Tuesday, May 31, 2016

UFT Elections - Mike Schirtzer on Why and How MORE Won the High Schools

We don’t come in with empty promises. We offer advice from seasoned chapter leaders that have seen it all. Sometimes we had success, sometimes we do not, but the support that MORE offers has filled the void that has been left by our union leaders. We do not proclaim to be a romanticized savior, but we have been practical in the way we help our union members.... Mike Schirtzer
Schirtzer puts some red meat on the table even before he gets his Peter Luger steak. He makes a strong case for the work MORE did on a broad range of issues putting to rest some of the laughable charges of MORE not being interested in defending teachers. Mike and I are reality based organizers and activists. I will follow in a few days with my own version with more details on the work we did. I am never as optimistic as Mike is but I am an old curmudgeon.

Why MORE Won!
By Mike Schirtzer
Social Studies Teacher and UFT Delegate Leon M. Goldstein High School, UFT Executive Board Member- MORE caucus

#MORE2016 UFT Elections: My High School Predictions On the Money As MORE Victory Costs Me Money

James Eterno is the true hero of this victory and no matter what you read elsewhere I will stand by that.
I want to share my May 24 predictions for the high schools in my general pre-election predictions (Read my full predictions in the other divisions here.)
The 7 Ex Bd high school seats
MORE came within 150 votes of Unity in the high schools (1440) but the 440 New Action votes went to Unity. We'd win those seats if the numbers stayed the same this time. It is hard to believe the vote totals in high school for Unity can fall below the 1580 they got last time (out of 19,000 ballots). They have so many CLs in so many large high schools. I'm going to guess that their upside this time is 2200 but hope I am wrong. MORE and New Action together in 2013 had around 1900. Can they pump these numbers up this time? If they don't it says something about growth of influence of the opposition in the high schools. Let's say they also increase to around 2200 which makes things neck and neck - except --
But add this time the Solidarity wild card. Since they are not on the first page of the ballot as a caucus people have to vote for individual candidates. Watch the numbers for their high school people since every one is one less for MORE/New Action and if the election is close even a couple of hundred votes for Solidarity can give Unity the high schools and 100% control of the Exec Bd.

If we don't win the high schools I get my Peter Lugers
dinner from Mike Schirtzer. If we win the high schools I will gladly cover his dinner and maybe even take a few other MOREs with us.
I will take Mike to Lugers with joy - and if anyone out there wants to join us you are welcome -- but you are paying for yourself. (Well, I will pay for Jia if she wants to come - unless she is a vegetarian.)

Here are the election results
UFT Election 2016 High school:
UNITY: 2063-2077
Solidarity: 110-121
HS Ballots returned: 4747

I didn't do too badly did I, considering 19000 ballots were sent out.

When we were given the HS returns on May 26 I did some quick math and saw that we would need 2374 to win an outright majority. That worried me since based on my predictions I didn't see us getting this number and saw Unity with some upside. Like I said, neck and neck. The Solidarity totals were less than I expected - and I think they showed that people understood that even if they wanted to vote for Portelos their vote for the HS EB MORE/NA candidates was in their interest.

Adding up the high end totals of all 3 groups I get 4490. That would mean about 250 HS votes were invalid. Those invalid votes could have made a difference.

I had to leave the count before the results were in. Before I left James Eterno, Francesco Portelos and I huddled in the hall. We suspected that AAA and Unity had info and were not sharing stuff with us. Portelos told us he had seen a number on the screens - that Jia had over 10,000 votes. But no high school numbers.

As I headed uptown to the ICE meeting ( UFT Elections - Some thoughts) I worked the numbers over. If we got over 10,000 I tried to estimate if we could have broken the 2374 mark and could not see a way to get there. I was giving Solidarity around 300 and saw Unity coming around 2200. Francesco's report gave me some hope since he didn't see if it were in the low 10000 or closer to 11000, which of course it was.

Then I thought about two wild cards this time:

Arthur Goldstein, Chapter Leader of Francis Lewis HS, one of the largest group of UFT members in the city, did a massive Get Out the Vote campaign and I myself walked out of there with about 110 sealed ballots to mail. And we guessed that another 50 or more voted. Now only the teachers votes counted for the HS Ex Bd - the high number of functionals in the school were not votes for Arthur but for the funt ex bd slate. So figure around 150 votes for the HS slate out of that school alone- last time in 2013 Arthur endorsed MORE at the end and did not do a GOTV - so I looked at FLHS as mostly new voters adding to the MORE/NA totals of last time. That put us at around 2050-2100.

Later that day we held a happy hour GOTV event for Fort Hamilton HS, an even bigger school and a long-time New Action stronghold - the returns were disappointing - if they had matched FL we would have won hands down with closer to 2400.

The other wild card was James Eterno who since Jamaica HS closed and teachers scattered, has contacts all over the Queens high schools. James alone was able to drop off close to 4000 leaflets during the election using his contact list. No one in MORE came even close to this number. His people have enormous respect for James I we hoped would be active in their schools for our slate. I figured James alone, being in a new school that never voted before plus his Jamaica HS army would give us another 200 - and so it seems it did.

James Eterno was relentless and tireless and is the true hero of this victory and no matter what you read elsewhere I will stand by that.

Soon after I got to the diner James texted that we won and I called Mike and Arthur to tell them the news.

Coming soon:
  • Mike Schirtzer on Why MORE won the high schools.
  • My own analysis of why James and Arthur were the keys to victory and how the 2 of them, along with Mike and I spent over a year and a half plotting a winning strategy --at times out of the bounds of MORE - what went right and what went wrong. How MORE chose its candidates, the sometimes difficult arrangement with New Action, the internal debates in MORE over the candidates and content of literature, and how we ended up with 5 great MORE people to go with the 2 New Action Ex Bd people, one of whom I do not know. It is an interesting and revealing tale which I will tell in multiple parts over the next few weeks that includes some skulduggery from some people within MORE and will reveal some of the problems MORE faced in the past and still faces going forward. (Come to the MORE June 11 meeting to see how things are playing out.) It is a story that at times will direct some heat at me from both MORE and New Action. But it is a story people need to know so they understand just how difficult, time consuming and wrenching this work can be when you not only have to fight Unity but even people you work with -  and why I am considering doing other things with my time, though I am always torn due to loyalty to the hard work of so many MOREs.

Monday, May 30, 2016

MORE's Katie Lapham: Recognizing Effective Teaching Without Danielson's Rubric

Where in Charlotte Danielson’s 2013 Framework for Teaching rubric, which is currently being used throughout the United States to measure teacher practice, is the component for teaching empathy, for inspiring students and for giving them tools, as well as the motivation, to keep from giving up on life?... Katie Lapham 
The quality of an organization is reflected in the people it attracts. While Jia Lee, Julie Cavanagh, Lauren Cohen and Mindy Rosier may have more recognition within the UFT, Katie Lapham, who ran for an Ex Bd elementary school position, is well-known on social media for her penetrating analysis of issues related to high stakes testing on her Critical Classrooms blog.

