Monday, April 30, 2018

Antonucci - Oklahoma Teachers Want to Impeach NEA Union Officer and Change to AFT - A WTF Moment

Larry Cagle, one of the co-founders of Oklahoma Teachers United, issued an additional threat. He told KTUL in Tulsa that if his group can’t impeach the OEA officers, he’ll urge OEA members to drop their membership and reorganize under the auspices of the American Federation of Teachers. “If we can’t get rid of the leadership at OEA, then we will just rebuild the state through AFT,” he said.... EIA
Mike Antonucci has another interesting piece on how teacher activists with the leading independent force in Oklahoma, Oklahoma Teachers United , want to impeach their NEA union leaders. The funniest line was the one in the preface from one of the OAU leaders, Larry Cagle, who is using the threat of joining with Randi as a cudgel. Good luck with that path.

Effort Underway to Impeach Oklahoma Union Officers

The emergence of teacher groups organized mostly outside of the union structure is one of the most surprising aspects of this year’s protests. Connected through Facebook, these groups have either supplemented or supplanted formal union leadership of the walkouts.

For the most part their dealings with the unions have been cordial, but in Oklahoma the united front that existed during the strike has given way to open revolt.

Oklahoma Teachers United has turned its grassroots organizing skills toward an effort to impeach Oklahoma Education Association president Alicia Priest and vice president Katherine Bishop, primarily for incompetence in running the walkout and selling it out by ending it without achieving anything substantial.

“No strategy was developed or communicated to measure progress during the OEA walkout,” reads the list of charges posted on Facebook.

The timing isn’t great, since Priest and Bishop were reelected to their posts while the walkout was going on.

Larry Cagle, one of the co-founders of Oklahoma Teachers United, issued an additional threat. He told KTUL in Tulsa that if his group can’t impeach the OEA officers, he’ll urge OEA members to drop their membership and reorganize under the auspices of the American Federation of Teachers.

“If we can’t get rid of the leadership at OEA, then we will just rebuild the state through AFT,” he said.

They are not being subtle about it. One recent post reads: “DROP YOUR UNION MEMBERSHIP NOW!!!!! Make the unions take note that our membership dues is not their country club dues. They either change and adapt with the times or they die!!!!!”

They’re serious, but exclamation points don’t automatically transform into accomplishments. Oklahoma Teachers United may find the formal union governance system a more formidable opponent than the state legislature ever was.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

DSA (Democratic Socialists) Is At A Crossroads – Jeremy Gong – Medium

Our choice: we can maintain a tiny navel-gazing subculture, or build a vibrant mass movement for socialism. Let’s build a mass movement.... Jeremy Gong, DSA (Democratic Socialists of America)
Michael Fiorillo:
Interesting piece from a DSA insider: you will all be shocked, shocked to read what the author says is the divergence within the group ...
At the ICEUFT meeting on Friday, one of the founders, John Lawhead, said that any labor movement must speak to all members, not a select few. Otherwise it becomes a club of like thinking members, clearly a contrast to what is occurring in so many teacher movements in red states. Something some people on the left, who want to aim their appeals at a narrow group of people, are glossing over.

I described some of the tensions within MORE on Friday when we were facing ICE and MORE meetings less than 24 hours apart. Exploring Caucus Fault Lines: ICEUFT Meets Friday, MORE Meets Saturday. I will delve into what happened when I sort everything out.
I'm Rephrasing Gong's comment:
Our choice: we can maintain a tiny navel-gazing subculture or build a vibrant mass movement inside the UFT to challenge Unity Caucus. Let’s build a mass movement.. 
We are a “big tent” organization and a democracy, meaning there is no party line we must adhere to, no cabal of leaders deciding our direction. We have to sort out among ourselves what kind of organization we want DSA to be. I see two paths forward emerging for us.
Over the decades in the UFT opposition movements people with the "big tent" idea of challenging Unity across the UFT have been frustrated as the potential of big tents with a wide range of views shrinks to the size of an igloo. Then along come the party liners - not only on the left - Unity is a party liner.

They would rather be big fish in a small pond, posturing with their correct answers, than part of a millions-strong movement that can actually change the world.
Oh boy does this sound familiar.

Michael F. has come up with an interesting piece on DSA. MORE has had an influx of DSA people - I don't know enough to say which wing of DSA - but they seem to have aligned themselves with the ISO and Labor Notes view, people who want to build a safe space in MORE comfortable for young, activist oriented teachers, many of whom are connected to groups like DSA. On the surface this makes a lot of sense. But aiming at what is a relatively small segment of the UFT does not lead to a broad tent. I see a lot of party liners who want caucus discipline alla Unity.

What some people don't understand it that both ICE and MORE were basically founded by people who view themselves as socialists. I've always been in the edge -- never a Marxist though most of the people who influenced me were Marxists -- I'm too leftarian for that -- I'm more social democrat like Bernie with some belief that Marx was right about so much.

