SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: MORE Needs to Change

Sunday, August 31, 2014

MORE Needs to Change

First let me share, for those who don't know, that I am a Jew. It seems important in this conversation, but from what I have been reading it is. I am not a Lower Eastside Jew, wait I am. My paternal grandfather and his family first lived on Ave C and 9th St when they first came over in 1903. Eventually they moved to the Bronx and my grandfather was quite active in Tammany Hall. Oh, and during prohibition ran booze down from Canada and after that sold Slivovitz out of the trunk of his Buick that my great grandfather had produced using my 6 year old father and his 8 year old cousin to smash the plums in the bathtub in his apartment on Walton Ave in the Bronx.


I also have some tried and blue Communists in my family. A cousin, the actor Howard Da Silva (He played Louis B Mayer in "Mommie Dearest" and Ben Franklin in "1776") was a Communist and blacklisted by Joe McCarthy.

When my dad's uncle went off to Berkeley in the mid 1920's, it was Howard Da Silva who turned him onto Communism. My great uncle was soon ushered out of the State Department just before WW II, moved to China after the war, fell out of favor with Mao in 1949, and moved to Rome where he lived until his death in 1977.

My great-aunt (My grandfathers sister) said to me about 20 years ago (This coming from a 91 year old short Jewish woman) "I'll kill anyone in the family that doesn't vote for a Democrat."

Oh, before I forget, I lost family in the Holocaust. My maternal grandmother's uncle (As well as her brother in law. He married her sister!) died in the Lødz Ghetto in 1941 along with his wife and his children. His name, Maurcy Trébacz, one of the most famous Jewish-Polish artists of his time.

So, enough of the bromides, M'kay?

But I am not writing to share my life or make my life the center of this blog post, rather I wish to share why I am disappointed with MORE and fear for it's future.

First, there are some very good people with MORE. These people are able to see both sides of the issue and able to listen to others. These people want to see MORE (As do I) be able to overtake Unity and take control of the union. But the perspective is that MORE will much rather deal with this "Social Justice" mantra than deal with the fact that TEACHERS ACROSS THE CITY ARE HURTING AND IN PAIN AND HAVE NOWHERE TO TURN.

Francesco Portelos was arrested and spent 33 hours locked up (And let's not forget this). My story. Christine Rubino. Jeff Storobinsky. ATR's? And let's not forget the countless stories that come into my email and DTOE's each and every day from teachers being harassed, belittled and discontinued.

Where is MORE on this? Not to be seen of nor heard from. Nothing. Nada. Bupkus.

When it was suggested that MORE picket and/or have a presser in front of Sam Pirozzolo's optical store, it was met with an extremely tepid response.  

When I suggested to someone at MORE  that they should have had someone or people picket the 84th precinct when Portelos was arrested (It was known several days in advance of Portelos' pending arrest) the answer I received was. "It will look stupid."

But how did I get to have this audience with such a person? This MORE person called me up, on a SUNDAY, and without even saying, "Hey Pete, this is *******," went into such a tirade, that the senior citizens at the CVS I was at were not only able to hear this tirade and imagine the frothing at the mouth from this person, but were blushing.

Yet, teachers do not get support, yet Con Ed workers do from MORE? Why do ConEd workers on strike get attention and teachers don't? Oh yeah, "Well if we show them support, they will show is the same." A lot of people are still awaiting our blue helmeted brethren.

But MORE has no problem supporting the march of a race baiting, anti-Semite while not supporting the cops and the NYCPBA? Edited for the crazies (IN RED) who forgot what I had written  a week ago: Firstly, what happened in Staten Island was wrong. Do I think that people of color are treated differently by than others my some NYPD officers? Yes. Does this effect the way the community interacts with NYPD? Yes. Should the UFT have supported this march? No way.

The UFT showed it's hypocrisy in supporting the march for the act of one police officer. We as teachers are broad brushed day in and day out by the acts of a very few. We are railed against, beaten down and left on an island without any support. By making this march about the UFT's involvement we have put the 99% of officers of the NYPD who do the right thing in the shoes we don't like being forced to wear by outsiders.
And....
The UFT could have showed it's support for the community in other ways than endorsing this march.

We as teachers could have been asked or encouraged to go out into that Staten Island community and found common cause with the citizens. We as teachers have been subject to heavy handed tactics by Tweed and worse, SCI. We, both teachers and the Staten Island community have been affected by the last 20 years in this city of a top down, heavy handed, oligarchy, near police state by our elected officials and those at 1 Police Plaza.
Oh yeah, the old, "What have cops done for teachers?" But then what have ConEd workers done for teachers?

When I bring this up on the MORE listserv what happens? I get a phone call, while I'm in Chicago going to a Cubs game, telling me to cool it. This smacks of if not censorship, but rather being told to toe the party line.

