Sunday, September 23, 2018

UFT Citywide Chapter Leader Meeting - High Security is an Issue for Some

I was downstairs handing out ANOTHER VIEW at the chapter leader meeting on Thursday, which had been postponed from the previous week - we're guessing due to the primary the next day., which might explain the relatively poor attendance, around 600 is my guess, given that there are around 1800 schools and supposedly that many chapter leaders. But who's counting?

The lines to get in at times were enormous as chapter leaders had to exchange the cards they received in the mail for another one. An announcement was made that this meeting was ONLY for CLs - not even school elected delegates or those like us who have to sit in the visitor's section. So security was tight - with a bunch of people checking cards downstairs and upstairs. After all, we wouldn't want too much info to get out to UFT members.

Luckily Arthur Goldstein was there to report: UFT Chapter Leader Meeting September 20th, 2018

and James Eterno to write commentary at the ICE-UFT blog comments:
http://iceuftblog.blogspot.com/2018/09/state-of-nyc-schools-and-uft-pretty.html

STATE OF NYC SCHOOLS AND UFT PRETTY GOOD ACCORDING TO MULGREW

I would think that the leadership would aim to be a bit more user friendly, especially to chapter leaders and other school wide electeds  in these times. The UFT needs to focus on a broader base of members than just the chapter leader who can easily get overloaded, suffer under enormous pressure if standing up to the principal or even end up succumbing to that pressure, which leaves the members in deep limbo and subject to entreaties that ask: What is the union doing to protect you from evil principals or dumb DOE officialdom work rules?

 

Friday, September 21, 2018

School Scope: Rockaway Progressive Women Respond to Trump

Published Sept. 21, 2018  in The Wave (www.rockawave.com).


School Scope:  Rockaway Progressive Women Respond to Trump
By Norm Scott

About 80 people turned out last Friday night for a Rockaway Women for Progress (RWP)-sponsored dinner and performance inside the tent at Bungalow Bar by Me the People, an anti-Trump group of professional actors, who perform topical material – and by topical, I mean TOPICAL – like songs and comedy about up to the minute breaking news. Critic Joel Benjamin wrote: “You’d need a ten ton truck to haul away all the slings and arrows slung and shot at Donald Trump in Me the People: Fire & Fury Edition, the red-hot political revue currently on stage at the Laurie Beechman Theatre.”

The crowd, about 90% women, never stopped laughing for the entire delightful show. The few men in the audience laughed right along.

A scene from the show.
The RWP began to organize around the anti-Trump woman’s march on the day he was inaugurated in January. 2017. The mission of Rockaway Women for Progress is “to develop and implement strategies that uphold democracy and protect human rights. Any women in the Rockaway/ Breezy Point/ Broad Channel areas, who are interested in joining, are encouraged to email rockawaywomenforprogress@gmail.com. “

The Rockaway women’s group, seems to be mostly from the West End, which is estimated to have gone for Trump by 75% in the 2016 election. Making a dent in those numbers would be an accomplishment. It would be interesting to explore the different political forces in the mostly white west end and compare them to what is going on in other parts of Rockaway, but don’t expect me to get off my ass to do it. (My ambition to do anything that involves hard work has left the room.) I hope there are alliances being built with East end progressive groups like the Rockaway Youth Task Force. Then there is the area between east and west ends of Rockaway, where gentrification, mostly white progressives, is taking place.

With all the news of a potential blue wave, the RWP group fits right in. They backed democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex who defeated Queens Democratic boss Joe Crowley in the June primary. In the recent primary in September there was a relatively large turnout but even that was only 25%. SAD, to coin a phrase. The progressives did help knock out most of the slugs in the IDC, the Democratic party traitors who went over to the Republicans in the State Senate, but didn’t take any of the top three positions. Phony progressive Cuomo won big while his Lt. Governor Hochul squeaked by over Brooklyn councilman Jumaane Williams and Zephyr Teachout lost out to Tish James for Attorney General. James has always been viewed as a progressive - until she hooked up with Cuomo. I still like her and expect her to run for mayor but she may face a crowded Democratic field, with Williams, who has a shot at replacing James as Public Advocate, also jumping into the race. Our own City Councilman Eric Ulrich will probably also be vying for the mayor’s job, which will make things very interesting. Too bad he is a Republican.

