Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Wednesday May 1 5:30 at Cipriani -- NYC Teachers, Students and Activists to Protest Secretary of Education Betsy Devos As She Receives an Award

Join teachers, students, and activists outside of Cipriani 42nd St. to protest Betsy DeVos's return to New York as she receives an award from a think tank. DeVos has worked tirelessly to expand federal vouchers and cut education spending. DeVos backs Trump’s proposal to cut education spending by $8.5 billion in 2020, eliminating more than two dozen programs that help public schools, including teacher development, academic support and enrichment, and after-school activities.

More details here:


Sunday, April 28, 2019

UFT Election Overall and Retiree Data: Halabi Reports

Mulgrew had 37,000 votes and over 20,000 came from retirees, a warning shot across the bow of the UFT leadership and to some extent it explains their reaching out to former opposition people to stay on the Ex Bd by running on the Unity line. It won't do them much good as the UFT needs deep structural changes instead of cosmetic ones.
It was a bad election for the UFT. Vote totals were down across the board. My caucus, New Action, did particularly poorly
Unity did sweep the seats. But the group that has a monopoly on power has a growing inability to turn out votes, even after turning a popular chapter leader of a huge school, and a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter, with following.....
....Unity can claim a victory – they took an absolute majority of the high school votes for the first time since I’ve been a teacher… but with their second lowest vote total in years, perhaps ever.
I’ve seen speculation about who came in second overall. These results make me think Unity came in second – and those with an interest in promoting distance between the members and the union – our enemies – came in first...
..... Jonathan Halabi, https://jd2718.org
I've been posting the election data as Jonathan compiles it division by division. Below are the retiree votes -- which seem to have leveled off at around 21,000 with Unity getting almost 90% of the votes. First here are his rough overall totals. The numbers are pathetic for everyone.

Here is the rough skinny on the retiree vote:

Saturday, April 27, 2019

School Scope: UFT Election Results; Socialism or Progressive Capitalism?

April 26, 2019 - www.rockawave.com

School Scope:  UFT Election Results;  Socialism or Progressive Capitalism?
By Norm Scott

The triennial UFT election ended last week with the usual victory for the Unity Caucus, which has been in control of the UFT since its inception in 1962. President Michael Mulgrew received roughly 85% of the vote, with retirees being the largest voting block. Other than retirees, the turnout from working UFT members bordered on embarrassing. For instance, in the 20,000 member high school division, 3260 teachers voted. Without an effective opposition, the high schools, the only division where Unity has been weak, went totally for Unity by 67%, one of the few times that has happened over the past three decades. One of the reasons was the divisions among the three caucuses running against Unity. The rough order of total votes were Solidarity (7%), MORE (5%) and New Action (3%). As a longtime activist in the opposition, I shudder and question whether it is even worth participating in UFT elections, a waste of resources and time. You can read a detailed election analysis on my blog: https://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2019/04/uft-election-results-halabi-posts-high.html.

Unions are a product of the capitalist system and the salvation
The UFT is the largest union local in the nation and some 200,000 people are eligible to vote. Above you can see some of the negatives when a union leadership locks itself into lifetime control, but even critics like me would take that system over the alternative – no union. Unions came into existence in the first place when conditions become intolerable enough to force people to get together. There were no unions before capitalism (though there were craft guilds). The very idea of a union strikes some people as being socialistic, which leads me back to one of my favorite topics.

Since Bernie came on the scene, there’s been a lot more talk in the mainstream press about socialism, but often without clarifying the various degrees, from social democracy within a capitalistic system to out and out revolutionary socialism leading to communism.

Nobel Prize winning left wing economist Joseph Stiglitz was featured in two columns in the NY Times this past week. One was written by him and titled “Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron: We can save our broken economic system from itself.” The other was an interview with Stiglitz by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Socialist! Capitalist! Economic Systems as Weapons in a War of Words.” If you are interested in understanding some of the degrees of socialism look these up.

Stiglitz is arguing for progressive capitalism vs. a total socialistic system where the state owns the means of production. Rather then the attacks we see on government, Stiglitz sees the need for major government controls and that is where he believes we have gone wrong and entered the realm of runaway capitalism via the rise of neo-liberalism to counter the New Deal imposed in the 1930s during the great depression. There’s a lot wrong with the way we are governed and much of that connect to a corrupt system where money rules. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Note: political liberalism in the US which promotes more government control is very different from economic liberalism which calls for minimal government – this version has been branded “neo-liberalism” – unfettered free markets – and we’ve seen that applied to our public schools system with the counter “choice/charter” movement. Stiglitz and others point out the fallacies of rampant neo-liberalism.

Last week I talked about how popular socialism was in parts of this country in 1912 and asked: What happened to socialism in the century since 1912? What happened was the October 1917 Russian Revolution and the resultant consequences, the rise (and fall) of communism and the confusions engendered between various brands of socialism. Next week we will have a primer.

Norm, unhappy with the working conditions at ednotesonline.com, is waiting to be unionized.

Friday, April 26, 2019

UFT Election 2019 - Functional Chapters Based on Halabi Data

Functional chapters (non-teaching) are the mystery ship of the UFT - we address the fundamentals. There are about 40,000 working functionals - non-classroom plus 60,000 retirees and they are lumped together when they vote in UFT elections and get 19 Ex Bd seats. Thanks to Jonathan Halabi's efforts, we are getting some of the data from the UFT elections with his comparisons to previous elections. In this piece he provides info on the often mysterious functional chapter(s).
Actual teachers in the three divisions total over 70,000 so even if a strategy of winning the three teacher ex bd divisions (total- 23 seats) where retirees don't vote was successful, the UFT would still be under Unity control, but seriously threatened if the opposition could gain control of the functionals. Below I delve into why that would be so difficult. Even if the opposition were to win these 19 and add them to the 23 teaching seats the 42 seats would still fall short since there are 48 Ex Bd at-large seats where retirees vote. And in fact retirees vote and run for the functional ex bd seats too so that is how the election is rigged.
9000 non-retiree functional voted in this election out of the 40,000. Unity got 7200, a drop of around 400 from 2016 - maybe due to the OT/PT people. MORE received 824 and New Action 212 while together in 2016 they got 2200. So they lost 50% of the previous vote together but MORE even got less than they did in 2013, which is remarkable since they opportunistically focused their attention on the OT/PT chapter and ran one of the big voices in opposition to the contract as an officer. Let's assume a batch of their 824 came from that chapter.

The surprise was the showing of Solidarity (referring to them as Portelos' clique by Jonathan is disrespectful to the people involved) which got 917 votes, following their trend of tripling their 2016 votes across the board. I assume some of the unhappy OT/PT people went for them too. And secretaries are not happy either. Paras seemed to get some improvements in their contract and I would assume they went big for Unity.

I hear over 21000 retirees voted. (Some MORE supporters are whining about a phony issue where some retirees cut off the ballot in the middle and sent it in - we are addled, you know. And to count those the machines had to be reset. It seems that somehow counting these caused some to start charging it was fraud -- sure.)

In previous posts Jonathan covered the other divisions of the union and also did an overall summation (which we have yet to publish). I've been trying to break down the data with some analysis. Why? Because the past counts no matter how much people want to deny it and the patter in UFT elections is consistent. Yet we will see once again in 2022 caucuses claiming we need to vote in new leadership in the UFT. My goal is to get people to stop wasting everyone's time and energy unless you have built a massive and united opposition going head to head with Unity. That won't happen as long as caucuses see their priority as building their own narrow caucus instead of an opposition united on some basic principles. Let me know when that happens.

Here are my previous reports in reverse order of publishing with links to Jonathan's posts.
Also read Arthur's take: MORE Plans to Fail, Fails to Plan to Fail Sufficiently, and Comes in Second Among Working Teachers

About the functional chapters: 
There were 13 colored ballots during the contract vote for the functionals. The biggest one is the para chapter with I am told 19,000 members. Secretaries were usually over 3000. Guidance counselors and social workers and OT/PT and school nurses and hospital nurses. Others are much smaller.

Each chapter elects its own chapter leader and delegates and an ex bd to run the chapter and Unity makes sure to control this process and make sure the chapters remain loyal and don't go off the reservation. They have been pretty successful in this -- I was in a functional in my last few years in the system - the teacher assigned chapter -- I worked for the district - and I believe Randi opened up a delegate position for me since I was not in critical mode at the time --- I was sort of told that they wanted to be pushed - a little -- but when my pushing went over a line they were not happy.

Functionals help Unity control elections and the delegate assembly
Retirees are a functional and there are 63,000 retirees with 300 delegates to the DA - and add all the other chapter delegates -- like paras etc -- all pretty much under Unity control - so the functional chapters when added to the Unity chapter leaders and delegates in the schools give Unity control over the DA too.

Retirees don't vote for contracts but do vote in UFT elections. But their vote is broken out separately because there is a cap on retiree votes - I think 21,000  - which means if more than 21,000 vote - as I think happened this time -- each vote becomes a fraction. Like this time maybe .95 or something.

The little trick Unity plays with the 19 functional ex bd seats is to lump them together instead of allowing each functional to elect its own member(s) to the Ex Bd. One reform of the UFT Ex Bd to open it up would be stop lumping them. And to manage the retiree issue I would give retirees a bunch of seats on the Ex Bd since they are such a big chapter -- say 5. But I would also cut down on the 300 Unity delegates they get in the DA. And I would also give retirees a seat on the ad com. But they would not vote for the rest of the adcom or at large ex bd. In fact, I would fundamentally eliminate the at-large seats or maybe reserve 10.

Well, I hope you understand more about the UFT functionals. If my plan to win the 23 ex bd teacher seats ever came about, an opposition would have make some inroads into some of the functionals. Ironically, the only chapter with even a semblance of an opposition is the retiree chapter where the Retiree Advocate operates with New Action and some of the former MOREs who are also still involved. We run in the chapter elections and put out a newsletter but of course getting retirees to go against Unity is a useless operation because who are the happiest people in the UFT?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UFT 2019 Election Report - MORE Follies, Middle and Elem from Halabi Data

A united front in UFT elections might actually have won the middle schools in addition to the high schools and possibly made a dent in the elementary schools.

MORE shrinks rank and file power
MORE is contending that attempts to win these seats is somehow counter to what they term as "building rank and file power", another piece of rhetoric that is fundamentally meaningless, as if having the rank and file actually cast a vote for you doesn't really mean very much. The actions of MORE have actually shrunk rank and file power by undermining the general opposition to Unity Caucus and strengthened the ruling power. Building real rank and file power requires weakening the control of Unity and how driving out people into the arms of Unity does that is beyond me.

Arthur has a must-read funny and devastating blog post on the MORE folly of not winning: 
MORE Plans to Fail, Fails to Plan to Fail Sufficiently, and Comes in Second Among Working Teachers
MORE went into this election cycle with the clear goal of losing. Optimally they would get no votes whatsoever. However, an election campaign requires that you ask people to vote for you. Otherwise, it would not be a campaign. So there's the rub--when you run to lose you have to at least pretend to run to win, or people will find you insincere. Now it's pretty tough, when you are sincerely insincere, to prove you are not. So that was one quandary.
The ISO (now disbanded) wing of MORE (which is still intact and in control of MORE) in its internal reports to the ISO leadership (which I will be publishing excerpts of) were selling the idea to the newly recruited Democratic Socialists (DSA) that the now purged ICEUFT wing of MORE was somehow right wing - a joke since it was mostly socialist or left Democrats - and that in order to win seats on the UFT Ex Bd MORE would have to dilute the social justice message where in reality we called for cutting the rhetoric and dog whistles and presenting a broader base of ideas without labeling things as bread and butter or social justice. As a lifelong socialist in ICEUFT recently commented: We are not ceding to MORE that their vision of social justice is the correct one.

ICEUFT was truly a rational social justice caucus. That real conditions teachers and students were facing in the schools not the agenda of a tiny group of people is the real way to drive building rank and file power.

The ISO fraction (as they call themselves) viewed winning as being just for the sake of winning. Arthur takes that down with:
... you run no candidates whatsoever for the high school seats, because last time you won them, and that was a disaster. I mean, there were those people going to Executive Board twice a month, making themselves available to anyone who wanted to talk to them, and advocating for just about anyone who asked. Worse, they didn't bother to advocate for the things you wanted because it was Monday night and hey, Monday night is rumba lessons.
The point I could never seem to get across within MORE was that winning seats from Unity IS a message to the rank and file, which has its only opportunity to participate during elections and gives them a chance to send the UFT leadership a message. And by winning or at least challenging seriously, the leadership itself feels threatened enough to possibly modify its policies. For me the golden oak leaf cluster would be to win all three school divisions where retirees can't vote --- that would not only send a message, but would also open up the idea of a law suit on the retiree issue -- that the working teachers were voting opposition but were thwarted.

That dream is done in by the sectarian actions of the MORE leadership under the control of the ISO faction or fraction or whatever.

In this election, whatever share of the rank and file that votes shat on the MORE vision of building rank and file power.

Middle and Elem school election outcome
Jonathan Halabi has been doing a yeoman job parsing UFT election data. (What a way to spend a week off. But look at me spending time on doing the same thing.) Here is his middle and elementary school data with my commentary.

While we considered winning the high school ex bd seats a pretty sure bet with a united front, the middle school ex bd seats were deemed remotely winnable if a concerted effort was made by a united opposition. That may not be obvious at first but look at Jonathan's data over the past 3 elections - 13, 16, 19. In 2016, MORE/New Action with Solidarity data hit 39%, withing striking range in 2019 with a concerted effort to hit the largest middle schools from the beginning of the school year. Notice the drop in Unity votes from 2016 (think of it - Unity gets 1236 out of a potential 12,000 MS teachers). If you take the opposition totals from 2016 and apply them to 2019 (not a given), we would have been in striking range. The only time the opposition won the middle and high schools (13 seats) was in 1991.

