Dear Ms. Chickedantz,
Sunday, October 9, 2016
A letter by an ATR to attorney Maria Chickedantz:
Dear Ms. Chickedantz,
Dear Ms. Chickedantz,
I thought I would present my views on the ATR issue to you by e-mail, for discussion at the April 20th scheduled meeting.
I recently retired after 25+ years as a secondary high school Social Studies teacher. From March 2011 until my retirement, I was an ATR, rotating among Queens High Schools.
I contend that the DOE treatment of ATRs has been arbitrary and capricious, violating the UFT contract and resulting in discrimination in the work place.
1) There is no written policy by the DOE stating expectations and responsibilities for ATRs. The schools do not expect us to teach lessons or have lesson plans, yet many of the DOE roving supervisors do. As ATRs, we are substitutes, and are expected to carry out lesson materials that are left by the absentee teacher. It is accepted that it is the school's responsibility to provide lesson materials if none is left by the absentee teacher. Yet, there are roving supervisors who expect to see ATRs with generic lesson plans, teaching classes, even outside their lesson areas, which is unrealistic, setting up the teacher for failure.
2) Again, without any written policy, the DOE allows the roving supervisors to observe an ATR in a teaching capacity, with a class and students the ATR is not familiar with. Again, this is arbitrary and capricious, setting the teacher up for failure. These observations have nothing to do with our job duties as ATRs, covering classes for absentee teachers. It also violates the UFT contract, Article 7A, which stipulates that teachers must have programs with specific subjects and classes. Since ATRs do not,they can not be fairly evaluated as teachers.
3) The evaluation system by roving supervisors is arbitrary and capricious because not every ATR is assigned one. In the three years roving supervisors were in place, I had one only one year.
4) Principals and DOE abuse ATRs by using them to cover teaching assignments with out hiring permanently. Principals are not charged for ATRs that are used provisionally and thus save money by dismissing them at end of semester.
5) Even though there are generally over 1000 ATRs in any given school year, the DOE discriminates by hiring between 4 and 5 thousand new teachers annually
DOE must place ATRs in available positions on a permanent basis by seniority, before hiring new teachers. In this way, they can be fairly evaluated like other teachers.This also solves the problem of an ATR pool for the future.
Thank you for your consideration in possible litigation on behalf of ATRs. The UFT does not choose to advocate for us.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
The saga of the tortured teacher continues, this time with a city pay-out. But what lessons is the city teaching the wrong-doers?
The New York Post published the story of part of a saga of an ATR, "Teachers abused by students wins $125k settlement," where she got a payout for enduring terrible abuse at Catherine & Count Basie Middle School (MS 72). While she was a regularly assigned teacher she was assaulted by students on a number of occasions. She was subject to multiple episodes of very profane verbal abuse by her students, and she was subject to threats to her personal safety off the campus of the Guy Brewer Boulevard, Queens school. Students misbehaved in ways that not only threatened the teachers but other students. The administration's response was to disregard the abuse and to blame the victim. It is fortunate that Ms. Perez won an award for what she endured. Yet in this instance the city covered for the wrong-doers. But what lessons is it teaching, as the principal, Omotayo Cineus is still sitting comfortable in her position?
This story alone is terrible, yet it is significant. This kind of abuse and administrative accommodation of harassment of teachers goes on widely in the NYC DOE system, but the administrators overseeing bogus statistics or other sorts of improper conduct remain safe in their positions, as in these cases and as in this principal, who would be in hot water in a just system, but this being the DOE, proper punishment is doubtful. This case is significant because the DOE has lost and the case has gone public. These two factors now give added momentum to similar claimants, as the case shows that DOE administrators act as though they can get away with anything, yet in this case the DOE was defeated.
