Wednesday, April 12, 2017


 It is perilous to one's career as a classroom teacher to stand up for your school, your students or your fellow educators these days.

This blog has reported on Marilyn Martinez at CPE1 in Manhattan who took on an abusive principal on behalf of her school and is now facing a termination hearing. It appears from this vantage point that Marilyn's main offense was to disagree with Principal Monika Garg, which is now a misdeed in the New York City school system where a teacher's job can be put on the line.

We have also noted how my wife UFT Delegate Camille Eterno has defended teachers and others at Humanities and the Arts Magnet High School in Queens against  a very abusive administration led by Kayode Ayetiwa and AP Matina Stergiopolous. Administration has retaliated by writing up Camille in a negative way because of her advocacy work. Camille is taking a childcare leave but the heat continues at the school. The Chapter Leader has been hospitilized and Camille is still receiving threatening letters and improper negative observation reports. We featured Humanities in the Arts as part of a piece on horrible administrators in Queens High Schools we did at the end of last year. Nothing I know of has improved since that time in any of the schools we wrote about.

Union activists should receive extra protection from their union but in 2017 activists are not safe. That has a chilling effect on the rank and file.

Being active in the opt out from testing movement is also now a dangerous career move if one is a teacher.

We can add our colleague in Chicago Sarah Chambers to the list of teacher union activists under attack. Chambers is facing a dismissal hearing. We hear that the awful crime she allegedly committed was encouraging a student to opt out of the state PARRC Exam.

This is from Chicago DNA Info.

LITTLE VILLAGE — A lauded special education teacher at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Little Village soon could be fired, and parents across the city are fighting her ouster. 

Sarah Chambers, an eight-year teacher at the school and a leader who has advocated for students with special needs across the city, has been suspended from her job, she confirmed last week. On Monday, Chicago Public Schools officials said they have moved to fire Chambers. 

In a statement, CPS officials said Chambers is accused of violating Illinois State Board of Education and Chicago Board of Education policies.

"Ms. Chambers engaged in misconduct that created cause to move to dismiss her," said Emily Bittner, a CPS spokeswoman.

Bittner declined to say what CPS policies Chambers allegedly violated. Chambers said she is accused of encouraging a student to opt out of the PARCC test, an annual standardized test given to students in third through eighth grades and high school, a charge she denies. 

Chambers said Saucedo parents come from a "strong activist culture" and make their own decision to opt out of PARCC testing.

Chambers now can present her case against dismissal to an independent Illinois State Board of Education hearing officer. A hearing has not been scheduled, a Chicago Teachers Union official said. 

The union said CPS is moving to fire Chambers for criticizing CPS, and it will fight the firing, union spokesman Ronnie Reese said. 

When news of Chambers' suspension spread, parents and teachers launched a petition online in support of her, urging CPS not to fire the "distinguished, award-winning teacher."

Within 24 hours, more than 1,000 people had signed the petition. As of Tuesday morning, more than 2,100 people had signed.

Chambers, who is co-chairwoman of the union's special education task force, was notified of the suspension Thursday. She claimed CPS is moving to fire her in retaliation for union organizing and for standing up for the needs of her special education students.

"I was in complete shock. I'm a distinguished teacher, and I've never been written up before," Chambers told DNAinfo. "I truly believe it's because I'm being a leader and advocating for the rights of special education students around the city." 

Please sign the petition to support Sarah Chambers.

Since it is open season on union activists and it looks like is a national problem, where is our national union, the AFT, led by Randi Weingarten?  We need more than some petitions and grievances.


Anonymous said...

The DOE is smart. They know the best way to kill the snake is by cutting off it's head. If chapter leaders are taken out, there is nobody left to defend teachers and they will live in fear. It is basic military doctrine. Snipers go after high value targets like officers, not grunts. I am actually surprised it took the DOE so long to employ these tactics.

Anonymous said...

A strong honest union serves to keep management in check. A union that is in bed with management spells disaster for the front line troops.
Since most members are ignorant of just how bad this UFT is, and will not vote the corrupt and incompetent Mulgrew out, the only hope I see is Frederichs II.
We really don't have much of a union anyway the way things are.

Send Mulgrew back to the woodshop.

Anonymous said...

These good people have to fight for their livelihoods while the Howard Kwaits of the world are proteted. What is wrong with this picture?

waitingforsupport said...

I know an excellent CL who"s colleagues encouraged him to take the position. They backed away from him as soon as administrators started their target practice. He was an EXCELLENT teacher and CL but became incompetent and ineffective the moment he spoke up and out. He lost his job via 3020a and the UFT reps did the minimum to support, guide and lead. It's disgusting and disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Why again are we not on strike now?

Anonymous said...

Hate to say it but you have to be a bit of a fool to believe in this union and take on the job of CL. It's like being out on the battle field with your unit and calling for air support and nobody shows up.

Anonymous said...


waitingforsupport said...

I disagree with the "bit of a fool" description. It sounds like you are saying the CL must take some ownership in the demise of his career simply because he wanted to ensure the safety of his colleagues. I guess no one should be a CL. I guess folks should turn their head when they witness bullying. I guess we should not complain about work place harassment as we are fools for staying in this teaching profession. He was an EXCELLENT teacher. The people who put him through the stress and eventual loss of his career are still making the lives of their staff miserable. Sad part is that 50% of the young staff (who begged him to be the CL) transferred out of that
school. Now there is a new batch of babies/newbies in place to march to admins orders.

Anonymous said...

Keep drinking the Unity Koolaid

Anonymous said...

I would gladly volunteer for CL, but not with this UFT leadership. That could be suicide.
Or maybe you would be elevated to the status of " Martyr" by "waitingforsupport"

James Eterno said...

This is a big part of the problem when good people are afraid to take on CL job.

Anonymous said...

I was asked to take on a CL position a few years ago since I am the most senior teacher at my school. I said a big fat "no" to that. If this was the 1990's when the UFT actually had teachers backs, I would be proud to serve as CL. Today? No way.

Anonymous said...

We could have retired teachers come in a be the Chapter Leader. They would be able to stand up to t he administration without fear of losing their jobs.

Anonymous said...

All coming to an end. This will all collapse when people stop paying dues and the so called leadership of NYSUT will finally get the message

waitingforsupport said...

Martyr? Nope. Just someone who believed in his peers. He had an ideal working relationship with administrators until....Bam target practice!!! If that's what you call a martyr what do you call yourself for allowing yourself to be bullied disrespected discriminated for your age etc? You know what the NY Post calls you? Is their title correct? Try putting on your empathy hat--others may want to put one on too.

Anonymous said...

No they will not get any message. Read the NYSUT election results. They will be more arrogant.

Anonymous said...

The Queens UFT office actually informs and helps abusive Principals like Dwarka get rid of teachers.