Friday, November 21, 2014

Why I Like Mike

We will not win by signing loyalty oaths or making back room deals like the Unity/New Action members...Like Arthur, I am willing to debate Weingarten or Mulgrew anywhere, anytime, as long as it is open to all our members, not in some small room at 52 Broadway. .... Mike Schirtzer, MORE 
I joined proud MOREista Mike Schirtzer yesterday afternoon at the Brooklyn Teachers Unite Brooklyn Restorative Justice Meetup + Workshop where we encountered about 40 teachers - mostly young - and around 10 students - and all of them staying around until 6:30 to talk restorative justice and related education stuff. We played some games and then I went off to a group of high school science and math teachers to talk pedagogy - and boy how I have missed talking to teachers about - well, teaching, instead of politics. And teachers who despite all the crap out there, seem to love what they are doing.

We even found a chapter leader and a delegate, and they loved Megan Moskop's presentation at the DA on Tuesday on teacher diversity. Mike is as enthused over the Teachers Unite restorative justice agenda as he is about MORE and union politics.

I'm proud to know Mike who in the 2 and a half years I know him has become a friend through our work in MORE. In a short time, Mike has captured the sentiments of the average UFTer and captivated the long term activists, tirelessly working the phones and internet and running off to meet with people in bars and diners to talk their school's politics. That is real organizing at the fundamental level - and if I were Unity I would offer him a deal ASAP.

Arthur Goldstein featured Mike on his blog today: Loyalty
 Mike is loyal UFT. And so am I. No one believes in union more than we do. Sadly, that's not the sort of loyalty valued by our union.
It is because of Mike and all the people he mentions below, plus others that he doesn't that I don't retire to the lounge and despite some of the issues Arthur has chronicled about MORE I remain involved, as do most people from ICE, which was a founding group of MORE. We still believe in the potential of MORE while also trying to make sure it keeps its wheels on the track. Just look at the demographics of MORE in terms of age and where people stand in their careers compared to any other group in the UFT, including Unity.

Mike, a non-Communist registered Republican (despite the slander some people are spreading that MORE is a communist organization), proudly sent this to the listserves today.
Thank you Arthur. I am so proud to part of MORE, the only positive alternative to the current union leadership. We stand by our commitment to social justice for all. Fighting for teachers is fighting for children, our working conditions are our students' learning conditions, the two cannot be separated. 

Our union is the only thing that stands between us and Wal-mart poverty wages, our union is the only check and balance of the government’s and privateer’s misguided directives. The day will come when loyal UFT members like Arthur, me, and my friends in MORE will have union jobs, but it will happen democratically, not through patronage or any loyalty oath. Unlike the other caucuses, Unity and New Action, we will never sacrifice our principles for a seat at the table. We will create our own table with classroom teachers, educators, and parents dedicated to a fair public education for all children. Like Karen Lewis and CTU, we must have a union that is ready to fight for its members , with its members, and the children we serve everyday. The job of our union is to represent us, not tell us what they represent.

We will do this through mobilizing educators at every school to fight against abusive administrators and privatization, involving all our members in the day to day activities of our union. True union democracy would mean a chapter leader like Arthur would have a voice at union meetings and NYSUT/AFT conventions. True union democracy would mean a membership that finds it important to vote in UFT elections and have a chance to set policy before Mulgrew decides what “we” want, such as common core, test based evaluations, and cookie cutter rubrics. 

The UFT is set up very top down now - at Delegate Assemblies, Chapter Leader meetings - the agenda is set before we come - this is not our vision of unionism. When we lead the UFT it will allow the members to set the agenda and the policies. 

We will win by defending our members, by mobilizing the UFT to fight “reform” polices, by fighting for lower class size, arts, music, after-school programs and for ATRs right to have classroom jobs and union representation. 

We will not win by signing loyalty oaths or making back room deals like the Unity/New Action members. 

Like Arthur, I am willing to debate Weingarten or Mulgrew anywhere, anytime, as long as it is open to all our members, not in some small room at 52 Broadway. It is time we have a union that is a vehicle for pro-education, pro-union, policies, not one that begs for a seat at the table. I look forward to working along side Arthur, he is a great teacher, loyal unionist, and overall an amazing person. 

Thankfully I’m surrounded with great “union teachers” like Arthur, Norm Scott, Julie Cavanagh, Mike Fiorello, James Eterno, Lauren Cohen, Harry Lirtzman, Kit Wainer, Jia Lee and plenty of others.


  1. I have to take an online class to get the PD hours I need this year. We had to read an article about a poll conducted in 2011 and post our thoughts on a blog .
    The 2011 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll questioned 1000 adults about current topics in education. Question 14 was “Which do you think would result in higher student achievement in (elementary, middle, high schools): classes with fewer students and a less effective teacher or classes with more students and a more effective teacher? 72 – 80% of respondents thought that students would fare better in larger classes with more effective teachers; only 17 – 25% of respondents thought that students would fare better in smaller classes with a less effective teacher. The study concludes “Americans overwhelmingly would prefer larger classes with more effective teachers”.
    But, this question skirts the real issue facing teachers today: how class size affects a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom. I believe that most teachers would tell you that larger classes are harder to teach. Larger classes are physically crowded, increasing student conflicts, making it harder to move around the room, harder to walk them down the hall, down the stairs. Larger classes make it easier for quieter students to get left out of participating in lessons. Bigger classes mean teachers are unable to work with each child, giving help to struggling students or adding enrichment for students who are ready for more.
    This poll is based on the questionable assumption that these 1000 Americans know what is best for the national school system. Of these 1000 respondents, 62% had no children in school! How can adults with no children in school know what issues face schools today, and what should be done about these issues? I believe it would be better to poll 1000 educators and ask them what are the issues they face in their classrooms every day, and what solutions they propose.


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