The facts that principal abuse of teachers goes on, and that the DOE tolerates this, as noted in the above blog cross-references, by keeping the abusers in power, and by paying the penalty for their abuse, demonstrates that the DOE is OK with this abuse. From these facts we can ask, what kind of message is the DOE sending to students? What kind of message is the DOE sending to the public? What kinds of values do mayor DeBlasio and Chancellor Farina have when they accommodate this kind of abuse and neglect? Are they subscribing to the idea of inspiring excellence by tormenting staff, because this bullying is what their system is practicing.. This school is hardly an isolated bad apple in the DOE. How does the DOE value humane compassion for its teaching staff? How does the DOE value the teaching profession? How does the DOE plan to retain staff? How does the DOE plan to inspire good behavior in students and how does the DOE plan to inspire students to pursue the teaching profession?
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
It was supposed to break me. It was supposed to frustrate, humiliate, and degrade me into quitting, or at least doing something foolish that they could use against me.
I dared to speak out. I dared to document, challenge, and call BULLSHIT when I saw it. I filed lawsuits (and recently won a six figure settlement). I named names and showed proof. I made phone calls and forwarded documents. And in the end, I was returned to the ATR pool (with no actual documentation that I am an ATR, but that’s another blog for another day).
They thought that playing ATR Roulette would frustrate me. It sounds frustrating, doesn’t it? A new building, new staff, new work hours, new students, new grade levels, new parking situations and new commutes every few weeks, well, that has to be enough to break a person. Especially when you get to a place and are assumed to be incompetent even though you have nineteen years in and a clean file. You are asked if you have ever taken attendance. You are asked if you have ever been in a fire drill. You are told that the Smart Board is “only for teachers” and that “subs always mess it up”. You relinquish your name and become “The ATR” or “The Sub”. Kids see you and gleefully say, “Oh, look, a SUB!” The teachers you are helping don’t ask your name or even bother to glance at you, simply telling the class, “That’s the sub who will be here while I’m gone” as they run out the classroom door. Teachers with one year in are giving YOU directions and telling YOU how to teach a reading lesson (even though you are a Literacy Specialist with a Master’s in Literacy and fifteen years in the job). And the clincher – after a career spent almost exclusively with grades seven and eight, you are sent to teach everything but those grades – pre-K one day, fourth grade another, and on and on.
But let me tell you, DOE. Your plan backfired. Spectacularly. Not only have I not been broken, but I have become a stronger, better teacher and stronger better person for your efforts. I am a better teacher than I have EVER been – and it’s all thanks to you and your ATR pool.
You thought the constant changing of schools would be frustrating. Let me tell you, while there are a few oddball commutes here and there, I have found parts of my district that I never would have found had it not been for the monthly spin of the ATR Roulette Wheel. I have friends and colleagues in almost every school in my district. I know which schools are wonderful places to be, and where to avoid at all costs. I have a keen sense of what works in a school, and can see how vile administration can wreck a place by creating an atmosphere of intimidation. I’ve been able to support colleagues who have been beaten down and targeted, and provide welcome assistance when I can. I’ve truly learned how to HELP, and do it willingly and joyfully. And I can do this BECAUSE, at some point, I move on, thanks to the system YOU have designed.
I’ve developed the best poker face ANYWHERE. When I am in a train wreck of a school, with a nasty, back-stabbing staff and insane administration, I can look on with bemused detachment. I can take solace in the fact that in a few weeks I move on, and take pity on those who have to stay. I keep my game face on, and count the days until I leave the train wreck behind. I can even do this when the DOE sends supervisors and other officials to “coach” us. You’ll never see me sweat or smirk, but what I’m thinking is another story. But you’ll never know.
Thanks to the ATR pool, I’ve been moved out of my comfort zone – and discovered that I can do ANYTHING. For years, I taught in middle school. Mostly grades seven and eight. I never thought about teaching any other grade, especially the “Littles”. As an ATR, you teach whatever grade you are given. I bet, DOE, that you thought that would drive me nuts. Well, let me tell you – I have been able to see great teachers in action at every level and have learned much from them. As a result, I can walk into ANY classroom – from Pre-K to tenth grade – and teach something. On the spot. Immediately. And I can be successful doing it. I have become an absolutely FEARLESS teacher. And I owe it all to you.