Here Katie drills down on what the Danielson rubric ignores and the fact that it ignores these critical factors is a condemnation of Charlotte Danielson herself for attempting to turn the art of teaching into a formula.
Recently, the talented film editor Michael Elliot produced a four-minute-long film honoring Eileen Daniel Riddle and James Gilchrist, two retired theater arts teachers from Agoura Hills, California who changed his life and those of many of his classmates. 40 years later, we are moved by the testimonials of Riddle and Gilchrist’s former students.  “I love this man so much,” exclaims one woman as she hugs James Gilchrist.  “They were the spark that set my life in motion,” remarks Michael Elliot who also credited Eileen Daniel Riddle with helping students find beauty through pain.  Please share with Michael your story of a teacher who inspired you.  Visit shoot4education.com/teacherproject
Read Katie's full piece at:

UFT Elections 2016: MORE Press Release

In a follow-up I do a reality based analysis on what led to winning the high schools while also pointing out that we are now back to where the opposition was in 2001, with still a lot less votes in the high schools than it got then.

Contacts: Ashraya Gupta
Jia Lee

NYC High School Teachers Vote for Change, Electing MORE/New Action Social Justice Slate to Union Leadership
Teachers Poised to Bring Change to Crisis-Ridden NYC Schools as National Wave of Teacher Activism Continues

NEW YORK- In an historic victory for social justice reform in the nation’s largest union local and largest school system, NYC high school teachers have created a rupture in the 56-year near-monopoly of the UFT’s Unity Caucus by electing the MORE/New Action reform slate to the union’s executive board. 

The victory will bring a voice for progressive change to the table in the union’s coming 2018 contract negotiations. The tri-annual election for the leadership of the UFT exposed a deep crisis in the New York City schools, with a new report from MORE demonstrating that 32% of NYC teachers are unable to make photocopies for their students when they need to, nearly one in five city educators works more than 20 hours of unpaid overtime per week, over half teach in overcrowded schools, and that behavior support, special education, ESL, and other mandated services for students are often criminally lacking.

Marcus McArthur, newly elected to the UFT Executive Board said, “The rank and file have cast a vote for more democracy, more teacher autonomy, and more justice for our schools. I look forward to representing their voice and collaborating with my colleagues on the executive board for a better public school system in NYC.”

Decaying working and learning conditions are generating a rank-and-file upsurge in the UFT, with vote totals evidencing a continued ebb in support for Michael Mulgrew’s Unity Caucus and a turn toward activism. MORE/New Action’s victory follows the growing national trend of social justice reformers coming to power in teachers union elections and leading strikes for critical improvements in the schools in Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Paul, Detroit, and other cities across the country in recent years.

MORE’s Executive Board member Ashraya Gupta said, “In a year when public-sector unions were under threat, it is heartening to see a vote for a more democratic UFT. The increase in voter turnout and the win for MORE and New Action means New York City teachers are mobilizing for the schools and city we deserve.”

Mike Schirtzer another new Executive Board member adds, “For far too long the leadership of our union has been disconnected from the real problems we face in our schools. They have signed on to one anti-public education policy after another, without watching out for the best interests of our members or the students we serve.”

Presidential candidate Jia Lee observed, “The high school win is a crack in the glass ceiling that keeps Unity caucus’ in power. Rank and file educators are galvanizing a more humane vision of our teaching conditions and our students’ learning conditions. There’s much more work to do, and I’m really looking forward to the future knowing we have principled voices on the executive board.”

While MORE/New Action’s victory for the high school board seats will bring much-needed change to UFT leadership, machine politics continue to dominate the union. In an effort to consolidate control over the union, in 2012 Unity Caucus increased the cap on retiree votes (a group that traditionally votes for Unity, since they led the union when they were in service) from 18,000 to 23,500. In 2013, retirees cast more than half the ballots for UFT leadership, with only 17% of active members voting. In 2016, 25% of in-service members voted, contributing 28,582 ballots, while 24,464 retirees voted, mostly for Unity Caucus.

UFT Elections - Unity and E4E Perfect Together: Chalkbeat Ignores MORE While Promoting E4E

The teacher advocacy group Educators 4 Excellence praised both Mulgrew’s election and the increased voter turnout.... Chalkbeat

Chalkbeat, the Home of Ed Deform Faux Journalism, funded by the same deformers who fund E4E, never has missed a beat to promote E4E while ignoring the real reformers - years ago in GEM and recently in MORE. Nothing speaks to this issue than their laughable article on the UFT elections. Not even a quote from someone in MORE?

I was going to write this piece Friday night. Too tired. Then Saturday night. Too tired. Then Sunday night. Too tired. Now I don't really have to write this piece because it has been done for me. Thanks to the prolific Arthur Goldstein NYC Educator, 

I was out with Arthur last night in Park Slope having a celebratory election victory drink with Julie Cavanagh and Jia Lee - what a treat hanging out with the 2 MORE presidential candidates from 2013 and 2016 schmoozing with these amazing ladies.

I told Arthur I had been planning to do a piece on the outrageous Chalkbeat UFT election coverage in this piece.

Arthur told me he had written an email to the Chalkbeat "reporter" and I said that would be a waste of time and suggested he do something on his blog. So what a joy to read Arthur's piece today, leaving me to copy and paste it and freeing me to go out and sit on my deck. Thanks Arthur - and I owe you that $12 beer at the Hilton next spring when Stronger Together challenges Unity.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Election Numbers - The Caucus With Social Justice "Crap" Got Almost 11,000 Votes

Aixa: Social justice is not crap. Teacher issues are not crap. Actually they overlap, and intersect, you know, are connected. It would be nice if all non unity caucuses dedicated efforts to address common issues and build name recognition and real victories. How about ADA accessibility for parents and students and teachers. Join with civil orgs to check crosswalks for proper curb cuts, drainage, for ramps, for deploying school safety to entrances that are ADA compliant and accessible. Training and outreach to CLs, recruitment of retirees to update retirees on what is happening. Addressing slow unjust response to reassignment and discontinuance. Addressing abusive principals. How about addressing the calendar of DA meetings and PEP meetings happening on the same day across the city from each other? How about addressing school closure as a mechanism for ageism. How about massive waste and fraud in the school renewal initiative, and implementation of engageNY. How about unsafe working conditions ducttaped walls, labs without safety equipment, ceiling panels that are falling, leaks from pipes. How about engaging with gentrification activists to force tighter work between community boards handling zoning and local CECs to bring the truth out about land use and building new schools. How about addressing the issue of a lack of transparency in mayoral control and the disenfranchisement of nyc citizens. Lets see the intersectionality of the issues and work toward documenting and addressing them with our local elected officials. Lets unleash the power of our networks and social media.... Aixa, who has fought battles on all fronts, replies to Chaz comment on my post UFT Elections - Some thoughts. 
Norm: Maybe MORE will now move away from that "social justice" crap and concentrate on "teacher justice" as James Eterno and Co advocate. When MORE eliminates the "social justice" plank, then I and others may become more involved...  Chaz
Thank you Aixa, who has been so wonderful to work with and never stops fighting for teachers, students, community - she is the perfect blend of people I hope MORE can attract - and by the way, I don't even know if she is a MORE officially but certainly she is in spirit. I hope one day she will run for MORE steering and keep MORE on track.