Gong gets to the core that boils things down to the essence of the internal battles in many movements bordering on the left.
On the one hand are those of us who are tired of both the useless compromise politics of the liberal center and the dead-end wheel-spinning of the activist left. We know that while it’s incredible and historic that 30,000 people have joined a socialist organization, we are still a tiny fraction of the US population. We have to grow many times over and consolidate the democratic socialist movement into an effective weapon against capitalists and elites before we can really transform our society. This is the DSA that reaches out into the non-DSA world to fight class enemies and bring in thousands of new members.
On the other hand are those who are not interested in the millions of working people who are not yet active socialists. Instead, they fixate on the purity and homogeneity of their own in-group and attack other members of DSA for not meeting their standards. This is the DSA that looks inward and fights with itself, disappointing and exhausting activists who joined DSA in order to change the world, and scaring off those not in DSA from joining.
I was looking to join the DSA myself but don't want to get into the same wars we have been fighting in the UFT over so many decades.
Gong begins by describing two DSAs. We are seeing that there are also two MOREs with some very parallel threads.

DSA Is At A Crossroads

Jeremy Gong 

Two DSAs

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The teachers' strikes prove it: the media is finally seeing America's new labor landscape | US news | The Guardian

What a Union Is: Matewan Union Speech

We had a good discussion at the ICEUFT meeting yesterday of what a union is and how it has to talk to all members, not a slice of the membership. It came up in the context of a discussion of where MORE is heading. John Lawhead made the point that a union movement can't be led by what amounts to a club of like-minded people. That is not a caucus.

In this clip racism is rampant and challenged over how common ties bind all workers. It is a lesson some on the so-called left who are lauding the lessons of red state strikes but are missing the analysis of the politics and social attitudes that are driving the movement and uniting people of many political persuasions. Kudos to Michael Fiorillo for pointing us to this.

Published on Nov 19, 2014
What a union is. Speech on what unionism is and where the primary strength of a union lies, in it's membership and threat of a strike denying the workforce from the employer to improve wages, working conditions, health and safety.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Exploring Caucus Fault Lines: ICEUFT Meets Friday, MORE Meets Saturday

Friday, April 27, 8 AM

I came back from a 4 hour MORE contract committee meeting last night where a few of us (a very few of us) have been going over potential contract demands we are putting in a survey.

Jeez, 4 days of meetings in a row -- PEP on Wed (after the funeral of a neighbor's 40 year old daughter), contract committee Thurs, ICE today, MORE tomorrow. And a shiver call on Sunday. And I'm leaving soon to go out to Long Island to help the Botanic Garden plant sale people pick out plants. And I transplanted two trees over the past few days. And I still  need to process the video from the PEP. Oy -- is this retirement?

There are a whole bunch of people in MORE who are very excited about engaging in a militant fight for a "good" contract but when it comes to actually figuring out what a "good" contract might look like, the ICE people in MORE show up to do the work. MORE will probably vote to be militant for a good contract on Saturday - it doesn't really matter what constitutes a good contract, as long as they are militant and mention strike every 10 words. (For the old-timers out there who remember our old sister caucus, Teachers for a Just Contract -- or as we called them Teachers for Just a Contract, some ICE people have labeled this TJC 2.0.)

There's a lot going on in MORE on a lot of fronts. I intend to cover it all but can't keep up at times. James posted a proposal for ICE to permanently or temporarily withdraw support for MORE after the unfair suspensions of two ICE people from steering when they weren't present.

ICE doesn't bind people so no matter what the outcome of today's resolution, some will stay in MORE unless things get even more weird. Some are considering self-suspension in sympathy. You can read the comment of one of the suspendees here. Over time details will emerge.

I want to hear all the arguments from James and others but I am not planning to leave MORE but to stay there and do the work I feel is worthwhile like fighting closing schools and lower class size and abusive principals -- I mean if some of us don't raise these issues many of the MORE ideologues will just ignore them, as they have ignored the PEP where Black Lives Really Matter.

One of the very frustrating things about MORE is the seeming inability to engage in deep dives into issues, something ICEUFT has always done very well - to the exclusion of doing some other things. But MORE has young people who have a life and don't like to meet for too long a time. ICE people will meet and talk forever because they have a lot of things to talk about. And are mostly retired.

MORE has a lot of very political and sensitive people with limited powers of analysis, or willingness to see below the surface of things -- much younger than ICE people - and it shows at times. One of the heavy issues in MORE is people being rude on the listserve. That seems to tie people into knots with lots of angst and gnashing of teeth. Even I, a known caveman, have to tone it down.

But I try to imagine a group of people claiming to want to challenge the Unity machine, ed deformers, abusive principals, etc. but can't deal with a few (and it is very few) people supposedly making some crude comments - and I have at times have made some comments in the heat of the moment but have learned that listserves are not the best place to shoot off an angry email. So now I let things vegetate a bit and it works better.

The next two days should be fun. MORE on Saturday and ICEUFT Friday afternoon, starting at 4PM and ending till they toss us out of the diner. And all day Friday I'm driving out to Huntington with the crew from Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to pick out plants for the May 10 plant sale, for which I've been volunteering at for the past 35 years.

MORE will meet Saturday from 11-2:30, actually a longer meeting than usual. After that we will race over to the MORE family leave event which goes from 3-5. I would have gone home but my wife is coming into the city for world tai-chi day and trying to get half price tickets to a show. One of the great things about tai-chi, which I have never done, is that you can't tell if it's real people or statues.