Which brings me to the love-fest The WAVE seems to have with Tom Sullivan who won the Republican nomination to oppose Joe Addabbo Jr. for State Senator and earned a major front page headline and photo. (Does he have dirty pictures of people at The Wave?) I received a phone call a month ago that was disguised as an honest political survey. After wasting 10 minutes of my time trying to answer questions honestly, I became suspicious as the questions turned out to be from the Sullivan campaign. The questions were some of the sleaziest, dishonest, bordering on racist and Trumpist, I’ve encountered. I don’t love Addabbo but will now vote for him.

I also have a big beef with Democrats generally, including our local elected reps, who don’t seem to care much of a fig about reforming the most regressive election laws and corrupt state legislature in the nation (yes Lou there are bigger things than bridge tolls). There’s a lot wrong with both parties and we seem to be stuck with them. There is slim hope the new progressive wing of the Dem party can make a dent in the machine but as the Cuomo big win indicates, the machine still rules. As for Republicans, including our locals, they can’t run away from Trump, nor do they seem to want to. I pray he is not impeached as he has been the best tonic for getting progressive people off their asses.

Norm  doesn’t have to get off his ass to blog at ednotesonline.com.
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Another View in the UFT - Difficult Choices Ahead for UFT Members and Leaders

The first edition of the new school year of Another View. Our aim is to bring deeper and more thoughtful discussion of issues to UFT members - to present a view you won't see coming from the leadership or other caucuses.

If you want to share with others in your schools and beyond email me for a pdf or copy and paste the text below and send it as an email.


Text below:


Difficult Choices Ahead for UFT Members and Leaders

The Janus impact: a threat to the life-blood of the UFT

Public service unions have been under immense attacks, seemingly from all sides, including politicians in both parties on the national, state and local level. We’ve seen attacks in our own schools escalate after years of mayoral control under Bloomberg and continued by de Blasio, chiefly through the empowerment of principals and the bureaucracy at the DOE, with the consequent weakening of many union chapters, leaving most UFT members feeling vulnerable to the whims of administrators. The level of fear among UFT members in the schools is at its highest level. Due to the Janus decision and its threat to the long-time viability of our union, there is also fear at the top levels of the UFT. How the UFT under the leadership of Unity Caucus responds to these fears may well determine the future viability of our union.

Debates have raged inside the UFT over how to assure that the membership continues to support the union by continuing to pay dues. The UFT’s ability to address the fears and concerns of the members adequately may well determine its success in keeping its members.

Let us state right up front. Despite disagreements we have with the current UFT leadership we are urging all members to remain in the union and struggle with others to make the UFT the best union it can be.

In the short term indications are that, other than former agency fee payers, most members will remain. Over the longer term, members’ continued willingness to pay dues may well depend on the level of support the UFT provides on issues such as:

·       Members under attack by abusive administrators;
·       Members in schools with a tremendous lack of resources and support;
·       Members under pressure from unreasonable DOE mandates and inappropriate standards;
·       Members whose job security is constantly threatened, especially those without tenure and older teachers who are targeted because of their higher pay and their resistance to unfair practices by administrators;
·       Continued agreement to four instead of two yearly observations;
·       Allowing the de Blasio-controlled DOE’s debilitating rules and micro-management.

There are many people who are dedicated unionists but believe that the union has not been active in addressing contract abuses and fighting for teacher rights and benefits. They point to the last couple of contracts, back door agreements, uneven and weak challenges to unfair school ratings, school closings, the proliferation of charter schools, etc. There is disagreement among these critics of union policy over whether or not to stay in the union, or pressure the union by withdrawing dues unless and until the union changes.

We don’t have simple answers to people who want to leave the union, but we do believe that thinning out the union ranks among DOE employees will contribute to weakening our union, curtailing our rights, threatening our jobs, and further undermining public education. But staying in the union is not enough. Given the nation-wide attack on public education, we need to build a strong  movement of teachers in alliance with parents, students, and community members. Such a movement would be in a position to pressure and challenge the leadership.

The UFT and educational “reform”

The UFT’s weak response to the damaging educational reform movement has led to an erosion in the fundamental working conditions of the membership. By now we have become accustomed to the devastating consequences of the “educational reform movement” defined by an cabal of pseudo educational experts and supported financially and politically by think tanks, business-funded media, the educational bureaucracy and politicians of both parties. Across the country this has led to widespread school closings, high stakes testing, proliferation of charter schools, teacher firings, and diversion of vast sums of money to educational businesses like testing and tech companies, many of which have proven to offer fraudulent products.    