MORE received only 145 ms votes - and they had one strong school - Kevin Prosen's where I bet many of the votes came from. Solidarity despite the low totals actually has made its best showing in MS % wise - and bested MORE with 188 votes. New Action's 74 votes is mostly due to the work of the tireless of Greg DiStefano in Staten Island.

Where did the rank and file strategy go in the middle schools when 882 people voted for MORE/NA in 2016 and only 219 MS teachers voted for them individually this time, a drop of about 75%? As Arthur said, MORE failed in its attempt to get 0 votes but got close.

Now the elementary schools are a different kettle of fish and winning this division would require a district based strategy, which no opposition in history has had(other than my group, Another View in District 14 in the early 70s). I did try to bring that idea to MORE with a focus on the one district where we seemed to have some strong elementary school people - District 15 -- but that effort fell apart as people left and other reasons. My idea was that a strong effort in just a few districts might pull enough elementary school votes to get close. That idea is not dead too.

But again look at the Unity numbers - 7k in 2016, 6k in 2019. MORE/NA did not do too bad in 2016 - over 2500 elem school votes if you add Solidarity. I believe most of these elem school votes came from MORE which in 2016 still had some force in District 15 and a few other districts.

And look how Solidarity outpolled MORE in the elem schools this time -- 519-433.  A disastrous drop for MORE -- probably closer to 80%. Hail to building rank and file power.

Here are my previous election reports:

Sunday, April 21, 2019

UFT Election Results: Halabi Posts High School Totals Plus Historical Perspective

I've been reporting on UFT elections - UFT Election Results: Unity the BIG Winner, MORE the Biggest Loser, Solidarity Stays Alive-
based on the data I've been given. Election results have been coming in piecemeal - Since I'm  not attached to any caucus I don't get official results. New Action's Jonathan Halabi posted these interesting high school vote totals on his blog where you should check out his comments. I left this comment on his first election post:
As a UFT wonk these numbers are fascinating to parse. Don’t forget that in 2004, ICE-TJC won the high schools because Unity didn’t run candidates. Unity vote went up very little. Total opposition vote went down drastically. The reason? Has to be the split in the opposition. Longtime anti-Unity voters just sat it out. The MORE drop from 2013 is stark. 60 or so people who signed up to run on the Solidarity ticket including a people who are respected in the UFT. Portelos played so much of smaller role this time — if he had played a bigger role they might have gotten more votes. The pattern of 30 years was broken not by Unity but by decisions made by the opposition caucuses. The so called Portelos clique which was considered marginal was given life by the MORE disaster. Also the idea that Arthur and Mike brought votes to Unity might be valid when you look at Unity’s 2013 totals – or not valid when comparing to 2016. The 50 extra votes this time could be from Arthur’s school plus some from Mike’s. Both schools had voted heavy for MORE/NA last time.
He also did a followup which I will address in tomorrow's post.

UFT 2019 High School Election results compared to previous years.

Analysis: There are about 20,000 high school teachers in the UFT .... Only 3265 voted in 2019

WOW! The numbers are ridiculous. Jonathan is painting this low turnout as a big loss for the UFT even if a win for Unity. But I don't even see this as a win for Unity in this sense. It is clear that if there were a united opposition that went after winning, Unity would have lost again.

Look at the Unity numbers over the 6 election cycles Jonathan posted. The height of their vote totals in the HS was in 2004 but ironically, they didn't run any HS Ex Bd candidates due to their deal with New Action, which lost to the ICE/TJC which got 1417, less than half what Unity got. NA got 700 - so even if you added that to ICE/TJC, Unity would have won outright.

Now consider that they only got 50 more votes this time than in 2016 and also that Arthur and Mike brought them a batch of votes over from MORE. So this makes Unity look even worse in the high schools. Mike got a bunch people to vote Unity at Leon Goldstein, which had been a TJC and then MORE school - and 4 faculty ran with MORE this time. Assume Arthur shifted at least a 100 or maybe 150 votes to Unity. It is clear to me that Unity is as weak as ever in the high schools, if not more so and that a united opposition that started early could win these seats in 2022 even if Arthur and Mike stayed with Unity. My question is why bother?

Some are painting the outcome as a big win for Solidarity over MORE but I don't see it that way. MORE, though suffering a tremendous drop in the high schools still beat Solidarity 544-376 with New Action getting 242, which is not totally out of line with the past performance since NA only got 454 in 2013.

But note that even with the ballot line and running candidates for HS Ex Bd, Solidarity went from 108 to 376 - which some are saying is a major move - more than tripling. I guess, but given that there are 20,000 hs teachers, that the HS have always been the most militant part of the union and that MORE ran no candidates for the winnable ex bd seats, claiming 376 votes as a victory is farcical.

New Action
The question is whether they survive. I think they do decide to continue a presence in the UFT and I hope they do. If the landscape changes within the opponents to Unity, they may have a role.

MORE: Plus A little history going back to the 2016 election
Since MORE was a combination of ICE and TJC plus others, Halabi has a continuous record of high school voting since 2004. Note the consistency over 4 election cycles from 2004 through 2013 - MORE's first year. 1417, 1524, 1369 with ICE/TJC and then when they combined with NYCORE and others  -- a shockingly consistent 1430 in 2013 even with so many new people. For MORE to drop from 1430 in 2013 to 544 in 6 years is a shocking loss of support.

I think MORE will just shrug the outcomes off and try to sell the idea they really didn't put much effort into this election and they never really cared about the outcome anyway. Will the members buy it? Since MORE is fundamentally a DSA oriented group I think most will because they have a bigger agenda than UFT politics.

But they must deal with the fact that ICE/TJC and MORE through 5 election cycles, with a broader agenda than just social justice pretty much were able to get 1350-2200 votes in the high schools. And look at the MORE candidates and the high schools they came from - count the potential votes and you will see even in the schools where they had a base they didn't necessarily get overwhelming support. I heard reports from one school with a prominent MORE as CL where people complained that chapter meetings were all about issues that they felt had nothing to do with them - like the fact Mulgrew signed on to bringing Amazon back - something they couldn't care less about.

To say MORE didn't put effort into the election is not totally true. The election is pretty much all MORE talked about at its meetings since October and they kept pushing people to get out the vote in their schools. Since MORE is almost all high school based, the 544 votes is a sign of how weak an impact MORE is having. But they may even try to sell this as a base with the argument that MORE in essence remade itself into a new caucus after the purges and was essentially starting over. Still, there are those numbers from 2013  - 1435 - when MORE was a new caucus to explain.

Also consider that some of that 544 comes from legacy voting - people not aware of changes in MORE but who had voted for MORE in 2016. Thus the actual strength is less than 544. Also consider the two schools Arthur and Mike come from. Arthur probably brought 150 or more votes to MORE in 16 and assume some shift of these to Unity. And Mike's school, which had always been opposition due to TJC's Kit Wainer, was split this time.

