Monday, April 9, 2018

Message to Retirees: Our Lifelong Work Has Been Disparaged, Degraded, Marginalized and De-Professionalized

For the first time in UFT Chapter elections I've been working with the Retiree Advocate, which began as a New Action initiative but then broadened to include MORE and independents. The chapter elections are coming up and RA/MORE/NA are going to run against Unity. Unity gets 300 retiree members of the Delegate Assembly who act to reinforce Unity policies. If you are a retiree and interested contact retireeadvocate@gmail.com.
You only have until Tuesday April 10 to sign on to run for delegate. Don't worry, we ain't winning.


RETIREE ADVOCATE/MORE/NEW ACTION
retireeadvocate@gmail.com

I wrote this piece for the campaign lit that will go out to all retirees. It is unedited and Gloria is fixing it up but I wanted to post this in case some of Ed Notes readers are interested in running.

Our Lifelong Work Has Been Disparaged, Degraded, Marginalized and De-Professionalized

UFT retirees spent their lives in public service working with public school children. While things in the NYC school system were never perfect, many of us left with a sense of self-respect for a job well done.

So it has been sad to watch over the past two decades as our profession has come under assault from many directions. The major blame for the failures of the system has fallen on teachers, not incompetent supervisors put in place by their supervisors, often with bad intentions to put pressure on the higher priced teachers to get them out of the system. The “bad” teacher wrap has been used against all teachers. Recent teacher protests in right-to-work states are only the head of the spear of massive teacher dissatisfaction nationwide over the disrespect, the false measuring from invalid tests, the labeling schools as failing, and attempts to connect invalid tests to teacher ratings and compensation. Our union leadership has not done an effective job of pushing back against this onslaught.

Under Bloomberg, over 150 schools were closed down, including most of the comprehensive high schools, with teachers instead of being placed by seniority which was done before the 2005 contract, being forced into an open market that was not very welcoming to those coming from schools branded as failing. Joel Klein’s implementation of the fair school funding formula in 2008 made it almost impossible for the higher salaried UFT members to get transfer. Many were tossed into ATR pools of floating substitutes. Mayor de Blasio, our supposed friend, continued closing down schools this year after his disastrous and expensive “renewal school” project where instead of sending in resources that would actually help teachers, schools were loaded with consultants and teachers forced into often useless professional development.

In the past 15 years principals have been empowered as never before and they have the advantage of consulting with a massive amount of lawyers in DOE Legal who advise them the best ways to get rid of teachers they do not like while said teachers are often sitting there without a clue as to what is being done to them because the principals are working from a handbook while teachers are left defenseless. Teachers in NYC are subject to 4 drive-by observations a year under the despised Danielson rubric, while teachers in the rest of the state are only subject to two observations.

The job of a teacher has been deskilled through scripted instruction as attempts continue to remove qualifications needed to teach. How long before the DOE rolls trucks down the street every morning to search for people off the street to fill the classrooms for a day?

Meanwhile the charter school invasion continued, with certain parts of the city being so overloaded with charters, the very existence of local public schools are threatened.

Think of the poor people who succeeded us as being the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water.

As you read this you are probably heaving a massive sigh of relief over finally being out from under this state of affairs.

Sadly, this entire degradation of our profession has taken place under the UFT stewardship of Unity Caucus, our opponents in this Retiree Chapter election. As retirees it may seem there is not a lot we can do restore the status our profession once enjoyed. But if you elect us to the leadership of the Retired Teachers Chapter, we will not only continue to defend our interests as retired UFT members but will also engage in a rigorous defense of our former profession by using our time in the Delegate Assembly to call our leadership to account for its failures to adequately stand up to the forces trying to destroy the profession many of us loved.

Can we really call ourselves a union of professionals?

VOTE Retiree Advocate/MORE/New Action.

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