Friday, November 29, 2019


There is an opinion piece from In These Times written by Jackson Potter, a Chicago Teachers Union activist who was one of the founders of the dissident CORE caucus that won power in the CTU in 2010. The title is "What Other Unions Can Learn from the Historic Gains We Won in the Chicago Teachers Strike." Potter analyzes the strike and then he offers important advice for unions, including having us work with other unions to achieve broad goals.

Some highlights:
On top of winning new funding streams, our broader social justice demands built upon victories in the recent Los Angeles teacher strike, as well as Boston’s teacher contract campaign that won language on class size restrictions. In no small way, the 2019 CTU strike was connected to a rising movement of teachers nationally that has fundamentally altered the political and labor landscape in the United States. 

When we struck in 2012, the action was largely defensive in nature and came on the heels of Scott Walker’s attack on collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin. This year’s strike represented a move into offense—beyond efforts to stop school closings, vouchers, bankruptcies, pension liquidation or state take-overs. Instead, we’ve added about 750 new positions into our schools, staffing that will dramatically increase investments into our classrooms for the first time in decades.

Later, Jackson offers some advice:
One of the keys to our victory was labor solidarity. Chicago teachers struck alongside the 7,000 school employees in SEIU Local 73, which did not occur in 2012. These school workers also won large-scale victories in their contract, and by standing with us on the picket lines, they showed the power of true collective action.  

The victories in our strike built upon years-long efforts to bring Chicago charter school teachers into the CTU, aligning 11 charter school contracts. This strategic choice led to the first charter school strikes in the nation’s history, and won provisions on class-size and sanctuary schools that set the stage to win them throughout the district.

To win more, we teachers should consider partnering with private sector union struggles. Imagine if we had been able to join forces with the United Auto Workers in their labor struggle with GM, or coordinated with warehouse workers to shut down the region’s supply chains? Such an approach could help build the social power necessary to advance a set of regional worker demands to significantly alter the political and economic landscape for all workers. 

I have been calling for unions to combine our forces since 2005. It is the best way forward.

Potter's conclusion:
Throughout history, social movement struggles have always been protracted. It’s taken three contract cycles for the CTU to turn back nearly 40 years of attacks on our public schools. It’s a shift made possible through strike action coupled with a burgeoning national teachers movement—and taking risks to lift up working-class demands that go far beyond traditional collective bargaining.   

We won't turn things around in NYC in a flash either.  The UFT is still not even close to being part of the national militancy movement of teachers. However, the situation in NYC won't improve at all in NYC without a union or with an even smaller and weaker one. It's up to us to fix our union.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


I don't think it will be too difficult to figure out my opinion of Michael Bloomberg's presidential aspirations. I hope he does worse than Mayor Bill de Blasio's ill fated campaign for the White House. Also, if Bloomberg spends a great deal of money to get nowhere near the presidency, that will be even more gratifying.

As a NYC teacher, UFT Chapter Leader and community supporter who gave everything I had along with so many others to save Jamaica High School and many other schools closed by Bloomberg and his chancellors, I can tell you that Bloomberg as mayor was completely deaf to the public. Seeing Mercedes Schneider's post on Bloomberg buying elections in Louisiana, where former NYC Deputy Chancellor John White is Education Commissioner, just increases my rage at having to see Bloomberg all over television and the internet the last few days.

I thought after all these years I was over the totally unjustified closing of Jamaica HS but I'm not.

Then, I heard about Bloomberg's totally opportunistic apology for stop and frisk policing. Is this man so arrogant that he believes he can buy off the country the way he bought off potential opposition in NYC when he was mayor?

From a 2013 NY Post story on Bloomberg using his money to shape policy and silence critics:
In a fortuitous turn of events, a chunk of that dough — some $110,000 — found its way to that veteran tormentor of mayors past, the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose strident voice has been heard only rarely outside City Hall these past dozen years.

If Norm Scott is right that Bloomberg is hoping to win in a brokered  Democratic Convention where no candidate gets a majority on the first ballot, then maybe Bloomberg does have enough money to buy the Democratic party nomination.

At least the police unions aren't buying Bloomberg's "sorry about stop and frisk"  speech.

From the Chief Leader:
"He owes us an apology.”

So said the leaders of two city police unions about Michael Bloomberg, who soon after making it clear that he would likely join a crowded field seeking the Democratic nomination for President, communicated a public mea culpa regarding the stop-and-frisk practices that characterized the NYPD during much of his tenure.

The strategy, whose chief proponent was Mr. Bloomberg’s only Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, fostered mutual distrust between police and residents, particularly those in black and Latino neighborhoods.

The policy, a cornerstone policing practice for more than a decade dating back to the Giuliani administration, “drove a stake between the police and the community,” the president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association, Lou Turco, said of the Mayor last week.

The strategy, though, “was always opposed by the unions,” he said.

The Sergeants Benevolent Association also called for an apology. Later in the Chief story, we hear from the largest police union, the PBA:
The Police Benevolent Association’s president, Patrick J. Lynch, said the apology was tardy by 19 years.

“Mayor Bloomberg could have saved himself this apology if he had just listened to the police officers on the street. We said in the early 2000s that the quota-driven emphasis on street stops was polluting the relationship between cops and our communities,” he said in a statement. “His administration’s misguided policy inspired an anti-police movement that has made cops the target of hatred and violence, and stripped away many of the tools we had used to keep New Yorkers safe. The apology is too little, too late.”

I will join with the police unions in asking for an apology. The police can get an I'm sorry for stop and frisk and one for me for closing Jamaica High School. Does anyone else want to join in on the Bloomberg apology requests? Maybe he can donate some money to us like he did to shut up Reverend Al?

Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders gets the last word here on Bloomberg.
From Politico:
“I don’t believe that Mr. Bloomberg is going to succeed,” Sanders said. “Because I think at the end of the day, people of this country do not want to see a billionaire buy an election, and that is precisely what Mr. Bloomberg is trying to do.”

Saturday, November 23, 2019


Steven Schwartz, the Principal of PS 24 in the Bronx, has resorted to offering teachers positive file letters, extra prep time and favorable observations in exchange for supporting the school at a Community Education Council meeting coming up on Tuesday.