Instead of resisting these threats to teachers, students, and public education, as they began to unfold 16 years ago, the UFT/NYSUT/AFT leaderships stood by as children lost their schools, teachers began to lose their right to make choices about how to teach, and many lost their jobs altogether. Every year our schools in NYC are deprived of all the money they are entitled to by law, which has meant increased class sizes and loss of valuable programs. A payroll heavy with supervisors and administrators, especially at the DOE, further gobbles up money which is desperately needed in many of our schools. Our union must take on the challenges we face from our deteriorating working life and the threats to all unions from the Janus decision.


We as a Union Need to Change to Assure Our Survival

It's the union's job to make people want to stay; not to help construct barricades to keep them in. Without changes in the way our union relates to the members we fear that over time we will face an increasing erosion in membership from the dual threat from the Janus decision and charter school incursions. The membership must feel the union is willing to stand up for them. Administrators must be convinced that there’s an entire union coming down with full force if necessary.

Union leaders should be meeting with every chapter in the city, starting with schools with weak or inactive chapters. People with healthcare, pension, certification and grievance questions need to know where to start and who to turn to. Union representatives should go into schools concerned and prepared, with specific information about how the union can help.

Chapters without chapter leaders need monthly meetings initiated by district, borough or special reps. Bring in retired chapter leaders, who have the experience and knowledge to run these meetings and have consultations with the administration. Start chapter newsletters focused on what is happening the school, and use them to engage with the administration in discussing school policy and problems. In schools where problems are serious and administrators are uncooperative, use the resources of the union to take the fight to the broader community. We must look beyond a broken grievance procedure. In schools with severe problems: pressure local politicians; use social media and the press; reach out to nearby schools and community organizations.

Rethink the use of our communications, including Facebook and Twitter. We need more open debate about things that are relevant to us. Have a members-only FB page for asking questions and sharing information. Text messaging can transmit news of importance. If the school down the block has a terrible principal and/or AP we need to know about it.

District-wide issues, such as terrible superintendents, require a wide union response. End the cozy relationships some union officials have with these people. Hold meetings in local diners, bars, and coffee shops, instead of invitation-only meetings where there is no give and take. Develop videos that address our rights, for example what to do if our classes are oversized, the most common issue.

A union rep should visit a school where a member has a grievance to help with the filing and preparing, rather than waiting for steps two and three. There should also be meetings with union reps to discuss how successful chapters have used consultation meetings, chapter meetings, grievances, School Leadership Teams (SLT), PEPs and other venues for taking on bad principals. This should include experience with building alliances with parents, students and local communities.

UFT official borough and district meetings must be opened up to chapter leaders to present school problems and get feedback from other chapter leaders. The Delegate Assembly and Executive Board meetings must also address school and district issues that are not resolved at the local meetings. The union must show that it is listening and taking seriously the needs of all its members. Let’s not forget that among UFT members we have a wealth of experience and knowledge about the school system that is there for the union to use at our time of need. Returning the choice of district reps to the chapter leaders within the district would be a step in re-building trust in the union.

Our union leaders preside over a one-party system (Unity Caucus) that does not engage with the membership, puts a tight lid on dissenting opinions, and exerts tight control over union elected bodies. We are more likely to prevent defections from internal critics if members feel there is a fair system with open debate and decision making.

A democratic union is a stronger union.


We are a group of UFT members that want a stronger, more aggressive union to fight back against abusive administrators, politicians and corporations that want to close our public schools and bust our union.   For more information contact AnotherView2020@gmail.com.
 
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Great George Schmidt is Gone

From Substance

Addendum:
In lieu of flowers, donations in George's name may be sent to Loop Church, 11 E. Adams St., Suite 1200, Chicago, IL 60603 (loopchurch.org) or FAIR, 124 W. 30th Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting is the nonprofit progressive national media watch group (fair.org).

Since we learned a month ago that the serious illness George Schmidt was suffering from would soon end his life, I've been struggling with what I would say when the end came, which it did early Monday morning. George was just shy of turning 72.

As so often these days, my brain is jumbled with so much to say. I am having trouble sorting things out and I often find myself paralyzed. In George's case there is a long history. Too long to get it all down in one blog post.

So I will write a few things over time to fully flesh out what George has meant to the progressive teacher movement nationally and especially in Chicago. But George's influence goes way beyond teachers and education.

We hear a lot of credit being given to the rise of caucuses around the nation that have challenged the status quo inside their own unions while also challenging the people running the system while pushing for a progressive pro-child movement - the so-called "social justice" caucuses, with CORE in Chicago, founded in 2008, being the prototype.