Background to MORE internals in the 2013 and 2016 election and signs of divisions

With all the action around the founding of MORE, with the ICE and TJC and NYCORE connections, especially in the high schools, in 2013, I expected we had a chance to compete for winning the HS ex bd seats. So when all we got was 1430 and Unity 1592 to which New Action's 452 were added, it was a bitter pill that all we needed was 2000 votes in the high schools to win and fell so far short.

It was clear not enough outreach even in their own schools had been done and it was at that point that I saw that MORE as an electoral entity did not have much promise, which is why I fundamentally urged them not to run unless it was in coalitions. MORE held a "2013 victory" party on the day the results were being announced attended by 80 people and when I showed up crestfallen to deliver the outcomes - they begged me to show a happy face. Also a clue that they did not want to face reality but wanted a positive spin. But imagine that 80 or more people came out in 2013 and compare to today? The MORE promise and where it went? would make a good study.

Some of us knew that with better organizing we could get at least 2000 or more in 2016 and we set out to do so -- but disruptions internally in MORE in 2014 derailed us.

Mike, James, Arthur and I - and the rest of the ICE wing of MORE - were the leading proponents of going all out to win the high school seats in 2016 as a way to show the membership Unity could be beaten in at least one division with the hope that would lead to a move to defeat Unity in the middle schools and eventually the elementary schools in the 2019 election.

That we had to put up a fight internally in MORE to go for these seats was a sign of things to come.

In the spring of 2015 we began a high school newsletter outside the bounds of MORE because trying to do so inside would be a struggle with the ideologues. But that newsletter - The High School Forum - got some resonance and distribution we were asked to bring that inside MORE, which later on co-opted the name. We formed a MORE high school committee which none of the MORE sectarians got involved in - at first. And that allowed us to take the lead. (We also urged the other divisions in MORE to do the same -MS and ES -- and that never happened.)

By early summer 2015 when NA was still with Unity, we organized at the MORE convention to focus the high school committee on winning and the vote was very favorable. We really thought we might win the high schools even if Unity and New Action ran together. After all, in 2013 Unity only had 1592 and New Action brought only 452. So we aimed at 2500 votes even if NA stayed with Unity.

Rumors were that NA was not happy with Mulgrew and I and a few others did see that if New Action could be lured away from Unity and into an alliance with MORE we could beat Unity in the high schools for sure in 2016.

At the convention we put together a MORE high school committee basically run - in the early stages - July, 2015 - by the ICE wing and its supporters - much to the dissatisfaction of the ISO led ideology wing which didn't really want to go after these seats - they didn't see winning as a fruitful exercise - (given today's context I might take the same position).

We reached out to New Action and there was a positive response and thus an alliance was born -- though I do remember some of the ideologues pushing back at a MORE meeting in September of October 2015 that New Action wasn't ideologically kosher enough due to its 12 year alliance with Unity. That winning came second to ideological purity. The majority of MORE at that point was overwhelmingly for the alliance. How things changed by the fall of 2018 and I would say the split in MORE was fundamentally over these kinds of issues.

By the fall it was clear we had some momentum and at this point the MORE sectarian ideologues became concerned enough to jump onto the HS committee, which led to struggles through the fall of 2015 to shunt Mike and Arthur off the ballot, with unmatched levels of skulduggery which we managed to beat back. I kept stressing that Arthur's large school was the key to winning a close vote.

We won that internal battle at the time but the ideologues used their own negative reactions to the victory in the election as an internal organizing tool against Arthur and Mike.

And they literally began their attacks within weeks of winning the high schools in May 2016. But that's a story for another day.

I may even write a play.

Susan Ohanian - Trump,Trump, Trump: The March of Folly

One of my favorite people is Susan Ohanian
who has been one of the leaders of the movement critical of standardized testing forever -- she is one of the first people who influenced me. But Susan goes far beyond that in terms of advocating for rational education. She has a new book out and if you happen to be in Vermont on May 7 stop by.

Trump,Trump, Trump: The March of Folly
Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 7:00pm

Join Onion River Press and Phoenix Books Burlington for the launch of Susan Ohanian's new book, Trump, Trump, Trump: The March of Folly, a clever and meticulously thought-out poetic rebuttal to the absurdity of the current president.

ABOUT THE BOOK: From giving his second-grade teacher a black eye to insulting the grieving parents of a military hero, the rollicking verse in this book presents a Donald Trump profile of bombast, babes, and bankruptcies. Details of Trump, his progeny and current political cohorts, characterized by greed and deceit, are verified by engrossing news accounts. The facts are grim, the humor captivating.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Ohanian, a longtime teacher and writer, is the author of more than a dozen books on education policy and practice. Notable titles include: One Size Fits Few: The Folly of Educational Standards; Garbage Pizza, Patchwork Quilts, and Math Magic; Who's In Charge? A Teacher Speaks her Mind; What Happened to Recess and WHY are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten?

Susan's more than 300 articles have appeared in publications ranging from Education Week and Phi Delta Kappa to The Nation, The Atlantic, and The New York Times "Metropolitan Diary." Her website of resistance to corporate intrusion into public education received The George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language. She also received the Kenneth S. Goodman Award in Defense of Good Teaching from the University of Arizona and the Vermont Society for the Study of Education John Dewey Award. In March 2017 at her Vermont Town Meeting, Susan introduced a successful advisory motion to Impeach Trump, based on Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the U. S. Constitution.

ADMISSION:  This event is free and open to all.
Event address: 
191 Bank Street
Burlington, VT 05401

Thursday, April 18, 2019

UFT Election Results: Unity the BIG Winner, MORE the Biggest Loser, Solidarity Stays Alive

Mulgrew, the Unity Caucus candidate, received 38,591 votes, or 86.2 percent of the votes cast while Solidarity Caucus candidate Lydia Howrilka received 3,604 votes (8 percent) and Dermot Myrie the candidate of the MORE caucus, got 2,540 votes (5.6 percent).... All 102 seats on the union's Executive Board were won by the Unity caucus........UFT Web site 
My spin - a massive win for Unity and a massive loss for the
opposition even though Solidarity can claim the mantle of the only caucus that shows signs of growth.

Unity won by the biggest margin in years as the folly of 3 opposition caucuses was revealed. The total of Solidarity and MORE was roughly 6000 votes (we don't have New Action since they did not run officers). That Lydia finished second was the big surprise and the poor showing of MORE is making me eat a lot of crow with some former MOREs who predicted this disaster -- kudos to John G and Peter Z. John predicted Solidarity would beat MORE and Peter predicted MORE would finish under 4000 votes. Even he was over optimistic.

And for the first time since 1993, Unity won the high schools unassisted - Wait, Wait -- actually they were assisted by having Arthur and Mike join them and bring many former MORE votes with them to Unity.

I know this puts Solidarity in the titular position of the opposition with the most support but it is a hollow "victory." Sadly, it seems that New Action has faded so far and let's blame MORE's refusal to run with them as a reason. Some of us in the opposition might even join New Action to try to keep it alive.