ICE-UFT blog was given a copy of a Wednesday email from the Principal to the staff. Here is an excerpt:
On Tuesday, November 26, PS 24 will be hosting the monthly Community Education Council. This is a great opportunity to show members of the outside community, including our Superintendent, Executive Superintendent and others all the progress we have made (and do it not behind an e-mail). It would be greatly appreciated if members of our staff could join together and show the outside community how united and strong PS 24 is despite the past turmoil.

Further down:
Please let me know if you can attend this important event. Letters to file and considerations around 4e [Danielson Framework on observations] will be considered for your support dedication and time. In addition, I will be providing 2 additional preps to any staff members willing to show up and support their school and fellow colleagues. Please RSVP.

Thank you

Steven Schwartz

In a followup email, Principal Schwartz goes for the families:

My apologies, I almost forgot that I am also offering the grade with the most parents/staff in attendance extra recess.

Please let your students know, communicate with your parents and lets ensure a great showing.

Sue Edelman has the story in the NY Post with reactions.
Some staffers don’t like what they call pressure to make a show of their support to curry favor with the boss — or face possible repercussions.

“That’s not in the nature of a teacher to do,” one said. “Otherwise, they’d be politicians and not teachers.”

Another said Schwartz wants staff and parents to fill seats. “He’s trying to show that people are in favor of him despite all the negative press that we’ve had.”

Teacher Walter Rendon blasted the deal as “bribery” in an email to DOE officials Saturday, writing: “Mr. Schwartz is hoping to present himself in a good light” for district superintendent Maribel Torres-Hulla. Schwartz did not return messages seeking comment.

No surprise that the DOE has no comment.

ICE-UFT blog was also provided with a letter from PS 24 parents to the Chancellor and District Superintendent. Our CSA comment guy is welcome to respond.

Spuyten Duyvil Elementary School - PS 24 has been a gem in the Riverdale Neighborhood and a guiding school in District 10 in the Bronx.  This has been the case for decades.  We have had our share of unique principals that have led the school, but the strength of the community, parents and our children have kept us solid and strong.  We know this because we stand together and play an important and on-going role in our children's education.  We don't need to tell the innovators and administrators of the biggest and most expensive school system in the United States that the most consistent predictors of children’s academic achievement and social adjustment are parent expectations of the child’s academic attainment and satisfaction with their child’s education at school.

That being said, we are stifled and stymied by our current building leader, Steven Schwartz, who has already continued in the spirit of unique building leaders at PS 24.  

In the short 3 years he has been here, he has:

Been found by internal of inappropriate behavior, having been tweeting gambling horse racing information, when he should have been doing his job.  [see]  Then again, a year later, he commits the same infraction, only to be scolded with a slap on the wrist.  [see]  Then, we hear that he was under investigation,has been found, today, in violation of mismanaging public funds and in doing so we learned he had to "let go" of the secretary (Lara Anabel) who would not comply with his illegal money shifting activity.  These were all allegations made last year, and yet he is still here.

In addition, we find Mr. Schwartz has created a culture of stress and fear among the teachers.  He has removed nearly 10 teachers who he didn't feel he wanted and replaced them with younger teachers that mostly came from a school his mother, Esther Schwartz consulted with [see legacy relationship at].  She has been on retainer with Ben Waxman, who now runs a consulting business.  Mr. Waxman has been seen on many occasion at PS 24.  This shady back door dealing is of a different time in New York's less illustrious history.  We now live in a world of transparency and professionalism.  So many schools around us and throughout the city have qualified and competent building leaders that have the students at their focus and concentration.  Why are we left with Mr. Schwartz?

We are not interested in having to put up with a less than qualified principal that continues to bend the rules and turn PS 24 into a lock-step, teach-to-the-test school.  Teachers are complaining that they are assessing students and rarely getting to instruction.  We can send you at least 10 qualified principal candidates that believe and respect the position entitled to them.  These are men and women with integrity, experience and value.  They are not, like Mr. Schwartz, in his current position as principal only there to what we believe to be - just to position himself to the next level.  When we look at the number of of qualified principals - we wonder why we have a building leader who:

Never taught elementary school (yet reviews teachers who have decades of elementary experience)
Spent less than two years teaching - at a High School / Middle School level. Was a vice principal for less than two years (and during that time was moved by Melodie Mashel (the previous district 10 superintendent) to protect him from allegedly inappropriate interaction with a female subordinate and an alleged corporal punishment charge upheld.) 
Then spent some time working with the district on data.....

…..and now he is responsible for 850 student's elementary school education?  If this history and allegations are true, then, it stands to reason, that maybe he is being protected.  This is at the cost of the PS 24 community and families.  Don't they deserve a leader worthy of their children?

 He does not interact with our children (he knows nearly none of their names), he spends as much or more time intimidating and over-working our teachers (instead of positively supporting them and giving them the opportunity to grow).  Teachers have told parents that he said to the whole staff 3 years ago that all of their ratings are too high and they should expect them to drop.  We have been told that he has said, on numerous occasions, to the entire staff at staff meetings, that he doesn't care what the parents think.  In addition, he makes it very difficult for us parents to be in the building to support our children and teachers.  He has used derisive efforts to lower teachers rather than raise them.  We have been told by other teachers, that in fact, one teacher whom he wanted to leave - he wrote up poor reviews of her and even mentioned in a review that she was inappropriate for pumping her breast for her new child (even though it was done after class time.)  The teacher who eventually left because of such negative pressure admitted it to be true and had proof in e-mails between the two. She was reluctant to come forward for fear of retribution.  He eventually retracted his statements in the review, but the social statement he made spoke volumes. 

It is no wonder parents are pulling their children out sooner than when they graduate 5th grade.  The kindergarten classes - 7 in all, are full and up until a month ago were at 32 a room, enraging parents and limiting kindergarten growth.  His claim to parents was that it was the district's fault and he had to do this to prove that he was overcrowed to get more money / teachers.  This at the sake of the kindergarten teacher's stress and the kindergarten's students well being and experience.  By the time, our students are in 5th grade, the grade-wide numbers for 5th graders have dropped - indicating to us that parents are dissatisfied. 

You, Ms. Hulla, come from a distinguished background in Brooklyn and have come to District 10 in the Bronx to help make it amazing.  We are sure you can do this; that is if you don't let the old guard and old fashioned back room politics run you.  You have our support to be open and transparent and live up to the 3 tenants our Chancellor has claimed to provide to the children and parents of New York.  

