Thursday, February 28, 2019

Oakland: Support growing for strike, TFA Role, Corrupt Board Cancels Meeting, Creates Phony Deficits

I reported this call for support at last night's Oakland school board meeting -- Oakland Teacher Strike - Picket at School Board Meeting. Here are some updates:
The  billionaires' lackeys on the Oakland school board cancelled their board meeting last night "for safety reasons." They had been planning to vote for more budget cuts, but were afraid to cross the community/union picket line and face the indignant public. Their corporate bosses are not accustomed to organized widespread resistance to their privatization schemes, and are reluctant to face the real people of Oakland. ... Pete Farrugio
UPDATE: Now they’ve scheduled a meeting for 8am Friday.
Of course, of course. We know the game -- in Chicago board meetings are held early in the morning when no one can come.

We are lucky to have two former NYC teacher activist colleagues from the early 70s based in Oakland: Jack Gerson and Pete Farrugio.

Pete sent this list of growing support for the strike:
Check out these expressions of solidarity:

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Forest Hills HS, Ben Sherman, Wednesday Update: UFT Officials Led by Leroy Barr Visit - Time to Call Out Supt Juan Mendez

I know him [Ben Sherman] from his prior school. He is a vicious human being! I knew it was only a matter of time until I heard a negative story about him. I was just surprised it wasn't related to a hostile word environment or sexual harassment. The teachers in that school were powerless against him. It seemed as though there was no union support. I feel so happy for the teachers at Forest Hills HS that they are not allowing him to continue to bully his staff. Sweet Poetic Justice!!!....

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Forest Hills/Ben Sherman Update - A Parent Speaks ...": 
We've asked the UFT to provide teachers with an early warning system for new principals to their schools and equip them with the tools to fight back. Not rush in there a year after the shit hit the fan.

A teacher asks:
What can be done to amend the selection process for administrators to prevent Principal's with extensive rap sheets from being appointed. It was pointed out that there were many irregularities concerning the C-30 process and how Sherman was appointed.
What indeed? I sat on the C-30 process back in the mid-90s and it was an absolute joke. I complained to the UFT them. Good luck with that.

Supposedly the principal, Ben Sherman, claimed the no-confidence vote was rigged -- that the CL stuffed the ballot box. I heard from a parent and a teacher -- there's a lot of stuff not out yet. Some are rumors over things Sherman said and did.

Here's a report from the school:
Nearly 100% of the faculty now back Principal's ouster as recorded in four separate hand votes conducted by visiting UFT officials yesterday at the school. UFT Executive Board Asst, Secretary LeRoy Barr, Queens Representatives Amy Arundel, and Washington Sanchez visited the school yesterday and met with almost 100% of the faculty during the teacher's lunch periods to discuss the allegations made against Principal Ben Sherman. Many of these allegations have not yet been made public, but include extremely offensive comments and actions by the Principal toward staff members and students. A list of school reforms were discussed as well, but in the end, by a show of hands it was nearly unanimous, the teachers and other staff want him removed rather than have rules put in place that he would later ignore any way. they pointed out to the UFT officials that all of the other proposals have been suggested for almost a year.

"Why hasn't the UFT President commented or visited the school? Interesting, the lack of concern. He has been invited three times since April. He had promised to come last May, then cancelled. " I think the general needs to tour the battlefield and put down the binoculars," A history teacher at the school said after one of the meetings.

How has Superintendent Mendez, who has presided over the decline in many of these schools and appointed Principal's like this one, escaped scrutiny?

Many wonder why the official union newspaper has neglected the story. In one of the meetings, just about all individuals quoted anonymously in the first NY Post article confirmed that they had made the comments which were reported.

Another couple of things discussed were;

1) How does this Principal remain in place while credibly accused and while being investigated? Can an interim Principal be selected? It was pointed out that if anyone else at the school were alleged to have been involved in any of these things, that "the DOE would shoot first and ask questions later." This refers to the policy of removing teachers from a school who have faced allegations by others

2) What can be done to amend the selection process for administrators to prevent Principal's with extensive rap sheets from being appointed. It was pointed out that there were many irregularities concerning the C-30 process and how Sherman was appointed.

3) What can be done to give the teachers increased voice in how the school is run?

4) What is to be done in the many other schools throughout the City with Principal's who are like this one, some worse?

5) Why hasn't the teacher's union been more proactive in following up the complaints in this school and many others?

You can't stop the patient from bleeding to death with a couple of band aids.

Oakland Teacher Strike - Picket at School Board Meeting

Bring everybody. We must stop the treasonous school board from voting for more budget cuts

Pete Farruggio, PhD
Associate Professor, Bilingual Education (retired)
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

No business as usual.

Today at 3pm the community will be joined by OEA in picketing the school board meeting.  This is our chance to demand no business as usual.  Our school board and superintendent must settle a fair contract with our teachers and answer serious questions about the budget before they hold any more meetings.  At this meeting the school board is planning on voting to cut $3M directly from our school and layoff nearly 150 central staff.  We need an all out effort to shut it down.  

We will start the picket lines at 3pm.  Our goal is to not have the school board cross our picket lines.  A prayer vigil is scheduled for 5pm and a community/OEA press briefing at 5:30.  

If the school board decides to cross our picket, many of us are prepared to shut the meeting down and hold the space as long as we can.

We are expecting a big turnout but we need your help inviting your networks to join us.  It’s time to send the school board a clear message.

Join the community picket line 3-6pm at Wednesday’s school board meeting.  No business as usual.  The school board can not be allowed to convene and vote on budget issues while the teachers are on strike.  Join us.
Mike Hutchinson
OPEN Oakland Public Education Network

Monday, February 25, 2019

Ray Frankel - a Tough UFT Original - Hear Her Oral History

Ray Frankel:  Albert Shanker too comes out of the socialist movement and worked for the election of Socialist Party candidate Norman Thomas in 1948... Oral History at NYU Tamamint Labor Library
[Ray] Frankel, who was the longtime chair of the UFT election committee [since the very first UFT election in 1962], has her place not only in UFT history as a founding member but in New York City labor history. She is the daughter of lifelong activists in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, a background that prepared her well for taking the fight for justice into the public schools. She was one of only five from PS 165 in Manhattan to participate in the pivotal 1960 teachers’ strike.
Frankel brought her dedication and commitment with her when she began teaching at the HS of Art and Design in Manhattan. A tenacious recruiter, she helped the union grow. As Frankel put it, “In my milieu you were either planning a strike, on strike or reminiscing about one.”......
Mike Schirtzer called me tonight and let me know that Ray Frankel passed. (I never made it to the UFT Ex Bd meeting because a tree fell on the train tracks.) I'm sorry I wasn't there to honor Ray, a long-time sparring mate - back to the 70s. We always found Ray tough as nails, a hard-core Unity Caucus acolyte who seemingly had disdain for the opposition. In her later years she seemed to lighten up and I always received a nice greeting from her. 

