Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Breaking: MORE Will Not Save the World - But There's Plenty of Other Stuff to Do

IMPORTANT REMINDER: reserve your tickets now to Leonie Haimson's Skinny award dinner this Thursday night, June 9 at 6:30 PM at Il Bastardo/Bocca Di Bacco 191 7th Ave (21st St).--- see AfterBurn below

I'm taking a few minutes out of our 3-day 45th Anniversary celebration ----- we staggered home after a great dinner at Park Avenue Summer.

I have very modest goals for what MORE can realistically accomplish. I do not see us running the UFT in the near future. Nor do I foresee MORE having much more than a minor impact on changing UFT policy in the near future. So what's the point of doing all this work you might say? Call me a Debbie Downer.

My feelings are that a group like MORE must exist in the UFT - as a place to provide services and support the Unity Caucus leadership is not able or willing to provide - ie, effective chapter leader support instead of having union officials dictate their agenda.

MORE must also exist as a safe place for like-minded people to go - to share ideas, to talk about both the big and small things, to be in the same space with others who want to debate ideas, read books together - like MORE is doing this summer.

MORE cannot just be a debating society or book club. Nor can it solely provide services and support.

It must also continue to contend with Unity on all UFT playing fields.

Yet to do this kind of work takes dedicated people who are mostly full-time teachers, often with families. To accomplish an ambitious agenda MORE needs man and woman power to do the organizing work. And there are not a lot of people who are willing to do this work. Division of labor does work - where some people take on a small sliver of the work and stick with it.

Janice Manning is handling the organizing of the summer book reading. And there is quite a list of choices -- we are voting on it right now. The list is a mix of social justice and hard core union. Janice is serving her 2nd term on MORE steering. I had the chance to get to know Janice one evening when we were the only 2 people to show up to a study group. What an interesting lady with an interesting life - she has lived all over the country and abroad too. Getting to meet and know people like Janice is one of the great perks of being in MORE.

I may offer to host the Marjorie Murphy "Blackboard Unions" group if there is interest. Though I must put "The Art of War" on my list.

I also offered to do the MORE July 6 summer series event on the history of UFT opposition caucuses and how the lessons we've learned can be a guide going forward.

While you might not have time to engage in MORE on a regular basis you might find some of these other activities of interest. If you are around this summer you might enjoy taking part in some of these events.

Here are the suggested list of books that are being voted on by MORE members.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, written by educator Paulo Freire, proposes a pedagogy with a new relationship between teacher, student, and society. It was first published in Portuguese in 1968, and was translated by Myra Ramos into English and published in 1970.[1] The book is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy.Dedicated to what is called "the oppressed" and based on his own experience helping Brazilian adults to read and write, Freire includes a detailed Marxist class analysis in his exploration of the relationship between what he calls "the colonizer" and "the colonized".In the book Freire calls traditional pedagogy the "banking model" because it treats the student as an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge, like a piggy bank. However, he argues for pedagogy to treat the learner as a co-creator of knowledge.

Why Labor Organizing Should Be a Civil Right

Labor Organizing as a Civil Right lays out the case for a new approach, one that takes the issue beyond the confines of labor law by amending the Civil Rights Act so that it prohibits discrimination against workers trying to organize a union. The authors argue that this strategy would have two significant benefits. First, enhanced penalties under the Civil Rights Act would provide a greater deterrent against the illegal firing of employees who try to organize. Second, as a political matter, identifying the ability to form a union as a civil right frames the issue in a way that Americans can readily understand.The book explains the American labor movement's historical importance to social change, it provides data on the failure of current law to deter employer abuses, and it compares U.S. labor protections to those of most other developed nations. It also contains a detailed discussion of what amending the Civil Rights Act to protect labor organizing would mean as well as an outline of the connection between civil rights and labor movements and analysis of the politics of civil rights and labor law reform.

Rules for Radicals

First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky's impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.” Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.

The Teacher Wars

In The Teacher Wars, a rich, lively, and unprecedented history of public school teaching, Dana Goldstein reveals that teachers have been embattled for nearly two centuries. She uncovers the surprising roots of hot button issues, from teacher tenure to charter schools, and finds that recent popular ideas to improve schools—instituting merit pay, evaluating teachers by student test scores, ranking and firing veteran teachers, and recruiting “elite” graduates to teach—are all approaches that have been tried in the past without producing widespread change. The Teacher Wars upends the conversation about American education by bringing the lessons of history to bear on the dilemmas we confront today. By asking “How did we get here?” Dana Goldstein brilliantly illuminates the path forward.

