Don't expect this Baltimore outcome to be accepted by the caucus in power - Unity-like caucuses do not give up power easily.... Reminds me of when Mike Shulman won the high school VP position in 1985 and Unity protested the election they ran and ...

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"Ed Notes Online" - 5 new articles

  1. Baltimore Election Committee Orders New Election for but only for seats leadership lost - Antonucci
  2. Ed Notes at the DA: UFT Election Results: Unity the BIG Winner, MORE the Biggest Loser drops by 75%, Solidarity Beats MORE for Second Place and Stays Alive, Whither New Action
  3. Skinny Awards - Wednesday June 19 - Support the important work
  4. NYC Educator Asks: Why Is Ben Sherman Still Principal?
  5. CORE Wins in Chicago, Supporters Express Concerns
  6. More Recent Articles

Baltimore Election Committee Orders New Election for but only for seats leadership lost - Antonucci

Don't expect this Baltimore outcome to be accepted by the caucus in power - Unity-like caucuses do not give up power easily.... Reminds me of when Mike Shulman won the high school VP position in 1985 and Unity protested the election they ran and actually got a new election - which they then lost.... Ed Notes, May 17, 2019 - Social Justice Activist Ousts Randi Ally, 21-Year ...
By a strange coincidence, the members of the election committee were appointed by the current BTU officers, and only the election for president and the teacher seats will be rerun.... Antonucci
So what else is new? I reported that something like this would happen - I should have put "ousts" in quotes. If the opposition were ever to win here in NYC, Unity just wouldn't give up power but go to the mattresses.




Mike Antonucci has a follow-up where he compares this case to the Baltimore-based "The Wire." (McNulty just played Jean Valjean in Les Mis on PBS - and maybe Randi can show up as Javert to save her pal and AFT VP Marietta English.

New Case for McNulty and Bunk


The Nominations and Elections Committee of the Baltimore Teachers Union has decided a new election for union officers is necessary.

The election was noteworthy for the defeat of 21-year incumbent president Marietta English and her Progressive Caucus slate for the teacher seats on the union’s executive committee. English’s slate won all the support employee seats. By a strange coincidence, the members of the election committee were appointed by the current BTU officers, and only the election for president and the teacher seats will be rerun.

It’s possible that the opposition caucus violated the union’s election rules. Weigh that possibility against the ballot set-up approved by the election committee.
To vote for English and her entire slate, a BTU member had to punch a single button on the first touchscreen. This image depicts what a member had to do to vote for the opposition slate:

It seems clear this contest isn’t so much an election as a street fight. English’s opposition should look to Omar Little for advice.
            

Ed Notes at the DA: UFT Election Results: Unity the BIG Winner, MORE the Biggest Loser drops by 75%, Solidarity Beats MORE for Second Place and Stays Alive, Whither New Action

On Wednesday I was going into Manhattan for a 3020a hearing (what a trip that has been) and a meeting later that night so I might as well go to the Delegate Assembly. But can I disappoint my many fans and not hand something out? No way.

So I cobbled this quicky together in the morning and beat my printer with a whip to wheeze out 300 copies. And since MORE seems to have been in the witness protection program since the election and just in case some attendees still take MORE seriously, why not beat a dead horse? They were snapping this up.

UFT Election Results: Unity the BIG Winner, MORE the Biggest Loser drops by 75%, Solidarity Beats MORE for Second Place and Stays Alive, Whither New Action

These results make me think Unity came in second – and those with an interest in promoting distance between the members and the union – our enemies – came in first… Jonathan Halabi, New Action, member of UFT Ex Bd.

The triennial UFT election ended with the usual victory for Unity Caucus, which has been in control of the UFT since its inception in 1962. Mulgrew received over 85% of the vote, with retirees being the largest voting block by far with 24,000 out of the 47,000 votes returned, with 89% going to Unity – yes, retirees are the happiest people in the UFT, maybe in the world. Over 197,000 ballots were sent out – about 25% returned overall. But the return from working UFT members was dismal.

Other than retirees, the turnout from working UFT members bordered on embarrassing. In the 20,000 member high school division, 3260 teachers voted. Without an effective opposition, the high schools, the only division where Unity has been weak, went for Unity by 67%, one of the few times Unity won a majority of high school votes over the past three decades. Unity got around 2100 high school votes, the same as in 2016 when they lost to MORE/New Action – and MORE’s insistence on running alone this time turned into a disaster as MORE received 550 high school votes and New Action 250, and Solidarity 375. In 2016 MORE/NA had over 2300. A lesson on divisiveness.