George was one of the main initiators in the founding of CORE and used his widely read Substance (founded in 1974) as a battering ram to break down resistance to the group which was challenging a Unity-type caucus.

George also used Substance in yet another victory over the old guard back in 2001 when he supported Debbie Lynch when she won the presidency. George had Substance delivered into every teacher's mailbox on 3 separate occasions during that campaign.

George was doing social justice oriented union work from the early 1970s though the day he became incapacitated over a month ago. That's over 50 years of work, including running for president of the Chicago Teacher Union more than once, I believe.

A salvaged copy post-Sandy storm
George wasn't only interested in narrow educational issues. In 1978 he wrote the pamphlet "The American Federation of Teachers and the C.I.A." exposing our union as an often tool of American propaganda - backing every war and military action and the massive defense budget. (Vera retyped it and we put it up on scribd a few years ago: https://www.scribd.com/doc/106238989/The-American-Federation-of-Teachers-and-the-CIA-by-George-N-Schmidt)

George was always at the center of union action in Chicago. But he went way beyond that. He was the first person I heard of who led the battle against standardized testing from way back in the early 90s and even before that. George took a step that I've seen on one else take -- he published the entire battery of tests in Substance to expose how bad they were and got sued and fired from the Chicago school system for doing so. (I roll my eyes when I hear of some people in the social justice union movement today who brag about how they refused to give a test -often with the approval of the principal -- and faced no repercussions.)

George led the battle against standardized tests
George put his career on the line to fight against standardized tests and the Chicago school system abolished the tests he exposed - though of course they came up with new ones, this time with laws designed to put people who would do what George did in jail. George and the amazing Susan Ohanian cemented an alliance over the testing issue that lasted until George died. Georg'e wife Sharon and Susan are still working together to keep Substance alive.

From Ed Notes: July 4, 2013

A Chicago Teacher's Action Inspires Antitest Crusaders - 14 Years Ago

"He's not going to teach in our system," --Paul Vallas
"What kind of people would do this?"  -- Mayor Daley

The district has brought in university professors to review questions, recruited graduate students to take tests before they are administered and hired a testing-research concern to evaluate its exams. Mr. Vallas says the Substance case hasn't influenced such moves. "We have always ignored Schmidt," he says. ..... Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2001
How come Ed Notes was able to report the Chicago ed deform story that was to spread around the nation as far back as the late 90's - which we did to all the UFT delegates and leadership on a regular basis (leading me to a ---DUHHHHH moment)? Because of George Schmidt and Substance, where I began to read Susan Ohanian for the first time.

I just looked back at the hard copy of Ed Notes May and June 2001 issues and I must publish them online so you will see the full nature of the Unity Caucus sellout.

Susan Ohanian republished the full story of George's career-ending actions in 1999 with this article from those 5-25-01 in the Wall Street Journal.
Ohanian Comment: It occurs to me that since this website was not launched until a year after George Schmidt's courageous Act of Principle, many readers of this site don't know exactly what he did.

Substance cannot survive without the support of people who claim to believe in resistance. We all owe George--big time. Subscribe--and donate--now. Today.
Page One Feature

A Chicago Teacher's Action Inspires Antitest Crusaders

By Robert Tomsho, Wall Street Journal
2001-05-25 - Read more in the original ed notes: https://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-chicago-teachers-action-inspires.html
George was the weather vane for the evils of mayoral control, which began in Chicago in 1994 as the first test case for the massive ed deform to come.  He even sent me a special letter to publish in Ed Notes as a warning when Joel Klein became Chancellor in 2002. George was so prescient - he predicted everything that came after. No Child Left Behind? George issued immediate early warnings which I picked up on and published in ed notes, even as our union leaders in the UFT and AFT were supporting this devastating attack on public schools.

Charters? George was there from day one, pointing out the dangers they posed.

George was a life-long socialist/communist who wore those labels like a badge of honor.

Yet you will never see George mentioned in the left-wing press and commentary that fawns over the social justice caucuses or the evils of high stakes testing and other aspects of ed deform.

Why? Because George always told the truth. Above all he was a journalist who never blanched at exposing bad policy and decision making and bad politics even when he felt in recent years it had infected CORE and the Chicago Teachers Union itself. He mocked what he referred to as "social justice warriors" and those who engaged in divisive acts of identity politics. (See my recent post Identity Politics and the Left - Counterpunch which I imagine George would have agreed with.)

For this he suffered attacks on his integrity over the past years for daring to tell the truth. He weathered those attacks as the many people of all races whom he had worked in battling injustice came to his defense.

