Thursday, March 28, 2013

ICE Meeting Today: Better Not Shout, Better Not Pout, George Schmidt is Coming To Town

At ICE's scheduled meeting today we will have the bonus of special guest Substance,  telling us all about what's happening in Chicago with the school closing protests and the CORE re-election campaign. As one of CORE's founding members, George will also talk about the evolution of CORE from an 8 person group of people in 2008 reading Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine" to running the Chicago Teachers Union by July 2010. The theme of George's talk will be from dissidents to the realities of power.
George Schmidt, the founder, publisher and editor of

And that is an interesting theme given many Unity Caucus comments over the years that it is easy for a group like ICE or MORE to be critical when it doesn't have to deal with running a union. And those are not points to slough off and it will be interesting to hear George tell us about that tightrope walk. But I am interested in how the structures of CORE work in terms of organization building. How have they managed to gather so many more committed activists in Chicago than we have done so far here in NYC given they have about 650 schools (soon to drop to 600 if Rahmbo gets his way) while we have 1700 here and 5 boroughs. George often tells me that organizing Chicago is the equivalent of Brooklyn.

Some who are not aware may be wondering what role ICE still plays given that the other caucus, TJC, is no longer functioning.
We all made a decision that once the organizing groups got MORE up and going their official role as decision makers would disappear and MORE would be a membership org of individuals rather than a coalition of orgs which I for one felt would clog up the process.

ICE as one of the constituent groups that helped organize MORE felt we had strong enough bonds between us to continue in some form, mostly as a discussion group to explore issues of interest. And there are some ICEers who are either not interested in MORE, so keeping ICE alive gives them a voice. Plus the  ICEUFT Blog that James and Jeff continue to maintain and gives ICE its own voice in the union debates.

We don't meet often, especially with the work needed in MORE, but think that as a group of older teachers and retirees we have some things to offer which MORE may not have the time or inclination to address. In fact one of my own disatisfacttions with MORE meetings is the lack of time to just talk. MORE people are more action oriented and that just doesn't always suit old fogies like me who love the give and take we always have in ICE.

And we have invited some of the newer people we have met in MORE to join our meetings who we think fit that mold. We meet in a diner and just talk -- and eat. And I never emerge from an ICE meeting without feeling I've learned something or had some issues that were muddled illuminated. The floating agenda and lack of time constraints plus the fact that with MORE doing the work we don't really have to do anything -- but talk and eat.

Ahhh, life is good.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating).