Friday, July 5, 2013

Bob Peterson at NEA: Friends we are at war/ Protest Monday Against Tyranical Principal

This year we organized members to remove tyrant-like principals from five schools.... Bob Peterson, Pres. Milwaukee Teachers Association
Bob Peterson (from Klonsky)
Thanks to Fred Klonsky for posting this gem from Peterson, the president of the Milwaukee Teachers Association, an NEA local -- unfortunately for those under the AFT Unity Caucus dominated tyranny. (Let's hope the Wisconsin AFT and NEA merge so we can get Bob to the AFT convention in LA next summer.)

For those who are not aware, Bob is also one of the founders of the progressive/social justice teacher journal "Rethinking Schools." Just making a point to all those who claim a social justice agenda will turn off rank and file teachers -- you can actually win elections -- in Chicago, in Milwaukee, in Newark (almost). If one wants to complain about MORE and social justice focus on the way MORE is presenting that idea (a legitimate point), not that only bread and butter issues are important.
I am Bob Peterson speaking for the Wisconsin Delegation. As president of the largest teachers’ union local in our state I urge you to pass this amendment so the NEA (has) resources to help  local affiliates organize for great public schools.
Friends we are at war.
I know. I am from Wisconsin. I am from your future. A future that has no collective bargaining, no fairshare, no payroll deduction for dues, and a requirement for annual recertification requiring 51% vote of eligible members. But the plan by the Koch brothers, Tea Party, ALEC, and market place ideologues, is to not only destroy public sector unions, but to destroy public schools. Last month the Wisconsin legislature expanded the nation’s largest voucher program from Milwaukee to include the entire state, continuing its slash and burn policies.
In order to fight this war, these past few years in Milwaukee we have re-imagined our union. I compare our union to a stool with three solid legs. We fight for bread and butter issues, we unite with parents and the community for social justice, and we reclaim the teaching profession.
Our professional staff, our six full time release teacher and ESP organizers, and elected leaders are not just servicing our members in traditional ways. We’ve turned part of our office into a teacher-run professional development center. We’ve organized our members at the school level to do neighborhood canvassing for elections winning victories of anti voucher candidates in the legislature and school board. This year we organized members to remove tyrant-like principals from five schools. Citywide we’ve organized to demand developmentally appropriate early childhood practices, that libraries have librarians, that a new teacher mentor program be restored after the administration excessed all mentors, and that educational assistants get paid an additional $5 an hour each hour that they cover a class for an absent teacher.
We have also united with community groups in solidarity with striking Palermo pizza workers, in support of immigrant rights and bilingual education, and against the expansion of voucher and privately-run charter schools.
Friends, I am all for raising our hands for public schools, but the last two years in Wisconsin has taught us that sometimes those hands must become fists and we need resources to fund organizing, to fight the war against those who would destroy public education, and to organize our members to unite with parents, students and community to build great public schools for all students.
Oh, and talking about that opening quote about removing tyrant-like principals, people from MORE with UFT support are organizing to remove one such tyrant this Monday at Tweed at noon.  (I could do without the overuse of the loaded word "racist," inside MORE -- how about firing based on racial stereotyping?)

Click here to RSVP by Facebook:
WHAT? Picket demanding an immediate, rapid and unbiased investigation by the Chancellor’s office into allegations that a Queens Principal called African American teachers she was firing “big lipped,” “nappy haired,” and “gorillas.”

WHEN? 12 noon, Monday July 8th.

WHERE? In front of Chancellor Walcott’s offices at DOE Headquarters in Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan (4/5/6/N to City Hall)

ACTION ALERT: Mon. July 8th 12 noon Picket demanding an immediate, rapid and unbiased investigation by the Chancellor's office into allegations that a Queens Principal called African American teachers she was firing "big lipped," "nappy haired," and "gorillas."

12 noon, Monday July 8th.
In front of Chancellor Walcott's offices at DOE Headquarters in Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan (4/5/6/N to City Hall)

ENDORSEMENTS: Teachers and staff from PAIHS Elmhurst and around the city, Councilwoman Jullissa Ferreras, Assemblyman Francisco Moya, Kevin Powell and BK Nation, United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE). [List of endorsements in formation].

Pan American International High School will be without any African American teachers next year, because two teachers have been fired after a Queens Principal, Minerva Zanca, made racist comments about them in closed-door meetings with her assistant principal. The third African American teacher is leaving the school because of severe budget cuts to her hugely successful Theater program which were racially motivated.

We demand that there is a full investigation into these allegations and, if they are substantiated, that the DOE hold the principal accountable to its zero-tolerance policy against discrimination. We also demand that the discontinuances of the personnel involved (Teachers John Flanagan and Heather Hightower and AP Anthony Riccardo) be reversed.

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