Hey, if you are a regular reader of the blogs stop by for a while and have a dose of rice pudding. And hang with the Eternos, Gloria, Schirtzer, Lisa, Vera, Ellen, South Bronx, Giambalvo, maybe Arthur, and who knows who else might drop in? Email me offlist for details.

You can also stop by the MORE meeting - if you haven't been flagellated recently.

My announcement of the ICEUFT  Meeting:
Meeting Friday: Independent Community of Educators

The Independent Community of Educators (ICE), one of the two founding caucuses in MORE, will be meeting Friday at 4PM to discuss a range of issues related to red state teacher revolts and recent actions in MORE. The meeting is expected to last three of four hours - or until everyone has had time to express their thoughts. Maybe midnight.
As usual ICE meetings are openly announced. As a consensus group with a wide range of opinions, all actions suggested are not binding on individuals.
Contact me offlist if interested in attending as there is limited space and meeting location might have to be changed.

Tentative agenda:

Undemocratic actions by MORE steering to suspend 2 members of steering, both associated with ICE, without due process and with ex post facto rules. The background behind a prominent member of MORE threatening to leave MORE unless one of them was purged from MORE and the so-called compromise reached to suspend them for a month, thus removing two potential votes on steering that might be in opposition to the initiatives being pushed.

Other undemocratic acts within MORE, including the moderator of the debate, unilaterally called for the MORE meeting to be closed to members only, the first time this has been done in the history of MORE. Plus the extremely constrictive rules promulgated by the moderator, one of the 30 people who signed the proposal.

An official response from ICE, including calls for ICE to formally suspend or withdraw its support of MORE? Discussion on options, including total withdrawal.

Objectively analyze red state teacher revolts vis a vis current and future conditions in the UFT.
The viability of the current proposal being floated in MORE, which is a reminder of the program put forth by the other caucus that formed MORE, TJC (See Ed Notes on the relationship between ICE and TJC over the years.)
James posted this on the ICE blog:


The Independent Community of Educators (ICEUFT) will be holding a meeting tomorrow (Friday) in Manhattan at 4:00 P.M.

It is no big secret that the relationship between ICEUFT and the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) has been frayed at times and lately it has kind of exploded. I have written the following resolution that I will bring up tomorrow. It kind of speaks for itself.

Whereas, a group within the Steering Committee in the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) has suspended two Steering Committee members who are associated with the Independent Community of Educators (ICEUFT) without any due process or authority to suspend people;

Whereas, due process is a fundamental human right and a basic principle of democracy that cannot be compromised; and
Whereas, the Independent Community of Educators (ICEUFT) on principle will not have anything to do with an organization that denies its members basic democratic rights; be it therefore
Resolved, that the Independent Community of Educators (ICEUFT) suspends all support for the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) until further notice; and be it further
Resolved, that the Independent Community of Educators (ICEUFT) will continue its work to advocate for the members of the United Federation of Teachers and for public education.

This is Norm Scott's agenda for the ICEUFT meeting:

Members of the Independent Community of Educators (ICE), founded in 2003, original organizers of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) and one of the founding caucuses of MORE, will be meeting to discuss a range of issues, including a discussion of the red state teacher revolts and the status of its ongoing relationship with MORE, on Friday, April 27 at 4PM

The MORE Meeting announcement - note how little information is given about what has been going on to the MORE membership.
REMINDER: Please try to attend this important meeting that will discuss the future direction of the caucus.
MORE General Meeting 
Sat. April 28
CUNY Graduate Center
Room 5414

Proposed Agenda:
  • Contract Strategy Proposal
  • Committee Reports
  • New Items/ Sharing of concerns
Join us afterwards at the Parental Leave Forum - From 3-5 PM at the Ya Ya Center  - RSVP Here on FB - 224 West 29 Street, 14th floor, New York, NY 10001

If you'd like to help out in some way contact or 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

John Giambalvo, Lauded for Work on Immigrant Rights, Wins Award From UFT at Social Studies Conference

By Mike Schirtzer
John Giambalvo and Mary Beth Tinker*

John Giambalvo was recognized by the Association of Social Studies Teachers UFT for his excellence in pedagogy, commitment to his students and dedication to the discipline.

This is the  second major award John has earned. Two years ago he was named Catholic Public School Educator of the year.

He was also nice enough to have me for an inter-visitation at his school where I was lucky enough to observe him teach and speak to students on his student government. His students were amazing and they gave me ideas for my senior council that I coordinate. I spoke glowingly of John’s work as Coordinator of Student Activities.

I learned of John when we both became interested in union activism. We both see the UFT as the most important organization in defending NYC’s public schools. We have fought for school integration, immigrant’s rights, a good contract for UFT members, and marched along side each other for women’s rights and public education.

We joined with a few groups to demand the DOE have an “immigrant liaison” to help students in public schools. When that didn’t go through, we attended a CUNY workshop on immigrant’s rights. He organized a conference in his school of mostly Latino, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian students on how they can protect themselves.

I saw first-hand how John’s students adore him. His COSA office was packed with kids wall to wall with students from the student government and national honors society which John also runs, and kids just looking for a place to feel at home during their lunch.

They were discussing student activities, politics, their favorite teachers, and of course making fun of Mr. Giambalvo while trying to figure out why I chose to come visit another school rather than just skip it and stay home (I told them I had a boss and like having a roof over my head).

