"Ed Notes Online" - 5 new articles
ICEUFT Blog run by James Eterno.
Almost every ICE person is part of MORE, of which ICE was a founding organization. ICE was also the founder of GEM which morphed into MORE, so I'm pretty proud of the history of ICE. As poitned out at yesterday's ICE gathering, we were the most social justicy group when we were founded in late 2003 and proud of it.
Today, ICE doesn't really do much of anything but blog -- 3 blogs read by many in the UFT are from ICEers -- James, Arthur Goldstein and myself.
We also talk - endlessly about anything - and freely. Every so often there is a feeling that we have things to talk about and so we put out an open invitation to join us at a diner where everyone gets to hash out issues of concern, something that doesn't happen at MORE meetings, which often get divided into smaller discussion groups, something that most ICEers are not comfortable with. Since our numbers are small we can do that more easily than MORE.
ICE met yesterday, the day before MORE is holding a meeting/conference today regarding its Save the Union Campaign,
CUNY Graduate Center (5th and 34th) Room 5414 (Bring ID) Date: Saturday, May 20 Time: 3:30 to 6:00, with socializing to follow.
MORE's position is to get teachers in the school to sign pledge cards saying they will remain in the UFT.
The major subject on the agenda was a discussion about the position MORE seems to be taking -- that after a negative decision on agency shops, we urge everyone to pay dues and stay in the union. There was some push back among ICEers, me included, on this issue - a feeling that alternative views were not given sufficient airing within MORE -- or people were not just paying attention. I did raise alternatives at one MORE meeting -- which as usual had broken into smaller groups - so my points were heard and I guess they passed into the ether.
So what are the alternatives to telling people to stay in the UFT, an undemocratic and locked hierarchy that offers little prospect for change? There are alternatives, like forming an organization to ask people who won't pay dues to instead put the money in an escrow account to be used to organize and possibly recruit another bargaining agent - not something I support at this time but certainly an idea that should be vetted.
Other ideas have been to separate the high school teachers -- which vote opposition -- from the rest of the union into a separate bargaining agent -- there might be legal ways to accomplish that -- by getting a certain % of high school teachers to call for a bargaining election. After all, it was pointed out that James Eterno is the de facto HS VP since he got the most HS votes, but due to Unity's changing the constitution in 1994 to make the divisional VP at-large - where elementary teachers and retirees vote.
I'm not for that either at this point.
But I'm also not for giving Unity unqualified support without conditions. Imagine going around your school asking people to sign the pledge to stay. "Why are you in an opposition group and what do you oppose," someone might ask? "Well, they don't really offer a defense of the members, etc, etc, etc" - and your prospective signee says - "And you want me to keep paying dues to that?" and you have to say the truth -- it is still better than no union. But of course they can counter -- the union will still be there in some form.
Well, all of this was on the table, in addition to lots of food, as 8 of us met for I think about 4 hours.
We also talked about the issues below and about MORE in general and how some issues don't get aired - the sense that one can't be critical about things that don't work without being charged with being negative - which I have been charged with -- so I basically don't bother -- a form of subtle suppression of sorts which in an organization that is critical of the UFT leadership on democracy, is ironic. (Some feel that at times MORE feels like a manipulated democracy.)
We talked about the things we don't talk about in MORE. What is not working and what can be done about it. What is working and why -- right now the great work being done by the Ex Bd people in pushing the UFT/Unity to do more.
We didn't get to everything on the agenda below -- and I never did get my rice pudding -- I only had a 3-course meal.
Janus and the UFT. Are there alternatives to urging people to stay in the union?
Just heading out of Rockaway to attend the 4PM ICE meeting at the diner where I can gobble some rice pudding -- well it is hot out and what a way to cool off than at an ICE meeting. If anything worth reporting I will do so tonight or tomorrow. Not sure if I can make it back to city for MORE meeting as I have a lot of yard/gardening work to do but with Marilyn Martinez there it should be quite an event.
The CPE people are having a celebration with Catlin Prestin at 5 this afternoon uptown -
An open agenda at the ICE meeting - some topics so far:
Ed Notes/ICE summer series -- possibly study group, discussions, etc.Janus and the UFT. Are there alternatives to urging people to stay in the union?
Dissecting the Central park east story in depth -- what do we learn and can it be applied to other schools or is this an outlier?
Chicago and social justice unionism -- we see a dearth of info on Chicago after years of "lessons we can learn". Are the CTU and CORE morphing into the UFT and Unity? Tales of democracy and not democracy -- is the SJ model people are using failing or are there other considerations?
LA confidential -- the loss to charters in school board elections -- is that a good model as an alt to mayoral control? Union leadership in LA -- Alex' grand plan and was it disrupted by the election?
TheMORE meeting/conference on Saturday
Victory at CPE1! Hear exonerated Chapter Leader at MORE forum this weekend…
Abusive administrator Monika Garg has been removed as Principal of progressive Harlem elementary school CPE1 and UFT Chapter Leader Marylin Martinez and Delegate Caitlin Preston have both been fully exonerated of the retaliatory charges that Garg initiated to remove them to the school!
This victory is the product of an eighteen-month struggle led by parents who occupied the school, took their children out of school in a family strike, and hounded Mayor DiBlasio at events. CPE1 teachers, supported by MORE representatives, repeatedly pressed the leadership at the UFT executive board for action.
Read coverage in on the blog of MORE Executive Board representative Arthur Goldstein, the New York Times, and EducationNotes Online.
Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez will be speaking at MORE’s forum this Saturday at 3:30 PM – See details below… Please print this flyer to distribute to your staff today!
The Demise of Unions?
A bottom-up vision for reviving the labor movement
Location: CUNY Graduate Center (5th and 34th) Room 5414 (Bring ID)
Date: Saturday, May 20
Time: 3:30 to 6:00, with socializing to follow.
President Trump, Congress, and the US Supreme Court are prepared to continue and escalate the attacks on the American labor movement, and national “right-to-work” laws will severely weaken public sector unions.
How can workers organize in this environment, which is a result not just of recent events, but also of decades of anti-labor policy in the United States? How can public sector workers defend their unions from outside threats, but also hold them accountable and force them to stand up to Trump?
Join MORE (the Movement of Rank & File Educators) at our forum on the future of public sector unionism; hear grassroots organizers from groups across the city share stories of their organizing work and their thoughts on how to prepare for the challenges of the future.
Mary Fitzgerald, RN: Montefiore Hospital, NYSNA organizer
[Mary Fitzgerald is head of the bargaining unit at Montefiore Hospital for the New York State Nurses Association. She helped to organize the dissociation of NYSNA from the American Nurses Association and has been instrumental in advocating for safe staffing in New York hospitals.]
Marilyn Martinez: UFT Chapter Leader at Central Park East 1
[As the United Federation of Teachers Chapter Leader at CPE 1, Marilyn Martinez has worked with families and other teachers to protect the school’s tradition of progressive education. A veteran kindergarten/first-grade teacher, she has been a leader in the school community in the fight against abusive administration.]
What Boustan doesn't get into much was the white flight from changing neighborhoods to other city neighborhoods - ours and many others from East NY to Canarsie. What is funny is that ENY may be the only as yet ungentrified area in Brooklyn - if you happen to be looking for property, move fast. Maybe you can buy my old house.
My entire East New York neighborhood left en masse in the 1960s - some to the suburbs, but many for other neighborhoods like Canarsie which is about a mile or two away.
East NY had been a well-known mob area - Murder Inc - in the 30s and 40s and beyond. The Scorsese film Goodfellows is an ENY story. So it was not considered a tony place at any time.
We lived in a 2 family house at 551 Alabama Avenue between Riverdale Ave. and New Lots Ave. about two blocks from the
The big store in the area was Fortunoff's which opened about 10 different stores on Livonia Ave, a dim and dingy street under the elevated line. My friend's dad was once Fortunoff's only employee in his first small store and when old Max offered him a partnership, he decided to go to work in the post office instead for a safe salary.
The L train also ran through the neighborhood from Canarsie through Bushwick/Williansburg. You couldn't transfer from the L to the 3 - though there has been some talk of making that happen.
My aunt bought the house in the 20s or 30s and when she moved to Florida around 1957 she sold it to my parents and my other aunt who didn't live there for about 8 grand. It was an amazing brick house -- 2 family - 7 rooms over 6 with the only private driveway on the block. The block had 3 doctors living on it with their offices. There were apartment buildings on the corners.
Throughout the post WWII period until the early 1960, our house was grand central for refugees - many holocaust survivors - coming over from Europe and then after 1959, others coming from Cuba. Like I'd come home from school and find a bunch of strangers speaking a foreign language staying in our house - some stayed for a year. Lontsmen and women from all over Brooklyn would just drop in any time. At times it seemed my mom was running a hotel.