I have become the BEST classroom manager I have ever been. Nothing like being “the Sub” to make classroom management a huge log roll. But, I’ve learned to walk in my own experience and authority, keeping my “teacher” presence and confidence in place. I can settle a Kindergarten class I have never seen before in less than a minute. I can have a sixth grade class ready to work in less than two – even though I have never seen them before. I can build a relationship with a group of students in a day or two and keep it going until I move on.
I have become mentally agile and unbelievably resourceful. There’s nothing like having a class of twenty five first graders looking at you when you discover that nothing has been left for you for the day. But thanks to you, I can “read” a classroom, find what I need, and make the day productive by simply making inferences from what IS left. Being an obsessive “planner”, I have discovered that I am, in fact, capable of thinking on my feet. Thank you for that.
Most of all, I have learned to appreciate my own skills and to stand up for myself. I now insist that colleagues address me by name. I call out secretaries, school aides, and paras when they speak to me like I am an idiot, or when they speak about me to each other as if I am not there. I’ve learned to demand professional treatment and respect. I’ve stood up for myself when fellow teachers have treated me as a subordinate, or worse. I don’t let them get away with it anymore. I’ve learned when to stand up and call bullshit, and do it politely, but without fear. I have become a force to be reckoned with.
So, DOE, thank you for this. Thank you for placing me in this situation where I have become the strongest, most effective, most resourceful teacher I have EVER been. I know this wasn’t your plan. But that’s ok – because of this I have learned that I am made of strong stuff. That I am a survivor and that I am amazingly competent and capable. Hit me with your best shot, DOE.
I’ll hit it right back.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
A retired ATR response to a negative letter in the New York Post for hit piece on ATRs.
Dear Mr. Benjamin,
Dear Mr. Benjamin,
Your opinion piece today on "Rubberrooms" is misinforming readers and disparaging ATRs.
The NYCDOE has allowed ATRs to be discriminated against by not permanently placing them in vacant positions. Even though the DOE says it has placed 500 ATR teachers into regular positions, the reality is that most of these teachers were placed provisionally and then dismissed at the end of the school year, going back to the ATR pool. In this way, principals were not charged the full cost of these teachers to their budgets. In effect, the DOE allows principals to manipulate and misuse the ATR pool. That is why, they do not want to give out specific information about ATR numbers and placements.
In addition, the NYCDOE hires four to five thousand new teachers every year while the ATR pool stays at around one thousand teachers on average. Therefore, if you are an ATR, you will likely not be hired on a permanent basis due to principals wanting to save money on their budgets by hiring new teachers.. It has nothing to due with teacher quality.
It is a mistake to disparage these teachers as "dysfunctional and ineffective", associating them with "Rubber Rooms." Most of these teachers were excessed from their schools. Some went through 3020a hearings because of their whistleblowing to protect student, parent or teacher interests at the school level. There are many ineffective and vindictive principals who use the evaluation process to punish teachers who want the UFT contract adhered to or report Special Education violations or speak out about ineffective school leadership teams, for example.
Instead of disparaging teachers for being in the ATR pool, they should be placed in vacancies and fairly evaluated for their performance as other teachers. The DOE is costing taxpayers over 100 million dollars a year, as you reported, when the simple solution is to place these experienced teachers into permanent vacancies.
The idea that ATRs are "bad" teachers" and negatively affecting the schools they are being sent to without any evidence is an absurd and biased opinion that is scapegoating good, experienced teachers, who through no fault of their own, are trapped in in the ATR pool .
I would welcome the opportunity to write a published rebuttal to your " Post Opinion."
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
EdNotes reported that teachers at a MORE caucus leaning school were upset with how an ATR was being treated by the field supervisor who was visiting the ATR at the school.The teachers gave the ATR teacher their backs by signing letters of support for the excessed teacher! The union needs to wake up and show the same level of commitment that Mike, EdNotes and the teachers at this school did for this ATR.
