There is a disconnect between the UFT leadership and rank and file membership. As a result, there is a void and that void has to be filled at a time when unions and labor movements are being attacked and destroyed by unfriendly forces. Right wingers and ed deformers are aggressively pushing to disrupt and destabilize public education. Under my leadership and backing from my colleagues on the Movement Of Rank and File Educators (MORE) slate we will continue to speak up and challenge systemic oppression in public ed.The UFT leadership has shown utter silence if not total disregard on what matters to our students, teachers, parents, and communities. The union must move away from being a political action committee and resume its role as a union that truly represents the interests of its members. Workplace rights and workers’ rights are our priorities. I affirm that, when I am elected as President of the UFT on April 17th, 2019 I will continue to advocate and fight for our schools that students, parents, and educators deserve.
There is no mincing of words when I declare that social justice matters in public education and it matters now more than ever. The UFT leadership should not dance around these issues. That is why I am running on the social justice slate of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) in the UFT elections. We are a collective of educators ranging from Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists to Counselors and Social Workers to Classroom Teachers to Paraprofessionals to School Secretaries to all of the other members of our union.
Our caucus is also a part of a nationwide collective called the United Caucus of Rank and File Educators (UCORE). We are fighting for social justice in many states: Arizona, California, Colorado, and North Carolina, to name a few, and here at home in New York.
Our students and educators deserve better. Our students and educators deserve schools more, and the MORE Caucus at the helm of the UFT leadershi. Our students and educators deserve schools low student to counselor ratios. Our schools deserve more counselors and restorative justice coordinators. Each school must be rated on the equitable hiring practice by principals and on the retention of Black, Asian and Latinx educators. Culturally Relevant Curriculum must be implemented in each school and measured by the scorecard developed by New York University (NYU). In addition, resources must match the demographics of student populations in individual schools. The UFT does not have a contract that addresses pay parity for Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists. The UFT leadership has used parliamentary maneuvers to avoid a vote from the UFT Delegate Assembly on the Black Lives Matter at School resolution two years in a row. Black Lives really matter in our schools as we have seen the significance every February from the increasing participation in our nationwide BLM at school Week of action. The MORE Caucus is the only caucus out of four caucuses which supports and endorses BLM At School.
Our schools and our students deserve better. The union has demonstrated a deafening silence on the issue of the disappearance of Black and Latinx teachers- forced out by bullying administrators, school closures, gentrification, and Fair Student Funding (FSF). Fair Student Funding give administrators the autonomy to hire new teachers rather than veteran teachers with expertise and experience -an action that puts less pressure on their (principal’s) budget. This is one of many examples of the savage inequality in education, in this regards while the UFT leadership is sound asleep. This is an issue that for too long has been ignored, despite the findings of studies from the American Federation of Teachers and Teachers Unite where it has been determined that students who are taught by educators who share their culture perform better, when compared to being taught by educators who are from a different culture and or ignorant about their students’ culture.
It’s time to change the leadership when members in every borough are subject to harassment from supervisors, and the union does very little if anything to protect members/victims. Forget about the “strong contract” emphasized by leadership when probationary teachers and vulnerable staff members are scared to file a grievance and when chapter leaders and district representatives are unsupportive, and conduct themselves like toothless tigers. Calls to activate and publish the names of abusive administrators have been ignored. I will have this list ready on Day One when I am elected as the president of the UFT. Finally in the next contract in 2022 it will be brought to negotiations that when educators are brought up on termination charges the principal must be physically present at the venue of the 3020 hearing.
Parents, guardians, caregivers and educators please look at what is happening around you in the communities where you live,work or travel back and forth. Is there systemic racism and oppression? Is there gentrification? Are any of your students homeless? Are students’ suspensions on the rise? Do you have space for art, music, a library, and an OT/PT room at your neighborhood school? What about oversized classes? Are you nervous to talk about any of this? Are your ICT classes in compliance? Does the paraprofessional have a duty free lunch? Are educators being forced to have meetings on their lunch hour- which is a sacred period -protected by federal law- and must not be interfered with? Are educators being asked to give up their preps? Do your children have adequate scholastic materials and resources and supports for Social Emotional Learning? Would you like to advocate for your students,as a parent or educator but you are scared? Is there a functioning School Leadership Team(SLT) in your school? Is there Culturally Relevant Education (CRE) curriculum in your school? Are your students being provided with food that match their religious affiliations and dietary restrictions ? These questions should be asked constantly so that our schools can function adequately.
The MORE slate is here to advocate and agitate for students,educators,parents and the communities we serve. Under our leadership, we will lead the UFT to the position where our working conditions will equate with our students’ learning conditions. We have worked with parents,activists and communities for years and we will continue building bridges with our union and the communities we serve. If you are an educator it is important that you vote in this election. Vote for MORE UFT and put an X on the ballot for the whole slate.
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