Friday, March 25, 2016

33 Is a Sad Number

Thirty-three. It is an interesting number. So many associations. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rolling Rock beer, Jose Canseco, Patrick Ewing, Kris Draper, Eddie Murray along with so many others who wore that number with pride.

But today we shall talk about the indignity, or rather, the albatross of the number 33 and what it really means.

It means that one is a false prophet, a charlatan, a fraud, a huckster.

For months we have been hearing of the solid power emanating from a little itsy bity man, Landru. 

Landru preys on people's fears. Makes false promises. Promised his cult that he would lead them to the promised land. That all would be fine. 

But when push came to shove, when crunch time came, Landru failed and failed big.

The worse part is Landru could not accept it. Landru couldn't handle that the rules applied to him.

"WAH-WAH-WAH," cried Landru and like that dork we always see with that lateral lisp screamed out, "I'LL SUE YOU!!! I'LL SEE YOU IN COURT!!!"

Why couldn't Landru have more than 33 Lawgivers to serve him? Too many know the real truth of Landru, they are no longer "of the body." They see through the charade.

Landru was too focused on himself say some. Some say that many didn't want to be seen with or supporting Landru. But most say that the numbers that Landru spoke of were an illusion, and fraud, and roomful of mirrors.

But what Landru is is nothing but a paper tiger.  A scared paper tiger that is acts tough but in reality scurries away, not like a cockroach but a rat, when the chips are down and refuses to look in the mirror at Landru's inabilities.

Look behind the wall and see what Landru really is. Festival is no more.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Come to Bronx MORE Happy Hour on March 24!!!

Come to a Bronx MORE Happy Hour!

Thursday March 24  4 p.m.
Wish 37 Bar
37 Bruckner BlvdBronx, NY

  • Do you want a more democratic union?
  • Do you support the opt out movement and Oppose Common Core, Danielson Evaluations and High Stakes Testing?
  • Do you think that teachers and all city workers deserve paid parental leave?
  • Do you oppose systemic school segregation and racism?
  • Do you oppose the delayed payment of retroactive pay and the increase in health care co-pays that stem from concessions in our last contract?

Come discuss the upcoming UFT election with MORE election candidates and activists in the Bronx.  Meet High School Executive Board candidate David Garcia Rosen, restorative dean and athletic director at the Bronx Academy of Letters and the lead organizer of NYCLetEmPlay which fights to end unequal access to sports across the city.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

This Was Bound to Happen To Me

It was bound to happen. It came out of nowhere, completely unexpected, but it did have to happen.

Today I was doing my 2nd lunch duty in a row (I know, I know, I don't mind doing lunch duty). The third grade was in the cafeteria and there was about 2-3 minutes left.

As the students were cleaning up and getting ready for their teachers a 3rd grade teacher, for whose class I covered for prep the other day, walked by me and complimented me on my classroom management. Out of curiosity I inquired as to why he was saying that.

"Oh, we get lots of subs in here that just can't control their classes and have the kids running all over the classroom," he said.

I looked at him and replied, "I'm not a sub, I'm an ATR." I said this with pride.

He apologized and told me that the previous ATR was at the school for a few months and then "disappeared."

"Anyway," he continued, "What do I know? I have only been teaching 5 months." A NOOB!!!!!

What was he talking about Willis?

Yes, it is always nice to receive a compliment, but, come on. From a noob?

I so wanted to say so much more. I held my tongue. Not worth it. I want too as well on this post but I shan't.

I just can't write about this anymore.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

I Really Now Get It About MORE

I get it. I really, truly, finally get MORE.

Driving home from the MORE meeting today I had an epiphany (If that is what you want to call it) as I was driving home and crossing over the Willis Ave Bridge. The pieces of the puzzle all fell into place for me.

This four year "trek" took me from dipping my toe into the MORE water to a supporter to exile and burning a few bridges to wandering the forest and back to MORE. Maybe that is what it had to take for me to finally get it.

Now please do not take my "getting it" as to not fully supporting for the last year or so. In fact, it's been almost a year since I had returned to the MORE umbrella, thanks to my son having to go to a Bar Mitzvah in Riverdale one Saturday afternoon and me needing to do something for several hours.

I feel safe with MORE. I have always had issues with being at social gatherings with lots of people, especially when I do not know everyone nor have close relationships with, but with my return last year and Mindy Rosier assuring me that no one will beat me up if I showed, that removed a barrier.

But it is more (pardon the pun!) than that. It's what happened today.

During the breakout sessions today I was commiserating with Jia Lee about this and that. The subject came around to how I had a shitty personal week and I started to share with her some of what I had gone through during my exile from the DOE.

Jia was so empathetic, so calming in her tone, her manner, and her words that I felt safe to open up. In fact so safe, I asked Lauren Cohen, knowing what she had gone through in the past, to join in.