Ray ran the UFT elections since its inception in 1962 - and was head of the election committee until she passed the torch to Amy Arundell in 2013. But she still played a role, even in the 2016 election. When we ran we were always afraid Ray would knock us off the ballot if we were one signature short. We butted heads with her over election rules for decades.

Ira Goldfine I still remember Ray's face the first time all the groups ran together in the late 70's [I think this was 1981] as New Action Coalition(NAC) (New for New Directions, Action for Teachers Action Caucus and Coalition for the Coalition of NYC School Workers). As we unloaded carton after carton of election petitions she realized that we were running a full slate of 700+ people for the first and I think only time the opposition did it. I think she was in awe but couldn't say it but they had an inkling because that was the year we surprised them and a bunch of us took off a day to bombard almost every single school in the city with election literature.

We found it funny in 2016 that when Solidarity was short candidates to reach the 40 minimum, Ray seemed willing to let it pass -- a sign she was softening -- or playing union politics by dividing the opposition -- but the election committee ruled that a rule is a rule. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt.

Every time I saw Ray she would shake her head and smile -- like how could I still be opposing the policies of the union leadership? I think she believed I was nuts - and she was probably right. 

Priceless audios of Ray Frankel from mid-80s: Socialists organized the UFT and she was a lifelong member of the socialist party.
Ray comes from the Social Democrats USA wing of socialism - as Shanker did - she says she joined the socialist party in the 30s and says she remained a member. They considered themselves socialists but were also very anti-Communist.

For those of you who put down socialists, Ray talks about how the union was organized by socialists. Most teachers did not go out on the first strike -- it was the most conscious - the socialists/activists - who led the strike and the formation of the UFT.

She was more active in the socialist movement than in the union - she joined the Teachers Gild - not the more communist oriented Teacher Union (TU) -- in the 50s. And she talks about democratic centralism without naming it as such. Great stuff if you want an idea of how the UFT and Unity Caucus operates. Her dad was a presser in the ILGWU like my dad - my mom was an operator on the sewing machines.
She talks about how her principal tried to help her organize the teachers in her school -- he was a firm believer in unions. When they struck, her principal, Eddie Gotlieb, refused to turn in their names. Only 5 walked on that first strike - a lesson for today's so-called militants in the UFT, many of whom hide behind anonymity - and also the caucuses who talk strike -- would any of them walk with only 5 teachers in their school?
Ray talks about the founding of the union, UFT elections and UFT caucuses. She describes the very first contentious UFT election between Charlie Cogan and Roger Parente -- see Roger Parente, a UFT founder, dies at 86 -
She talks about losing dues checkoff years after the '75 strike and also the recent mid-80s UFT elections where the opposition (3 caucuses uniting for elections) were beginning to make some headway. She actually talks about those UFT elections with some analysis and about the high school election - I assume that was the election where Mike Shulman was elected to the Adcom in 1985. She talks about the high schools as being a special problem for the union. Nothing's changed. Really illuminating stuff. She also talks about the beginning of caucuses - in 1962 when they organized Unity Caucus to stop Parente who ran against Charlie Cogan -- the Spur Caucus. She discusses the old Teachers Union and how it morphed into a caucus - Teachers Action Caucus - which eventually merged with New Directions - she talks about Anne Filardo, Dave Weiner, Paul Becker. She talks about the other caucus - New Directions - no ideology. And points out how they are ideologically opposite - [they merged into New Action in 1995 but there are still ideological differences]. Ray claims that the fact that Unity had at that point held power for 25 years doesn't mean they lack democracy. She even talks about the union's "no position" on the Vietnam War - it was too divisive -- we've heard that before. But when it came to Solidarity in Poland - a very important issue to them - and they opposed the invasion of Czechoslovakia - but not the invasion of Vietnam -- so many goodies for junkies like me.
There are 3 segments, each about 45-50 minutes. Priceless UFT history from a certain point of view.

Here are Arthur's notes from tonight's Ex Bd meeting in relation to Ray Frankel.
Resolution honoring UFT founder Ray Frankel

George Altomari—There are a lot of things you see in people. Some people do that and more. You hardly even see them. But Ray Frankel was a person who did as much as anyone in the union. When you devote a lifetime to a cause, you have something special. Lots of people saw her in different roles. Ran elections for years. Without her work, you wonder where we would be. She was meticulous about her work. Everyone believed in her honesty. She was there at the very beginning. She always gave more than she received. You could always rely on her. Represented the best of us.

Schoor—She was CL of Art and Design. My mom was secretary. Always asked after her. Always concerned about people after they left, every union member.

LeRoy Barr—I had opportunity to work with her closely. One of first on our wall downstairs. Was always there behind scenes making sure things were running. Dedicated her entire life. Working up until last 2 or three months. Was voice that said you can’t do it this way, you have to do it that way. She added to me, making sure we didn’t just get it done, but got it done right. We are the beneficiaries of her life. Bur for her, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here today.

Approved unanimously.
Given her views on strikes - she was part of the first UFT strikes -- I am reminded of one incident with Ray around 2000-01. This was pre-Bloomberg when Giuliani was our big enemy with lots of anti-union rhetoric - our last contract was the double zero "raises" of 1995.

Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC) held a rally in front of the old UFT HQ at 260 Park Ave South calling for the same kind of action the same people who are now in MORE are calling for in the current UFT election -- asking -- begging - the UFT leadership to prepare the membership for a strike. I joined them for a while in the picket, which took place around 4 PM. I guess there were about 30 people. But I felt uncomfortable with that line of thinking because they seemed to be asking the UFT leadership to do something - a leadership that was a proven commodity -- I even argued with them that if there ever was a strike this leadership was not capable of leading an effective strike because they didn't believe in it. (It led to some ruffled feathers with TJCers). At that time TJC had not yet become an electoral caucus and barely had a presence at the UFT DA.

Anyway, I walked off the picket line and into the UFT lobby -- and there was Ray Frankel, looking out at them and shaking her head, seemingly glad that I had walked off the line. Ray, as an original UFTer, certainly knew about strikes. We might not even have a union if not for people like Ray. "They're talking about a strike? Meshuganas", she said.

But there is irony here in that not long afterwards Randi actually did start whispering the S word and we actually took a strike authorization vote, which was a clear publicity stunt. Given the current situation, I do believe every union needs to have a strike threat.

Forest Hills HS Monday Morn Update: Is UFT Behind Attacks on Principal Ben Sherman as Retaliation on CSA?

Mulgrew at Feb. 11, 2019 Ex Bd: We need to implement new contract. Union that reps principals hates our contract. They went to PERB against Bronx plan. We know schools run better with partnership and collaboration. CSA hates it. Says they don’t mean harm, but they want it stopped. When I hear of principals who don’t give instructional supplies, there is a procedure. He has five days, or it goes to superintendent, and then to me. Union that reps admin doesn’t like our agreement. Too bad. They don’t get to interpret what’s in our contract. ... NYC Educator report
Mulgrew repeated these comments about the CSA at the Del Ass two days later. This may be a stretch, but I am going to try to connect some dots between Mulgrew's aggression towards the CSA and insider reports I am getting that the UFT was behind the recent no confidence vote in principal Ben Sherman at FHHS and the media campaign (here, here and here). Maybe  a warning shot across the bow of the CSA?

Ed Notes readers know how critical I and other bloggers have been about UFT inaction or tepid responses over principals who go too far. Every time I have spoken at the UFT Ex Bd over the past 10 years it has been about principals and why the union doesn't take a more public stance. The response has often been that they work behind the scenes, that they bring it up at the monthly consult meetings with the chancellor and that the CSA is another union and open attacks are not a good idea.

Some ask why not use the NY Teacher to go after principals? It seems the UFT wants to use outside press when possible. From my conversations with insiders it seems there are some people who want to be more aggressive with principals and others in the leadership who feel they have other fish to fry and that the CSA is a useful political ally in bigger battles.

Of course many of we critics think dealing with supervisors is the biggest fish to fry. The funny think is, that after 7 years of being in a leading opposition group like MORE, I have come to the conclusion that they also feel they have bigger fish to fry. You may see it mentioned but MORE won't do any real work around the issue. New Action does spend time talking about bad admins and Solidarity has made that issue a focal point. But the reality has been that no opposition caucus has ever had the ability to do much. Now if the day ever comes that they combine - we'd have 30 really active people instead of 7 in each caucus.

The most effective field of operation seems to have been using the UFT Ex Bd meetings to bring people to raise issues and Arthur and Mike and Jonathan have played a role in bringing people and Arthur's reports on what they say have put UFT leaders on the spot.

At the last meeting Jonathan brought some people. She described an awful situation. Here is Arthur's report:
Yvonne Riesen—reps 10X213—BETA—dress in blue in solidarity for right of basic instructional supplies, no microscope, scales, money allocated not committed, no paper. Must dig through garbage for paper—principal verbally abusive, spreads fear, probationaries in tears, ATRs demoralized, take 4 in row or two C6 per day. Furniture falling apart, fights break out, fires, and we’re told not to use alarms. Teacher passed out and they debated who to call. Tyrannical nature of principal. Oppressive, incompetent admin goes unchecked. We need to move forward, and we can’t under this principal.

Schoor—Send me what you wrote. We will bring it up with DOE. Debbie Poulos will look at your complaint. Basic instructional supply issues have been being resolved quickly. We will send people to your school.
Howie saying they bring it up at the next consultation meeting is not satisfactory. He faulted Farina for not giving much of shit but says Caranza is more responsive. (UFT insiders say he is clueless and gets the runaround by the bureaucrats. These people are suffering. Pick up the phone and call Caranza and don't wait for the monthly meeting.

If I go tonight to the EB - I don't like cold windy days - I may bring some of these points up. Or I may stay out her snug as a bug and let Arthur do all the work.

Taking a birds eye view, are there signs that Janus has pushed the leadership to be more aggressive? More open to other points of view? We had some intense discussions touching in this point at the recent ICEUFT meeting, which I may report on - or not - a key point being that I never ordered rice pudding.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Behind the Oakland Teacher Strike: Contacts in Oakland, Ravitch, Jacobin

So yes, this is a takeover — this time, the county does the dirty work. But the OUSD board has been acting in this way for years — acting as the local executors of the corporate assault on public education. This is not a revelation. The real question is: Why did CTA support AB1840?  .... Jack Gerson
What's interesting about recent strikes in WV, LA, Oakland, Denver is the push back against Ed Deform: charters, merit pay, takeovers.

Diane has been on the case: Oakland: Day One of the Strike for Higher Pay, Student Services, and an End to Privatization - she has the press release from the union.
Updated- and this just in from Diane:

Oakland: The Art of the Strike

by dianeravitch

You’ve heard of Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” where he boasts of his great success as a deal-maker and negotiator. We now know that the book was ghost written by Tony Schwartz and is completely inauthentic. His read Art of the Deal consists of bluster, threats, and intransigence.
Here is the art of the strike. Oakland teachers speak out.

WV teachers
Two old "Another View in District 14", the caucus I was in at the time contacts from the early 70s are based in Oakland and have been in touch.

See an interview with Jack Gerson: Interview of retired Oakland teacher, activist and socialist, Jack Gerson. He talks about the how the Oakland school district (and public education) has been systematically strangled and dismantled and created the conditions for the Oakland strike. We talk about where the strike is going and where we think it may need to go to be successful
Denver strike

From one of my old colleagues at PS 16K: Pete F.
I thought you should see this, about Oakland. In short, the plan is 1) Hide the $30+ million they have in surplus by an accounting sleight of hand, 2) Declare a deficit of that same amount, and 3) Invite a de facto state takeover, as outlined below, so they can privatize a significant portion of the city's schools

Forest Hills/Ben Sherman Update - A Parent Speaks to Us, NY Post Front Page, Is UFT Working Behind Scenes?

