Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Ignore the UFT Elections At Your Own Peril
The closing of schools and the invasion of charter schools seems to have put the UFT elections, which begin in earnest in early January, on the back burner.
With James Eterno, the ICE/TJC candidate for UFT president to oppose Mulgrew being in the awkward position of having to put his main energy into leading the defense of his closing Jamaica High School (and having to work with Mulgrew to accomplish that) the campaign has not been a priority. I have been racing around covering charter and closing school issues and certainly have neglected my responsibility in discussing the election. Thanks to ICE's Ellen Fox who has kept her nose to the grindstone, and Joan Seedorf, who has done amazing work as the Manhattan rubber room rep, I have been reminded about my responsibilities. We met last night to work on our candidate list.
More teachers and even students have been activated than ever. Even the UFT is being moved to a higher level of activity. The closing schools ties into the creation of ATRs. Unless Tweed gets the UFT to give up on ATRs through public pressure and the use of the state legislature to do something there will be lots of instability. Imagine a floating crew of thousands of dislocated teachers and students. Closing 20 schools was done intentionally and there is no clearer sign that this is a political not an educational agenda that may come back to bite them.
Rumors are floating that Bloomberg will issue an order to give no teachers tenure that is not tied to test scores. Expect some vicious attack as a follow-up to the closing schools to force the issue. There will not be a UFT contract for years unless the UFT gives on these issues, something they cannot afford to do, especially with a UFT election coming up. But if Unity wins by the usual 80% margin all bets are off.
That is why the larger the vote for ICE/TJC the more that will stiffen the spine of the leadership.
Readers of this blog often rail against the UFT but when it comes time to sign up to run against Unity many back off. There is fear out there that the UFT will leave you hanging if you end up under attack or in the rubber room if you are openly with the opposition when in reality, the UFT often bends over backwards to assist activists who they fear have the ability to spread the word.
It is important for people to see this election as part of the fightback against BloomKlein. I don't expect to win much in actual positions but just as the high Thompson totals has made Bloomberg less able to do his thing, a high vote total for ICE/TJC will accomplish the same thing. Even if you don't want to run, ICE/TJC needs lots of help in getting petitions signed and turning out the vote and making sure people don't screw up their ballots. Ignore this election at your own peril.
What do you have to do? Contact me to let me know how you can help. If I don't hear from too many of you, you're all goners.