Yesterday, I aired some of MORE's laundry on here. The airing was a response to a decision they made to shut down one of their lists. Because the decision appeared to be made suddenly, and because the list was also shut down suddenly (very shortly after after their announcement was made), I posted the message (along with my response and my goodbye).
That post was seen as an attack (it was not an attack. It was a rebuke. Please see the full post here) but it helped lead to a flurry of emails, telephone calls, text messages, G-Chats within MORE which eventually lead to a review, then a reversal, of their decision. My understanding is that people within MORE who rarely spoke found themselves having long phone conversations last night, explanations about the decision, which weren't initially offered, were offered (in great detail) and some longer term issues which I thought would never be addressed, were suddenly put on the table.
So today, on the newly recreated MORE planning listserv, this message was sent. I posting it her (with permission from a Steering Committee member) with the hope that everyone who read yesterday's post will read this one.
We are sorry for the way we handled the closing down of this list serve. It was done in a hasty, non-democratic fashion and we apologize sincerely. It was never our intent to offend anyone or make you think you no longer count in MORE. It was a mistake to send out an email on a list and then immediately close that list to all discussion. For that we apologize, we are very sorry. This list has already been reactivated and you will get advance notice to any changes
Steering committee made the decision to change from a planning list to a discussion list in order to involve MORE people. It is not fair to our membership to have an internal list where certain conversations go on that others are not privy to. This planning list as it currently stands consists of people who came to MORE at the beginning and are not really active anymore, as well as others who are very active. There was no real process for getting on the list other than "if you were doing work it made sense for you to be on it." Not very democratic, but obviously nothing malicious, and now we are more organized and need a clearer process.
The discussion list will be the same as the old planning list, open for all discourse and debate, and in fact we encourage it, as long as it's in a respectful tone.There will be an internal steering list to hammer out the minutia of setting up meeting dates, conference calls, and approve press releases and/or statements. We are doing this so as not to bombard people's emails which seems to be the case, therefore much of the correspondence goes unread by so many. If membership feels, including all of us on this list, that all emails ought to be transparent we can arrange that too. The steering committee was democratically elected and is only a 6 month term, so there is always room for change.
There needs to be room for discussion of differences that exists among the members of MORE and we all must work harder to ensure this discussion continues to happen.
We have formed committees in order to organize the work of MORE and involve as many UFTers as possible in the work of the union. See below for the list and contact info (from the weekly update) of our committees:
The high stakes testing committee was formed to challenge the high stakes testing regime that it is destroying our public school system, and is at the heart of the assault on teachers and students alike.
The newsletter committee exists to give us a publication we can get into our members boxes because there are so many great writers in MORE and every great change is led by it's literary heroes, including a change in UFT leadership. This is a trusted and tried way of educating, organizing, and mobilizing.
The chapter organizing committee was initiated because it was felt that after the election we must help people by building strong chapters, or as in we say in old trade unionism "organize the shop first". In order for MORE to gain victory we will need chapter leaders, delegates, and organizers who can protect their own in schools.
We began the contract committee because we all know that when a new mayor steps in, municipal worker contracts will be the first order of business. MORE must have a vision ready to deliver, because we all know in the past (and most recently with evals) leadership is ready to give away the farm and concede on anything. MORE must be prepared to lead the conversation on what a good contract entails and a vote no campaign is necessary.
The media committee is in charge of putting out content for our blogs, statements, producing videos,and responding to press requests. There have been many great contributors so far and we always need more. Our blog and social media has brought us great notoriety and after watching the events in Occupy, the Arab Spring, and Union protests through-out Europe, we all can agree in the importance of twitter, facebook, and blogging in bringing about great change of any kind.
If there is something you feel passionately about that
is not covered by these committees, by all means start one up and we will offer all our platforms to help you promote it or join one of these committees. MORE needs all the help it can get.
Hopefully we have set the record straight. There will be an open, transparent, email list where all discourse and debate is welcome by all members of MORE. We deeply regret the move yesterday to close the list, sorry, and we hope everyone here continues to be active on the email list and with one of the committees
The MORE Steering Committee
Just three thoughts to share about this. 1) I believe every word of it. It's in line with everything I've heard and read about the issue yesterday. 2) It takes a commitment to integrity to publicly acknowledge your mistakes. These folks deserve a lot of credit for sending this out and for sending it out so quick. 3) This wasn't an email that was just put together by one person who felt bad for me or others. I've been reading emails from MORE people for some time now and I am able to identify the writing styles of no less than three different people from their steering committee in this message. This acknowledgment of the foul up seems to be the result of a group effort. So kuods to MORE. That says something about the integrity of people within that group.
Post Script (but a very important one): I also pointed a finger at steering committee members who are part of the International Socialists Organization. In my post, I wrote that these people seemed to be taking over MORE. I shouldn't have gone there and, in fact, I should address two things about that tact: 1) It was, apparently, factually inaccurate. After my post, it was brought to my attention that only three people on that committee belong to the ISO. 2) It was a very misplaced label. A more appropriate label would might have sounded more like 'people from the left' or 'the 'social justice' crowd within MORE'. The ISO person who spoke with me today was, rightfully, upset at that salvo. In fact, as my therapist always says, labels are something you want to stay away from in general anyway. And so I apologize for it.
That reference, however, opens up a whole can of worms that is just too big for me to understand or deal with. The issue of how a union caucus addresses something called Social Justice Unionism, as opposed to Trade Unionism, has been talked about from the outside quite often. You can see some examples of some smart people trying to address this underlying issue here (and here and here and here (and here on Ednotes)). Unfortunately, that discussion hasn't been so robust within MORE itself. Meanwhile, I have observed that the differences, having not being addressed directly, tend to materialize from time to time in the form cognitive dissonance, or grumblings, or disagreement over an issue that is being addressed or, like my take on their move yesterday, misplaced suspicions of some very well intentioned and well-meaning people.
Like any healthy organization, MORE has some issues that they will, eventually, have to address. But those issues are way too big for me to understand or want to deal with or even want to be near as they're being dealt with. So while I wait for people who might be identified as the 'social justice' wing be more willing to have that larger discussion, and as I wait for people who might be identified as the Trade Union wing figure out how to open their mouth and speak up when it counts (when an issue is actually being discussed), I'm still going to be a former member of MORE (sorry folks: I already have a job that consumes all of my time and thoughts and it's way more fun than union stuff.). But (taking the advice of one MORE person who was kind enough to send me an email today) I'll be listening, and I hope to see those issues resolved sometime soon.