Strike a chord for a democratic way of doing things. As of March 1, The MORE candidate for UFT president, Jia Lee (whom I wholeheartedly support), is not part of the leadership Steering Committee of the caucus. This means the caucus' decision making processes aren't directly connected with the candidate who we would all like to preside over the UFT.
'How can that be?' you may ask. 'Doesn't a presidential candidate call all of the shots?'Not exactly. Democracy doesn't always require a cult of personality type in order to function. Hearing all voices means that it doesn't really matter who steers the caucus: The caucus members steer it. We all know what the caucus stands for because, well, we're the ones who are standing. That's a pretty cool way to do things and it's the kind of rank-and-file driven leadership that Jia will bring to the whole UFT.
That's not the structure the UFT's Unity Caucus has. Many of those folks, as wonderful as they are, have been so left out of the leadership loop that they aren't quite sure what the caucus stands for and have surely not been able to carry an issue to their caucus for consideration. The UFT does great things but that's not a way to run a caucus and expect a union that is strong enough to do things like carry the endorsements they make to actual electoral success (the last time they picked a mayoral winner was 1989).
Anyway, I digress. Here is the list of MORE's *New* Steering Committee Members. A new one will be chosen after six months. If you want to be on it, all you have to do is join the caucus and take part in the effort.
The new committee will take over from current steering on March 1 for a six month term that will run through August 2016.
Meet the new MOREUFT Steering Committee:
Cayden Betzig is a first year teacher at Eagle Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Prior to beginning his lead teaching career this school year he spent five years working in NYC and DC public schools as a teacher’s aid. As a student at NYU he campaigned vigorously for educational justice. He coordinated a campaign demanding that the university prioritize financial aid over real estate expansion. He also founded the NYU Public Education Project a group of preservice teachers dedicated to social justice. He is passionate about moving MORE and the UFT to be a truly democratic organization that represents all teachers especially teachers of color and the untenured.
Erik Forman is a second year ESL and Social Studies teacher and current Chapter Leader at the High School for Language and Innovation in the former Columbus High School building in the Bronx. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade, teaching Adult ESL, substitute teaching, and teaching at a university in China. Before his life as an educator, Erik spent seven years participating in groundbreaking campaigns to unionize the US fast food industry with the Industrial Workers of the World. He wants to build the schools students deserve and the union teachers need.
Ashraya Gupta: UFT Delegate and Chemistry teacher at Harvest Collegiate High School, Manhattan. “We deserve a democratic union, representative of our members. For too long, teacher interests have been cast as oppositional to student interests. But our union should make it clear that our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Let’s be the union we wish to see.”
Peter Lamphere Teaches math and robotics at Gregorio Luperón HS in Manhattan. During four UFT elections since 2004, he has learned the need to prioritize building a strong base and organization through our campaign. Throughout the fall he has focused on developing literature, fundraising and outreach plans, including a strong fall conference and membership drive. Also, he will continue to develop MORE’s organizing committee and the database of thousands of contacts we maintain, and contribute to local organizing in Washington Heights. He has a long record as a MORE/UFT activist, Chapter Leader and Delegate. But more important is a commitment to MORE’s social justice unionism model. This means that we can’t win against the deformers without broader support from families, communities and working people generally. We need not only parent and community support of our demands but also to support wider working class fights against budget cuts, for #BlackLivesMatter, and so on.
Janice Manning is currently a fifth grade Special Education Teacher in an Integrated Co Teaching Classroom at P.S. 503 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She started her teaching career as a fourth grade teacher in Fort Worth, Texas. After teaching in Fort Worth for a year, she taught English as a foreign language in Znamenka, Ukraine as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She is passionate about working with other educators to organize ways to improve education for ALL students.
Kevin Prosen is chapter leader at I.S. 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens. He campaigned as part of MORE’s slate for the executive board in the 2013 UFT elections, and has organized mass grievance campaigns at his school involving up to 35 members of his chapter. He has been active in the MORE chapter organizing committee and has been organizing outreach to other chapter leaders in the city. His writings on UFT issues have appeared in Jacobin and Socialist Worker.
Roberta Reid, a native New Yorker, presently resides in the Bronx. She made a mid-life career change, returning to study and complete her Bachelor of Art degree at Lehman College of the City of New York to go into the Education Profession. Her service with the Department of Education of the City of New York commenced in 1991 as a Common Branch teacher, first, at CS 198, then at the Mohegan School, both schools in District 12 in the Bronx. In 2008, she ran unsuccessfully for Chapter Leader at CS67, Bronx. Roberta's career covered a span of 22.5 years until her retirement in June 2014. In May 2015, she made a first time run for the Delegate Assembly of the UFT Retired Teacher Chapter as an independent, garnering an impressive 151 votes. She has always viewed social justice and equity as vital components of what the profession represents.
Mindy Rosier is a native New Yorker who graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education and Fordham University with an M.S. Ed in Early Childhood Special Education. She has been a teacher for 17 years, including 3 years at the NY Foundling Hospital and currently 8 years with the Department of Education in a District 75 school. After seeing the hardships that her school has endured and after researching the education system itself, she became active to promote an improvement in the quality of education for all children.
Mike Schirtzer: UFT Delegate and Social Studies teacher at Leon M. Goldstein High School, Brooklyn: “We Need New Leadership!” “Classroom teachers need a voice in our union and we will be that voice on the UFT Executive Board. Our leadership negotiated a poor contract, worse than other city unions. Micromanagement, Danielson, and 1% raises with delayed retro is not what teachers want or need.”