Unity won 75% of the middle school vote with 1200 votes out of 11,000 middle school teachers. They did even better in the elementary schools with 85% - 6,000 votes out of about 37,000 elementary school teachers. But the returns from the 3 teaching divisions is a sad commentary on how little UFT elections matter to working teachers. Jonathan’s point is right on.

Between the almost 70,000 teachers in elem, middle and high schools, Unity gets 10,000 votes. In the non-teaching functionals Unity received over 7,000 votes out of the 10,000 cast. 20,000 retirees voted for Unity. Is the UFT stronger or weaker when retirees are the most interested segment of the union? Read a detailed election analysis on ednotesonline: https://tinyurl.com/y6epxjub

A decimated opposition, with the sectarians in MORE being responsible
One of the reasons for the dismal results for the three opposition caucuses was their inability to form a united opposition. The rough order of total votes were Solidarity (7%), MORE (5%) and New Action (3%). As a longtime activist in the opposition, I shudder and question whether it is even worth participating in UFT elections, a waste of resources and time. In my final days in MORE I urged them to either take the election seriously and run with everyone in a united front or don’t run at all. I feel they have made a mockery of UFT elections and now a very weak Solidarity can claim the mantle of the only caucus that shows signs of growth, even if minimal. They finished second by outpolling MORE by a thousand votes a surprise since they have such a small base in the schools as was the poor showing of MORE Caucus with a bigger base. They bear the major responsibility for the debacle through divisive tactics internally and externally. Three key former MOREs ran on the Unity line for Ex Bd but maintain they will act independently of Unity. They no longer felt welcome in MORE. This puts Solidarity in the titular position of the opposition with the most support but it is a hollow "victory." Sadly, it seems that New Action has faded into possible oblivion. New Action was founded in 1995 as a merger of two caucuses and had initial success but as their leadership aged out into retirement they lost their base in the schools – plus the disaster of the alliance they made with Randi Weingarten and Unity Caucus in 2003.

In 2016 MORE/New Action had almost 10,600 votes and Solidarity had 1400. That’ was 12,000 votes against Unity. The total opposition vote this time was less than 7,000.

Solidarity beating out MORE is a big thing in the tiny world of the opposition inside the UFT. Showing some growth is essential but it was clear they didn't have enough of a base to make much bigger gains. The real race was to beat MORE and claim the mantle of the leading opposition - and Shockingly they did. I expected MORE to lose thousands of votes - but MORE dropped so drastically by 8000 votes. Think of it - in 3 years MORE, founded in 2012 as a merger of ICE and TJC, lost 8000 votes. from 10,600 to 2,600. The MORE leadership purged the ICE faction and some of their supporters voted for Solidarity.

MORE declares victory for not finishing last.
The MORE spin: One leader of MORE posted that they finished third, not last. The spin is that they didn't really try and purposely ran not to win and that the drop from almost 11,000 votes to 2600 shows that they still have a base to organize for their platform – sure, just like they organized the 10,600 last time. All the years of building the opposition and it all went crashing against the rocks of sectarianism. At the end of the day, the opposition in the UFT is decimated and Unity Caucus is more empowered than ever. Nice work. The faction in control of MORE ought to write book - how to destroy a union opposition and empower the ruling power. MORE missed an essential point. In the UFT the goal is to battle the Unity machine which controls the UFT, NYSUT and AFT with all forces at hand, not use elections to push an ideology. MORE has become a boutique caucus or a members only club.

Norm has been a UFT member for 52 years. He helped found ICE in 2003 and MORE in 2012. He is now a free agent. 
            

Skinny Awards - Wednesday June 19 - Support the important work

Last year I was joined by Fred Smith and Danny Dromm as winners of the award.  I'm a Skinny: Honored to be honored by Leonie...The year has gone by very fast. I expect to attend this year's event - I haven't missed one since Leonie began giving out Skinny's as an antidote to the Broad Awards.

Save the date! On Wednesday June 19 we will hold our annual Skinny award dinner at Casa La Femme on 140 Charles St. The honorees will be Attorney General Tish James for her steadfast and courageous leadership in supporting public school students and parents over many years; and NYC Kids PAC, the only political action committee that rates candidates on their positions on public education. Please reserve your ticket now — for a delicious three course dinner with wine and great company besides!
            

NYC Educator Asks: Why Is Ben Sherman Still Principal?

