At the November 7, 2007 Delegate Assembly Meeting, UFT President Randi Weingarten motivated two amendments to a resolution that basically criticized the report card grades that the Department of Education is giving schools. She made a long argument about how the UFT would oppose any school being closed based on the report card data and said she would support schools who want to challenge their grade with Union actions. She turned down a similar request on fighting school potential school closings with Union actions just three weeks earlier.
Specifically the first of Randi's "President's Amendments" called for alternative accountability measures that would be fair and more transparent than the report cards that came out last week that gave schools an overall grade of A to F.
The second amendment read as follows: "That, the UFT will support any school community that believes its score on the progress reports was not a fair or accurate reflection of the school's achievement or the hard work of it's educators; that support could involve appeals, demonstrations and other actions." This wording sounds somewhat familiar. A few weeks earlier at the October DA, Jeff Kauffman introduced two amendments to a resolution on Absent Teacher Reserves.
The original resolved clause in an October 18 DA resolution talked about a hiring freeze until all ATR's are placed in a regular position. ICE added two new resolved clauses as amendments to this resolution. The first one tried to strengthen the UFT's position on school closings so that the closing of schools would be banned until it was proven to be educationally sound. The second ICE amendment said: "Resolved, that the UFT use all available means including a publicity campaign, a mobilization of the membership, an appeal to the City Council, the State Legislature and the State Education Department to put maximum pressure on the Department of Education to implement the above Resolved clauses." The Unity Caucus majority turned down these amendments on October 18. Randi gave a speech saying we have lost the fight in court on schools being closed.
Fast forward three weeks and now Randi is writing her own amendments saying that the UFT will take strong actions to protect schools that feel they are being unjustly graded. Remember Chancellor Joel Klein has said that he would close schools based on negative report card grades. Thanks Randi, it's good to have you taking an ICE like position on fighting actively to oppose failing grades that could lead to the closing of schools.
We would gladly welcome Randi to take the ICE position on fighting to win back all of the horrific givebacks from the 2005 punitive Contract such as ending merit pay and starting school for us after Labor Day so schools can be fully prepared to open. In addition, we would welcome Randi's support to help us win back the right to grieve negative file letters and observations, bring back seniority and/or School Based Option Transfers and get us out of hall and cafeteria patrol as well as ending suspension without pay based on biased Office of Special Investigations Reports.
In other DA news, ICE had its own resolution to present on Merit Pay that we did not get a chance to bring forward at the November DA because Randi ran the clock out on the ten minute motion period, allowing just one motion to be brought up.
Members of ICE also pointed out that a resolution that would help mobilize UFT members to support disaster relief efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic left out victims of recent hurricanes in Mexico, Jamaica and other countries in the Caribbean. When this resolution was finally raised, there were very few delegates remaining in the hall and Jeff Kaufman called for a quorum (A quorum is the minimum amount of members necessary to conduct business and for UFT bodies that means 20%.) The quorum call was ignored by Special Assistant to the President Michael Mendel who at this time was chairing the meeting as Randi had left for another engagement. (We saw her about an hour later on NY1's Inside City Hall program.) The original resolution passed but Mendel did come to us after the meeting to assure members of ICE that he would draft a new resolution that would encompass all hurricane victims to be included in the UFT disaster relief efforts.