Thursday, February 28, 2013

Video: MORE Candidates at NYCORE - Cavanagh, Jones, Eterno, Fiorillo

Julie and Brian brought the social justice component of MORE, Camille the trade unionism and Michael synthesized them both.... comment after NYCORE/MORE event.
NYCORE is an important component of MORE. A group of mostly young teachers, many of whom do not feel connected to the UFT, this Feb. 22 event was a first official meeting of NYCORE and the top MORE candidates which consist of the long active ICE people like the Eternos and Fiorillo and the newer union activists like Cavanagh and Jones (though not new - he was part of TJC - Brian has taken on a much larger role in union politics).

It has not been a secret that there has been a sort of yin/yang inside MORE between the  trade unionism of older ICEers and the social justice aspect of the newer generation of teachers. Julie comes out of GEM, a sort of offshoot of ICE, so she stands somewhere in the middle. (And yesterday at Murry Bergtraum, she really nailed the synthesis -- video this weekend).

In the early days someone said if we could manage to put these 2 ideas together and attract people from both angles we are on to something. I have to say, this has not been an easy process at times -  as someone with a foot in each point of view -- and let me declare right here that even within ICE I was more in the social justice camp -- but things have moved forward internally as people who did not know each other begin to work together.

Thus, this event sponsored by NYCORE led by key NYCORE union activists who have done so much within NYCORE to create more of a balance between pedagogy and union was an important bridge building opportunity. As I've said, trying to build a new caucus out of different cultures is not easy under any circumstances but extremely difficult in the midst of an election campaign. Which was why I was opposed to running a year ago. I was wrong.

In fact, as people pointed out -- and I was skeptical -- the election will be used to build the caucus as the highest priority over just trolling for votes and then going away for 3 years. That is the biggest threat to Unity - -- not this election -- but what MORE does over the next 2 years.

I have been involved on the edge of NYCORE for a decade, the only ICE person who worked with them and found many misconceptions about NYCORE inside ICE and some initial reluctance given a view that there was not a sense of trade union consciousness and possibly a touch of ed deform "bad teaching is the problem". That has not turned out to be true and this event served to bridge some of that gap as the ICE crew saw that these young teachers are just as interested in tenure, protecting their rights, etc but without a union to back them up are not sure how to go about it.

I got there too late to catch Julie's statement but got the others and all of their responses to questions. Camille doesn't get out to as many events due to childcare and a very busy schedule so it was an absolute pleasure to hear her and enlightening for many of the audience.

Videos will play best and in larger format at you tube but I cut down the size for faster loading and included them here as a convenience.

MORE Candidates at NYCORE: Camille Eterno, UFT Treasurer

Michael Fiorillo

Brian Jones

Julie Cavanagh and Camille Eterno response during Q and A.

Jones and Fiorillo Respond on Q and A

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fighting Eva at the Ramparts: Use Publicity to Affect Her Enrollment and Reduce Profitability

I get these emails all the time because the UFT is absent from this battle (except for some minor efforts). The other day from a parent in District 30 and now from a Harlem teacher. Eva is our best organizer as people looked to GEM and now MORE to assist them in the absence of the UFT from this fight.
Norm, do you have information to convey to me as to how to stop Eva Moskowitz from bringing her Harlem Success Academy into a school. The school is having a meeting tomorrow to with parents, staff and political officials to discuss how to stop this woman.

01: How can the school show and prove how unfair it is for Moskowitz to bring in over 500 of their students and displace about 80 students in a current school?

02: Can the Campaign for Fiscal Equity be used to be thwart Moskowitz's grab for all of the money that should go to the traditional public school kids?

03: What arguments can be presented to parents, staff, politicians and others to use against Moskowitz to galvanize support and belief that the school can be saved?

04: What successes have been used to stop Moskowitz?
My response was:
I have to tell you that no one has been able to stop her. The city is in her hand. The state is in her hand and the UFT is toothless -- they are the only ones with the power and money to do anything. Some parent groups are out there fighting. Until we can stop mayoral control (which the UFT supports) they can do anything they want.
I immediately contacted Brooke Parker, a WAGPOPS Williamsburg based parent activist who, given what looks like another Eva slam dunk, offers some hope based on educating as many people as possible. You can see some of those efforts with this post on Ed Notes the other day: Brooklyn Success Academy Parents Dropping Out.

Here is Brooke's comment:
Eva's won just about every fight she's fought. But here are some of the things we did that helped change local public opinion and impacted her enrollment of students in our district:

- Gather information about your area schools - how many K-5s do you have? What are their pops of Free lunch, Reduced lunch, ELL, etc.,

- Develop partnerships with your local activists from other fronts - environment, immigration, people of color, workers rights, etc., These issues are tied together.

