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


  1. If I am not mistaken, I believe that MORE participated in an anti-NYPD march a couple of years ago. Can't say that I was a fan of that. Otherwise I am down with everything else that MORE stands for.

    1. Many more members participated in the March which was not seen by them as anti nypd but in support of the garner family. There were many other more members who did not take part in that march me included. Due to these different points of view more put out a position that walked the line - supporting nypd rank and file and the garner family for taking this nuanced position more has continued to come under attack from people on the left and even today causes rancor internally from both sides of the issue. That is the beauty of more. Unlike unity. Open discussion and disagreement.

  2. ICE is a mix of social justice types along with trade unionist types like Jeff Kaufman, Camille, Al Zucker and me. We don't win high schools in 2016 without a mix of left, center, even some to the right and apolitical. The joint New Action MORE program was very teacher, school and union oriented.

    Norm you saw it at Francis Lewis. Most of our votes come from people that know who we are. Social justice v contract unionism is irrelevant in the schools.

    My friend Sam Lazarus is on the left for sure. When he goes into Bryant as the long time chapter leader now retired, he is respected by right, left and center and I am confident they voted for MORE-NEW ACTION in great numbers.

    I traveled to many schools in Queens in this campaign and met plenty of UFT members. I can assure you Norm the issue of the UFT failing on social justice did not come up once.

    When I called a point of order on deputy chancellor John White in 2010 at the Jamaica HS school closing hearing, John White would not stop talking so I confronted him. Who came to stand beside me and chalenged John White to go to the parking lot? It was my right wing friend Nunzio. He was ready to go to jail with me and later that year he helped me organize a very successful boycott of Santiago Taveras when he came to Jamaica. A strong union unites everyone in their shared interest.

    1. Yes James we agree on this point but there is a whole segment of people in it for the Sj aspect. It is the job of a caucus to make the connections to the bigger issues. Ed deformers used the Sj stuff to kill us through charters etc. the perception they have parents and we don't. Try to maintain tenure without public support b

    2. If a union doesn't stand up for its members, the social justice aspects don't really matter much do they? My point is your headline says, "Election Numbers - The Caucus With Social Justice "Crap" Got Almost 11,000 Votes." it was a coalition of MORE/NAC and I ask you to look at the joint program and find all of the social justice material there. You won't. To even suggest that a third of the voting teachers want a social movement union is absurd.

      Union power comes from a rank and file willing to stand up for themselves. I would be a fool to think that public support isn't important in reaching our goals but trying to rally up the general population without getting the members on board first is really putting the wagon before the horse. We see the big picture Norm. Camille and I have been talking combined action/general strike since 2005.

    3. We are not out of alignment on this. Chaz presents this as either or. SJ people need to understand that their main audience are UFT working members. The SJ critics need to understand that while appealing to this base, we cannot neglect to build roots to community and parents and also defend students interests too - since only bogus groups like deformers and Cuomo pretend student defense as a weapon to attack us. We are the only ones who can really stand up for students in the absence of anyone else. - Parents are not organized. also do not neglect the fact that there is a core of SJ UFT members who are also the core of activists we need to build a caucus since as you know the people most vocal for teacher interests only are not very interested or motivated to do the same kind of organizing work needed. Thus MORE must remain balanced like on a see saw -- tipping one way or the other and it crashes down.

  3. The media portrayed that march as anti-NYPD.

    1. The media? You mean the Ny post which portrays teachers as criminaks? Sharpton presence made it look anti nypd which is why some if us didn't go. But other mores went as support for the garner family. More more people there by far than the so called groups that attacked us for not supporting the March outright.

    2. As I've commented before --- those who do the groundwork get to fight the battles they deem important. I have no problem with that. As long as they also fight for the teacher issues that are important to me, they have my support. Teachers in my school will not be motivated by most SJ issues. I suspect this is true for most schools. There are plenty of people I work with who would agree with Chazz. My advice---focus SJ on common ground. Class size, physical environment (moldy, dirty schools) opt-out---- are SJ issues that also affect teachers. roseanne

    3. This is what makes more so interesting. If Sj orientated people pile into more in greater numbers than people orientated to issues you may deem important then the balance can tip in that direction. The problem with the Chaz pov and the people in your school who agree with him is that they generally aren't the ground troops and yet expect people to fight that battle for them. I am in the middle and support both angles and some of us in more attempt to maintain that balance. But it is a struggle at times. The Sj people are young, idealistic and willing to put their bodies on the line. From the election it is clear that more will be the only game in town and had great upside potential for merging these ideas but believe me there are people in more who want to turn more into a radical educator group that focuses mostly on social issues. They are in decent schools and don't have that same outrage older teachers seem to have. At least you seem to understand that while Chaz and others don't. They sit on the sidelines at keyboards. At least Portelos puts himself out there but his supporters like him because they want someone to fight their battles for them. He can only sacrifice himself for a limited time because he has such a young family. It is all about ground troops. Unity has jobs and conventions and perks and can martial 1000 or more ground troops. For a group like more it is a constant struggle esp since Sj activists take part in a wide range of social j actions and don't always concentrate on more work. More is open to all ideas within a reasonable range though people like Chaz would never be comfortable. I think that people with your politics would be OK as long as more doesn't tip too far which it has in the past.

  4. Ms. Katie's Ramblings has a good discussion of the limits of social justice unionism.
    The Limits of Social Justice Curriculum


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