Friday, October 24, 2008

Lessons for Anti-Unity Caucus Oranizers in the UFT?

The organizing methods of the Obama campaign may have some lessons for anti-Unity organizers within the UFT. See related link from Under Assault.

The struggle to create a movement for change within the UFT has been a difficult one. Perhaps the caucus system is not as effective a tool. Maybe too top down. Though associated with ICE, my instinct has been to encourage people to form into decentralized groups rather than try to bring everyone into one big tent.

Let each group organize whatever constituency they serve and then try to get the groups to affiliate with each other. That is the bottom up aspect talked about in this article. The difficulty is in the coordination at the higher level. Right now there are lots of forces (ICE, TJC, NYCORE, Teachers Unite, various ad hoc groups - ATRs, rubber room, other special interest lobby groups within the UFT) floating around. They may come together at a point there is a feeling of need to take some action. People are going to watch how the UFT handles the ATR demonstration that was forced down their throats at the Delegate Assembly last week. The UFT business as usual approach of holding a narrow demo without a major attempt to organize may not work for the UFT - with over 100 schools signing petitions for the ATRs - and it's still growing. I ran into a guy I know who lives and teaches in Rockway. HE is anti-Unity. Getting him to come to anything the UFT does is impossible. "I'll come to an ATR demo," he told me. ATRs are a hot issue with many teachers who are in schools threatened with being closed - probably in the long run, the overwhelming majority.

The Obama organization from the Huffington Post

Inside the Obama campaign, almost without anyone noticing, an insurgent generation of organizers has built the Progressive movement a brand new and potentially durable people's organization, in a dozen states, rooted at the neighborhood level.

The "New Organizers" have succeeded in building what many netroots-oriented campaigners have been dreaming about for a decade. Other recent attempts have failed because they were either so "top-down" and/or poorly-managed that they choked volunteer leadership and enthusiasm; or because they were so dogmatically fixated on pure peer-to-peer or "bottom-up" organizing that they rejected basic management, accountability and planning. The architects and builders of the Obama field campaign, on the other hand, have undogmatically mixed timeless traditions and discipline of good organizing with new technologies of decentralization and self-organization.

Win or lose, "The New Organizers" have already transformed thousands of communities—and revolutionized the way organizing itself will be understood and practiced for at least the next generation.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the work you. This information and analysis is great. I would like to know if Randy has a DATE FOR THE ATR RALLY.