ATRs experiencing the DOE railroading and inadequate UFT defense need to get involved in the class action lawsuit.
ATRs experiencing the DOE railroading and inadequate UFT defense need to get involved in the class action lawsuit.
There's an ATR in my school that is going through hell
with his field supervisor. My CL had the UFT Dist Rep come to our school to meet with the ATR when his field supv scheduled a meeting with the ATR and was planing to bring another field supv with her. I suspect she was bringing back up bc the last time she was at our school the ATR asked me to be present (CL was unavailable at the time). She refused to have a discussion with him in my presence (as his union representation). My heart goes out to this guy bc it seems clear to me he is being set up for a U rating. He comes to our school and is given whatever coverage is available and he truly does his best to assist our kids as best he can under these circumstances. We can look out for him as long as he is at PS -- but we can't do anything about his field supv ratings and once he's gone I'm assuming he won't find the same support elsewhere. Is there anyone he can contact to help him navigate the bullshit?... This is the first ATR we've had that has told me their story. I'm always welcoming to them and let them know we have an honest CL they can reach out to but since they don't know me they rarely open up like this guy did. He overheard a conversation I was having about the state of our union and gambled I could be trusted. This guy said PS --- is the first school he's been in where he feels some union strength-.... Thanks for everything you guys do----teachers would have no avenues to follow if it weren't for people like you. .... email to MORE activists from former chapter leader
This was sent to Mike Schirtzer and myself from a trusted supporter and source. (I'm not using her name or school to protect the ATR who could be traced - she would be fine with using her name.)
She noticed a very competent ATR being harassed in her school and jumped in to support him along with her colleagues. That school has 40 people signed up to be MORE members. (They could have even run their own slate in the UFT elections out of their school alone.)
Having his story reinforced by a trusted teacher and former chapter leader is immense. Our advice to her was to gather support within the school for the ATR by writing letters about his work in the school for him to use in a defense and she did exactly that.
She put me in touch with the ATR and we spoke for hours and I got the full story of the actions of his field supervisor and her cohorts. His story is very credible. And there might even be religious persecution issues on the table.
During our conversation he mentioned others in some schools, including principals, who praised his efforts. I suggested he start gathering names and numbers and possible statements. If they bring him upon 3020a charges, there will be a list of witnesses for him.
We hear so many complaints from ATRs about the treatment they get from colleagues in schools they are sent to. One ATR I spoke too calls the field supervisors "failed supervisors." The apparently awful James Quail, a former principal and district superintendent from my district whom I've known since 1970, is the grim reaper of field supervisors, pops up in the picture.
We hear a lot about the gotcha mentality of ATR field supervisors - the DOE wasteful jobs program for retired principals.
We also hear lies and slanders from people with their own political agenda that MORE is not supportive of ATRs when in fact the members of MORE who have influence in their schools bend over backwards to be supportive, as this story confirms.
The ATR told me that this school had the most serious sense of union of any school he has been in since he became an ATR. And there is no little irony that the school leans toward MORE instead of Unity for support.
The MORE contact, upon seeing an ATR who had impressed people in the school come under attack by a new field supervisor (the old one found no fault), took action by writing letters of support for the ATR and sending them out to come point people at the union and possibly the DOE with more people to come if the harassment continues. They also gave the ATR copies. And she went in when he met with the Field Supervisor at one point and at another with a district rep.
When will the UFT say something about the enormous waste in paying field supervisors to observe people functioning as substitute teachers? Do they observe regular subs? Did anyone in the history of this school system spend time and money to observe subs?
This is the letter that has been sent to Amy Arundell at the UFT who has contacted me -- and repeatedly - that she will get involved. I give Amy the benefit of the doubt and will track the outcome.