One day in 1960 when I was 15, I came home from school to find my hot 17-year old cousin from Florida who had run away from home -- she stayed for 6 months and we had to beat all the older guys off as they came swarming around. At Jefferson, guys who never spoke to the nerdish me, started talking to me and asking me about my "cuz."
Believe me, this is just one story. I've written short story fiction about some of the goings on in that house, especially in the finished basement which my parents rented out at times including to a guy who was using the place to meet up with a girlfriend who was a nurse - with me laying on the floor above them with a glass pressed to the floor trying to hear what was going on -- it didn't work. Years later my friend told me how he used to make out with a young lady from the midwest who lived there for 6 months while I was studying for finals upstairs - I retroactively hoped he failed the exam.
My elementary school was a block and a half from my house - PS 190 on Sheffield Ave - which I attended from 1950-1956 - was mostly Jewish. I remember the one Catholic girl in my 6th grade class - Betty White - in our class and there was one kid of color named Pedro Polonaise. I heard that some of the people in that class recently attended a Jefferson HS reunion in Florida.
JHS 109, an old building on Dumont Avenue - we had to cross over an overpass over the L train - and as the neighborhood around the school had been changing from white to black in the 50s - was considered a black/white dividing line and there was some friction as the school began to turn. Parents were getting nervous about sending us there. Then we heard, as we were getting ready to graduate, the school was going to be closed down due to age and the entire school would be moved to a brand new state of the art JHS - George Gershwin - 166 - on Linden Blvd and Van Sicklen -- entirely in the opposite direction and also a good half mile away.
But in September 1956, Gershwin wasn't finished yet and ready to open -- we were told it would be another month - and thus we began the school year at 109 -- that first day we crossed that bridge nervous as hell. There was a tradition of hazing new students and we were lined up in the school yard by older students -- and they all seemed to be black. Parents went wild as stories floated back and after 2 days the entire rookie 7th grade was pulled and sent to the unfinished Gershwin where the roof was still not completed - Imagine that response from the Board of Education - they had to pull a whole bunch of teachers from 109 and sent them along with us to the new school -- the rest of 109 followed a month later.
The new neighborhood was deeper into East NY -- not far from Howard Beach - was entirely different --- brand new housing was going up in what was a fairly empty area and it was mostly populated by whites. There were 16 classes on a grade and they were pretty segregated - not only white and black -- but even though we were mostly what would be considered working class - the oft more studious Jewish kids often in the top classes and working class non-Jewish kids whites in the lower level classes - and black and Spanish kids in even lower level classes.
From Gershwin, unless we got into Tech or Stuy, we went to the local high school from 1959-1962 - Thomas Jefferson - where the white kids from Canarsie, which didn't have a high school, were bused in. So were kids from a wide area including Brownsville and points north and west -- Wingate hadn't opened yet. Jeff was a real melting pot but again we were segregated into honors classes which were almost all white and very Jewish - again, the white working class kids were mostly not included.
My block even as late as the early 60s was all white and mostly Jewish. The PS 190 school yard was a major hangout after school and on weekends. Then suddenly the yard became deserted as gang activity increased - white gangs - as more poor whites began to move into the neighborhood.
Then came the day that a black family bought a house on our block and people panicked -- aided by the block buster real estate agents who besieged us. What is interesting was that this family seemed to be more middle class than everyone else on the block - and they ended up moving before we did.
Then the muggings began. The corner grocery store owner was beaten. The drug store was robbed until Mr. Chesler gave up and left. Mendel's candy store and soda fountain was soon gone.
My parents began to think of selling - I think my friend's dad was mugged coming from the subway. And they got a good price in 1965 -- $20 grand - from a black couple - he had been in the army I believe. A good friend of mine still lived on the block for a few years until they were a minority.
I was in my junior year at Brooklyn College and we rented an apartment on East 82 St in what was known as new Canarsie, while old Canarsie further south and east had historically been Italian.
In 1971, shortly after I moved out in prep for getting married, my parents bought a co-op in Lindenwood, a subsection of Howard Beach, where they lived for most of the rest of their lives. Lindenwood is just over the border from East NY -- you can walk to the Lindenwood Diner on Linden Blvd which is still around and seemingly doing very well.
The irony now is that most of Canarsie is black - many of West Indian decent. And most white abandoned that neighborhood a decade or two later.
What happened to the blocks around my house? I would drive around and it looked like a war zone. Rubble on all the apartment houses. Fortunoff's, which had employed so many people, bailed out and left Livonia Ave looking like Dresden.
More Recent Articles