Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Sunday News - Holy Shit - It's August, Union Protest at BlackRock Ignored, China and Ed Deform, Ruth Pearl dies - Horrors of childhood in Iran

August 1, 2021 - YIKES - 
When I was a classroom teacher, today's date evoked feeling that this amazing freedom from angst had turned a corner and it was time to begin thinking of going back to school. In fact at some point in the week after Aug. 1 I would go into school and set up my classroom and muck around doing a few things to ease my mind and the coming intense workload around Labor Day, allowing me to enjoy the rest of August. Of course, the last time I had to set up a classroom was in 1996, and for the past 17 years since full separation from the DOE, it's been like one big continuous August. 

I thought I'd capture a few items from the news that popped up that you might not have seen.

China Attacks Ed Deform test prep
China changed its two-child policy to allow married couples to have three children. It promised to increase maternity leave and ease workplace pressures.
This is a fascinating article and I'm including it in full after the break for those behind a pay wall. Fundamentally, the government is attacking test prep and over preparation - not for the same reasons we oppose it here -- better for the child -- but because it costs too much and parents are sticking to one child while the Party wants to increase the birth rate. 
Parental focus on education in China can sometimes make American helicopter parenting seem quaint. Exam preparation courses begin in kindergarten. 
Quaint? Have they checked out the Stuyvesant prep classes?

Many families and experts say Beijing’s education overhaul will help the rich and make the system even more competitive for those who can barely afford it. 

In China, the competitive pursuit of education — and the better life it promises — is relentless. So are the financial pressures it adds to families already dealing with climbing house prices, caring for aging parents and costly health care.

The burden of this pursuit has caught the attention of officials who want couples to have more children. China’s ruling Communist Party has tried to slow the education treadmill. It has banned homework, curbed livestreaming hours of online tutors and created more coveted slots at top universities.

Last week, it tried something bigger: barring private companies that offer after-school tutoring and targeting China’s $100 billion for-profit test-prep industry. The first limits are set to take place during the coming year, to be carried out by local governments.

The move, which will require companies that offer curriculum tutoring to register as nonprofits, is aimed at making life easier for parents who are overwhelmed by the financial pressures of educating their children. Yet parents and experts are skeptical it will work. The wealthy, they point out, will simply hire expensive private tutors, making education even more competitive and ultimately widening China’s yawning wealth gap.

 You have to wade through the NYT neoliberal interpretation that test prep for everyone is a good thing. [Below the fold for entire article.]

 

 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/us/ruth-pearl-dead.html

A few excerpts:
Ruth Pearl, the mother of Daniel Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal who was brutally murdered by Muslim extremists in Pakistan in 2002
his kidnappers beheaded him on Feb. 1, 2002, recording a video of his last words — “My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish.”
His murderers singled him out because he was American and Jewish
 She was born Eveline Rejwan on Nov. 11, 1935, in Baghdad. Her father, Joseph, was a tailor and ran an import business, and her mother, Victoria (Abada) Rejwan, was a homemaker.

Eveline was 5 when a failed coup led to an outbreak of anti-Jewish violence across Iraq. In what came to be known as the Farhud, Jewish-owned stores were ransacked and at least 179 Jews were killed. Her family hid in their home for days, protected by Arab neighbors, who told would-be looters, “There are no Jews here.”

Soon afterward the family moved to a suburb, but the violence continued. Joseph was beaten while riding his bicycle, resulting in the loss of vision in one eye; he later had to bribe a police officer to free his two sons after their arrest on false charges. Others were less lucky. Mrs. Pearl recalled seeing the bodies of Iraqi Jews hanging from gallows in a square.

“Growing up as a Jewish child in Baghdad,” she wrote in “I Am Jewish,” “left me with recurring nightmares of being chased by a knife-wielding Arab in the school’s stairway while 2,000 schoolmates screamed hysterically.”

 
 

 


 Daily Poster -


This newsletter relies on readers pitching in to support our journalism. If you like this story, please support The Daily Poster's work.

Feel free to forward this email on to others to encourage them to subscribe! And if you want to use our tip jar, click here.

Striking Alabama Coal Miners Taking Protest Back To New York (AL.com) Striking Alabama coal miners traveled to New York City this week to picket the corporate office of BlackRock, the largest shareholder in Warrior Met Coal, the Alabama company the workers have been on strike against since April. You can donate to their strike pantry here and read excellent coverage of the strike here.

How Unions and Their Allies Are Trying to Hold Amazon Accountable (Capital and Main) — “In California, labor advocates are supporting Assembly Bill 701, which would require all warehouse employers to provide workers with a written description of expected quotas, the number of tasks to be performed within a given time and potential adverse employment action. In other words, the employer has to share the metrics and the penalties for not meeting them.” 

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz’s Latest Stunt Completely ChinaBackfired

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

UFT Elections (Part 2): ICE/UFT meeting calls for United Slate for UFT elections, addresses back to school safety and abusive principals

We ... call on all caucuses and UFT members opposed to one party ruling Unity Caucus to come together now when there is common cause at UFT district/borough level Chapter Leader meetings, Delegate Assemblies, Executive Board meetings and to secure a better contract for all members during the upcoming negotiations....

At the meeting, the united front was not even the main item on the agenda. Right now, of greater importance was back to school safety issues were front and center, as was the consistent problem of how to support teachers facing dictator principals.

