Monday, May 16, 2016

The Wave: UFT Elections: Why Vote for MORE/New Action? and How to Get a Good Cookie

Here is my column from last Friday. That was the day after I went to Francis Lewis HS for the "Ballot for a Cookie" event (What I Learned at GOTV at Francis Lewis HS - 90% of UFT Members Probably Have not yet voted). 

And low and behold, the guy who baked the cookies for Arthur, John Pagano who is the school librarian, was featured in the same edition of The Wave - John is Rockaway based -- see the story below my column.

And as I head out to put my final batch of leaflets into school mail boxes, I want to remind you that most likely 80-85% of UFT members have not yet voted.

I was just called by a former ATR guidance counselor who told me an 8 year story of misery and horror -- we were on the phone for over an hour. When I asked her if she had her ballot she said yes but wasn't voting because she didn't know any of the names. This after a long discussion where the lack of union support for her was instrumental in her story. She just didn't make the connection between a vote against Unity and how the higher the vote totals the more the chance to force the union to act in our interests. I urged her to not worry about the names but just check MORE if just as an anti-Unity protest (she did not even know that Unity was the union leadership.)

Well, I'm off to meet the wizard - and also to meet up with Julie Woodward, my former partner in crime in the old war zone against Unity.
UFT Elections: Why Vote for MORE/New Action?
By Norm Scott

Norman Scott Norman Scott  

By now if you are a currently working or retired UFT member you have received one of the 189,469 ballots sent out, almost 63,000 to the retirees. In the 2013 election 52 percent of those who voted at all were retirees while only around 17 percent of the working teachers and other support personnel voted.
Full disclosure: I am one of the founders of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) which has allied with New Acton in opposing UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus, which has run the UFT with total domination and control over the past 55 years. Unity Caucus uses a number of undemocratic processes to maintain this control in mostly winner take all (Vladimir Putin studies their tactics and still can’t manage the level of dominance in Russia Unity Caucus has here in the largest union local in the United States.
I have been working for decades to establish a beachhead for democratic unionism that would empower the membership. MORE is the latest incarnation of groups inside the UFT that I have worked with and for a 14-year retiree it has been gratifying to see so many early and mid-career teachers waking up to the assault on educators and public education over the past 15 years that began with the advent of mayoral control that took away any semblance of influence from the local communities in this city. Admittedly some of those local communities did not always function in the interests of the schools they controlled but that system could have been fixed instead of throwing out the baby with the bath water. By handing power over to one person – whether Bloomberg or de Blasio, we have allowed the balkanization and privatization of swaths of the school system to take place. Even as I write now, you can see scandal after scandal emerging from both the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations of the schools.
The UFT/Unity Caucus leadership has supported mayoral control since its inception and continues to do so. The instrument used to impose a major shift in school culture both locally and nationally has been high stakes testing under the supposed “accountability” movement which has forced fed a testing and test prep culture that has so distorted education in almost every classroom in the nation except for the elite private schools the perpetrators of this outrage send their own children to, schools totally devoid of the testing culture. The corollary to high stakes testing has been the move to tie teacher competency to the outcomes of the tests, a concept actually supported by Mulgrew and UFT leadership as being superior to the old system. The other day a Long Island teacher whose lifetime ratings had been superior but had had a low rating based on test scores for her students won a major lawsuit over the use of these tests to rate teachers using the formulas in the Value Added Measures (VAM).
Parents throughout NY State have revolted against this system by opting their children out of the tests. Mulgrew does not support opt out while MORE with its presidential candidate Jia Lee opting her own child out of tests and even refusing to give certain tests to her own classes that she sees as abusing education does support opt out.
On the issue of principals who abuse their power, the UFT leadership due to its partnership with the DOE and the principal’s union, the CSA, has refused to stand up for teachers facing such abuse. Just think of the Marcella Sills case at PS 106 and the lack of union action. It took the NY Post to expose her and other abusive principals while the UFT sat on its hands. Recently I spoke at an elementary school in Queens which had been under the reign or well-connected to the UFT principal who did insane things and killed some teacher careers due to personal pique. Whenever the UFT Bigs came in – the district and the borough reps – the staff found them hugging and schmoozing with the principal as if she were an old pal (I believe her mom was connected to the UFT). These people I met with were still outraged three years after she resigned after pressure not from the UFT but from the parents and some politicians. When they asked me what MORE would do differently I said, “We won’t be going around hugging these people.”
Norm blogs at

The Fat Cardinal

Thomas Quinn, John Pagano, and Jim Otton are the gentlemen making the cookies at The Fat Cardinal Bakery.  
Thomas Quinn, John Pagano, and Jim Otton are the gentlemen making the cookies at The Fat Cardinal Bakery. During our tour of the Taste of Rockaway, The Wave came across a trio of bakers nestled in the corner of Uncle Louie G’s on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Thomas Quinn, John Pagano and Jim Otton make cookies.
Correction, they make ridiculously good cookies. So we know how The Fat Cardinal got that way.
Enlarge Map
“We at The Fat Cardinal Bakery, here in Arverne, pride ourselves on our unique takes on classic cookies,” the bakers told The Wave. “We pay close attention and take special care to detail when perfecting our recipes.” The bakers were excited to take part in this year’s Taste, as Rockaway is a vital part of who they are. Jim has been a Rockaway resident his entire life; John, a transplant, has lived here for 11 years; and Thomas, a Scholars’ Academy alum, couldn’t imagine starting their business in any other place but here.

This beautiful display was replenished for a time, but was soon empty, as the Cardinal – and everyone else – got a little bit fatter. This beautiful display was replenished for a time, but was soon empty, as the Cardinal – and everyone else – got a little bit fatter. For the time being, you may see them selling at Uncle Louie G’s, but they are still flying around looking for a permanent perch.
You can check out their selection of cookies at Fat-

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