When we started ICE in late 2003, my friend and mentor, the late Paul Baizerman, one of the architects of the original ICE, said to me, "I'm not coming out of retirement to do this just to fight for teacher prep periods." He wanted ICE to address the defense budget and race - Paul crossed the 1968 UFT picket lines - but also was a major fighter on grievances and for teacher rights. The other retirees from our very SJ oriented group from the 70s - Vera Pavone, Ira Goldfine and Loretta and Gene Prisco came on board to work with getting ICE going - joined by Michael Fiorillo, John Lawhead, Sean Ahern, Julie Woodward, Lisa North and ask anyone - if not for these leftists, there would not have been an ICE. I would say I was the least left of the group. All of us were fierce defenders of teachers and the union - but if we stopped there we would have never got anywhere. Sorry, Chaz, you can't build an opposition movement on your politics - it has never been done and it will not happen, especially in the UFT. The right wing of the UFT will never be able to organize itself into a potent organization - but Chaz is welcome to try.

The just-completed UFT elections pretty much proved my point.
Did Jia Lee, with all her SJ "crap" not get almost 11,000 votes?

Here is the comment Chaz left on my post UFT Elections - Some thoughts.
Norm: Maybe MORE will now move away from that "social justice" crap and concentrate on "teacher justice" as James Eterno and Co advocate. When MORE eliminates the "social justice" plank, then I and others may become more involved...
Chaz doesn't get what drives people to do this work.

I have never been hassled as a teacher. My involvement in union activities came because I felt kids, not teachers were getting screwed. That was in 1970.  Call me a social justice teacher - and I fought many battles with my colleagues over the fact that we had to not only defend ourselves but also the children we taught every day.

Thus I wonder when teachers seem to want us to ignore the issues of the students who supposedly sit in front of them every day. Are they teaching widgets?

Why would MORE move away from SJ when we just made progress in the election? James and Co support MORE - obviously - even with its SJ "crap." I join James and others in MORE calling or balance, not the elimination of SJ. I replied:
I think you need to be clear. If more eliminates social justice I and most others will be out. You don't seem to get that Ice was social justice and most of us are leftist oriented. You will never find MORE as a pure caucus you want. Best you look elsewhere. What does it say that almost 11000 people voted for a group that advocates social justice crap alongside teacher justice crap. Focusing on just one or the other leads to a dead end. You are doomed to endless frustration because MORE is not going anywhere 
Our pal Roseanne McCosh, who was one of two winners of the MORE award for signing up the most people in her school to join MORE, is not a lefty or focused on SJ - but she supports MORE. She emailed at one point that as long as MORE takes care of teacher related issues, the SJ stuff doesn't bother her.

MORE needs people like Roseanne and she is my weather vane - she will let us know if things tip too far into SJ without connections to the work being done in the schools. If they tip too far the other way -- we are only about teacher interests, I'm sure there are others to let us know.

Chaz wants a pure caucus devoted only to teacher issues - in a union that at this point where classroom teachers are a smaller percentage. Where there has been a major turnover in teaching staff over the past 15 years - younger and interested in social justice issues. MORE would not exist if it did not address social justice issues in addition to teacher issues. The problem for some of us in MORE is when things tip too far or are not blended into a unified whole. Chaz doesn't get it - that people like me would never be in a narrow-minded caucus that ignores the issues affecting our students' lives. That is what brought me to activism in 1970 -- my students, not some outrage committed against me as a teacher. A prime task for a union is to pay attention to its members but also to make the connections. All the things Chaz writes about are connected to the ed deform assault on the profession and the only way to battle that is through avoiding isolation by addressing the very issues that the deformers have used to attack all of us. Chaz wrote about the impact of the Opt out movement yet voted against Jia because of her SJ "crap". In the 2019 elections he may face the same choice. Maybe he can vote against Jia in advance.

I also want to point out that ICE and our group from the 70s did not push SJ into people's faces like some MOREs are want to do -- and I can sympathize with some annoyance. If I could I would get rid of the somewhat arrogant "We are THE social justice caucus" since I believe that Unity does some good SJ work too - I won't get into that now. I could live with we are A social justice caucus. I'm stuck with 5 MORE tee-shirts but I may find a way to white out THE.

I don't care if right wingers will never vote for MORE or Unity -- we saw some very graphic examples in the returns - over 1000 ballots were invalid due to all kinds of things written on the cover without a voting box checked - I guess the frustration of the right.

But I will point out that from hanging out with some leading Unity people during the vote count, MORE and Unity have a lot more SJ commonality with each other than with the right wing of the UFT. 

So here's a message to the right wingers - go make a caucus and see how you do.

From an email to MORE: Numbers
There is a range because it's the total slate votes plus split tickets -

So to explain  in high schools Each member gets every vote from those that marked off MORE/NA but then one member of our slate got 2292 while another got 2276 because their individual tallies were different, some voters do split ticket- where instead of marking off a slate they voted for individuals.

High schools: MORE-NEW ACTION 2276-2292

UNITY: 2063-2077

Solidarity: 110-121

Middle schools:

Unity: 1649-1655


Solidarity: 179-195

Elementary schools:

Unity : 7041-7065

MORE-NEW ACTION : 2306-2333

Solidarity: 222-254


Unity : 7651-7728

MORE -NEW ACTION: 2248-2333

Solidarity : 108 -323.
From James Eterno

On this page are the vote totals from the American Arbitration Association for the officers and vice presidents.
Some of our candidates went way over 10,800 votes with Lauren Cohen leading the way and Greg DeStefano and Camille Eterno right behind. These are the highest opposition totals since 2001 and we won the high schools.

Sorry I don't have slate numbers because unlike in past elections, the AAA didn't give us them.