It's ALIVE! ICE/UFT passed a reso calling for a united front in the spring 2022 UFT elections (see reso below). See Part 1 of my series for why I supported this reso - UFT Elections (Part 1) - Historical Analysis - Comparing the 2016 success and the 2019 disaster

 I was asked to call a zoom meeting of the Independent Community of Educators and I admit I did so reluctantly, stamping my foot and declaring, "I ain't meeting without getting my rice pudding in person." 

OK. So I asked for RSVPs and got about three, including from an island in Greece and one from an ICEer in Mexico City. "This noon-time meeting will be a shorty," I figured, and I could go back to the beach. If a tree falls at a meeting and no one was there, did the tree really fall? 

Boy, was I surprised when 20 people showed up, including people from different groups in the UFT. It's the first time I saw young people at an ICE meeting, where there is no membership required, since I was young myself. Actually, ICE has no membership. Show up and you're in. We've had people eating at other tables in the diner become ICEers by being in the same space - or by ordering rice pudding.

If so many people emerge in the middle of a hot summer day to attend a meeting, ICE/UFT still lives.

July 28, 2021 - Good morning

The Independent Community of Educators emerged out of dormancy and came to life yesterday with its first zoom meeting ever, a meeting attended by over 20 people, some for the first time. Included were actual youngish in-service UFT members, including newly elected chapter leaders and delegates who made up the majority of attendees. Many of us original ICEers had come to think of us as a retiree group and had been putting our energy into Retiree Advocate Caucus where we work with people from New Action and former MOREs. ICE last met in person (usually no more than a dozen people) at our fave rice-pudding diner years ago. Since the faction in control of MORE/UFT Caucus had formally asked ICE, a founding caucus of MORE, to leave and began suspending individuals, some ICEers had pulled back from UFT activities - me included.

ICE/UFT - The Uncaucus
People in the ICE community have been pressuring me to call a meeting for months. I wasn't sure what ICE really was. The public face of ICE is the James Eterno and the ICE blog. We have an expanding listserve with many veteran UFT activists and a few new people. We still have money in the bank. Founded in 2003 and running as a caucus in the 2004, 07, 10 UFT elections, ICE merged with TJC and independents to form MORE in 2012, aiming at the 2013 elections. While TJC disbanded, ICE continued to meet to discuss important issues that were being given short shrift in the rigidly run MORE. 
 
The idea of an uncaucus --  being active in UFT issues but not formally running as a caucus in elections - was born in ICE. Yesterday's resolution fits into the uncaucus idea - calling on all non-Unity UFT caucuses and the non-caucused independents to join together for the 2022 spring UFT elections.

Hail the Eternos
Enormous credit goes to James Eterno for keeping the ICE brand going with the ICE blog, which has developed an enormous following due to his diligence in being the only space for people to go for up-to-date reporting on the UFT. But as we saw yesterday at the meeting, James and Camille Eterno have an enormous number of contacts in schools throughout Queens, even elementary schools. James and Camille have been advising many teachers seeking help and have also helped advise those running in recent UFT chapter elections. Some of them were at the meeting.

The resolution passed yesterday to me is a no brainer - as I pointed out - UFT Elections (Part 1) - Historical Analysis - Comparing the 2016 success and the 2019 disaster.

The reso was not just about UFT elections every three years but calls on all groups to start cooperating on many fronts, including the delegate assembly and district meetings where we begin to make demands and not just sit there and listen to a Unity Caucus presentation. And of course at the Ex Bd if a unified slate should win seats - and the only way is with a united front. We've been seeing some cooperation around a few issues, especially the move of retirees out of formal public Medicare and into privatized Medicare Advantage plans. In service members will be getting the same treatment, or non-treatment very soon. Some of us have been floating an idea for a big demo in front of 52 Broadway before the Jan. 1 implementation.

I have some issues to still raise and will do so in parts 3, 4--infinity and at the next ICE meeting.

If UFT elections are rigged, What's the point in running? Why not boycott? 

If there is no united front, what do we as ICE do? 

Someone suggested we recaucus and run another slate like we did in 2004 when we were not happy with the other groups.  

Another idea is to try to unite all groups that could be united and support that group. 

Or just sit it all out and watch with amusement.

RESOLUTION FOR A UNITED SLATE IN THE 2022  UFT UNION-WIDE 2022 

As passed unanimously by the Independent Community Educators at our meeting of July 27th, 2021


Whereas The UFT Leadership Unity Caucus, the ruling one party system that has suppressed democracy and stifled member participation under a 60-year hegemonic, unilateral control of the UFT, has failed the membership on a number of issues and can only be seriously challenged by a united opposition,


Be it Resolved: The Independent Community of Educators urges all UFT opposition caucuses and non-affiliated independents within the UFT to come together and form a full and united slate to run against the Unity Caucus in the 2022 United Federation of Teachers union-wide elections.


The Covid 19 pandemic, with its challenges and life and death consequences for our union family, has forged new relationships between opposition caucuses, groups and independent union members within the United Federation of Teachers.


A growing consensus and collective spirit towards greater cooperation has blossomed among those opposed to the Unity leadership and have found common cause in fighting for a better union and safer schools during the pandemic.