Dear Amy Arundell,
Mr. X is an ATR who was sent to our school for one of his temporary assignments. He arrived at school each morning and performed his duties as a substitute teacher in various classes depending upon which of our teachers was absent that day. He made the best of a very difficult situation. Although he did not know our students and did not know what grade or type of class (self-contained, ICT, bilingual, general ed) he would be assigned to cover, he engaged the students and we were happy to have him as part of our school community. He was punctual, respectful and eager to assist our school community on each day he arrived in our school.
As you are aware, ATRs are given sub assignments no different from day-to-day subs, yet they are observed and are expected to teach as if they have the same familiarity with the class as a permanent staff member would be expected to have. This unfair process allows for abuse on the part of field supervisors who too often act as if they are observing a teacher who has spent months with the children they are teaching rather than someone who has met a class for the first time and may have zero experience with that particular grade or may be teaching a class out of their license area.
We are writing to you, the UFT rep who is assigned to assist ATRs, to express our concern that Mr. X is being set up for failure by his field supervisor who, in our opinion, has been less than professional and fair with him. This concern was brought to the attention of UFT District --- Rep, who promptly came to our school and met with Mr. X and his field supervisor Ms. Y as well as an additional field supervisor, who was invited by Ms. Y. The fact that Ms. Y felt it necessary to invite a co-worker to attend reeks of intimidation. It is the reason we asked [the dist rep] to come to the school when this meeting was scheduled. It was clear to us that Mr. X was about to be unfairly tag-teamed by two field supervisors as an act of intimidation. There is no other reason for two field supervisors, paid by the tax payers, to do the job of one field supervisor.
Mr. X has finished his rotation at PS X. But we have told him to think of PS X as his home school and to keep in touch with us regarding his treatment elsewhere. We are asking that you initiate and maintain contact with Mr. X and ensure that he is not scapegoated out of a job in order for a field supervisor to make her bones with the DOE. Based on how Mr. X conducted himself at PS X, it is clear to us that the man deserves to keep his paycheck and benefits. We believe in having a strong union that looks out for our most vulnerable members and it is our hope that you will demonstrate that such strength still exists. We thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
CL, PS X Chapter Leader
------, Former PS ----- Chapter Leader
We the undersigned support our union brothers and sisters who are ATRs. Our current and former chapter leader keep us informed on union matters and we realize that ATRs have lost their permanent positions through no fault of their own We realize that our school could be phased out in the near future and we too could find ourselves in an ATR pool where we will be vulnerable to lose our jobs, pensions and health benefits. We feel strongly that ATRs be protected and we ask that Mr. ....... be treated in a manner we would expect to be treated under such circumstances. It is our hope that Mr. ........ is not left hanging out on a limb without support now that he has left our school. We hope that our union stands by him and protects him from any injustices that he may face in his future as he travels from school to school as an ATR. It is what we would want our union to do for us if we had to walk in his shoes.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
PS ..... Staff Members (signed below)
A reminder: ATRs that are seeing themselves heading in the direction of a U rating for the year are urged to contact DOEatreducators@gmail.com, about joining a class action suit.
Friday, April 1, 2016
There's a log of important ATR stories in Ed Notes: there's a report of a consulting firm for the observations that appears to show a conflict of interest.
An ATR told me an interesting story. In addition to a field
Michael Mulgrew's sister, Kathleen Mulgrew-Daretany, was the COO of Brienza, as reported by Sue Edelman in an April 28, 2013 article:
During her leave, Mulgrew-Daretany worked as chief operating officer for Brienza’s Academic Advantage, a Brooklyn-based company that sells teacher-training seminars and student tutoring. She is listed as COO in a Brienza’s organizational chart filed with the DOE. She left “last year,” a company official said.What happened when this Brienza guy observed the ATR? Well, the ATR was not actually teaching a class but in there to assist another teacher and during the lesson played no role at all.
DOE payments to Brienza’s rose from $5,109 in 2002 to $10.9 million in 2012, when the city received No Child Left Behind funds for after-school tutoring, officials said.
So how astounded was he when this Brienza guy tells him he wants to meet on the ATRs prep to discuss his "lesson" and see where it could be improved.
