Now I am not a big fan of UFT elections because the process is so tainted. Nothing much will change until there is an uprising of the rank and file. Small caucuses cannot really do it on their own. But if Unity, as usual gets over 80% of the vote, they will see it as carte blanche to sell out more of what little is left.
Note a few responses from long-time chapter leaders.
First, one tells us of a survey from what seems to be the UFT checking on just what people would be willing to give back.
The second talks about Joel Klein's interview with NY 1 where he goes after rubber room and ATR people. The solution for him to end the ATR impasse is legislation. So their strategy if the UFT shows spine is an end run, just like Michelle Rhee did in DC.
Don't put it past them and don't put it past our so-called friends in Albany to sell us out (with UFT complicity) due to the budget crisis. It happened in 1975 and could easily happen again.
Here's what I wrote:
Happy New Year! I hope your vacations have been restful.
I've been meaning to send this commentary out to the Ed Notes mailing list, but the school closings and charter school invasions of public schools has taken priority. So let me remind you that UFT election season is at hand and ICE/TJC is running against Unity Caucus and their partners New Action.The UFT has been the handmaiden of the BloomKlein administration. The seminal 2005 contract opened the door to a privatization and anti-union scheme which the UFT, with its own charter schools, has been incapable of reacting to in an effective way.
I believe that a significant vote for ICE/TJC in the UFT elections could inject some militancy into the spine of the leadership. If not, they will face the growth of a stronger movement that may eventually threaten their gravy train.If you are not yet an ATR or feel that is not in your future, think again. In Chicago, over 6000 teachers out of 35,000 have disappeared. The pressure on the UFT to give up the ATRs will be intense.
I hear from so many of you how terrible conditions in the schools are and how ineffectual if not outright complicit the UFT has been.Now is the time to step up.
What can you do?
Run on the ICE/TJC slate.
Many beg off saying they don't have time. The reality is that there is little to do other than putting your name on the ballot. We can run your for a position that has little chance of winning in case you are worried about obligations if you should win.
Help with the petitioning campaign.
We need help in getting petitions signed. It will not take a lot of time for you to pass them out in your schools.
Hand out the literature
We will be sending out to people in your schools and to your email lists.
Remind people to vote by mailing in their ballots
In March when ballots go out, remind people to vote and check the ICE/TJC box on the ballot - that is all they should check as other marks on the paper can invalidate the vote. Some people want to vote for people they know individually but then also check the slate box. Voting for individuals AND a slate invalidates the ballot and last time well over a thousand ballots were tossed.
I received some chilling responses.
From an elementary school chapter leader who signed up to run:
I got a telephone Market Research Survey about a week ago that was clearly a UFT survey seeing what we were willing to negotiate. Some of the questions were would you give up seniority for a raise and do you think it's ok for the state to double the cap on Charter Schools. Very scary and I think you're right that these are issues that can lead to us all losing our jobs.
A recently retired middle school chapter leader sends along segments from Joel Klein's interview with NY 1 ed beat reporter Lindsay Christ which he terms "chilling":
Lindsey Christ: But the state of New York is the one that's competing and there are some state laws that could potentially get in the way. The first deadline is January 19. Do you think New York will make change in the next couple of weeks?
Klein: I hope so. Obviously, that is up to the Legislature. It now costs our city almost $50 million a year to keep teachers in the "rubber room."
Christ: So these are teachers [in the "rubber room"] who have been accused of potential wrongdoing, there is a very long process before they can either be acquitted or dismissed.
Klein: A very long process. Sometime it takes seven years. I mean, it is a ridiculous process. We need a quick process, one that gets people evaluated in a meaningfully way, and either out of the system or back in the classroom, but not a process where for five or six years someone doesn't work and they are getting paid by the taxpayers. That's ridiculous.
Christ: There is also another group of teachers who are getting paid full salary who don't have permanent teaching positions. Those are teachers who have lost their jobs because their schools have closed down or because of budget cuts but have not actually been fired and are just waiting for a new job in the system. With all of these school closures announced this year, there are going to be a lot more, potentially, of these teachers. How do you see that pool of teachers going forward? Is the city going to keep supporting it, even though they don't have permanent positions?
Klein: I hope not. Some of those teachers doing incredibly good work, most of them get rehired. Those that don't, I think there ought to be a time period where teachers either find a job or have to leave the system. I think it will put a real incentive on these teachers to look for a job. Quite a few of them really don't look for a job. And it will also enable us in a meaningful way to say to people, "Okay, a reasonable time has come and you haven't been able to find a job in the system."
Christ: What's a reasonable time?
Klein: Well, the number the mayor used was a year, and that sounds reasonable to me.
Christ: This is something you have to get in the union contract?
Klein: I think it should be done by legislation. This is important to us, to make sure that if someone isn't rehired then they must exit the system. We can't afford to pay for teachers, particularly in tight budget times, for teachers who aren't fully and gainfully employed at a school.