Jia Lee, MORE/NEW ACTION          10,743.073
Michael Mulgrew, Unity                       39,175.623
Francesco Portelos, Solidarity               1,455.958

Camille Eterno, MORE/NAC:              10,815.386
Howard Schoor, Unity                            38,851.577
Michael Herman, Solidarity:                   1,466.236

Assistant Secretary
Carol Ramos-Widom, MORE/NAC         10,773.42
Leroy Barr, Unity                                        38,858.577
Christopher Wierzbicki, Solidarity             1,466.446

Kate Martin-Bridge, MORE/NAC             10,762.691
Mel Aaronson, Unity                                   38,991.073
Victor Jordon, Solidarity                              1,387.992

Assistant Treasurer
Gregory Distefano, MORE/NAC                 10,840.012
Thomas Brown, Unity                                    38,906.127
Felix Backer, Solidarity                                 1,368.992

Vice President At Large
Minday Rosier, MORE/NAC                        10,714.317
Evelyn De Jesus, Unity                                   38,964.436
Scott Krivitsky, Solidarity                               1435.755

Vice President Elementary Schools
Lauren Cohen, MORE/NAC                            10,867.943
Karen Alford, Unity                                           38,901.127                                                     
Poonita Beemsigne, Solidarity                           1,333.439

Vice President Intermediate/Middle Schools
Nelson Santiago, MORE/NAC                         10,806.317
Richard Mantell, Unity                                       38,850.058
Nancy Zazulka, Solidarity                                   1,416.271

Vice President Academic High Schools
James Eterno, MORE/NAC                              10,762.351
Janella Hinds, Unity                                           38,866.088
John Silvers, Solidarity                                       1,440.378

Vice President CTE High Schools
Christine Gross, MORE/NAC                            10,748.557
Sterling Roberson, Unity                                     38.824.951
Judeth Napoli, Solidarity                                      1,474.137

Vice President Special Education
Margaret Hobson-Shand, MORE/NAC               10,626.622
Carmen Alvarez, Unity                                         39,119.34
Eric Severson, Solidarity                                         1,391.168

Vice President NON DOE
Anne Goldman, Unity                                              39,646.455

The fractions are there because retiree votes are capped at 24,000 so after that it is pro rated based on 24,000.

Here's Jonathan new action numbers

Rockaway Theatre Company: Follies Opens June 3

Come on down to see Broadway quality shows at the beach in Fort Tilden. The next show of the Rockaway Theatre Company opens Friday June 3 and runs for 10 performances over 3 weekends. I have a tiny part that requires me to be on stage for most of Act 1. Read all about it in my last two columns for The Wave. As you can see, the costumes are fantastic and so is the dancing and singing and acting - and I ain't talking about me.

May 20, 2016
Memo from the RTC-

Are you ready to be transported back and forth between the early 1970s and the late 1930s - early ‘40s at the Rockaway Theatre Company’s upcoming Stephen Sondheim musical, Follies (opening June 3 and running for 10 performances over three weekends - get your tickets ASAP – 718-374-6400)?
I had no knowledge of the play until I was given a small role as a party-goer in the opening scene. Thinking I would be on and off the stage in an instant I found out that I and most of the other partygoers have to remain on stage for almost the entire first act. I always thought that watching a play from on stage with the actors instead of looking up from an audience seat would be a unique experience. Now I am getting my chance.

Some of us try to hang out at the “bar” pretending to be getting a bit tipsy – though I think I will smuggle in the real stuff – method acting.

Follies is a complex story of a reunion of former performers at the Weisman Theatre in New York which over decades morphed from a music hall into a porn palace and in 1971 is about to be torn down and turned into a parking lot. The theater owner decides to hold a first and last reunion of the members of the Weisman Follies. Simple story, right? Not. In some flashbacks the younger versions of the actors come forward and then fade back into their older incarnations. This is not done with makeup but with a rotating cast of actors who must exhibit exquisite timing.

Directors Peggy Page and Michael Wotypka must manage one of the largest casts in RTC history with almost 50 cast members. The dressing room will be intense. Being on stage may be the least crowded place to be. Anyone who comes to RTC musicals knows that the singing voices will be top notch. But this musical is not only about vocals but also is focused on dancing. It is not so easy to find great dancers at a community theater, but of course the RTC never does anything half-assed. Not only is there some great dancing, but the costumes are as much a star of the show as any characters. And speaking of – the AA (always amazing) Susan Corning who not only plays a lead role, she also handles the costumes along with Kerry O’Conner. Believe me, even if you hate Sondheim music – as some people are wont to do – the dancing and costumes alone are not to be missed.

While Michael Wotypka handles behind the scenes issues, watching Peggy Page work with the massive cast, both as a group and holding individual actors is a wonder. She is all over the place – and might as well move into the theater. Peggy (who also manages the RTC box office) is a force of nature as she cajoles, nudges – gently or sternly – and demonstrates such a high level of organization and competence I want her to give us a third choice by running for president – but not until after the June 19 (Father’s Day) performance of Follies. Norm blogs at ednotesonline.org


May 27, 2016
Memo from the RTC

Susanna Graves, Bianca Ambrosio, Nicola DePierro Nellen, Krista Cederstrom and Danielle Fisher. Susanna Graves, Bianca Ambrosio, Nicola DePierro Nellen, Krista Cederstrom and Danielle Fisher.

Taking part in rehearsals for the upcoming Rockaway Theatre Company’s production of Follies makes me want to dance. Don’t worry, I won’t.
As I reported last week, as a party-goer at the 1971 reunion of the former showgirls and their past and current boyfriends, I get to see much of the show from the stage. With Nicola DePierro Nellen as dance master, the production numbers are fabulous. Nicola actually managed to coach me in the shows where I had to dance well enough to not trip over myself – and believe me; she had to be VERY patient.

Nicola started with the company when she was just 16, dancing in musicals and the Rockaway Cafes. She recruited her mom, Phyllis, who in addition to being a grandma to Nicola’s year-old daughter, Shea Irene, loves to dance as well. The RTC has been lucky to have them both on stage and off as dedicated participants. Both are hair stylists and are often asked to assist backstage to get the proper look to actress’ hair before going on. Nicola also teaches dance at Tomasina’s Dance Studio in Broad Channel. I’m getting tired just thinking of how busy she is.

Phyllis Depierro & Nicola DePierro Nellen. Phyllis Depierro & Nicola DePierro Nellen. 

 Nicola seems to take on the challenge of teaching such a large cast of dancers with relish. She taught many of them to tap in RTC Workshop classes. And boy do these ladies, who cover a wide variety of ages (no details upon penalty of being stepped on with tap shoes), tap up a storm in one of the more spectacular production numbers. Nicola’s pride is evident in her crew which consists of so many dancers who have to work so hard and practice on their own. You may even recognize a few of your neighbors dancing on stage. Don’t share this secret but you might even find a certain Wave publisher hoofing away on stage. Since I see Susan Locke at rehearsals every night I better finish this piece to meet deadline, which I miss most of the time.

RTC fans will be out in force for Follies so if you have not yet attended an RTC show that often rivals professional productions, don’t miss Follies!! Opening night is Friday, June 3, at 8:00 p.m. and will run for 10 performances over three weekends, including an added Thursday evening, June 9.