Reds at the Blackboard

The New York City Teachers Union shares a deep history with the American left, having participated in some of its most explosive battles. Established in 1916, the union maintained an early, unofficial partnership with the American Communist Party, staffing key positions with members who were sympathetic to party goals. Clarence Taylor recounts this pivotal relationship and the backlash it created, as the union threw its support behind controversial policies and rights movements. Taylor's research reaffirms the party's close ties with the union; yet, at the same time, makes clear that the organization was anything but a puppet of communist power.

Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below

Critical reading for all who care about the future of labor, Solidarity Unionism draws deeply on Staughton Lynd's experiences as a labor lawyer and activist in Youngstown, Ohio, and on his profound understanding of the history of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The book helps us begin to put not only movement, but also vision, back into the labor movement. There is a blossoming of rank-and-file worker organizations throughout the world that are countering rapacious capitalists and labor leaders who think they know more about work and struggle than their own members. To secure the gains of solidarity unions, Lynd has proposed parallel bodies of workers who share the principles of rank-and-file solidarity and can coordinate the activities of local workers' assemblies. Detailed and inspiring examples include experiments in workers' self-organization across industries in steel-producing Youngstown, as well as horizontal networks of solidarity formed in a variety of U.S. cities and successful direct actions overseas. This book is not a prescription but reveals the lived experience of working people continuously taking risks for the common good.

The Art of War

Beyond its military and intelligence applications from earliest days to the present time, THE ART OF WAR has been applied to many fields well outside of the military. Much of the text is about how to fight wars without actually having to do battle: it gives tips on how to outsmart one's opponent so that physical battle is not necessary. As such, it has found application as a training guide for many competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat. There are business books applying its lessons to office politics and corporate strategy. Many companies make the book required reading for their key executives. The book is also popular among Western business management, who have turned to it for inspiration and advice on how to succeed in competitive business situations. It has also been applied to the field of education. The Art of War has been the subject of law books and legal articles on the trial process, including negotiation tactics and trial strategy.

Uncivil Rights

Almost fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, a wealth of research shows that minority students continue to receive an unequal education. At the heart of this inequality is a complex and often conflicted relationship between teachers and civil rights activists, examined fully for the first time in Jonna Perrillo’s Uncivil Rights, which traces the tensions between the two groups in New York City from the Great Depression to the present.While movements for teachers’ rights and civil rights were not always in conflict, Perrillo uncovers the ways they have become so, brought about both by teachers who have come to see civil rights efforts as detracting from or competing with their own goals and by civil rights activists whose aims have de-professionalized the role of the educator. Focusing in particular on unionized teachers, Perrillo finds a new vantage point from which to examine the relationship between school and community, showing how in this struggle, educators, activists, and especially our students have lost out.

Blackboard Unions

The history of unionization of teachers, with the movement's complexities and inconsistencies--from the 1902 Clarke School strike in Chicago to the 1968 Ocean Hill-Brownsville strike in New York City--is ably chronicled in this detailed study. Beginning with school centralization at the turn of the century, the author, history professor at Swarthmore College, follows the slow pace of unionism until its "coming of age" in 1961 with the acceptance of collective bargaining that focused attention on the rights of teachers and the concept of professionalism. The first teachers' union, the American Federation of Teachers, affiliated itself with the American Federation of Labor, thus becoming a unique element in the labor movement. The contradictions faced by unionized public employees, the rivalry between AFT and NEA (National Educational Association) are analyzed in a significant study that will be of interest to professionals.

The New Jim Crow

Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action."

Are Prisons Obsolete?

With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Y. Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life; the abolition of the prison. As she quite correctly notes, American life is replete with abolition movements, and when they were engaged in these struggles, their chances of success seemed almost unthinkable. For generations of Americans, the abolition of slavery was sheerest illusion. Similarly, the entrenched system of racial segregation seemed to last forever, and generations lived in the midst of the practice, with few predicting its passage from custom. The brutal, exploitative (dare one say lucrative?) convict-lease system that succeeded formal slavery reaped millions to southern jurisdictions (and untold miseries for tens of thousands of men, and women). Few predicted its passing from the American penal landscape. Davis expertly argues how social movements transformed these social, political and cultural institutions, and made such practices untenable.

Justice, Justice School Politics and the Eclipse of Liberalism

In 1968, a bitter struggle broke out between white New York City teacher unionists and black community organizers over efforts to create community control of the city’s schools. The New York conflict reverberated across the United States, calling into question the possibility of creating equitable schools and cementing racial antagonism at the center of American politics. A path-breaking study of teacher organizing, civil rights movement activism, and urban education, Justice, Justice: School Politics and the Eclipse of Liberalism recounts how teachers’ and activists’ ideals shaped the school crisis and placed them at the epicenter of America’s racial conflict. Taking into account much of twentieth-century American history to uncover the roots of the school conflict, this book illuminates the dilemmas and hopes that continue to shape urban schools.

