It is condescending to say I’m lucky to have a job. I don’t feel lucky. ATR system is failing. Better to not have a job than stay and feel humiliated.Please tell me.. where is MY protection that takes a HUGE chunk of my paycheck and tells me to sit ...

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"Ed Notes Online" - 5 new articles

  1. ATRs to UFT - It is About Dignity, Don't Tell Us We Are Lucky to Have a Job
  2. Luis Reyes on UFT: I believe in social change, redemption and renewal
  3. US Role in Chile Horror: And They Worry About Russian Meddling?
  4. Are You Planning to Run for Chapter Leader in May/June 2018?
  5. Memo from the RTC - Rhapsody Players Delight Saturday Night Crowd in Benefit Performance
  6. More Recent Articles

ATRs to UFT - It is About Dignity, Don't Tell Us We Are Lucky to Have a Job

It is condescending to say I’m lucky to have a job.  I don’t feel lucky. ATR system is failing. Better to not have a job than stay and feel humiliated.
Please tell me.. where is MY protection that takes a HUGE chunk of my paycheck and tells me to sit back and obey.
Lucky not to get fired? At least if someone tried to fire me- I’d have grounds to find a lawyer and contest. You have stripped me of any rights. And now all I can do is hope that I will find something and feel like somebody before I lose myself.
I sat there all summer reading articles in papers not ONCE hearing any of MY story. The story of a 14 year award winning teacher that no one wanted. Where are those articles? 

I am a member of 2 unions- Actors Equity and the UFT. I believe in public schools and I did not ask for this. You my union has turned a blind eye on these ATRS most of whom are not there because they are a problem. Where is the article that talks about people like me?

 ---- Karen Sklaire speech to UFT Ex Bd, October 16, 2017
Karen Sklaire delivered one of the most powerful and emotional speeches to the UFT Ex Bd I've ever heard. You could hear a pin drop. And Mulgrew was even there to hear it. Kudos to Howie Schoor for being so tolerant of allowing people like Karen, who was not on his sign-up list, to have their say. Howie has done a great job of moderating what could be difficult meetings and fostering a cordial relationship between the leadership and the opposition.

Yes, where are you Kate Taylor of the NY Times with your biased reporting that turns a talented teacher like Karen into mud and makes her even more unemployable as the NY Times aids and abets what amounts to abuse?

And where is the UFT in countering that narrative?

How dare the UFT say, as they did last night, they can never change the public's minds about ATRs when they don't even try? Yes they were asked last night to counter the crap coming from reporters such as Kate Taylor and the Times editorial board.

If the UFT put Karen's speech up as a commercial she would change minds. When I heard them say that I practically leaped out of my seat when they put up pablum for commercials. I wish I had a video recorder yesterday.

[As I write this I am watching another UFT commercial about how public school proud they are -- where's their public school pride in allowing this to happen to Karen and so  many others?]

The bi-monthly MORE/New Action pre-Ex Bd meetings may be the most exciting things happening in the union for activists. Last night was no different as ATRs, led by active MORE members who are ATRs, showed up to make their case and get some answers from the UFT. (I have a lot more to say about our outstanding group of elected reps in coming days as I report on some of the rancor within MORE over their role.)

MORE and New Action High School Exec Bd reps have been doing a wonderful job since elected last year. The EB meets every 2 weeks, mostly on Mondays and we hold a pre-meeting downstairs in the back of the lobby. People who are speaking during the open mic period are invited to join the meeting and coordinate with them. For many of us, this has been among the most exciting work MORE has done.

Now I know Karen Sklaire's story because our MORE colleagues Alexandra Alves and Karen Arneson are chapter leader and delegate in her school. Alexandra and another colleague came to the EB to support Karen last night. I know that the old principal wanted to get rid of her theater program. And have followed her story through Alexandra and Karen Arneson, some of the best people I've met in MORE. I went with them to see Karen's one woman show at The Fringe a few years ago.