George had as much influence on my thinking and political and educational development as anyone. At the 2016 AFT convention in Minneapolis I ran into Jackson Potter, one of the founders of CORE and at the time the head of personnel in the CTU. He invited me to join a bunch of CTU staffers and a few others to lunch. Some were curious as to who I was.

Jackson Potter, in introducing me tried to find a few words to describe who I was and what I did. Then, with a bit of hesitancy, apparently due to George's controversial reputation: "Norm is, and I assume he would welcome this comparison, the George Schmidt of New York."

I proclaimed to the group of a dozen people, some of whom rolled their eyes - and maybe moved an inch or two away from me, I was proud to accept the designation of "the George Schmidt of New York." And I hope to carry on George's work, though I could never fill his giant shoes.

I have a lot more to say, so more to come over the next few weeks.

Sharon Schmidt has put up tributes to George at Substance and will follow up with a longer piece on October 1.

Songs about working class and unions

[The following article was originally published on Labor Day, 2011.]

James Eterno also comments on the
CHICAGO TEACHER UNION ACTIVIST GEORGE SCHMIDT DIES -

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Identity Politics and the Left - Counterpunch

The intersectionality that American leftists increasingly advocate has a narrowing, not broadening effect.... Haydar Khan
Another find by Fiorillo on identity politics and how that can be divisive. Well, I have seen that happen in many groups I've worked with over the years so there is some basis. But I do hear the call of people who have been oppressed and express this through identity politics. I see fallacies in this article but after not eating for 2 hours I am too weak to articulate them.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/09/14/set-theory-of-the-left/


Set Theory of the Left


I have noticed lately a curious term that appears repeatedly now in political discussions and in the media. It is a sort of leftist battle cry. The pervasive term is “intersectionality.” This term is typically advanced as a positive value. So far as I can make out, it is supposed to describe the way various political constituencies intersect at points of common interest. There seems to be some promise of inclusion, unity, and strength implied when one invokes the presence of intersectionality. Is this so, I have come to wonder. Equally, intersectionality now ranks among the cardinal virtues of “identity politics”—a topic everyone seems to be taking up these days. Is it so virtuous as all that? Are the identitarians, for that matter?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Memo from the RTC: Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge Opening Sept. 21



For The Wave, Sept. 21 edition


Memo from the RTC: Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge Opening Sept. 21
By Norm Scott

After months of preparation the Rockaway Theatre Company of the Frank Caiati directed  production of “Bridge” is opening September 21 for nine performances over three weekends. Written by one of America’s great playwrights, Arthur Miller,  the story is set in the 1950’s in a working class Italian American neighborhood of Brooklyn within sight of the Brooklyn Bridge. The docks of pre-Ikea gritty Red Hook is pretty much the prototype.

I checked on Arthur Miller’s biography (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Miller). He was born in 1915 (died in 2005) to a wealthy Jewish family in Harlem that lost all its money in the 1929 depression and moved to Gravesend Brooklyn where he graduated from Abraham Lincoln HS.

Being lazy, let me jump to the Wikipedia description of the play.

“…. an I near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It employs a chorus and narrator in the character of Alfieri. Eddie, the tragic protagonist, has an improper love of, and almost obsession with, Catherine, his wife Beatrice's orphaned niece, so he does not approve of her courtship of Beatrice's cousin Rodolpho. Miller's interest in writing about the world of the New York docks originated with an un-produced screenplay that he developed with Elia Kazan in the early 1950s (entitled The Hook) that addressed corruption on the Brooklyn docks. Kazan later directed On the Waterfront, which dealt with the same subject. Miller said that he heard the basic account that developed into the plot of A View from the Bridge from a lawyer who worked with longshoremen, who related it to him as a true story.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_View_from_the_Bridge

Scarlett Johansson won a Tony in a 2010 Broadway revival for the role of Catherine and Mark Strong was nominated for best actor in the 2015 revival. I’ve never seen the play, nor do I know very much about it other than the above. I do know, as I’ve been reporting, that Frank as a certain vision, as witnessed by the poster of the upside down Brooklyn Bridge and the daring set with the tilted stage.

The serious dramas at the RTC are too often overlooked by some of the regular audiences who love to attend musicals.  On the Waterfront is one of my favorite movies and there are echoes and historical antecedents in this play.

One more reason to see the play is to answer these burning questions:
Can Miller, an intellectual left-oriented Jewish writer effectively capture the working class Italian-American experience? Can Frank, an Italian-American 30-something director/actor/scenic designer/set builder capture the essence of Miller’s work 60 years after it was first written?