I want nothing more (Pardon the pun) to see MORE succeed. But it is trying to be too many things to too many constituencies. MORE must concentrate on the teachers, the schools, the students, and education and only then will the social justice aspect fall into place.

MORE needs to show the same fervor for teachers that are mistreated and shat upon that it shows for others. It needs to be GEOGRAPHICALLY more (Again, pardon the pun) inclusive.

MORE, has a perception issue. It is real and there are a lot of people that feel this way. And this are not pro-unity, pro status quo people. These are people that truly are searching for an alternative and feel that MORE can be that great alternative but these people just have far too many qualms and concerns about MORE.

It's too bad that they don't truly see that.


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am Jewish and my grandparents came over around the same time as yours. Although I do not always agree with you, I respect your integrity. You describe the situation in urban schools accurately without rose colored glasses. Reading your blog has helped me come to terms with my professional morass. You welcome dissenting opinions. No one has the right to try to tone you down. Continue as you are!

A Devoted Reader

NYCUrbanEd said...

Ha!

NONE of you people (bloggers, activists, causers, do-gooders, thinkers, w/e) are exactly what I would have once described as my kind of people (no lie; a large part of the reason for the moniker(s) is because I have a lot of friends who just wouldn't be friends with me if they knew I blogged and tweeted about this (or any) thing). So you may think about considering my objective POV here, ok?

As activist groups go, they deserve a lot more credit than you give them here, man!

I know that the bedside manner of some of the folks are not so good. Will some make you feel like you're being judged as a person based on your world philosophies? Oh yeah. And for people who care about that, I can see how that would really sting. Granted, I doubt you would have gotten yelled (?) at at CVS if you're opinion was more widely shared by more folks in the group. But I should remind you that you (and I, btw) are not the type of person who care about that sort of crap. That's just some (some) of the people WITHIN the group. That's not the group. If you want to judge the group, you have to judge it based on more than that (no pun intended).

Here's a case in point; I saw you mentioned (then edited!) their support of the Sharpton-led march. The group didn't have to come out as a group in support of that march as an organization. In fact, there was a proposal put out there to just stay quiet on the matter on the UFT's support of the march (as a caucus ..not as individuals..) altogether. That proposal came from non other than me. And yet no one, and I mean no one (sorry ... did I mention NO ONE) seconded that proposal or even responded to it.

(Eric Cartman voice) ... no one ... no one ... no one... ;)

and, because it was ignored, there was no discussion on it at all.


But dude, you (and all of our buddies) are part of that no one! If you had come out in support of a proposal (or made a similar one on your own) that would have left MORE silent on the issue of supporting the march, do you think you would have been bugged on the line at CVS for proposing it? Or at Wrigley? NO man. Of course not. But you didn't say anything, and when MORE supported the UFT's support of the march, you got upset (I'm not. But I can see that you are and I accept that).

(no one ....no one .... no one ... :)

So!! ... Are you upset that MORE supported (as a caucus) the UFT's support of the march (I'm really not that upset about it at all, but are you upset?)? Well you should have seconded the proposal! .. or made one your own! That's how groups that aspire to have all voices heard work (more or less).


So .. to recap ...
1) We all know who our friends in this world are and aren't. But "friends" and "allies working for a similar cause" are two different things. YOU, for instance, are my friend. I'd drink beer and blog and bs with you. But I'd never talk about sports, religion or politics, because we just don't see things the same way. THEY are my allies for a stronger more democratic union (and, sure, maybe even a better world..and what tf is wrong with that, dude). I expect little more from them than that (and for most of the members to maintain a professional tone when they address me) and so should you.

2) But you have to fight for that steering wheel!! Democracy isn't a noun SoBro. It's a verb. It's easy to throw bricks at the house from the outside. It's much more difficult (MUCH more difficult!!) to go inside and try to make it better. You're my buddy regardless of what you want to do (and I hope you feel the same way), but you may consider staying in the house a bit longer and see if you can't influence it from within ...

... just my advice (but what do I know? I'm freggin' 'nuts anyway!)

Anonymous said...

I voted the MORE ticket during the last UFT election. However, they need to stick to teacher related topics and stay out of the whole social justice nonsense. I am way more concerned with the DOE than some communist inspired social agenda.

ed notes online said...

Where is MORE on this? Not to be seen of nor heard from. Nothing. Nada. Bupkus.