It's bloggers' field days over the FHHS story.
My reports so far - with links to other bloggers:
 Today's NY Post Sue Edelman story on front page:

This should finish Principal Ben Sherman off - DOE hates publicity like this -- but the  key guy here is Queens HS Supt Mendez. Time to demand his tenure end.

The Problems At Forest Hills High School Makes The Newspapers While The DOE Expresses Little Concern - The problems at Forest Hills High School has reached the newspapers as the *New York Post *and the *Queens Chronicle* have articles dealin... 

It's PARTY TIME at Forest Hills High School! - At least, that's the clear implication I see here: *Principal Ben Sherman, who joined Forest Hills in 2017, shrugs off the pot-puffing — saying “it’s goi... 

A parent at the school has been in touch and I may have more info later.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Queens Chronicle - Forest Hills HS, Principal Ben Sherman Under Attack - Where is the UFT Leadership?

The FHHS story escalates.We reported the other day:

90% of Forest Hills HS Staff Votes No Confidence in Principal Ben Sherman

Eterno at ICE:
I was pleasantly surprised to see a strong article in the Queens Chronicle where Unity Chapter Leader Adam Bergstein has many strong quotes critical of Forest Hills Principal Ben Sherman and Superintendent Juan Mendez. It has been many years since I have seen a chapter leader from Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus speak this forcefully against a principal. The staff voted 195-21 no confidence in Principal Sherman last week.... James Eterno, ICEBlog
James is right. It is time for the leaders of the UFT to take a public stand and not offer the pablum of - we will bring this up to the chancellor at next month's meeting. Since Bergstein is a Unity CL we know he would have been ducking unless the leadership gave him permission* so this may be a sign that the recent campaign is having an effect. A few FHHS teachers went to the UFT Ex Bd meeting last spring after contacting us and we put them in touch with Mike and Arthur to offer them encouragement.

*Unity CLs owe loyalty to the leadership more than the members they represent.
The long-time problem in Queens HS has been Juan Mendez -- this is where we need to focus attention.

Here are the latest stories from Queens Chronicle, ICEUFT, NYCEducator

Teachers unhappy with FH principal - Queens Courier

Arthur goes at it again

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

School Scope: Ulrich Attacks Anti-Amazons as NIMBYS While He Joins NIMBY Protest of Rockaway Shelter By Norm Scott

I wrote this story which will appear in this Friday's (Feb. 22) edition of The WAVE about my Republican - yes Republican - local city Councilman - Eric Ulrich - who has ambitions to be mayor and is using the public advocate race as a base. As the only Republican against 17 Dems, people in Rockaway are giving him a chance. Then came the Amazon story and Eric (who I like personally and feel he does a good job repping us) wrote a letter to The WAVE excoriating the anti-Amazon crowd of Dems.

Then I opened the NYT today to see a front page link  to P. 21 - A Prime Advantage - speculating that Eric's pro-Amazon stance gives him a real shot to win the public advocate race - imagine a Republican in that position - and get your ass out to vote - preferably for Jumaane Williams. The Times piece is worth reading before you read my column below. 

Can a Republican Win a Citywide Race in N.Y.? Maybe, With Amazon’s Help

And Leonie has an excellent piece on Nyet to Amazon:

School Scope: Ulrich Attacks Anti-Amazons as NIMBYS While He Joins NIMBY Protest of Rockaway Shelter
By Norm Scott

“Long before Amazon announced that New York had won a share of its second-headquarters sweepstakes, tech was a rising force in the local economy. Google, which already has thousands of workers in New York, plans to double its work force in the city and build a $1 billion campus just south of the West Village. Facebook, Apple, Uber and other companies are also expanding their presences, as is a rising generation of homegrown companies. Even Amazon itself said Thursday that it planned to keep adding to its New York work force.”… Even Without Amazon, Tech Could Keep Gaining Ground in New York, NYT, Feb. 15, 2019.

Oh the anguish, the weeping, the rending of garments over Amazon’s walking away from the Cuomo-DeBlasio gift of three billion bucks. Our local city councilman, Eric Ulrich, running for Public Advocate, seemed particularly upset in his letter to The WAVE: “Now What Dopes? It never ceases to amaze me how the loud voices of the few, could destroy the chance for a better life for so many…. I doubt the NIMBYS [Not in my back yard] have another company willing to create 25,000 good paying jobs.”

At the same time Ulrich joined hundreds of Rockaway NIMBYs protesting the shelter on 101St. Sometimes NIMBYS need to be listened too, not denigrated for trying to protect their neighborhoods. There is a connection to the Amazon and shelter stories. Has anyone checked the awful homeless situation in Seattle, due in part to Amazon? My first thought when I heard of the Amazon deal was a guaranteed bump in homelessness in NYC. At the very least, Amazon could have offered to build some shelters in their new neighborhood. From the NYT: In a typical month, a top Long Island City real estate broker sells about 40 condos. In December, after Amazon announced that it was coming to Queens, he sold 300 units. Nice – for landlords and profiteers. Ulrich is running for public advocate on the grounds he will be a check on the mayor but when activists tried to be a check on the mayor and governor, he mocks them. Eric needs a primer on capitalism: It’s about profit and paying workers as little as possible, which is easy when unchecked by unions, increases profit. Dave Leonhardt in the NYT wrote: “Thank You, New York - The city did the rest of the country a favor. Corporate-relocation handouts are terrible economic policy.” He called it corporate welfare and anti-capitalist, socialism for corporations.

How would Rockaway, Howard Beach or Ozone Park react if Amazon planted itself in their midst without offering improvements in transportation or offering to build a few schools to handle the children of its new employees, or contribute to fire and police or roads? Amazon just took and gave nothing. Transit and traffic is already a mess. Rents are out of whack and the middle class is being hollowed out and pushed out of the city. But Amazon did offer to teach kids coding. Big whoopee.

Ulrich is willing to believe Amazon. Sure, all those jobs are really high paying, while in so many Amazon workplaces there are workers on welfare, the Staten Island Amazon gulag, for example. Ulrich supports the Amazon deal despite its vicious anti-unionism. Guess what? Unionized workers actually do get higher paying jobs. He also seems to support the secretive undercover process Cuomo and De Blasio engaged in. Ulrich doesn’t seem to like that we have the right to vet these agreements and question corporate giveaways that have been so disappointing. (See Foxconn in Wisconsin.)