This cooperation has been evident in seeking to mutually coordinate around vital issues for rank and file members fighting against the privatization of Medicare for our senior retirees; and mobilizing to organize and cooperate within the Delegate Assembly for common agendas.


It is our fundamental belief that only a full and United Slate in the 2022 UFT union-wide election can challenge the ruling one party system that has suppressed democracy and stifled member participation under the 60 year hegemonic, unilateral rule of the Unity Caucus.


This United Slate will be formed by UFT members who believe a better, democratic union is not only necessary, but presently possible. Our union leadership must energetically and responsively involve, engage, and educate its members at all times. Together we can fight for this!


The goal of the United Slate would be to challenge the Unity Caucus in order to ensure they are  responsive and transparent to our members. We will use the election as a platform to educate all union members about the dangers of an increasingly isolated leadership that makes decisions for us, not with us. If we were to win seats on the Executive Board, which historically speaking is very possible, we would work in concert to give voice to members of our union, bring member’s issues to the leaders that they have otherwise chosen to ignore, and speak truth to power. 


The members of Independent Community of Educators, which in the past has won seats on the UFT Executive Board in coalition with other groups and as founding members of MORE, will assist in providing logistical support for the union-wide elections through completing petitioning efforts, canvassing, electoral analysis, media promotion and distribution.


We also call on all caucuses and UFT members opposed to one party ruling Unity Caucus to come together now when there is common cause at UFT district/borough level Chapter Leader meetings, Delegate Assemblies, Executive Board meetings and to secure a better contract for all members during the upcoming negotiations. 


We need not and can not work together on every one of our platform/program points. There are political differences amongst the groups, but on issues where we find ourselves under the same banner, and we know there are many times when this will be and has been the case, we ought to find the means to coordinate for the betterment of our union, its members and the families we serve. 


 

Monday, July 26, 2021

UFT Elections (Part 1) - Historical Analysis - Comparing the 2016 success and the 2019 disaster

UFT Slate Ballot 2016                   
    UNITY
    MORE/New Action  
 
UFT Slate Ballot 2019
    UNITY
    Solidarity
    MORE
    New Action
The real losers in all of this Norm is the active teacher base... Comment on Ed Notes 2019 UFT election report, May 23, 2019
As we approach another UFT general election cycle in the spring of 2022, I've been looking back at the various coalitions and where I've stood. 

I've always been ambivalent about the election process, though until the last election in 2019, I had thrown myself deeply into the battle since 2004. A group of independents, unhappy with the then state of the caucuses, formed a new caucus, ICE/UFT, specifically to run in that election, mainly because the predominant caucus, New Action, had made a deal with Randi that enraged the other anti-Unity forces. TJC was already out there but many felt they were a closed box, undemocratic and dominated by a few voices with a narrow agenda. People were upset at both TJC and NA.

The creation of a new caucus went against my normal grain. When I began Education Notes in 1997 I tried to make it a unifying force and in fact soon after the 2001 UFT elections I called a meeting of all interest groups and independents in the UFT to unite for the next elections, but also to begin working together instead of in separate silos inside the UFT, especially at Delegate Assemblies. After an almost fist fight at the second meeting I have up and instead began to drift toward bringing people together around some of the principle issues I was addressing in Ed Notes, which led to the formation of ICE a few years later.

Generally I have always been in favor of caucuses uniting, either permanently as in 1995, when New Action emerge out of the merger of New Directions and Teachers Action Caucus and in 2012 when ICE and Teachers for a Just Contract merged into MORE (along with other groups). 

At the time, MORE looked like it could unite most of the anti-Unity forces and form one umbrella opposition caucus - a big tent. Unfortunately, within a few short years divisions opened up and the alliance of ICE and TJC proved to have weak bonds -- MORE is now controlled by many of the original TJCC people while ICE is out in the cold.

I've taken various positions regarding UFT elections in 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, at times advocating a boycott and using the election as a means to pointing out how it is rigged in Unity's favor. But few agreed with me, their juices running at the very thought of an election, even if the process occupies months of time where organizing actually doesn't take place -- I base this on the outcomes of previous elections where some people not in the opposition literati get active briefly with the expectation we could win and then when the reality of seeing Mulgrew get 80-85% of the vote, fade into the woodwork.

I changed my mind in 2016 when New Action left its alliance with Unity and joined with MORE in an election coalition and we knew we could win the 7 high school seats. And we did win those seats. Barely, but we won. I remember arguing with some of the resisters in MORE who liked to run only if they wouldn't win anything that winning even 7% of the Ex Bd offered hope to the anti-Unity rank and file. And our electeds did yeoman duty - holding open pre-ex bd meetings and bringing a wide range of  people to advocate for their causes at the meetings.

That model of winning even 7% of the Ex Bd - as opposed to the outcome of 2019 where Unity won 100% - is a prime motivating factor in an attempt to bring all groups together to win those seats -- and hopefully some others in the middle and elementary schools. If all three teacher divisions were won, that would be 23% of the Ex Bd.

Outside the internal literati of the UFT, the average UFT member doesn't have much of a clue as to the differences between the various caucuses -- or even give a much of a shit. Fundamentally they often ask, "Why can't you guys get together? You are asking us to vote for you instead of Unity and even small groups like you can't come together?" Don't forget, 70% of UFT members don't vote, even higher in the teacher divisions. A non-vote is in essence a rejection of Unity and the opposition. And I believe that multiple caucuses running against Unity suppresses the vote further.

