I was very surprised when I received the final report of the School Governance committee in the mail because it stated that the plan had received unanimous approval. I emailed Carmen and Emil to clarify that I hadn't supported it at the March 7th meeting when there had been a vote. Joan S and I voted NO. At the following meeting on March 12th, the final documents were presented for approval. However, since this was the same night as Parent /Teacher Conferences in the Elementary schools, many of the committee members (including myself) were not present. Therefore it was impossible to correct the report stating that there was unanimous support. Why would a committee that had been meeting for weeks have the last meeting to finalize its work on a day when so many of the members could not attend?
At the fiasco March 20th DA, a member got up and stated that I must be lying because according to this member, I said I voted NO at the March 12 meeting and I also said I was not at the March 12th meeting.
NO, that clearly was NOT what I said. The chairs of the committee knew that was not what I said. They also knew that the vote had taken place at the March 7th meeting, not March 12th. I was not allowed a point of personal privilege to clarify this distortion and both of the chairs of the committee remained silent on this point as well.
So let’s be clear here. My integrity is intact. Anyone who calls me a liar anonymously is the individual with the questionable integrity.
As a long time, proud UFT member, I have absolutely no reason to invent reasons for critiquing the leadership of my union. UNITY’s UFT leadership does that for itself (doenut note: She's a got point there! #justsaying). Supporting Mayoral Control clearly has been a mistake. Giving up our seniority transfer rights has led to the horrible ATR pool of members forced to go from school to school every week. Allowing high stake test scores to be part of teacher evaluations is not in the best interests of teachers or students. And when the new evaluation system is put into place, it will be good-bye to fair teacher tenure protections as we now know them. Our union agreed to merit pay in the form of school-wide bonus plans despite studies documenting that merit pay fails to improve student achievement. Lawsuits and arbitration settlements can be important tools in fighting against the DOE’s irresponsible policies but without strong and organized school chapters, (which we do not now have) legal victories are temporary or weak at best. And finally, as our country’s educational policies have morphed into a plan to privatize public education, the union leadership has consistently tried to be part of that plan rather than fight for what’s best for teachers and students. Active support for RTTT and Common Core are two examples of national policies that have jeopardized our schools, unions and communities.
School Governance that allows for powerful decision making capacity to come from the school communities themselves is the only way to fight against these policies and to create the schools we want for our children. Mayoral Control, no matter how it is tweaked, does not allow this to happen.
Democracy has to start in our own union hall. Attacking a long time member who has consistently fought teachers and students is not the way to go about it. Some of my UNITY colleagues may not agree with my view on how our union should be run, but it would be hard to find anyone to dispute my honesty, and my hard and consistent work supporting the members at my school as Chapter Leader and before that the Educator Evaluators as a delegate. And I have successfully brought many members out for rallies, marches and PEP meetings to fight the attacks on our schools.
A full discussion about the merits of the final governance plan may have been fruitful (even though we know it would have been approved anyway) but attacking a member at the March 20th DA only served to make our union hall look small and petty, and even less democratic than usual.
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