There’s a lot more depth to this situation that needed to be explored but Amazon doesn’t want spotlights on them. There are fears Amazon would be recruiting workers globally and displace longtime residents from LIC, many of whom are working class. Transit and traffic is already a mess in LIC. Rents are out of whack and pushing people out of the area. Activists like congresswoman AOC have changed the rules of engagement which have favored unfettered growth and secret arrangements by politicians and corporations. Amazon wanted no oversight. Their response to having the deal questioned was tepid and anti-democratic. There is a vetting process. That is democracy. Amazon may have even gotten it passed with some modifications due to support from Cuomo and de Blasio but only wants to do business behind closed doors. So Amazon walked. Good riddance.

Norm gripes daily at his blog at

Monday, February 18, 2019

UPDATED: 90% of Forest Hills HS Staff Votes No Confidence in Principal Ben Sherman

Hi Norm
Got some news for you concerning Our beloved Principal Sherman.  The faculty voted 195-21 that Ben Sherman is the wrong individual to lead our school.  A No Confidence vote was held Thursday and over 90% of faculty rejected his leadership.
Thanks. Can I publish on the blog? -- Norm
Please do.  The Principal and the Superintendent mendez are avid readers of your blog.  When you Google his name, the blogs are almost all that come up?
Arthur has a great piece up on the story with more info.

Forest Hills High School UFT Votes No Confidence in Principal Ben Sherman 195-21 

I left this comment at NYC Educator: UFT leaders have know about this situation for a year. There needs to be more than bringing these stories up to the chancellor once a month. 90% vote of no confidence should strike a note somewhere. We need to see a public response from the UFT, not backdoor negotiating.

Chaz chimes in:

Here are some blogs published by James and me.

Teachers from Forest Hills HS have touched base with James Eterno and Mike Schirtzer, who forwarded this to Ed Notes.
Abusive Principal Ben Sherman: Forest Hills HS Teachers Issue Declaration of Independence


West Virginia Teachers to Strike Over Charter Push

While the bill did include the promised pay raise that resulted from last year's strike, it also included the introduction of charter schools to the state as well as the creation of education savings accounts that parents could tap into for homeschooling or private school tuition.... CNN
Last year's strike was victorious - all schools were closed down by the Superintendents and teachers didn't lose any pay. Since WV doesn't have any charters, there were no alternatives. My immediate thoughts were that there would be retribution to prevent this situation from happening again. And so it has come to pass with a law establishing charters and I heard rumors that teachers may lose pay even if schools are closed down. (Not sure of this one but we will see what happens after the strike - and also how far reaching it will be - it looks like this is led by the state AFT - let's see where grassroots leadership goes.

Ravitch reports:

West Virginia: Teachers Will Walk Out Again Because of Broken Promises

by dianeravitch
A year ago, teachers in every school in all 55 counties in West Virginia closed down the schools when they walked out to protest low pay, high healthcare costs, and the looming threat of school choice.
They were promised a 5% salary increase, a commission to figure out how to low healthcare costs, and a veto by the governor if the legislature tried to pass school choice, which would drain even more money away from the state's ill-funded schools.
The legislators lied. They are in the midst of passing legislation to pull the rug out from under the teachers, the kids, and the public schools. The legislature wants charters and vouchers, even thought the governor promised to veto such a bill.
The teachers are going out again.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Denver Teacher Strike Over Randi Weingarten Supported Merit Pay Ends

May 6, 2010 -- Denver Post... AFT's Randi Weingarten weighs in
Wednesday’s endorsement of Senate Bill 191 by the American Federation of Teachers did not phase many in Colorado but caused quite a stir around the nation.

Nevertheless, AFT President Randi Weingarten said her organization’s support of the bill shouldn’t come as a surprise.
In January, Weingarten made a speech urging her 1.4 million members to accept a form of teacher evaluation that takes student achievement into account.

In that speech Weingarten called for more frequent and more rigorous evaluations and said she wanted standardized test scores and other measures of student performance to be part of the process....
Back in 2010, Randi Weingarten, apparently to the surprise of the world -- but not to us here in NYC and other cities on her sellout tour (Newark, Detroit) -- endorsed the Colorado teacher evaluation plan.
The strike is over but let's never forget the role Randi Weingarten played in pushing the ideas of merit pay in the first place. Here is my post from April 17, 2017 where I recalled Randi's support, consistent with her role in Newark (with pal Corry Booker), Detroit, Hartford in supporting essentials of ed deform.

UPDATED -- John Lawhead sent this link:

Randi Weingarten: Sleight of Hand Artist - Part 1
Ken Derstine
April 19, 2015

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Incredible Shrinking UFT Election: Unity Wins, Unity Wins

I made my prediction on the outcome of the UFT election. Duhhhhhh!

Here's the leaflet I handed out at the Feb. 13, 2019 Delegate Assembly - which was today. I got some positive feedback and a few scowls. This may be a serial. Look for the next installment at the March DA. If you want to share with others email me for a pdf.

The Incredible Shrinking UFT Election: Unity Wins, Unity Wins
Three Opposition Caucuses compete for anti-Unity votes
By Norm Scott
When UFT members get their election ballots in March, they will have a choice of four slates. And Unity Caucus will win every position. New Action, MORE, and Solidarity will vie with each other for the anti-Unity vote, which in 2016 totaled around 12,000 votes. This will be the first time in my (fading) memory that three distinct slates will be “challenging” Unity, clearly making it impossible to win anything, yet alone the election as a whole. Over the past 40 years, anti-Unity totals have varied between 10-12,000 votes, but these totals may drop due to the confusion of 3 opposition slates. In the recent contract vote, the NO votes also totaled around 12,000, a consistent anti-Unity block, but a snippet given there are almost 200,000 members, including retirees. 70% don’t vote. Why? Because UFT elections are a locked box with Unity in total control due to the number of at-large positions where retiree votes are a major factor. Only divisional Ex Bd positions are winnable - elementary (11), middle (5) and high school (7) Ex Bd seats where retirees do not vote. And to win any of these requires one caucus opposing Unity. And the only chance to win those is to have a united opposition.

With nothing at stake this time vote totals will drop, especially with the recent 85% contract approval. Each caucus is running a limited slate of about 45 candidates. Call this one “the incredible shrinking election.”