- We had someone sign up for the Success Academy mailing list who pretended to be interested to spy and get us all kinds of information, including when they were holding information sessions. We had about 20 parents with their children stand outside a Success Academy "Meet the Principal" event passing out this flyer and flyers about neighborhood schools and warmly invited those parents to meet OUR principals and tour OUR schools. I'd never seen Eva & her crew sweat so hard.

- CONSTANTLY stress that these schools are NOT for your neighborhood kids - particularly the ELLs. Norm wrote about how their handbook wasn't even available in Spanish (though it might be now), but it still points out how ELL and working parents are unable to thrive in that environment.

- The message we put out there is that our neighborhood schools are strong and we want our kids in class together.

I'm enclosing an example of a sheet we put together.
See text below and note that this is the work the UFT should be using its resources to doing instead of pouring good money after bad into its own co-located charter school. Note the GEM link -- again -- doing the work the UFT didn't.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Teachers Union's Own Charter School Gets Scathing Report

This is actually painful to read. Calling all Unity slugs who slavishly went along with Randi on this despite warnings from many of us. But history doesn't count to them.

Missing from this report is the co-location issue. The middle school is housed at IS 166K - George Gershwin -- which had its closing hearing last Thursday, a story that has not been connected by the press to the occupation by the UFT charter. (I was in the first grad class of IS 166 in 1959.)

Nice irony that James Merriman (with much glee I bet) is giving the UFT advice on how to fight this. And note how much money from the UFT treasury is being pumped into these schools along with even more money from the AFT. If the UFT fought SUNY supported charters like Success front and center does the UFT fear SUNY punish the UFT politically? Or does Suny think they have done too much to fight Eva and is punishing them?

Oh, the intrigue.

Teachers Union's Own Charter School Gets Scathing Report

Feb. 25, 2013, 5:44 p.m.

By Beth Fertig

Poor student performance, troubled finances and even a few cases of corporal punishment were cited in a harsh new review of a charter school run by the United Federation of Teachers. The report was released by the State University of New York Charter Schools Institute whose trustees will decide on Tuesday whether the struggling Brooklyn school should be closed.

Ten charter schools authorized by SUNY are up for renewal; the U.F.T. Charter School was the only one that didn’t receive a green light to continue operating. The reviewers said they could not make a recommendation either way because the data “does not present a uniform case for renewal or non-renewal.”

The case is highly unusual. James Merriman, chief executive officer of the New York City Charter School Center, said he could not recall another instance when SUNY’s reviewers didn’t offer a recommendation one way or another for a charter school with such a long track record.

The mixed review of the U.F.T. charter school presents an awkward situation for the union. Shelia Evans-Tranumn, the school’s executive director, issued a statement saying the union appreciates the SUNY Charter Institute’s analysis but that it took issue with some of the assertions by its reviewers.

The union opened the school in 2005 to demonstrate that unions and charters are not mutually exclusive. The school, located in East New York, Brooklyn, serves children in kindergarten through 12th grade at two campuses. In 2010, it was given a conditional, three-year renewal instead of a full five-year renewal because of its anemic test scores and other academic indicators. But a short-term renewal like that can only be granted once, and the union has been fighting to prove the school has improved and deserves a full five-year renewal.

The reviewers who visited the school’s two campuses last fall found “strong” performance on state exams in grades 3 and 4, and said they would have recommended a full renewal for the elementary school if it stood on its own. More than 60 percent of fourth graders were proficient in math last year. But that figure was cut in half among eighth graders. Reviewers labeled the academic outcomes in grades 6-8 as “poor,” adding that if this was a separate middle school it would not meet SUNY’s renewal criteria. They said they couldn’t make a recommendation for the high school because it hadn’t been around long enough to graduate any students.

Some of the other findings:

- The secondary campus has lacked stability with five principals in seven years. Teacher attrition had begun to improve, but there was “limited instructional coaching that is not targeted to improving individual teacher skills in a sustained and coherent manner.”

- School leaders reported that “staff had been counseled on appropriate interaction with students following approximately 10 corporal punishment incidents.” This followed a crackdown on discipline.

- The staff reported “chronic shortages of textbooks and unrepaired equipment.”

- The school never reported test results for standardized national exams in math and English for its high school students. After the school administered the tests in 2012, “the student test booklets were lost and the publisher never received them for scoring.” However, other high school data indicates the school is on track to meet its graduation goal.

- A review of board minutes found “numerous, apparently systemic, Open Meetings Law violations.”

- “The school is in poor fiscal condition” partly because of attrition. Many elementary students did not move on to the UFT’s middle and high school campus, which contributed to budget shortfalls. The school relied on interest-free bridge loans from the U.F.T. to support day to day operations. As of June, 2012 the school had $2.5 million in total liabilities versus total assets of $1.2 million.

- The school was in violation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, because it had a number of students who required more restrictive classroom settings than the school offered.

- The school “was in violation of state law requiring that school personnel (and certain contractors with direct access to students) be subject to a fingerprint-supported criminal background check prior to appointment at the school. At the time of the renewal inspection visit, the school was unable to produce evidence that five individuals were appropriately cleared for employment.”