Arthur Goldstein reported at NYC Educator on Karen's statement:
Karen Sklaire—ATR—15 year teacher of theater—excessed.  No theater positions available. Say UFT said there was no union representation for ATRs. Second excess in 15 years. First time alone in a room for three years. Left and came back when recruited. Won RFK award in teaching, excessed two years later. Had opportunity to sub for six months—rejected by DOE. Have been assistant in 1st grade, making copies. Told by DOE can’t be placed. Told by union lucky to have job. Am pro union, has been nothing but a heartbreak. I just want to say it’s heartbreaking and I’m ready to leave. Condescending to say I’m lucky to have a job.  I don’t feel lucky. ATR system is failing. Better to not have a job than stay and feel humiliated. Schools won’t see me because I’m ATR with 15 years. Only people fighting for me are DOE theater program people.
He also reported on other great statements (sorry I don't have a transcript of these remarks as I do of Karen's).
Gina Trent—English teacher for 17 years, mostly as ATR. Grateful UFT preserved salary and benefits. However, you should fight for more quality of life issues. Most of my colleagues envy ATR position. Disturbing. Many young people leave with health issues and stress. We need to try to get principals accountable where all teachers have no trust. We need to place pressure. We need to defend ATRs and senior teachers. Research suggests we are the most effective. 
And MORE associates:
Aixa Rodriguez—ESL teacher and ATR, rated HE—No vacancies for ESL in Bronx HS—CR Part 154 makes courses double counted so there are no vacancies. Asks that stereotyping FSF, be challenged by UFT. Leads to rampant ageism.

August Leppelmeier—NYT maligned character of ATRs. Very unfair. Most ATRs excessed for downsizing. Somehow city isn’t placing ESL teachers. Those charged have been cleared. If not, they’d be fired. UFT needs to stand by concept that people are exonerated. Expects union to fight in press with ads, speak publicly, use social media. Has been going on since June. We expect more.

Karen was kind enough to send me her written version of the speech, though I wish you saw Karen, who is trained to be in front of a crowd, in person. Too bad the UFT doesn't allow taping - if they put Karen's speech on line it would have an impact.

 Karen Sklaire's speech (which she said were talking notes).
Good Evening

My name is Karen Sklaire. I am entering my 15th year as a theater teacher for the DOE. I am the 2015 recipient of The Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Honor as a teacher and actor creating the first world wide theater lesson that has been translated in over 22 languages. 

As a theater teacher I have created curriculum for K-5 theater teachers, was one of the original teachers who rolled out the Blueprint for the Arts, I created the first Robert F Kennedy human rights theater camp merging human rights education and theater as a way of teaching empathy in the classroom. The camp gave scholarships to underserved communities. I have merged with Broadway Theaters to bring students to their first Broadway production and directed many shows. My curriculum is significant in ESL, ELL and ENL communities as a way of teaching children to understand the language through their body and learn how to enunciate. I am currently on the DOE facilitator team for theater where I’ll be leading a workshop at the city wide Professional Development this coming November on using empathy in Playwriting. 

I have been a highly effective teacher up until the last year. where my principal did not visit my classroom till March and gave me effectives across the board because she was told to not give out highly effectives. I am now an ATR. This is my second time. 

In 2007 I was excessed within the first month of school and made to sit alone in a room only to sub very rarely at the school I was at at the time. I was forced to take the first job which was a high school in The Bronx that moved the principal to strategically punish me until I quit. 

I came back a year later after being sought after because of my reputation as an excellent hard working teacher. My principal did not inform me of being excessed till the week before school ended. All really qualifiable positions had been filled already and budgets were in place. I spent the summer applying to as many jobs as I could but only ONE called me in as they needed a music teacher and could I do that. Which I cannot. 

I was told the word ATR was like the scarlet letter of teaching. Either my salary was too high or they didn’t trust me because of my status. 

I sat there all summer reading articles in papers not ONCE hearing any of MY story. The story of a 14 year award winning teacher that no one wanted. Where are those articles? 

I have been kicked around this year in the most demeaning way. A principal told me that the DOE is trying to get me to leave which is why they said NO to any long term sub positions that would have had me actually WORK for my salary instead of being an assistant for a 24 year old first grade teacher. I remember sitting in a closet filing her papers in her portfolios crying and wondering why I was being punished. 

The Union person I spoke to said that I consider myself lucky that I still have a job. I wondered if that person would say to a person who was in an abusive relationshop- your lucky your not alone. 

It was not their fault- that is what they are told to say. And I have heard it over and over. I even have an award winning show about it. Every opportunity I had to possibly get placed the DOE stood in my way. The union said that's the rules. I have experienced a nervous breakdown and have still showed up to my demeaning position. I had the heads of arts and special programs and a current part time gig I have scream at the DOE saying they got the wrong person lost in the system. There IS NO job for me on this October 16 except a possible 3 day a week gig in Inwood. I’m currently subbing in a performing arts school in the Bronx. My commute for both is about one hour and 40 minutes. I am exhausted and I have too much talent and a huge resume and no one to hire me. I can't imagine enduring this for a whole year so it’s up to me to move my home so I can probably take a lesser paying gig to keep my sanity. 

