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by Megan Moskop

Teacher/UFT Delegate

M.S. 324- Patria Mirabal

Note: I am an active UFT and MORE member because I believe that our union can be a powerful voice for the teaching profession, the quality of our education system, and ultimately the quality of our society.  Though I am critical of our current UFT leadership, my criticism is meant to be constructive and is directed towards the goal of building a stronger, smarter, more democratic UFT.  If you’d like to get involved with the work of building a stronger union, click here to join MORE online, or come meet us at our Holiday Party this Friday (Dec 6th).

If you read my last post, you know that I came to the November 20th UFT delegate assembly ready to speak in favor of our Resolution for an End to the New Evaluation System.  Despite preparation and support from my colleagues and fellow MORE members, I was nervous.

Why was I nervous? In UFT delegate assemblies, Robert’s Rules of Order (with the addition of extra Rules of Order printed on each agenda) enable completion of the planned agenda before 6pm.  They also severely limit discussion. There are 15 minutes allotted for questions from delegates, and only 10 minutes for motions directed to the agenda from delegates. (The President’s report, however, does not have a time limit, and often occupies the majority of the meeting time.)  I have also observed many occasions on which delegates who rise to speak are belittled or treated disrespectfully.

I knew that I would need to speak as well and as concisely as I could.  So I planned, drafted, and re-drafted what I might say.  To read my plan, click here.

Armed with this plan and copies of the resolution, I arrived at the delegate assembly early to pass out the resolution so that delegates could read over it before it was time to vote.  UNITY, the caucus to which all the UFT leadership belongs,  distributed its own flyer at the beginning of the meeting. Among other things, the flyer criticized MORE, in an inaccurate and deceptive way, saying that MORE “believes that principals should have complete and unchecked authority when it comes to a teacher’s evaluation.”  I was shocked and insulted that the UNITY leadership thought their own delegates would accept such a  spurious claim.  No group of teachers would ever advocate for such a simple way of assessing our complex and valuable work, and any group of elected delegates should easily recognize such a statement as a distortion of MORE’s view.

Additionally, the flyer and the President’s report asserted that the UFT leadership was fighting “Advance. ”  I wonder, where is this fight? Most teachers I know do not feel involved in, or even aware of any kind of larger resistance to “Advance.” Instead, they are stressed out about extra standardized tests, frustrated with pushing paperwork until late at night, and striving to infuse as much genuine joy as possible into common-core aligned lessons.

The teachers I know, despite being overworked and undervalued, are tough. They are warriors who show up every day ready to help their students fight for a brighter future. President Mulgrew must see things differently though, because when he asked us to rally around the  “New Day, New York Dec 5th Day of Action”  (which is a great call for social justice involving many unions- check out the UFT flyer here) he undermined the call to action, saying, “I know we’re tired, but…”  Later, with regards to contract negotiations, the prevailing sentiment was that “our members aren’t ready for action.”

If UFT members are tired, we are tired of being forced to implement poorly planned dictates that mean more paper work, more time testing, and less time focused on our students.  We are tired of being told to do stupid things, but we are ready to fight them. We need our union to lead us in the fight for a system in which we can focus on what we love—teaching our students.

President Mulgrew and I agree that Advance gets in the way of our teaching. He called advance a “paperwork disaster” created by “the people who hate us” (referring to the corporate interests that usually bash teachers).  When I stood to raise our resolution, I adjusted my planned words to echo these ideas, and to include many of the thoughts above. Recording is not allowed in the delegate assembly, so I’m not sure exactly what words I used, but my main idea remained the same.

“Advance” reinforces the corporate notion that our teaching, and our children, are standardizable products to be quantifiably measured. We must fight for the collaborative creation of a teacher evaluation system that empowers teachers, not testing companies, not administrators, and not bureaucrats. We deserve that smart system, and so do our students.

After I spoke, Janella Hines, one of the UFT Vice-Presidents, spoke against our resolution. Debate was over, as per the rules of the Delegate Assembly*, and there was a vote as to whether or not a debate and vote on our resolution would be added to the agenda for next month. Since votes are not counted in UFT meetings (problematic!), we don’t know exactly what the totals were (I’ve heard estimates at 30-70 and 40-60), but a “visual majority” did not support adding our resolution to the next agenda.

Perhaps the majority of the UFT delegate assembly isn’t ready to fight Advance, but are you?

If so, join MORE’s campaign to reject “Advance!” Help us push the UFT leadership to be more democratic and inclusive of rank-and-file teacher input, and lend your expertise towards fighting what Diane Ravitch calls the “corporate education deform movement.” Continue this conversation with your colleagues, sign our petition, come to a meeting, contact us, or come celebrate with us at our holiday party this Friday!