I’m not an administrator. I don’t pretend to understand or like the Danielson domains. Here’s what I do know: the students in John’s class had smiles on their faces, they were laughing, they were engaged, it was really intellectual students having high level discussions in an AP class. His SGO and NHS were kids mostly of immigrant backgrounds, male and female that were empowered to make decisions, plan events, and work at the school store. They have a plane to have their voices heard, they are given agency as immigrant teens of color, in s society that has become increasingly tolerant of bigotry and xenophobia.

John deserves every reward he has earned. The UFT has a devoted member that will fight for his union with everything he has. Our schools and the kids we serve have a teacher that is as dedicated and smart as they come. Most importantly he had the unwavering love and support of his wife, daughter and friends.

Mary Beth Tinker is an American free speech activist known for her role in the 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District Supreme Court case, which ruled that Warren Harding Junior High School could not punish her for wearing a black armband in school in support of a truce in the Vietnam War. The case set a precedent for student speech in schools...

UPDATED With Link: TODAY, OPT OUT - Brian Lehrer 10.30-11, Johanna Garcia

For those who missed it, go to
Johanna SLAMMED this interview. And Jody (first caller) was amazing.
Finally, breaking the sound barrier.

Greetings Everyone!

After a week or so of flexing some serious activist muscle, we have wrangled an interview on the Brian Lehrer show on line, or 93.9 FM from 10.30-11 today (Thursday) Listen as Brian interviews Johanna Garcia (President, District 6 CEC) and Richard Buery (former Deputy Mayor under De Blasio and Chief Policy Officer for KIPP), discussing the pros and cons of high stakes testing. 

We are so grateful for the strong voice and advocacy Johanna is doing on behalf of NYC students, and to all those who have worked tirelessly to move the needle on bringing more awareness of the harmful effects of state tests in NYC. If you've not seen this video, it's worth a view and a share. Thank to Ted Pauly for this great piece!

And if you have some stories to share, we are compiling here, which will be very helpful if you fill this quick questionnaire out and share with your community. See explanation below.

Opt Out & Test Prep Troubles:
Your NYC Story

Parents: Were you or your child given false or misleading information about opt out from someone in your school or district? Were you or your child treated unfairly or pressured to change your mind about refusing the tests? Do you feel like the nature, amount, and frequency of test preparation is out of balance in your child's school?
NYCDOE employees: Did your superintendent, principal, or other supervisor pass on false, misleading, or incomplete information about opt out or its consequences? Were you asked to dissuade families from refusing the test or encourage them to take it? Is the curriculum you are expected to teach dominated or inappropriately shaped by test prep?
Please fill out the form below to help NYC Opt Out document the difficulties New York City families and educators encountered during the spring 2018 testing season. If we share your stories on the web or with the press, we will not include any specific identifying information (your name, school, etc.) unless you give us permission to do so.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tell the New Chancellor Your Thoughts at the PEP, Wed. April 25-- sign upto speak at 5:30

Here's you chance to talk to the chancellor. Or sing to him.

I am going with a few people and will tape. There are a bunch of charter co-locos on the agenda. Anyone can get 2 minutes which is more than you get elsewhere.

Murry Bergtraum HS. 5:30 sign-up to speak, meeting starts at 6 but often starts about 6:15-6:30. They must stay there till everyone who wants to gets to speak. They should do that at a DA. 

This came in from Leonie:

Subject: PEP meeting w. new Chancellor tomorrow night re PS 25

Thanks to all who have helped with the lawsuit to save PS 25. 
Please if you can, come and speak at the PEP meeting tomorrow night – the first time that the Chancellor Carranza will be presiding.  Sebastian and I plan to speak as well – but we also have to address our class size lawsuit and school overcrowding.
Panel Meeting
April 25, 2018 - 6:00 P.M.
Murry Bergtraum High School
411 Pearl St.
New York, NY 10007
All Chancellor Carranza has to do is say no, and the school will not close. It’s certainly worth trying to make our case directly to him.
Come at 5:30 PM to sign up to speak; it’s a convenient location right behind City Hall and  near many subway stops. More info below:
If you want some talking points there are many available here:
Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

Monday, April 23, 2018

CORE Attempted Purge of One of Founders George Schmidt Failed in Chicago - Eight Women of Color Speak on George's Behalf

George Schmidt:
.... the majority of the CORE "Steering Committee" tried to lead the caucus into what amounted to a Purge Trial (or, as one speaker said, to turn CORE into something out of Orwell's Animal Farm)......the claims (by a handful of CORE people now hiding out) that I was a "racist" and a "sexist" (among other things) had to be proved by citing certain specific actions, not by "feelings."
I offered to report on the history of the struggles against white supremacy going back to my high school days in New Jersey, continuing through my two years in Western Pa. (as a member of the Greensburg PA NAACP) and then continuing through our work against segregation and those dramatic marches against the Nazis in the 1970s.
However, I had to remind people that when we were discussing historical facts we needed to have some reality principle -- not such yelps as the outburst from the Barretts that everyone knows I'm a racist and a sexist. More than a dozen people spoke eloquently about the work that I've done on behalf of the union, CORE, and justice..... George Schmidt, Feb. 26, 2018
Comment from a member of ICE Caucus: Norm, since you are NY's George, can your trial be far behind? ....
Can it be far behind indeed.

