Monday, May 30, 2016

Why MORE's Social Justice Plank Is Crap!





















My colleagues at MORE are mighty unhappy with my stance on their "social justice" plank and have made great strides in "putting lipstick on the pig" by claiming that their social justice plank is part of teacher justice. Be it NYC educator, Ed Notes Online, or the ICEUFT blog.   Moreover, they claim that a narrowly based teacher union is doomed to fail since it cannot attract enough members to make a difference and I agree.  However, the problem is that I do believe in social justice, just not the social justice MORE advocates.  This post explains the social justice that should be part of the teacher justice program while some of MORE's major social justice plank deals more with Socialist or Communist political ideology and not education and that's why its "crap".

My perfect caucus would first and foremost be about "teacher justice" that is demanding respect for the teaching profession and the professionalism that goes with it, allowing for a teacher voice on all decisions, and negotiating a contract that is fair and equitable to all the members.  No winners and losers.  No longer will there be an ATR pool or second class citizenship.  The caucus will bring back respect and pride to the teaching profession and teacher autonomy in the classroom.

The "social justice" part would be working with the community's parents for smaller class sizes, so all students have a better chance for educational success, adequate resources, for the schools, a fair and enforced student discipline policy that removes disruptive students from the classroom and set up suspension centers (remember the old 600 schools?) for these students so the rest of the students can learn.  My "social justice" plank is a parent voice,  a peaceful classroom, a climate of respect for all, an environment for optimum student learning, and most importantly, the proper resources and support for all students to reach their educational potential.

By contrast, MORE's "social justice" plank includes too many ideological issues. including increased restorative justice funds and staff, as if these useless circles really work.  They don't!  Just read my previous post on Flushing high school.  Furthermore, MORE apparently advocates affirmative action for hiring teaching staff, regardless if they're qualified.  In other words, instead of hiring based on teacher quality MORE actually wants race, culture, and religion to be considered in the composition of a teacher staff  I thought that nonsense was outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court?  If you don't believe me, just read what MORE's Presidential candidate Jia Lee told the Gothomist about teacher staffs. I personally dislike any discrimination be it from the left or the right and selecting a teaching staff based on factors other than on a teacher's ability is plain wrong om any level, no matter how noble the idea is.  Finally, MORE is strangely silent on the revised and more lenient student discipline code that has resulted in more violent acts in the New York City schools.  Is their ideology more important then their member safety?  Even the clueless and disconnected UFT President Michael Mulgrew realized that the revised student discipline code is making schools increasingly unsafe for both students and staff.  Finally, MORE (so did Unity) supported the Al Sharpton led march against fellow union members, a case where ideology trumped trade unionism. A major no, no to me.

While I am happy that MORE has won the high school seats on the executive board and possibly added a level of transparency to the secretive Unity caucus that dominates the union, I cannot in good conscience be a MORE member until they change their "social justice" plank to supporting teachers and not the ideological aims of the left. To me their "social justice" plank its just "crap".






31 comments:

NYC Educator said...

You'll pardon me, but I am a strong advocate for smaller class sizes, and have been for years. And I've spoken out about the contract all over the place. When Mulgrew said bloggers were "purveyors of myth" on health care, he was certainly talking about me. He turned of Eterno's mike as James said we'd negotiated the lowest pattern in history, something he's yet to refute.

I read the comments on the UFT Facebook page on the Garner march. They were overtly racist and I was disgusted. I joined the march and I'm proud to have done so. And far from being "strangely silent" on the discipline code, I had a piece in the New York Daily News a week or two ago absolutely opposing it.

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/arthur-goldstein-teachers-discipline-toolkits-lighter-article-1.2619341

Most importantly, by painting everyone with MORE with one brush, you do us a great disservice. We don't sign loyalty oaths, and we are free to believe as we wish. We are not a group of fanatical ideologues, and we are diverse in our beliefs. Saying we believe this and that is nothing but a stereotype, and you've actually not addressed anything in my blog post. I'm pretty shocked you seem not to know me better than that.

