Thursday, May 14, 2009

TODAY: March and Rally at Tweed to Take Back Public Education

This rally is the 3rd event planned by the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), a coalition of groups active within and without the UFT. ICE and Ed Notes are part of this coalition.

At a conference held on March 28 a decision was made to hold a charter school conference on May 4 (attended by 60 people) and a rally today. There will be more events to come.

If you are coming, go to Battery Park up intil 4:30. I and a few others will be stationed in front of the UFT from 3:45 until the march reaches us at around 4:40.

Join the march in progess up Church St or go directly to Tweed on Chambers St where will have some advanced people stationed.

What's it all about?
I won't go into the reasons for why we have to defend public education against the attacks of the education deformers. You can click on the graphics to get more details. This is about forming a truly progressive education reform movement in opposition to the BloomKlein/Sharpton claim to be reformers. I find it ironic since from my earliest years of teaching I was part of a real reform movement. Now the long-time progressives are being attacked as troglodytes because we think true reform doesn't include making teachers the scapegoat.

This is my personal view and not necessarily of GEM:

Today's rally is not about numbers. It is about getting the most progressive elements in the UFT out to an event that will be joined by people from outside the union. If it was 50, it would be sufficient (think Passover Haggadah).

I do not view it as the UFT views rallies - thanks for coming, now go back to your caves till we need you again.

If it were to be 50, they would be 50 people who will not go back to their caves, but will continue to organize. Each one would have the impact of 20 or more Unity slugs, most of whom do what they do for money or other perks.

This has the potential to develop into a powerful coalition, but it will take nurturing.

What I've been observing is a growing spirit amongst broader groups of activists that is bridging the gap between younger and older teachers. Just last Sunday, a bunch gathered in an apartment in Park Slope to make poster for the rally. I always love to notice the mix of people: teachers in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's - and then there was me.

What are the reasons for this sudden spurt? The actions of the DOE and the lack of action of the UFT has been the a major spur to action.

I've done a lot on Ed Notes about the role the UFT plays. As the 800 pound elephant they could have stopped the ed deformer train by educating and organizing people. Instead they have chosen to play in their playpen. Though they try to deflect growing resistance by trying to wear hats on both sides of the fence, with every passing day, their words ring more and more hollow. Thus, out brief stop on the rally march at UFT HQ at 52 Broadway calling them to come out and join us.

We won't be there waiting for long. Does the UFT see this as a threat? You bet they do. Word is filtering out of attempts by the UFT to get people in some schools who were thinking of coming to back off. In the long run, the forces unleashed by their actions will turn against them.

As the newer crop of teachers are reaching their 3rd-5th year, many of the realities of the system are crashing down upon them. Some are joining with the older ATRs and rubber room people and people from schools being closed or having charters pushed into them. This has major implications if it continues to grow.

The actions of some of the active groups like ICE, TJC, NYCORE, TAGNYC and Teachers Unite has brought people out. I spent the last two Saturdays in TU workshops with over a dozen teachers, mostly on the newer end, talking about organizing within the schools. The numbers may still be small, but each person's outreach goes right into their schools and beyond. Some of these newer teachers are running for chapter leader and we are holding a session this Monday to talk about the realities of being chapter leader. We are also getting inquiries from some older people running and even some current chapter leaders are interested.

GEM in its short life is already getting inquiries from around the nation.

Reports and pics will be posted starting tonight.

Gather at the north end of Battery Park from 3:30- 4:30.
4:30-4:40- March up Broadway to 52 where we knock on the door and ask UFT officials to join us.
4:45-5:30- Walk down Exchange Alley to Trinity Place and make a right - march up Trinity (it changes to Church St) to Warren St. Make a right to Broadway. Cross Broadway and go left half a block to Chambers. Right to Tweed.
5:30-6:30 Rally at Tweed with a variety of speakers from the rank and file.

The route and leaflet are posted on the sidebar and here:

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