Thursday, September 18, 2008

Teachers Unite Sept. News

Teachers Unite!
September 2008

In This Issue
Teachers Unite with Grassroots Activists
New ESL Project Launched
TONIGHT: Event on Mayoral Control
New Staff
Student Safety Act News
Foundation Supporters

· Ben & Jerry's Foundation
· North Star Fund
· Yip Harburg Foundation
· Rose & Sherle Wagner Foundation


Teachers Unite members receive special offers from our partners...


Panade Bakery
A teacher-owned and operated bakery!

Punk Rope

Rethinking Schools

Teachers Unite with Grassroots ActivistsTeachers Unite with Grassroots Activists

Thanks to all of you who came to the August 25th Orientation and made it a success. Teachers met in groups of colleagues who work in the same borough. We talked about Teachers Unite's work, vision and membership program, and heard from educators about their experiences as members.

In an age when teachers are attacked and blamed for the failures of our public school system, Teachers Unite members provide a glimpse into the extraordinary truth of who educators really are. They are going above and beyond the demands of their job responsibilities and looking for ways to contribute their expertise and knowledge to a movement for systemic change. Educators at our Orientation committed to working on the first Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn Teachers Unite committees where they will produce educational components for grassroots campaigns for social justice led by:

Mothers on the Move
Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
VAMOS Unidos
Center for Immigrant Families
Brooklyn Young Mothers Collective
Make the Road NY

If you were unable to attend on August 25th, but are interested in getting involved in a borough committee, please contact Sally at or 212-675-4790.
New ESL Project Launched!

1st ESL ClassIrene Baigorri, Vickie Fernandez and Nancy Gonzalez led the first ESL class by Teachers Unite for members of VAMOS Unidos in the Bronx. The class of 20 adults, mostly women, ranged from ages 18 to 60.

Leading up to the first class, Irene and Nancy led efforts to research materials and resources for this initiative. Over the summer, a group of ten Teachers Unite members signed up to work on this collaboration and met to develop curriculum, discuss popular education philosophy, coordinate and plan sessions.

At the first class last week, the teachers conducted one on one assessments with students, and led a 2-hour session that focused on the alphabet, letter names, sounds, and a key anchor word for each letter. They used drama and movement to bring content to life. Perhaps not surprisingly, the second session drew many more students--all members of VAMOS Unidos which organizes Latino/a immigrants, predominantly street vendors, for economic and racial justice, immigrant rights, and police accountability.

Raving about the experience, these teachers have big ideas about the future of this project. They're doing it all in addition to their own jobs as teachers in elementary, middle and high school teachers. Interested? Contact Sally at or 212-675-4790 to get in touch with these extraordinary members.
As the laws that created Mayoral control of our public schools sunset
after 8 years, many groups are creating commissions to make recommendations on this important issue to our state legislature.

The Parent Commission is made up of parents and parent leaders from
groups across the city. It has put together a number of forums, working sessions and committees to give parents the opportunity to study the issue and formulate concrete recommendations about our children's schools and education to the legislature by the end of January.

THE first public education session is:
Murry Bergtraum High School
411 Pearl St. (near the BK Bridge and One Police Plaza)

The session will focus on the history of NYC school governance with
panelists: Diane Ravitch, Jitu Weusi, Betty Rosa, with Pedro Noguera

For more information about this topic and events like these, contact:
Welcome Teachers Unite's New Staff Member
Among the most exciting Teachers Unite news of the year is the recent addition of Membership Director, Doyin Ola to our staff! You may know that, until now, our staff has consisted of one person (who is, I must say, so happy to be working with Doyin), so this is truly a milestone.

Doyin is a former organizer with Make the Road NY/Bushwick Community High School and Queers for Economic Justice. A current student in the education program at Manhattanville College, Doyin also keeps busy as a member of the Q-Crew Media Collective (but suspiciously doesn't have a photo to be included with this announcement).

Doyin is already working on re-vamping the website, supporting Teachers Unite's membership and fostering its growth. While Doyin will be getting in touch with many of you in the future, be sure to introduce yourself when you come to our events and gatherings!

Pass the Student Safety Act

Student Safety Act rallyThanks to all who came to the August rally supporting the introduction of the Student Safety Act to City Council! Youth, advocates, and educators turned out in force to bring attention to the over policing of city schools.

On September 25th from 6-8pm at Judson Memorial Church, community members will gather to attend a lobby training sponsored by the Student
Safety Coalition. The training will teach New Yorkers how to support the
Student Safety Act, a civil rights bill that will bring accountability
and transparency to school safety practices.

More than 5,000 school safety agents patrol New York City schools every
day, making the NYPD's School Safety Division the fifth largest police force in the country-larger than the police forces of Washington D.C., Detroit, Boston or Las Vegas--and yet there is no body of oversight for them.

Get involved! Join the coalition for this comprehensive workshop, detailing how to lobby your Council Member to pass essential legislation like the Student Safety Act.

Click here to learn more about the Student Safety Act.

For more information about the lobby training, and to RSVP for the training, contact Angela Jones at the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) at 212-607-3388 or Mention that you learned of the event from Teachers Unite!

Teachers Unite is building a movement of public school teachers who play a critical role in working for social justice. Our members contribute their insight and expertise as educators to grassroots organizing campaigns that demand justice in New York City communities, particularly in schools. Teachers Unite seeks to defend public education by rebuilding the relationship between teachers, students, families and communities as partners building power for social change.

Become a member! Define your role as a teacher, build strength in numbers, support our work and receive discounts and promotions from IndyKids, Panade Bakery, Punk Rope and Rethinking Schools.

Dues are $50 per year. Send your check, payable to Teachers Unite, to: Teachers Unite, c/o Brecht Forum, 451 West St., New York, NY 10014

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