Sunday, January 6, 2013

MORE Memo: Was the SESIS Decision a Victory?

A great sign for MORE Media, led by its intrepid leader Mike Schirtzer, is the newly constituted MORE Response Team with the 4 bloggers of the Apocalypse leading the way to help put together the MORE statement on SESIS.

Read a great post at DOENUTS that pretty much says what I would.
How, exactly, is winning the right to force teachers into overtime a good thing? Because that happened with this 'victory'....the arbitration process went on for two long years before it was finally "resolved". How exactly is it a victory if I get to abuse you for two long years without being stopped?
Actually, I wouldn't call for 20,000 teachers to march but give me 5000 teachers, parents and special ed kids marching and that changes the game. I also would at least explore job actions -- let the UFT be creative -- look at the Chicago crew and how they are constantly on the offensive.

And, YES, I want my pound of flesh.
A pet peeve over the last 40 years has been the UFT's cavaliere, "Do what they say and file a grievance." So I have to eat the crap and even if I win there is no loss for the supervisor who knowingly violated the contract figured a) most likely I would lose and 2) even if I won nothing happens to them for violating the contract. That was why the groups I was with in the 70s called for penalties for administrators when you win.

I also take issue with the non-proactive use of legal mechanisms that slowly wind their way through the system. This is a fight that should have been taken to the public as doing harm to kids given that teachers had little time to manage this broken system incompetently implemented. I would gladly have congratulated the UFT for spending millions of dollars on commercials.

The MORE statement below, while congratulating the union leaders on winning the money, goes further into what I would classify as a social justice angle by framing the issue more broadly than the focus on money. Look at the impact on teachers and kids.
Yes, the right thing should be that workers get paid overtime for this labor, however, money was never the issue. It was the forced labor that we had to do on our own time IN ADDITION TO the other tasks we have always done largely after school hours including lesson planning and IEP writing (which takes more time on SESIS then on prior paper IEP's). If we gain additional workers to do the data entry tasks required by SESIS, that would be a victory because it would allow more time for intervention and counseling with students.
Here is the MORE statement with a link

MORE congratulates the UFT for the financial compensation they’ve earned our Special Education colleagues across the city. The SESIS case is another example of UFT leadership pursuing the same bureaucratic, top-down strategy it always pursues. Sometimes that strategy yields small victories. Nonetheless, because of this strategy the UFT is losing the war on several fronts.

First, the UFT did not involve rank and file members in this effort any more than it normally does. It issued surveys and asked chapter leaders to report abuses to district representatives. The UFT compiled the survey data and used it as evidence in the arbitration case. Members were not organized to respond collectively or actively in any way. There were no membership meetings, no mobilizations, no involvement of members in strategy discussions. The UFT strategy was purely legalistic and involved only the grievance department, some officers, and some lawyers. And this time they won  an arbitration case. Can we expect more cases against the DOE: Teachers are currently being evaluated with the Danielson Rubric, educators are being compelled to spend hours upon hours writing curriculum in the form of Common Core Units of Study and are grading on Acuity well into the night, high school teachers are being forced to change schools during Regents Week, creating traveling and childcare hazards for our colleagues all across the city.

Many special education workers including Related Service Providers, SETSS Teachers, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Guidance Counselors have been forced to do excessive amounts of Data Entry work. This is certainly not in our contract.

Continue reading at MORE blog

Other blogs on this issue:


[For those who want to know how the ICE blog can congratulate the UFT while I disagree, we are all free agents -- note the word "Independent".]

Chaz (Why My Union Is Important)  where I left a few comments regarding the social justice angle. My tactical take is that if teachers only scream about not getting paid it feeds into the ed deform attack on teachers and unions and public education (see, our charter school teachers will stay up all night doing this for no money -- when in fact my sources say all too many charter schools just ignore IEP type work knowing there is no penalty) and gun-shy passive UFT.

If I were running things I would have held rallies with teachers, parents and kids and do what they did in Chicago -- demand more people to do the work as the MORE response points out --- it is not about money for us but about the kids.

Now I know this offends traditional unionists but we live in a different world now where the very institutions teachers work in and the unions are under severe assault. And our "products" are not widgets or cars so let's now compare ourselves to auto workers. Teacher unions need to unlock the door to parent activism.

In fact, MORE is working with some parents to establish some kind of kindred parent group. And at a recent meeting with 5 MOREs every single one of them have kids under the age of 4 -- except me, unless you count Bernie and Penny --- YES, teachers are parents too. Wish I took a picture.

All of these MOREs are going to send their kids to a public school and that is a theme MORE will develop over time.


Chaz said...


I may not be a MORE member but I do believe that many of the issues it and you advocate are similar to how I feel and agree that our union must be more proactive and militant.

ed notes online said...

It is not in the DNA of Unity Caucus to be proactive and militant. Life is too cozy at the top and must be maintained at all costs and that can only happen by repressing voices of opposition. It is inevitable. One day Chaz, we will convince you to declare yourself a proud member of MORE.