While there are plenty of reasons to vote for MORE and dump the "Unity" stranglehold on our membership perhaps the most compelling is the refusal by our leadership to properly represent our members.
Witness Samuel Richardson. Mr. Richardson (not his real name) is a 24 year veteran Social Studies licensed high school teacher who was excessed from a closing Brooklyn school 3 years ago. As with his colleagues he was assigned as an ATR and forced into nomadic purgatory where he shuffles from Brooklyn high school to Brooklyn high school on a weekly basis.
Last year he made it to my high school, Aspirations, and after we got to know each he explained that he had received an unsatisfactory observation for a lesson he was clearly set up. The story was all too familiar. With little notice Mr. Richardson said he would be observed in a class he was the substitute teacher for two days. The next day he was ushered into another class (a much more difficult class behaviorally and academically) and told to teach his lesson before the teacher and observer.
The subject of the lesson had nothing to do with what the class was studying at that point and needless to say the class was somewhat unruly. His observation report was written as if he provided no meaningful instruction and had no classroom management skills.
He reluctantly showed me the observation report. I tried to schedule a meeting with this ATR supervisor to no avail and by the time June rolled around he was given a "U" rating for the year. His supervisor saw him a total of 3 times (twice in the week he was observed) and engaged in no meaningful conversation with him the entire year. The U rating sheet referred only to the observation report and his perfect attendance record.
Throughout the next several months Mr. Richardson and I have been in communication. We regularly discussed appeal strategy and ways to reverse this rating. When he received notice right before the Easter break that his hearing would be today he called me. We met and I gave him a package of materials including the Rating Guide and several court cases dealing with arbitrary U ratings. A retired teacher called him to meet with him and "prepare" for the hearing. He had one meeting with this advocate and gave her the materials I gave to him. He pleaded with her to call me, yesterday.
Yesterday, on the eve of his appeal, a received a phone call from this "advocate." Our conversation was not pleasant. She accused me of cross-examining her and finally stated "If I do all you want me to do I would have no time." I then asked her how she would have felt if she, while teaching, had received a U rating and her advocate told her she had no time for her case. Silence.
It is one thing that the DOE has evolved the U rating appeals system as a kangaroo court. It is another that our Unity colleagues remain complicit and actually contribute to the loss of our members rights.
Advocates are taught to read statements (written by some knucklehead with no legal training) to the U rating appeals officer. They are not given the materials, training or time to adequately represent our members. The jobs are reserved for the Unity faithful in their retirement. In fact there is even a rule that lawyers are not allowed to argue for members.
As a result it is easy for the DOE to affirm almost every U rating appeal and since no record is ever made that would be valuable in Court most appeals to Court are denied.
I just got off the phone with Mr. Richardson who told me how the hearing went. The advocate submitted the papers I had provided him and according to Mr. Richardson used many of the strategies we discussed. There was actual questioning of the rating officer and at the end of the hearing Mr. Richardson was informed his rating would be reversed.
A vote for Unity is a vote to not only perpetuate this system but actually codify it by placing a quota on appeals and needing Unity's permission to appeal. This is America?