Visit www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org or call the Hotline: 718-374-6400 to reserve your seats now.
Norm blogs on education and political issues at ednotesonline.org, where you can find out who his favorite presidential candidates are.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

#MORE2016 - UFT Elections - Some thoughts

I have too much to say and too much to analyze to get into it in a beautiful Saturday - and we have to leave to go to the Red Bulls soccer game with the ITBWFS crew - Lisa Donlan and Julie  Cavanagh and spouses along with Mollie Bruhn and Darren Marelli - to see Lisa's son Alex Muyl play for the Bulls.

I assume most of the ed notes readers know the results. The wins were in the high schools and the fact that the officer slate topped 10,800 - a big jump for the opposition.

The 2 days of vote of counting were frustrating. I understand the reasons given but I still don't buy all of it - I saw AAA release loads of people to other projects and they could have been working on this to get it done.

I had scheduled an ICE meeting at 4PM and to have them tell us that we would not be done until 5 was bothersome. I wasn't going to miss my rice pudding.

ICEers - Julie, Gloria, Michael, Lisa, James, Vera and me- Ellen  Fox took the photo
So after 2 days I had to leave before the vote count - but James Eterno called to say he was on the way to the ICE meeting but offered to divert to the AAA to take my place. James, as one of the major architects of the high school victory deserved to be there to hear the results if we won. So I am so glad that happened for him as no one worked harder to make it happen - and I will tell the whole story as soon as I have time.

As usual, meeting with ICE people is one of the highlights and I aim do this more often - probably in a few weeks - and if any Ed Notes readers are interested let me know.

When I got to the ICE meeting the news was coming in and as usual this is the best group of people to be with to talk about reality. Vera said the most important work MORE and its new Ex Bd members could do was become a shadow union where Unity is not doing the work -  strengthen the movement at the school level - by inviting and meeting with teachers from schools where chapter organizing efforts could be feasible. Figuring out how to do that will be a real challenge and efforts in the past have been very spotty.

It was great having my old pal Julie Woodward showing interest again after a long hiatus - Julie came down from upstate to help on the petition gathering day in March. Julie was one of the most respected voices in the UFT by everyone - including Unity for her detailed knowledge of the contract and her fierce attempts to enforce it - as chapter leader and beyond her time as CL. Last night Julie came up with the idea of asking for people in the schools - the people not active in the groups but some of the 11,000 who voted MORE/NA to volunteer to attend one Exec Bd meeting during the year to show support for our Ex Bd people. Julie offered to take charge of the project and keep track of people who respond -- like have at least 5-10 rank and filers sit as judges at each Ex Bd meeting. We'll keep you posted as I expect many ed notes readers to join this endeavor - and at least you get a free dinner on the Unity house.

Julie, who used to do the amazing blog, Under Assault, is the kind of voice in defense of teachers that is much needed.

Retirees like Julie and Vera and Gloria Brandman and soon to be retired Lisa North and the Eternos and Ellen and Michael Fiorillo who were at the meeting are typical of the ICE mentality - I call them rational leftists who see that defense of the working UFT member is at the top of the list.That voice must be a strong factor in MORE going forward so we keep our eyes on the prize.

Not having to contend with Solidarity on the slate probably saved the high schools for us as their HS vote totals did not take too many votes from MORE/NA - besides - I think those may be people who may not have voted in the first place. Together MORE/NA and Solidarity have over 50% of the high school vote -- the first time since 2001 the opposition has been able to do that. Close to 2500 teachers voted against Unity in the HS. When we started talking about this project almost 2 years ago we had an ultimate target of 3000 HS votes and that is still a number to shoot for in the future - though it looks almost funny since over 19000 HS ballots are sent out.

The bad news is that Unity did a much better job in getting out their votes in the elementary school and topped 7000 - a nice jump for them. I predicted that Unity would hit between 6500 and 7000. MORE/NA hit around 2300 -- I was hoping to hit 3000 which would have showed progress.

The Middle Schools were the usual disaster - Unity got a big boost. Poretlos told me his strength was in the middle schools and they did their best there - with about 6% of the vote. Even adding them to ours we are still far behind Unity.

In functionals and retirees there was no progress.

So the upshot is that we basically held serve in all the divisions but the high school where we made some moves and hopefully the Ex bd seats will give us a firm base -- but I also warn that

Portelos and I did a lot of talking during the 2 days of ballot watching and I feel we broke some ground in our relationship as we aired each other's gripes. I was also good to see Paul Hogan, one of the MORE people who decided to work with Portelos. I got insight into some of the issues between the 2 groups. We will look for some common ground, though as I pointed out there are a lot of bridges to rebuild - call it our own infrastructure project. Now that the election is over I think the rancor will die down. We have very different world views -- but then I was like him in some ways when I was his age -- I will share some of the things we discussed at some future time.

When I left I shook his hand and wished him luck and told him that getting 2000 votes would be a big victory. He didn't hit that number but I still want to congratulate Portelos and Solidarity for their 1400 votes, many of them I believe are new voters, making the opposition totals around 12,000 vs the Unity totals of around 40,000. I believe that gives us a serious base to work from - if only we can get even a fraction of that 12,000 to become active participants in their schools.

After the ICE meeting I headed back to Rockaway for the first time in 3 days  and I still had to go to the RTC rehearsal of Follies - where I got to hang with my pal Tony and act like we were having a good time at a party on stage.

I finally got 8 hours sleep. And we have an 11AM call on Sunday - and every night next week before we open on June 3 - and I have as inconsequential a part as you can imagine.

Friday, May 27, 2016

#MORE2016 UFT Election Vote Count Report As Day 2 Begins - GOTV Worked - But for Whom?

Election numbers up by 10,000 - but who got those votes?
At MORE victory party - As usual I stick my big head in the way

First let me say it was wonderful hanging out with the MORE folks at the victory party last night - yes a victory for MORE for coming out of some difficult times to unite for this election and work as a team and continue building the blocks of a effective opposition.

Up almost 3000 in elementary schools, about a 1000 in MS, and 1000 in HS -- these are the 3 divisions I focus on.

But we should also note that they are up 3000 in functionals - which includes non-teachers in DOE PLUS (we found out yesterday from Unity) all District 75 teachers - something we must protest in the future -- and non-DOE people -- nurses, charter schools, home day care workers. The UFT is over half non-NYC teachers, which further locks Unity in. Retiree votes went up by 2000, but their share of the vote fell from 52% to around 46% - check my math please. Since they went over the 23,000 vote threshold for the first time their votes will be counted as .9something.

That is why I focus on the 3 divisions where retirees have no role.

You can look at the 10,000 increase in a few way. Take out the 2000 retirees and the 3000 functionals, which leaves around 5000 votes to carve up for the 3 divisions.

Let me do some speculating before seeing the numbers.