In 2016 election MORE/New Action had almost 10,600 votes and Portelos running for Solidarity had 1400. 6000 (plus whatever New Action gets) combined this time is a drop in half of what the opposition received just 3 years ago. Sad. Remember - I urged people not to bother running because the outcomes mean something to people. So even if you don't want to troll for votes, people take the ability to get votes seriously even if you don't - yes, I'm talking to the faction in control of MORE who pushed this idea on some fairly inexperienced people and they just wasted 5 months of talking about the election. I bet they will have a victory party.

No one - MORE or New Action - wanted to run with Solidarity because they didn't have a big base. I didn't expect much from them and challenged them to prove they had a base of votes. And they did to some extent in that they finished ahead of all the other opposition groups and now can claim a mantle of the opposition with the most support even if it is minuscule. But they worked real hard to get on the ballot and get votes. Give them credit - let's see if they can build on this outcome. (Frankly, ICE got around that many votes in its first run in 2004 and I thought that was pathetic.)

Now Solidarity beating out MORE is a big thing in the tiny world of the opposition inside the UFT and their 3600 votes was in line with my prediction since I expected them to double their totals from last time especially since they had a slate this time. Showing some growth is essential but it was clear they didn't have enough of a base to make much bigger gains. But no matter what people say, the real race was to beat MORE -

Shockingly they did. I expected MORE to lose thousands of votes - but MORE dropped so drastically and so quickly. Jia Lee who was the presidential candidate and received 10,700 votes in 2016 ran for VP Special Ed this time and received only 2700 votes to Solidarity's Quinn Zanoni's 3600. Jia's vote totals dropped by 8000 votes and it has nothing to do with her but it does in this sense - she backed all the way the MORE moves that have turned it into a boutique caucus.

Think of it - in 3 years MORE lost 8000 votes. Someone do the % drop math -- from 10,600 to 2,600. Is 75% a rough figure or am I way off?

From what I've been hearing a whole bunch of votes for Solidarity came from people who voted for MORE last time. Let's say 1000 - the difference in their totals. But what happened to the other 6000 votes that the opposition got in 2016 - and also remember that 12000 people did vote against the contract. MORE lost them or even didn't try very hard to get them. And don't forget, they must have had some support from inside the OT/PT unit, so imagine their base in terms of classroom teachers is even smaller.

Here is my first impressions of where MORE lost votes:
Solidarity, Unity, and non-voting.

But watch the spin - MORE will declare victory - that they didn't really try and purposely ran not to win and that there are 2600 people out there to organize for their platform -- just like they organized the 10,600 last time.

All the years of building up to 12000 votes and it all went crashing against the rocks of MORE sectarianism.

At the end of the day, the opposition in the UFT is decimated and Unity Caucus is more empowered than ever. Nice work.

The faction in control of MORE ought to write  book - how to destroy a union opposition and empower the ruling power.

Here is the UFT posting.

Michael Mulgrew re-elected UFT president

UFT Election Report: What I learned - Don't Eat the Cauliflower

Lots of infighting at the ballot count. Claims of paper thickness and other stuff is causing paper jams.--- 3:15 PM, April 18 - message from UFT vote count
The UFT should ask the American Arbitration Association for a rebate. I'm actually glad my wife had me on Passover readiness duty all day today in prep for our 27 guest tomorrow night so I wasn't able to give in to any temptations to go back after a wasted day yesterday -- though I did ask Amy Arundell to  write me a pass just in case I got the itch- she rightly said NO. Let me recount what happened yesterday.

The AAA serves dinner
April 17 - Dinner was served at around 7PM at the American Arbitration Association a few blocks from the UFT after a day of mostly wasteful vote counting. I wouldn't leave until I had this "wonderful dinner" but I finally gave up the ghost at around 8PM with literally no results. With every election cycle the process gets worse. And rumors are the UFT gives the AAA around a half a million bucks to run the election. I think even some of the top officials who were there with us to witness the fiasco might begin to rethink how UFT elections are run, though I wonder why they even bother anymore. I would give the half a million to a fund for an ATR bye out . As James points out, no one would notice anyway -- ICEUFT Blog: UFT ELECTION MERCIFULLY ENDS. 

Here is where the situation stood when I left at 8PM Wednesday when they were still tabulating the functional votes which were in the range of 10,000 and they were up to about 8,000 when I left. They expected to have slate results by 11 PM or later but based on the speed I didn't see how. There were still about 10,000 elem votes (based on how many in 2016, 4500 high school and 2500 middle school. They expected to begin again at 8AM this morning.

I got to the AAA, located in the basement of 120 Broadway at around 12 PM. In the room observing were Mike and Mark from New Action, Erik from Solidarity (Lydia came to relieve him later), Myrie from MORE, an alternating crew of Leroy/Dave Hickey/Howie from Unity, Amy as chair of the election committee, Yasmin who was in charge of the election process

Only about 10,000 retiree votes were counted using two scanners that seemed to come to a stop every minute. We were able to watch the ballots as they were scanned on a big screen. The process was so slow I left and went uptown to pick up some library books, drop them off at my apartment and since I didn't  have an ed notes leaflet prepared for the Delegate Assembly, I took my stash of the April edition of the Indypendent, which I distribute for them down to hand out at the DA. But it was 2:30 and I went back to the vote count and it was still crawling along with the retiree vote which at this point was around 18-20,000 with more to go. 

Then they did the functional which went by like molasses.
From what I saw on the big screen, Unity looked like it was winning the retiree vote by at least 10-1, with New Action pulling some votes and Solidarity too - MORE pulled very little from what I saw in the retirees.

In functional, Unity again was also winning very big -- maybe a little less than 10-1. MORE pulled some more votes here and so did Solidarity while New Action did very little.

At this point I left and finally wrote this up tonight -- and in the midst some real results came in -- reports later in a follow-up.

Mark and Mike from New Action

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Mike Schirtzer on How Unity Caucus Votes - Nov. 2017

UPDATE: I've gotten some feedback on why I published these pieces by Mike and Arthur - Unity Fiddles While High Schools Unrepresented - Oct. 2017.

I wanted to show that they have both evolved - or devolved. One reader summed it up: Good to remind them both, who I support and voted for as individuals, what brought them to serve.
And to remind them that it was MORE/New Action, not themselves, who put them on the Ex Bd and that this time it is Unity who put them on the Ex Bd. One of our fights in MORE was that while they should have adherence to the MORE program they were also free to be individuals, which seemed to enrage some people in MORE. The same here- they owe some allegiance to the Unity program and the question is will they also be free to be individuals? If they are not then they won't be asked to run again.

No matter how good your argument is, no matter what our chapter members want, Unity members are required to vote what the party says. You cant change minds, your arguments don't matter because it has already been pre-determined how the members of the majority party will vote. It can become demoralizing.  ... Mike Schirtzer, Nov. 2017

With Mike Schirtzer's election on the Unity slate today, it is worth sharing some comments from Mike on ed notes a year and a half ago. Even though Mike hasn't been required to join Unity will be exhibit signs of the Stockholm Syndrome and vote the same as Unity?