The inability to unite is a naked admission that nothing can be won. Yet we see false misleading messages of bravado (we need to change the leadership of the UFT) in opposition literature. Ignore what they say and consider it fake advertising.

There was a lot of hope in 2016 when New Action left its 12 year coalition with Unity Caucus and ran with MORE, attracting well over 300 candidates, considerably extending the outreach of the opposition. Solidarity was a new and unproven caucus of relatively few members and didn’t even gather the required 40 candidates needed to run a slate and did not get on the ballot. (This time it appears they will.) The high school seats were won by the opposition and when adding up the middle school votes, a win in both divisions was possible this time. The only thing that made sense this time was for everyone to run as a united front. Some of us tried valiantly to put this together but failed.

So what happened? MORE refused to run with anyone else and is using the election to push its program. New Action wanted to run with MORE but not with Solidarity. Oy vey! Talk about taking the eye off the prize: mining those 12,000 anti-Unity votes to build a far-reaching opposition as opposed to promoting the brand of your own caucus.

Furthermore, MORE leaders make it clear they have no intention of trying to win any seats (declaring the winning of high school seats in 2016 “a disaster”) and purposely running only candidates for at-large non-winnable positions.

MORE has morphed from its original idea of a “big tent” opposition where various ideologies were welcome in the contention of ideas to a much narrower ideology based on the political positions taken by the old Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC) which merged with ICE/UFT in founding MORE in 2012. That coalition has fallen apart and ICE members were invited to leave MORE and many have. ICE/UFT has divided loyalties in this election, with many, including myself, sitting this one out, skeptical that the 20 year old TJC ideas of strike preparation that had failed to resonate with the rank and file from the late 90s through 2012 will strike gold this time. MORE is counting on the red state and big city teacher strikes in Chicago, Denver, Oakland and Los Angeles to resonate with UFT members. We in ICE/UFT (no longer an electoral caucus) think these ideas require deeper discussion, including the key issues of our pay vs. theirs, Taylor Law penalties, working conditions here and there and the 87% contract approval, a contract which MORE opposed vehemently. The MORE leadership did not want to have these discussions and ICE/UFT is the only place in the UFT where these discussions are taking place.

I and others have pretty much given up the ghost of building a viable opposition and we have become free agents, unattached to any caucus. MORE elected High School reps Mike Schirtzer and Arthur Goldstein, CL of the 300 member Francis Lewis HS, seeing no alternative, have been wooed by Unity and are running as independents for the EB on the Unity line with no strings attached. Mindy Rosier-Rayburn came to MORE after leading a valiant battle against charter school magnate Eva Moskowitz’ attempt to throw her school out of the building. Mindy has become a political force of nature, one of the early leading voices for Bernie Sanders (and a Bernie delegate to the 2016 Democratic Party convention) – a position contrary to the UFT leadership. She has now joined Unity without having to sign the loyalty oath.

How did MORE lose an entire progressive wing of the opposition over the past two years? For that answer see Education Notes at the March Delegate Assembly or get details at the blog,

Sunday, February 10, 2019

School Scope - Where Do Public Advocate Candidates Stand on Education Issues?

Published Feb. 8, 2019

School Scope: Where Do Public Advocate Candidates Stand on Education Issues?
By Norm Scott

I ask the question because from reading The WAVE’s coverage based on interviews with some of the candidates, I don’t see questions or comments related to push-button education issues like over reliance on testing, teachers being evaluated based on tests, support for public education and schools, as opposed to privately managed charters which pull funding from real public schools while also imposing rigid and oppressive controls over children while also suffering a high turnover rate of teachers, the education-industrialist complex which enriches itself on the backs of policy decisions pushed by their lobbyists, the class size debate, and more.

Let’s take our native Republican, Erich Ulrich, whose half page front page photo in the Jan. 25th edition of The WAVE was joined by another half-page of coverage on p. 12.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Memo from the RTC: Andrew Barth Feldman Opens on Broadway in Evan Hansen as Wizard of Oz Hits Final Weekend

Published in The WAVE, Feb. 8, 2019

Memo from the RTC: Andrew Barth Feldman Opens on Broadway in Evan Hansen as Wizard of Oz Hits Final Weekend
By Norm Scott

Exactly two years ago, Andrew Barth Feldman was a 14-year old on the stage of the Rockaway Theatre Company’s Young People’s Workshop production of Singin’ in the Rain playing the role Donald O’Connor made famous as Cosmo Brown in the film version with his amazing dancing. Last week Andrew made his Broadway debut as the lead in Dear Evan Hansen at the age of 16, to a great deal of publicity, apparently the first teen to head a Broadway show. Groups of RTC people were there for his first two nights, when he received standing ovations. While everyone at the RTC knew Andrew’s talent would take him far one day, people are wide-eyed at the speed with which this occurred. Now the entire theater world and a good section of the public, due to the amount of media coverage, know what everyone at the RTC knew over the past 5 years.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Chicago CORE Caucus Holds Internal Election

Slate Z has won the Leadership Slate Run-Off election.... FB post
I think there's something brewing in Chicago but I am not clear exactly what yet. With a general union election coming this May, the ruling CORE caucus is picking a slate. But in what seems very unusual, they had to hold an internal election. That would be like Unity holding an internal election to decide who is running for president in the general union election. There certainly seems to be some divisions in CORE, and from what I've heard, somewhat analogous to what went on here in MORE. Except in MORE they just throw you out if you disagree. Well, some people in CORE did try to purge the late George Schmidt and failed (CORE Attempted Purge of One of Founders George Schmidt Failed in Chicago - Eight Women of Color Speak on George's Behalf).

Mike Schirtzer sent me some links. Here is what info I have: Slate Z won with 63% of the vote over Slate W. Now check the people on the losing side - slate W - which lost almost 2-1. I don't have any info on what the issues were that caused this division - caucuses within a caucus -- actually, when MORE first former I argued that there were factions in the room and maybe that should be recognized. Recently I've been attending Democratic Socialist (DSA) meetings and discovered that they too have internal caucuses.

Sharon Schmidt has been trying to keep Substance updated. Here is her post from Feb. 1 with the W slate.

