Unity wants as many opposition caucuses around as possible to divide people.Today ICE, the group founded out of Ed Notes in late 2003 is meeting. (Tomorrow I'm meeting with a group of MORE people to plan the summer
ICE is an uncaucus - we have withdrawn from taking part in UFT election battles and became a founding member of MORE because we did our own caucus thing a dozen years ago and saw ultimately how it worked out - not great - which was why most of us decided to join with people from other groups to form MORE - and that ain't been easy after having our own little group that could function the way it wanted.
I have learned from 45 years in this business that having multiple caucuses, even if they come together every 3 years to run a unified slate but then go their separate ways leads to failure.
Unity wants as many opposition caucuses around as possible to divide people. In the old says we used to assume that if a caucus didn't get the petition signatures to get on the ballot Unity, which runs the election, would put them on anyway. And so they will again.
Randi bought out New Action. Does anyone think she and Mulgrew are unhappy to see yet another caucus out there? They knew that the merger of various groups into MORE in an attempt to forge one identity for the opposition is the real threat to them. Thus they attack only MORE in their leaflets (64 Teachers at PS8X Sign Open Letter to Mulgrew).
Thus Randi would be glad to lend moral support to anyone who wants to start yet another opposition caucus, even taking them out for coffee.
ICE and MORE
MORE is a combo of many different groups and people - a synthesis because many of us have tried it the other way - our own little caucus where we can be the big fish in the small pond - oh how heady at times when you are new to this to have the president of the UFT emailing you at midnight to get your opinion. Almost everyone in ICE has come to see that no matter how difficult it can be working with people you might disagree with at times, the only way is to forge one caucus. Bite the damn bullet.
Many of us have come down a bit from our egos and have a little more humility about things. Or maybe it's the lowering of testosterone with age.
I have even been tempering my views regarding New Action - Julie and I told them at our meeting in Nov. 2013 that we welcomed them once they publicly announce they will no longer be taking their deal with Unity -- they don't have to end New Action - keep doing what ICE is doing - but move to becoming one caucus. After all, New Action learned its lesson in 1995 when 2 caucuses, TAC (begun in 1968) and New Directions (1976) became one after 20 years of relative futility running in the NAC coalition (though they did win some victories). But they say they were marking time. Then shortly after they merged, along came the old divider, Marc Pessin (who did the same thing with New Directions in 1976) to create yet another caucus (PAC) to divide people. And of course, Marc's ego required that he run for president in the 1999 elections - he did the same thing in the 1977 and 81 elections.
When ICE became a caucus in late 2003 it was with the intention of running in the 2004 election and then disbanding. But we won the HS exec bd seats with TJC and stuck around. But it became clear by 2007 that ICE did not have a long shelf life. By 2010 it was more than obvious. TJC was around for 20 years before disbanding into MORE. ICE kept meeting but in essence did the same. And I must say that after all those years of a tenuous relationship, working with Kit Wainer is a joy - and having Kit and James Eterno, both of whom who ran for UFT president, on the same team is like putting together an all-star rock band.
Yes, multiple caucuses have been tried for ages - there are always calls for them to unite for the elections and then go back to doing their big fish in a small pond. It finally dawned on many of us that ultimately this is helping do Unity's dirty work of divide and conquer - playing one group off against another - even offering people from one group enticements.
Though mostly MORE, we still feel that ICE identity even if we will never divide the opposition - ICE stands for the Independent Community of Educators -- a true social justice group of people who also fought for teacher rights with roots going back to the community struggles of the late 60s and 70s.
Some of the newer MORE members have come to the ICE view of things - we were the only ones to go after mayoral control, ed deform, high stakes testing - all the hot button issues from today - back in 2003 when we began - and Ed Notes was touching on these before then.
How did we see that these issues were important? Through open, non-ideologically driven discussions at loooong meetings. No one at an ICE meeting has been cut off or denied the chance to speak due to time - no one every leaves an ICE meeting feeling they were shut down. Time is not a factor -- the meeting ends when one person is left talking to himself.
I have never left an ICE meeting not feeling good and not having learned something.
Not a formula for efficiency or even building an opposition - but certainly a much needed space for people to talk to each other -- and I would say the single most important thing missing in MORE. I rarely leave a MORE meeting feeling that way. The MORE - Summer Series Workshops is a way to fill this gap.
People have asked me numerous times how come Mulgrew and Unity can get away with what they do for 60 years - how come there is so little effective opposition in the UFT.
The leadership focuses a lot of energy on potential trouble spots - this is where they are truly competent and effective - controlling, defusing, obfuscating, dividing, etc. I posted an example on Ed Notes recently about PS 8x which is a school in revolt against the leadership, led by a former Unity Caucus chapter leader -- see
They track every place where there are opposing voices -- making deals with their friendly principals to keep people under control is not off the table either.
But beyond all that, there are the internal divisions in the opposition - I have seen the same issues come up since I first got involved in 1970 - and in the 70s and then again in the 90s we had another version of him doing the same thing - to me this is so deja vu.
Egos, sectarian politics, and who knows what else can lead to so much frustration and angst.
A number of people who were union critics and used to distribute Ed Notes in the 90s and early 2000's ended up joining Unity - they might as well take the free trips and other perks because there was no other place to really go.
They go to Unity because they see a divided opposition. It may not be easy, but one voice, one name is the only answer. That will not happen as long as people refuse to check their egos at the door.