Saturday, April 27, 2013

Teacher Apathy Is The Root Cause For The Low Turnout In The UFT Elections.

The UFT elections are now over and the Unity caucus  overwhelmingly won with 77% of the vote, despite the hoopla generated by MORE.  As for MORE, I was disappointed by their weak showing, only getting 13% of the vote.  I guess most voting teachers did not subscribe to the "social justice" plank and MORE should seriously reconsider their "leftist philosophy" if they are to be a real opposition caucus" going forward. What was most disturbing about the UFT election was the apathy that resulted in only 25% of the members who actually voted.  That means that three out of four educators failed to even bothered to vote and that is disgraceful.  What is worse that the majority of votes mailed in were by non-active members.  That's right, 53% of the vote came from retirees and that is very disturbing.  While I have no position on whether retiree votes should count, I do know that when retirees vote in greater numbers than active members and are the majority of votes then something is wrong, very wrong with the election system.

What is wrong is the teacher apathy that permeates the rank and file and I saw it first hand when a Chapter Leader asked a senior teacher did he vote?  The response was that he was too busy, he had too many things on his plate and coaching tired him out, he is a physical education teacher.  When the Chapter Leader asked him how much time would it take to mark an "X" and select a caucus, his lame excuse was that "his wife misplaced the ballot and he doesn't know where it is".  I bet he threw it out. This very same teacher has been heard complaining that the union does not care about his "working conditions".  Notice, it was not teacher but his "working conditions" that he complained about and that is the problem with many teachers who believe it is all about them and not the profession.

 The bottom line is that many teachers didn't bother to vote, yet these very same teachers complain about how the union does not care about them.  What hypocrisy and that is a shame!


ed notes online said...

The usual "blame social justice". Oh if only we didn't say we care about the kids, that gym teacher would have flocked to us.
And in your praise of New Action "non social justice" agenda you totally ignored their attack on MORE for not being as social justice as they were. That you split your ballot actually helped Mulgrew and is not counted for anyone.

Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis.

Anonymous said...

Take out the retirees and I think only around 20% of active people voted. It' all at ICE blog.

NYCDOEnuts said...

Less people voted for Unity than ever before, but it doesn't look like all of votes went over to MORE. Seems almost as though people, being disappointed, chose not to vote for Unity, but that MORE wasn't able to seal the deal and bring those votes over to their side.
But their brand new, Chaz. They need time to adjust to having and embracing their left and their center. Ultimately, their process is democratic and I have faith those of us in the center can appeal to their instinct of fighting for fact, I'm sure if it.
Hope I see you at a meeting someday.

Anonymous said...

I read about each caucus. I your entries and decided to follow your advice about voting.

I suggest to colleagues to read your blog. I encouraged voting (for MORE).

I am also overwhelmed and tired. I also want changes. I think that some things are inevitable. I also think "Mr.Mildew" (not a typo) had "help." He won and he'll continue to do what is good for him. A personal agenda seems to be the common core standard.

Chaz said...


As much as respect you and you are one of the best, our philosophy is not the same. Many people feel uncomfortable about MORE's "social justice" plank not just me and you should reconsider this as MORE goes forward.

I will only join a caucus that is "centralist" and teacher focused. Presently, I have not seen one that meets my criteria.

GeoKaro said...

Let's see what social justice means:

it means getting serious about making class sizes smaller, it means getting more health and counseling services so that they come to class with an easier outlook, it means fighting Common Core (which Mildew/Magoo has nothing critical to say about) which is going to make students less interested in education that anything ever again.
Chaz take a look at the table on my blog. Isn't it rather curious that Unity has a Fla. office? Could that be why the retiree turn-out is double what it is in some divisions?
New York City Eye at the new address.

Anonymous said...

I agree w Chaz. I like much about MORE but am turned off by the social justice platform. And ill provide why. Social justice is a broad concept that could mean many thing to many people. As a self identified liberal Jew who considers himself a Zionist, I fear that the social justice wing of MORE could one day take a stance on "Israeli apartheid" or something else along those lines which are anethema to my personal and intellectual beliefs.