When people ask me what is the major problem with the NYC school system I answer "the principals". I've always maintained that teachers should play a major role in choosing the principal and that should be a core demand by the UFT even if it is pie in the sky.
A year ago I and other bloggers issued our first reports on Forest Hills HS Ben Sherman with this post:

Monday, June 4, 2018
Incompetent Principal Ben Sherman: Forest Hills HS Teachers Issue Declaration of Independence

Arthur has a follow-up today:
I can't ever recall 90% of a teacher's students filing a complaint. That would be extraordinary. Of course I'm not a principal. Mike Bloomberg decided that principals could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, however they wanted, and established a Leadership Academy to teach that principle (to principals). Evidently, Ben Sherman learned well.... Arthur Goldstein

Why Is Ben Sherman Still Principal?

Bronx ATR left this comment which contains some truth:
 It’s been years since I’ve seen the UFT Publicly challenge an administrator. There used to a section in the UFT monthly rag that profiled these demi-gods in a rouge’s gallery of shame. There used to be many pickets against these characters. Teachers are afraid and see the UFT doing very little to help them, creating more passivity and emboldening even more abusive behavior.
The UFT claims it has been working behind the scenes. I believe that. But that is not enough. Teachers need the UFT to go public as a lesson to administrators and the CSA which covers for them.

I do get that there are limits to the UFT ability to get rid of a principal.

There was a time when we practically became the Ben Sherman blog. Here are a few more of our posts:

Monday, February 18, 2019


UPDATED: 90% of Forest Hills HS Staff Votes No Confidence in Principal Ben Sherman

Friday, February 22, 2019


Queens Chronicle - Forest Hills HS, Principal Ben Sherman Under Attack - Where is the UFT Leadership?

Sunday, February 24, 2019


Forest Hills/Ben Sherman Update - A Parent Speaks to Us, NY Post Front Page, Is UFT Working Behind Scenes?

 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Forest Hills HS, Ben Sherman, Wednesday Update: UFT Officials Led by Leroy Barr Visit - Time to Call Out Supt Juan Mendez

Thursday, March 7, 2019


Forest Hills HS Update - Supt Juan Mendez Pulled

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Forest Hills High School, Ben Sherman Update: parents rip principal


http://nyceducator.com/2019/05/why-is-ben-sherman-still-principal.html

            

CORE Wins in Chicago, Supporters Express Concerns

I wrote about the Chicago union election last week -- Chicago Teachers Union CORE Caucus challenged by Members First.
CORE won the election but internally there are some serious concerns, as this excerpt signed by some key CORE people indicates:
...we recognize that many members are concerned about the direction of our union under the current CORE leadership team. We share many of those concerns. We are deeply sympathetic to members who feel that their working conditions, which are our students’ learning conditions, have been getting worse for years. As active rank-and-file teachers, clinicians, PSRPs, and school workers, we have experienced the bullying, the disrespect, the micromanaging, and the intense pressures and workloads personally.... it’s our contention the current leadership has made a series of mistakes that have deepened the defeats and taken us off the road to fighting back. One of the most concerning was the top-down decision of this leadership to call off a strike in 2016 accepting what we consider a weak contract. We also believe our union has not done a sufficient job defending members and our contract in the buildings and that leadership has become too far removed from the everyday abuses we experience. In addition, we are in deep disagreement with our leadership’s turn towards funding Democratic establishment politicians.... letter from CORE Supporters, including some founders
Sound familiar? The above, printed in full below, comes from a dissident faction internally within the CORE caucus - some of whom I have spoken to over the years and when they expressed some of their frustrations within the CTU. I spent a couple of days hanging out with some signees and other CORE people in Los Angeles back in July 2009, a year before CORE won. I heard from some of them as far back as 2012 and 2014 at AFT conventions. Some of them were among the top leadership but have left the leadership to go back in the classroom.

You won't read about these concerns from leftist social justice activists within CORE in the often fawning leftist press over CORE.

These dissidents are somewhat similar to the former dissidents within MORE - mostly people associated with the ICEUFT wing of MORE who have been pushed out by people with similar ideologies to the leadership of the CTU --- many of the people in ICEUFT do not cede the SJ interpretation to the ideologues. What is clear, it that since similar issues are being raised in other caucuses, this is a fundamental political disagreement and not personal --- which is often raised by people who want to hide the politics. I think what happened in MORE is happening in other places too.

So there is lots going on with teacher union elections. I reported on the Baltimore election where a coalition of two opposition caucuses defeated a 21 year incumbent and Randi ally - a VP of the AFT.
The Chicago Teacher Union story is always fascinating to watch as there have been distortions as to the origin story of CORE and the outcomes of some of the subsequent actions. First an announcement from Jesse Sharkey, who was elected for the first time as president after having served as Karen Lewis' VP since they were elected in 2010:
CTU President Jesse Sharkey on FB
CORE wins 66-34. Congrats to everyone who worked so hard on this campaign. I just had a very gracious conversation with Therese Boyle, and I offered her a place in CTUs Bargaining Team—we will unite this union and fight for a great contract!

