Sunday, October 9, 2011

E4E Event: 2,840 did not show up - A Date with E4E and the UFT

The question is: which group was more unhappy to see me? We did a house count - only 140 of the supposed 3000 E4E supporters showed at the much publicized screening of "American Teacher." And GEM had 650 people at the premiere of TITBWFS.

Before filling you in on my visit to the UFT Queens ATR meeting and to the E4E free screening of "American Teacher" at the AMC on 42nd St where I handed out leaflets promoting the GEM Oct. 14 screening of the "Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman," which so disturbed Sydney Morris that she called theater security to have me removed, I need to do a little catching up.

I took the last few days off from blogging to focus on my wrist and shoulder therapy, watch some baseball, enjoy the beautiful outdoor weather while reading and smoking a few stogies and fasting - not that I'm religious but I just love the annual break the fast party and what would be the point of a break the fast party if you didn't fast?

I have a massive number of things to write about - ATR updates, Rhambo anti-union campaign in Chicago losing traction, the hypocrisy of Pedro Noguera, charter school parents telling their horror stories, and the Wall Street Occupation and how teachers are getting involved - and I want to head down there today to work out arrangements for the showing of our film one day.

I also want to let everyone know about 2 major GEM events this week -

1. The GEM high stakes testing committee has partnered with other groups to move this issue which has been used to destabilize the entire education system in this nation.
It is Time to Change the Stakes!
Join us for an evening with Yong Zhao…
October 12, 2011
Location:  I.S. 89 201 Warren Street   New York, NY  10282
Time:  6:30-8:30 PM
Sponsored by:  Class Size Matters, Grassroots Education Movement, I.S. 89 PTA, Parents Across America, and Time-Out From Testing

Yong Zhao is a MAJOR voice and this is a rare chance for us to hear him speak. Julie Cavanagh is so excited we had to tie her down. The announcement is on the GEM blog.

Free Screening
2. Friday night Oct. 14 is a major GEM screening of our film with one of the lights of the movie "American Teacher" Jamie Fidler as a guest panelist. See the GEM announcement.
Even if you have seen the film, come spend a Friday evening with some of the dynamic activists in the NYC ed movement. Remember - in May we had 650 people at our premiere.

Here's the poster:



The surreal world of the UFT and E4E
Okay, back to business. Given how uncomfortable both the UFT massive corps of staffers who attended the Queens ATR meeting and the E4E leadership were with my presence at their events, I have to give the congeniality award to --- drum roll please ----

The UFT

There was absolutely no attempt to interfere with my distribution of the GEM ATR leaflet. I was only asked by Qns borough chief Rona Freiser to not speak which I honored because I didn't want to take any time from what looked like at least a hundred ATRs who had a lot on their minds. But in the hour I spent  there I often wanted to jump out of my skin. I will report on the general ATR situation and on what I thought were some rational things the UFT was saying and on the outrageous "who me? the union has your back - blame the incompetence of the DOE if things go wrong" attitude. I had bruises on my forehead from slapping myself silly. You can read some excellent reports on the Queens meeting by Chaz's School Daze: The UFT Tried To Make "Lemonade Out Of A Lemon" But To The ATRs It Still Tasted Sour) and other borough reports at  NYCATR.


On to E4E: After the disappointing turnout for Walcott how many would show for a free movie?


I left the UFT meeting at 5:30 to head over to the AMC 42nd St where E4E was sponsoring a showing show "American Teacher" so I could hand out fliers with the poster urging people who showed up to come to our screening. I had registered for a ticket - I thought - but it seems Sydney didn't have my name on her list. "We had so many people register the theater had to move us to a bigger space," Sydney said with a smug look on her face. Then she turned coy. "But if you sign our pledge, we can get you in." "Hmmm, I'll think about it for a while," I said and stood off to the side near the escalator to hand the leaflet to people as they got their tickets. At this point, Miss Congeniality turned ugly, clearly perturbed that people might get to know there was a Real Reform movie being shown on Oct. 14. So Sydney has security called to hassle me. I went through a song and dance with this guy for a while before deciding I might as well stand in front of the theater by the signs E4E had put up and just ask people if they were there for the event.

That turned out to be a better opportunity (thanks Sydney) and I had some nice conversations with people, including a few who had seen our movie and loved it. It became clear that many of the attendees had nothing to do with E4E but were teachers interested in saving $12 bucks on a movie about teachers. (How much did this event cost Bill Gates and DFER?) I even had a great chat with some cool Tweed youngish staffers who were Ed Notes readers. And an E4E person who has gotten some publicity took my card and said, "We have to talk." Hmmm. Waiting for the call.

Counting the house
A fellow GEMer had signed up for a ticket and I gave him some leaflets to take in with him for people I missed. He texted me with a final count of 140 - let's add 20 more who may have come late. So with all the pub and full and part-time staffers, with every event, E4E demonstrates its increasing weakness and isolation. No wonder they are trying to keep the Gates/DFER money flowing by starting a branch in LA as our pal at South Bronx School (Princess Sydney Morris Writes An Email To Los Angeles Teachers) with his impeccable sources inside E4E has been reporting.

Inviting E4E to our screening
I do want to say that most of my encounters with E4E staffers have been pleasant - they seem trained in the same type of non-confrontational strategies we see from the charter school gang - a passive/aggressive style. One new guy came out to chat - Evan ran out to check to make sure I wasn't indoctrinating him and I invited both of them and anyone they want to bring from E4E to our screening and to take part in the discussion. I even suggested they sponsor a screening of the GEM film - to much laughter on both our parts.
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Well, heading over to Occupy Wall Street to find teachers doing a grade-in and to ask people if they will vote for Obama if the election were today.
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Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.

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