I don't actually know much about restorative justice, but someone on my blog yesterday told me it entailed tolerating assaults on teachers and students peddling drugs. Seriously? You're gonna tell me this is what I support? I write and work in defense of members every day of my life. I advocate for ATRs on multiple levels, and have helped several to get hired permanently. I'm not always successful, but it's not for lack of trying.

I take it very seriously when members are abused. That's not any kind of justice, and I'm not at all shy about standing up for members. Being chapter leader of the largest school in Queens is not precisely a walk in the park, and I take the implication that I tolerate such nonsense as a personal insult.



NYC Educator said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Although I voted for MORE, I wish they were militant. A union caucus should be fighting 100% for teacher related working conditions only. Social justice themes are nice on paper but I am concerned with what I have to deal with every day in the classroom. Fix those problems for me as that is what I am paying the UFT over a grand a year to do.

Bronx ATR said...

There is a need to define what the term designates for their organization. It seems to include Restorative Justice, but no one is giving a definitive answer. Restorative Justice is the worst thing to happen to NYC public schools since Bloomberg's business model, period.

Chaz said...

nyc educator:

We agree on many things but we don't agree on MORE's "social justice" plank. I like what you wrote on the student discipline issue but that's your opinion not MORE's.

Let MORE write a policy statement about the student discipline issue so all can judge for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I voted MORE as a protest vote, but mostly agree with Chaz. The greatest social justice act would be to create a safe, healthy learning environment in these buildings. That helps everyone....students, parents, schools, and society. It's true, these "circles" are a complete joke, as is "credit recovery" in most forms. The trouble kids know they can misbehave AND do no work for their entire scholastic career in our public schools, AND graduate! Not only that....how much has this trouble student cost the system in manpower, and lost opportunities for the students who had to sit next to him/ her in class. ? Answer is....countless millions of Ed. Dollars over the years, as well as lost lives for the innocents. The poor behavior that's tolerated in these schools, has made my 20 year career mostly a farce. It became mostly a survival course for professional survival. All the reasons I got into teaching in the beginning are impossible to achieve when you have inmates running the asylum, as they have, and are doing so as we speak, in many schools. Disgusting ...

BJ said...

Garner had how many arrests, 39? Thats normal, only in the black community. ANd thats what our students are. Keep defending lawbreakers.

NYC Educator said...

I do understand there are some things on which MORE members may disagree, but they certainly accept me, having supported my in elections both in NYSUT and UFT. You've probably read my interpretation of social justice and I'm curious as to whether you find flaws with that. I do wish I had added class size to it, and I'm glad you brought it up.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, I compliment you on always stirring the pot and making education blogging an interesting reading experience. This latest post will most certainly raise questions about how our various caucuses handle teacher issues.

SPED4LYFE said...

Teachers first, foremost and always. Not a dime of union dues or time should be spent elsewhere. There are a multitude of political organizations and community organizations one can join to push their political causes. Teacher justice should be the unions only platform .

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, I am very pleased that MORE has a seat at the HS table. A reality based voice is important with the out of touch union leadership currently in place.

Anonymous said...

My school was great until new principal arrived. It was his school to ruin and he sure did. One of the better high schools in Bronx. Oh well, it does happen and I finally witnessed it first hand rather than reading it on a blog.

ed notes online said...

Chaz
Your perfect caucus can exist if you and others go out and build it. You see, building a caucus that has the capability and outreach to challenge Unity to the extent MORE has, took years and alliances and support from many quarters. Almost 11,000 people did not just vote for MORE as a protest against Unity. Their votes came from the schools where MORE members are active and trusted despite their social justice "crap". There are thousands of people who support MORE not only for its stands in defense of teachers but precisely because we stand up for social justice. And our ground troops - who do the actual work - are much more likely to come from the social justice aspect than from where you are coming from.
People in this election did have another alternative when voting against Unity and it is a good thing that they did and if we total the MORE and Solidarity votes we have a good anti-Unity base. But you can't totally ignore the numbers - and that MORE can outpoll Unity head to head in the high schools reveals some level of support that belies some of what you say when it comes to the MORE platform which was very balanced.
To you affirmative action means unqualified - as if there is no such thing as racism that prevents people from getting jobs even if they are qualified -- I saw examples of this throughout my career. To you it doesn't seem to mean anything for a child of color who might not ever see a teacher who is like him. We see it important to have a diversified teaching staff - all other teachers and children benefit. When the school I was in began to include teachers who were black and hispanic there was a different - and beneficial atmosphere that worked better for everyone.
Now as to your ever becoming a member of MORE -- if we made MORE the way you want it so you could join we would lose 10 times as many people who are there for the very things you don't seem to like. I trust in the potential of people like Jia Lee and Julie Cavanagh and Lauren Cohen and Dan Lupkin and many others to build a caucus that can give Unity a run for its money over time. Sorry, I don't have the same faith in you or your followers to have the will and the talent and the energy to do that so I'll pass.