CORE slate endorsement from CTU Recording Secretary Michael Brunson

As the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) chooses its slate for the May 2019 union elections in an online vote this week, long-time CORE member and CTU Recording Secretary Michael Brunson urged CORE voters to support Slate W:

President: Jesse Sharkey
Vice President: Jackie Ward
Recording Secretary: Nancy Serrano
Financial Secretary: Tammie Vinson

For Trustees:
Drew Heisserman
Nancy Serrano
Tammie Vinson
Alison Eichhorn
Lois Ward

Does this mean the people who have been running the CTU for 9 years did not win?

Here are some FB comments with hints of the divisions:
This was a win for principles and CORE values. Never before has the ruling caucus had to win an election. Just like we made history when we forced Rahm into a runoff. Those that value transparency and democracy won when we pushed the machine to a runoff. We have a Machine leadership whose campaign tactics reflect their expertise in being “King makers” and “election strategy” and “campaign tactics”. It’s a shame what they did to Drew and Allison. 
Phew. That's a heavy comment on the leadership. Here is a peace gesture:
 Now it’s time to unite and defend CORE
Unity for the Municipal elections

Hopefully we will that right

Karen: “...if we want justice then we have to change the political landscape.”

(Reference to upcoming municipal elections)
We'll update if more info comes in.

The Daily Howler on AOC

I get a kick out of the commentary and comments which range from left to right on this blog.

Markey defers to Ocasio-Cortez!


In praise of talent—and gumption:
Talent is always in short supply. Also in short supply?


We've been thrilled by the talent, but also by the remarkable gumption, of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Yesterday, we were appreciative of the way Senator Markey deferred to her in the public roll-out of the Green New Deal proposal.

Good for Markey, and good for Ocasio-Cortez, whose gumption has been inspiring. It isn't every day that this combination comes along. We'll only wave this one caution flag—celebrity can do vast harm.

We were glad to see Markey behave as he did. Gumption must be served!

(Mateo, on Halloween evening, in Jim Sheridan's 2003 film, In America: "When luck comes knocking at your door, you can't turn it away.")

Gumption definitely. Talent? Ask yourself if you'd say she had talent if she spoke the same content in the same valley girl manner, but weighed 400 lbs and looked like a female Michael Moore. It's OK, this kind of misjudgment happens to all of us.
Yeah - Bernie Sanders. What a piece of ass.

Jeff Kaufman in The WAVE - Far Rockaway High School Programmers Take 1st Place in Queens Regional Hackathon Meet

Over 10 years ago, Jeff Kaufman, a warrior in the battle against Unity and a former ICEUFT member of the UFT Ex Bd along with James Eterno, got out of the business of opposition caucus politics, pointing out there was nothing much to gain in terms of growth.

James Eterno and I didn't take the same path and now with the chaos in the opposition in the UFT we see that Jeff was on the right track. We have discussed taking up golf.

Since then Jeff has come out to Rockaway to coding teach at the former Far Rockaway HS campus - the school was closed and divided in multiple schools. Jeff has urged me to stop by and check things out and maybe even volunteer - I do have a coding background. So maybe this blog will morph into something else -- coding and golf.

Note the theme the kids worked on was social justice oriented. Jeff doesn't get enough credit for the work he has done in that area, especially prison reform.

Good luck Jeff and kids in the next level of the hackathon.

Far Rockaway High School Programmers Take 1st Place in Queens Regional Hackathon Meet

By Jeff Kaufman

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

On NYCDOE Governance - the ICEUFT Plan from the past- Keeping the flame alive

With mayoral control locked in, alternatives are pretty much off the table in the poilitical world. And in the UFT. When mayoral control first came up in 2001-2, the UFT supported it while I as Ed Notes opposed it, one of the lone voices openly standing up. I was in touch with George Schmidt in Chicago, which had had mayoral control since 1994 and knew the consequences. So I tried to be Paul Revere and warn everyone - but to no avail. This was pre-ICE days and none of the other caucuses took up the issue. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela's Coup Leader | The Grayzone

Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization. ....
Only a few months ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. Even in his own party, Guaidó had been a mid-level figure in the opposition-dominated National Assembly, which is now held under contempt according to Venezuela’s constitution.
But after a single phone call from from US Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom-dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the US-selected leader of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves. 
While Guaidó seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, he was, in fact, the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the US government’s elite regime change factories. Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela’s socialist-oriented government, destabilize the country, and one day seize power.
What a wonderful character being pushed to bring "democracy" to Venezuela - I say with tongue planted deeply in cheek. Democracy means the freedom to privatize and steal Venezuelan oil. Actions of the neocons run true to a 170 years of history of interference in Latin American politics. Even if Maduro was Allende like he would be under attack. He's not.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Memo from the RTC: Wizard of Oz Hits Second Weekend

Memo from the RTC: Wizard of Oz Hits Second Weekend
By Norm Scott
Jan. 28, 2019 - Published Feb. 1, 2019 in The WAVE - 

The RTC Young People's Musical Theatre Workshops’ presentation of the Wizard of Oz opened last weekend, with two weekends to go. With an enormous talent pool of a hundred children and teens, the producers created two entire casts which will split the ten performances. I saw the Emerald cast while video taping upstairs from the booth and can’t wait to go back to see the Ruby cast this weekend. Walk the yellow brick road right to your seats.

School Scope: Teachers Go Wild with Strikes in Virginia, Denver, Los Angeles, and a Wildcat in Oakland

Published in The WAVE print edition, Feb. 1, 2019.

School Scope: Teachers Go Wild with Strikes in Virginia, Denver, Los Angeles, and a Wildcat in Oakland
By Norm Scott
January 28, 2019

Teacher strike fever has struck the nation. Last year we saw the anti-union Trump red state strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky. Teachers revolted, not only against the Republican state legislatures and governors, but against their own union leaderships that often urge caution. This week thousands of teachers in Virginia left their classrooms to march in a rally at the capitol. Virginia Educators United, a grassroots campaign formed by educators, parents and members of the community, organized the rally on Monday. The movement has spread to blue states where stronger union leaderships have taken leadership. Denver teachers are going on strike. Teachers are getting the message that going it alone as a union without outside support is a losing proposition. Pay has been a key factor, one reason we won’t see similar actions here in the UFT.