I am a member of 2 unions- Actors Equity and the UFT. I believe in public schools and I did not ask for this. You my union has turned a blind eye on these ATRS most of whom are not there because they are a problem. Where is the article that talks about people like me? How much emotional abuse must I endure before I break?
Please tell me.. where is MY protection that takes a HUGE chunk of my paycheck and tells me to sit back and obey.
Lucky not to get fired? At least if someone tried to fire me- I’d have grounds to find a lawyer and contest. You have stripped me of any rights. And now all I can do is hope that I will find something and feel like somebody before I lose myself.
Her website is Karen Sklaire 
Karen will be doing a benefit for Puerto Rico in November www.rippleofhopeshow.com

            

Luis Reyes on UFT: I believe in social change, redemption and renewal

UFT/Unity Caucus leadership lauded as a social justice org.

I posted the NY Times article on the American role in undermining democracy in Chile in the early 70s on various listserves (US Role in Chile Horror: And They Worry About Russian Meddling?)
and mentioned the role our union leaders played there. Luis Reyes, long-time social justice activist here in the city and beyond made the following comment. I am posting this as a message to people and caucuses like MORE that think they can outflank the union leadership on SJ issues. A group of us in MORE have been contending that if we want to challenge the UFT leadership, it has to be on issues where they have not supported the members, not on how social justicey they are.

Norm and all:

I believe in social change, redemption and renewal. On Saturday, I was honored by the UFT at their ELLevating Conference with the Luis O. Reyes ELL Advocacy Award in the UFT auditorium filled with more than 1,000 teachers and teacher leaders. The honor goes to many who made this moment possible.

In the 1970s, Albert Shanker (R.I.P.), wrote in his NY Times column  that bilingual education was "...unamerican and separatist."

 In 1984, I reached out to  Sandra Feldman (R.I.P.), to start a dialogue with the UFT leadership. Latino and other bilingual leaders met with leaders of the UFT; and, together we started a movement that resulted in the UFT changing its position on bilingual education and supporting state LEP Aid. Today Evelyn DeJesus, a Puerto Rican bilingual educator from the Lower East Side is the Vice President for Education and Carmen Alvarez continues to be the V.P. for Special Education. 

Today, Michael Mulgrew, the President of the UFT, and Randi Weingarten, the President of the AFT, have been leaders in the the AFL-CIO union coalition sending relief union volunteers, emergency supplies, and donations to the Hurricane Maria Relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The UFT sent 30 school nurses and others there this past week. We are rebuilding Puerto Rico, reconstructing professional relationships, and preparing to receive children, families, and, yes, teachers from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to New York City and New York State. 

Yes, I am eternally grateful and appreciative of social change, redemption and renewal.


Respectfully,

Luis O. Reyes
            

US Role in Chile Horror: And They Worry About Russian Meddling?

There is a cable from the Central Intelligence Agency to its officers in Santiago after a failed operation in October 1970 to prevent Allende from assuming office, which he did that November. The C.I.A. provided weapons for the plan, which resulted in the killing of the commander in chief of the army, Gen. René Schneider, and the agency later sent money to help some of the plotters flee the country. “The station has done an excellent job of guiding Chileans to a point today where a military solution is at least an option for them,” the cable says, commending the officers, even though their plot was foiled.

There is no more outrageous story to read today than this one, especially for those who continue to harp on Russian interference, which if it happened pales in comparison what the CIA, etc did and continues to do all over the world interfering everywhere. Another story pops up every day. Read this one in Chile -- which by the way had our own union leader Al Shanker involved using the CIA influenced AFLD to try to undermine leftist teacher unions in Chile.
See:

The American Federation of Teachers and the CIA by George N. Schmidt



 


Also see:

Documenting U.S. Role in Democracy’s Fall and Dictator’s Rise in Chile

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/14/world/americas/chile-coup-cia-museum.html?_r=0

SANTIAGO, Chile — An old rotary phone rings insistently.
Visitors at a new exhibition at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights here in Santiago who pick up the receiver hear two men complain bitterly about the liberal news media “bleating” over the military coup that had toppled Salvador Allende, the Socialist president of Chile, five days earlier.
“Our hand doesn’t show on this one, though,” one says.
“We didn’t do it,” the other responds. “I mean, we helped them.”
The conversation took place on a Sunday morning in September 1973 between former President Richard M. Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger. The two men were discussing football — and the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government 5,000 miles away with their assistance.
For the exhibition, two Spanish-speaking actors re-enacted the taped phone call based on a declassified transcript.
The chance to listen in on the call is part of “Secrets of State: The Declassified History of the Chilean Dictatorship,” an exhibition that offers visitors an immersive experience of Washington’s intervention in Chile and its 17-year relationship with the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Continue reading the main story
A dimly lit underground gallery guides visitors through a maze of documents — presidential briefings, intelligence reports, cables and memos — that describe secret operations and intelligence gathering carried out in Chile by the United States from the Nixon years through the Reagan presidency.