"But I didn't teach a lesson," says the ATR.
The Brienza guy ignores what he said and insists there was a lesson.
Surreal in some worlds, but in the tangled relationship between the UFT and the DOE, business as usual.
Let's follow the bouncing ball:
In all of my criticism of the UFT I rarely accuse the leadership of out and out corruption. But someone explain to me how they are so silent while enormous amounts of money is being spent to monitor people who are in essence substitute teachers. In the over 100 year history of the NYC school system, have outside agents ever been hired to monitor subs? So we know that the way a sub does his or her job is and has always been irrelevant as long as they are not utter incompetents.
- The UFT abandons ATRs to the fates and refuses to give them any representation by allowing them their own chapter.
- When challenged the UFT/Unity leadership says "ATRs are not a permanent position."
- The DOE agrees with their partners at the UFT - that the ATRs are not permanent and has a plan to phase them out. They spend an enormous amount of money hiring field supervisors - known among many ATRs as "failed supervisors" in previous positions.
- In addition to the failed supervisors being used to go after ATRs we now find out that they have hired Brienza, whose COO was the sister of the UFT president.
- Brienza is clearly hired not to assist the ATRs but to assist the field/failed supervisors in removing ATRs who become a target.
- They are all being very careful to make sure that when they observe the ATRs they are covering in their license areas and they often badger the people in the schools to make sure to get certain classes for the ATR, better if they are the worst classes in the school -- yes, some people at the school level are annoyed enough at these FS and consultants to be supportive of ATRs whom they think are doing a good job in a bad situation.
So it is clear that the very purpose of field supervisors and Brienza is to get rid of people by putting enough pressure on them to get them to leave. We know that there are union officials who have been told about these stories. Public silence.
That the UFT/Unity Caucus leadership is complicit even if not outright, but by their silence.
Monday, February 22, 2016
Please come to this special MORE Caucus event on Sunday afternoon, February 28 12-3 pm, at P.S. 58, 330 Smith Street, Brooklyn. Absent Teacher Reserve issues will be among the topics on the agenda. Other agenda issues include Family leave, Opt-out, and a Member-driven union.The MORE Caucus-UFT platform pledges to reintegrate ATRs into schools of their choice.
Co-location with charter schools and other new schools has driven the excessing crisis. Perhaps the biggest factor currently impacting principals' reluctance to hire ATRs, is "Fair Student Funding." Additionally, "leadership academy" principals want to hire teachers that lack an institutional memory of their contractual rights. Many of the new recruits are Teach for America trainees who arrive with a mere five weeks of training.
The MORE platform further pledges to end the UFT involvement in UFT charter schools, except as representation of union members. It calls for the union to be member-driven. To that end, it calls for union positions to be subject to election and recall. MORE's platform proposes that dues increases should be voted on at the Delegate's Assembly.
Jia Lee, MORE's presidential candidate, wrote this statement of support of the ATRs:
The Absent Teacher Reserve: An Injury to One is an Injury to All
By Jia Lee
MORE Presidential Candidate
Imagine you’re standing alongside a rapid flowing river. You see someone being carried along mercilessly. You jump in, holding onto a rope and pull this person out. As soon as you emerge, you see another, so you jump in again. Each time you emerge, you turn to see more people. Perhaps, others join in solidarity. We become so enrapt in trying to save people, we never venture to find the root source of the problem.
The Current Situation:
According to a recent Chalkbeat article, City Data Shows Number in Absent Teacher Reserve Remains Steady*, there are currently 1,083 teachers in the ATR pool, down from 1,102 in January 2015. The city reports 500 new teachers hired full time in 2014 and 2015, and since January of 2014, 450 teachers have exited the system. The article does not specify who was hired full time and who left the system. There is no breakdown. We know new teachers are being hired into the system while hearing horror stories by our mid-career colleagues in the ATR. The numbers don’t adequately tell the stories and experiences of the teachers who have been displaced, made certain through negotiations by union leadership.