You are invited to A View From the Bridge
The Rockaway Theatre Company Proudly Presents
A Great American Drama

SHOWTIMES
September 21st, 22nd, 28th, 29th, October 5th & 6th at 8pm
Matinees September 23rd, 30th & October 7th at 2pm

Tickets may be purchased on our website
www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org

Ticket Prices:
Adults $20.00
Seniors/Children $15.00

**Please Note: Online ticket purchases close 48 hours prior to the date of each show, but tickets are still available for purchase, at our box office, one hour prior to showtime.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Tacoma Teacher Strike Reflection

Tacoma, thank you. Teachers owe the parents and community a massive debt. You had our backs! You brought provisions, you organized a 2,000+ member Facebook group, you told us to fight and keep our heads high. Every honk, every donut, every text was appreciated, and I thank you. You’ve always supported our schools through levy votes, voting for bonds, and random fundraisers (I mean seriously, wrapping paper?). But the support you showed during the strike went above and beyond and brought tears to my eyes, repeatedly. 

We also need to thank the labor community. Doctors, nurses, firefighters, ILWU longshoreman, and pipefitters all came out and walked the lines. Teachers, if we don't return this solidarity when they need us--especially to the paras, school bus drivers, and food service workers who serve our students--shame on us.
http://www.natebowling.com/a-teachers-evolving-mind/2018/9/15/a-tacoma-teacher-strike-reflection

Thanks to Abby Shure for sending this link. It proves that don't even think about a strike unless you have the support of the community and other workers.

More of the article:
The strike is over and school starts Monday. When I got the email letting me know we’d reached a tentative agreement, I was so giddy I screamed to my wife “TA, TA, WE GOT A TAAAAAAAAA.” Words can’t describe how glad I am this is over. But, before I move on to my usual fall routines: learning names, custom handshakes, teaching about the Federalists vs the Anti-Federalists, and Friday Night Lights--I think it’s important to stop and take stock of what happened in our community.
To Tacoma’s students, we all owe you an apology. Adult issues kept you out of the classroom where you belong. That’s an injustice and there’s no way to spin that. There shouldn’t have been a strike. I found the last two weeks mind-numbingly frustrating because it was preventable. If the McCleary Settlement was done with transparency, rather than dead-of-night-last-second deal making, we wouldn’t be here. If a fair contract had been offered from the beginning of negotiations, we wouldn’t be here. If young teachers in our city felt valued and knew they wouldn’t have to pick-up side-hustles to stay in their apartments, we wouldn’t be here.

Lastly for the school board, we elect school board members not spokespeople. Canceling school board meetings, ghosting from social media, and responding to community members with auto-form replies is not the way for school board members to lead. The community didn’t vote for the district public information office, we elected you. If you don’t want to face an angry public when things are bad, perhaps elected office isn’t your calling.

This will be my thirteenth year of teaching. I have worked in Tacoma my entire teaching career. But, my mentor in the profession departed during this strike. I am still not over that. Despite reaching a contract agreement, I have lingering concerns about our ability to retain many of the great teachers we have. I want for Tacoma Schools to be the world-class system our students deserve, but nothing that happened over the last two weeks brought us closer to that.

I’ve heard from a lot of parents and community members. People are angry and we have to win their trust back. I often say in my talks that “teaching is relational.” Classrooms are places where if trust is absent, learning will be as well. For the sake of my students, I hope Tacoma Schools can spend this year rebuilding that trust.
I’m off to go lesson plan.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

More good news election results on IDC from City/State


https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/campaigns-elections/idc-new-york-primary-results-2018.html

As New York's state primary election results come in, it's looking like a strong night for insurgents, with Julia Salazar navigating a host of controversies to knock out state Sen. Martin Dilan in Brooklyn and a number of remarkably solid performances by challengers seeking to oust former members of the Independent Democratic Conference, which had drawn attacks for partnering with state Senate Republicans in Albany.
With results still coming in, a number of former IDC senators were trailing, including state Sens. Tony Avella, Marisol Alcantara and even Jeff Klein, the group's former leader. At least two others, state Sens. Jose Peralta and Jesse Hamilton, were projected to lose, according to NY1. 
Each of the eight former IDC members faced challenges. Although the breakaway group of renegade Republicans rejoined mainline Democrats in April, it did little to temper the newly awakened political engagement in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and anger towards the Democrats who shared power with Republicans.
Another challenger, Blake Morris, fell short against state Sen. Simcha Felder, who is not a member of the IDC but has caucused with Republicans since he was first elected and gives them their one seat majority. 
Additionally, there are several Assembly elections of note, including the possible first transgender state lawmaker and several vacants seats that need filling. This post will be updated throughout the night, so continue checking back for the latest in each race.