- The school received a D on its last report card from the city, which covered only the elementary and middle grades. Just about a third of its students were reading at grade level overall.

The school’s executive director said some changes have been made since the reviewers visited last fall. Fingerprints for all staffers are now on file, she said, and “all substantiated incidents of inappropriate discipline – often involving verbal rather than physical confrontations – have resulted in further training for the staff involved.”

She also said some parents of a “small number of special needs children” decided to seek transfers to other schools that could meet their needs.

The three SUNY trustees considering the school’s renewal request at their 10 a.m. meeting on Tuesday could vote to keep the elementary school open while closing the upper grades. Or they could elect to close the entire school. The U.F.T. had planned to move the middle school grades to the same campus as the elementary pupils next fall. Both locations share buildings with regular city public schools.

“I think it’s pretty clear that in terms of the U.F.T. charter school itself, and any school that fails to meet any of its performance metrics, that it’s really hard to make a case for renewal,” said Merriman, of the city’s charter center.

“In the case of the U.F.T. charter school, that’s true of the middle school grades. But I think also it’s becoming increasingly clear that if you look at other renewal decisions – whether by SUNY or the New York City Department of Education and the state Board of Regents – it seems to me that the standard for renewal is becoming dangerously low.”

Merriman suggested that the U.F.T. might point to a charter school in Buffalo, and to the Sisulu-Walker charter in Harlem, for examples of schools that got full renewals with about the same performance as the union’s elementary charter school.

Beth Fertig is a senior reporter at WNYC. Follow her on Twitter @bethfertig

Media Member Raises Question Over UFT Capitulation of Collective Bargaining to Will of Cuomo as He Echoes Scott Walker

Hey Norm, Why isn't there more pushback from union folks over Cuomo directing NYSED to impose an eval system? Isn't that taking control of something that should be collectively bargained? ---- Reporter for a major media outlet
Well, some astute people in the press get what the UFT doesn't. My response was: you just wrote a MORE election ad.

What can one say? Well, I'll let the crew at MORE respond.

First a comment from Sean Ahern, who was one of the founders of ICE (the germ of idea was hatched while sitting on the beach on August 2003 day) followed by the entire MORE statement:
It’s one thing for the state to impose junk science evaluations on NYC teachers that violate the existing UFT contract, it’s quite another for the officers of the UFT to call this attack on working and learning conditions an “arbitration.”
Cuomo and King are engaged in union busting, privatizing and have picked up the club from Bloomberg to ensure that his successor will continue the corporate education reform policies.
The Unity Caucus leadership of the UFT is misrepresenting the true state of affairs in the hope that an apathetic membership will stay that way. Some “Unity.” Some “leadership.”
We need organizers and critical thinkers, not bureaucrats and sycophants, to defend public education and teacher unionism. We need honesty, not howling absurdities that mask the true state of affairs.
Is this too “radical” an alternative for the working teachers of NYC to demand from their leaders? Join with your fellow teachers and help create a new school based leadership and grassroots culture of democracy and activism in the UFT and in our school communities. Please consider joining the Movement of Rank and File Educators today. --- Sean Ahern

Mulgrew: “Impose Evals on Us”

