Thursday, February 14, 2008

Broken Hearts Rally: Updated

Updated, Sat., Feb. 16

At the DA on Feb. 6, an amendment calling for a Feb. 14 rally as an addition to the official UFT resolution fighting the budget cuts (you know, the usual tepid things like calling on the mayor to open the books) was turned down – too hard to organize on such short notice, was one of the reasons, amongst others. Weingarten danced on a pin to pin down the maker who insisted the date was flexible. ("Sorry, she said, "you didn't make that officially" - a version of Randi's Rules of Order by which meetings are run.) One Unity Caucus speaker said holding a rally that day might lead to divorce. (Ed Notes has reported extensively on the role the UFT played in the cancelled rally last May.)

At the same time a group of students, teachers, community activists and politicians were meeting at John Jay Educational Complex in Park Slope to plan a "Valentine's Day" rally for Feb. 12 at Tweed at 4pm.

Well, they managed to pull off a spirited rally – not massive, but with hundreds of people - maybe a thousand - they made a point. There were lots of familiar adult faces: Time out for Testing provided support and assistance. Many of the crew from NYCORE were there, some with kids from their classes.

Teachers and parents and lots of kids – all ages at their first demonstration. A great hour of fun for all. I got a particular kick out of the excited elementary school kids jumping in for a photo op. In their equally excited teachers, many of them young activists, I recognized my old self from way back when – with a touch of nostalgia.

Many of the high school kids were very impressive, though I was taken aback when a few kids read speeches denouncing capitalism, speeches very reminiscent of those I've heard at Delegate Assemblies. I almost expected a call for a May Day demonstration. When I questioned one of the teachers, he said they had learned a lot from great teachers. Truly a miracle.

Knowing how some politicians fear the UFT, I was surprised at how many showed up. NYC Council member Bill de Blasio played a big role (other politicians were also involved in organizing the event) and Robert Jackson made the usual rousing speech. I saw Gail Brewer there. Others were there too, but I was part of a film crew assigned to outer limits of the crowd and missed most of the speeches.

The UFT is planning its own rally on March 19 and the fact that the "Broken Hearts" Valentine Day rally came off must have been somewhat embarrassing – they had no presence. They should have been there to whatever extent they could but the vote at the DA locked them in.
The March 19th rally will be a one shot deal. No attempt to build a movement for change. But the UFT doesn't want change.

Broken Hearts, though small, was a step in the building phase. Activists for Progressive Ed Reform (APERs?) worked together and hopefully will continue to work together to build a counter movement to challenge the move to corporatize/privatize the urban educational landscape. Ed Notes will be there to participate and report on the work they are doing.

1 comment:

  1. In picking March 19th, did the UFT take into consideration that it is the 5th anniversary of the war? There will be numerous other events taking place that day. Unless the UFT plans to draw connections between the budget cuts and the $500 BILLION the war has cost so far, a different date might be more appropriate.

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