Sunday, April 11, 2010


NOTE: This blog is a repository of information with a variety of viewpoints, makes no commentary and is useful as a source of information.

FROM Teachers for a Just Contract

The Lobis decision, which found that the City significantly violated state laws in the decision making process to close nineteen schools, gives the UFT a short period of time - how short is yet unknown - to build the movement against school closings it has so far failed to do. If it seizes this opportunity, the court decision is a victory. If, on the other hand, the UFT leadership convinces the members that this decision means we can passively rely on the courts to stop school closings, it will be a squandered opportunity, most if not all of the affected schools will be closed, and it won't be any victory at all.

To understand why legal tactics alone are inadequate, we have to understand - first of all - why this case was brought in the first place, why politicians and groups like the NAACP supported it, and why the judge had to overturn the City's decision making process and call for one with "meaningful community involvement." The reason is that teachers, students, parents, and their supporters turned out in great numbers, to protest the plans. There were protests and demonstrations at individual schools, at hearings, and at the Mayor's residence. The UFT leadership organized only one of these, at Brooklyn Tech H.S., for the PEP vote. Even that one was built mainly by the grassroots, with minimal support from the central union. Without these grassroots direct actions, this court decision would not have happened.

We have to understand - second of all - how limited this decision is on its own. Most glaringly, the City plans to appeal it and it may be overturned very quickly at the appellate level. Even if it is upheld, it simply requires the City to go by the correct procedure in closings these schools. Therefore, the decision's effect may be nothing more than a six-month delay in the closings, the amount of time the decision process requires. To quote the NY Times, the decision ". . . did not dispute the city's right to close the schools . . ." How effective the decision will be in achieving even that brief reprieve is thrown into question by the fact that the Department of Education is barreling ahead with plans to open new charter schools in at least some of the 19 "reprieved" schools.

This court decision makes militant mobilization against school closings more critical than ever to pressure the higher court to uphold the decision. In the long run, a movement is needed to create a political and social climate in which school closings are recognized as one of the problems of current education, not part of their solution.

If the union organizes this movement, the Lobis decision will mark a victory. If not, the decision will mark merely a speed bump on our union's downhill race to the bottom.

Please join us to unwind from a hard week. Meet other UFT members and share your thoughts, problems, ideas, unbelievable stories. We'll be at The Cherry Tree Bar, 65 4th Avenue, between Bergen Street and St.Marks Place, two blocks south of the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street stop on the B, D, N, R, 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains. Please reply to this email to RSVP so we know how many tables to reserve. We look forward to seeing you on April 30.

New TJC Leaflet:
(for a pdf or copies of this leaflet, reply to this email.)

State Restructuring is Union Busting!
On January 21, 2010, the State Education Department announced a list of schools it plans to close or restructure, 34 of which are in NYC. This plan is part of NYS's attempt to win a grant from the Obama Administration's "Race to the Top" funds.

Each school will be closed, or subjected to one of three models for restructuring. The DOE will decide each school's fate. Every one of the restructuring models poses a deadly threat to the professional and union protections of the UFT members in these schools

In the more than two months since this announcement, the UFT has failed to take any stand opposed to these plans, let alone take any steps to protect UFT members in these schools.

. The "restart" model converts the school into a charter. Members in these schools could lose all of their union and legal protections, including tenure, due process, benefits, and salary.

The "turnaround" model mandates that all the members in the school be excessed, made into ATRs, and no more than half of them may be re-hired into the school.

The "transformation" model leads to many changes in the contract for the members in that school, and may include a longer day, increased supervision, and the weakening of tenure and due process rights.

Yet, in the face of all these threats, affecting thousands of UFT members in dozens of schools, the UFT leadership has offered not a word of opposition, let alone any actions to stop this union-busting plan.

The UFT Must Build a Movement to Protect Tenure and Due Process! End the 2nd Class status of ATRs! Stop the Mindless Proliferation of Charters! Prevent Additional Time!
The UFT leadership must take a stand against this State list, and mobilize the members at these schools against the State, demanding the end of this list, to save our schools, our rights and our union.

To print leaflets and mail them out takes funds. Please contribute. Make a check out to Teachers for a Just Contract and mail it to TJC, Post Office Box 545, New York, NY 10028
Notes from the January Delegate Assembly
What do a jumbotron, a reframing and a circus all have in common? How did Michael Mulgrew defend Randi Weingarten's speech in which she advocated more managerial scrutiny of teachers, and fewer rights and protections? For the answer to these and other completely unamusing riddles, read Marian Swerdlow's notes from the January 2010 UFT Delegate Assembly. Reply to this email and ask for January D.A. notes.
We are now on Facebook with the name Just Contract. Friend us and check out our great pictures of our actions and events, including some of our recent fundraiser in Upper Manhattan.

From Mark Torres
sisters and brothers,

i agree with most of what is written above except that we cannot count on the uft to create a victory out of this court decision. since the days of al shanker and the uft's derailing of community control, the uft has consistently worked against building a movement for educational justice. in fact, the union has consistently done everything in its power to maintain "white" control of the uft and of the educational system. just look at the recruiting patterns for the teaching profession, which has the full endorsement of the union. also, look at the pattern of placing black and latino educators and school staff in the "rubber rooms" as a way of abetting the disappearance of black and latino educators. what has the union done for anyone in the "rubber rooms," whether it be european-americans, asians, blacks or latinos?

the ruling group in the uft-the unity caucus- will support any scheme that keeps the union "white" and that keeps the educational system anti-community (anti-black and latino). our children are 2/3 of the students in this system of mis-education and yet we have no real voice in the educational decision making process.

the only voice we have is in the streets, at the "rubber stamping" public hearings and the voice we create at each school ourselves. the coalition for public education/coalicion por la educacion publica is clear on the racism that goes on in the uft, the department of mis-education, and in city hall. as we do our work we must keep in mind that we are not just fighting charter school invasions, school closings or any other particular issue but we are also waging a war against racism, sexism and class oppression.

no group who really wants to defend and improve public education is serious unless they take on these issues up front. we can't fight this thing around the edges, we must be strong enough and honest enough to identify our fight as what it is and not create false illusions for our movement. as we become clearer about our need to build a human rights based education system and society we will be able to clarify our political-educational fight and take it to the enemy head on.

what we need to do is be clear with parents, students, educators, school staff, administrators and community folks about the need to step up our organizing because the court decision did not end our struggle but did what the courts traditionally do-attempt to take the energy out of our movement.

your brother in struggle,

Mark A. Torres
Co-chair, Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por la Educacion Publica
(212) 348-5732

"The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love."
Ernesto "Che" Guevara

"How can we get political power?"
"We have to organize the people of Harlem in a door by door campaign,
I mean door by door, house by house, people by people, person by person..."
Malcolm X

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