A recent update from the UFT sent out to school Chapter Leaders reads:
Teacher eval impasse will go to binding arbitration if no agreement reached by May
“Given the city’s failure to meet the state-imposed Jan. 17 deadline, which cost our schools $240 million, the governor added an amendment to his budget submission on Thursday that empowers state Education Commissioner John King to act as a binding arbitrator to settle any elements of the agreement that have not been finalized in negotiations by May 29. In that event, after reviewing position papers and hearing oral arguments by both sides in May, Commissioner King will establish New York City’s new teacher evaluation plan by June 1.”
In this same email to chapter leaders, Dr. King was referred to as
“a lifelong educator who is serious about education, who has approved more than 700 evaluation plans across New York State”
Of course, teaching for three years, receiving public funds to run  charter schools and being an appointed bureaucrat does not meet our definition of ‘life-long educator’.  But of Dr. King’s work, UFT President Mulgrew has said
“We’ve seen the kinds of plans the state has approved and we are comfortable with them because they are about helping teachers help kids”.
The fact that there is no evidence that these plans have helped teachers to help students is a point that has been made time and again. In fact, with the increased testing that will be required, this plan can have only a negative impact on our students’ education.  But that this evaluation will be imposed notwithstanding our collective bargaining rights is a point that, while we’ve made in the past, we feel we must make here again.
To be clear, the assertion of the union’s leadership that the ultimate decision will be rendered by Dr. King (and that that is OK) is deplorable to the extreme. MORE has, in the past, described this move as “Surrendering Our Collective Bargaining Rights” and has been attacked by the Unity Caucus, the caucus of Michael Mulgrew and the current union leadership, for saying so. MORE knew very well that Unity’s response (that part of Collective Bargaining is the ability to turn to an arbitrator to settle disputes between labor and management) was without merit when applied to this scenario.
We knew this for two reasons: 1.The process of arbitration depends on relying on a fair and independent arbitrator (Dr. King, who is responsible for creating much of the current education policy in New York State, is anything but a fair an independent arbitrator) 2. Any responsible union, lead by people who care about the status of their members, would seek only a fair and independent arbitration process.
The bold arrogance revealed by UFT leadership of the Unity Caucus in this Chapter Leader update leaves even us a bit  taken aback. It  does, however, afford us the opportunity to examine exactly how Unity has sold out our collective bargaining rights by taking a closer look at exactly what a fair and independent arbitrator is and detailing how Dr. King is in a position to act as anything but a fair and independent arbitrator over this issue.
Most arbitration cases between the UFT and the Department of Education, binding or otherwise, are handled by the American Association of Arbitrators. That organization was founded in 1926 and is the nation’s leading organization for settling collective bargaining disputes between labor and management. Recent UFT cases arbitrated by the AAA include the 2012 UFT/CSA victory that stopped the mayor from closing twenty-four schools and excessing half of the staff from each of the those schools and the recent UFT SESIS victory which allowed special education teachers to be paid for the forced overtime incurred during the 2011 and 2012 academic year.
It is with good reason that the UFT has turned to this organization to settle disputes in the past, as the AAA sets a very high standard for exactly who can and cannot be an arbitrator. In order to become an arbitrator on the AAA’s Labor Panel, one must be on a list called the “Roster of Neutrals”. This roster only accepts applicants who meet a very high level of standards. Among those requirements are a list of basic qualifications. Let’s review those requirements and ask whether Dr. King meets the standard of being a fair and independent arbitrator.
1. Experience.  Applicants “must have a minimum of 10 years senior-level business or professional experience” and have “hands-on knowledge about Labor Relations”. Dr. King was twenty-eight years old ten years ago and was leading Roxbury Prep Charter School in Massachusetts  As this is a non-union charter school, it cannot be said that Dr. King developed a ‘hands-on knowledge’ of Labor Relations during this time and he cannot be considered to have developed ‘senior-level’ business experience. Yet the Unity Caucus premises that he does.
In addition, the AAA demands that its applicants have ”training and experience [specifically] in arbitration”. Dr. King, who attended the nation’s leading universities developed a vast amount of training in education and education policy over the course of his career, but not in labor related arbitration. Therefore, it can easily be concluded, by anyone except the Unity Caucus of the UFT, that Dr. King does not possess the training or the experience to be an arbitrator.
2. Neutrality In order to be an arbitrator, applicants must meet the AAA’s high standards of neutrality. These standards include “freedom from bias” and an ability to “evaluate legal principles”. Most specifically, arbitrators ”cannot be an active advocate for labor or for management.”  Doesn’t his current status as the Commissioner of Education, a leader in the education reform movement in New York State, and his past status as founder of the UncommonSchools  network of charter schools (a charter network that hires non-unionized teachers) clearly demonstrate that he is not free from bias? Our union leadership does not seem to think so.
Let’s take a moment to examine whether or not Dr. King is an “advocate for management with regard to this matter.  He was the Deputy Commissioner of Education when the system was negotiated and debated (and ultimately ratified) by the state’s legislature in 2010. He has written all of the regulations and guidelines around the creation and implementation of this system as it will exist in the state’s 694 school districts. He has had the singular power to approve or deny the teacher evaluation agreements that have been reached between school districts and their union. And let us not forget that Dr. King was the one who insisted that a teacher not be able to earn an effective rating on the new system unless his or her students perform well on standardized tests (a system that has led to the outcry of how forty (the amount that objective measures will be worth) will equal one-hundred percent of a teacher’s rating (see here)).
What kind of union would attempt to convince their membership that the very person who has been responsible for creating, revising, approving and implementing this new evaluation system can possibly be a fair and independent arbitrator in a labor dispute?
Only the leadership of our union. Only the Unity Caucus.
Leaders of the Unity Caucus, in their zeal to accuse the Movement Of Rank and File Educators of not understanding the basic principles of collective bargaining, have failed to admit that arbitration itself hinges on the training, the experience and the non-bias of the person who is acting as the arbitrator of an issue. Why have they hidden this obvious truth? Only two possibilities can explain: 1. They do not know what fair and independent arbitration is. 2. They simply do not care.
As troubling as this is, our examination has thus far centered around one type of arbitration; the grievance arbitration. There is a basic difference between agrievance arbitration (such as the ones mentioned above) and a contractualarbitration. Grievance arbitrations, which address alleged breaches of the contract, occur quite often. However what is before us, what the UFT Chapter Leader update identified as ‘binding arbitration’, is a contractual binding arbitration; a decision that will allow major parts of our contract to be altered. The UFT has stood firm in not allowing binding arbitration to determine its contract for decades.
But, of course, this is a different UFT.
The issues over which the Unity leadership is going to allow Dr. King to ‘arbitrate’ (a role he is clearly not qualified to fill) address a broad swath of present and future working conditions for teachers across the city.  For instance, Under what circumstances can a teacher be fired for incompetence? Who, if no future agreement can be reached, will decide how teachers are evaluated after this agreement sunsets in one, or two years?  These decisions, the Unity Caucus believes, would be better left to Dr. John King; Commissioner of NYSED, than to the collective bargaining process that has been established.
But, of course, truth is that the Unity leadership knows full well what a real arbitration process is. A much more accurate (and truthful) way of describing what is about to happen is to call it out for what it is: Imposing an agreement. This is how UFT spokesman Peter Kadushin identified it:
“The UFT would prefer a negotiated settlement with the Department of Education, but … is supportive of the state imposing one if an agreement cannot be reached.”
Perhaps Mr. Kadushin should be writing the Chapter Leader updates?
We do not want our union to surrender our rights of collective bargaining –not to SED, nor the courts nor the governor. Like teachers in Chicago and Seattle, we believe that educators have the power to organize and to fight. The Unity leadership may tergiversate over this issue until the cows come home. But we see their actions for what they are and the Movement of Rank and File Educators believe that teachers do not have to surrender. In fact, it is the last thing that we should do.