Anonymous said...

Tons of ATRs are Black, Hispanic and over 40. The teachers of color that have been teaching for years have been removed and replaced with white temps. The temps coming in can't pass the teachers' exam, ATRs have already done so. If MORE wants to do something, help stop the continuation of the ATR agreement that ends this June. Most people I know voted for MORE in spite of their social justice platform, not because of it.

Chaz said...

Norm:

I see, you support selecting a teaching staff based on factors other than quality. When I was a student at George Washington High School in Manhattan, my favorite teacher was a black women who know her subject and treated me with kindness and compassion. I had little in common with her but I loved and respected her and I thrived in her class.

Hiring staff on race, culture, religion and other factors does not replace a caring, and empathetic teacher who is a quality teacher. To me hiring based on the other factors is discrimination and I will never support discriminatory practices of any kind.

Anonymous said...

Right on Chaz!

ed notes online said...

What about the BloomKlein racial and age discrimination of hiring loads of white and young unqualified TFAs while pushing out older teachers, many of them qualified black teachers? In addition the squeezing of the program that enabled paras,many of them black, to become teachers? There has been a major drop in the black teaching core since Bloomberg took over. Was that form of favoring young, white teachers over black teachers OK with you? Were those TFAers really qualified? It seems you guys get all excited when we call for qualified teachers of color to be hired but don't seem so concerned with white unqualified teachers are hired. There is a word for that and it starts with an R.

ed notes online said...

Anon 3:21 - "Most people I know voted for MORE in spite of their social justice platform, not because of it."
You did have another option - Solidarity. Why did you vote for MORE given you had a caucus that did not stress social justice but also had many of the same non-social justice issues as MORE did? Because MORE could win and create a credible challenge to Unity over time. And ask yourself why MORE could win and attract 11,000 votes when there was another option? Maybe because MORE had a broader appeal to both social justice oriented voters. I hate to inform you of this but the teaching staff is way younger and more oriented to social justice in many areas of the city and MORE is a big-tent caucus that is inclusive of those teachers and those of you who want a teacher-justice group. Would you just ignore that segment of the union or do you want to beat Unity some day? It will take you guys AND the SJ people to do so. If you don't get that you are doomed to always lose.

Chaz said...



I find it just as disgusting and discriminatory to hire unqualified white TFAs as Richmond Hill and others did and does as well as the MORE plank of using race, religion, and culture to make up a teaching staff, rather than teachers certified in the subject.

I will repeat one more time. Schools should only hire qualified teachers regardless of their age, color, religion and gender. Using these factors to hire teachers have no place in education.

Check my blog, I have written about these clueless newbie TFAs quite frequently.

Anonymous said...

Norm, It's 3:32. I didn't vote for MORE. I knew you guys would come in second, but I voted for Soldiarity. Would do do the same thing over. I'm an ATR in the DOE - losing is a fore gone conclusion. You misinterpreted race and ATRs to make your argument against Chaz. You want affirmative action to bring in people of color when MORE should be screaming to help all those that are being discriminated against. Help those in the system first before bringing others in.

Anonymous said...

I'm an ATR in the Bronx high schools rotation. I'm just glad to be earning my 108,811 salary. I can't believe I'm making this for babysitting. I can retire tomorrow but this is way to funny and I must take advantage until they figure a way to put me back in a classroom full time with 10 classes of 270 students like the teacher in the NY Pist from Flushing HS that got removed for trying to save her life. No thanks, I will sub twice a day for 108. Thanks Mike!