 

*A side-note on the use of parliamentary procedure:

When I asked President Mulgrew about our rules of order after the meeting, he advised me to start researching. I’ll continue my research, but my first google search resulted in the following key points from the website www.robertsrules.org:

“Complementary is the right of at least a strong minority to require the majority to be deliberate- to act according to its considered judgment AFTER a full and fair “working through” of the issues involved. Robert’s Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly.”

Though a “for” and “against” position on our resolution (as per UFT rules) was presented during the meeting, I don’t believe this constitutes a full and fair “working through, ” and I think that this rushed treatment is all too often the case with important topics in the delegate assembly.

Furthermore, the website states that, “Under no circumstances should “undue strictness” be allowed to intimidate members or limit full participation.”  I know I’m not the only delegate who feels intimidated by speaking. As for full participation, it is already decidedly limited when only 15 percent of our membership voted in the 2012 UFT elections, and the Union Hall doesn’t even have enough space to hold close to the 3, 406 elected delegates.

MORE Holiday Party 12/6

November 17, 2013 — 1 Comment
 HolidayPartyBanner
We have a lot to celebrate!
All year we’ve been fighting for better working
and learning conditions and a more democratic union.
Join us for festivities, fun, food, and drinks
 Friday, Dec. 6, 5-9pm
21 West 35th St. (between 5th – 6th Aves.) NYC
Our video link here

MORE Fall Events

October 27, 2013 — Leave a comment
the funeral

Stand up to school closings- join us at “The Funeral” to bury the Bloomberg years and his failed educational policies!

Stand up to school closings- join us at “The Funeral” to bury the Bloomberg years and his failed educational policies!

Facebook event here

10/30 5:30pm 883 Classon Ave Brooklyn

DTOE-Nov-14-Flyer2

Don’t Tread on Educators- hosted by Francesco Portelos

How to fight for your rights as an educator ! There will be no sign in sheet and you can attend anonymously. Francesco will share what he has learned from being in the trenches, but the conversation will not be one sided.

Web link here

Shirley Chisholm Day Karen Lewis 2

Not a MORE event, but hosted by our sisters/brothers of PSC (CUNY educators) a union local of the NYSUT/AFT.

Barbara Bowen- President of the PSC and Karen Lewis -President of CTU are both from reform, progressive caucuses that were formerly in opposition.

Solidarity, Community, and the Struggle for our Public Schools

11/19 4:00pm Brooklyn College Student center

More Info here

nov general meeting

Our last general meeting of 2013.

Discuss, debate and take action against high stakes testing, common core, and learn how the next mayor will impact public education in NYC.

11/16 224 West 29th St (btwn 7th + 8th ave) Midtown NYC 14th fl. 12-3pm

Facebook event here

Also Join us at our happy hour on 11/1

Are you…

Nervous about the implementation of a new teacher evaluation system?

Outraged that teachers are evaluated on tests for subjects they don’t even teach?

Eager to organize resistance to the new teacher evaluation system?

The MORE Chapter Organizing Committee invites everyone to our city-wide Happy Hour:

The MORE Chapter Organizing Committee will be meeting to share reports about how the new teacher evaluation system is being implemented and plan resistance to this unfair and fraudulent method of evaluating teachers. Come sign and share our petition calling for a moratorium on the new teacher evaluation system and brainstorm strategies for building your union chapter through this campaign. Students and teachers are more than test scores! Teaching can not be reduced to a rubric! Sign up to distribute the new MORE newsletter! Get involved and join the movement!

Friday, November 1st 5pm
Ginger Man
11 E 36th St
B/D/F/M to Herald Sqare
6 to 33rd

https://www.facebook.com/events/514426688653657/

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

"Win Back Wednesday A Day of Action Because our children are MORE than a score"

Win Back Wednesdays, modeled after Fight Back Fridays, are school/community level collective days of action that meet schools where they are in terms of their ability to educate, organize and mobilize. MORE believes a strong union is rank-and-file led and in the power of our collective action.

Ideas and Resources to Facilitate Participation in MORE’s October 9th
Win Back Wednesday Day of Action

Microsoft Word (.docx) format

October 9th Toolkit
Oct 9th Stickers

Image Files (.png)

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Consciousness Raising Stickers

MORE Brunch!

September 22, 2013 — 1 Comment
"MORE brunch join us for a Fundraising Brunch Saturday October 5"

Delicious Gourmet Food and Social Justice Unionism in one!

MORE General Meeting

September 20, 2013 — Leave a comment
"MORE general meeting discuss the most pressing issues in NYC public education today, focus on Advance"

“Advance” Getting You Down? Get Involved! Make Your Voice Heard!

RSVP Today!