Monday, November 23, 2015

Reports of the MORE Meeting: A Maturing Organization Plus How Jia Lee Helped Rescue MORE

There are two bogger reports out on the MORE meeting this past Saturday by
Caucus building is a long and winding road
These positive reports on the state of MORE are somewhat remarkable as they come from people who a little over a year ago were not happy with the state of MORE and either had left or contemplated withdrawing. They were joined by other blogger critics and I too felt I was on the ropes with frustration. 

We actually held an ICE meeting attended by 25 people, including many non-ICEers where people vented their frustrations.

We knew that MORE, as a multi-year effort to pull many of the disparate elements involved in the UFT (ICE, TJC, GEM, NYCORE plus non-affiliated) together into one group, would be the only sustainable game in town over time and turning it into a viable organization was worth putting effort into.

People went back to their corners to lick their wounds while things cooled down. One new person who walked into the storm emailed me to suggest that why don't people in MORE just work on the issues that interest them? That opened up the idea that MORE could use some open internal space for people who might not agree on everything to pursue their aims using the structure of MORE - an attractive idea to building a caucus that wanted to not be Unity. If you have an idea and others are with you and you aren't going so far off the reservation as to violate core principles then JUST DO IT. MORE began to focus more on some core stuff like supporting chapter leaders by running training and a powerful listserve as a helpline when people in their schools ran into trouble

Of all the people in MORE, one particular person held her cool and worked across the lines to put things back into order: Jia Lee. I, as one of the hotheads, received encouraging missives from Jia as did many others. Jia tirelessly - remember she is a single parent of a now 12-year old - put herself out there to find ways to make this endeavor work. 

Only a tiny sliver on the fringes of MORE saw this as an opportunity to do their own self-promotion rather than try to help put Humpty Dumpty back together again as Jia did. 

Which is just one reason why the majority of the long and short term fighters against Unity are supporting Jia Lee for UFT President.

James Eterno points to the maturing of MORE - and that is such a wonderful point. So many of us were not thinking that little babies like MORE had to go through its tantrums before learning how to work with each other or if you can't work with certain people there should be enough space for them to to their thing.

Peter Zucker's piece is also a powerful statement from someone who barely know Jia but sat next to her at the MORE meeting on Saturday and has an account of his conversation with her. Peter also saw something James and I saw - where MORE general meetings had at times been difficult, and this one had a patch of rough road too - which I will get into in a future post -- the democratic process was such a breath of fresh air given how we see the UFT operate - really an exhilarating breath of fresh air.

Peter saw what we have seen in Jia since she and Lauren Cohen walked into a More Than a Score event GEM held on testing almost 4 years ago. That event, which included Leoine Haimson, Carol Burris, Gary Rosenberg (Stuy teacher and major blogger about TFA) and Arthur Goldstein (NYC Educator)- who was supposed to attend but due to a death in the family had his statement read by the chair person of that meeting: a 7 month pregnant Julie Cavanagh who 6 weeks after giving birth accepted the MORE nomination for its first presidential candidate in the 2013 UFT elections.

Is there any better sign that MORE can go from Julie to Jia without missing a beat?

1 comment:

  1. I remember that meeting! We retreated to a watering hole afterwards where one MORE members mocked the edu blogs -in front of me and 3 major EDU bloggers! I remember thinking 'what an ass' but then noticed the person at least had the chutzpah to say it. That's when I realized MORE would eventually be just fine.

    That's also when I decided I wanted Jia to be candidate.

    Awesome post!


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