The vote was 27-17 in George's favor. Imagine, 17 people in CORE voted to toss out one of its key founders. I'm shocked, just shocked that a similar scenario is being played out in MORE. (see afterburn below).

The charges of racism and sexism are common in caucus purges as a way to remove political dissenters. How embarrassing that 8 women of color spoke up for the work George has done over 40 years to fight racism and sexism. These 17 people have no sense of respect for history.
Here is George's email from Feb. 28:

1. CORE PURGE FAILED. Despite an attempt by the steering committee of CORE to purge me from the CORE membership, tonight's CORE meeting voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposal and retain me as a member of CORE. The meeting which was attended by more than 70 people at its peak, included an agenda item which read: "George Schmidt's removal from CORE, based on multiple violations of Article III, Section Iv of CORE's By-Laws."
After a lengthy meeting, that item came up at the end as an "announcement." There was lengthy debate, during which the majority of speakers (many of whom are reading this -- thank you) denounced the CORE steering committee's position and then voted twice to reject the attack. First, the members voted 27 - 17 to reject a motion by Natasha Karecki that CORE refer the "complaints" against me to a "Reconciliation Committee" (the names of whose members are not known). After that motion was rejected, we debated and voted on a motion to reject completely the "Announcement" to remove me from CORE. The details of all this will be reported at if someone (other than me) wants to report and analyze that event.

2. LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND CORE STEERING COMMITTEE CLAIMS... The attack on me (and it included an attack on Substance) was based on lies, some ridiculous and some repeated enough to sound plausible to people without the time to pay attention. The facts included the fact that I had not "left" CORE to "join" Members First and that the claims (by a handful of CORE people now hiding out) that I was a "racist" and a "sexist" (among other things) had to be proved by citing certain specific actions, not by "feelings."
I offered to report on the history of the struggles against white supremacy going back to my high school days in New Jersey, continuing through my two years in Western Pa. (as a member of the Greensburg PA NAACP) and then continuing through our work against segregation and those dramatic marches against the Nazis in the 1970s. However, I had to remind people that when we were discussing historical facts we needed to have some reality principle -- not such yelps as the outburst from the Barretts that everyone knows I'm a racist and a sexist.
More than a dozen people spoke eloquently about the work that I've done on behalf of the union, CORE, and justice. It was nice to be there, but sad that it had to have been fought out. Now it needs to be discussed how the majority of the CORE "Steering Committee" could try to lead the caucus into what amounted to a Purge Trial (or, as one speaker said, to turn CORE into something out of Orwell's Animal Farm). Were I asked I have suggested that the "steering committee" resign and schedule a new election, since one of the main points of the discussion was that CORE is evading the issues facing the members in the schools and instead murking around in stuff like this attempted purge.

3. SUBSART. A couple of the CORE leaders (Craig and Drew most loudly) claimed that Substance has been unfair to CORE by publicizing Members First meetings with announcements and reports while ignoring CORE meetings. I've already called one of those and offered him a change to report for Substance, with editing (as we all face). As you know, for months I've been begging for SUBSART about Chicago's schools and the mounting problems facing the rank and file in the schools, at times to no avail. I know that everyone (including those I love most) are facing enormous pressures at the local level, from poor security and discipline to raging "Network" attacks at the classroom level, but I can only post at what we get in accurate reportings. Let's see how this works out in the future.

4. OF COURSE IT'S TIRING...and I'm not getting any younger. But there is now way that we can or should allow this kind of unprincipled stuff to go on. One of the paradoxes of the tirades against me (Craig and Drew in this case) was that Substance had published stuff that had been said inside CORE (on the listserve I'm guessing). One of the people who wanted to talk after the meeting told me that Craig & Co. can't have it both ways. Either they want us to report on CORE -- accurately and completely, which means from meetings, committees, and the listserve -- or they want to do everything in secret. I'm hoping that people will now take on those reporting jobs.
After Burn
The ideological roots of the people who urge purges in CORE and MORE are similar and the tactic is a standard one in certain circles on the left.

George was also charged with publishing reports on CORE in Substance. There are already hints that some people in MORE, closely associated with the same political forces in Chicago, are criticizing my publishing info coming out of MORE and at some point I would not be surprised to see attempts to expel me from MORE.

Recently there was a suggestion from a prominent MORE leader to expel someone from MORE over a nasty email that was sent. In the background are the same vague charges of sexism directed at certain males. I am trying to avoid contact and private conversations with some of these people because anything I say or do can be distorted.

MORE is very tied up with UCORE. Some leading UCORE people from Chicago voted to have George expelled. Now that's social justice unionism for you.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Why Teacher Uprisings May Hit Blue States Too - Jeff Bryant

Jeff Bryant is an excellent reporter who exposes ed deform.

Jeff Bryant
April 20, 2018

The Left, Social Justice and UFT Caucuses

I found this in draft mode from Oct. 2017

Michael Fiorillo has left a new comment on your post "Luis Reyes on UFT: I believe in social change, red...":
Unions by definition are institutions that enable social justice, by focusing on democracy in the workplace and fair treatment for all workers, which is to say, most people in society.