In 2019, after a successful 2016 campaign by a coalition of MORE and New Action, MORE inexplicably decided to break that alliance and run a lone campaign that was designed to purposely NOT win anything. 

In my last months in MORE I was taking part in these debates and offered two options -- either run as a united front with other caucuses and indepenents so voters face a clearly defined choice between Unity and an opposition, or don't run at all and use the election to focus on issues. Both ideas were rejected and eventually I was forced out of MORE for writing about the debate.

The outcome was a disaster from the point of electoral politics as MORE finished third behind Solidarity which had not even been able to have enough candidates to get rccognized as a slate in 2016. 

A big question on the minds of the usual suspects thinking ahead to the 2022 elections is will MORE make the same mistake, a mistake that the caucus has not been open about -- or even informed its many new members, some of whom have been in touch asking what happened?

In 2016 MORE/New Action had about 10,600 votes and a non-slate candidate for president had 1400. That was 12,000 votes against Unity, a number matching some of the better outcomes for the opposition over history. 

The total vote of three opposition caucuses running independently in 2019 was less than 7,000. How did such a disastrous outcome occur over a 3 year period? See theEd Notes Election report

The only way to challenge Unity is to have one slate go head to head, not a smorgasbord of opposition groups that only confuse the membership.

I've been hearing from people who listened to my discussion with Leo Casey and Daniel Alicea of UFT history in its early decades on the "Talk Out of School" WBAI broadcast last Saturday. 

Some have pointed to our not getting to the issue of opposition groups in the union that were opposed to Unity Caucus since 1962. And there have been quite a few such groups over the decades. I've helped found three or four (depending on how you classify them) since the 70s.

Having a clean choice of Unity vs one opposition is important for the average, non-involved in UFT internal politics voter - or non-voter.

UFT Slate Ballot 2016                   
    UNITY
    MORE/New Action                        
*Solidarity did not have the required 40 to be listed as a slate, but did run as individuals.  
 
Outcome: MORE/NA received almost 11,000 votes and the Solidarity presidential candidate 1400 votes. MORE/NA also won the 7 high school Ex Bd. seats
 
UFT Slate Ballot 2019
    UNITY
    Solidarity
    MORE
    New Action                                                                                              

Outcome: No ex bd seats - total of all opposition groups less than 8000.

The 2019 UFT election with 3 opposition slates on the ballot was an absolute disaster to have slid back so far after the gains of 2016.

So with elections coming up next year, here we are with the same situation,

I have examined my thinking over the years and firmly believe that I and many of my colleagues from back to the early 70s have tried to bring the opposition forces together for UFT elections and in other areas, like the Delegate Assembly.

The caucus system has often interfered with thee goals. Every small pond must have its big cheeses. But let's agree that there will always be one of more opposition caucus in the UFT, as there has been since the 1960s. The most successful outcomes have come when caucuses came together for general elections -- and of course I don't mean actually winning the election since Unity has had control since the inception of the UFT in 1960 - but in vote totals and winning some seats on the Ex Bd.

One of the most successful coming together elections was in 1981 when three competing caucuses - New Directions (ND), Teachers Action Caucus (TAC), Coalition of School Workers (CSW) - plus independents -  joined to form New Action Coalition - taking one word from the name of each caucus. (In 1995 New Directions and TAC merged to form the current New Action.) We signed up a full slate of 800 people to run - see photo below. And we held large petition signing events attended by hundreds who also picked up literature to distribute in their schools. That election coalition lasted though the 90s and won the high school VP position in 1985 and high school and middle school ex bd seats in the 90s - in fact has continuously won the high schools on the whole -- until 2019.

We truly all didn't get along very well but put aside the rancor of the 70s and even if it took years, this coalition began to make some headway, culminating in winning the HS VEEP in 1985 and 13 Ex Bd seats in 1991.

Many of us believe we are in a unique moment in UFT history, with signs there may be some slippage in the retiree vote and Unity fumbling on a host of issues, putting the high school and middle school ex bd seats in play. And some signs of elementary school disaffection. 

With so many teachers not voting in the past, a GOTV campaign using the many retirees who have become activated and working through the Retiree Advocate group, which itself has cross caucus people from New Action, ICE, a few former MOREs and independents might offer a change to make a dent in Unity, even if winning the whole thing may not be in the cards.

Election lit, 1981:



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Dem Party Goes After Nina Turner and Bernie Wing of Party

“I don’t begrudge anybody wanting to get involved in the race,” Ms. Turner said, “but the entire Congressional Black Caucus PAC? That’s sending another message: Progressives need not apply.

I just gave Nina Turner another $100 for the Ausgust 3 primary in Cleveland. I'm fascinated by these internal struggles between the left and center right inside the Dem Party, a much more fun group than Republicans where there is no longer a fight. In the next two weeks there will be a battle royal. Guess which side our own UFT would take?

liberal activists around the country have rushed to Ms. Turner’s defense, with money, volunteers and reinforcements. Her campaign has raised $4.5 million for a primary, $1.3 million in the last month. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York will be knocking on doors for her the same weekend Mr. Clyburn will be in town. Mr. Sanders will join the fray in person the last weekend before Election Day.