What bullshit. I am MORE. Eterno is MORE. Kit Wainer is MORE. Peter Lamphere is MORE. Julie Cavanagh is MORE. No one - not you or anyone has been there more for teachers over the past 20 years than me. I am MORE and when I do what I do to defend teachers - including you, Portelos, Rubino etc I do it as a proud member of MORE - in fact it is groups like MORE and ICE before it that empowers us to defend people - MORE does this behind the scenes - MORE doesn't blab it all around but every activist in MORE is out there defending teachers every day -- you know what -- whether left, right or center they actually get elected in their schools because they defend teachers. If I got only 4 votes for chapter leader I wouldn't go around slamming people who actually have the support of their colleagues. MORE hopefully will ignore this crap and go on doing what it does best - defending people - and yes that includes teachers and children since any teacher worth his or her weight will defend the kids they teach. If you want to call that social justice, or a lefty position, so be it.
I intend to deal with these lies and distortions on ed notes over time. As I often say, I am the man who knows too much.
Just in case you wanted to know why I defriended you on FB - when I see you using McCarthy like tactics of redbaiting that cost hundreds of teachers their jobs for being communists I wonder which side you are really on.
Oh - and I am a Jew too- have been for 70 years which gives me Jew seniority over you - and lost people in the Hollocaust - yada yada yada -

ed notes online said...

Here's another lie:
"I want nothing more (Pardon the pun) to see MORE succeed."
Double bullshit since you told me on the phone Thursday afternoon that MORE will implode and DTOE will be the big thing and run in the UFT 2016 elections. So in your own self-interest you want MORE to fail and are using these posts to slander MORE for nefarious purposes. Increasingly you are meeting my category of POS Slug -

NYCUrbanEd said...

Oh, these comments are too funny!

Look, if wanting members of the Black and Latino communities to be treated fairly is leftist, then slap me silly and call me leftist. If Norm (Norm!?) has taken to calling you out for something, then clearly it's a lot deeper.

Look, you guys don't need someone like me to tear yourselves apart into a million splinters. You've all been doing very well with that without people like me for, looks like, 50+ years now. That said, when they ask for dues next month, I'll be signing back up with MORE. Hope I don't lose any friends from it because the blogging community has been absolutely wonderful to me.

Hope everyone has an awesome school year!

Bronx Teacher said...

Norm, let's breakdown what you said.

"What bullshit. I am MORE. Eterno is MORE. Kit Wainer is MORE. Peter Lamphere is MORE. Julie Cavanagh is MORE."

This in no way reflects any of the above mentioned.

"I am MORE and when I do what I do to defend teachers - including you, Portelos, Rubino etc I do it as a proud member of MORE - in fact it is groups like MORE and ICE before it that empowers us to defend people"

Norm, you do and always will and your support has always been appreciated. But, you would do it whether you were with MORE or ICE or Unity, or just on your own.

"MORE does this behind the scenes - MORE doesn't blab it all around but every activist in MORE is out there defending teachers every day"

Where? How? Let's see it. But ConEd workers, Al Sharpton there is no problem in being front and center?

"whether left, right or center they actually get elected in their schools because they defend teachers."

As individuals yes, but as a group?

"If I got only 4 votes for chapter leader I wouldn't go around slamming people who actually have the support of their colleagues"

They are not being slammed. Read again. My beef is with the LACK of support teachers are getting from MORE while others organizations are getting support.

"MORE hopefully will ignore this crap and go on doing what it does best - defending people - and yes that includes teachers and children since any teacher worth his or her weight will defend the kids they teach. If you want to call that social justice, or a lefty position, so be it."

That's what I and others have been saying. The social justice will grown organically with the defense and advocacy of teachers, students, the school, and the communities. Sheesh!!!

"when I see you using McCarthy like tactics of redbaiting that cost hundreds of teachers their jobs for being communists I wonder which side you are really on"

Well I hope you unfriended Brian Jones as well for his abhorrent attack on Israel's right to exist which ipso facto is an attack on Jews.

Bronx Teacher said...

"'I want nothing more (Pardon the pun) to see MORE succeed.'
Double bullshit since you told me on the phone Thursday afternoon that MORE will implode and DTOE will be the big thing and run in the UFT 2016 elections."

I want MORE to succeed. It is a lot of work to start and form a caucus. But, I do believe that the path MORE is heading on will only hurt it and in effect hurt teachers. If my son does not work on his Torah portion and I tell him he will not succeed on his Bar Mitzvah if he doesn't, does this mean I want him to fail?

Bronx Teacher said...

This has nothing to do with the teachers of color being treated fairly, again it is the non-education, non-teacher stuff that MORE feels a need to meddle in.

ed notes online said...

And you are wrong. The reason a former mouse-like guy like Norm can defend teachers is because I was empowered by the social justice teacher group I was in in the 70s - people like the deceased Priscos - Loretta was arrested and strip searched by your friends the cops for putting our lit in teacher mail boxes. And the same people started ICE and GEME and MORE. Your attacks are on me and the Priscos and all the people who came before whose sense of social justice gave us the moral and political power to stand up to the bullies at the DOE and the UFT time and again. So your fundamental lack of understanding and unwillingness to try to understand has just about made me have it with you. I won't sell you out even though I know too much, like you would sell out people whose views you don't agree with.