It's a shame that what remains of the Left in the US fails to realize this, and it's a major reason it is so easily ignored. As long as it refuses to focus on issues that affect working people, it will continue to be ignored, and will deserve it....

Michael Fiorillo
My evolving position has been that I don't want to be in a caucus that doesn't pay attention to social justice work. But I also am concerned when a caucus focuses mostly on SJ work and doesn't pay enough attention to the daily travails of UFT members. And when we sense some imbalance we try to push back to get the ship balanced. That is not always easy when dealing with social justice warriors who salivate at a cause but yawn at issues such as bad bulletin board policy.

One of the problems I've had for years with MORE is the declaration that it is THE social justice caucus - as if Unity and New Action are not interested in social justice issues like MORE is. I know New Action people for a long time and  they often kept the SJ stuff out of their work which focused on bread and butter - I remember being critical of them for that 15 years ago -- they are also supportive of SJ work as individuals.

When I've been in an opposition caucus in the UFT at various times since 1970, they have always had elements of social justice. And they have always been left, which is why the leadership so despised them. In those early years, we had real issues with the leadership over SJ due to the 1968 strike and certain positions the UFT leadership took on many issues.

This was pointed out by Luis Reyes in his comment:
In the 1970s, Albert Shanker (R.I.P.), wrote in his that bilingual education was "...unamerican and separatist."
But the UFT began to change - at least on the surface, as pointed out by Reyes:
In 1984, I reached out to  Sandra Feldman (R.I.P.), to start a dialogue with the UFT leadership. Latino and other bilingual leaders met with leaders of the UFT; and, together we started a movement that resulted in the UFT changing its position on bilingual education and supporting state LEP Aid. Today Evelyn DeJesus, a Puerto Rican bilingual educator from the Lower East Side is the Vice President for Education and Carmen Alvarez continues to be the V.P. for Special Education. 
When Randi took over for Sandy around 1997 she escalated the union's work in the SJ arena and mended many fences Shanker had breached. She is in fact a genius at doing this kind of work.

So if a caucus is to dent the Unity machine it will not be on the basis of it not doing SJ work. As a sage person told some of us in an email yesterday:
The UFT membership at large is as pissed as I have ever seen. Some teachers hired from September 2004 onward are just figuring out now that they have to do the 100 hours of PD on their own dime and time. I was surprised that there are people who still don't know this. Some are vowing not to do the PD and let themselves get fired. I don't know if they are serious but they blame the UFT. Virtually everyone hates Danielson, even if they are highly effective. Teachers kill the UFT on Danielson. Did I mention an ATR or two might just be a little angry with the UFT response to the press attacks? Then there's the lousy raises, lack of support on grievances or just for speaking up, the ordeal of getting tenure, teachers having to pass every kid whether or not they deserve it, school safety, abusive administration, etc.... I could go on and on. Someone quite correctly said we have to eat a shit sandwich every day.
The wise man names just a few issues of concern. Unless a caucus focuses on addressing these issues, it won't resonate with enough members to make much of a dent.

At an Ex Bd meeting we heard case after case of the UFT's work - Arthur reports examples:
Serbia Silva—Stands on behalf of Evelyn de Jesus. ELL event amazing. Evelyn thanks volunteers and staff. Second—same goes for Making Strides. Walked in five boroughs and LI. Thanks all volunteers.
Howard Sandel—Nurses—Rescue work—9/18, Maria made landfall on Dominica. We had nurses there up all night organizing. Set up 53 medical volunteers. Were there 7 days. Visited villages, cared for 818 patients, conducted home visits, distributed items across island. With help of this union we provided rescue workers with backpacks. She expresses gratitude to union. Will be stories in NY Teacher. Nurses gave up two weeks vacation in PR, were not allowed to distribute supplies. Stuck in San Juan. Started Gofundme page. Finally moved. Showed people how to purify water. Thanks everyone.
UFT Executive Board October 16, 2017--We Were Against APPR Before We Were For It -
Mulgrew, who has been so much more responsive this year at the EB meetings -- he even answers questions from the opposition and actually acts like they are in the room --- and I believe this is due to the wonderful work our EB people have been doing --- said this:
We have 30 nurses in Puerto Rico. Leaving Wednesday. May go to Texas. Florida progressing. Huge burden on all of those members. In PR teacher building is hub for distribution. Spoke with governor and mayor. I would like to not have holiday party and make major contribution to those places. Right thing to do. So many people hurting. When we hurt from Sandy people came from all over to help us. This would say a lot. Asking them in lieu of coming to contribute to our disaster relief fund.
Unity is doing social justice work -- and is so much more diversified racially than the opposition groups. Something nags at me in saying THE SJ Caucus, as if the other work doesn't count.

That led to Michael Fiorillo's  comment.

I am going to repeat myself:
A group of us in MORE have been contending that if we want to challenge the UFT leadership, it has to be on issues where they have not supported the members, not on how social justicey they are.

Greece is the Word - Yassas

I wanted to share a few words about my first trip to the cradle of democracy. I learned all about ostracism in ancient Greece ---

"Ostracism (Greek: ὀστρακισμός, ostrakismos) was a procedure under the Athenian democracy in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the citizen, ostracism was often used preemptively."

