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?

MORE Needs Help Raising Money
Please reply to this email if you would be interested in helping to organize fundraising events during the election season

1 comment:

  1. Norm, I know someone commented earlier that Mulgrew has no time for a debate due to how busy the president of the union is. It was an obvious poke at what he or she thought was a ridiculous idea. I don't think a debate is ridiculous at all. I've often wondered about the idea myself. This is the UFT - the largest union in the city. How would it not benefit the entire rank and file to hear the voices that want to lead them in the future? Norm, has there ever been an open debate prior to union elections? Has it ever been proposed? Thanks as always.


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