Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Harvard Student Writing Paper on '68 Strike Looking to Interview People

Hi Norm,

I'm from Rockaway, and I used to write a column for The Wave, and I know that you still do! Anyway, I am a junior at Harvard now, and am writing a paper on the teachers' strike of 1968 and the Ocean Hill Brownsville controversy. I would like to interview several teachers who were involved in the strike, and maybe even those who taught in district. I know that you were in the system for a long time, so I figured you might have some contacts. Would love to pick your brain as well.
I hope he doesn't pick too much of my brain -- not a lot left. I have an interesting POV on that strike -- not in line with the automatic left analysis which comes down to: Community GOOD, UFT BAD. I did not cross the picket line -- but I was also not politically conscious. When I became so 2 years later, all the people I met and who influenced me had crossed the picket line. I think over time they began to rethink some of their views -- my crew places blame on the then version of the Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, which played a very anti-union role. My position has been that even if you thought the strike was wrong, if you wanted to organize inside the UFT in opposition to the Shanker machine you could not cross that line and hope to have much credibility. Fight that battle internally.

Thus, Teachers Action Caucus (TAC), the major opposition party to Unity in the 70s was banded as scabs and made little headway. It took a generation and a merger with another opposition group (New Directions which was more to the right - or more opportunistic in hiding their politics) in 1995 to form the current New Action, which purged itself of left politics and made itself tenable for the sellout deal with Unity in 2003 -- though old-time red-baiting Unity people never forgot the New Action TAC roots and used to grouse  about how Randi never should have done it and how Shanker, if alive, would never have allowed it because he had such disdain.

Email me if interested in being interviewed.

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