Brooklyn Success Academy Parents Dropping Out

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "When will we start talking to charter school paren...":

I am a former Brooklyn Success Academy parent. I can assure you that the attrition is quite high. We left midyear with 3 other students. There are 4 others who plan to leave at the end of the year. This particular first grade class started out with 26 children. Down to 22 mid year and when June comes it will be down to 18. These numbers and accurate and TRUE but you will never see any of this on reports because as soon as students leave they get replaced. SA bumps up kindergarten students to first grade and then brings in new kindergarten kids to fill in at the lower grades.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cavanagh Defends Seniority Rights in NY 1 Debate With E4E, UFT and E4E on Same Page on Ed Evals

Julie Cavanagh for UFT Prestident! She actually lit a fire in my chest and brought a tear to my eye. This is exactly the type of fight we need to bring to the media! ---Alex Torres in response to appearance on NY 1 debating E4E March 4, 2011 at 10:25:00 PM EST
....our union leadership must be responsive to its membership. Our membership and the parents we serve overwhelmingly support Seniority Rights. Seniority is the ONLY research-based method for laying off educators and hiring them back. Seniority is the ONLY objective method for lay-offs, and it protects educators so that they are not the targets of arbitrary firing or are otherwise a target b/c of race, sexual preference, or their advocacy for children. ---- Julie Cavanagh, March, 2011 in comment on Ed Notes in response to E4E
For those Unity slugs out there, point to some statements from MulGarten with as rigorous a defense of seniority rights as Julie has made. And of course there is the UFT/E4E commercials calling for the same thing.  Not so strange bedfellows, it seems.
See Julie in the March 3, 2011 debate with an E4Eer on NY1.

Leonie Haimson was hosting an event for Diane Ravitch's appearance on John Stewart the same night (my birthday -- and I dragged my wife over there after a great dinner at my fave B-day place, One if By Land) and I was at the party to tape as Julie appeared on the NY 1 report at 10PM and we all watched it together. Al Shanker's wife Edie was in the room along with Ravitch and Julie became a star that night. (I do have some tape somewhere of their reactions to Julie.)

Which is why Julie's candidacy is a major threat to the UFT as she transcends narrow UFT internal politics of the past -- as one Unity caller told me and said was voting for Julie. Even some New Action people have been jumping off that bandwagon. In the election there are 3 caucuses but only 2 choices for President.

I put up this report on Ed Notes and note the comments 2 years ago calling for Julie to run for UFT president. Who knew?

Julie went to the NY 1 studio by herself while the E4E was accompanied by Evan and Sydney who were giving Julie the once-over (this was before we released our film so Julie was not yet as well-known.) MORE is thinking of challenging E4E to a debate since Mulgrew won't do it (Randi did debate in 2 elections - 1999 and 2001). Since E4E and Unity are on the same page on teacher evals -- did they recycle the UFT commercials? -- they might as well be on the same team. But to paraphrase Lincoln, if A=B and B=C than A=C. Thus on ed deform eval E4E=Unity/UFT/AFT.

 Here was my March 4, 2011 report.

Diane Ravitch and Julie Cavanagh Kick Butt

Last Update: Friday, March 4, 10:45 PM

I was at the viewing party last night for Diane Ravitch's appearance on Jon Stewart with Diane as the guest and we all enjoyed not only watching her appearance but Stewart's wonderful defense of teachers and take down of the ed deformers.

We were also treated to GEM's Julie Cavanagh's kicking of an E4E member's butt from one end of the NY1 studio to the next on "Inside City Hall". And all the while doing it with civility and grace.

