We have been informed that the November 24 Rally to Defend ATRs is now to be officially a "candlelight vigil." We strongly object to this change. The motion passed at the UFT delegate assembly October 15 said that "the UFT will organize a mass citywide rally to show our unity and strength." Instead of a show of strength, this turns it into a toothless gesture of "bearing witness" or silently standing by and observing as a travesty is taking place.
Furthermore, we were not consulted on this change, which was made without our knowledge, despite assurances from Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew that we would be included in the planning. The first we heard of this was in a changed rally leaflet we received this morning.
A candlelight vigil is a silent "protest at the suffering of some marginalized group of people, or in memory of lives lost to some disease, disaster, massacre or other tragedy."
We want to make precisely the opposite point -- that ATR teachers are not marginalized, that we stand by them, and the UFT will fight to ensure that they do not become "lost lives," a "massacre," a "disaster" or other "tragedy." We can "bear witness" all we want, but it won't stop Joel Klein from trying to drive out our colleagues. And it won't stop the likes of the New York Post from vilifying them and our union.
We will continue to plan for a mass citywide rally as "a show of our unity and strength" as the motion called for. I think many teachers will feel as we do that we need strong powerful action, and will not stand by in silence.
In the words of Joe Hill, the famous labor organizer, "Don't Mourn For Me--Organize!"
That is what we will continue to do and we encourage the UFT leadership to reconsider its plan.
for the Ad Hoc Committee to Defend ATRs