Photo

“There is an arc of history that is very dramatic when you put these documents together,” said Peter Kornbluh, the exhibition’s curator who is a senior analyst at the National Security Archive in Washington and director of its Chile Documentation Project. “They have provided revelations and made headlines, they have been used as evidence in human rights prosecutions, and now they are contributing to the verdict of history.”
On view are documents revealing secret exchanges about how to prevent Chile’s Congress from ratifying the Allende victory in 1970, plans for covert operations to destabilize his government and reports about a Chilean military officer informing the United States government of the coming coup and requesting assistance.
There is a cable from the Central Intelligence Agency to its officers in Santiago after a failed operation in October 1970 to prevent Allende from assuming office, which he did that November. The C.I.A. provided weapons for the plan, which resulted in the killing of the commander in chief of the army, Gen. René Schneider, and the agency later sent money to help some of the plotters flee the country.
“The station has done an excellent job of guiding Chileans to a point today where a military solution is at least an option for them,” the cable says, commending the officers, even though their plot was foiled.
The exhibition includes only a small sample of the 23,000 documents on Chile that the Clinton administration declassified between 1999 and 2000 in response to international requests for evidence on Pinochet’s crimes. The former Chilean dictator was arrested in London in October 1998 and awaited extradition to Spain to face trial on charges of human rights abuses during his rule.
As several other European countries also sought Pinochet’s extradition based on the principle of universal jurisdiction, Mr. Kornbluh, the curator, led a campaign to persuade the White House to release classified records that could serve in an eventual trial against the general.
Documents on Chile from 1968 to 1991 from seven United States government agencies, some of them heavily redacted, were released as part of the State Department’s Chile Declassification Project. Most were declassified months after Pinochet was sent home from London for humanitarian reasons, but just in time to contribute to new judicial investigations in Chile.
The documents have been used as evidence in several human rights inquiries involving American victims, including the 1973 killings in Chile of Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman; the 1976 car bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier, a foreign minister and defense minister in the Allende administration, and his American colleague, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, in Washington; the 1985 disappearance in Chile of Boris Weisfeiler, an American professor; and the killing of Rodrigo Rojas, a Chilean-born United States citizen who was burned alive by soldiers in Chile in 1986.




Photo
Copies of the front pages of dozens of newspapers during the Pinochet era, on view in the exhibition.CreditTomas Munita for The New York Times 

They have also shed light on Operation Condor, a network of South American intelligence services in the 1970s and ’80s that shared information, traded prisoners and orchestrated assassinations abroad. The head of DINA, Chile’s clandestine intelligence agency, Gen. Manuel Contreras, was the mastermind behind Condor, and hosted an inaugural meeting in November 1975 in Santiago.
In the exhibition, the seats at a rectangular table bear the names of the intelligence chiefs of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile who attended Operation Condor’s first meeting. A layer of earth covers the table, and brushes are provided for visitors to reveal what is beneath: the names of Condor victims, many of whom vanished without a trace.
Nearby, copies of the front pages of dozens of newspapers from the Pinochet era hang from a panel simulating a kiosk. They were all published by the conservative media empire El Mercurio, which received at least $2 million from the C.I.A.
The records in the exhibition also profile Pinochet, trace intelligence gathering on brutal state-sponsored repression and detail how the Reagan government abandoned Pinochet to his fate in 1988, fearing a further radicalization of the opposition.
“These documents have helped us rewrite Chile’s contemporary history,” said Francisco Estévez, director of the museum. “This exhibit is a victory in the fight against negationism, the efforts to deny and relativize what happened during our dictatorship.”
The Memory and Human Rights Museum opened in 2010 during the first term of President Michelle Bachelet and offers a chronological reconstruction of the 17-year Pinochet government through artifacts, recordings, letters, videos, photographs, artwork and other material. About 150,000 people visit the museum annually, a third of them groups of students, Mr. Estévez said.
The National Security Archive donated a selection of 3,000 declassified documents to the museum several years ago, while the State Department provided the Chilean government with copies of the entire collection. Chileans, however, have rarely seen them.
“To see on a piece of paper, for example, the president of the United States ordering the C.I.A. to preemptively overthrow a democratically elected president in Chile is stunning,” Mr. Kornbluh said. “The importance of having these documents in the museum is for the new generations of Chileans to actually see them.”
            

Are You Planning to Run for Chapter Leader in May/June 2018?

Every three years each school and functional chapter holds chapter leader elections. Most often they are not contended but when they are things can get heavy. I and a group of other people have had extensive experience in what people face in these elections, especially for first timers.

