CHAPTERS' BEST DEFENSE IS FOR MEMBERS TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER
by James Eterno, Chapter Leader, Jamaica High School
The Chief Leader civil service newspaper reported last week that there was a substantial increase in the number of teachers rated unsatisfactory in NYC public schools. In 2006-07 there were 1,333 teachers rated unsatisfactory compared to 981 the previous year. This amounts to a 36% increase in U ratings over the span of just one year.
Of the 1,333 rated U last year, The Chief reported that 918 were tenured up from 662 the year before. This means the increase in tenured teachers rated U is 39% over that same one year period. Also, the number of teachers denied tenure more than doubled last year when compared to the previous year and the amount of teachers who had probation extended increased almost fourfold in 2006-07. While statistical changes over one year are hard to use scientifically, it is fairly clear that the Bloomberg-Klein administration armed for a full school year with a new Contract that severely weakened our rights (no more letter in file grievances, suspension without pay, etc...) is using its punitive provisions to unfairly blame teachers for problems in education. We cannot wait for another increase in U ratings before we fight back assertively.
When the attack on teachers comes to your school, your only defense is to be a strong Union Chapter. Union solidarity has been tried in many ways since Bloomberg and Klein took over control of the schools. In too many schools, the UFT Chapter is now a union in name only. The grassroots level UFT will be tested over and over again in the coming months as Klein's "gotcha" squad of prosecuting attorneys and the data driven accountability system will most likely lead to an acceleration of the unwarranted attacks on educators.
ICE urges all UFT members to aggressively enforce all Contractual rights immediately by filing and supporting grievances as well as taking whatever other actions are possible when the Contract is not adhered to by administration (see the November 19 post on this blog). If we do not stand up for each other and protect what rights we have left, the consequences will be dire. We must stick together by fighting collectively if we are to survive.
If members are in a Chapter where they do not believe they can get support from their Chapter Leader, then they need to form their own groups of UFT members and work together to uphold their collective rights. If anyone needs help, please contact ICE and we will do what we can to assist. If we show the Chancellor, the Mayor and UFT leadership that we are not going to take unwarranted attacks against us lying down, they will have to start to seriously reckon with us.
Don't expect Randi to bail us out. We must begin the counterattack ourselves at the school level and then force the UFT leadership to climb on board.