"We have worked very hard to center the poor, the working, poor, and the barely middle class in this election with a laser focus on the issues that will benefit working families. My opponent, however, is not running on the issues but on lies." — Nina Turner

CHIP IN $27 NOW TO HELP SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT >>>

DONATE

Let's bring this thing home!

- Nina 💜

KNOCK DOORS

MAKE CALLS TO VOTERS

 

Hilary, Obama, Clyburn, Jeffries, the Black Caucus --- their actions show serious fear of the progressive wing. Nina Turner is a threat to the Dem establishment. 

Nina Turner’s move from Bernie Sanders’s campaign co-chairwoman to House candidate has highlighted a Democratic divide between impatient young activists and cautious older voters.

The Democratic establishment is throwing copious amounts of time and money into an effort to stop Nina Turner, a former Cleveland councilwoman and Ohio state senator.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/20/us/politics/nina-turner-shontel-brown.html 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Norm Scott and Shanker Inst Head Leo Casey - Inside the History and Politics of the UFT - First Decades - Talk Out of School -

How did the UFT get so old so fast? --- NYC Board of Ed official c. 1970

There were no fisticuffs or even enormous disagreements when Leo and I appeared on the Leonie Haimson WBAI show now co-hosted by Daniel Alicea of Educators of NYC. Daniel and Leonie are alternating programs and make a great team from a parent/comunity activist and current 25 year teacher and activist in the UFT point of view.

I was a guest on the Leonie Haimson WBAI radio program, now co-hosted by Daniel Alicea, this past Saturday along with a former sparring partner, Randi assistant and now head of the Shanker Institute Leo Casey. That was part 1 of a history of the UFT. Part 2 is in two weeks and I hope we can get our (the retiree healthcare) situation discussed as an outcome of lack of democracy in the UFT. We are hoping to get a well-known voice of opposition to Unity for decades but he'd kill me if I revealed his name because he hasn't agreed yet.

But I had a lot more to say about UFT history and the moves made to restrict democracy as Shanker took over in 1964. The leading quote above is a theme I wanted to flesh out further. How the UFT changed from a pretty democratic organization in its first years under the leadership if first president Charlie Cogan who was pretty conservative and non militant but believe in the will of the members - so he was opposed to the first strikes in 1960 and 1962 but the  militant Del Ass voted to strike and he supported them. Shanker began his power move in 1962 and Unity caucus became his instrument and he would have challenged Cogan in 1964 if Dave Seldin hadn't managed to convince Cogan to get out of the way. The late 60s disasters may be tied to the restricted democracy and one man rule under Shanker.

The other issue not explored was the Shanker support for the Vietnam War and the successful attempts to stifle opposition, which was considerable. Shanker didn't want to ruin is chances for advancement in the AFL and right wing mentor George Meany. Maybe in Part 2.

https://talk-out-of-school.simplecast.com/episodes/inside-uft-politics-and-history-part-1-how-the-nations-most-powerful-teachers-union-impacted-nyc-public-schools-x7yfuvOR

Episode Summary

Daniel Alicea was joined by two lifelong and beloved UFT union activists and leaders, Leo Casey and Norm Scott. They took us through a decade by decade overview of the significant developments within the United Federation of Teachers union and how these impacted public education of NYC schools, from 1960 to 1980. This is part 1 of a three part series entitled: Inside UFT politics and history: How The Nation’s Most Powerful Teachers Union Impacted NYC Public Schools Part 1 took us through the 1960s and 1970's. Parts 2 and 3 will likely be broadcast in August or in the fall. Leo Casey is the Assistant to the AFT president, Randi Weingarten. He is also the former executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute. Leo, is a lifelong educator whose career spans his tenure as a high school teacher to being a past UFT Vice-President. Casey has recently published a book called The Teacher Insurgency: A Strategic and Organizing Perspective. In this book, Leo Casey addresses how the unexpected wave of recent teacher strikes has had a dramatic impact on American public education, teacher unions, and the larger labor movement. Casey explains how this uprising was not only born out of opposition to government policies that underfunded public schools and deprofessionalized teaching, but was also rooted in deep-seated changes in the economic climate, social movements, and, most importantly, educational politics. Norm Scott, has been a dissident voice within the UFT, who served as an outspoking union activist, chapter leader, and delegate during his 35 year NYC elementary school teaching career and, even now, as a retiree. In 1997, he launched an independent publication, Education Notes, a newsletter for NYC teachers which he turned into the EdNotes blog, in 2006. He is a founding member of various UFT caucuses such as, Independent Community of Educators (ICE) and Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), to the now defunct, Grassroots Education Movement (GEM).

