilitating the growth of the children of New York into brilliant, confident, kind, self-actualized human beings  ready to succeed in the world on their own terms.

Politicians, particularly those pushing a particular brand of privatizing, testing-obsessed, anti-union “education reform”, have provided ample proof in word and deed that their goals are different from ours. They have not given birth to or nurtured these students*, nor do they understand the blood, sweat, and tears that a teacher invests in a student over a course of a year or more.  This crop of “education reformers” are not educators, they are business people, and their expertise is in the management of  data points on a graph. As such, a student (or a teacher) is not viewed as an individual, but as a scaled test result, a growth score. The schools are seen as spoils to be disassembled and distributed at bargain basement prices to allies and campaign contributors.

In my experience, parents and teachers across New York City agree on many of the vital education issues facing us today, though we don’t always realize it. On issue after issue, politicians like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Education Commissioner John King (and their local equivalents in most large cities) impose policies that fail and degrade the children of this country. Not surprisingly, these dangerous policies are decried passionately by the stakeholders who know our students as individuals, as learners. These issues are the ideal soil in which to sow parent/teacher solidarity, to work together to  protect the  students. Among the most pressing of these concerns are politicians pretending class size doesn’t matter, massive waves of school closings, and high-stakes testing. These are natural opportunities for collaboration between parents and teachers, instances in which the politicians are just wrong. Continue Reading…

On Saturday, thousands of people from across the country will gather in Washington, DC for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. As we wrote earlier:

“Unfortunately, this march is not just a matter of nostalgia. Today, the gains of the Civil Rights Movement are very much under attack, as educators know all too well. School desegregation was one of the central targets of the movement, but is not championed by the courts or by the federal government. Rather, the current policy thrusts — including privatization and the proliferation of charter schools, have demonstrably worsened segregation in urban school districts.” 

The UFT reserved several buses for this march, which filled up quickly. Nationwide, teachers who are attending the August 24 March on Washington will be marching with their respective unions in a large labor contingent of the march. Since MORE members and supporters are arriving in DC many different ways and at different times, we encourage all of our members to wear their MORE shirts and to try to march together with our UFT brothers and sisters in the labor contingent. If you arrive early, however, Save Our Schools — a national coalition fighting against corporate education reform — is meeting up at 8am at Farragut Square.

by: Mike Schirtzer
Teacher/UFT Delegate (Leon M. Goldstein H.S.)
2013 MORE/UFT Vice Presidential Candidate

“The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory.” -Jonathan Kozol

This quote by the great writer and public education advocate Mr. Kozol leads one to infer that without a struggle there cannot be victory. One may also assert that there is victory in the struggle itself. The question of how an opposition caucus within a union can gain power and victory is one that must be answered in order for that caucus to progress.

Without power, there can never be victory. Power in any group is obtained when the individuals that make up the group feel empowered. Empowerment comes when each member is able to stand up and fight back against the corporate and political forces that seek to destroy public education and bust our unions. We empower our members by assuring them that their voices count, and by asking them for their input on all major decisions. An organization that allows for true democracy is one that empowers its members. We also empower our members by having a space where dissent and debate are welcomed, not suppressed. Empowerment comes when we stand together at delegate assemblies , rallies and school closing hearings, when we cheer each other on, and offer words of encouragement. Empowerment is when new activists who join our caucus realize their ideas are as valuable as  those of our founding members. Our caucus has power when each and every member feels as though they can stand up and speak even when they are the minority in the room, because they are empowered by the vocal and moral support of their brothers and sisters. Our members become empowered because each one is given a responsibility and they know the only way our caucus can be a success is by them fulfilling those responsibilities.

The caucus empowers our members by asking them to appear on panels, facilitate meetings, or join expert forums. We realize that the true experts are not paid off politicians, billionaire reformers, nor professors who have never stepped foot in a public education classroom. The real experts are the educators and parents whose lives are devoted to public education.

Power leads to victory when each of our members walks through the doors of their school, community center, union hall, or legislative building feeling as they have as much power as anyone in that place. Then we know we can achieve victory.

Victory is achieved when new members walk through our doors and say “thank God you exist,” having heard those very words out in the open that they hear in their head each day. They are feeling the very spirit that they wished they felt from their union and government leaders. But the real victory is when the members of the caucus turn to that new member and say, “No, thank God you’re here, because we need you.” That is real empowerment.  That is victory!

Victory is achieved when our members take what they learn at our caucus meetings and bring it back to their school, share it with their colleagues, and speak at Parent Association meetings. This is victory because the message is not being delivered by an out of touch media or an elitist politician, but it’s being delivered by someone who has a stake in the public education system.

We know we have won something when our members go back to their schools and organize a fund to help undocumented students attend the college of their choice, or when a member organizes a club for African-Americans and other students of color at their school where students teach their peers to respect one another and even organize multicultural fairs. When our parents opt their children out of the tests, we have won. They have done this because they realize social justice is more than just a slogan.

When our union brothers and sisters are offered a choice in a union election, an alternative to the current leadership, this is a victory for democracy. MORE’s very existence offers a beacon of hope to those who feel as though they are disenfranchised. Every time we stand up and voice our discontent that union leaders sell out public education for a seat at the table, we ensure that democracy thrives.

Victory is when the bonds of the members of our caucus become so strong that when one of us feels hurt we all feel that pain. We win every time we’re able to look past our political differences to advocate for public education, because we realize that what brings us together is stronger than what separates us.

