Wednesday, October 17, 2012

UFT Delegate Assembly/MORE Announces Election Candidates

MORE chooses Julie Cavanagh, Brian Jones, Camille Eterno and Marissa Torres to head slate in UFT elections with more candidates to come.
The first UFT Delegate Assembly of the year, and the last one for many new chapter leaders and delegates will take place this afternoon. I have been at these meetings since 1972, with over a decade hiatus in the 80s through '94 when I became chapter leader and resumed going to the meetings. Ed Notes has been a regular since 1997. See my late August post (on the 6th anniversary of the ednotesonline blog): My Path from Ed Notes to MORE Through ICE and GEM Part 1 of 4. (Okay, okay, so I never did do the other 3 parts -yet.)

Before I get to the news of the MORE candidates (check the MORE blog - morecaucusnyc) –

Today is a special DA that takes place every 3 years. Let me explain.

Elections for chapter leaders and delegates take place on a 3-year cycle (2009, 2012, 2015) and the October DA following the previous spring election is the first one the newly elected will attend. With enormous turnover in these positions in so many schools, expect a vast new crop of people to show up. (Portelos as the only CL ever elected from the rubber room should be there -- I'd love to see him live stream the DA but that would get him more severe penalties than he is getting from the DOE -- imagine, being put in a UFT rubber room.)

And once these newbies experience the level of control exerted over the meeting by the Unity/leadership, many often never return. Though do expect a batch to have already been recruited into Unity -- they know not what they do.

I should point out that with over 1700 schools and at least one delegate and chapter leader in each, plus extra delegates in the larger schools, plus the potential 300 Unity caucus retirees and assorted other delegates, the potential audience could be 3700. But the main room only holds 860, with the overflow sent to overflow rooms so they can watch on TV. (Hope they show reruns of the Simpsons instead of Mulgrew pontificating and laughing at his own lame sense of humor.)

What does that tell you about the interest in the leadership in holding meaningful meetings?

Over the years I've seen up to 1500 people show up at these triennial meetings, the highest total over the 3-year period. Expecting these numbers in the past, the meetings were often held at a major hotel to give at least a semblance of interest in a democratic process (and those macadamia nut cookies at the Brooklyn Marriott were oh so delicious). But that has long been abandoned by Unity, so expect a very crowded and often unruly crowd jostling in narrow spaces. Some will turn around and just go home in disgust.

MORE chooses Julie Cavanagh, Brian Jones, Camille Eterno and Marissa Torres to head slate in UFT elections with more candidates to come. 

Well, this is getting long enough and I will wait to do my own personal tribute to Brian, Camille and Marissa later on. But just a few words.

How interesting that Brian has a 3 or 4 year old, Camille a 2 and a half year old and Julie a 14 week old. And Marissa is so young. Truly a mixture of an old and new generation of teacher/parent leaders.

I love working with Marissa on any project we have worked on --- I'm sure many will get to know her well.

Camille is one half of the wonderful power couple with her hubbie James. Just amazing long-term activists who broke away from New Action in 2003 when they sold out and helped found ICE.

On November 9 Brian will be doing a one on one at Cuny with the great Jonathan Kozol -- what does that tell you about the enormous respect there is out there for the work he does? And his work on our film has made him a national figure.

I don't have to tell you how much I have admired Julie since I met her a little over 3 years and have been proud to call her not only a political colleague but a true friend (and I don't always make many) --- you know, the kind you feel perfectly comfortable calling in the middle of the night if you need help (and she has promised to visit me in the home). I wanted to do a film for so many years and Julie was the key to making that happen, the kind of partner I so desperately needed to work with. I am eternally grateful.

I truly believe Julie has the same leadership potential as Karen Lewis --- interesting that both did not have extensive involvement in union politics until the ed deform crunch hit them and their kids head on. Both truly organically (Julie's favorite word) grown activists. I know Karen knows and admires Julie very much. As do teachers and parents and activists around the city and all over the nation who have worked with her and seen what she can do.

But Julie really does not want this election to be about her and she will probably be pissed at me for even writing this.

Anyway, I look forward to assisting with the installation of the nursery in the president's office at 52 Broadway.

Support the MORE slate in the 2013 UFT elections

Julie Cavanagh for President.

Julie is a UFT chapter leader who has been teaching in Red Hook, Brooklyn since 2001 and contributed extensively to the fight for public education. In 2009-2010 Julie, alongside a NYC parent and student, sued Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the right to protest school closings and charter schools, and later she joined with parents as the only teacher petitioner in a lawsuit to fight the appointment of then NYC Schools Chancellor Cathy Black. Since 2009 Julie has worked with various grassroots groups to organize protests and forums in an effort to educate and engage the public to challenge the corporate education reform movement and to promote real reform in our schools and communities. Much of this work can be seen in the film she co-narrated and co-produced, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. Her writings have been featured in the Huffington Post, Daily News, Labor Notes, and Public Sector Inc and she has appeared on MSNBC’s Up with Chris, Fox and Friends, and Inside City Hall.

Brian Jones for Secretary.

Brian has taught elementary school grades for nine years, and has organized teachers and parents to challenge budget cuts, charter co-locations and the high stakes standardized testing. Brian faced off against Michelle Rhee and Geoffrey Canada on national TV, and co-narrated the film, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. Historian Diane Ravitch has called his writing about public schools "brilliant". Brian has contributed to several books on education, and to publications as diverse as and the New York Times.

Camille Eterno for Treasurer. 
Camille has been an English teacher in New York since 1996. In her second year as a teacher, she was elected to be chapter leader at the Queens Gateway to Health Sciences. As chapter leader, Camille won grievances that even the UFT leadership said were not winnable. She helped organize her chapter into an activist force that was a major presence at many union rallies. As a leader in the Independent Community of Educators, she was instrumental in the nearly successful battle against the giveback laden 2005 contract. Camille developed a well deserved reputation throughout Queens High Schools as a chapter leader who was not afraid to stand up to management when they wrongfully abused UFT members. She is currently serving in her third term as a teacher delegate from Humanities and the Arts High School in Queens.

Marissa Torres for Assistant Treasurer

Marissa has been an elementary school teacher and a union activist since 2002. She taught ESL students in West Harlem where she served as Co-Chapter chair and organized teachers and parents to challenge budget cuts and co-locations. She now serves as a delegate for PS261 Brooklyn. She is committed to the fight for public education and is excited to be a part of a caucus that wants to build a broad social justice movement with parents, students, and teachers.


  1. I cannot tell you how happy I am that someone like Julie will be running against Unity.

    I will do whatever I can to support her!!

    Schoolgal :)



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