Episode Notes

-------------------

Resources:

- UFT: 50 Years:  https://www.uft.org/files/attachments/uft-50-years-book.pdf

- The Teacher Rebellion by David Selden

https://www.amazon.com/Teacher-Rebellion-David-Selden/dp/0882582356

- Schools Against Children: The Case for Community Control by Anne Rubenstein

https://www.amazon.com/Schools-Against-Children-Community-Control/dp/0853451621

- Blackboard Unions  by Marjorie Murphy

https://www.amazon.com/Blackboard-Unions-AFT-NEA-1900-1980/dp/0801423651/

- City Unions: Managing Discontent in New York City  by Mark Meir

https://www.amazon.com/City-Unions-Managing-Discontent-York/dp/0813512298

- Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard Kahlenberg

https://www.amazon.com/Tough-Liberal-Democracy-Columbia-Contemporary/dp/0231134975

- The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis by Jerald E. Podair

https://www.amazon.com/Strike-That-Changed-York-Hill-Brownsville/dp/0300109407

Here is James' report on ICE blog:

NORM SCOTT AND LEO CASEY DISCUSS UFT HISTORY ON THE RADIO

Daniel Alicea is a New York City middle school teacher. He has formed a UFT group called Educators of NYC. Daniel is now one of the hosts of WBAI's Talk out of School. He alternates weekly with Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters. The program is live on the radio every Saturday at 1:00 P.M. In addition, every show is archived and available as a podcast

Please take an hour out of your day and listen closely to Saturday's show as past UFT High School Vice President and now AFT leader Leo Casey discusses the history of the UFT with our own Norm Scott. They cover the 1960s and 70's. Believe it or not, there is a great deal of agreement between the two longtime activists, Casey from the inside and Norm as a dissident but there is real disagreement on the roots of the anti-democratic nature of the UFT.

Norm at ICE email:

I was a guest on the Leonie Haimson WBAI radio program, now co-hosted by Daniel Alicea, this past Saturday along with a former sparring partner, Randi assistant and now head of the Shanker Institute Leo Casey. That was part 1 of a history of the UFT. Part 2 is in two weeks and I hope we can get our (the retiree healthcare) situation discussed as an outcome of lack of democracy in the UFT. We are hoping to get a well-known voice of opposition to Unity for decades but he'd kill me if I revealed his name because he hasn't agreed yet.

I think I know who that person is (definitely not me) and if this individual does the show, it will be just as good if not better than the first one. I wonder who Unity puts up next, if anyone.

On another note, Thursday, July 22, ICEUFT will be meeting via Zoom at noon. More details will follow.

For the US, Right Wing Dictatorships (Haiti etc.) Si, No to Left wing (Venezuela, Cuba) attacked over lack of democracy, which really means right to profit

“He may be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch,” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt supposedly said of one of them (though accounts vary about whether the president was referring to American-backed dictators in Nicaragua or in the Dominican Republic). Two generations of brutal Haitian dictators from the Duvalier family were among a long list of strongmen around the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and elsewhere who received resolute American support, particularly as allies against Communism.

Washington dismissed warnings that democracy was unraveling under President Jovenel Moïse, leaving a gaping leadership void after his assassination.... Critics say the American approach to Mr. Moïse followed a playbook the United States has used around the world for decades, often with major consequences for democracy and human rights: reflexively siding with or tolerating leaders accused of authoritarian rule because they advance American interests, or because officials fear instability in their absence.... Mr. Moïse’s grip on power tightened notably under Mr. Trump, who spoke admiringly of a range of foreign autocrats. Mr. Trump was also bent on keeping Haitian migrants out of the United States (they “all have AIDS,” American officials recounted him saying). To the extent that Trump officials focused on Haitian politics at all, officials say, it was mainly to enlist the country in Mr. Trump’s campaign to oust his nemesis in the region: Venezuela’s leader, Nicolás Maduro... NYT

At Least Seven Colombians in Haiti Assassination Received U.S. Training

Trainings for the Colombian mercenaries accused of killing Haitian President Jovenel Moïse were conducted in both the U.S. and Colombia, some as recently as 2015.

READ MORE →

You get it? Maduro is an undemocratic dictator, so promote other right wing dictators to try to bring them down. Let's end the fiction about democracy as the issue in trying to bring regime change, especially to communist or socialist nations. Not that even elected leftists have been immune -- see Chile, Iran, and Europe post WWII. I'm particularly sensitive after reading George Schmidt's The AFT and the CIA for John Lawhead's study group --- yes, our own beloved union has been tied up with undermining these nations. https://uftrg.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/the-american-federation-of-teachers-and-the-cia.pdf


Democracy defined: the ability to profit

 The key to understand is that when they talk about  democracy they don't mean the people but the ability of capitalists to control and profit from the resources of the nations that have removed that ability by taking control of resources. Thus it is not that Cubans can't vote but that the tourist industry can't profit. That the mob can't run hotels like they did before Castro. Or that the oil in Venezuela is not available for profit. The same for Iraq - it's about the oil baby. Iran too -- the biggie when the Shah was overthrown was not that suddenly an undemocratic dictator was lost to us -- but the oil went along with him.

Finally, we are seeing the Haiti story expose the hypocrisy of those calling communist countries undemocratic (true) while supporting dictators who are often even worse. I hadn't even realized until recently that the former slaves who overthrew the French in 1800 had to pay reparations to the deposed slave holders until 1947, which bankrupted the country - and the brand new United States democracy supported that and then throughout the 20th century repeatedly interfered in the affairs of Haiti -- and of course went nuts when the Soviets did similar acts on other nations.

Below the fold are more excerpts:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/18/world/americas/haiti-united-states-jovenel-moise.html 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

This thing is designed to squeeze folx out of senior care - By design - UFT Members react as NYC Unions Confirm Decision To Shift Retirees Onto Privatized Health Insurance

Imagine what Mulgrew would do it we are switched from the current 5% managed charters to 100% in NYC -- the UFT would be wiped out. This is straight out of the disgraced neo-liberal playbook of reducing government services. Also imagine if they tried to do the same to social security.

