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.
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.
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).
- UFT: 50 Years: https://www.uft.org/files/attachments/uft-50-years-book.pdf
- The Teacher Rebellion by David Selden
- Schools Against Children: The Case for Community Control by Anne Rubenstein
- Blackboard Unions by Marjorie Murphy
- City Unions: Managing Discontent in New York City by Mark Meir
- Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard Kahlenberg
- The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis by Jerald E. Podair
Here is James' report on ICE blog:
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.