Here is the link to Julie:

Let me point out that Julie did what the UFT won't do: defend LIFO and seniority in a strong and well-thought out way. Was that the best E4E has? She contradicted herself time after time.

Here's a link to Ravitch on Stewart show. But watch the first part of the show too where Stewart lays out the ed deformers in a brilliant way.

From Leonie to those who attended the viewing party (I have some tape). (Yes, we survived by B-day celebration at One if by Land, a wonderful meal and headed uptown after I sobered up.)
Thanks to all of you who came last night to our viewing party, at such short notice, especially Diane, for being our hero and working so hard every day to advocate for rational policies in public education. 

The conversation and company was terrific and it was great to share it with all of you. 

I have posted links to all of yesterday’s shows on the NYC parent blog, including Inside City Hall with Julie Cavanagh about LIFO, the Daily show with Diane, and the NPR radio show that Diane and I were on yesterday here:

Julie Cavanagh told me today that Errol Louis , the host of Inside City Hall, had a print out of our Parents Across America fact sheet on “why experience matters” in front of him during her debate.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to our Parents Across America newsletter, please do on the website at

Thanks so much, and pl. keep in touch!

Leonie Haimson


  1. Julie Cavanagh for UFT President!!!

    What a tremendous job done on NY1...

  2. Wow Julie Cavanaugh was absolutely fantastic. I want to thank her so much for such a wonderful debate. She kept her cool and just was terrific. No link on GS. It figures.

  3. Absolutely! Agreed with John. Julie Cavanagh for UFT Prestident! She actually lit a fire in my chest and brought a tear to my eye. This is exactly the type of fight we need to bring to the media!

  4. Julie Cavanaugh,
    PLEASE run for UFT president. You care for our children and for our teachers.

    You have my vote already!

  5. Julie Cavanaugh cited incorrect research, please cite your peer reviewed study! So what does Julie think is the way to dismiss an ineffective teacher? what criteria do we use. The anti accountability folks like to poke holes in all efforts for accountability but don't propose real alternatives.

  6. First, let me thank Stephane Barile and Liza Campbell, two young teachers from NYCORE and GEM who had the courage to put together an amazing letter for teachers w/ less than five years in support of seniority rights. That form letter, if you haven't signed it, can be found on the GEM site. They were contacted by Inside City Hall, couldn't do it, and passed the opportunity on to me- thank you ladies!

    Second, to the very flattering comments above. Thank you, and I will simply say this: our union leadership must be responsive to its membership. Our membership and the parents we serve overwhelmingly support Seniority Rights. Seniority is the ONLY research-based method for laying off educators and hiring them back. Seniority is the ONLY objective method for lay-offs, and it protects educators so that they are not the targets of arbitrary firing or are otherwise a target b/c of race, sexual preference, or their advocacy for children.

    Finally, to the corporate reformer above: the reasearch is clear, Jane and Mr. Louis spoke to it. There is a great fact sheet which includes much of the research I cited on the Parents Across America site found right in this post. And, if you are saying my research is incorrect (which of course it is not), than why do you need me to cite it?

    I did offer a solution which closed out the piece.

    Finally, I am not "anti-accountability", I am anti-attacks-aimed-at-undermining-public-education-and-dismantling-public-sector-unions. Most importantly, I am FOR KIDS. The only way we know, acccording to the research, to serve kids best is to give them small class sizes and experienced educators... let's do just that.

  7. Julie Cananagh, give me a break with your lies, lies lies.
    In our school I'm on the hiring panel and we invited over six ATRs to open positions not one called or had the courtesy to let us know they were not showing.

    Julie lied and said Mayor tells schools not to hire ATRs.
    Big Lie they are given financial rewards to hire ATRS. Why would someone want my workload of teaching five classes a day, calling parents, counseling kids, attending meetings and conferences when it is much easier to sub all day or work in an office. The vast majority of us teachers work hard day in and day out and my union keeps catering the to lowest common denominator. We will never be a union of professionals until we stop defending the unprofessional.

    Teach as if your own kids are in the class.

  8. The fact sheet that shows teacher experience matters for up to 20 years of more that Julie refers to is posted here:

    It has charts and links to peer-reviewed studies. It also reveals how smaller class sizes and teacher experience are the only two objective factors correlated with better student outcomes. Sad the way the mayor is trying to undermine both.

    Secondly, if E4E really cared about kids they would focus on preventing layoffs, not using layoffs as an opportunity to attack experienced teachers.

  9. Come on, E4Anonymous, give it up. No one attacked teachers till budget-cutting, pro-privatization Bloomberg came along. This "best and brightest" and "do it for the children" scam is getting old.

    The education field welcomes new teachers through natural attrition and retirements. As far as the code words, "bad teachers", that's a principal's job to help, handle, and hew, if need be. (fairly, mind you).

    Now, get back over to your web site. Arne, Mike, and Bill want their latte's refilled.