United Teachers, Los Angeles (UTLA) strike Ends - Charter Schools Curbs on the Agenda
In Los Angeles, the pay issue seemed to take second place – both sides agreed on a roughly 6% raise. Contrary to what has happened here in NYC where the opposition to Unity Caucus’ domination of the UFT has been in disarray, in 2014, a group of teachers in LA came together under the banner of “Union Power” an amalgam of various groups and independents and won the election under the leadership of Alex Caputo-Pearl. I first met Alex about 10 years ago when he was a high school teacher and also an elected member of the UTLA Executive Board and it was clear he had a strong vision that went far beyond narrow trade unionism. (See NYT:

Caputo-Pearl and his team began preparing the membership for a strike from the day he took office, with 99% of the teachers supporting a strike. They built alliances with parent and community groups by not only emphasizing raises but also calling for drastic class size reductions and more support personnel like librarians, school nurses and guidance counselors. And through these tactics, they seem to have won a great victory.

The elected school board in LA has been under the control of the pro-charter billionaire boys club led by Eli Broad and they have installed hedge fund managers instead of educators to run the schools, with a pro-charter bent. Broad tried to push through an initiative to turn half the schools into charters. Broad wasn’t successful in trying to undermine public education, but hasn’t given up. Charters get support as a way break teacher unions, as has been done in New Orleans which no longer has any public schools. The UTLA’s call for a moratorium on charters got some results, at the very least putting a discussion in the public sphere.

[Speaking of charter moratoriums, here in NYC some district community education councils are taking stands against charter expansion in their district. Tonight [Tuesday Jan. 29] I’m going to the District 15 CEC meeting (Park Slope and Sunset Park) where such a resolution is on the table.]

The media, other than the right wing Fox types, has been mostly friendly to teachers over their recent struggles. What is interesting is that LA is a the first big city strike since Chicago in 2012 started the strike fever and California is a blue state totally controlled by Democrats, many of whom have also been charter friendly. My litmus test for any candidate running for president is whether they showed up on the UTLA picket lines or offered support, threatening contributions from pro-charter hedge hogs.

Let’s see how many candidates in the upcoming Public Advocate campaign take a pro-union, anti-charter stand. The WAVE is taking this election seriously and doing some great work. I will be perusing the interviews with the candidates for where they stand on the big education issues of the day.

Norm is one of the few people in NYC not running for public advocate but check his blog,, in case he changes his mind.

The fight continues ✊️: NYC DOE OTs & PTs ratify contract after first contested agreement since 1995

Statement on behalf of OTs & PTs for A Fair Contract

NYC DOE OTs & PTs ratify contract after first contested agreement since 1995

Press kit 

The results are in: a new contract was ratified by United Federation of Teachers-represented occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) who work for the NYC DOE by fewer than 100 votes in a department that is 2,700 strong. The OTs and PTs For A Fair Contract campaign was opposed to ratification because it makes little improvement to our working conditions, which are our student’s learning conditions.

Therapists were blindsided by this deal. We were given one day to process it, one day to try to rearrange childcare and second-job commitments to travel to a union borough office to vote, one day to shift gears after having rejected the initial contract put forth in October 2018 and protesting relentlessly for parity, resources and respect ever since. The night before the vote, around 50 OTs and PTs spent hours at the monthly Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) meeting awaiting their last chance to educate Chancellor Carranza and the mayor’s educational policy advisors about why they are so dismayed by the city’s offer. The PEP members’ responses revealed a woeful lack of understanding of the our working conditions. Geneal Chacon, member representing the Bronx, had this to say:

“I do not have a child that receives any of the services, but, I am that parent volunteer who is very visible in the schools and I notice the work. The hard work…. So, I get it. I’m totally with you. That is something that I do support. That you guys are coming out and you are asking for equity and equality. Because I think you do deserve it. I don’t know the specifics, this is the first I’m hearing of it, so thank you for the very detailed information.”

Our demands for parity were not met because we will still earn significantly less than our colleagues in the special education department including speech therapists, counselors and social workers. Our educational differential, or the income earned for receiving a Masters or Doctorate degree, is $5,000 short of what teachers and speech therapists are granted. Therapists hired after September, 2019 will be placed on a track to senior status that will be 4 years longer than at present. That’s 4 more years with a salary that can hardly keep up with the cost of living in New York City and the costly price of post-graduate level college debt. While we serve students with disabilities, we are still not given, in legally binding terms, the right to receive benefits under the Family Medical Leave Act to care for a loved own should a disabling condition impact them. To the city’s credit, a clause in our contract will attempt to correct this inequity through establishing a committee to encourage and ensure leaves.

Our demands for resources were not met because we were not provided, in legally binding terms, access to an appropriate work space. The Blue Book formula which articulates required space utilization in schools does not ensure an appropriate setting for occupational and physical therapy. Children with disabilities should not be receiving therapy, or any other kind of academic instruction for that matter, in hallways or rooms that are otherwise used by multiple groups of people, with multiple activities co-occurring, as a standard operating procedure. When schools are co-located, as often times they are, therapy rooms are the first to disappear and be converted into offices for more administrators. That common practice leaves children, their teachers and related service providers in a substandard setting (i.e. basement, boiler room) or sometimes none at all (i.e. hallway, lobby or vestibule). Not having a consistent, appropriate space in which to provide services and teach is a travesty of justice that is nothing short of institutionalized discrimination against students with disabilities.

Evelyn Choudhury is the parent of a child with an IEP who attends PS 111, a school facing the loss of its therapy room as the result of a co-location. She has this to say: “As a parent whose school experienced a co-location and is going through another one, it seems imperative for parents to advocate for the integrity of therapeutic services. Many times PT/OT rooms are left out of the co-location planning which  directly affects the children and therapist.”
Our demands for respect were not met. We are dedicated, direct service providers for children with disabilities and yet, we are not worthy of enforceable access to the benefits afforded under the FMLA. We were given contractual clauses that pledge to form committees to address resource and benefit shortfalls that our campaign has raised. But without legally binding terms, this set of toothless, unenforceable clauses is insufficient. We ask ourselves what kind of contract the families we serve would want. Would our contract be satisfactory to families of children with disabilities?

We will continue to advocate for our professions, our children and our right to equal pay for equal work. We are mostly women; we have children of our own; we have disabled children of our own. We know this fight is bigger than us and that it is vital to continue.

Despite our criticisms, we are public school proud and union proud. We  believe our efforts can raise the standards within the institutions we hold dear when it comes to respecting the needs of children with disabilities and those who work to see them flourish. The key to bringing about the changes we envision is an activated membership and a union with transparent procedures that encourages membership involvement and initiative.