A happy wife makes a happy life
Which is very funny considering some of the things that I found going on in MORE when I returned. Did they have sectarian political parties in Greece? But more of that in future posts.

The trip was fairly brief - a long way to go for 8 days - actually 5 days on the tour and 2 plus in Athens. But we were hoping to get back to do some serious gardening and found it still too cold. We should have added a few days and seen the islands.

Greece was not a nation until the 1820's - in ancient times it was all city-states. The Olympics and other similar events were ways to stopping the fighting and all Greeks to come together. Maybe we can have some relay races between caucuses in the UFT.

But this was a land tour only. We went with Insight Tours, a British based company, which was great. Best tour we've had. We already booked Croatia through Road Scholar for October but next year we may do Ireland and Scotland through Insight.

We left late Saturday night, April 9, and got to Athens at 4 PM on Sunday, Greek Orthodox Easter.  All eateries around our hotel were closed - so we rested at our excellent hotel for an hour and then headed out for a very long walk to the Plaka -- I think we did over 3 miles over all - jet lag and all and ate at the first place we found - not great -- we saw after that if we had walked another block we would have found lots of great places to eat. We passed ancient ruins all over the place - remarkable stuff over 2000 years old.

The Acropolis towers over everything -- and Athens may be the only city with mountains you have to walk around.

Surprised to see a statue of me
And all of Greece was so green - the weather was perfect all week.

Monday was also a holiday - we began with one of the best buffet breakfasts we've had -- and I made at least 4 trips - yes I gained about 6 pounds on this trip-- but some things were open and we covered all parts of key areas of Athens. We learned to use an excellent subway system. We took it to the Syntagma Square near parliament where we saw the changing of the guard and then walked around the ancient Agora -- where the central market was thousands of years ago. Then walked around The Acropolis area - ate some lunch and finally headed back to the hotel for a rest before looking for a place for dinner - which we found a block from the hotel and it was so good - especially when they gave us soup, dessert and a shot on the house.

Tuesday we did the Archeological Museum and some other things that were not on the tour, which began Tuesday night with a meeting at the hotel. It's hard to get your head around how civilization goes back so far - even to 3500 BC. I'm not sure if we have advanced much at all.

We had met the guide on Monday when she called us and said she'd be around the hotel. Lovely lady - born in Scotland, grew up in the maritimes in Canada and married a Greek from Lesbos. She introduced us to an Australian couple and another Aussie traveling solo - they hadn't known each other but lived near each other around Brisbane, which we had visited 25 years ago.

We met everyone else at the Tuesday night meeting, followed by a buffet dinner at the hotel. We had 3 Aussies, Canadians, an English mom with 3 kids, a guy from the Philippines and another man from Hong Kong, now living in Pittsburgh -- and he's 83, and a nurse from California. Some had been on a 4 day cruise of the islands a few days before. Later we were sorry we didn't do that too but we may go back soon.

That is why we love to go on tours - meeting and bonding with so many people we would never have met. One couple we got close to is from Western Canada - they are 3rd generation farmers and I learned how a combine works. I may go out and visit and pick some crops.
The next 5 days were a whirlwind but we still felt fairly rested. Wednesday we met the coach and headed for the Acropolis and the museum for half a day. Hey, the Parthenon - I got a hundred photos from all angles. We had some lunch and then the coach left Athens to take us for a few hours drive to the Meteora monasteries, another world heritage site. We stayed for 2 nights in Kalambaka.

Thursday we did the monasteries --
So high up in the mountains -- that famous "For Your Eyes Only" James Bond/Roger Moore film where he escapes from there. Impossible to get there you would think. We went to 3 of them and then some of us walked down the mountain and back to the hotel and then off to a great lunch the guide, Moraig, took us too. That night she took us to a wonderful town called Trikala and a group dinner outdoors. She always made impeccable choices for us.

Two days and we felt we had been gone for a a long time already and also bonding with our tour mates.

Friday we headed for Delphi- after another buffet breakfast. Urp! - lox, lox, lox. Spent the day touring and moving and eating. Crossed the bridge over the Sea of Corinth -- and entered the Peloponesus -- basically a giant island that is half of Greece. We stopped at another seaside town - Napfpaklos -- wow - I could live there. Too busy a day to write everything.

Saturday - A half day at Olympia where it all began -- 776 BC - imagine - the Olympics basically went on for a 1000 years until they were ended when the Christians became ascendant around 350 AD -- there was the actual track they used. So much interesting stuff. I was taking a zillion photos. This is where they light the torch for all current games. We had lunch and some went back to the hotel while a few of us stayed in the town of Olympia to check it out for a few hours. A couple of guys went to an interesting little museum devoted to Archimedes and his inventions. Astounding stuff - we were in Syracuse on Sicily a few years ago and I bought an Archimedes tee shirt.  Then we went for a beer - I loved the Greek beer - until we caught the coach back to the hotel where we went for a swim in the pool. Moraig had a trainee - a woman originally from South Africa and her boss, Feona, who was from Scotland and married a Greek too - along on the entire trip. They took us to an outdoor restaurant where we learned to cook and then 2 lovely ladies led us in Greek dancing -- Feona took some video of me dancing and cooking -- I hope they never see the light of day.