Is your principal hostile to your running either because there is a relationship with the current CL or does your principal see your election as a threat? Then expect some behind the scenes (or open) campaigning against you.

Are you challenging a Unity CL? Expect a campaign that can get vicious. If you win expect a possible challenge to the borough office even over trivial issues and a chance they will overturn your victory and find something wrong with how the election was held.

Therefore pay strict attention to the procedures laid out on how to run an election -- there must be a committee and the CL has a lot of say -- so fight to get one of your people on. Also pay attention to how ballots are set up and protected.

Most important is how to run a campaign and how to pace such a campaign. At the MORE convention yesterday Gloria Brandman, a retiree who was a CL, suggested MORE provide assistance and training for people wanting to run. We had hoped to run a training at the convention but that time got subsumed by a Labor Notes "Secrets of a Successful Organizer" -- I've taken it a few times and there are no real secrets.

Here is Gloria's pitch which was passed. Execution will be the key. Get in touch if you are interested in running for CL or Del. Sessions will begin after the New Year - or before if there is demand.
Chapter Leader/ Delegate Election Campaign

From the MORE website:

“MORE’s central priority will be the development of a UFT caucus. Our aim is to reach UFT members with our message of a more active and democratic union that can effectively fight back against what we have called the “ed deform” agenda and for the basic union rights of our members”.

In order to achieve these goals, a union caucus must have some level of power within the union organization. We have gained 7 seats on the Executive Board with our High School representatives and we must continue to build on this success. The UFT will be holding Chapter Leader/Delegate Elections in the Spring of 2018 and this should be the next level in which we build our base and our power.

I propose that MORE engage in a Chapter Leader and Delegate Building Campaign.

This will be twofold:

1. Encourage and support all current MORE Chapter Leaders and Delegates to run for re-election in their schools and chapters.

2. Seek out our supporters in schools that are not yet represented by MORE and encourage and support these members to run for Chapter Leaders or Delegate in their schools.

            

Memo from the RTC - Rhapsody Players Delight Saturday Night Crowd in Benefit Performance


Memo From the RTC:  Rhapsody Players Delight Saturday Night Crowd in Benefit Performance
By Norm Scott

Those lucky enough to attend the benefit performance of “The Rhapsody Players” (rhapsodyplayers.org) at the home of the Rockaway Theatre Company last Saturday night were treated to two hours of delightful entertainment by the seven member singing group, accompanied by an outstanding six piece band. This was the second time I had seen them and the harmony and the ability of each member to deliver a rock’n sock’n solo gave the audience the feeling they were at a top level show delivered by star pros. They were recently joined by our one of RTC’s major stars and voices, Renee Titus, whose voice can knock down walls – and practically did.

We were accompanied by David Bentley, a former colleague and friend of mine, who since his retirement from the NYCDOE reviews plays in various parts of the nation (https://thepeoplescritic.com/). David, invited us to dinner the night before at the famed Lamb’s Club, a social club in New York City for actors, songwriters, and others involved in the theater. It is America's oldest theatrical organization – since 1874 and we were treated to members performing various songs as we ate dinner – all with an accompaniest on the piano. All performers are members of the club, which over its 142 years has contained many famous members – oh that photo on the wall with a 25 year old Fred Astaire.  We told David about the RTC benefit and he decided to join us, expecting a nice performance by local amateur talent. Well, he was blown away and couldn’t believe The Rhapsody Players were not performing professionally. I agree and am only sorry that all RTC fans didn’t get to see it. Hopefully The Rhapsody Players will return to Rockaway soon.

Rockaway Café rehearsals heat up and RTC preps new courses
I’ve been added to the cast of the legendary RTC productions of The Rockaway Café, which returns after a few years layoff, on Nov. 3 for 10 performances over 3 weekends (and one Thursday). But fans shouldn’t fret – I can’t mess things up too badly since also joining the cast are Tony Homsey and Curtis Wanderer – also known as that dynamic duo – Tony Curtis.

The three of us will also be involved in a brand new course being taught by Tony – Basics of Theater Set Construction, beginning soon after Thanksgiving and running every Sunday for 8 weeks in two hour sessions. Basic use of the tools used, safety in using the tools will be covered in the first session. This is not a set design course but how to exercise the vision of the set designer and the director in the most feasible manner possible. One of the goals is to expand our set building crew so as to distribute the workload. One of the major projects in the course will be building the sets for the two children’s theater group’s plays in February and March.  If interested in joining us keep an eye out for more information in a few weeks.

Read Norm’s other column, School Scope and his blog at ednotesonline.com

            

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