Elem: Unity dropped from 7K plus to 5K plus between 2010 and 2013 - so where did those 3000 new elem votes go this time?  I assume Unity may end up somewhere between 2010 and 2013 or maybe even it the 2010 numbers, which if they do will leave around 1000 for MORE and Solidarity to divide- say they come up somewhere around 3000-3500 between them even in a best case scenario for Unity? Maybe a little dent? Best case would be to keep Unity under 7000 and get close to 4000.

MS: 1000 more votes. Hmmm - interesting. Portelos told me he felt Solidarity had some strength in the MS - so if a nice portion of those 1000 went to him and MORE/NA increased their paltry totals from 2013 and Unity took a portion we might see some uptick there.

HS: This is the big battle. Feelings are Unity and MORE/NA are running neck and neck and Solidarity votes make the difference. I do not subscribe the the theory that all Solidarity votes come out of the MORE batch since I assume they brought some new voters to the scene. As Eterno points out, if either MORE/NA or Unity gets in the range of 2370 they win a majority. Thus Solidarity becomes the wild card here.

Since opposition totals have not varied all that much in the elections from 2004 on (Unity totals have bounced around), we use the last election as a base of sorts. If you want to check the 2013 results, see the MORE post:

For the first time I can remember we don't have results the same day the count began. Count resumes today at 8AM and I will be there. I couldn't blog yesterday due to bad wifi at the AAA which was in the basement of 120 Broadway. Being in a room from  9 AM-6PM with a batch of Unity/UFT leaders, along with Portelos and some Solidarity people, joined by some MORE/New Action, turned into quite a party.  Spent a lot of time chatting with Portelos and Paul Hogan about all kinds of stuff - he promised me he wasn't taping and wouldn't post any of my comments in the future.

But I'll get into some of those details over the weekend if I have time (see Afterburn for why I may not have time this weekend.)

James Eterno has the details we were calling in to him yesterday and I am repeating his entire reports below. James intends to hobble into town later to meet us at the diner for the ICE rice-pudding fest.


Camille Eterno and Norm Scott are reporting from the American Arbitration Association where votes are being counted in the UFT Election. Here are the latest numbers from Norm:

53,000 voted, that is up 10,000 from 2013.

Only about 2000 of that increase came from retirees who in 2016 make up 46% of the voters. In 2013, retirees made up 52% of the voters.

We have a breakdown of where the votes came from.

10,026 came from elementary schools compared to 7331 in 2013 and 10,292 in 2010.

2856 came from middle schools compared to 1879 in 2013 and 2881 in 2010.

4747 came from high schools compared to 3808 in 2013 and 5203 in 2010.

10,933 came from functionals (non teachers) compared to 7704 in 2013 and 10,629 in 2010.

24,464 came from retirees compared to 22,462 in 2013.

It looks like it is going to be a very long night as new rules mean slate voters could still vote for individuals under some circumstances.

In addition, all of the Portelos/Solidarity votes are non-slate and will take time to sort out.

As for the possibility of MORE-NEW ACTION winning the high schools, we would need 2374 high school votes to get our candidates majorities. That would mean an increase of 492 from the combined MORE-NEW ACTION's slate totals from 2013 of 1882. It is a bit of a lift.

Unity would need an increase of a combination of their votes and the new Solidarity votes of 782 compared to 2013 Unity totals of 1592 slate votes to win high schools outright.

It might be very close in the high schools. We ask as we did before: where did those new voters go?

The total number of ballots that were printed and mailed is 189,469 (53,026 voted; Return Rate=28%)
o   Elementary: 35,606 (10,026 voted; Return Rate=28.2%)
o   JHS: 11,197  (2856 voted; Return Rate= 25.5.%)
o   HS (Academic/CTE): 19,539   (4747 voted; Return Rate=24.2%)
o   Functional Chapters: 46, 731   (10,933 voted; Return Rate=23.4%)
o   Retiree: 62,991   (24,464 voted; Return Rate=38.8%)


It's been an intense few days. Weds night I went to a 5 hour Shakespeare presentation by the Irondale Ensemble in Fort Greene and didn't get back to my apartment until 1AM. I woke up at 4:30, hit the gym for a while and was at AAA from 9-6, then off to the MORE victory party until 10PM, where I proved I don't know how to take a selfie.

I expected a free day in the city today until the 4PM ICE election analysis but now have to head back over to the AAA until who knows what time. And through all this I am missing rehearsals at the Rockaway Theatre Company for Follies which is opening next Friday.

And tomorrow we are getting together with the crew that did our movie - Mollie, Darren, Julie and Lisa D. with all our spouses to see the Red Bulls soccer match - my first ever soccer game - with Lisa's son Alex on the team. Since this is the start of hell week at the RTC there are rehearsals both Sat and Sunday. Monday is the only day off - and these rehearsals last for HOURS.

OK - I'm going to stop bitching - I don't have to go into a school and deal with admin slugs -- and get ready to leave for the AAA.

Looking forward to the ICE gathering today at 4PM to schmooze about the election and eat rice pudding.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#MORE2016, UFT Elections - Questions Raised Re: Counting Process

Unity caucus won't try to steal an election until they have to - is 2016 the time?

Francesco Portelos has asked to be allowed to go with AAA reps to the post office and back today and to observe whatever takes place prior to the count tomorrow and Amy Arundel, head of the election committee has granted this access to MORE/NA and Solidarity for today at noon - my question to them would be - the AAA has been going to the post office to pick up ballots a few times a day for 3 weeks - anything that might have happened pretty much already happened.

By the way-- ballots can still be delivered to AAA up to tomorrow morning.

I have a haircut at noon today so I'll leave it to Portelos or any of the Solidarity people to supply the armed guard for the AAA. I'll get into some of their concerns below.

If you read my analysis yesterday (UFT Elections: Why Is This Election Different? Or is it?) you'll see that my predictions of a year ago that we can't win this election haven't changed very much. So at Thursday's vote count I don't expect any great surprises.

But there are always conspiracy theorists who believe there are shenanigans going on. After all, everyone they talk to are against Mulgrew so how can we lose? How many people have told me their entire school voted for MORE? They told me that last time too. The only explanation they have is that Unity and the American Arbitration Association have an "arrangement."

What of the AAA -- any scandal would ruin their business so any overt cheating would be so risky as to kill them. If it were discovered. I don't think they can afford to take the chance. But are there more subtle ways to cheat?

Let's examine this issue.

The UFT - which is Unity - hires the AAA - they are their bosses and the AAA has to cater to them in order to hold onto their contract. So there is an inherent conflict of interest. At the count Leroy Barr seems to play a dual role - as a Unity rep and as the UFT guy in charge -- the AAA guy goes to him for directions and certain decision making - I saw it - some consultations went on. But no signs of cheating. But ballot counting orgs have been guilty of cheating in the past and at some point if enough money changed hands and things could be covered up, I consider anything possible.