Mr. Carranza, we are just one of your 1800 schools and most likely are not on your radar, as we produce great numbers for the district.  But, please tell us, why are you ignoring this situation for the 850 students of Riverdale?  We can most certainly meet and give you a long list of qualified principals willing to be as honest and forthright as us, the community of Riverdale in the Bronx.  Is it really okay to have a new Superintendent (Hulla) be tugged along by this yesteryear group who think they have the run of the public's money and use their  influence and connections to degredate the students of this neighborhood?  We know you are busy, but we are sure you have a qualified staff to help Ms. Hulla make the prudent and right decision to give us a building leader that can lead with honesty, integrity and fortitude, one that knows the student's names and cares about the development of our children.

Thank you for your time.

With equity and excellence

Friday, November 22, 2019


Indiana is no progressive liberal state. Even there we see the teachers in revolt.

From the Indianapolis Star:
Thousands of teachers and their supporters, clad in red, flooded the area outside the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday for Red for Ed Action Day.

According to the Indiana State Police, 5,000 people went inside the Statehouse later in the afternoon, but the police didn't have an overall crowd estimate. Roughly 15,000 people were registered to attend the event, which would make it one of the largest statehouse rallies in recent memory.

For reference, state police estimated that 4,500 to 5,000 people attended the Women's March in 2017. And in 2011, they said over 8,000 attended a Right to Work rally.

Chanting “Red for Ed” and carrying signs, crowds formed around each side of the building starting early in the morning. Before 10 a.m. the crowd was shoulder to shoulder on the south lawn, waving signs as a band played and union leaders made remarks.

Organized by Indiana State Teachers Association and other labor groups, speakers called on lawmakers to make changes in public education, especially when it comes to teacher pay, holding districts harmless from poor performances on a new statewide test and for new professional development requirements to be repealed.

More than half of the school districts in the state closed their doors Tuesday for Red for Ed, with some converting the day into either an e-learning day or an employee workday. And teachers attended from all ends of the state, some leaving as early as 5 a.m. to drive to Indianapolis.

Meanwhile back in NYC, instead of demanding proper working conditions for teachers and better learning conditions for students with actions to back these demands up, the UFT's ruling Unity Caucus has volunteered to do the job of educating the kids by ourselves if the DOE can't support us to get it done.

From the latest Unity leaflet:
The Instructional Leadership Framework, or ILF, is a DOE initiative that integrates NYS Standards (“Next Gen”), Culturally Responsive Education, and Advanced Literacy. While we agree with this initiative in concept, we do not agree with the implementation. Our teachers should be exposed to these new standards, as next year our students and our school system will be judged on them.  Writing curriculum, bypassing the PD Committee and creating paperwork for the sake of creating paper and work are our new but old fights. How does this help our members, our students, and our schools?

UNITY/UFT President Mulgrew has made it clear that if the DOE can’t or won’t help our students prepare for the Next Generation Standards, then we must do it alone; if the DOE will allow it to fall on the backs of our members, then we must stand firm and demand the support our schools and teachers need. As ridiculous as it sounds, if our employer cannot do this work, then we must lead the charge to help our school system succeed. We have too many enemies waiting and hoping for us to fail in the ever important role of educating our students.

Same old, same old. It's just like when Mulgrew said the only problem with Common Core was how it was implemented. The UFT is now going to demand the support our schools need but if the DOE messes it up, as the DOE usually does, the teachers and other UFT members will do it alone. I guess the Unity position is educating children in spite of the incompetence and corruption of our employer is fine.*

The UFT can do something. It is nice that we have a new and improved class size reduction process to attempt to get the DOE to keep within our way too large limits but Mulgrew might want to help the parents who have filed an appeal on a lawsuit claiming that the city has violated the law by not lowering class size as the law said they have to since 2007.

From Class Size Matters:
This year’s class size data was released and shows that average class sizes actually increased in Kindergarten and 7th grade this year.

In other  grades, the class size held steady or declined by only insignificant amounts.

We are providing a detailed analysis of class size trends and what should be done to counteract  the sharp increases that have occurred since 2007 at three CEC meetings this week. We will also discuss school overcrowding and the findings of our charter facilities report, including how millions are missing from the matching funds the DOE was supposed to provide public schools co-located with charter schools for facility upgrades, and the $100 million a year the city spends on renting private space for charter schools, including in some cases, where the charter management organization owns the building.

*Please no comments on why this is just another excuse to stop paying union dues. Direct your fire at Mr. Mulgrew, not this dissident but pro-union blog please. I don't need to write the same reasoning on how the problems are the union's leadership, the need for a more activist membership and the UFT's undemocratic structure, not the fact that we are unionized teachers.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


The Tier VI pension system is woefully inadequate for anyone hired since 2012. New Action/UFT has started a petition at to persuade the city and UFT to lobby to equalize the tiers. Please sign this petition. I signed.

Petition for Tier 6 Pension Improvement

Whereas, new UFT members who join the Teachers’ Retirement System after March 31, 2012 are entered in Tier 6,

Whereas, members in Tier 6 contribute from 3% to 6% to their pensions as long as they work,

Whereas, members in Tier 6 cannot retire without very reduced benefits until reaching age 63 while making a higher contribution,

Whereas, many other city agencies such as police, fire, sanitation can retire with full pension after 22 years of service,

Whereas, the UFT, in the past, lobbied successfully for a 25-55 pension plan for Tier 4 members,

Whereas, the UFT, in the past, won other significant pension improvements in the NY State Legislature.

Resolved, that the UFT lobby the City and State to equalize and improve the Tier 6 pension and include all UFT members in this campaign.

Monday, November 18, 2019


A friend sent me a letter parents wrote to the District 10 Superintendent expressing their concerns about second grade teacher Walter Rendon's removal from the classroom to the rubber room.

Here is an excerpt:
The parents of 2-138 at PS 24 are writing to request a meeting with you to discuss our concerns about the handling of the removal of our children’s teacher, Walter Rendon.

On October 7th, Mr. Rendon was abruptly removed from the classroom.  Parents received a call that day from PS 24 administration stating that Mr. Rendon was being removed from the classroom effective immediately by the TPU.  After parents requested a sit-down meeting with Principal Schwartz, we were told that he had no prior knowledge of Mr. Rendon’s removal, that it was not the decision of the school and that he had no control over the matter, and that a permanent teacher for the class would be in place by October 28th.  After further research, we understand that the TPU does not unilaterally reassign a teacher without the express request and participation of the school’s principal.

This decision to remove Mr. Rendon has resulted in the upheaval of our children’s education.  Since Mr. Rendon’s removal, class 2-138 has been without structure and our children are suffering both educationally and emotionally.  

Not caring about the emotional or educational well being of children is unfortunately a common occurrence at the NYC Department of Education. Not telling parents accurate information about the principal being involved in the decision to remove a teacher is also not unusual. Passing the buck is something certain administrators are very adept at.

Further down in the letter:
Promises were made and then laid by the wayside by our administration.  And the clear and open communication that we had once received from Mr. Rendon on what was happening in the classroom has stopped.  There has been absolutely no communication  regarding testing dates, vocabulary words or the posting of homework.

Conversely, in the month that our children had Mr. Rendon as their teacher, we had happy and engaged learners.  The parents found him to be exceptional.  He was by no means ill prepared or sub par. He was attentive and had created a superior environment of learning and trust.   He understood our children well and had been responsive to their educational and emotional needs.  In the month that he taught our children, he gained their trust and in return they strived to achieve.  As parents who have been at the school for a number of years, we know that Mr. Rendon has an outstanding professional record, teaching 3rd grade G&T and science curriculum to over 800 students.  He was also given the task of administering and grading the ELA and math state exams.  One would think that such assignments are only given to someone who is fully capable of achieving results and working with integrity.

The conclusion:
Since the removal of our teacher, the children have paid a dear price educationally and personally.  Our children deserve a quality education in a stable environment.   This unfortunate event, and ensuing confusion, has been an utter debacle.

Ms. Hulla - we implore you to look deeply into this matter and decide if our kids well-being was worth this removal.  We would also like to sit down with you, and any member of the DOE who has been copied on  the cc list below to be able to express our concerns in person.  As parents of these children, we think we more than deserve that courtesy. 


Parents of 2-138

It is great to see parents supporting a teacher. My understanding is this is not the first teacher removed from the school by this principal. I wish we had a union that defended teachers with the same passion as these parents show. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019


The following AFT press release came out on Friday. It is nice to see UTLA beat the AFT to the endorsement punch when they backed Bernie Sanders for President. The odds of the UFT following suit in the primaries are about ten billion to one.

WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after the United Teachers Los Angeles House of Representatives voted to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president:

“The AFT fundamentally revamped our presidential endorsement process (link is external) this cycle, and in our first phase we have seen unprecedented engagement and empowerment of our 1.7 million members across 3,500 locals and 40 state federations. Our members have engaged with campaigns and candidates, asking questions about the issues that matter most to them, during our 10 candidate town halls and numerous other events and actions. This first phase of the process will culminate in a national candidate forum on public education, which we will host with our allies on Dec. 14 in Pittsburgh.

“As part of this AFT Votes endorsement process, we have enabled locals and state federations, if they choose, prior to any national endorsement, to endorse a candidate for the purpose of their state primary or caucus. Last night, UTLA voted to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders using its own iteration of that process, based on its long history with the senator and his long-standing support for a pro-public school agenda.

“We anticipate that other AFT affiliates may endorse other candidates prior to their states’ primary or caucus. Our recent member polling indicates that Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have healthy double-digit support, followed by Sanders and several other Democratic candidates.

“Educators, healthcare professionals and public employees across this country are engaging in the 2020 election with unprecedented enthusiasm, and we are thrilled that our members are already so involved in this campaign; when our democracy is at stake, no one can afford to sit on the sidelines. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the campaigns as our national endorsement process plays out, and to uniting around an eventual nominee as we work together to beat Donald Trump next November.”

Friday, November 15, 2019


Teacher union news from Los Angeles, California:

LOS ANGELES — United Teachers Los Angeles, the second-largest teachers’ local in the country, is proud to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for US President in the 2020 Primary Election, making UTLA the first teachers’ union in the country to endorse a presidential candidate.

Tonight, the UTLA House of Representatives – the elected leadership body of the 34,000-member union — voted 80% in favor of endorsing Sen. Sanders, capping the most comprehensive member engagement process that UTLA has ever conducted for a political candidate.

Thursday’s House vote followed a six-week discussion at school sites. Following that member engagement, on Wednesday at nine regional meetings, more than 500 elected site representatives voted 72.5% yes to the presidential endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Wednesday’s vote was opened up to allow any member who attended to vote alongside elected chapter leaders.

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said: “Why now, and why Bernie? Because we want him to win in the primary election and because we need an unapologetic, longstanding ally of progressive policies to make public education a priority in the White House. Sanders is the first viable major candidate in 25 years in the Democratic Party to stand up against privatization, the charter billionaires, and high-stakes testing and to stand up for a massive redistribution of wealth to schools and social services. Critically, like UTLA, Sen. Sanders believes in building a national movement for real, lasting change.”

Alex led a successful strike in LA earlier this year.  I take this union out in LA seriously. We can only dream that our Union will follow.

Do you see a process like UTLA had before endorsing Sanders going on in the UFT?

For anyone who has not seen Bernie's education and labor plans, please read them. They are worth your time.

Diane Ravitch covered the story and there are some interesting comments there.

The largest nurse's  union also endorsed Bernie this week. We will see where labor goes.

Thursday, November 14, 2019



Teacher strike fever across the USA shows no sign of letting up. Today, it spread to Little Rock, Arkansas.

From the Associated Press via the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

Little Rock teachers are striking for the first time in more than three decades over the state’s control of the local school system and a panel’s decision to strip their union’s collective bargaining rights.

Members of the Little Rock Education Association are picketing across the 23,000-school district on Thursday in what’s being billed as a one-day strike to protest Arkansas’ takeover of the local system. Arkansas has run the school district since 2015, when it was taken over because of low scores at several schools.

Union leaders have left open the possibility of the strike stretching beyond Thursday if full local control isn’t restored. The district has said schools will remain open Thursday.

The strike follows the state Board of Education’s decision to strip the union of its bargaining power. The strike is the first in Little Rock since 1987.

We of course support our Little Rock colleagues.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, they are voting on their proposed new contract that contains salary increases that are not too shabby. The Chicago Sun-Times printed the new proposed salary schedules today. It looks like they are trying to get a yes vote by telling the public the teachers are well paid. Here is an excerpt of the salary schedule for teachers with a BA degree:

Even with the substantial increases, I am betting that the contract in Chicago will receive a higher percentage of no votes than the 14% no vote from NYC teachers in the 2018 early UFT contract referendum. In case you are wondering, when the UFT contract ends in 2022, the starting salary for a NYC teacher with a BA will be $61,070 and with ten years it will be $86,280. I know salaries improve in NYC as you work more years and gain more education credits and degrees but my point is Chicago is competitive on salaries while the cost of living is much lower there. In the final analysis, they have a higher standard of living with an activist union. 
Do NYC teachers need to organize a real union? 
Update Saturday: My prediction was right but not by much. I just saw on Twitter that the CTU contract was ratified by an 81% to 19% margin with 80% counted. After the 2012 strike, 78% approved. If NYC ever got a 16% raise over 5 years, it would receive a 99% yes vote. 
We have a quote from CTU President Jesse Sharkey from the Chicago Tribune:
"Do I feel like we got everything we deserved in schools? No. And I hope our members aren’t satisfied, either. We live in one of the richest cities in the wealthiest nation in the world, and it’s time Chicago officials start investing in the future of our city — our children,” he said.
I just totally respect that fighting spirit they have  out in Illinois!
P.S. Please no comments on dropping out of the UFT as a protest response. I have answered the same comment over and over. Nobody has refuted my argument that there are no examples in history of workers dropping union representation en masse and then achieving better working conditions. I do not want to spend another minute of time arguing the same old issue. 
Scabs are welcome to start their own blog. Union dissidents are welcome here as are any and all union supporters.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


I have been attempting for a long time to get the UFT members who read this blog to step up to the plate to take action in defense of teacher rights.  I haven't been overly successful for sure except for inducing comments. Unfortunately, anonymous comments here or comments on Facebook aren't going to do anything more than allow people to vent about horrible working conditions in many schools. For anyone who has a spine or wants to grow one, please don't comment but rather take action. The Contract is generally on our side when it comes to student grades. Let us now examine how to use it.

Article 8D. Students’ Grades
The teacher’s judgment in grading students is to be respected; therefore if the principal changes a student’s grade in any subject for a grading period, the principal shall notify the teacher of the reason for the change in writing.

We as the professionals are contractually entitled to judge students as we see fit (within guidelines) and a principal must inform a teacher of a grade change and put the reason for the change in writing. Administration must go on the written record to challenge a grade a teacher gives. If teachers have a school or departmental grading policy that they are adhering to, those teachers are on very solid ground contractually. It is important to document why any particular student received a certain grade. If someone is worried about being cited for not doing interventions, documenting contacts to guidance or home should be sufficient to have grades respected and it does not have to be multiple home contacts, especially if there are 34 students on a register.

I can already read the anonymous comments. I will save you the trouble.

"Anonymous said: If I assert my rights and give the students the grades they deserve, the principal and the assistant principal and maybe the superintendent will be in my room the next morning and I will be given all 1's on a setup Danielson observation."


"Anonymous said: Are you crazy James? The day I grade honestly is the day I will have corporal punishment or some other charge thrown at me. No, I am going to play the game to survive."


"Anonymous said: The kids don't do any work and don't show up and still pass. They feel entitled to freebies from the liberal government. I can't stop it so I'm opting out of the union instead of fighting for my rights. At least I'll have some extra money that I can put it in my TDA that only gets 7% (not 8.25%) interest because of the UFT."


"Anonymous said: My principal requires us to contact parents every other day if we want to fail a student. It's easier to just pass them all.


"Anonymous said: My chapter leader goes out for drinks every Friday with the principal. He won't do anything if I ask him to. My colleagues won't listen to me so I'm not doing anything."

Please spare me the above nobody will support me comments, thank you. I won't print them!

I agree with you that doing this alone might not be the smartest action if you do not have tenure, your principal is crazy, your chapter leader loves your insane principal, or you are devoid of even the slightest hint of a backbone. On the other hand, if a teacher asserted his/her rights over grades being respected and then received a negative observation, I would advise that teacher to file an APPR Complaint immediately in which I would counsel them to scream retaliation from the highest mountain peak to the chapter leader, the district representative, or if that doesn't get a response to Sue Edelman at the NY Post, to Councilman Robert Holden, and finally to ICEUFT where if you provide us with evidence, we would publish the name of the school and the principal if you are so inclined. I bet Norm (EdNotes) and Chaz would support you too.

I understand this is not easy. If you are reluctant to stand up for yourself by going at it alone as it might just be next to impossible, would you consider collective action? Workers should fight collectively.

If teachers want to fight grade inflation-fraud as a chapter, the Article 19 mandated UFT Consultation Committee meetings with the principal are a great place to raise grade inflation/fraud at the chapter level. Then, there is the often ignored Article 24 process. Again, from the Contract:

The Board and the Union agree that professional involvement of teachers in
educational issues should be encouraged. However, it is recognized that there may be
differences in professional judgment.
A. School Level

1. Where differences related to school-based decisions in one of the following areas
cannot be resolved, a conciliation process will be available to facilitate the resolution of
these differences:
a. Curriculum mandates
b. Textbook selection
c. Program offerings and scheduling
d. Student testing procedures and appraisal methodology
e. Pedagogical and instructional strategy, technique and methodology.

In order to utilize the conciliation process, the 
UFT chapter may request, through the
Union, the service of (a) person(s) identified as expert in conciliation. Selections of such
person(s) will be made by the Board and the Union from a list of conciliators mutually
agreed upon by the Board and the Union.

2. Within five school days, the Board Coordinator will contact the appropriate
superintendent who will promptly advise the Board Coordinator as to whether he/she will
directly address the issue.
a. If the issue is addressed by the superintendent, he/she should resolve it within ten
school days. If not resolved, the Board Coordinator will assign a conciliator at the end of
that period.
b. If the superintendent does not respond to the Board Coordinator or advises that
he/she is not addressing the issue, the Board Coordinator will assign a Conciliator within
five school days.

Notice that one of the issues that has to be addressed if a chapter asks for it is "Student testing procedures and appraisal methodology." Teachers are contractually entitled to a voice on testing and appraisal. If the standards at a school are nonexistent, as people here are constantly writing anonymously, then use the Article 24 process. Get it to the superintendent as fast as possible. Publicize it. I think chapters could very well be successful. Please no comments about the chapter leader sleeping with the principal. Get a group together and light a figurative spark under the chapter leader.

The Contract is there for members to utilize. The UFT should get ahead of the grade inflation/fraud issue instead of making nice-nice with management, particularly if the grade inflation/fraud is as widespread as readers here are leading us to believe.

For those who would rather hide in the corner and just play the game, this issue is not going away. Please read today's NY Post editorial.

The conclusion:
Bottom line: Most city kids aren’t getting the “sound, basic education” that courts have ruled the state Constitution requires. But it’s not, as past lawsuits have suggested, about the money: It’s about the DOE’s top-to-bottom complicity in hiding its failure.

Rather than face the truth, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently suggested, “There’s something wrong” with the National Assessment of Education Progress tests (the gold standard of US exams!) because they show no progress in city schools. In other words, he’d rather the fraud continue, so he can claim success.

Federal prosecutors spent years getting the goods on the city Housing Authority’s systematic coverup of its failures. Holden’s entirely right to ask for a similar exposé of the school system.

The forces that hate public schools like the NY Post Editorial Board are going to use grade inflation-fraud as another excuse to privatize the schools. We can and should get ahead of them by blaming the city and central Department of Education for the lack of integrity in certain schools as this is a top-down dictatorial type school system. We should be demanding that grade inflation is stopped and that integrity is restored to the schools. Empowering teachers is the way to accomplish this as it was done before former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Chancellor Joel Klein basically destroyed teacher voice at the school level. UFT chapters were a very good check on the system before Bloomberg-Klein. 

There is one major caveat here. I am asking for reasonable standards and responsible grading. I was often considered a rather easy grader but now my standards would be considered rigorous. I am definitely not condoning teachers who demand graduate school level work in a high school course and find every student lacking. We can start to restore some sanity by pushing for an easily enforceable seat time requirement for a student to receive credit. Joel Klein took the 90% attendance requirement to be promoted out of the Chancellor's Regulations. Let's insist that it be placed back in.

For those who think this can't be done legally, I submit a part of State Education Regulation 104.1:

(3) ensure sufficient pupil attendance at all scheduled periods of actual instruction or supervised study activities to permit such pupils to succeed at meeting the State learning standards.

And further down:
(v) a description of the school district, BOCES, charter school, county vocational education and extension board or nonpublic school policy regarding pupil attendance and a pupil's ability to receive course credit. Any board of education, board of cooperative educational services, charter school board or county vocational education and extension board that adopts a policy establishing a minimum standard of attendance in order for a pupil to be eligible for course credit shall have the authority to determine that a properly excused pupil absence, for which the pupil has performed any assigned make up work, shall not be counted as an absence for the purpose of determining the pupil's eligibility for course credit under such policy. In the event a board of education, board of cooperative educational services, charter school board or county vocational education and extension board adopts a minimum attendance standard as a component of its policy, such policy shall include a description of the notice to a pupil's parent(s) or person(s) in parental relation as well as the specific intervention strategies to be employed prior to the denial of course credit to the pupil for insufficient attendance.

Positive change can occur but more people have to step up and demand it. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019


The latest from Sue Edelman in the NY Post  informs the public that Council Member Robert Holden has taken the case against NYC DOE grade fraud to U.S. Attorneys.

A Queens lawmaker has asked the US Department of Justice to investigate “deep-rooted fraud” in the city Department of Education, The Post has learned.

Citing a “widespread problem” in the DOE, Councilman Robert Holden is calling for a federal probe of grade-fixing — possibly under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) — which covers wrongdoing conducted as part of a criminal enterprise, such as Mafia families.

“Due to the apparent pattern of conspiracy to cover up such deep-rooted fraud within the DOE that has likely been going on for many years now, I have been advised that this could constitute a federal RICO investigation,” Holden’s wrote in a Oct. 25 letter to US Attorneys Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan and Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn. Both did not comment.

Further down:
Holden contends the DOE does not tackle academic fraud aggressively because it inflates the graduation rate and other data.

“They’re doing it to make their bottom line look good. That’s the definition of organized crime. That’s what the DOE has turned into,” he said.

David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center education professor, found the “conspiracy” charge too strong.

But he said, “It does appear that the central DOE is happily complacent in its oversight. They’re complacent because they can enjoy the fruits of the corrupt data.”

This piece is not shocking to anyone who reads this blog and/or works in many New York City schools. Is it organized crime? Will the UFT get caught in this? Will teachers and administrators be in legal trouble?

The likelihood of teachers who comment here being arrested who admit they pass undeserving students is not that great unless a RICO investigation truly catches fire. However, a little integrity and backbone can really help teachers and now you have a City Councilman supporting you. You might want to give your principal and chapter leader Holden's letter (see below) and stand up for yourself. When you are pressured to pass a student with 20 absences in a 25 day marking period who has done no work, show them the letter and tell them you refuse to be a part of a possible racketeering fraud that the Feds are being asked to investigate by an elected official. If your next evaluation is developing or ineffective, blow the retaliation whistle. If you continue to be complicit in the fraud, there is a chance that this might not end well.

Back to the Post article:
Applauding Holden’s request is Max Eden, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute think tank who specializes in education.

“There should be a RICO probe,” Eden said. “School and district officials face essentially no accountability or consequences for fraud. When it comes to making sure that school officials follow the law, the prospect of a bad news article is nowhere near as strong as the specter of handcuffs.”


Saturday, November 09, 2019


From the Washington Post:
ACT scores for the high school Class of 2019 show that rates of college readiness in English and math have sunk to record lows, testing officials reported Wednesday.

Among nearly 1.8 million in the class who took the college admission test at least once, ACT — the nonprofit group that administers it — reported that 59 percent reached a score indicating readiness in English and 39 percent did so in math. Those results continued a several-year slide. The English readiness rate was the lowest since the readiness measure debuted in 2002, and the math readiness rate equaled a record low set in 2002.

ACT defines its readiness benchmark as a score indicating a student has at least a 50 percent chance of getting a B or higher in a corresponding first-year college course. For English, the ACT benchmark is 18 out of a maximum 36. For math, it is 22.

It's not just New York. It's a national trend downward.

School choice, closing schools, firing/demeaning/pressuring teacher to pass everyone and common core lead to lower test results. Any teacher could have told you this would happen.

Once students know they pass no matter what because teachers and principals fear for their jobs, this is the inevitable result.

Thursday, November 07, 2019


I have read some responses to this year's release of National Assessment of Educational Progress scores. The NAEP is a national test given every two years with low stakes for the students who don't even see the results.We go as usual to Diane Ravitch for some guidance.

After a generation of disruptive reforms—No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, VAM and Common Core—after a decade or more of disinvestment in education, after years of bashing and demoralizing teachers, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for 2019 shows the results:

Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest-performing students are doing worse,” said Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP. “In fact, over the long term in reading, the lowest-performing students—those readers who struggle the most—have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos predictably used the results to call for more privatization of schools in the form of private school vouchers and charter schools. 

Ravitch answers back:
Addendum to DeVos remarks:

The lowest performing urban districts—Detroit and Milwaukee—have had school choice for 25 years.

How did New York City do on the NAEP?

The city’s scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP — given to a random sampling of fourth and eighth graders every two years in math and English — have essentially remained stagnant for the past several years, according to 2019 data released Wednesday. (One notable exception was a five-point drop in fourth-grade math scores from 2013, when de Blasio was elected.)

New York City scores on 2019’s tests were below the national average as well as the state average. The city’s scores were roughly in the middle of the pack of the 27 urban districts that participate in a city-level comparison.

New York City was not unique in posting flat scores. In fact, national scores have essentially remained flat for a decade, the data show.

My favorite reaction is from Louisiana where former Deputy NYC Chancellor John White, who twice came to Jamaica High School to push for closing our school, who is now the State Education Commissioner in Louisiana. White is the ed deformer's deformer. 

Here is a little of Mercedes Schneider's analysis of the latest fall in NAEP and ACT scores in Louisiana:
After seven years of John White as Louisiana’s state superintendent, the results were so unsavory to White and his Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) that his Louisiana 2019 NAEP Results Summary does not include a single actual NAEP scaled score.

Mercedes then shows the numbers to prove that there is no great Louisiana miracle and then she cites falling ACT scores to hammer home the point. Her conclusion:

John White and LDOE have no control over the reporting of NAEP scores and state-level ACT results– which means that these test scores are not susceptible to LDOE manipulation, and the results cannot be concealed from public view.

Therefore, NAEP and state-level ACT results provide the most objective measure of the test-score-centered ed reformers themselves– reformers like John White.

He is the head reformer in charge; for his reformer-success image, it all comes down to the test scores.

Louisiana’s 2019 NAEP and ACT results are a highly-visible, undeniable John White failure, and he knows it.

Sometimes I must admit I am a little disappointed that cooler heads prevailed so my friend did not take Mr. White out to the parking lot at Jamaica High School to settle our differences as he threatened to do him directly back in 2010. Just kidding, I'm against violence.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019


When Randi Weingarten sends an email to AFT activists saluting the gains the Chicago Teachers Union made from striking and NYSUT puts the strike in their weekly Leader Briefing as the lead story, you know the world could be changing. Randi, who never met a giveback she didn't like (see 2005-2006, UFT Contracts for evidence), and the ever cautious NYSUT (let's keep student assessments in teacher evaluations)  are not usually big advocates of strikes. On the other hand, many of the rank and file in Chicago aren't so sure their strike won enough to be worth it.

This is a major portion of Randi's email to e-activists highlighting the wins of the strike:
In 1995, Chicago educators were stripped of their bargaining rights and their voice to affect learning and teaching conditions. The city's students, especially minority and special needs students, lost resources and even some neighborhood schools as a result. Fighting to make up those losses, the Chicago Teachers Union, AFT Local 1, went on strike last month.

Last night, the CTU ended that strike after the last issue—making up instructional days—was resolved. The CTU’s House of Delegates voted to recommend the tentative agreement negotiated with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, which secured historic victories for Chicago students and educators. The new contract includes:
  • A nurse assigned to every school.
  • A social worker assigned to every school.
  • A staffing pipeline: $2.5 million in recruitment and training programs for clinicians, $2 million in tuition and licensure for nurses, increased investments in “grow your own” teacher pipeline programs, and 50 percent tuition reimbursement for English learner and bilingual endorsement programs.
  • $35 million annually to reduce overcrowded K-12 classrooms across the district, prioritizing schools serving the most vulnerable students.
  • Unprecedented enforcement mechanisms for class size relief.
  • A Sports Committee with an annual budget of $5 million (33 percent increase in annual funding) for increases to coaching stipends and new equipment/resources.
  • Rescinding (as of July 1, 2019) the January 2019 0.8 percent increase in the healthcare contribution rate; no plan changes to health insurance benefits and reductions in co-pays for mental health services and physical therapy.
  • Bank of sick days earned after July 1, 2012, increased from 40 to 244 days.
  • Special education individualized education plans will be developed solely by the IEP team; principals will be required to use substitutes or release time to provide adequate time for special education duties to the extent possible; special ed teachers will get common preparation periods with general education teachers where possible; special ed teachers will be the last to be called to cover classes; and a $2.5 million annual fund will be provided to reduce workload for counselors, case managers and clinicians.
  • Salaries will increase 16 percent over the life of the contract (17 percent compounded).
  • Average PSRP pay will increase nearly 40 percent during the contract term.
  • Starting PSRP salaries will increase 5-9 percent depending on grade.
  • Veteran teachers (step 14 and above) will receive an additional aggregate $5 million in salary increases ($25 million over five years).

On top of these contract victories, the CTU secured commitments from the governor and legislative leaders to move bills that would restore full bargaining rights to Chicago educators and school support staff. They also committed to an elected school board. One reporter called it a “virtual guarantee.”

Randi traditionally touted concession after concession as victory. I don't recall seeing an email like this after the 2012 Chicago strike or after many others nationally since 2018. This seems different. She is even bragging about the likely end of Mayoral Control of schools in Chicago and probable return to an elected school board.

Onward to New York State United Teachers. I have not seen NYSUT say that much about the waves of teacher strikes spreading across the country. My guess is they fear we would wake up in New York and demand more activist unions. That is why I was pleasantly surprised to see this is the lead story in the weekly NYSUT Leader Briefing:

Nov. 1

Chicago union wins big for educational justice

NYSUT congratulates the Chicago Teachers Union on reaching a successor agreement this week after 15 days on strike. CTU members went back to school today after negotiating a settlement that provides more nurses and counselors and a salary increase. The city and the union agreed to make up five days of student instruction.

The country is changing when it comes to teachers and labor.  The public will support us. It is obviously easier to win that public backing if we are fighting to improve student learning conditions as well as for better wages and benefits. That public support includes cities like Chicago where teachers are already paid a decent middle class salary.

Let's go to Randi again from the AFT News article on the Chicago settlement.
“This historic fight for what students deserve represents a paradigm shift: It wasn’t simply a fight to mitigate the damage of austerity, it was a fight to create the conditions that both students and educators need,” AFT President Randi Weingarten says. “This strike, like so many other fights to fund our future, is about building the political will to strengthen our public schools so all kids have their shot at success.”

In case you are thinking this is too good to be true, among the teachers in Chicago there was real controversy over the deal as covered in Substance and in New York at EdNotes. Here are the minutes of the contract debate in the Chicago House of Delegates from Substance:

Below are brief comments from delegates either supporting or opposing the strike suspension. Note that I do not always hear the names or schools of delegates but I include them when I can.

-Craig Cleave – opposes the resolution as the amount of money allocated for veteran teachers pay is “unacceptable”. Note: veteran teachers are at the top of the pay scale after 14 years and get no annual increase in pay. The proposed TA would allow them to get some extra money, but one delegate computed it to be about $250 per year.

-Fulton School delegate – opposes it as there is not enough in the TA for elementary schools.

-Alison Eichorn from Lindbloom – opposes it. She is the programmer at her school and she knows she will be told to program regular high school classes for 31 students. This is under the trigger and remediation of class size can only come at the request of the teacher AND can only take place if there is enough money left in the pot after the most needy schools are taken care of first.

-An elementary delegate opposes the TA because the class size caps are not real caps and she was concerned over teacher assistants being shared between different teachers.

-Another elementary teacher opposed it due to the lack of guaranteed prep time in the grammar schools

-Ed Hershey from Lindbloom opposes it because the elementary schools didn’t get needed prep time

-The Prosser High delegate said all of his members voted “No” on the TA because there was no definite printed salary schedule, the vet teachers pay was inadequate, and the $35 million for class size remediation was not nearly enough.

-Carlson School opposed it as its 67 members need the prep time

-Frank McDonald from Washington High opposes it because of the vagueness in the information provided about getting the 4.5 law repealed and in getting an elected school board law passed.

-Chris Burns, a high school teacher, supports elementary prep time.

-Delegate Roberts from Brentano School and a BBT member supports the proposal. She feels “…we have some historic wins here…”. She feels Lightfoot will cancel members’ health insurance if the strike goes to Friday. Jesse responded that if insurance is cut off, then COBRA will kick in. He admitted that it is very expensive but that one doesn’t have to pay for it immediately unless one needs to use it right away. When he said that I glanced at the delegate sitting next to me who was 8-9 months pregnant!

-The Brighton Park delegate said her school is about 50/50

-John Pardo from Phillips said his school is split 50/50 over the class size provision.

-Jim Vail from Hammond School opposes having a 5-year contract.

-Karen Soto of Waters School, a BBT member, supports the proposal. She said “we are creating handholds that will take us closer to the next level”.

-The Ray School delegate said her co-workers were 60% against the proposal and wanted more time to look over it.

-Sarah Chambers, a BBT member, pointed to some of the pluses in the contract; the sick day bank extended from 40 to 244 days, the ending of the Khronos system for punching in and out of school, and that there were 23 improvements affecting Special ed.

-A delegate lauded that we didn’t lose anything and philosophized that we shouldn’t expect to get everything.

-The Hawthorne Academy delegate favored the resolution saying “We can be righteous or we can be effective”. She also was concerned that we would lose public support if we stayed out too long.

-Oscar Ortiz was totally in favor of it.

-The Kennedy High delegate said that 80% of the faculty wants to stay out over veteran teachers’ pay, elementary prep time, and no restrictions on the CPS from closing schools.

-LaShawn Wallace, a Para, and BBT member, supported the resolution as it got very good salary increases for PSRPs.

--Roxanne Gonzalez, one of the 9 CTU members arrested the day before, wanted more time to look over the TA.

-A high school delegate said her faculty was 90% opposed to the TA because of the lack of prep time for elementary teachers, and concerns over weaknesses in the CTE programs that have not been addressed.

-The delegate from Back of the Yards College Prep was concerned that we would not be able to sustain our picketing and our strike much longer.

--The Ravenswood School delegate was strongly opposed to the resolution at the start but admitted she was more open to acceptance although she was unclear over the issue of class size remediation.

At this point, Emily Paine, a social worker delegate, called the question, i.e., end debate and then vote on the matter. I voted against her as I always believe that people should have a chance to have there say. My brother, Retiree Delegate Larry Milkowski, voted to support Paine’s motion. He didn’t feel that anything new would be added to the discussion. The motion carried.

As a Retiree delegate I am not allowed to vote on a strike matter but I would have voted to continue the strike. However, the House voted to accept the resolution, 364-242, with 4 abstentions.

A real debate! I am so envious.

It is only a matter of time before a union in NY catches labor militancy fever.  Human rights violating Taylor law fines be damned. I would like it to be teachers in NYC but I don't expect the UFT leadership will lead any real militant struggle. Demand for change needs to come from the rank and file.

For UFT members here, please stop wasting everyone's time complaining anonymously online about the UFT and organize a better union yourselves.  Chicago is different from us in that the CTU is a democratic union while the ruling Unity Caucus (Randi and Mulgrew's party) has an iron grip on our UFT and is more interested in control than any genuine discussion. Our job as dissidents is to spread the word to others that so many teachers around the country are standing up for themselves and achieving real gains for teachers and public schools. I hope I have not yet gone to the great beyond when NYC joins that movement.