Archives For teachers voice
Special Education Teacher/UFT Delegate
PS 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Lest we forget, the UFT leadership works for the membership- NOT the other way around.
Our dues pay for their salaries, their perks, and the UFT skyscraper at 52 Broadway. Our COPE money buys the “seat at the table” with the politicians, billionaires, and power brokers they say will save our profession. They push a TINA (There Is No Alternative) mentality on the membership, and when it comes to the 2014 contract, operatives (belonging to the UNITY caucus that has monopolized power within the UFT since its founding in 1960) have been sent out among the membership. Their message is that this proposal is the best we can do, so even if you have lots of problems with it, it’s better than no contract at all, so you might as well vote “yes”.
Most working teachers in NYC have been kept in the dark about how their union works, and how that relates to this contract, so perhaps it’s helpful to reframe the question in terms of dining in a restaurant:
Let’s say you sat down at a table, ordered, and were served a dish that looked, smelled, and tasted awful. Would you choke it down because that’s what you had been brought? Since you are paying the restaurant for the sole purpose of preparing you a tasty meal, most people would send it back and expect the restaurant to replace it with something better.
What if everyone’s meal was unacceptable, and the manager sent around the maitre d’ to explain to each table that the restaurant’s suppliers sold substandard meat and produce, so there was no way they could produce a tastier meal, but that surely, eating what they had brought you was better than no meal at all?
A MORE member and campaign volunteer shares her experience
As an activate participant in our UFT MORE Caucus I volunteered my time after school to place MORE leaflets in the mailboxes of teachers within the NYC public schools This would permit the teachers, and staff to have a CHOICE to allow them to make an educated decision for the upcoming Spring election and to have representatives that are in favor of having a fair and just contract, enforce a democratic process to our members, to have a voice in their school and community and most of all having our students in the fore front of all of our decisions. My experience, as I placed MORE Leaflets in NYC public schools within my own community in South Brooklyn, I have had quite a different encounter at each school!
The familial, safe, and comfortable atmosphere within the three elementary schools, was conducive to the students learning environment and was evident on the beaming happy faces of the staff, teachers and most of all the children!
I displayed my ID, signed in and presented my letter from the UFT to security, stated my intent and my letter of approval to submit campaign literature into the members mailboxes. I was directed to the main office where the mailboxes are located. As I navigated my way through the building, I observed teachers speaking with parents, assisting students with homework or assignments, discussing lessons and changing their print rich hallway boards and classrooms. All of these activities were after school hours, and I was personally assisted by a staff member and brought to the main office. I spoke to a UFT rep who was there about the importance of an alternative to our UFT, and was encouragd to place the leaflets in our members mail boxes. I met some teachers and had a lovely,civilized conversation about the importance of MORE.
My experience was similar with the other two local elementary schools, and I was able to place information about MORE into our union members mailboxes. It is essential in a democratic process for our teachers, staff, parents, students and community to be informed about an alternative in our union that has their best interest to motivate and activate positive change
Expecting the same warm, comforting and familial culture I had at the elementary schools I was in for a rude awakening! As I approached the building of a local intermediate school there were three young ladies waiting in the frigid winter weather to be picked up from school, and it was evident that once school is over there is no turning back, the building became an empty abyss, void of students, teachers or any evidence of life within this social institution. I showed my ID informed security of my intentions to place UFT leaflets in the members mailbox, signed in and was directed to go to the main office which was 100 feet from security. As soon as I walked into the main office, the mailboxes were immediately to my left and I began placing our MORE leaflets in our members mailboxes. Within minutes the principal came up to me infuriated, agitated and in a condescending tone with pointed finger demanded what I am doing. I calmly stated why I was there, showed her the letter stating as a UFT member I am authorized to place information in our members mailboxes. She then stated ” This is MY HOUSE and no items go into the mail boxes without my authorization” I showed her the MORE flyer in which she read, I requested she make a copy of my authorization letter and I will contact my UFT representative so I may place the leaflets in the mailbox. She stated again this is ” Her House!” and removed the leaflets I had already placed in our members mailboxes I then assisted her in the removal of our MORE leaflets, and I stated I will come another time with her being notified prior to my arrival. She was clearly agitated, and request I leave flyers and she will have her UFT Chapter Leader place them in the mailboxes, I left a few and when she saw the small pile stated I have “60 teachers you certainly do not expect ME to make copies” I stated ” I would not expect her to do anything of the sort!”. She then used an analogy(with a condescending, pompous tone and finger pointed) stated I would not be allowed to go into her home and place items there what makes you think you can do it here1. I left a few flyers, thanked her for her time, and contacted my UFT immediately after this hostile confrontation. I intend to go back to that school, with MORE flyers, it seems to me that the public schools with hostile, agitated, unfriendly and even barbaric administrators are the schools that are in MOST need for MORE. The schools that have this type of environment are not conducive to teachers, staff, community and most of all our students!!! Our young people require MORE…expect MORE and demand MORE for a dignified, safe, decent, friendly and academic environment that is best for them.
Our schools are there for our children! As an educator, parent and a member of this community I look forward to a future with MORE that is best for our parents, community and most of all OUR CHILDREN!!!
We must have change for a better future!!!
Colleen M. Adrion
Educator Leon M. Goldstein High School
We have an update; the writer went to the same school again this past Friday to distribute literature. Security called the principal and refused entry. The principal came to the door and said, “I can’t be bothered with this”. She walked away and came back with a person who identified himself as the chapter leader. The chapter leader said he would distribute the material. Our volunteer politely declined asking that she do it herself, he once again said “no” and our volunteer promised to be back. There have been reports that this chapter leader is affiliated with another caucus, if this were the case it would be an unfortunate obstruction of union democracy that all our UFT brothers and sisters frown upon. We have notified UFT election personnel, they have been very receptive and said that she would be allowed entry soon because they were alerting the Office of Labor Relations.
No matter what caucus the chapter leader is part of, if any, there should never be a reason to obstruct democracy. Chapter Leaders knows full well that any UFT election representative has a right to access our member’s boxes during the election. Hopefully this issue is solved soon. Unfortunately this is not an isolated case; school administrators throughout the city have denied access to our election volunteers. MORE is calling on our UFT leaders to instruct the DOE/Chancellor Walcott to send out a notice to all principals that any UFT member should be granted full access to members’ boxes during our election season. In the spirit of fairness and democracy we hope the UFT leaders will comply and request this immediately.
If you enjoyed this please read other testimonials on why members joined MORE
The Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) is pleased that Governor Cuomo’s Education Commission recommended increasing wrap-around services and expanding pre-kindergarten programming. Educators and parents know that supporting children and families, making sure they have access to health care and other services, as well as providing robust early interventions will increase educational opportunity and outcomes for all of New York’s children, especially here in New York City.
It is unfortunate to note, however, that the report released yesterday says nothing about lowering class size. It says nothing about ensuring that a fair amount of funding reaches New York City’s classrooms. The report is silent on the need to provide fair funding for urban districts in general, where the overwhelming majority of impoverished students live.
Further, its recommendations regarding technology and teacher recruitment and retention are untested and unsupported. These are, essentially, corporate-minded reforms that we believe are not in the best interest of our children, our schools and our profession.