NYCDOEnuts said...

Bullet list: what would THAT caucus do?

I noticed that... said...

There are 173,407 UFT members of which many members from different agencies have joinged. I remembered child care agency, some charter schools are now UFT members. So how many members from those agencies returned their ballots?

Or are they considered the functional chapter?

Chaz said...

Let me make this real clear. "social justice has and is a "leftist" tag and as one commenter stated many of those same leftists have "agendas" such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Charles Barron. While other leftists are anti-Israel and blame the Jews for the world's ills.

I want a caucus that is focused on teacher rights and making the profession a respected occupation.

I do not want my union to worry about the social-economic ills of society but on their member rights, like all trade unions.

While I may sympathize with the problems in Darfur, and the lack of minority teachers as role models. My union should be focused on the classroom teacher and their rights not on tangential issues that make the union lose focus.

You may not agree with me but that is how I feel and based upon the election results I suspect many other do as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm a physical education teacher and actually got the few people at my school who voted to vote for MORE. An yes, physical education teachers will have to contend with VAM, and all the other crappy aspects of the new evaluation system that was thrown at us by Unity. Every teacher who did not vote in this election will be partially responsible when the scat hits the fan in September.

Chaz said...


One, the caucus should concentrate on teacher rights.

Second, a student discipline code that protects the classroom teacher.

Third, a pro-active caucus that demand teacher self-respect.

Fourth, a democratic and transparent decision making process.

Fifth, a union that includes its affected members in any negotiations with the DOE and City.

Most importantly, a union that does not use member dues for issues that don't directly affect the members like "SOCIAL JUSTICE".

mike said...

So a caucus that ran a republican Jew as VP is too left for you (me by the way) and all you can do is bash us for embracing social justice- lets be clear no one is more social justice than Karen Lewis and core and they hit the streets- do me a favor "Chaz" find me the last union leader of teachers to do that. I'm just plain sick of the MORE bashing, we're on the same team- you don't like all our planks fine, but your too smart to write we lost because of social justice. We did twice as good as ICE/TJC ask yourself why- and kit, James, and norm are personal friends of mine, but say the facts - MORE went up and everyone else went down. Why don't you bash NA for selling out?

Chaz said...

If you have been a reader of my blog you would know that I couldn't support New Action because of their "sellout". However, getting 13% is nothing to crow about.

I am not bashing MORE, I want them to do the right thing and support teachers not diluting the message with this "social justice" issue.

mike said...

No one is crowing, but state the facts our numbers went up every one went down. Second I fight for union rights and I fight for social justice, it's one battle. I'm a teacher I can't stand by and watch my students have their rights violated and say "too bad kid in busy fighting for a raise" don't you feel the same? Yeah I read your blog and how can it not be attacking NA after what just happened in high schools?

Anonymous said...

4000 votes last time and 5400 this time. 9% to 13%. That's twice as good? Must be the new math. Oh and then there are those 61 more votes in the high schools compared to last time. Huge gains indeed. Chaz I don't agree with you particularly concerning Jesse Jackson who gets it and I think a union should have an agenda beyond bread and butter because it helps the membership but without first defending its members, a union is dead and can't do any of those other things.

NYC Educator said...

I'd say getting 40% of the high school vote while Unity garnered 45 is significant, particularly for an upstart caucus no one had ever heard of before. I'd categorize this as something that could be built upon.

I'd also urge anyone to look at specific policies and either accept or reject them, rather than judging social justice to have a negative, or indeed any connotation whatsoever. Furthermore, anyone following Edwize or NY Teacher knows that the UFT takes a whole lot of positions that are not directly related to teaching and learning conditions.

In fact, I'd argue that on so-called social justice issues, the three caucuses are not all that different. The ideas that bother me nowadays are things like 40% of high school teachers having no representation whatsoever.

Chaz said...

nyc educator

That is why I couldn't vote for Unity because they advocate positions that don't involve teachers while ignoring its member rights.

I mentioned Darfur, and maybe I should include Al Sharptons action network that Unity gave money to.

Finally, it might have been possible that MORE would have captured the high school vote and the seats on it if they concentrated on the teachers and not the leftist social justice plank!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chaz. Give me a union that is about teachers and not this garbage about issues that have little to do with our profession.

you want my vote? Then focus on teachers and not anything else.

mike said...

Chaz if you had real chutzpah you take on your sell out friends at new action- not your real friends who ran with more, another keyboard warrior, while your busy with "analysis" ill go out and organize-mobilize. Enough with this nonsense - there was one group that discussed contract, job actions, tenure, charters, corp reform, and ATRs- that was MORE- PERIOD

mike said...

I agree anonymous -we are teachers we shouldn't give a dam about our kids only our contract- that's a winning strategy- that's why I vote unity/new action

Chaz said...


You forget that most but not all of my votes went to MORE candidates. However, I fell that the "social justice" plank is a losing strategy and whether you like it or not many people have told me how uncomfortable they were with MORE so they didn't vote at all.

Just because some of us want our union to represent teachers and not spending time and money on other issues does not make that person a Unity/New Action supporter. You should know better.

mike said...

When you attack new action/unity/ retirees let me know- get my number or email from James- I won't give anyone the satisfaction of in-fighting- until then over and out

Anonymous said...

Also, the suspicions of deferential treatment drive teacher alienation.
Teachers see that Mulgrew's on-campus extra-curricular behavior (which would get a mere mortal in a rubber room).

Mulgrew's sister got an extended maternity leave --11 years-- while mere mortals are rushed back to the classroom in just weeks. And apparently, she's under investigation for operating a company with millions of dollars of DOE contracts.

But what caucuses want to touch this issue?

Chaz said...


You can whine and complain about my not joining a caucus that has a leftist agenda. However, the truth is the truth. I cannot support any caucus that has a plank that reminds me of the socialist/communist newspapers that I so deeply despise.

As for Unity/New Action? I already have said I cannot support either as well. This is not an either or issue, there are many like me that cannot support any of the caucuses and unlike me didn't even bother to vote.

Until MORE convinces people like me, and like it or not my views represent the majority of teachers, your caucus will never be able to unseat Unity.

Remember, the only reason CORE won in Chicago was the mass firing of ATRs when the union agreed to a time limit and the teachers realized that they could be next. So far Unity is too smart to do the same.

I really hope MORE becomes a real force in the UFT but not if they cling to a losing strategy like "social justice" that turns off many of us.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, I don't understand why MORE is upset with you? All you said is to eliminate the social justice plank and you would join them. I think that is what you said?

Is MORE like Unity that they require a pledge to support them? It is refreshing that you have the courage to point out a problem with supporting a caucus that has a part of a plank that you object to.

Keep up your insightful analysis and don't let anybody convince you otherwise.

NYC Educator said...

I'm not altogether certain anyone here has even begun to define what social justice means, but I've seen no evidence that either Unity or New Action opposes it either. There are certainly issues on which we agree, and I've yet to see anyone proposing social injustice.

What differentiates MORE from the other caucuses is its opposition to APPR, its opposition to mayoral control, its opposition to making sweetheart deals with reformy folks who'd hurt working teachers and our students, and finally its status as the only true opposition, the only caucus that put a candidate against Mulgrew without a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, deal-deal.

I fail to see how the label social justice differentiates MORE from its opponents, but the factors that truly differentiate it are quite significant. I had no hesitation about voting for MORE. Frankly, I truly wish the opposing caucuses gave me reason to consider them.

Chaz said...

nyc educator

I agree with you and that is why I voted for more MORE candidates than the other two caucuses.

Sure all three caucuses veer from teacher issues and practice "social justice" and that is why I do not join any of them. However, it is only MORE that proudly includes it in their plank and then get insulted when I bring it up as a reason not to join them.

I do not believe I need to compromise my principles to join a caucus that advocate policies that I object to.

NYCDOEnuts said...

I think we should dial that stuff back. If we don't someone may wind up pointing out that this guy was getting his name dragged through the mud in the newspapers after having a bs 3020-a charge thrown at him while others were calling 311 to complain about budget cuts to their school!
I'd say he's got this chutzpah you speak of.

NYC Educator said...


I don't belong to a caucus either. I would probably not be put off by social justice issues, though, as I likely support them. However, after all this talk, I'm still not at all clear on what they are so I can't say for sure.

If, as we seem to agree, all the caucuses agree on them, it seems a less than optimal strategy to put them first and foremost.

I'd also say that New Action's big line, that they agree with leadership when they are right and disagree when they are wrong, is equally moot. I don't think anyone from MORE complained when people got paid for SESIS, or when Mayor Bloomberg's school closings were delayed.

Long-term, it's the differences that we need to focus on, and it's the differences that will move informed members to wake up and vote. And I believe the point of your post, voter apathy is quite valid.

I'd also suggest that said apathy is bolstered by widespread cynicism about the possibility of changing things. When you see a vote dominated by retirees who will not be affected by the dire issues working teachers face, cynicism is understandable.

Retirees ought to vote on someone to represent retirees. That's as far as their vote should go. They ought not to dominate an election that determines the future of working teachers and those who follow us.

That's absurd and unconscionable, as is the fact that the full-time UFT President can campaign to retirees while his teacher challenger simply cannot.

Anonymous said...

Too easy.

NYC Educator writes: "I don't think anyone from MORE complained when people got paid for SESIS"

He's wrong. MORE's headline on SESIS:Was the SESIS Decision a Victory? Notice the question mark?

MORE congratulates the UFT for the financial compensation they’ve earned our Special Education colleagues across the city. The SESIS case is another example of UFT leadership pursuing the same bureaucratic, top-down strategy it always pursues.

The congratulatory note in the first sentence is contradicted by the whine in the second. It is, in fact, a complaint.

You can find similar complaints about the SESIS victory at the ICE Blog, and Ednotes. The piece at NYCDOENUTS appears to be unavailable.


NYC Educator said...

Actually, Jonathan, if you read carefully, you will note the MORE writer suggested they won this battle, but were losing the larger one. There is no place in which the writer suggested there was any error in people being paid for their work.

The SESIS decision is great to trumpet as a victory, but there is indeed a larger battle, and that appears to be the point of that post. I'm sure you know that technically we've avoided the school closings, but they're under assault anyway, with push-ins and neglect pretty much everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, I think you hit a sensitive spot. I can't understand how an article on teacher apathy is generating such a response on MORE's social justice plank. They are acting like Unity in bad mouthing the messenger.

Great article and very true.

mike said...

I'm sorry maybe I'm confused
Which caucus raises a resolution to have ALL teachers vote on a new evaluation scheme?
Which caucus held a forum about protecting whistleblowers and tenure?
Which caucus says UFT owning a charter school is wrong?
Which caucus showed up to support ATU and UWUA picket lines
Which caucus usues it's socialmedia to support other unions?
Which caucus organizes for ATRs
Which caucus stands against Danielson, common core, RTTT, NCLB?
If you have an issue with us - show me how great unity has served you over the last 10 years?
Support unity/new action is support for anti- union policies ,MORE Is firm in our stance against school closings, charters, evaluations, high stakes testing
Our meetings are open- those who want to offer input are welcome?
Ananymous and Chaz you had an opportunity to show up and help- you still do

I don't respond to new action sell outs- you backed mulgrew sir- 4 years no contract- and you finished 3rd in every active category - if I was you I hide cause you have NOTHING to be proud of, then again which traitor does

Anonymous said...


I noticed you never brought up the foolish idea of adding social justice in MORE's plank. That is the problem not that Chaz won't join MORE because of the plank.

By the way Chaz's blog is far more important than being a warm body to protest an issue that may not be important to us. His insights on ATRs, school discipline, and the double standard issues make his blog a must read for the informed teacher.

I may not always agree on what Chaz has to say but I respect his right to say it and so should you.

GeoKaro said...

A commenter raises the issue of Chicago, CORE and their ATRs. This commenter added that the UFT would never be as short-shighted as to make such a concession.

But look to an analogous armageddon situation here in New York City, and you'll conclude that UFT members should jump to MORE in droves:
*Mulgrew agreed to a disastrous new 3020a procedures under which a teacher will have to prove their innocence rather than the DOE prove their guilt as a "bad teacher."
*Mulgrew agreed in principle (remember that his public talk to Bloomberg never rejects VAM) to VAM, test-based evaluations
*Mulgrew agreed to the Danielson Frameworks, which as I've said, are being used with all official swagger by building admins, no matter what Unity CLs or DRs will tell you

All of the above will be in place, no matter who the next mayor is, and the above will lead to several hundred terminations annually (remember that Mulgrew agreed to 7% terminated per year --factor in those harassed into quitting and thousands will never see retirement -and thus will certainly miss on being a Unity-voting retiree), terminations that will dwarf the Chicago ATR numbers.

Anonymous said...

I have been retired for 11 years and served 35 years in schools before that. I was a chapter leader for 17 years. I lived through the three Ocean Hill/Brownsville strikes of 1968. At that time the UFT had a leader in Albert Shanker. when he spoke people listened. The union actually fought for teachers' rights and respect for the profession.

Over the years teachers realized that for 90 percent of the time you could rely on the UFT to get things done. The retirees are not aware of things like the ATR agreement or the Danielson rubric (I have retired friends in Florida - all they are interested in is for the UFT to maintain their retireee benefits!. They vote because union membership used to mean something.
Today, unions are vilified. I also think that a lot of the new young blood coming into to the system have no plans to stay 35 years as I did. Teaching has become a job, not a profession. The glut of inexperienced supervisors who do things by the seat of their pants does not help foster a professional workplace.
I admit that I could not survive in many of the newly created schools. I wish all the folks struggling everyday all the best. Let's hope that when Hizziner leaves the system will be turned around.

Anonymous said...

Is it all in the terminology because I feel schools need to be the heart of a community and students should be getting more counseling, and medical services. So yes I voted the whole MORE slate. But I did have a problem with MORE constantly showing pics of them on Con Edison picket lines. This is where I feel the divide most. The summer should have been spent getting the word out on teacher issues. MORE lost a great advantage and really has to decide who and what they are. I would much rather have MORE standing in front of schools introducing themselves to the community and how they want to improve education then worrying about other unions.

Anonymous said...

The problem with social justice is it can mean anything from the radical left such as the socialist and communist groups who find anything Western as bad and anything third world as good, even brutal dictatorships. To advocacy for causes for students and teachers.

The fact that MORE does not and cannot define what social justice is the reason that Chaz and other commenters question the plank.

Define social justice or eliminate it from the plank

Chaz said...

Let me end this by saying that the ele3ction is over and we all have opinions. Let's work together and fight for "teacher rights" because that is what is under attack .

Anonymous said...

The existence of a union is inherently a "leftist" initiative, not a centrist one. Please study history carefully.

You have every right to be GDI (God Damn Independent) and I am no one to give you that permission, just sayin'.

But please let's be intellectually honest. As you have done in your past blogs please analyze history when it comes to unions. You benefit from a leftist initiative and as long as you are a part of a union, you are viewed as leftist, unless you are a "right wing" plant.

Many members are politically immature and it is evident in the simplistic use of leftist, centrist, socialist, communist, labeling. Most people can't even explain what they all mean, including capitalism.
What I Find interesting Is that many of your posts can, and I'm sure are, be labeled as "leftist".

Teacher Apathy is the real issue. There are many teachers who just don't care. I was a CL for 2 years and teachers had more time to play around on facebook than to learn about their rights. All of a sudden the principal was after them and voila they found an interest in the union. Not sure how to deal with that. I tried...
As always thank you for your posts and for allowing a space for debate.