Bronx Teacher said...

Chaz, we talked about this on the phone. I'm a registered Democrat, but I consider myself a left of center libertarian. The Democrats do and say a lot that I do not agree with but I am able to put that stuff aside and look at the bigger picture. I wish you would be to see more nuance.

I still love you.

ed notes online said...

Chaz - I'm not sure why you keep missing my point. - the clueless TFAs pushed out many teachers of color in Harlem and Bed Stuy as schools closed - and also fill charters. That there has been a major drop in black teachers in this system doesn't seem to concern you. You seem to use the same argument as the DOE - that these newbies are OK to replace teacher of color who you seem to deem unqualified? WHo is saying that unqualified teachers of color should get priority? What many of us have called for is recruitment of local teachers from CUNY schools which have certified teacher training programs and are filled with kids who graduated from our own high schools instead of importing white TFAs from out of town. You seem to keep avoiding my point and misbrand what I say - or are you automatically branding teachers of color as unqualified?

And by the way - MORE has stood up for ATRS all the way and has worked the backdoor to help many of them - including some people who I have helped personally and as Arthur reported, getting a bunch of them appointments to his school. MORE chapter leaders make it a point to greet and support ATRS wherever possible.

Anonymous said...

I'm an ATR and have gotten 5 periods a day all year. I'm in the Bronx. I can retire next month and will do so. If you're only getting 2 periods a day you're not an HS ATR and are definitely not in the Bronx.

Anonymous said...

please go to Baldwin HS facebook page to read how the superintendent is already in denial mode about hiring the Automotive principal, I suspect there was no real vetting on Ms. Lafergaola. Please read it and offer your opinion.

Auto former teacher

Chaz said...

Norm:

You are going around in circles and misstating what I wrote. I do not agree in hiring TFAs, no matter what race, religion, or culture over certified teachers. To claim otherwise is deceptive on your part.

I will repeat it once again, the best teachers regardless of their race, religion, or culture should be hired. Instead the DOE encourages principals to hire the cheapest teachers and that's TFA teachers. Many are not qualified and not teaching in their content specialty.

MORE's "social justice" plank discriminates against hiring the best teachers by proposing an affirmative action metric, plain and simple.

I didn't agree when the DOE closed 163 schools and made many teachers ATRs but it was not based on race. Moreover, the teachers not picked up by other schools were based on their salary and age, not the color of their skin.

ed notes online said...

How do you judge the best teachers? By the test? By their video? You only know who is a good teacher after years of teaching. hiring is a crap shoot and you know it. So when you say hire the best teachers what exactly are you saying? We don't know someone is good when they are hired. When I say consider race just as you might any other factor in order to create a more diverse teaching staff especially to counteract the mostly white TFA inpact I don't see what is wrong with that. You know when I came into the system in 1967 they gave us a deferment for the war in order to bring in more men to the elementary schools -- in essence gender based hiring. And medical schools and law schools take gender balance into account. This is the way of the world.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful free day on the high school level. Wow. Beautiful outside.

Chaz said...

Norm:

When you were hired affirmative action was legal, if morally wrong, since it encouraged reverse discrimination, remember Ocean-Hill Brownsville? The US Supreme Court has ruled affirmative action illegal unless there was deliberate discrimination (i.e. Plumbers union).

Wile I don't approve of using a test, it is as fair as we have and does not knowingly discriminate against any race, creed, or color. Using illegal and immoral means like race, religion, or culture to hire uncertified teachers is wrong! No teacher who are not certified, including TFAs, should never be allowed in the classroom

Stop accusing me of the "R" word when you continue to support a race based hiring process while I support a color blind testing process.

Anonymous said...

And now illegal immigrants are allowed to teach in NY state. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. There are ATR with out jobs and now Illegal immigrants are getting positions first....so sick. And as far as using thats the way of the world or using the past ways to prove its ok, think of the sins of the past in this country and what was legal and common place...not good

Anonymous said...

I have always found MORE somewhat lacking on the communist front. You refer to their communist ideology. GTFO! Seriously? At best they are left liberals. We should have some real communists in the UFT. They are the hardest workers in the labor movement.