From a FB thread of working UFT members whose health plans will be next on the chopping block:
We were going to raise all the copays anyway… bullshit

“10% we will work with you to arrange payment “

It will cost you to stay with existing plan… so no it’s not as sold … "you can keep your coverage no problem"

Is there evidence that the MLC and City were going to raise copayments anyway
😮

That’s Bs
Need to be called out loud and clear

But what are they being raised to?

Many procedures or services from 0

This thing is designed to squeeze folx out of senior care
By design

A key is the duplicity of the unions and their support of the health care industry - as is the support of the Dem and Rep Parties, So even if they lower medicare to 60 - we know that these people will be lured by the massive marketing -- money in essence out of our pockets -- of the industry. 

As I've been saying -- they are making the details look good on paper. But the key is that we are going from having 20% of our care managed and controlled privately to 100%. Morally and philosophically and any other way you want to put it -- even if I get the exact same service - I am opposed. Just like I oppose any privately managed charter school controls of the school system. Imagine what Mulgrew would do it we are switched from the current 5% managed charters to 100% in NYC -- the UFT would be wiped out.

It goes into effect Jan. 1 --- UFT elections start in March --  retirees need to make them pay for this act by voting for the opposition -- as long as there is one clear opponent, not multiple slates. 

The major thing I see is a truly mass rally and march not of hundreds but of thousands in protest. This will not happen without mass organizing and some time to do it. Sometimes impatience can be an enemy. As someone wise once said -- Build it and they will come. Jan. 1 is when the abomination goes into effect.  October  -- think of the first UFT Retired teacher meeting and of course they are afraid to have it in person -- I don't know the date but a Tuesday in October -- but we can be outside 52 Broadway at 1 PM to shout our disapproval.

We also need to organize moves to enlist medicare for all friendly politicians, I think people are beginning to work on that.
And getting this issue in front of left-leaning podcasters.


NYC Unions Confirm Decision To Shift Retirees Onto Privatized Health Insurance

https://gothamist.com/news/nyc-unions-vote-could-force-government-retirees-privatized-health-insurance

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Medicare Murderers - Et tu Mulgrew - The Dirty Medicare Murder Plot is a Done Deal - UFT Yes, PSC Votes No - City’s Plan Will Reduce Retiree Health Care by 24%

July 14 - 9 PM

I don't care about what goodies they may throw in. I oppose this plan like I oppose charter schools - even of they are made of gold - I oppose the neo-liberal moves to degrade government services and turn them over to profitizing privatizeers. I also oppose the privatization of space. And the privatization of research labs which used to have much stricter controls under the government but now turned into profit machines that could lead to lab leaks -- look up the history of lab leaks in this country.  

Note the union leaders argued when Bernie was floating medicare for all that Bernie wanted to take away your beloved union health plan. And how UFT people were telling people as recently as a few months ago not to take a medicare advantage plan because they suck and stick with Medicare. And then they take away our beloved health plan.

So keep your damn silver sneakers and give me back my Medicare.

UPDATE Video mentions unions collaborating to privatize NY Retirees plus United Health Care cuts emergency room visits - https://youtu.be/hdsysmFCeJk -

Host calls health insurance companies blood sucking tics - 

DISCLAIMER - Even though Hartmann mentions what is happening he gets it wrong ----

   

I keep saying it - moving us out of a public and into a private option is the same thing as moving public school options into privatized management. And just like charters are like a long time dagger at the heart of public schools, this move is a dagger at the heart of Medicare. No politician wants to say openly they are for eliminating Medicare, so they all gang up to do this underneath the table.

We've been inundated with input, so here are a few.

Tuesday - July 12 - The PSC had a meeting of 791 people — both retirees and inservice folks. The leadership is asking for a moratorium on the vote at the MLC tomorrow evening. It’s unlikely that will be agreed to. Without a moratorium, the PSC delegates will vote NO on approving the MA contract. Apparently some other unions will also vote no, but not enough to outweigh the DC 37 and UFT vote.

There were LOTS of questions that people asked together on the mass zoom meeting. Some were answered satisfactorily but many could not be because the answers just aren’t known — questions about which doctors will accept MA (nationally, not just in NYS), pre-authorization, hospital acceptance, etc. So much uncertainty.

Some of the MLC people are suggesting that the $600 million in costs savings to the City — which is the entire amount the City spends on retiree health care! — will come from the subsidy that CMS will pay to the provider for administering Medicare benefits. But this is almost certainly not true. Medicare spends $2.9 billion on NYC retirees. The normal rate of the subsidy is 4%, which is about $120 million. So the writer explains where the rest of the savings will come from. It’s not a pretty picture.

City’s Plan Will Reduce Retiree Health Care by 24% A Research Note

Prepared by Leonard Rodberg, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies, Queens College/ CUNY & Research Director, NY Metro Chap, Physicians for a National Health Program

Overview: New York City is about to switch the health insurance plan of all retired government workers from traditional public Medicare to a private Medicare Advantage plan. Under the City’s proposal, spending on health care will be reduced by 24%. The impact on retiree health could be harmful or deadly.

Employees of the City of New York, including such associated agencies as the City University of New York, receive their health benefits through employer-provided private insurance negotiated with the City employee unions. Like most Americans covered by private employer-based insurance, they look forward to the time when, upon retirement, they can move to the far less restrictive federal Medicare program.

