Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why Did the UFT Cancel Harlem Charter School Protests?

That is the question of the day as UFT strategy becomes just a bit clearer.

We reported on April 15 on the UFT district 5 rep Dwayne Clark's call for a picket this past Monday morning before school at the following schools. Here was the announcement Clark sent out:

Chapter Leaders of PS 175, PS 92, CAH, PS 194, PS 197, PS 123, and PS 133:

The UFT is engaging in an action on Monday, April 19th in the morning before school begins. We are asking that your school have at least 3 - 5 members leaflet outside your school because you have a Charter school in your building or geographically located near your school. This campaign does not involve the entire District but your school was selected. I will be providing you with flyers at Friday's Chapter Leaders meeting for Monday morning distribution. Please start speaking to your members to volunteer to leaflet outside your school. Your support in this endeavor is greatly appreciated. I will see you on Friday. COME OUT AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

I wrote this last Thursday:

With Harlem being the epicenter of the invasions, there seems to be a stronger UFT response coming with this announcement from District 5 UFT rep Dwayne Clark. Is this the usual UFT holding action to give the impression of a response to keep GEM and the CPE from making inroads? Or is it a legitimate turn in direction regarding charter schools on the part of the UFT? Or are we seeing a local action on the part of Dwayne Clark who must clearly be perturbed at what is happening to the schools in District 5? (Last summer a retired UFT District Rep was at the rallies). Note the language used below borrows from GEM by calling it a "charter school invasion" instead of the DOE term "co-location" the UFT has been using.

Can GEM, the CPE and the UFT work together on these charter school issues? GEM member Antoine Bogard is the chapter leader at PS 197 and is supportive of this UFT initiative. While I don't think the leadership is changing direction (the UFT charters are like any other avaricious charter and looking to expand), I do think that we all can work locally together. The GEM ally CAPE group in PS 15 has maintained a good relationship with the UFT with the idea that they will take all the support they can get in their battle against Goliath.

People on GEM noted the use of GEM lingo: "charter school invasions," pretty strange coming from the UFT since they have 2 charter schools invading space in public schools in East NY. (Hmmm. Maybe GEM ought to pay a visit to these schools and protest the UFT invasions.)

We were curious why PS 241 and PS 30, which both have HSA Evil Mousekawitch schools in them, were not included. Teachers at PS 241 contacted Clark and leaflets were dropped off soon after. We received this email from a PS 241 teacher later that day:

PS 241 added themselves to the UFT protest as we were blatantly left out. However upon receiving more info on the "protest" as well as the fliers UFT wanted to have us hand out we realized it all was a sham. The UFT organized no such protest. They want us to do their bidding and work for them. The fliers spoke about how the UFT is working to support charters and wants to organize with them. We refuse to participate as this is not a real protest. We will not help the UFT to recruit members from the charters they have not protected us from!

The next day, the UFT cancelled the protests.

So this is what these "protests" are all about. Trying to get the public school teachers in a building to help organize charter school teachers by telling them about all the benefits of UFT membership they are missing. I mean, how can they live without paying a thousand bucks a year in UFT dues for all that great representation?

Actually, we still do support the idea of unionizing charter school teachers, but how much gagging do these teachers at public schools have to go through?

At the PS 15/PAVE hearing the other day, the teachers took a different tack. There is such enmity towards the PAVE administrators, they have been reaching out to PAVE teachers and building alliances and will be urging them to go union. The UFT leadership may see this as a win-win. The ambivalence for those PS 15 teachers who agree with so much of what we have to say about the UFT is how to sell a it to the PAVE charter school teachers. Clearly, the teachers at PS 241 and other Harlem schools are having a problem doing that.

REMINDER: Tonight is the PEP meeting at Prospect Hts HS on Classon Ave in Brooklyn (across from Botanic Garden) where the PS 15/PAVE and PS 123/Harlem Success invasions will be decided. We will be there taping.

I am processing a video of the PS 123 hearing from April 12 which will be up this afternoon of Councilwoman Inez Dickens speech. GEM has a video up of a different part of the meeting on the blog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Norm, should the UFT organize these charters schools or not? If no, why? If yes, how? Please be direct. Avoid "what should have happened" responses. Thanks.