Wednesday, June 1, 2016

UFT Elections: Winning the High Schools - Part 1

While MORE/NA won the high schools, let's not jump for joy and call it a smashing victory, as Kit Wainer points out in this deep analysis of the election:
In the High Schools MORE/New Action’s vote share [from their combined 2013 totals] actually declined slightly from roughly 54% to roughly 51%. It is difficult to know how Solidarity/Portelos votes would have gone had they not been on the ballot.
Read Kit's important insights,  not all of which I agree with, at
2016 UFT election results: Some Good News, But A Great Deal Of Work Still To Do
With the Solidarity vote added to the MORE/NA totals we would have held our own from 2013 - remember - the NA votes in 2013 went to Unity. We could just as easily lost if Unity had managed to bring out just 300 more votes.

So despite all the work I describe below and will describe in the rest of this series - we held steady. But I contend we would would not have won if it were not for the efforts of a few people- and the New Action alliance.

What changed between 2013 and 2016? Eterno and Goldstein and Schirtzer and alliance with New Action -- Keys to MORE HS Victory

I touched on some of this yesterday

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

but I want to go into this in more depth:

In 2013 Arthur Goldstein, CL of Francis Lewis HS, one of the largest high school voting block in the city, did not run with MORE - he was never asked - my responsibility since I was his contact in MORE and didn't think he wanted to run because I had the impression after the 2010 election when he did run that he would run when we had a shot at winning and in 2013 there was no chance given the New Action/Unity alliance. Arthur didn't endorse MORE until the very end and did not do a GOTV campaign in his school. I bet we got very few votes from FL in 2013.

In 2016 the situation was reversed- In July 2015 Arthur said he would run and promised an energetic and enthusiastic campaign in his school. And so he did. He strongly advocated for an alliance with New Action as a key to winning.

I would bet at least half our margin of victory came from his school alone. While Arthur has not been a core member of MORE and has been a critic at times, there was no doubt in my mind that without him we could not win the high schools. We know that Arthur does not believe in loyalty oaths and has to be a free agent on the Ex Bd but he promised to support any MORE initiatives unless he felt it might go against a core belief. Arthur could not get on the Ex Bd without the MORE caucus and MORE's major chance at winning came from having Arthur on the slate. Arthur had proven himself as a relentless campaigner when he ran against Andy Palotta for NYSUT VP on the Stronger Together slate in the 2014 state elections. This arrangement was a win-win for Arthur and MORE.

Read his piece at NYCEducator on what the victory means for all of us: More/ New Action Victory Is a Win-Win

The other key factor was James Eterno's passion to win this one - one more win in case he should decide to retire in the next few years - though that is not currently on his agenda - but as an ATR, which he became in 2014, we know the jeopardy he faces.

Due to the closing of Jamaica HS where James was the chapter leader, he had contacts in high schools all over the city. He also had his own personal distribution list to many high schools all over Queens and he worked those contacts. I would bet that the other half of the victory votes came from the relentless work James has done over the past year.

Then there is Mike Schirtzer, whose school, Leon Goldstein, probably did not add to our totals from 2013 since with Kit Wainer there too it was a lock for MORE in both elections. But what Mike did was take the leadership of the group advocating for a win in the high schools. He lobbied MORE relentlessly to make this victory happen (some were not as enthusiastic and I will get into their reasons in the followups).

Mike, Arthur, James and I formed a team to spearhead things by starting a high school committee with a newsletter called High School Forum, at first informally, 16 months ago. MORE was struggling to emerge from its troubles and we decided not to wait because if we wanted to win the high schools we had to start in early 2015 and could not afford to wait for MORE to heal.

Part 2 will go into more depth on the winding road - how we initially planned how to win even if New Action didn't switch and how we chose our candidates in the maelstrom of MORE internal politics. Let's not forget -- without the 450 New Action HS votes flipping from Unity to us we are not even in the ball game. One key to our strategy was reaching out to New Action.

Make sure to read Schirtzer's analysis: Mike Schirtzer on Why and How MORE Won the High Schools

And Jonathan Halabi of New Action: Deciding not to Vote in UFT Elections – A Rational Choice?


  1. I need a nap from just reading about what you guys do for us. I know I've thanked you before, but it's worth repeating. THANK YOU! Roseanne

  2. Based on my (limited) interactions with MORE this year, I have to say that it felt like NA breathed a life into MORE that hadn't been there before. It seemed to me that the members of that caucus provided a really well rounded context and a super deep knowledge and I felt like folks who hadn't been around UFT issues (folks like me, but also the enthusiastic tattoo crowd within MORE) just ate that deep knowledge up. Na's presence really filled in a lot of blanks for those folks. I'm sure their organization and reach had a great impact too, but I can't speak to that.

    1. You are off base here. There was very little contact between MORE and New Action except for a few people who worked with each other. New Action had almost no influence on MORE. With people like Kit Wainer, James Eterno, Norm, Ellen Fox, Michael Fiorillo, Gloria Brandman and others, many who were in ICE, MORE did not lack for experienced hands. Since the people in ICE had fought against New Action while they were with Unity, some were reluctant to do this arrangement.

  3. I'm not an ATR Norm. I'm a provisional teacher who for some reason got asked back for this year. I'm not in danger especially when compared to so many other teachers who are fighting for their careers.


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