At the end of each school day this week, I am going around Queens to stuff MORE-NEW ACTION literature into UFT member mailboxes. I try to time my visits so I can meet teachers, counselors and school secretaries in high schools that are multi- session in Queens at the end of their school day. I've also hit some middle schools and elementary schools. Meeting the teachers as they leave school has been enlightening and and given me a real boost of energy. There are so many terrific people working in our schools.
Listening to the membership has been quite an experience. What I have discovered is there are many UFT members who get it that the UFT leadership is not doing their job of protecting our rights very well and they would like a union that has their backs. Complaints about contract violations are common. I have been able to hear from young teachers who want to know how they can have job security. I have listened to veterans who aren't feeling they are receiving much support from the UFT.
When I get to make a very brief pitch at the mailboxes, I talk about how educators have been singled out unfairly by the city as we have to wait until 2020 to receive all of the money that most other city employees received in raises from 2008-2010 while the city has a $6 billion surplus in the most recent fiscal year as well as record job creation. I tell them a MORE-NEW ACTION leadership would never have allowed this to happen. This is universally met with a positive response about MORE and NAC.
I should also note that not one member who I have met has talked to me about the UFT not doing a good job on the issue of the union building alliances with the local communities. I am listening and issues like this don't come up with the membership at large. If we are truly interested in a member driven union, the members want us to be a union that fights for them before anything else.
Last night I was able to catch up on Ed Notes where there is a piece about the Mulgrew-UFT/Unity leadership getting $1.5 million from the State Education Department for the UFT teacher centers to do professional development on Common Core. This allows Unity to dole out patronage jobs and surely shows they are all for the Common Core. It gives me yet another talking point as I make the rounds to more schools today and tomorrow. Common Core and the teacher evaluation system are not that popular among the members I listen to.
One teacher told me that this is a change year with Trump and Bernie so the change theme could carry over to the union elections. A principal told me the same thing. I hope they are right.