{Look for a companion piece coming in a half houd on Unity from 2017 from Arthur Goldstein who is also elected today on the Unity line.}

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mike Schirtzer on How Unity Caucus Votes

Mike, with over a dozen years in the system, ruminates on his experiences with the Unity Caucus machine. He is over 30 years younger than me but I expect when he reaches my age he will still be going to UFT DAs to hand out our newsletter, Another View in The UFT - Our New DA Newsletter.
Six years ago I was nominated as a UFT delegate from my school. That means I attend the UFT Delegate Assembly with chapter leaders and delegates from around the city once a month. The job of a delegate is  to hear a report from our union president on the state of our union, public schools, and what the latest news is from our relationships with politicians. Delegates also have time to ask questions and raise resolutions about the direction our union should take. Often the UFT leadership raises resolutions that dictate the direction of our union and polices we will advocate for.  These proposals should result in vigorous discussion and debate. After-all we're deciding on the direction  of the largest teachers union in the  USA. Whatever we decide has ripple effects throughout the country. However, I learned rather quickly the debates are far from honest.

The leadership of the UFT and close to 2/3 the 700 of the delegates that go to DAs are part of an inner political party, known as Unity caucus.  The Unity caucus members follow party lines, meaning they all vote the same way, every time, no matter what!.
When I showed at my first DA and I heard a chapter leader raising a resolution that any new evaluation system the union agrees to should go the membership for an online vote. It sounded like a rational argument to me, but then speaker after speaker got up and spoke against it. Finally someone from the DA stood up and said "I call the question" which meant debate ended without ever hearing an additional speaker in favor of the resolution.

It seemed weird to me. Why were fellow delegates, fellow teachers voting against and even speaking harshly in opposition to this resolution that all my friends at my school and every other school would vote in favor of? Seems obvious we should have a say in what our union negotiates that will impact our careers. When Mulgrew called on speakers he asked them for their names and schools. They all presented themselves and then spoke against it.

The resolution was voted down. It all seemed so strange to me. In the next few months there were resolutions raised against common core, against high stakes testing,  supporting parents that opt their children out of testing, and for sports programs in all schools, all voted down. They all were resolutions that would have been voted for overwhelmingly in my school and by my friends and family that are teachers. Yet they were all voted down.

At the same time resolutions for political endorsements that should have had discussion and debate were overwhelmingly voted on and spoke in favor of by all the same people. I began to realize each month it was the same people speaking against resolutions. Each month the same people were called on to ask softball questions. Each month Mulgrew called on the same people as if he never met them before.

Soon I learned all these people are in the same party or caucus, all are required to vote the same as Mulgrew, and are required to follow the party line whatever that might be. (This is known as democratic centralism.)

If Unity said common core and test based evaluations were great, then every Unity member would say the same. When the leadership reverses itself everyone in Unity goes along with the party line.

No matter how good your argument is, no matter what our chapter members want, Unity members are required to vote what the party says. You cant change minds, your arguments don't matter because it has already been pre-determined how the members of the majority party will vote. It can become demoralizing.
Now that I have  been elected to the UFT Executive Board as one of the seven MORE/New Action High School reps (Unity has the other 93 positions), I am finding the experience of the Unity wall the same as a DA, just on a smaller scale. Out of 100 members that are supposed to be discussing and debating the position and direction of our union, 7 are left to challenge the union leadership. While there is more debate than at the DA, decisions are already made behind closed doors.

While we almost always support the leadership positions, anything we bring up is automatically opposed or amended to take the teeth out.

If our group, MORE/New Action  says the sky is blue, the Unity caucus will say it's red. When members vote as a block and cannot be convinced to change their minds that is not in the best interest of our union.

Showing up to vote as a block and not identifying yourself as a member of Unity falsely leading everyone to believe you're speaking for yourself or the people who elected you in your school when in reality you're taking the party position and no one can can convince you otherwise.

Unity Caucus, which has exercised total power over the UFT since its founding, in theory functions internally in a democratic manner. But in reality, the top leadership decides and everyone follows along. So there is little real debate internally in the caucus and a narrow point of view and agenda becomes the operating feature. This leads to bad decision making and bad policy and ultimately causes harm to the membership. 

Arthur Goldstein - Unity Fiddles While High Schools Unrepresented - Oct. 2017

The frustration I don't really get is that of being in a union with leadership that treats us like garbage. I mean, we pay the same dues as everyone else. We pay UFT leadership. We pay NYSUT. We pay AFT. But we have absolutely no representation in any of it. We have more members than the entire Philadelphia teacher union, and just about no say in the decision making. Leadership has engineered it that way.... Arthur Goldstein, NYC Educator, Oct. 2017
Both Arthur and Mike were elected today as high school ex bd members on the Unity line. I thought it interesting to post some of their comments from a year and a half ago. Mike's went up before this post which was from Arthur on his NYC Educator blog. Since this post, Unity people have seemed to bend over backwards to be responsive to Arthur. Everyone in the UFT should establish a well-read blog if they want attention of the leadership.

Both of them believe the landscape has changed drastically, especially given the situation in the MORE caucus and their disillusionment with them and the opposition in general.

I am pretty sure that if the opposition had gotten together on the high school level there was a chance both Arthur and Mike may not have won despite their popularity since Unity has lost the high schools in almost every election since the late 80s.

Now to be fair, Arthur and Mike both believe there has been some movement for change inside Unity and they feel they have been recruited to help push for some changes in the UFT. Most of us vets believe that is sugar coating but with the addition of Mindy who did join Unity even a nudge will be better than nothing.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Unity Fiddles While High Schools Unrepresented

It's kind of frustrating being a high school teacher in New York City. Some people will tell you that the kids we teach are difficult, but I always think as long as we can be crazier than they are, we'll be OK. I've got a difficult class this year, with widely varying levels of ability, but all of them are kids, and all of them are learning one way or another. The frustration I don't really get is that of being in a union with leadership that treats us like garbage.

I mean, we pay the same dues as everyone else. We pay UFT leadership. We pay NYSUT. We pay AFT. But we have absolutely no representation in any of it. We have more members than the entire Philadelphia teacher union, and just about no say in the decision making. Leadership has engineered it that way. Around the time I first started teaching, Mike Shulman of New Action was elected high school vice president. I knew nothing of union politics, but from the crap that showed up in my mailbox, he appeared the underdog. That was good enough for me.

UFT Unity contested his election. They kept him from office for a while. Then they ran another vote, and Shulman won by a larger margin. I voted for him again. I vote every chance I get. Unity was not happy, so as soon as they won the seat again, they changed the rules. Now high schools are not allowed to choose their own vice president. All VPs are chosen "at large," which works for monopolistic Unity. After all, it was only the high schools who challenged them.

This is like Donald Trump saying New York is too liberal when they choose governors. Maybe Trump will decide to have Oklahoma and Texas help us choose, thereby preventing our own choice. It would be an outrage, and what Unity does is an outrage. In the last election, high school teachers chose James Eterno as their Vice President. And yet, Eterno has no voice at AdCom. Thus we don't either.