Sunday -- our last full day -- unbelievable how fast it's gone but we were also felt we had done so much. Another buffet breakfast.  Headed to Mycenae - but  stopped at another seaside town - Nafplio - another place I could live -- I bought a pipe -- and then to meet the Mycenians - well not really, since they were a thousand years - 1600BC before the Greek heydays of 500-400 BC. Really hard to wrap out heads around all this - think of a thousand years ago for us - so Greeks in 500 BC were tourists to visit the ruins of Mycenae.
The main thing about Mycenae is that it is the supposed site of The Iliad -- now we have to go Troy in Turkey. 

Then crossing back into mainland over the Corinth Canal -- a narrow slip of a thing that in effect turns the Peloponnesus into an island. It was proposed 2000 years ago but not built until 1893 -- sort of like the 2nd Ave subway.

Farewell dinner that night at a local restaurant -- another great choice. Back at hotel we all hugged our new friends and went to our room. A knock at the door and our new Canadian friends -- the farmers asked us to help them finish off some ouzo. He is a Toronto Blue Jays fan and will be catching a game there in July. We may meet them and hope they come to NYC and stay with us.

Monday -- plane leaves at 4:30 PM and we are being picked up at 1:45. A final buffet breakfast - lox, lox, lox and more -- we run into the Aussies and say another good bye.  The guy traveling alone has a few months more to go -- an amazing guy who is in almost permanent travel mode. I told him I would check his itinerary and jump in some time -- the farmer from Canada even said he might be interested. A boys' trip.

We had a few hours. Most museums are closed Mondays but one was open and we walked over to the Museum of Cycladic Art - the Cyclades are islands between Greece and Turkey and had some remarkable civilizations 3200-2000 BC -- finally something older than me.

We got back to NYC around 9:30 PM at Newark and got home around 11. We signed up for Global Travel and got whisked through passport and customs control -- worth the $100 for 5 years.

Our cats were well -- we have an awesome 16 year old young man as a sitter and feel totally comfortable - he's a HS junior at Midwood and we hope he goes to Brooklyn College so we have him for another 5 years.

Tuesday I was back at hot yoga and all the stiffness from the trip was gone. And Weds I went to the delegate assembly and caught up on the MORE wars and all the tenseness that was gone on the trip came back.

One of the things I learned from the trip was that it is time to think about pulling back from blogging and UFT and MORE stuff. It's like a disease I can't get rid of.

Had a long noontime conversation with newly retired James Eterno who is so happy. We are both addicts to UFT politics.

We need a 12-step program.

Friday, April 20, 2018

School Scope: Opt-Out Spurred By Awful Test Experience, Cuomo Rescues Unions From Janus

Published in The WAVE, April 20, 2018,

School Scope:  Opt-Out Spurred By Awful Test Experience, Cuomo Rescues Unions From Janus

By Norm Scott
April 17, 2018

I was away traveling in Greece but Ed news managed to filter its way into my consciousness.

The reviews of the state ELA tests last week were awful, with massive computer issues, kids who couldn’t finish breaking down in tears, and the usual reports of ridiculous questions.

Resistance continued to high stakes testing despite the many attempts to put a stake in the heart of the movement. The new chancellor continued the tradition of the old chancellor by trashing the opt-out movement and some parents in NYC schools who tried to opt out faced intimidation.  This was not the case in Long Island, the national center of test resistance, where there are reports of up to 50% opting out.

People need to keep in mind that a massive testing-industrial complex (TIC) has sprung up in partnership with the education bureaucracy. The massive charter industry also supports high stakes testing because that is what fuels their movement, in fact the entire Ed deform movement that has undermined public school systems all over the nation, especially in urban areas where parents have little or no control over their local school boards, which often don’t exist at all in schools controlled by politically and economically motived mayors who get campaign contributions from the TIC – an appropriate acronym since they suck the blood out of the public.

There is still time to opt out of the math tests.

Another issue that I noticed as we toured the cradle of democracy 2500 years ago was the Cuomo attempt to rescue the unions in our state from the upcoming Supreme Court Janus decision which will turn every state into a right-to-work state like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kentucky – all states where the rank and file have pushed back against a weakened union leadership to take action on their own and engage in illegal wild cat strikes and school closures. Unions have made the case that they are not just antagonists but also partners with the people running the schools as they provide a framework for controlled teacher activism. Then again there is the giant Unity Caucus controlled UFT, which is in the “too big to fail” category for so many state and city politicians. Cuomo, expecting to make a run for president in 2020 absolutely needs the UFT and its national parent organization, the AFT, which Unity Caucus also controls.

So Cuomo pushed through a provision where union won’t have to offer services to those who don’t pay dues, which I support, one of the few times I support anything that slime dog backs. While the UFT/Unity machine is what it is and should be fought, I don't advocate leaving unless people who left actually tried to organize an alternative. But most of these people are whining but not capable of really doing much. So screw them.

I have been predicting for a year that the UFT and other unions are too much a fabric of the control of the members to be allowed to be weakened by Janus. And the red state rebellions with wildcat strikes have reinforced that point, though it won't stop the Supreme Court from making us all right to work. Unity has such tight control they can counter any moves towards militancy.

If interested in more details check out these blogs:

Cynthia Nixon, Andrew Cuomo, and the UFT Learning Curve -

Norm’s blog is like a TIC on people’s butts: