Wednesday, April 05, 2017


We have exposed over and over how the UFT leadership misuses Robert's Rules of Order to suppress debate at the UFT Delegate Assembly. Howie Schoor, the Secretary who chairs the Executive Board, generally does a much better job of being fair than UFT President Michael Mulgrew who is known for butchering the rules when chairing the DA. However, on Monday night, the Executive Board misused the rules in order to stop debate and avoid taking a vote on a resolution (see below) to back the people at Central Park East 1 school who are fighting an abusive principal.

Here is a portion of Arthur Goldstein's report of Monday's Executive Board meeting. It starts with Norm Scott taking the open mic. Norm is retired but was a Chapter Leader when he was active.

Norm Scott—MORE--Abusive principals—Mulgrew said this was our biggest problem. The biggest crisis in our union is the power imbalance between union and teachers. I felt I had a little leverage, feel we don’t now, and feel union responsible. CLs leaving and principals have unfettered power. There is sword hanging over many people, including JHS 145. We’ve left them in a hold—will they get a job? What is their future?

CPE1 Run by Debbie Maier. We’ve watched that place be destroyed. FariƱa is anti-union, anti-teacher. We continue to support mayoral control which enables this. We’ve seen manipulated charges hurting people, DRs know. Maybe that was Munich and maybe removal of Marilyn is invasion. This is crime against children. Blandness in this room very disturbing. There is no sense of outrage.

Townsend Harris—Same person destroyed math dept. at Bronx Science. We need to use our resources.

Thursday event at CPE1. This union owes it to that school to be there in force. At PEP Rich was there. Our presence may have moved votes. We owe it to them to be there. We need to be accountable for what goes on in these schools. 

The MORE-NEW ACTION representatives later presented a resolution supporting CPE 1. It was added to the agenda. Note it was the last item of the meeting. Arthur describes what happened:

Arthur Goldstein—MORE—Tonight we have a school and a school community in crisis, a school suffering under the wholly gratuitous tyranny of an out of control principal. Ironically, this school is one founded on principles of functional democracy, a school that ought to be a model for us all. It’s deplorable to see the ostensible leader of this school trod all over its basic premise, a premise developed by renowned educational activist Deborah Meier. As President Mulgrew told this body just two weeks ago:

"Our biggest issue hands down is (the DOE’s) lack of responsibility with reigning in their principals. We will go after them at the school level. By law the superintendent is in charge. They are responsible for the actions of the principal. It is always best to have documentation when bringing any issues forward." 

Here is our chance to put those words in action. We have abundant documentation. We have firsthand testimony at our fingertips and in this very room. This is a golden opportunity for the United Federation of Teachers to walk the walk. Not only will we be giving much-needed support our brother and sister unionists and community members, but we’ll also be making a stand for the kind of innovative instruction and independent thinking we need to foster and enable for the students we serve.

I urge you to support this resolution (which you can read in full right here) and bring it to the Delegate Assembly this month.

LeRoy Barr—Rises to table motion. (Several seconds jump up instantly.)  Says we’ve heard of all the work we’re doing. We clearly stand with you. Heard from borough rep, about outreach. We agree with a lot of this stuff. Wants to table this because we are meeting with DOE and bringing this issue forward. Want to give them opportunity to work with this. Asks people to stand.

Schoor—Says I am not standing. Asks me to be sure to comment on that. I most certainly will.

Barr—Says he will come to rally, bring people to rally, and speak at rally. Still asks that we table this.

Jonathan Halabi—New Action—After reso was written, DOE has raised the stakes. Not only is there no reconciliation, but they’ve gone after another non-tenured teacher today. Wants to argue against tabling.

Schoor—Not debatable

Halabi—New Action--Neither was motion to table. (Barr has commented on this.)

Schoor—Giving you two minutes, Thinks it’s against Robert’s rules.

Halabi—New Action--immediacy here, DOE escalating These people live at their school. In past chapters weren’t ready. This chapter is ready.

Schoor—Calls motion to table. Resolution is tabled. We are adjourned.