    P.S. Julie, Leonie, and Diane Ravitch were fantastic. Congratulations.

  10. Don't be so sure it is E4 and not a Unity slug.

    And E4 = Wall Street's Poodles...ruff ruff

  11. I watched the show with Diane Ravitch, and I too appreciated John Stewart's raw wit in presenting his viewpoint of the ongoing debate on teachers today. As a teacher for almost 20 years I have decided to do what I can to reach the politicians who are making decisions regarding our schools. Teachers need a voice. VIVAteachers is a place where a teacher's voice is beginning to reach the political realm. We need teacher involvement!

  12. Ravitch's, Stewart's, and Cavanaugh's conversations are well-timed to capture a resurgence of awareness in the nation that something is wrong in the current superficial discussions of teacher effectiveness (the absence of the terms "equity" and "poverty," for starters).

    Meanwhile, back at headquarters, Cuomo is making nice with Bloomberg in private phone conversations. Check out the NY Times article:

    Another example of how politics trumps policy in education almost every time. Some teachers and myself created a set of policy recommendations to advocate for teacher perspectives on teacher evaluations, but we have been getting little response. Read our report and help us to advocate for policies that better address contexts within schools and the idea of professional collaboration:

Feb. 27, 4PM - MORE Pres. Cand Cavanagh at Murry Bergtraum HS

Julie Cavanagh, candidate for President of the UFT, @ Murry Bergtraum High School this Weds, 3:30 - 5:30 PM.

Inline image 1

Orginally booked as a debate between Cavanagh and Mulgrew (who ignored requests to participate).

Video: CTU chief of staff and founder of CORE, Jackson Potter, speaks on "Lessons of the Chicago Teachers Strike"

In an incisive video, Jackson Potter covers many of the issues we face here in NYC. The old union leadership in Chicago, much as Unity here in NYC, had the attitude that the members don't care and act accordingly. Top-down, lack of democracy, a sense of helplessness -- listen to Jackson as he describes the visit of a union VP to his closing school telling him to tell the teachers to get their resume together.

If you want an example of the same attitude here of UFT collaboration in the closing of schools, read this account of a visit to Far Rockaway HS by then Queens HS District Rep (now Queens borough leader) Rona Freiser when its closing was announced in 2005 written by an outraged teacher. I posted this reprise the day after Xmas, 2006:
Dec 26, 2006
Where's Waldo – er– the Union at Far Rock? With the recent announcement that 5 schools would be closing, 3 of them large high schools in south Brooklyn, I thought this story of how the UFT operates in relation to these ...
Actually, as I reread this I realize more than ever just what a sellout the UFT had for so long been on the closing school issue. Make sure to click the link above to see what I am talking about. Now Unity slugs go around saying "forget the past." Sure.

Back to Jackson, who is one of the most impressive people I have met, combining great political, organizing and leadership tools. I met Jackson around the same time I met Julie Cavanagh and in some ways they reminded me of each other. Everyone who works with Jackson comes away marveling at his skills. Same with Julie's skill set. I had the absolute pleasure of introducing them to each other in July 2011 at a conference in Chicago. It is no accident that Julie was the unanimous choice to be MORE's presidential candidate.

Jackson Potter is in many ways the architect of CORE. In the summer of 2009, Sally Lee of Teachers Unite worked with Jackson, who she met a year before at the Trinational conference in LA, to organize a 5 city meet-up in LA. Megan Behrent who was in TJC at the time and I, representing ICE and GEM, joined Sally (who was 8 months pregnant with her first child) spent 3 days in intense conversations and social interaction with some key CORE and LA Teacher Union people.

After the conference ended I was fortunate enough to spend an entire day hanging with Jackson, Al Ramirez, Kristine Mayle (now financial secty of the CTU), and Kenzo Shibata (now head of social media for the CTU) as we roamed around LA. Now this was almost a year before they won the election and only a year plus after forming CORE so the conversations were illuminating as to their thinking at that time when they were just considering how a run for office would play out. (You can read some accounts of that trip here:LA Deamin' and LA Confidential.)

This was early in the life of GEM, which a year later initiated discussions between all the other groups, discussions that led to MORE. Let me say right here that without the work of GEM which accomplished so much in such a short time, MORE would not have come into being. GEM, which had people from ICE, TJC, and NYCORE has sort of morphed into MORE -- at least the teacher segment -- while the parent segment, along with some teachers had morphed into Change the Stakes, the group battling high stakes testing and organizing around the opt-out movement.

Here is a link to the you tube video followed by the embedded coded version.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

MORE at CUNY Today and James Eterno Reports on MORE At NYCORE

I have some video and will put it up by tomorrow. See you if you can make it today at CUNY at 3pm to hear Lois Weiner, Francesco Portelos, Harris Lirtsman and Brian Jones moderating. We don't often get to see and hear Camille Eterno so last night was a real pleasure for those who haven't seen her laser-like focus on teacher rights and working conditions. What an interesting blend of activists from social justice to trade union issues with Michael Fiorillo's ability to forge them all into a coherent whole.