CORE won the election over Members First on May 17 with 66% of the vote. I was watching for the outcome to see the level of push back from those who agree with Members First that the union should emphasize the needs of its members. I agree with SJ caucuses like CORE when they say that the union must also consider the living conditions of the students since they also influence working conditions and by its very name, Members First doesn't send that message. In the first challenge to CORE since they were elected in 2010, 34% is not an insignificant push back and unless CORE meets their needs, they have room for growth -- though I would change the name and broaden the focus --- along the lines with the demands the dissidents inside of CORE make below. I can see a joint push for changes coming from the 34% who support MF with the internal push from the dissidents. If the leadership doesn't show itself capable of responding, things will get interesting.

Social Justice ideologues often let their SJ get ahead of the members - as you will read below posted by Fred Klonsky, the statement of left wing SJ/CORE backers who wrote the lead to above -- many members are concerned about the direction of our union under the current CORE leadership team.

I know some of them and while they could never back Members First and are loyal CORE people - even founders -- some have told me they agreed with the late George Schmidt's criticisms of CORE and the way they were leading the CTU with an "ideology first" agenda. George told me that the CTU leadership had not focused on organizing the membership through in-school work but had been using rallies as organizing tools and they weren't effective.

George told me some of the signees below backed him when CORE ideologues tried to purge George from CORE --- CORE Attempted Purge of One of Founders George Schmidt Failed in Chicago - Eight Women of Color Speak on George's Behalf. Though I see at least one signee who voted against George. The very idea of the purge is indicative of the problems internally.

George wrote at the time:  
the majority of the CORE "Steering Committee" tried to lead the caucus into what amounted to a Purge Trial (or, as one speaker said, to turn CORE into something out of Orwell's Animal Farm)......the claims (by a handful of CORE people now hiding out) that I was a "racist" and a "sexist" (among other things) had to be proved by citing certain specific actions, not by "feelings."
Sound familiar to current and ex-MORE members? George's views were very aligned with ICEUFT --- call us the rational left.

Jacobin's Micah Uetricht  has been writing uncritically about CORE and the CTU and George used to mock some of his conclusions. Here is Uetricht's  pre-election article in Jacobin, which included little hint of the internal dissidents within CORE who did not go to Members First (which is composed of former CORE supporters too) but feel the CTU under CORE leadership has suffered a  defeats, something the leftist press often papers over or ignores as it tries to sell a pristine version of SJ unionism.

Chicago Teacher Militancy Is Up for Reelection-- https://jacobinmag.com/2019/05/chicago-teachers-union-caucus-of-rank-file-educators

It is worth reading Uetricht's piece (which I will address in a follow-up) and contrast the call for CORE supporters for changes in the approach of the leadership as posted by Fred Klonsky. A key is that they have tried every internal mechanism but frustration led them to going public.

We the undersigned are union members, members of CORE, and activists in our schools. Some of us are currently serving on leadership bodies of the CTU and are running for elected positions with the CORE slate. We have decades of combined experience fighting for better schools and a stronger union, and some of us are co-founders of CORE. We are endorsing the CORE slate in the 2019 leadership election and urge all members to vote for the slate in order to register their support for organizing a strike-ready union that’s fighting for a strong contract.We think a Members’ First victory would set the union back in negotiations and represent a move away from a fighting approach. While we respect many of the individuals in MF, and intend to continue working alongside all our union brothers and sisters, we do not believe they have the vision or the commitment to stand up to the bosses and win the schools our students deserve. However, we recognize that many members are concerned about the direction of our union under the current CORE leadership team. We share many of those concerns. We are deeply sympathetic to members who feel that their working conditions, which are our students’ learning conditions, have been getting worse for years. As active rank-and-file teachers, clinicians, PSRPs, and school workers, we have experienced the bullying, the disrespect, the micromanaging, and the intense pressures and workloads personally.

We are not content with the state of our workplaces or the past contracts won. To be frank, our union has suffered a number of defeats in the past years. We know how damaging the REACH evaluation system is. We understand how Student-Based Budgeting and the School Rating System hurts members and students alike. We have labored under the longest school day and school year. We suffered through furloughs, skyrocketing healthcare costs, and the loss of raises.