We have been able to observe the vote counts as they run through the machines.

But what happens from the time the mail is picked up until the outer envelopes are processed? Amy emailed me that they are processed and I asked for more info on what that means - like if processing means they outer ballots are opened? She told me they are not opened. So that means they are sorted into divisions - easy due to different colors.

But does processing also mean they the back with the names on them are scanned so the people who vote are checked off - and can't vote more than once? Or does all that take place tomorrow?
Last time I got there pretty early and envelopes were already opened so I was concerned.

So one concern is the tracking of who votes, the connections to their schools and whether there is any sorting going on around that issue as ballots come in over the 3 weeks. We know Unity has access to this info - are they being given info as results come in from AAA? That isn't illegal I guess since the group that hires the AAA has the right to data- but when the UFT is = to Unity then that is fuzzy.

So say after the first week Unity knows how many ballots are coming in from schools up to that point -- they can know to push their people harder in their schools. We have no way of knowing if there is a fire wall between AAA and Unity from the day they take charge - and what about backroom info passing from their longtime contacts at AAA?

Imagine the batch of ballots from Francis Lewis HS - I mailed 125 at one time. Now if someone had access to these ballots theoretically, knowing they were from a school most likely to vote for MORE, some pruning of ballots could take place.

Now do I think this is happening? No. This would totally destroy the AAA business if discovered and there is no chance they would do this - unless Unity has some access.

The only way to kill rumors they might be happening is for us to be able to spot check the list of who voted and from what schools. But I would want to know if there are updates given to Unity as the election proceeds.

Portelos is concerned that since his caucus does not appear on the front page, his only votes can come from people who send in the entire booklet, which can be judged by the envelope weight. The conspiracy would be for the heavier envelopes to be dumped.

One way to check is to compare percentage of booklets/vs slate sheet only returned to past elections. I expect due to this situation there will be a higher number of booklets returned than in the past. I saw a lot of people at Francis Lewis who voted MORE return their booklets. I bet lots of Unity people may have done so too.
This year's change is that if someone marks a slate and votes inside the booklet  the ballot is not invalidated - the slate takes priority - but the booklet has to be opened, pulled apart and scanned - which takes hours. Last time they weren't even finished when we left to go to the MORE party. These booklet votes are not game changers and when we tabulate votes we ignore them as a factor.

Would Unity Caucus ever play dirty in elections? You bet they would. We have seen them play dirty in chapter elections where an opposition person was running against a Unity slug, even in one case, having the school administration trump up charges against an ICE person running for Chapter Leader and putting him in the rubber room just 2 weeks before the election --he ran his campaign from the rubber room and got almost 40% of the vote - 6 months later he was exonerated but the retaliation against him killed his career and he took early retirement. In other cases the borough office threw out the winning ballot of an ICE CL to force another election and managed to run the election in a way that the ICE candidate couldn't campaign. Just a few war stories.

But the major elections? Any signs in the past of cheating.

Faced with possibly losing an election, they would do anything to hold onto power. And would be backed by all the powers that be - including the courts. After all, when Mike Shulman beat their HS VP candidate in 1985 Unity had the nerve to go to court to challenge it and prevent Shulman from being seated. The court actually ruled that another election had to be held -- which in itself was unbelievable. But that backfired and Shulman won the redo by a greater margin. The problem was that Unity managed to disrupt his 2 year term and shrink it into just over a year, not giving him time to organize a base for the next election. The other members of the AdCom met secretly without him to shut him out. They swore this would never happen again and in 1994 changed the rules so that the high school teachers would never again elect a VP.

Since no one thinks they are in any danger of losing this election - correction - some people in Solidarity, after assuring supporters they will win, think the only way they can lose is if the election is stolen. So no matter what the results, they will create doubt about the outcome and people will be willing to believe them.

So they float conspiracy theories.

I believe there will be a day when Unity is facing a serious threat - and when that happens every ball will be in the air.

Well, off to get my hair cut. And tonight a 4 hour Shakespeare event based on the book :1599 by James Shapiro -- Julius Caesar - was one of them and what better way to prep for tomorrow's vote count than assassinations and conspiracies?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

#MORE2016 - Ma Nishtona - UFT Elections: Why Is This Election Different? Or is it?

Is the 2016 UFT election really different? Well, in some ways it is and in some ways it isn't. Let's explore the similarities and differences.

May 24, 2016

With the UFT election vote count 2 days away, this is a good time to do some speculation. I'm not going to claim flat out that this election is different but there are a few interesting wrinkles out there that might move the needle one way or the other, though I don't expect the needle to move very much either way. Like suddenly MORE/NA numbers double, which would be a significant break. Flying seat of the pants, I don't see those signs.

Expectations in the opposition are always higher than they should be - I can't think of one election where I wasn't disappointed in the numbers. In 2013, not having moved the needle much at all, I felt the results for MORE, given the combination of groups coming together, were below expectations even though all totals were somewhat higher for MORE than they were for TJC/ICE in 2010 while being much lower for Unity and New Action.

But all that told me was that some people had switched votes toward MORE but not of a hell of a lot of people and  not a lot of people who hadn't voted before were voting.

The newer activists in MORE were excited and when I arrived at the 2013 "victory" party where 75 people were celebrating, I was not exuberant. One guy came over and pleaded with me to be "up" and so I used my method acting skills to show enthusiasm. Then had a few beers and happiness was easy to find.

This time I'm going to drink before the party so I don't have to do any acting. Come on down and help me drown my sorrows in my last election hurrah Thursday at the Dark Horse: morecaucusnyc: Celebrate With Us Thursday Night!

I will be celebrating the end of my final election campaign as I edge into retirement.

Here are some speculations on this election and what may be different this time.

The Jia Lee and opt-out factor
The growth of the opt out movement and Jia Lee's connection to it should be a factor. Jia is certainly somewhat better known in some quarters than Julie Cavanagh was in 2013 due to opt out. One Long Island resident who is a chapter leader stopped by at the DA to say that she has no idea who Jia is but she is an opt out supporter and opt out leader Jeannette Deutermann likes Jia and that was good enough for her. People come up to Jia on subways or in the streets, so there has been some imprint.

Question for me is just how many NYC teachers are in favor of opt out or see it as a threat? If votes go up consider the opt out issue as a factor.

The 2014 contract impact
20-25% voted NO with a batch of others voting YES under the gun - with Mulgrew telling them we would bankrupt the city. How many are aware that soon after the city announced a $2 billion surplus and other unions did better?

Do people who don't like the contract and the retro make that connection to this election?

Don't count any chickens because so many people don't make the connections. Should MORE have done a better job of telling people that?

Will high contract vote carry over to this election?
In school voting is very different from ballots coming to the home but I don't favor in school voting as long as there are so many embedded Unity chapter leaders in charge of the ballot in the school.

