Thursday, August 28, 2014

ICE Meeting Friday - ICE and MORE - A Lesson for New Action

At the MORE meeting with New Action last October, we offered the ICE model to New Action as a way for their people to work within MORE for our common aims while keeping their caucus alive. They rejected that offer.
ICE will be holding a rare meeting tomorrow. These meetings take place when people feel a need to talk to each other in a relaxed atmosphere where few decisions have to take place.

ICE (Independent Community of Educators) was founded in late 2003 as a reaction to the deal between New Action, then the leading opposition caucus in the UFT, and Randi Weingarten, by supporters of Ed Notes and others - ie, people invited to leave New Action for opposing their deal, which led to seats for New Action on the UFT Ex Bd and job opportunities in the union.

ICE ran candidates in the 2004, 07 and 10 elections, jointly with Teachers for a Just Contract. But both caucuses had very different ideological backgrounds and methods of operation and there was very little interaction or cooperation.

In 2009, members of an ICE committee dealing with ATRs, testing and closing schools (soon amended to include fighting charter invasions) attracted people from outside ICE, including some from NYCORE and eventually people from other charter battles, like Julie Cavanagh and the crew from PS 15. By that time the committee had been spun off into a new organization that became the Grassroots Education Movement to defend the public education system. Not being a caucus in the UFT, many segments within and without the UFT were comfortable and ultimately the UFT oriented groups began to talk to each other about a big all inclusive tent for a new caucus - which became MORE.

Merging the ideologies and interests has not been an easy process, as the lessons of the march on Staten Island proved. See my piece lambasting the undemocratic ultraleft holier than thou ideologues - The Left and Right Attacks MORE on Garner March Position: I'm Shocked, There Are Social Democrats in MORE. And I do a number on the right wing racists too.

So, anyway - here is an announcement I sent out to the listserves. I'd love to invite every Ed Notes reader - because the rice pudding is so good. But there are only a few seats left - but shoot me an email if you are interested and I'll check.
ICE is meeting  Friday Aug 29 at 4:00 pm. Please RSVP if you haven't yet dome so if you are coming as there is limited space.
ICE meetings are usually the best place to go for real open discussions on issues impacting UFT members. People actually learn. Everyone gets to speak, as often as they like. Meetings don't end until everyone is satisfied that they had a chance to share their views, think about what others are saying and followup. That learning process leads people to an ability to modify their views and compromise during the course of the meeting (except for the rigid ideologues, who often don't stay very long because after all, they know it all and have nothing to learn and are only there to proselytize their views on others.) 

Of course size matters so this is not a criticism of MORE which has more people at meetings, though some ICE people do get frustrated at the more restricted environment of MORE meetings.

James Eterno has suggested we don't just chat n chew but work from a real agenda while chewing and chatting. Darn. Here are his suggestions, supplemented by some of mine, which means we will probably still be chatting and chewing at midnight.

1. ICE stayed together and did not disband in 2012 as TJC did after MORE was formed. I did not want ICE to stick around so we could merely get together and eat once or twice a year. We continued as an organization with a role to play in the union and education debates independent of MORE.
Note from Norm: At the MORE meeting with New Action last October, we offered the ICE model to New Action as a way for their people to work within MORE for our common aims while keeping their caucus alive. They rejected that offer.

2. We need to pay our respects to Gene and Loretta Prisco. We lost both of these wonderful people since we last met as a group. (Those who want their comments published will be videotaped).

3. Is ICE still needed?
If ICE still exists as an organization it should say something and take 
some positions, not just be a space for Jeff and I to share our personal views.  Our purpose as an organization should be on this agenda. Perhaps we are no longer necessary and should disband as TJC did in 2012. We can still get together and eat when we want to.
4. State of MORE and ICE's part in it.  Amazing young people have bred new life into opposition to Unity in the UFT. What, if anything, does ICE want to achieve as part of this opposition? Where do we see it heading?
(Combine items 3 and 4).

5. An ICE endorsement for Zephyr Teachout in the Democratic primary. Locals around the state are endorsing her. MORE probably won't do it so why not ICE? See support statement from James Eterno on ICE blog.
Norm amendment: ICE also endorses Green Party in general election.

6. NYSUT's Stronger Together. 
A legitimate statewide opposition to Unity is forming. The entire year at NYSUT should be reviewed. I propose ICE formally support Stronger Together. Some of us are already involved so why not formalize it if ICE still wants to play an active role in the union and education worlds? 

7. Midnight special - Discussing the controversy inside and outside MORE over the march, the UFT support of the march, what could have/should have MORE done? Not for voting, but for comment: did MORE do the right thing?


  1. Norm:

    Put me on the ICE RSVP list for the next meeting.

    1. Great Chaz - we will announce it. There is still some room if you want to come.


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