My family, including my wife and two young kids, all came to last Saturday's MORE meeting in Manhattan. MORE is the Movement of Rank and File Educators. It is the main group opposed to Michael Mulgrew's majority Unity Caucus. MORE is working in a coalition with long standing caucus New Action for the 2016 UFT election.
Oftentimes as MORE was growing the last few years, MORE meetings were little more than exercises in frustration. Many of were quite skeptical if the various different viewpoints within the organization could be reconciled to make a coherent movement. My wife and I stuck with it and after Saturday's gathering, we could pretty much say on the way home that the group is maturing. We didn't walk out in frustration; it was a productive meeting where there was a fairly healthy exchange about both process and product concerning the 2016 UFT Election.
MORE had divided into divisional committees (Elementary, Middle School and High School) to choose its candidates for the Divisional Executive Board and Vice President slots in the UFT Election. This after the caucus had already democratically decided that Jia Lee (conscientious objector to high stakes testing; Chapter Leader the Earth School) would be the standard bearer to run for UFT President. South Bronx School is the latest blogger to support Jia.
The process for picking the rest of the top slate was a healthy way to vet candidates and then choose who the group wants to represent them in the election. At the end of the committee presentations, MORE voted on the candidates. The next step is to present them in committee to our coalition partners at New Action and allot the seats. Since nothing is finalized yet except for the presidential candidate, I am not revealing anything about any candidates here in public.
The very difficult task of deciding a party platform was also tackled at the meeting. While I am not happy with 100% of what was approved, I am happy with about 95% of the document which mixes traditional trade unionism with a social justice focus so that if MORE is elected, it would lead to a stronger union and a better school system. Members were given a chance to look at the document which a committee put together in advance and propose amendments which many of us did. Again the process of trying to please the many constituencies within MORE was not easy but it was done quite democratically and openly. The debate at the meeting I thought was quite healthy.
Once MORE publishes the platform, we will print it in this space.
Contrast this group that is growing up with the state version of Unity Caucus, the majority political party in both the city and state teacher unions. Apparently, one of our union's leaders could find nothing better to talk about at a NYSUT Board of Directors meeting than this blog post which criticizes Unity in no uncertain terms. MORE is moving ahead while one the people who runs our state union is worried about what a blogger is writing. These are interesting times.