Now, let's take a look to see what Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised says about tabling:

Section 17 Lay on the Table is covered on page 209. It states:
(To interrupt the pending business so as to permit doing something else immediately)

The motion to Lay on the Table enables the assembly to lay the pending question aside temporarily when something else of immediate urgency has arisen or when something else needs to be addressed before consideration of the pending question is resumed,

What was the urgent business?

Adjournment! I guess the Unity majority wanted to get home to watch the college basketball finals. Voting to support a school fighting an abusive principal is not union work these days. What a shame.

Robert's Rules continues on page 210 in explaining how the motion to Lay on the Table is often used erroneously:

This motion is commonly misused in ordinary assemblies--in place of the motion to postpone Indefinitely (11), to Postpone to a Certain Time (14), or other motions. Particularly in such misuses, it also is known as a motion "to table."

By adopting the motion to Lay on the Table, a majority has the power to halt consideration of a question immediately without debate. Such action violates the rights of the minority and individual members if it is for any other purpose than the one stated in the first sentence of this section. In ordinary assemblies, the motion to Lay on the Table is out of order if the evident intent is to kill or avoid dealing with a measure. If a time for resuming consideration is specified in making the motion, it can be admitted only as a motion to Postpone (14), in which case it is debatable (see also pp. 215-217).

What does it say on pages 215-217?

MISUSES OF THE MOTION. As stated at the beginning of this section, the motion to Lay on the Table is subject to a number of incorrect uses that should be avoided.

It is out of order to move to lay a pending question on the table if there is evidently no other matter requiring immediate attention.

The only other matter facing the Executive Board on Monday was to adjourn.

This was a classic Unity violation of the rules because they don't want to take an official position that might offend the anti-teacher Chancellor Carmen Farina and anti-teacher Mayor Bill de Blasio. Note it says in Robert's Rules that tabling "violates the rights of the minority..." Violating the rights of the minority is how Unity Caucus operates unfortunately.

 I hope our friends on the Executive Board will call out Barr, Schoor and the Unity majority on their improper suppression of debate and refusal to publicly take a position in support of their members under attack.

The CPE1 people at the Executive Board standing

The Resolution presented by MORE-NEW ACTION:

Resolution in Support of Central Park East 1 Teachers and Parents
April 3, 2017
Whereas the Principal of Central Park East 1, Monika Garg, has engaged in a persistent pattern of harassment of teachers and other unionized staff over the last 18 months,

Whereas 4 out of 7 tenured teachers who exercised their free speech and union rights by signing an open letter to the principal have now either come under investigation or been pushed to resign, while all have faced some kind of disciplinary action, thus showing these actions to be retaliatory in intent,

Whereas these investigations have targeted the union’s strength specifically, with both the school’s chapter leader, Marilyn Martinez, and union delegate, Catlin Preston, facing charges,

Whereas parents at the school have organized an unprecedented show of support for these teachers, with more than 90 showing up to support Marilyn Martinez at her 3020a hearings, several attending our recent Executive Board hearing and dozens writing statements in support of the teachers,

Whereas parents believe that the principal’s actions are causing substantial harm to the children in the school by removing teachers without warning and carrying out investigations in which children as young as 6 and 7 are interviewed privately without their parent’s knowledge or consent, and in which parents feel that their families were manipulated in order to build cases against teachers while children were left without guidance or support,

Whereas the impact of these actions can be seen in the results of last year’s school survey, in which Monika Garg saw the steepest declines in both parent and teacher dissatisfaction of any school in the city, with 0% of teachers saying that they trust the principal and 0% of parents saying that the principal works hard to build trusting relationships,

Whereas both the teachers and the parents of Central Park East 1 have asked us for their support, and parents have been demanding the removal of the principal for over a year, with over two­thirds of last year’s parents having signed a petition stating this, and are planning a public rally in conjunction with their next SLT meeting on April 6th,

Whereas Superintendent Alexandra Estrella has received hundreds of emails from parents and has ignored most and has acknowledged few of their requests, and

Whereas Estrella promised a facilitator, to improve communication at the school, and told elected parents that is was already in place several times… even though no facilitator has ever shown up, and

Whereas Estrella appointed Garg, a principal with no commitment to CPE1’s mission, to head the school.