As I was watching last night I was thinking that Julie and Brian are elementary school teachers, a division that has often been marginalized in UFT elections, at least from an activist mode. Julie is the first elementary school teacher  -- and special ed teacher - to run for President in UFT history. Brian has always taught elementary school.

The gap between elementary school and high school teaching experience is very large and as an elementary school teacher myself, with such close contact to the community and parents, you bring a different perspective. Which is often why you hear elementary school people spend so much time talking about kids and parents while high school people often focus on the contract. I know, I know, a wide generalization, but that is how I've seen it.

The opposition in the UFT has always had some disdain for elementary school teachers -- until ICE, that is. In 2002 I attended an Ex Bd meeting of New Action and the co-chair seemed astounded I was an elementary school teacher and practically blurted out, "But you seem so smart..." Well, the people I worked with are amongst the smartest and toughest people I have ever met. As Debbie Meier has said, teaching kindergarten was the most intellectual challenging thing she ever did.


Last night downtown Manhattan had a chance to see and hear four MORE candidates for top UFT offices speak at a public forum.  To say the least, they were at the top of their game.

UFT Presidential candidate Julie Cavanagh, Secretary candidate Brian Jones, Treasurer nominee Camille Eterno and Assistant Secretary nominee Michael Fiorello addressed a number of union and public education concerns and then they fielded questions from the audience at a NYCORE meeting.  Issues covered included bloated union officer salaries and double pensions which leads to our leadership being out of touch with the membership, the history of the UFT, how to stop principals from abusing the UFT contract, what a member driven union would look like in practice, how destructive closing schools is for communities, privatization of education both here and abroad and many others.

A main theme is that now the UFT has a top-down bureaucratic structure that does not work for the benefit of the membership or the schools.  If MORE is elected, the pyramid will be inverted with the members put into the driver's seat. The recent activism of the Chicago teachers can serve as a model.

I hope to see these four and other MORE candidates in action again.  I was sitting in the audience imagining a debate between MORE"S top candidates and the UFT's current leaders from the Unity Caucus. I couldn't think of a bigger mismatch.  I can see why Unity's President Mulgrew and company would never want a debate. I think we should have several.

Today is part 2 of the activist weekend at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Movement of Rank & File Educators

Weekly Update #44 - February 22nd, 2013

MORE - The Social Justice Caucus of the UFT


Democracy & Dignity in Education 
Sat., Feb. 23
3:00-5:00 PM
365 5th Ave., Rm. 5414


Mon., Mar. 4
5:00 PM
Cosi (55 Broad St.)

General Meeting
Sat., March 9
12:00-3:00 PM
224 W. 29th St., 14th Fl.


Thurs., Mar. 21
5:00 PM
Cosi (55 Broad St.)

General Meeting
Sat., April 13

General Meeting
Sat., May 18

Dignity and Democracy in Education:  
A Public Forum About Blowing the Whistle on the Culture of Fear and Corruption in NYC Public Schools

Saturday, February 23rd
3:00 to 5:00pm

CUNY Graduate Center
365 5th Ave., Rm. 5414
(@ 34th St.)
Photo ID Required
Panelists include:

Lois Weiner, Ed.D. scholar-activist; author of The Future of Our Schools: Teacher Unions and Social Justice; Professor of Education at New Jersey City University 
Francesco Portelos - S.T.E.M. teacher; UFT Chapter Leader and whistleblower; "rubber roomed" for exposing alleged financial corruption of school administration
Harris Lirtzman - former Special Education/mathematics teacher charged with "employee misconduct" after reporting misadministration of his school's special education program

Moderated by:
Brian Jones - teacher and co-narrator of the film "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" (
Pizza will be served afterwards to all those who stay to help with petition signing and MORE's election effort. Make sure to bring any and all signed petitions to the event!

Come hear speakers from MORE's UFT election slate, help circulate our petition for a membership vote on the evaluation system, and join the movement! Click links to RSVP

The Harp Irish Pub
7710 3rd Ave
(btwn 77th 
& 78th Sts.)
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Terrazza 7 Cafe 
40-19 Gleane St.
Elmhurst, NY
(7 Train to 82nd St.)
Friday, March 1 
Nancy’s Restaurant
255-41 Jericho Turnpike (near Little Neck Parkway)
Floral Park, Queens

Find out what you can do to get out the vote!
Check out MORE'slatest blog post and find out how to help mobilize UFT members to vote.

Reply to this email to become part of MORE's discussion listserv.

Also, our message has crept into the Ivy League! Check out this Yale student on why we should "Just Say No" to Charter Schools

Help Distribute Literature for MORE!

Volunteers needed help distributing campaign literature at your school and schools nearby.

Reply to this email or check our website...

Fundraising Skills?

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Please reply to this email if you would be interested in helping to organize fundraising events during the election season