by James Eterno UFT Chapter Leader Jamaica High School
We criticize the UFT leaders when we believe they are wrong but we should also applaud them when they do right by us as they did today. There is no doubt at all that UFT President Randi Weingarten was 100% supportive today with regard to events happening at Jamaica High School.
Jamaica was in the news because of a leaked memo from last spring that directed deans not to call 911. Unfortunately, a girl suffered a stroke after this memo was put out and there was a delay in her receiving help because of the ridiculous directive.
We fought the directive and it was soon thereafter reversed with the help of the UFT.
Now that the issue has hit the news in full force, the UFT leadership has been in our corner at Jamaica. Randi spoke to me twice this afternoon and she also had Chris Policano and Ron Davis from the UFT communication's department talk to me. In addition, they were very encouraging when I was talking to the media.
Even though I ended up on the cutting room floor at CNN, I felt completely supported by the UFT leadership as well as ICE as Jeff Kaufman provided valuable advice too. The statement from the UFT President is printed below.
Statement by United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:
"What happened at Jamaica High School is a horrible consequence of the pressure many school communities, particularly principals, feel to not report serious incidents in their schools or to minimize their significance in order to avoid schools being labeled as ineffective or persistently dangerous. For a school administrator to forbid calls to 911 shows how far one can stray from common sense and basic decency when the system is set up to discourage the reporting of incidents in schools.
"Accountability systems -- school report cards, for example -- must give credit for complete reporting of incidents, not penalize it. We must reverse the "Catch-22" that now exists, in which schools that step up and report incidents are punished. The system needs real incentives that make it possible for administrators to be open and honest about what is going on so that their schools can get the help and resources they need and parents can make informed decisions regarding their children's well-being."