Further, there is no mention of the unfair and arbitrary treatment of teachers in rotation or those placed into provisional placements. In a system that is under one of the most top down and oppressive conditions ever, being in the ATR has seeped negative connotations and stigma. Internalized oppression has manifested into traumatic disorders and affected the quality of life of so many of our colleagues. It’s unconscionable. Yet, our union leadership fails to understand that an injury to one is an injury to all.
Despite the provisions in the newest contract that is supposed to make it easier for members in the ATR pool to go on interviews, there is an unspoken and subversive feeling that something is not right. Has anyone outside of the ATR asked how teachers in this situation are evaluated? Most, so entrenched in their own survival, don’t realize that those in the ATR are under an observation and evaluation system that is not written anywhere in our contract. Ask anyone who is in this situation at your school.
The framing of the stories continue to be controlled by the same folks who have spent untold billions to privatize public education. We have yet to read or hear about schools as places where people form relationships to foster nurturing places for teaching and learning- that once dismantled, the human nature of that work is destroyed. Teachers are not interchangeable widgets. At the core of of a school is the community of people within it. Forcing teachers to go from school to school, as if they are interchangeable, ignores and worse, does not care to support the teachers, hence the students in the school. We must understand that all UFT members are subject to arbitrary school closures based on invalid metrics, so we must stand in solidarity with teachers who are placed in our schools and welcome them.
In the Chalkbeat article, there’s an acknowledgement that the number of teachers in the ATR have remained steady due to the stall in school closures that were so aggressive before DeBlasio took office. Even with the stall, there was an agreement made before the change of mayoral and chancellorship power. Only one side remains constant, and that is the Unity leadership who helped to create the ATR. It is frustrating beyond comprehension as to why, given the precarious conditions of moving and having to adapt from school to school, our union leadership shot down a resolution by a very well known teacher in the ATR, to have, in the least, its own chapter with elected representation. One would think that the union leadership has something to gain from preventing such empowerment. As a chapter leader of seven years who’s attended nearly every delegate assembly, I started to take note of all the times our current president proudly stated that they helped us avoid layoffs. However, what the leadership does not seem to remind folks of is how they conceded to school closures and the displacement of teachers, an egregious act that would put them in the same boat as ed deformers.
Returning to the analogy I started with, through collaborative research and work with others within and beyond MORE, we have made our way to the source of the attack on our profession, students and schools. Many already know that the UFT is the single largest teachers union local. We stand in the way of a greater objective by the corporate elite who are vying for control. Years ago, our leadership cowered to the false rhetoric being put out by the Koch brothers and Broads that the source of an “achievement gap” was the teachers. So, despite the mountains of evidence that standardized tests could not be used to evaluate schools and teachers, our leadership welcomed it. They welcomed mayoral control, the Common Core with its high stakes tests, Danielson rubrics, charters (the UFT started two) and scripted curriculum, while doing nothing to combat the managerial and lean production model used by administrators coming out of the leadership academy.
The state then used a norm-referenced bell curve designed to ensure a bottom percentage of schools that could then be labeled as failing. Many of those schools were targeted for charter co-locations. As schools closed, teachers, students and entire communities were displaced. This played right into the false narrative by ed deformers. The leadership of our union fails to acknowledge that their strategies of “having a seat at the table” are dangerous and damaging. What they helped to create is a breakdown in membership-wide solidarity. Our first defense is us; it has not been and will not be the leadership.
The MORE caucus, is not, in and of itself, a top-down structure. We have bylaws that ensure term limits and democratic decision making. If you have ever attended a MORE general meeting, you know that we painstakingly work to make ensure that anyone who wants to speak on an issue, raise proposals and have an opinion that differs from others is heard. We work to have distributive leadership within our structure, creating, in practice, the kind of union we want to see.
Our MORE 2016 Platform** states:
- MORE seeks to dismantle the notion of an absent teacher reserve and provide for all teachers to find a school community that is the right fit.
- MORE believes in a strong ATR chapter with elected representatives