Saturday, July 26, 2008

Teachers Unite

This past year I spent as much time working with Teachers Unite as with ICE and I was honored to be asked by Sally Lee to join the steering committee. I'll get into more details on why I think that socially committed teachers who see beyond the classroom can be the core of a progressive reform movement, which absolutely cannot occur without a progressive UFT. Of course, 40 years of waiting to see the UFT change into a progressive union is like watching grass grow. Or golf.

Sally is doing great work in reaching out to many of these teachers (as is NYCORE, which is where I met Sally.) Yesterday, I went to have lunch with one of Sally's contacts, a soon to be 4th year former teaching fellow who is not leaving. While waiting for her at a place in the Village, Sally walked out not knowing that was where we were meeting. "I'm not stalking you," I said, "but while you're here, stay around so you can point out who I'm meeting."

After the intros, Sally left us to talk and I learned a hell of a lot from this wonderfully committed teacher, who is already training new fellows, as we talked about small schools, large schools, teaching reading, special ed, the union, etc.

Boy am I getting an education. Old farts can learn new tricks.

Next year we are planning sessions for newer teachers on union-related issues, like "What are your rights?" (At least we can tell them they basically have none and not to expect much support from the union.) One of the potential themes is navigating the minefield of school and union politics, something they don't teach in Ed 101 or in Teach for America workshops (hey, TFA, I'm available.)

Here is an excerpt from the July TU newsletter. (Read the entire edition at Norm's Notes.) Also check out the Teachers Unite web site.

P.D. You'll LoveBlack teachers unite

Are you a teacher looking to:

· grow as an educational leader?

· play a role in grassroots campaigns for social justice where you work?

· participate in community-based Professional Development?

Teachers Unite will be hosting an open informational meeting August 25th (please check back with Teachers Unite for details) where educators can learn more about our growing work with grassroots activists throughout the city.

Teachers Unite is building a movement of public school teachers who play a critical role in working for social justice. Our members contribute their insight and expertise as educators to grassroots organizing campaigns that demand justice in New York City communities, particularly in schools. Teachers Unite seeks to defend public education by rebuilding the relationship between teachers, students, families and communities as partners building power for social change.

Some examples of how teachers can contribute to community organizations:

· lead a workshop about innovative pedagogy and educational issues
· give an educator's perspective on life within a NYC public school
· provide training around lesson- or workshop-planning, tutoring or other instruction
· conduct outreach to neighborhood colleagues about a community issue

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