Yesterday, a Unity rep who went behind my back to arrange an event in my school told me he was sorry that I "felt" high school teachers have no representation in NYSUT and AFT. Here's the thing--it's not something I "feel." It's something, period. And when UFT Unity ignores elected chapter leaders to do any damn thing they feel like, it's counterproductive and stupid on multiple levels.

For one thing, there's no need to run around backstabbing people and doing things surreptitiously. We can get things done that benefit all of us by communicating directly. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm not really big on dirty tricks. I don't see the point in cooperating with people who deliberately deceive me. I'm busy, I have priorities, and I'm not wasting time playing juvenile games.

I hear some suggestions that high schools can go another way, and I usually reject them. I've been trying pretty hard to see what we can do hand in hand with leadership. I've taken flack from a lot of my friends for supporting COPE in the face of the Constitutional Convention. Sometimes people in leadership say things that make sense to me. Sometimes they persuade me.

Other times I wonder just what in the hell we need some of these people for.

Today is Election Day at the UFT - Look at 2016 Outcomes

Francesco Portelos posted the outcomes from 2016 and since we will have results by tonight or tomorrow, it will be worth doing a comparison. Will this election break the pattern of the past 15 years where outcomes were fairly predictable? There are always lessons for the future.

Note in slide 4- over 24,000 retirees votes out of 60,000.
Total non-retiree votes: 28,000 - out of 110,000.
That's the election in a nutshell. Retiree votes always go up -- in fact the 2016 election they topped the limit and were a bit prorated.

Contract impact: There was a lot more unhappiness with the 2014 contract than the 2017 -- will that impact the vote?

The breaking of the opposition: Last time there were two choices on the ballot -- Unity and MORE/New Action - with Solidarity running as individual candidates. This time there will be 4 choices. Will that lead to bigger turnout or less?

The high school vote: Will the total of the 3 opposition votes in the high schools add up to more than the Unity vote? This is complicated somewhat by MORE not running any candidates in this category.

There are probably more issues to dissect but I am going to head in to the AAA at 120 Broadway to check on the vote count. Today is also a delegate assembly and I didn't bother to prepare a leaflet so if I get bored I may just go to a movie.

Here is what Portelos posted on FB:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Black-White Testing Gap Is Real, and It’s a Disgrace - The Daily Howler

With respect to Stuyvesant, the Times responded with an ugly and stupid propaganda campaign designed to suggest that the achievement gaps in New York City actually aren't real.
It's all a matter of "test prep," this dumbest of all Hamptons-based newspapers said. Test prep, and the fiendish amounts of money spent on same by Those People, Gotham's devious Asians.

In weeks of insulting, ridiculous work, the Times used "test prep" as the way to prove that those very large achievement gaps aren't real. Last Saturday, the Times swing into action again, this time with a lengthy, front-page version of a favorite press corps novel.

The press has been pimping this heart-warming novel for at least the past fifty years. Though the novel can take on many forms, they all share a Platonic form. The name of this brain-dead novel is simple:

The Little School System That Could
The upper-end, liberal world has been typing this heart-warming novel at least since 1967. In that year, Herbert Kohl published his high-profile memoir, 36 Children, in which a nice guy shows up in a sixth-grade classroom in Harlem and the kids start writing novels.

However these pleasing tales may be intended, they promote an obvious fiction. They seem to say that those apparent achievement gaps really aren't real—that the gaps can quickly be erased by a nice guy who doesn't hate the kids, or by a hard-charging principal with some magic solution.
The Howler is always ready to flame liberals even though he claims to be one. But he also tells truths, and the fact he was a teacher in the inner city gives him some creds on education.

THE LITTLE SCHOOL SYSTEM THAT COULD: Kevin Drum published a sensible post!



Members First announces leadership team for May CTU election - Substance News


I've included the article from substance below - but first some commentary from me. The thing to watch is how Members First will come under attack from the left and how that will play in the vote.

CORE Caucus, which has run the Chicago Teachers Union since its surprise election in 2012, is facing its first challenge since that election by a new caucus made up of many people, some of whom had left CORE.

This first challenge to the leadership in Chicago - the election will take place May 17 -- will be more interesting to watch than the UFT election. The process in Chicago is more democratic than here in NYC and no Unity type power structure has survived, as opposition groups won power in 2001 and 2010. There is room for a run-off if more than two caucuses run and also I believe it is easier to elect a broader variety of people.

If CORE trounces Members First it will be a sign that they have done an effective organizing job. If the election is close, even it they win, it means they have a lot of work to do in repairing internal and external relationships.

CORE is a caucus with similarities to MORE - except it actually was able to organize effectively a decade ago with the aim to win power and managed to do so. There seems to have been some turmoil within CORE as there were two slates running to represent CORE in this election -- I reported on that in February - Chicago CORE Caucus Holds Internal Election - it seemed the leadership slate didn't win - so there was some unhappiness internally -- but since then there has been radio silence.

The late George Schmidt reported on Members First events in Substance and came under attack from CORE people -- one of the charges against him when they attempted to purge him was that he attended Members First meetings - which he didn't -- but posted reports from others. A clear division in CORE was over that attempt to purge George -- CORE Attempted Purge of One of Founders George Schmidt Failed in Chicago - Eight Women of Color Speak on George's Behalf.

I reported this in April 2018 based on a report received from George in Feb. 2018 -- which so resonated as at the same time MORE was engaging in similar actions. My comment a year ago in which I predicted the attempt to purge me from MORE for reporting on ed notes:
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.... April, 2018
The views of George and many of us in ICEUFT corresponded pretty closely -- what I would call rationally, not ideologically driven progressive social justice. George was in town and met with a group of pre-ICEers at my house back in the summer of 2002, a year before ICE was founded.

The reaction of the ideologues is to brand such disagreement as right wing. Thus there are already signs of CORE people trying to brand Members First as right wing or attractive to right wingers. And we have seen internal ISO memos branding some of the people pushed out of MORE as being right winger - as ridiculous a claim as claiming George is a right winger. At least CORE gave George a chance to defend himself publicly at a meeting. The faction led by ISO in MORE just purged and suspended without even letting its own membership. I don't think ISO members functioned in CORE like they did in MORE according to what George told me - some ISO people supported him.

This is a debate I would love to have and every attempt within MORE to do so was deflected -- does a caucus exclude and then brand people who disagree? If in power like CORE there is something essentially wrong with that. In a caucus like MORE which supposedly wants to challenge Unity, I would welcome the debate.

Members First announced its existence as a push back to CORE.
See: https://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2018/08/update-on-chicago-teachers-union-las.html

Some excerpts from George in an ed notes piece on the attempted purge: https://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2018/04/core-attempted-purge-of-one-of-founders.html
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."
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. 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 substancenews.net what we get in accurate reportings. Let's see how this works out in the future. 
George was critic of the direction CORE was leading the CTU -- that the membership wasn't being organized and that rallies became substitutes for that essential step - and along the way on the social justice train - the membership was being neglected.

Members First is somewhat akin to Solidarity here in NYC ---- and in essence the election in NYC which ends today with Unity winning everything comes down to a similar battle between Solidarity and MORE. I've heard behind the scenes whispers that the real reason MORE and New Action leaders didn't want to run with Solidarity was that Portelos appeals to right wingers. Maybe so - I know one right winger for sure running with them -- but I also know left wingers running with them. What about the middle wingers?

Members First! I don't like the name
While I do agree that a union leadership must take care of the essential needs of the membership I don't like the name Members First because there is something about saying to a world where you deal with children and parents who are crucial to your chances of winning any gains for the membership that they don't really count. I think here in NYC, the Solidarity name makes more sense because it is inclusive.

But similar issues in both NYC and Chicago are on the table, issues that have arisen in MORE and in CORE. A feeling that the faction leading MORE have pushed out the ICEUFT people -- who also feel that there must be a balance between social justice and fundamental union protections.

Here is the Substance article on Members First - or MF - written by Susan Zupan who is running on their slate.


Members First announces leadership team for May CTU election

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Inside the International Socialist Organization’s Dissolution After a Rape Cover-Up

Why did the ISO implode so quickly, especially when the new leadership took many of the right steps to deal with the grenade that was dropped in their laps?
... ISO Leaks
I hope this ISO Leaks person is not taking asyslum in some embassy. Lots of stuff coming in from the left with a lot of insight and providing a deeper understanding for insiders like me as to how ISO operated in MORE.

I've heard long-time leftists wonder why some of the smart people they meet from ISO would chose to be in an organization - in some cases for their entire adults lives (many are recruited in college) which has had the same people on steering committee for 35 years. ISO leaks reports:
As far as anyone knows, the ISO’s last competitive SC election was in 1983 when the group’s founding leaders, Cal and Barbara Winslow, were ousted in an effort driven by the British Socialist Workers Party — then the ISO’s “mothership.” Ahmed Shawki and Sharon Smith were installed in the Winslows’ place on the SC where they (and a handful of close allies like Paul D’Amato) would remain for the next 35 years.
Michael Fiorillo, one of the ICEUFT founders and a life-long independent socialist comments:
it’s the Leninist/Vanguardist thing that’s in their DNA, combined with their bourgeois backgrounds/organizing strategies, which make them incapable/uninterested in actually talking with people who are different from them (as in, working people), the resulting insularity (always an occupational hazard on the Left) and a how-many-revolutionaries-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin kind of scholasticism...
We saw the subversion of democracy in MORE led by the ISO faction which was dominated by white men. Very interesting.

While many left articles give credit for people inside ISO for pushing for reforms, they went along with a top-down fundamentally undemocratic organization which dictated policy from the top which was carried out by the apparatchiks in ISO in their union work which often engaged in attempts to suppress dissent in their caucus work - just as dissent was suppressed in ISO for 4 decades. The leaf doesn't fall far from the tree.

Why is this stuff important? Because the ISO faction in the UFT which has not always been a constant as new people kept showing up as others left, has played a major role in opposition politics. Thus I will be posting many articles and making the links to UFT politics. The refusal to run with other caucuses is directly related to the ISO decision making policy. I will expand in future articles.


UPDATE - Rally Monday - NY1: Some Parents Don't Want Charters Marketing to Them This Way

Come to rally on Monday to protest the Mayor letting charters access student information to help them recruit students - *Please come and show your support and share with others. Don’t let the Mayor chicken out on this important issue because he is more scared of the chart...

Charters which believe in choice don't believe in giving people the choice not to get their marketing crap. Parents with more than one child find that their child with higher scores get the mailings.

This NY1 piece features Naomi Pena of CEC1.


The WAVE - School Scope: The Smell of Socialism is in the Air

School Scope: The Smell of Socialism is in the Air
By Norm Scott

Submitted for print publication for April 12, 2019 - www.rockawave.com

There’s been a lot of talk about socialism. Bernie and AOC plus at least two other members of Congress, Brooklyn State Senator Julia Salazar and five just elected Chicago city council members identify themselves as members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The DSA has its roots in the Socialist Party of America (SPA), whose most prominent leaders included Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington. DSA has grown exponentially from 5 to 60 thousand members since the election of Trump in 2016.

I’ve been looking at options since I’ve pulled back from organizing in the UFT. One was to get involved in Democratic Party politics. A leader of a Manhattan political club told me to find a local club to join. Then I saw Lew Simon getting petitions signed to get current Queens borough president Melinda Katz on the ballot so she can run for Queens DA and the thought of having to do that made me gag. The DSA candidate is Tiffany Cabán who seems so much more akin to my politics.

So, I started to attend some DSA meetings to learn more about the organization The NYC group has 8 branches located geographically in all boroughs and a citywide labor branch for those in unions.

About 60 people attend the monthly meetings of the South Brooklyn branch. They are very well organized and have working groups organizing for housing, health care, climate and just about any other issue you can imagine. The idea is to activate people at the grass roots level but they also include lobbying and running for office on a Democratic Party line. At this point DSA is not interested in putting itself forward as a third party. The national organization and its local branches have already endorsed Bernie Sanders and are going full bore to support his getting the nomination.

There is a lot of internal debate inside DSA over which direction it should go. While avowedly socialist, DSA is a big tent for people with socialist ideas from revolutionary Leninists to social democrats along the lines of Scandinavian countries which are capitalistic, albeit with a lot of controls and high taxes. The key issue is who own the means of production, the state or private interests. I’m not ready to jump into full-bore socialism with absolute state control since that has not turned out so well. The China miracle can be attributed to the willingness to allow private interests to operate. But I do believe in heavy duty controls over free-reign capitalism where the profit motive will overrun everything and everyone and lead to immense wealth gaps. An extreme example are attacks on the public school system as being “socialist”, which the “choice” charter school movement has tapped into and has lead to one scandal over another. I believe in the neighborhood school and if you don’t like it go pay for a private school.

The closest this country has come to socialism was during FDR’s New Deal during the depression in the 1930s which gave us social security and other protections which Republicans and some Democrats opposed and have been trying to undermine since then, with some success. There are so many socialist brands inside DSA, including some New Dealers and other critics who say the Democratic Party is a dead end. I imagine Democratic centrists would be very happy if DSA just stayed away, given the threats to primary incumbents or to run people like Tiffany Cabán against machine candidates like Melinda Katz.

It was not that long ago where talk of socialism would cause most people to break out in wild laughter in this, the least socialistic nation. And Trump is going to make that his main attack on the Democratic Party. He may be successful in 2020 but over time the younger generation does not seem to have the same fear of socialist ideas, mostly due to the rampages of capitalism. No one wants to opt for the China model and it may take another severe depression to even bring us back to the New Deal, albeit with universal health care, something FDR had in his program but abandoned, fearing his going too far would endanger his entire program. Imagine if Roosevelt had succeeded then. What would Bernie have to talk about?

Norm runs a proletarian dictatorship at his blog, ednotesonline.com.