We fully recognize that the author of our worsening conditions is the 1% and the political establishment of both major parties, who have rained down attack after attack on public education and unions everywhere. We are members of CORE precisely because of the major role CORE had pushing back against this neoliberal assault. We are proud of the organizing for the 2012 strike, for the resistance to testing, school closures, punitive evaluation systems, and the call to join our union fight with the broader needs of the communities where we live and work.
However, it’s our contention the current leadership has made a series of mistakes that have deepened the defeats and taken us off the road to fighting back. One of the most concerning was the top-down decision of this leadership to call off a strike in 2016 accepting what we consider a weak contract. We also believe our union has not done a sufficient job defending members and our contract in the buildings and that leadership has become too far removed from the everyday abuses we experience. In addition, we are in deep disagreement with our leadership’s turn towards funding Democratic establishment politicians, like our endorsement of Toni Preckwinkle, with the aim of buying influence and cutting deals. We believe that we need an electoral strategy that challenges the status quo, but to win gains we need to rely primarily on the power of our members and the broader communities we work in.

Alongside these errors, this leadership has seriously mismanaged the internal finances of our union.

As CORE activists and in our capacity on union leadership bodies, we have been raising these concerns for some time inside CORE, on Executive Board, within the Trustees, and among fellow union members. The drafting of this letter was not our first recourse and was not taken lightly.

Before now, we’ve taken practical action to correct course. Undersigned Trustees were those that brought financial mismanagement to light. We’ve also called for Open Bargaining, so our rank-and-file can directly observe and participate in this round of negotiations. Undersigned Executive Board members have made motions to stop some of the political spending in order to focus union time and resources on the building-level fights we must win. We led the fight to stop the dismantling of special education services. Through these actions and more, we have called for a return to the CORE’s founding principles: Member Driven Union, Transparency & Accountability, Education for All, Defense of Publicly Funded Public Education, and a Strong Contract.

However, now we feel that it is necessary to bring these concerns openly to the whole of the membership. After fighting to be heard inside CORE and within leadership bodies, we have been met with opposition, and in some cases vilification and isolation. We feel that this letter stating our current reality is a necessary first step to turn the tide from recent defeats to gains for our members and students.
The undersigned stand against the very real pressure under 1% attacks towards top-down union bureaucracy, insider political dealings, and the call for secrecy. We are fighting to be strike-ready this fall and to build a union that is truly led by the rank-and-file. We believe that we must rebuild trust with membership around a way forward that can win victories. We’ve advocated for the need to coordinate more strongly with other unions in our buildings, like SEIU 73 for instance, whose members are also in a contract struggle and building to be strike ready. The power of the West Virginia education strikes were based on all-building unity and we need to organize towards the same. We know we must also base ourselves on wider solidarity with local school communities and working people. We must win smaller classes, more clinicians, nurses, case managers, and the time and resources to do our jobs well. We can no longer settle for smaller, symbolic wins. Our students and communities depend on it.

We hope that CORE is reelected and plan to support the new CORE leadership with words and deeds whenever they take positive action. However, we the undersigned intend to take steps starting immediately to fight for the type of union that we think is necessary. Union members who support these ideas should reach out to us to get involved.

Email: CTUFAIRCONTRACTNOW@gmail.com and be sure to join the #CTUFAIRCONTRACTNOW facebook page (bit.ly/FBCTU19).
We can win. And we will win. Together

In Solidarity,
Kenzo Shibata
HS English and Civics Teacher
CORE Founding Member
President, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance- Illinois
Past CORE steering member
CFL Delegate
Past CTU Delegate
Past Media Director, IFT
Past Digital Communications Director, CTU

Erin Young
SpEd Teacher, CORE Steering Member
CTU Delegate

Tammie Vinson
SpEd Teacher
CTU Trustee
CORE Steering

Nick Wozniak
SECA, SEIU 73 Steward

Emily Penn
School Social Worker, EBoard Clinician FVP

Katie Osgood
SpEd Teacher, EBoard Elementary Functional VP

Kristine Mayle
CTU Financial Secretary, 2010-2016

Drew Heiserman
HS Math Teacher
CTU Trustee

Kimberly Goldbaum
CTU Elem. Functional VP, 2011-2018
Middle School Teacher

Alison Eichhorn
HS History Teacher
CTU Trustee
CTU Delegate

Natasha Leigh Carlsen
K-4 SpEd Teacher, EBoard Elementary Functional VP, CORE Steering

Xian Franzinger Barrett
4th-6th Grade SpEd Teacher, EBoard Elem Functional VP
CORE Founding Member
            

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