STATE SENATE


District 11, Democratic Primary 
John Liu: 49.89%
Tony Avella: 46.02%
With 200 out of 224 election districts reporting.
 
State Sen. Tony Avella was first elected in 2010, when he defeated Republican incumbent Frank Padavan. He joined the IDC in 2014, the same year that former New York City Comptroller John Liu first ran against him. At the time, Democrats wanted to get rid of Avella because of his decision to join the breakaway conference. However, the IDC promised to return to the fold after the election. Whether or not that ultimately impacted the 2014 election would be hard to prove, but Liu lost that contest by six points. In the general election, Republicans won an outright majority in the state Senate and the IDC continued to ally with the GOP. This year may be different for Liu considering shifting political attitudes since Trump got elected. The knowledge of and desire to defeat the IDC is stronger than in 2014, which is what Democrats are banking on when they recruited Liu late in the game.
 
District 13, Democratic Primary
Jessica Ramos: 52.31 %
Jose Peralta: 40.27%
With 138 out of 159 election districts reporting.
 
Although a long-time incumbent, state Sen. Jose Peralta had the shortest stint with the IDC, having joined in January 2017. He faced perhaps the most backlash for the decision among the former IDC members, when members of the his community held an angry town hall in February to express their displeasure with his decision. Peralta has defended his decision by saying that by joining the IDC, he was getting much needed resources for his district.
Jessica Ramos, a former aide to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, was one of the people at the February town hall and is now looking to capitalize on the new political engagement to defeat Peralta. The district overlaps with the congressional district that Ocasio-Cortez won when she defeated the powerful Queens kingmaker Rep. Joseph Crowley in an upset victory. While the two races are not exactly alike, Ocasio-Cortez’s win may help bolster Ramos’ efforts and could have served as a sort of litmus test for which way voters will swing on Thursday.
 
District 17, Democratic Primary
Simcha Felder: 59.53%
Blake Morris: 36.05%
With 185 out of 196 election districts reporting.
 
Since he was elected first elected in 2012, state Sen. Simcha has not faced either a primary or general election challenge. He has run on both the Republican and Democratic lines, and may appear on both again this year if lawyer Blake Morrisfalls short in the Democratic primary as expected. Even if Morris loses, a close primary would suggest that Felder is losing some of his grip on the district and the Orthodox Jewish community that make up his political base, a development that would be welcome to many on the left who blame Felder for letting Republicans in control of the state Senate even after the IDC dissolved earlier this year.
 
District 18, Democratic Primary
Julia Salazar: 54.11%
Martin Dilan: 38.42%
With 221 out of 244 election districts reporting.
 
In this unexpectedly high-profile state Senate race, socialist Julia Salazar knocked out eight-term state Sen. Martin Dilan to represent the 18th District. Salazar galvanized support among progressives for her identification as a democratic socialist who wants to empower unions and immigrants while instituting universal rent control and single-payer health care.
In a strange turn, the race became a referendum on the challenger rather than the incumbent following media reports that challenged the working class, immigrant, Jewish image that Salazar presented on the campaign trail. There were reports that she had been a pro-life, pro-Israel Republican until recent years, as well as questions about whether she really was raised by a working class, single mother.Later reports highlighted a past arrest, a lawsuit involving the ex-wife of former Mets star Keith Hernandez and her allegation that she was sexually assaulted by a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dilan has maintained a lower profile, but that has not prevented uncomfortable headlines, especially regarding the large amount of donations he has taken from the real estate industry. Salazar now is likely to win the general election handily.
 
District 20, Democratic Primary
Zellnor Myrie: 51.89%
Jesse Hamilton: 42.80%
With 181 out of 213 election districts reporting.
 
Lawyer, activist and first time candidate Zellnor Myrie has defeated two-term incumbent and former IDC member state Sen. Jesse Hamilton. Myrie gained significant support during his campaign, gaining the endorsement of the entire Brooklyn congressional delegation, including Brooklyn political powerhouse Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Myrie also got the backing of all the other local lawmakers in and around the district, a favorable editorial in The New York Times and support from several powerful unions. Hamilton joined the IDC shortly before the general election in 2016. The race was a contentious one, ending with emails alleging that Myrie is anti-black apparently funded by a nonprofit with ties to Hamilton. The state senator denied any involvement. Myrie campaigned heavily on addressing the district’s housing crisis and attacked Hamilton for his ties to real estate.
 