What's Race Got to Do with It?

Within critical discussions of school reform, researchers and activists are often of two camps. Some focus their analyses on neoliberal economic agendas, while others center on racial inequality. These analyses often happen in isolation, continuing to divide those concerned with educational justice into «It’s race!» vs. «It’s class!» camps. What’s Race Got To Do With It? brings together these frameworks to investigate the role that race plays in hallmark policies of neoliberal school reforms such as school closings, high-stakes testing, and charter school proliferation. The group of scholar activist authors in this volume were selected because of their cutting-edge racial economic analysis, understanding of corporate reform, and involvement in grassroots social movements. Each author applies a racial economic framework to inform and complicate our analysis of how market-based reforms collectively increase wealth inequality and maintain White supremacy. In accessible language, contributors trace the historical context of a single reform, examine how that reform maintains and expands racial and economic inequality, and share grassroots stories of resistance to these reforms. By analyzing current reforms through this dual lens, those concerned with social justice are better equipped to struggle against this constellation of reforms in ways that unite rather than divide.

Police in the Hallways: Discipline in an Urban High School

As zero-tolerance discipline policies have been instituted at high schools across the country, police officers are employed with increasing frequency to enforce behavior codes and maintain order, primarily at poorly performing, racially segregated urban schools. Actions that may once have sent students to the detention hall or resulted in their suspension may now introduce them to the criminal justice system. In Police in the Hallways, Kathleen Nolan explores the impact of policing and punitive disciplinary policies on the students and their educational experience.

The Strike that Changed New York

On 9th May 1968, junior high school teacher Fred Nauman received a letter that would change the history of New York City. It informed him that he had been fired from his job. Eighteen other educators in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville area of Brooklyn received similar letters that day. The dismissed educators were white. The local school board that fired them was predominantly African-American. The crisis that the firings provoked became the most racially divisive moment in the city in more than a century, sparking three teachers' strikes and increasingly angry confrontations between black and white New Yorkers at bargaining tables, on picket lines, and in the streets.

Reviving the Strike

In Reviving the Strike, labor lawyer Joe Burns draws on economics, history and current analysis in arguing that the labor movement must redevelop an effective strike based on the now outlawed traditional labor tactics of stopping production and workplace-based solidarity. The book challenges the prevailing view that tactics such as organizing workers or amending labor law can save trade unionism in this country. Instead, Reviving the Strike offers a fundamentally different solution to the current labor crisis, showing how collective bargaining backed by a strike capable of inflicting economic harm upon an employer is the only way for workers to break free of the repressive system of labor control that has been imposed upon them by corporations and the government for the past seventy-five years.

Strike Back

During the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of thousands of teachers, sanitation workers, and other public employees rose up to demand collective bargaining rights in one of the great upsurges in US labor history. These workers were able to transform the nature of public employment, win union recognition for millions, and ultimately force reluctant politicians to pass laws allowing for collective bargaining and even the right to strike. Strike Back uncovers this history of militancy to provide tactics for a new generation of public employees facing unprecedented attacks on their collective bargaining rights.Joe Burns is the author of Reviving the Strike: How Working People Can Regain Power and Transform America. A veteran union negotiator and labor lawyer, he has negotiated contracts in the airline and health care industries. He has a law degree from New York University, and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

After Burn
Also don't forget this Thursday night's Skinny Awards dinner:
Please reserve your tickets now to our Skinny award dinner this Thursday night, June 9 at 6:30 PM at Il Bastardo/Bocca Di Bacco 191 7th Ave (21st St).

We will be honoring investigative reporter Juan Gonzalez, who is retiring from the Daily News after 30 years. Juan has uncovered some of the biggest scandals in the innermost workings of our city and our schools, saving taxpayers literally hundreds of millions of dollars in the process, and always standing up for the rights of workers, students and the marginalized.

We will also be giving an award to Robert Powell who recently resigned from the Panel for Educational Policy, after being the only PEP member to vote against a hugely inflated contract for a computer internet company originally slated at $1.1 billion and later cancelled by City Hall.

The Skinny award dinner is always one of the most fun evenings of the year, allowing us to join together to celebrate the work of so many of our heroes and allies in the fight to support our public schools. Attendees will include historian/advocate Diane Ravitch, new Board of Regents member Luis Reyes, and a surprise special guest.

Please join us, but if you cannot, please consider making a donation to Class Size Matters to support our work going forward.


Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

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