Sunday, March 1, 2015

New Action Tries to Rewrite History, Distorts Story on UFT Charter While Some Brag About "Working" With NA

The UFT charter school came up for a vote at the Executive Board during a time period between 2003 and 2004 when opposition caucus New Action was solidifying their alliance with the dominant Unity Caucus.  New Action's high school "opposition" representatives started going with the Unity party line on just about every topic. The exceptions were my close friend to this day Ed Beller and me however on the subject of the UFT starting a charter school, Ed was with the leadership. Therefore, I was alone so UFT President Randi Weingarten was poised to ridicule me. .... James Eterno
In response to my post on the historical context of the UFT charter and New Action's support for the charter, a prominent member of New Action posted this:
Norm claims that New Action supported the charter. He provides nothing in writing, since there was nothing. Rather, he refers to an anecdote of one vote by one individual, acting on his own. In fact, Scott overlooks years of New Action literature in opposition to charters, preferring his alternate "anecdote as history." This method of attack says more about Scott than about anything else.
I was at all meetings related to the UFT charter - the info meeting, the Ex Bd vote and the DA where Michael Fiorillo from ICE spoke and we handed out a leaflet I believe. James Eterno's memory corresponds to mine and contradicts the New Action fiction. He responded on the ICE blog with his personal account. DEMISE OF UFT CHARTER SCHOOL REMINDS ME OF MY OPPOSITION TO ITS FOUNDING.

James was still on the UFT Exec Bd as a high school rep on the New Action slate elected in 2001 but he and Ellen Fox had already been pushed out of New Action for not going along with the cowtowing to Randi.

James Eterno continues:
I recall vividly being called on after the usual Unity [AND NEW ACTION] sycophants praised the charter school. I spoke out against the UFT running a charter school because we would have difficulty publicly opposing the expansion of charter schools if the union was running one and money would be siphoned away from an already cash strapped public school system to charters.  Randi stopped me in mid-sentence that evening and argued that I was making an argument against private school vouchers and not charter schools but I stuck to my position.
I seem to remember Mike Shulman going over to the other New Action Executive Board members telling them Randi didn't want any opposition on this and to remain quiet. Luckily, he had no control over James.

More from James:
After our debate, I was the lone no vote. A UFT charter school was a no-win proposition.  If it succeeded, the press would see it as a victory for charter schools.  If it did not work out, it would be seen as union failure. That's what is occurring now. Being opposed to all charter schools on principle, not just some we don't like, is a position I am quite honored to have stood up for as a lone wolf at the UFT Executive Board. 
New Action claims to oppose charter. They have been on the Executive Board for almost a decade. Where are their efforts to raise the issue at the EB and the DA if they are opposed to charters? Where are they at the co-location hearings? Did they make a stand when the UFT/Unity leadership capitulated to Cuomo last year when he pushed through the charter support plan that undercut De Blasio? Show me one resolution or public protest they have raised.

Mike Schirtzer, who was in diapers when the UFT charter was on the agenda (he was a late bloomer) posted this response to the New Action whine:
Yes, all your support of Mulgrew, begging for ex bd seats, and all those resolutions really show commitment to fighting charters. I was at countless co-location/charter hearing, I must have missed New Action.

Now, here's the funniest thing. The leader of a new caucus is actually bragging about working together with New Action as a major way to distinguish the caucus from MORE (which refuses to work with New Action until it renounces its deal with Unity). As Mike has pointed out, Weingarten and Mulgrew were at the top of the New Action slate as their presidential candidate, as recently as 2 years ago and Mulgrew will head their ticket in the 2016 elections.

Working with New Action = endorsing Mulgrew, no matter what language is being used to cover this up.

My personal break with a guy to whom I gave supreme support came over his insistence that New Action must be worked with in contradiction to the entire history of that caucus over the past dozen years and MORE's established policy that it would only work with New Action when its deal with Unity ended. A constant barrage of emails to MORE steering over this issue that has continued to this day and a willingness to break up the opposition to Unity. The alliance with New Action and in essence Unity, is designed to make sure Unity controls 100% of the Exec Bd seats in next year's elections by keeping New Action on and MORE shut out. No matter what you hear, that is the bottom line.


  1. Norm hit the nail on the head. If New Action has supported and will continue to support Mulgrew on their slate or at the DA then what else do I need to know about them? And as far as James Eterno is concerned---I believe him. I think James has been honest, thought provoking and fair with his commentary. But for naysayers----isn't there a voting record kept so we can see who rubber stamped what Mulgrew or Weingarten wanted? And if there isn't one, why not? Roseanne McCosh

  2. Roseanne,

    In August 2012, New Action was discussing options for the 2013 UFT elections (run on our own, run with Unity, run with MORE, not run) and we attempted to contact MORE to discuss, among other things, the election. MORE ignored us for months, finally agreeing to meet after the slates were set. Read more here .

    There are of course Exec Board voting records. If they supported what Norm is claiming, he would cite them.


    1. What a joke trying to pass of the idea that you might not have run with unity. Tell you what. Renounce your deal with Unity tomorrow and I will be ready to meet.

  3. jd2718,
    I don't give a damn about MORE's treatment of you. Mulgrew exists because of the enablers and the apathetic. Will he be on your slate in 2016? If so, then you are enablers. Mulgrew has been on the wrong side of the major issues facing those on the front lines of the classroom. There's no turning back. There's no fixing this. It's who he is and it's what Unity is---a top down, ineffective political beast that has wreaked havoc on the working membership. Time for a new leadership--one that hasn't rubber stamped any of Mulgrew's bullshit. One that invites dissenting opinions and consucts real deabtes on important issues. My school's delegate was at the DA when the contract was voted on. There was no debate. As a former chapter leader I've been to plenty of DA's and have witnessed Unity shut down real conversations again and again. I first became aware of Norm when he was handing out his EdNotes paper there. I was told to ignore him because he's crazy. I ignored the pro Unity crowd and proudly took his newspaper. I had no idea what Norm was about but I knew only facist minded people are afraid of dissenting opinions and open debate, and that no one censors what I read. Nothing's changed since them. Time for Unity to go. Roseanne


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