We have won when we are able to look to each other for the moral and vocal support that is supposed to come from our union leadership, yet only comes from those in our caucus.

Victory is being the largest and loudest contingent at the rare march or rally called by our union leadership, leading the chants as we march across the Brooklyn Bridge. We win when the leadership has no clue how to organize an action and all union members look to us for what to say or do.

We have achieved victory when the media and the general public know that when they want to hear the voice of rank and file educators, they call you, read your blogs, look for your press statements. We win when our social media has as many readers, if not more, than the corporate reformers who pretend to be interested in our children, but only care about profits.

MORE has yet to achieve victory. When our entire union is organized and mobilized to lead the fight for a fair education for all, we will declare victory. When our leadership is responsive, transparent, and truly democratic, we will declare victory. When educators, parents, and students are treated with the dignity they deserve, we will declare victory. When every child is offered equal opportunity and equality of conditions in their education, we will declare victory. When the “new Jim Crow” policies of privatization and closing schools ends and proper funding for public education is restored, we will know we have won.

Until then, we continue our struggles together. We will succeed because when we stand united, we can never be defeated!

alt="teacher solidarity worldwide"

Corporate “education reform” looks suspiciously similar across the globe

alt="we will see you in the streets you will hear our voices in your sleep"

The Chicago Teacher’s Union through CORE is defiant

Statement from the Movement of Rank and File Educators, The Social Justice Caucus of the UFT (United Federation of Teachers)

In Solidarity with Garfield H.S. Teachers

We, the members of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) stand in solidarity with the teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle who are refusing to administer standardized tests this semester. Risking their own livelihoods to stand up for authentic teaching and learning and against the proliferation of high-stakes standardized testing, they are fighting for teachers, educators, parents and, students nationwide. All over this country, teachers and students are frustrated, demoralized, and bored by the increasing pressure to raise standardized test scores and to equate those scores with learning. All of the “data” generated by these tests have become a stick to beat students, teachers, and unions, and have created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. We agree with the teachers of Garfield High School that these tests represent a profound waste of time and money, especially while too many of our schools are starved of basic resources. We stand in solidarity with these brave educators, and encourage parents, teachers and students nationwide to support them as well.

Movement Of Rank & File Educators (MORE)

Please “Like” The Teacher’s of Garfield H.S. Seattle Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/SolidarityWithGarfieldHighSchoolTestingBoycott

 

Official Press Release from Teachers of Garfield H.S.

January 10th 2013

 SEATTLE – In perhaps the first instance anywhere in the nation, teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School will announce this afternoon their refusal to administer a standardized test that students in other high schools across the district are scheduled to take in the first part of January. Known as the MAP test, it purports to evaluate student progress and skill in reading and math. The teachers contend that it wastes time, money, and precious school resources.

“Our teachers have come together and agree that the MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress,” says Kris McBride, who serves as Academic Dean and Testing Coordinator at Garfield. “Additionally, students don’t take it seriously. It produces specious results, and wreaks havoc on limited school resources during the weeks and weeks the test is administered.”

McBride explained that the MAP test, which stands for Measure of Academic Progress, is administered two to three times each year to 9th grade students as well as those receiving extra support services. The students are told the test will have no impact on their grades or class standing, and, because of this, students tend to give it little thought to the test and hurry through it. In addition, there seems to be little overlap between what teachers are expected to teach (state and district standards) and what is measured on the test.

Despite this flaw, McBride states, results of the MAP tests will be used by district officials to help evaluate the effectiveness of instructors who give the test. “Our teachers feel strongly that this type of evaluative tool is unfair based on the abundance of problems with the exam, the content, and the statistical insignificance of the students’ scores,” she says.

Refusing to administer a district-mandated test is not a decision the school’s teachers made casually, or without serious internal discussion.

“Those of us who give this test have talked about it for several years,” explained Mallory Clarke, Garfield’s Reading Specialist. “When we heard that district representatives themselves reported that the margin of error for this test is greater than an individual student’s expected score increase, we were appalled!”

After the affected faculty decided unanimously to make a stand against the MAP test, they told the rest of Garfield’s faculty of their decision. In a December 19 vote, the rest of the school’s teachers voted overwhelmingly to support their colleagues’ refusal to administer the test. Not a single teacher voted against the action. Four abstained from voting. the rest voted to support it.

“We really think our teachers are making the right decision,” said student body president Obadiah Stephens-Terry.“I know when I took the test, it didn’t seem relevant to what we were studying in class– and we have great classes here at Garfield. I know students who just go through the motions when taking the test, did it as quickly as possible so that they could do something more useful with their time.” History teacher Jesse Hagopian said, “What frustrates me about the MAP test is that the computer labs are monopolized for weeks by the MAP test, making research projects very difficult to assign.” Hagopian added “This especially hurts students who don’t have a computer at home.”

The $4 million MAP test was purchased by Seattle Public Schools during the tenure of former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, who left her position in 2011 and sadly passed away in 2012. Goodloe-Johnson sat on the board of directors of Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), the company that markets the MAP test. At the time, some pointed out this potential conflict of interest for Goodloe-Johnson, but the district went ahead with the purchase nonetheless. NWEA itself warns that districts should not use the map test to evaluate teachers. We teachers of Garfield High School believe that the NWEA is right—this test should not be used to evaluate teachers. For secondary teachers the test cannot provide useful information about students’ skills and progress. Still worse, this test should not rob students of precious class time away from instruction. “We believe the negative aspects of the MAP test so outweigh the positive ones that we are willing to take this step,” said Language Arts teacher Adam Gish.