And as the three of us were talking both their words and actions dawned on me which only finally hit me once I was in The Bronx.

MORE is not just a caucus looking to unseat the powers of the UFT. MORE is a place where teachers, educators, families, and the community can come and get support and not be judged nor looked down upon. Anyone can reach out to anyone at MORE and not be asked anything in return other than you walk away feeling better.

That MORE is not looking to just solve the symptoms of what is ailing and affecting education and throwing hammers at problems one at a time hoping that will transform that system but going and attacking the what is causing the symptom. The disease itself.

What I keep seeing is a true democratic process with MORE. Yes, MORE has had its growing pains. Everything new has it's ups and downs, but MORE has worked out the kinks. And guess what? MORE will continue to evolve and change, as any of us all do or want to do.

Every time I talk with Jia I learn something new. Jia is a wealth of knowledge. Not just with education and unions. But of writers, historical facts pertaining to the working people, and to philosophies that affect us all. Isn't this someone that we need to lead a our union?

Each person at MORE brings something special to the caucus and the process. I saw that so crisply today. People contribute because they want to, not because they have to.

But the most important thing, and this brings it back to my first point, is that there is no anger at MORE. There is no thoughts of vengeance at MORE. MORE is just not a safe place for me, but it is a safe place for everyone associated with MORE and can be and will be for anyone.

This is what a caucus and leadership for the UFT should be about. This is why MORE is so important to the educators, the students, the families, and the communities of New York City.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

UFT Solidarity: Francesco Portelos Reality Check

Oh, Francesco Portelos is at it again. Crossing that line between reality and Portelos reality. Soon the two reality's will merge and as mentioned on Star Trek, or Back to the Future, time will cease to be. Or something like that.

As mentioned on these pages on February 21 Portelos had a vast increase of usage of his app for parents to use to opt their child out of state tests. In just 72 hours, the app had gone from 400 parents accessing and using the app to 500 parents. Supposedly. he just got caught with knickers down not being able to keep up with his story.

So it makes one wonder, question, and wish to verify when this claim comes in the email this morning;

WOW! Almost 3,000 mommies and daddies, as well as guardians, signed up to use this groundbreaking app in just 16 days! How could this be?

The Crack Team did some research. The Crack Team Googled several variants of "Opt Out New York State/Long Island/New York City/Western New York" (Here, here, here, and here) and not once did the Portelos thingy appear on either the first or second pages of Google.

Only when we Google the name of the app, or website, or whatever, "opt them out" does the website or app or whatever appear in the search results and not even as the top hit.

So The Crack Team decided to check some of the leading website/groups that are actually doing something about being in the forefront of the Opt Out movement in New York State. We checked NYSAPE, NYC Opt Out, United Opt Out, Western New Yorkers for Public Education, and found not a link to the website/app or henceforth known as the Portelos Thingy. Even checking the NYC Opt Out Facebook page there are only two mentions, March 1, and  November 10, of the Portelos Thingy with no comments or no likes.

We need check the Long Island Opt Out page and did find a mention on February 26 how the Portelos Thingy has 700 parents, and one yesterday. But again, something is giving off a bad odor in Denmark.

Are these over 3,300 parents real? Conjured up in Portelos' mind? The pieces of the puzzle don't fit so a visit to the Portelos Thingy was in order.

The Crack Team nailed it. It's so easy. One does not have to fill out any fields. Just click on the "Preview refusal letter" and a preview will appear. Click the "Create Opt-Out Email," and presto! The counter goes up one.  Do it enough times over the course of several weeks and playing with the Portelos Thingy enough suddenly gives it the appearance of being much bigger than it really is.

The numbers, The Crack Team believe, are a phfallacy. Someone, as usual, is trying to make something that is tiny seem to appear bigger than it really is.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Introducing the MORE 2016 Candidates for UFT Officers

Just wanted to share this from the MORE website. The officer candidates running on the MORE slate in the upcoming UFT elections. All are true leaders, all have a background of helping teachers, and more importantly, all are activists because of who they are not because anything happened to them. 

Stay tuned as we compare the MORE officers to their counterparts on other slates.

Jia Lee
Jia Lee 
The Earth School
Jia is currently a 4th/5th grade Special Education teacher and chapter leader at the Earth School in District 1 and a public school parent. She began teaching in 2001 at P12X in the Bronx (D75) and after, taught at P.S. 63. As chapter leader, she supported staff consultation committees on issues from micromanagement and professional conciliation and fostered mediation to support a democratic culture. In January of 2015, she testified before the U.S. HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Senate Committee, on the reauthorization of ESEA. She is an opt out organizer with Change the Stakes and NYC Opt Out, a Teacher of Conscience, member of the Stronger Together Caucus and a national network of social justice caucuses.

