Bianca Tanis is a parent activist who is one of the founders of New York State Allies for Public Education. She is one of the leaders of the highly successful opt-out from standardized testing movement in New York State. She is also a teacher and union activist. Bianca is running in the New York State United Teachers election this April for the position of Executive Vice President on the Stronger Together slate.
Bianca is new to politics and the messy world of Andy Pallotta, Michael Mulgrew, Randi Weingarten's Unity Caucus where Unity takes credit for basically everything but the parting of the Red Sea and putting a man on the Moon. Bianca on her blog writes a thorough analysis of Unity's many claims of victory and she debunks them in scrupulous detail. Her piece should be required reading for every public school teacher in the country, particularly for Delegates to the NYSUT Representative Assembly who can vote in the election.
First the introduction:
The essential work of our public schools is being undermined by a “test and punish” agenda whose intent is to dismantle the teaching profession and subject our schools to free-market reforms. NYSUT has the power to lead us away from this dead-end, towards a child-centered model that empowers teachers and provides students and schools with equitable resources and opportunities for success. My experience as an educator working under the current test and punish policies and as a founding member of NYSAPE has led me to believe that in order for NYSUT to accomplish this and truly mobilize the collective power of its membership, new leadership is needed. That is why I am running for Executive Vice President of NYSUT as part of the Stronger Together Slate along with Mike Lillis (President), Megan DeLaRosa (First Vice President), and Nate Hathaway (Secretary Treasurer). We are running against a slate that includes members of the current NYSUT leadership on behalf of the Unity Caucus.
The Unity Caucus has released their campaign platform as well as pleas for a “clean campaign.” I would argue that a clean campaign does not include remaining silent when your opponent attempts to stretch the truth. This is especially true when these murky “truths” lay claim to the efforts of the parents and rank and file teachers who have spent numerous lunch hours, late nights, and weekends devoted to advocating for the needs and well-being of children with little to no support from the current NYSUT officers on the Unity slate. Even more concerning, several of the achievements highlighted by the Unity Caucus serve to perpetuate the myth that legislative tweaks have ameliorated the negative impact of high stakes testing for students when the opposite is true.
This is followed by the details on Unity's exaggerations on legislative achievements, changes at the Board of Regents, student data collection and then Bianca gets to opting out from testing. Here, she knocks it out of the park:
Unity lists the following platforms:
“We fully support a parent’s right to opt their children out of the state ELA and math assessments, including a member’s right to opt-out their own children.”
A Unity leaflet was made public in June of 2016 calling educators supporting opt out “reckless and feckless.” The public release of this letter resulted in an open letter from NYSAPE, a grassroots coalition of fifty parent and educator groups, rebuking this position. Additionally, on December 13 , 2016, NYSAPE leaders met with Andy Pallotta, Michael Mulgrew, and Randi Weingarten in an effort to seek out common ground that would allow us to work together to push back against the escalating attacks on public education. We urged them to support the opt out movement as it has been the most effective means of effecting change that benefits both teachers and students. NYSAPE leaders explained that students in NYS were still suffering under the weight of high stakes testing and we urged them to take a stronger stand for our children. At a delegate assembly meeting one day later, Michael Mulgrew called opt out “dangerous.”
That's everything you need to know about Unity Caucus in one paragraph. Bianca is way too kind in saying they are just stretching the truth.
In NYC, we have to expose Unity's bought and paid for UFT Representative Assembly Delegates. NYC Educator noted they are being given over $600 each to travel from their homes in and around the five boroughs to Manhattan to attend the RA to obey their loyalty oath by voting for Unity. Find out if your Chapter Leader is Unity and demand he/she represent you and not Mulgrew.
Please read Bianca's entire piece. I only hit on some highlights. Then, tell anyone you know who has a vote in this election to vote for Stronger Together.