Therefore be it resolved that the UFT leadership join the UFT staff of CPE1 in taking a public stance against this pattern of harassment and retaliation against teachers at Central Park East 1; and

Be it further resolved that the leadership supports the return of Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez and Delegate Catlin Preston to their classrooms at Central Park East 1 immediately should their hearings find that they are entitled to retain their positions with the Department of Education and work in the classroom, and

Be it further resolved that the UFT publicly supports the overwhelming majority of parents at Central Park East 1 who are asking for the removal of Principal Garg and will support their planned April 6th rally, by utilizing the UFT press office, sending a speaker and issuing an action alert to mobilize UFT members and leaders to attend, and

Be it further resolved that the UFT leadership will publicly admonish Superintendent Estrella to respond to CPE1 parents and faculty, to respect agreements she has made with them, and to respect the mission of the school.

Update Thursday: According to Norm Scott on Facebook, Leroy Barr and five other UFT reps along with many parents, a group from MORE and others showed up at the CPE1 School Leadership Team meeting on Thursday after school. There were so many people that the meeting had to be moved to the auditorium.

We give the UFT credit for attending but still cannot understand why they would not support a resolution in support of this chapter's heroic efforts against an abusive principal.

Norm is updating us by telling us that the parents won't leave and that there are about 30 police officers waiting outside the auditorium to arrest the protesters at CPE 1.

Norm is also reporting that "Students at Townsend Harris High School sent CPE1 a statement of support."

PS Norm reports no arrests. Parents held another rally Friday morning.

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and outdoor


Anonymous said...

"Rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules!". -Mike Mulgrew

Michael Fiorillo said...

Grandma Farina's Lapdog, formerly known as UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who can't be bothered to show up to his own Executive Board meetings (probably for the best, since he detracts from them anyway), doesn't respond to member emails, doesn't tweet or post on Facebook, and studiously ignores opposing voices at the DA, might be in for a surprise when members stop paying into his dues collection agency when Trump's Supreme Court gets rid of agency fees.

They'll be mistaken about that - even a bad union, like the UFT, is better than no union - but they'll certainly correct about sending a message to this incompetent fraud (and his patroness in DC).

Quinn Zannoni said...

I think even if a Principal attacked a chapter leader with a flaming sword, the union wouldn't do anything.

Anonymous said...

To Table is not the same thing as To Lay on the Table. The correct motion, namely the one LeRoy should have cited was, according to RROO, To Postpone Indefinitely. He used an incorrect, but universally understood expression to say the same thing. Your point is interesting but is, essentially, nitpicking. Everyone knew what LeRoy meant. Had you wanted a strict adherence to language, you should have called for a point of order and asked the chair for clarification.

James Eterno said...

Postponing indefinitely is a debatable motion. Tabling is not. Let Unity explain over and over why they won't take a public position against an abusive supervisor who is trying to fast track the termination of a UFT chapter leader. I agree we all know what Unity is trying to do. They will not offend de Blasio/Farina in public. I find that offensive.

I can't raise anything because I am not on the Executive Board. However, I am a Delegate and when I challenge the rules at the Delegate Assembly, I get lip service that Mulgrew will adhere to the rules and then he does not or he makes up his own rules.

Anonymous said...

Gorsuch will be confirmed and soon reverse union due requirements. This will remedy the Mulgrew UFT machine

Anonymous said...

Further proof that this UFT is in bed with the DOE. It is just a sister bureaucracy, a revenue collection, make work organization that exists only for the good of itself. Unfortunately NYC's 'Brightest' are too dim to notice. A smart group of teachers would have Mulgrews head on a pike.

Anonymous said...

Why is Unity allowing systemic age discrimination by trying to send field supervisors to ATRs to rate them U? Shouldn't a PERB complaint be filed?