Camille Eterno
Camille Eterno 
Humanities and the Arts High School
Camille Eterno has been an English teacher in New York since 1996. In her second year as a teacher, she was elected to chapter leader at the Queens Gateway to Health Sciences. Camille won grievances that even the UFT leadership said were not winnable. She helped organize her chapter into an activist force that was a major presence at many union rallies. As a leader in the Independent Community of Educators, she was instrumental in the nearly successful battle against the giveback laden 2005 contract. She is currently serving delegate from Humanities and the Arts High School in Queens.
Assistant Secretary
Carol Ramos-Widom 
PS 219K
Carol has been a teacher at PS 219, Kennedy King for 21 years from Pre- K through 2nd Grade. For the past four years, she has been the art cluster teacher in this central Brooklyn elementary school. Carol has been to Albany with the union to lobby for funding for our schools and participated in NYC demonstrations to demand a fair contract and respect for our rights as educators.
Kate Martin_bridge
Kate Martin-Bridge 
DeWitt Clinton HS
Kate has been teaching high school math in the Bronx for a dozen years. She has been UFT Delegate at Dewitt Clinton, Worldview, and now Schuylerville Preparatory High School. Kate served the last three years as a New Action At Large member of the UFT Executive Board. As the mother of three daughters, Kate played multiple roles in Parent Teacher Associations. Before becoming a teacher, Kate worked for ten years as an auditor for New York State Comptroller’s Office.
Greg Distefano
Assistant Treasurer
Greg Distefano 
Retired Teacher/UFT Organizer
Greg is a 33 year teacher and 46 year UFT member. During his career, he taught at every level, elementary, middle, and high school. In high school (Tottenville) he taught math. Greg has been a long-time activist and leader of New Action. He worked on the UFT Organizing Committee. And for the last two years he has been an outspoken advocate and will continue to work for unjustly fired probationary teachers for as long as it takes.
Vice President Elementary Schools
Lauren Cohen 
P.S. 321K
Lauren started teaching in February 2005. Currently, she is a 5th grade ICT teacher and Chapter Leader at P.S. 321 in District 15, Brooklyn. As a member of the MORE Caucus in NYC, she noticed a stark disconnect between the rhetoric of union leadership and the interests of working teachers. The Common Core is fundamentally undemocratic – not only in its implementation but in its conception. Handing teachers rigid, scripted curricula benefits corporate interests while neglecting students’ need for developmentally-appropriate and well-rounded education. Teachers’ hands have been tied as the emphasis on testing and labeling harms the most vulnerable children. Lauren is running to advocate for teachers’ professional autonomy.
Nelson Santiago
Vice President Junior High Schools
Nelson Santiago
Formerly IS 63R

Nelson Santiago was the Chapter Leader of IS 63 on Staten Island. He is currently an ATR.
Vice President High Schools
James Eterno 
Middle College High School
James is a UFT Delegate and Social Studies Teacher at Middle College High School, Queens. An 18 year Chapter Leader at Jamaica High School, UFT Executive Board 1997-2007. He believes that together, we can restore dignity to teaching. Every UFT member should join the fight to repeal horrific state laws that include rating teachers on cookie cutter 1-4 Danielson rubrics and student test scores, presuming teachers are guilty until proven innocent in termination hearings and replacing teachers without any due process in receiver schools.  Mulgrew thinks everything is just fine.
chris (1) (1)
Vice President Career and Technical Education
Christine Gross 
Alfred E. Smith CTE High School
Christine Gross began teaching in 1997 as a substitute in Philadelphia public schools. She decided to become a teacher and obtained a M.S. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. After one year, she moved to New York City and, in 2000, began her career teaching history at Alfred E. Smith CTE High School. In January of 2003, she was elected Chapter Leader and served in this position until she was improperly excessed in July 2011. After filing a motion with PERB in May 2013, the UFT finally scheduled my arbitration. She won her  case and was restored to her school in September 2013.
Margarget Shand
Vice President Special Education
Margaret Shand 
Committee on Special Education
Margaret is currently working as a Social Worker for the Committee on Special Education 6. Margaret obtained her Master’s Degree in Social Work from New York University in 1985. She has worked for the NYC Department of Education since 1987. In addition to working with CSE Margaret also works directly with Elementary and Middle Schools in a school based support team. She has two children both of which have attended NYC public schools; and has been an active member in her children’s Parent Teacher Associations.
Mindy Rosier
Vice President Education 
Mindy Rosier 
P.S. 811M
Mindy Rosier is a native New Yorker who graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education and Fordham University with an M.S. Ed in Early Childhood Special Education. She has been a teacher for over 17 years, including 3 years at the NY Foundling Hospital and currently more than 8 years with the Department of Education in a District 75 school. After seeing the hardships that her school has endured and after researching the education system itself, she became active to promote an improvement in the quality of education for all children.