But since around 94% of the 108,000 DOE UFT members voted in the contract vote, over 20,000 people voted NO, 16000 teachers and 4000 support (functionals). (Retirees and non DOE people did not vote.) An opposition wet dream is having them all vote against Unity but expect only the usual low turnout which given the past would translate about 4-5000 of these votes into the opposition - many of them the same anti-Unity suspects from 2013. 6600 anti-Unity votes this time from classroom teachers (out of 66000 ballots sent out would give the opposition 10% of the working teachers.

Are people unhappy in schools?
That's what everyone is telling me. That morale is low. But do they blame the UFT or the DOE for that? The late Gene Prisco used to always say that the Unity leadership has a missile deflection shield. The opposition up to now has not been able to get deep penetration into enough schools to make the point that the Unity Caucus is complicit. Unless MORE has an active person in the school to tell people this most people don't make the connection because they do not know about the role of Randi and Mulgrew and the UFT in supporting so many aspects of ed deform.

Unity ran a lower key campaign than in 2013
They didn't really go after MORE/New Action in public though behind the scenes the Unity people did a lot of trash talk in their schools. No open attacks on MORE as being a fringe socialist group though I bet that is what Unity people tell people.

I also didn't see as much glossy literature as last time -- and the drop in their votes in 2013 from 2010 was significant so it didn't do any good.  One theory is that Unity in house surveys said that negative campaigning suppresses the vote and so they toned it down.

Will Unity vote totals go up or down?
The needle really moved down for Unity in 2013. But that happened in 2004 and then they rose back up in 2007.

I think the Unity totals will move up this year despite people telling me that everyone is so unhappy and this is the first election since the 2014 contract. One can argue that the 75% who voted for it will carry over for more Unity votes this time. Unity seems to be paying more attention to getting out their vote this time.

The MORE/New Action campaign
A major change was not having a confusing first page of the ballot like the past 6 elections where in addition to Unity there were 2 other groups with the confusion that a vote for New Action was also a vote for Unity. But people who are aware and support Solidarity can open the book and check off their 32 candidates. Not heavy lifting - if MORE/NA supporters wanted to do that they would have to track down 300 candidates.

It was certainly easier to have New Action on board this time. More money and more manpower so more schools may have been covered with leaflets. But I don't believe that stuffing 100,000 leaflets necessarily has much effect.

Social media
What was different was a more effective social media campaign run by Dan Lupkin - but we don't know how much difference that makes and will make for an interesting post election analysis.

Impact of Solidarity
As for Solidarity, which ran a big social media campaign, votes for their individual candidates, while coming from MORE/NA totals are still opposition to Unity and when we tabulate the vote we can say that by combining the MORE/New Action and Solidarity totals we can get a snapshot of how many people feel strongly enough to vote against Unity.

I'll make a stab at 25% total between MORE/NA and Solidarity which would match the contract opposition vote. Anything above 30% would put up a danger sign for Unity. And for those who keep whining that if only all the groups had gotten together they could have won the election, get a dose of reality. Unity won 80% in 2013 and closer to 90% of the retirees' 23,000 votes.

The 7 Ex Bd high school seats
MORE came within 150 votes of Unity in the high schools but the 440 New Action votes went to Unity. We'd win those seats if the numbers stayed the same this time. It is hard to believe the vote totals in high school for Unity can fall below the 1580 they got last time (out of 19,000 ballots). They have so many CLs in so many large high schools. I'm going to guess that their upside this time is 2200 but hope I am wrong. MORE and New Action together in 2013 had around 1900. Can they pump these numbers up this time? If they don't it says something about growth of influence of the opposition in the high schools. Let's say they also increase to around 2200 which makes things neck and neck - except --

But add this time the Solidarity wild card. Since they are not on the first page of the ballot as a caucus people have to vote for individual candidates. Watch the numbers for their high school people since every one is one less for MORE/New Action and if the election is close even a couple of hundred votes for Solidarity can give Unity the high schools and 100% control of the Exec Bd. Even if high school people wanted to vote for Portelos there is hope they realize the possible outcome if they vote for the Solidarity high school people. Chaz seemed to take that approach.

If we don't win the high schools I get my Peter Lugers dinner from Mike Schirtzer. If we win the high schools I will gladly cover his dinner and maybe even take a few other MOREs with us.

Middle Schools - 5 Ex Bd seats
Unity totals were very low last time - around 1150 out of almost 12000 sent out. But MORE and New Action MS votes together were - and have been over the past 4 election cycles a joke. Theoretically if Unity stayed the same and MORE/New Action doubled their vote they win these seats. But Solidarity voters might skim off enough to prevent that. However it is hard to imagine doubling a vote from last time so don't expect that to happen - though it would great to be wrong.

Elem schools
For me this is the bellwether as to whether things are breaking bad for Unity. Only when the opposition can show they have enough outreach to the almost 1000 elementary schools (k-8 school included), will Unity have to worry. Their vote totals dropped heavily in 2013 while MORE ticked up but not enough to get within shouting range. MORE and NA last time were less than 2000.

MORE/NA would have to double their votes here and Unity would have to stay the same before Unity has to worry. Since these are not winnable this year any votes for Solidarity does no harm and if we add the totals we can get a sense of whether opposition to Unity is growing in elem schools.

While many people in the non-teaching chapters of the union are not happy, there has been too little outreach or connections to these chapters for MORE/NA to make much of a dent. I am not in touch enough to even dare to make a prediction.

We know that these numbers are very high for Unity. I expect an  uptick for MORE/NA due to the anger of recent retirees over the past few years. Given 23,000 retiree votes, 3000 votes would knock Unity down to 85%. 4000 would be wonderful.

The Bernie-Hillary battle, the AFT endorsement and the Randi connection
This a unique situation taking place simultaneously with the UFT elections. There are a lot of people pissed off at Randi and also Hillary for both their stands on education and how they try to cover their ed deform tendencies. But will that translate into votes for MORE? For those who are aware, maybe.

Given the demographics of the primaries to they translate into the UFT elections where younger Bernie supporters vote for MORE? How about race? Do black teachers vote Unity the way they voted for Hillary? I would bet yes -- the heavy  districts with a lot of black teachers like Brooklyn's Dist 13, 16, 17 and Harlem's Dist. 5. There is also the factor that many of the CLs in these districts are black and also in Unity.  And many are older which fits the Hillary demographic. Younger black teachers may be Bernie supporters and might connect to MORE.

Well, that is it for this pre-election analysis. The count is at the AAA headquarters which is surprising as in the past they rented a hotel with lots of space. Leroy Barr is usually there repping Unity - which  is a conflict of interest since AAA reports to him and asks him for directions. Mulgrew won't be there but expect Portelos and Jia Lee -- hey maybe Portelos can finally get that debate.