District 22, Democratic Primary
Andrew Gounardes: 51.88%
Ross Barkan: 38.07%
With 184 out of 202 election districts reporting.
 
State Sen. Marty Golden has represented southern Brooklyn for 16 years as a Republican, despite a nearly 2-1 voter enrollment advantage for Democrats. He has rarely faced a challenge during those two decades. Andrew Gounardes, counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, put up a fight in 2012, but Golden still won by over 15 points. Gounardes wants to try his luck again this year, but first much face journalist Ross Barkan in the primary. Barkan has covered politics in New York for years, but is a first-time candidate. Though the two Democrats have similar platforms, Barkan has positioned himself to the left, supporting universal rent control, calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and rejecting corporate donations. He has also received the endorsement of Ocasio-Cortez. Gounardes has a long history of community engagement and government experience that he is running on. Democrats are hoping the winner of this primary will be able to ride a blue wave in November to replace Golden.
 
District 23, Democratic Primary
Brandon Stradford: 11.27%
Diane Savino: 59.89%
Jasmine Robinson: 18.38%
With 189 out of 221 election districts reporting.
 
State Sen. Diane Savino in Staten Island is facing challengers Jasmine Robinson, who has been endorsed by anti-IDC groups, and Brandon Stradford. Robinson at one point asked to be taken off the ballot when she learned some of her petition signatures were fraudulent, but quickly changed her mind. The Robinson’s campaign does not appear as strong as some of the other former IDC challengers.
 
District 31, Democratic Primary
Tirso Pina: 3.77%
Marisol Alcantara: 36.67%
Robert Jackson: 52.95%
Thomas Leon: 1.36%
With 237 out of 264 election districts reporting.
 
Unlike her fellow former IDC members, state Sen. Marisol Alcantara is a freshman legislator and does not have the same incumbency advantage of some of the others. She joined the IDC soon after she won the Democratic primary in 2016, which was a four-way race that included former New York City Councilman Robert Jackson. That primary split very closely three ways – Alcantara took 32.7 percent to win, Upper West Side lawyer Micah Lasher received 31.57 percent and Jackson came in third with 30.65 percent. This year’s primary is a four-way contest once again, but the other two candidates, Thomas Leon and Tirso Santiago Pina, have been all but non-existent so far – Leon has not filed a financial disclosure report and Pina has only raised about $3,000. Additionally, Lasher is not running this year and endorsed Jackson early in his campaign. A big question now is if the voters that turned out for Lasher in 2016 will support Jackson this year.
 
District 34, Democratic Primary
Alessandra Biaggi: 51.20%
Jeff Klein: 46.18%
With 223 out 274 election districts reporting.
 
State Sen. Jeff Klein is facing a rare primary challenge this year from lawyer and community activist Alessandra Biaggi. Klein founded the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference in 2011 and served as its leader until the conference disbanded under pressure from Cuomo in April. At the end of 2012, the IDC formed a majority coalition with Republicans that helped keep the GOP in power without an outright majority, and Klein co-led the state Senate. In another potential vulnerability for the incumbent, Klein earlier this year was accused of sexual misconduct by a former staffer.
Biaggi is one of eight candidates running against former IDC members. Although Democrats unsuccessfully attempted to unseat Klein in 2014 by running former Assemblyman and former New York City Councilman Oliver Koppell, anti-IDC sentiment has grown this election cycle ever since President Donald Trump got elected in 2016 and progressive activists have seen a more engaged and informed citizenry. Although there is no public polling in the race, it would appear that Klein is taking the race seriously – he has spent a mind-boggling $2.4 million dollars as of a little over a week ago according to state financial disclosures. By comparison, Biaggi has only spent less than $300,000. Klein has the support of many major unions, including 1199SEIU, RWDSU and TWU. Meanwhile, Biaggi has been endorsed by 32BJ SEIU, as well as U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, The New York Times and congressional candidate and progressive darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
 
District 38, Democratic Primary
David Carlucci: 0%
Julie Goldberg: 0%
With 0 out of 265 election districts reporting.
 
Former IDC member state Sen. David Carlucci is facing a challenger from Julie Goldberg, a librarian. Goldberg is part of the broader slate of anti-IDC candidates, though her campaign does not appear as strong as some of the others seeking to unseat former conference members.