Thus, upon their retirement, most City retirees join the Medicare program and look forward to its simplicity and reliability. This federal program provides basic medical coverage with few limitations, but it covers only 80% of the cost of outpatient care and requires copayments for inpatient (hospital) services. The City government, through contracts negotiated with its various employee unions, provides comprehensive coverage, called GHI Senior Care, which covers most out-of-pocket costs.

The City government is now seeking, through negotiations with the City employee unions, to end that program and require all retirees, if they want comprehensive coverage, to join a private Medicare Advantage program. (The term “Medicare Advantage” was created by the Congress in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Previous version of this program had been called Medicare Managed Care and Medicare+Choice.) Medicare Advantage plans are private insurance plans funded by the federal Medicare program. They cover the same services as traditional public Medicare, plus some additional ones like gym memberships and some dental and hearing services, but they may impose additional rules, costs, and restrictions.

The City now spends $600 Million per year on retiree health benefits An agreement for health care savings signed in 2018 with the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), representing the City employee unions, provided that in its third year (then 2020 but delayed to 2021 because of the pandemic) it would save the City $600 Million. The City is proposing to achieve these savings by moving its retirees to a Medicare Advantage plan like those that have been widely advertised to seniors since their creation in 2003.

We do not yet know the details of the plan the City will adopt. Even when information on the plan is finally released, important features of the plan (such as when prior approvals will be

required) will remain hidden behind the corporate wall of “proprietary information”. So, in the analysis that follows, we will use average features of Medicare Advantage plans to estimate the financial effects this change will have on retiree health care.

Currently, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that Medicare spends an average of $11,953 annually per enrollee in New York State. For the 245,000 Medicare enrollees that the City now has in its program, this amounts to a total of $2.9 Billion per year coming from the federal Medicare program. The City adds another $600 Million, so the current cost of providing health care to the City’s retirees is $3.5 Billion. (Note that, as expected, the City’s payment is about 20% of the total, reflecting the 20% average coinsurance required by the Medicare program.)

Under the City’s plan, all of the funding for retiree health care will come from the federal government. Because of Congressional support for the Medicare Advantage program, the federal government does pay Medicare Advantage plans more than the same care would cost in the traditional public Medicare program. These additional funds, a Medicare subsidy, has in the past been as large as 8-10%. However, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), Medicare currently pays to Medicare Advantage plans, per enrollee, 104% of what is spent by traditional Medicare. So we can estimate that,a total of whichever Medicare Advantage plan is chosen by the City and the MLC (assuming they do continue to go that route), the funds available to them will be about 104% of Medicare’s current spending on the City’s retirees, or $3.05 Billion.

However, not all of these funds will be available to pay for the delivery of health care. Private insurers providing Medicare Advantage plans spend considerable sums on internal administrative expenses or overhead. There is a widespread belief that the private sector is inherently more efficient than the public, government sector. However, the health care field is an exception to this general idea. Private insurance companies have much greater administrative expenses than do public agencies. They not only have to process claims, but they conduct complex prior approval processes in order to limit their spending on expensive treatments and procedures. They negotiate rates with physicians, hospitals, and other providers. They purchase extensive advertising and other marketing tools. They pay high salaries, often in the millions of dollars, to their administrators. And, of course, most of them are for-profit companies which typically make at least 5% profit on their overall revenues, or 20% or more on their actual expenses.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that Medicare Advantage plans have an average overhead expense of 14% of their total revenue. If the City’s plan is adopted, that will be a total of about $427 Million per year. So the funds available to pay for the delivery of health care will be $427 Million less than the $3.05 Billion the insurers receive from the federal government, or $2.62 Billion.

Before comparing this to current spending, we must note that the $600 Million that the City currently spends on supplemental coverage for its retirees is also spent through insurance companies. This means that a significant portion of its funds are actually spent on internal administrative overhead. We will use the same overhead figure, 14%, for this spending as for the Medicare Advantage plan (the same companies are generally involved.) So just 86%, or $516 Million, is actually available today to pay for the delivery of health care. Total spending on actual health care today is then $3.45 Billion per year, not the $3.5 Billion shown earlier.

2

Finally, the reduction in health care spending under the City’s plan will be 3.45 2.62 = 0.83, or $830 Million per year. This is 24% of what is currently spent on delivering health care to retirees. The following graph shows this result in visual form. The calculations are summarized in a table on the next page.

The insurance companies will claim that this reduction in spending is possible because they take such good care of their members that they remain healthier than they would be otherwise. There is no evidence, anywhere, of either such savings or of any activities that would lead to such savings. Instead, these “savings” – actually, these reductions in spending on health care are created by (1) the extensive use of deductibles and copays, which shift costs from the insurer to the patients; (2) the reduction in the use of health care services when patients, faced with financial barriers, avoid seeking care; (3) the requirements for prior authorization by the insurance company of expensive treatments and procedures, leading to denials and delays; and (4) paying doctors and hospitals less than traditional Medicare does. Together, they create spending reductions approaching a quarter of all health care spending.

How many patients will have their health worsened, or will die, as a result of this severe cut in spending on their health care? If the City’s plan is approved, only time will tell.

3

Financial Impact of the City’s Plan for a Shift to Medicare Advantage