Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#MORE2016 UFT Elections: My High School Predictions On the Money As MORE Victory Costs Me Money

James Eterno is the true hero of this victory and no matter what you read elsewhere I will stand by that.
I want to share my May 24 predictions for the high schools in my general pre-election predictions (Read my full predictions in the other divisions here.)
The 7 Ex Bd high school seats
MORE came within 150 votes of Unity in the high schools (1440) but the 440 New Action votes went to Unity. We'd win those seats if the numbers stayed the same this time. It is hard to believe the vote totals in high school for Unity can fall below the 1580 they got last time (out of 19,000 ballots). They have so many CLs in so many large high schools. I'm going to guess that their upside this time is 2200 but hope I am wrong. MORE and New Action together in 2013 had around 1900. Can they pump these numbers up this time? If they don't it says something about growth of influence of the opposition in the high schools. Let's say they also increase to around 2200 which makes things neck and neck - except --
But add this time the Solidarity wild card. Since they are not on the first page of the ballot as a caucus people have to vote for individual candidates. Watch the numbers for their high school people since every one is one less for MORE/New Action and if the election is close even a couple of hundred votes for Solidarity can give Unity the high schools and 100% control of the Exec Bd.

If we don't win the high schools I get my Peter Lugers
dinner from Mike Schirtzer. If we win the high schools I will gladly cover his dinner and maybe even take a few other MOREs with us.
I will take Mike to Lugers with joy - and if anyone out there wants to join us you are welcome -- but you are paying for yourself. (Well, I will pay for Jia if she wants to come - unless she is a vegetarian.)

Here are the election results
UFT Election 2016 High school:
UNITY: 2063-2077
Solidarity: 110-121
HS Ballots returned: 4747

I didn't do too badly did I, considering 19000 ballots were sent out.

When we were given the HS returns on May 26 I did some quick math and saw that we would need 2374 to win an outright majority. That worried me since based on my predictions I didn't see us getting this number and saw Unity with some upside. Like I said, neck and neck. The Solidarity totals were less than I expected - and I think they showed that people understood that even if they wanted to vote for Portelos their vote for the HS EB MORE/NA candidates was in their interest.

Adding up the high end totals of all 3 groups I get 4490. That would mean about 250 HS votes were invalid. Those invalid votes could have made a difference.

I had to leave the count before the results were in. Before I left James Eterno, Francesco Portelos and I huddled in the hall. We suspected that AAA and Unity had info and were not sharing stuff with us. Portelos told us he had seen a number on the screens - that Jia had over 10,000 votes. But no high school numbers.

As I headed uptown to the ICE meeting ( UFT Elections - Some thoughts) I worked the numbers over. If we got over 10,000 I tried to estimate if we could have broken the 2374 mark and could not see a way to get there. I was giving Solidarity around 300 and saw Unity coming around 2200. Francesco's report gave me some hope since he didn't see if it were in the low 10000 or closer to 11000, which of course it was.

Then I thought about two wild cards this time:

Arthur Goldstein, Chapter Leader of Francis Lewis HS, one of the largest group of UFT members in the city, did a massive Get Out the Vote campaign and I myself walked out of there with about 110 sealed ballots to mail. And we guessed that another 50 or more voted. Now only the teachers votes counted for the HS Ex Bd - the high number of functionals in the school were not votes for Arthur but for the funt ex bd slate. So figure around 150 votes for the HS slate out of that school alone- last time in 2013 Arthur endorsed MORE at the end and did not do a GOTV - so I looked at FLHS as mostly new voters adding to the MORE/NA totals of last time. That put us at around 2050-2100.

Later that day we held a happy hour GOTV event for Fort Hamilton HS, an even bigger school and a long-time New Action stronghold - the returns were disappointing - if they had matched FL we would have won hands down with closer to 2400.

The other wild card was James Eterno who since Jamaica HS closed and teachers scattered, has contacts all over the Queens high schools. James alone was able to drop off close to 4000 leaflets during the election using his contact list. No one in MORE came even close to this number. His people have enormous respect for James I we hoped would be active in their schools for our slate. I figured James alone, being in a new school that never voted before plus his Jamaica HS army would give us another 200 - and so it seems it did.

James Eterno was relentless and tireless and is the true hero of this victory and no matter what you read elsewhere I will stand by that.

Soon after I got to the diner James texted that we won and I called Mike and Arthur to tell them the news.

Coming soon:
  • Mike Schirtzer on Why MORE won the high schools.
  • My own analysis of why James and Arthur were the keys to victory and how the 2 of them, along with Mike and I spent over a year and a half plotting a winning strategy --at times out of the bounds of MORE - what went right and what went wrong. How MORE chose its candidates, the sometimes difficult arrangement with New Action, the internal debates in MORE over the candidates and content of literature, and how we ended up with 5 great MORE people to go with the 2 New Action Ex Bd people, one of whom I do not know. It is an interesting and revealing tale which I will tell in multiple parts over the next few weeks that includes some skulduggery from some people within MORE and will reveal some of the problems MORE faced in the past and still faces going forward. (Come to the MORE June 11 meeting to see how things are playing out.) It is a story that at times will direct some heat at me from both MORE and New Action. But it is a story people need to know so they understand just how difficult, time consuming and wrenching this work can be when you not only have to fight Unity but even people you work with -  and why I am considering doing other things with my time, though I am always torn due to loyalty to the hard work of so many MOREs.


  1. From the perspective of a Newark teacher, social justice issues are not neatly separated from professional teacher concerns. For example, Marion P. Thomas Charter School is firing 37 teachers ostensibly due to low PARCC test scores as reported by Bob Braun. Loss of teacher jobs is clearly a professional issue. On the other hand, the degree to which teachers may be held accountable for poor standardized testing results converges into the realm of social justice. Since the most reliable predictor of test performance is socioeconomic status, teachers are forfeiting their livelihoods due to factors largely outside of their control. In ideal circumstances, teachers would have the luxury of concentrating only on professional matters.

    Abigail Shure

    1. The deformers have used a bogus social justice to attack us and our unions as somehow not being interested in kids. A caucus or a union leadership must counter these attacks by emphasizing SJ issues beyond just what is happening to teachers or they will never recover. Thus MORE and even Unity get some of that and the narrow right wingers in the UFT are outraged as they get chopped to bits by the smarter deformers. How do we let Campbell Brown look like she is more interest in kids than we are? Yet what I read all too often from people commenting is how horrible the kids are and all woe is me me me. These people are cutting their own throats and don't even know it.


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