Thursday, October 11, 2018

BREAKING!! The ATRs and the New Contract!!!

Today was exciting. There is a new contract agreed upon between the UFT and the
NYCDOE. Yippee! We all got the emails today from Uncle Mike Mulgrew which was more or less highlights which barely touched on details.

But right now I just want to touch on the part of the contract that will pertain to ATRs.

First, I want to dispel the rumor that I have read first hand that ATRs will be disbanded, not by layoffs, but rather than placing ATRs in schools. Like forced placements. That is not happening.

As James Eterno and Arthur Goldstein mentioned, the date that ATRs are placed in openings in the license area has been moved from October 15 to day one of the school year. This makes sense. Does no one any good to start in October.

But there is more.

The Crack Team has learned through sources within the UFT that schools won't be penalized financially anymore for hiring an ATR with a high salary. For instance: Say a school has all first year teachers and 22 year ATR is hired. Ordinarily that ATRs salary would raise the average of the school's teachers salaries. Now, that ATR, that expensive ATR's salary will be seen as on par (Haven't a clue how this is being worked out) with the 1st year teachers salaries. That teacher making $119k won't skew the schools budget. Again, the devil is in the details.

Something else that is new is a new program that will hire ATRs into a program called 4x4. ATRs will be hired into schools (This will start of as a pilot program) in which ATRs will work with small groups of students in group literacy intervention. You won't need a reading license to do this. The curriculum will be scripted out and the cost borne by the DOE. In my opinion this is a long time coming. I have always wondered why ATRs are forced to do menial sub work when they could be better used to target in need students either individually or in small groups. But as usual, the devil is in the details.

But we don't have the details and neither will the DA tomorrow night until after a vote. Why the UFT couldn't wait until Monday to have the DA ratify the contract boggles the mind. Shabbas candles are lit tomorrow at 6:02 PM. It would be safe to assume that some CL's and delegates are Observant Jews.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

MORE Misses Yet Another Easy Target

You know what is easy? Standing on a pitchers mound and having just get the ball to home plate 60 feet, 6 inches away. I'm 54 and a lefty. Dang I can do it! Heck, my son was able to do it at the age of 8!

MORE is turning into the Ba Ba Booey (Gary Dell'abate) of UFT caucuses by completely fucking something that easy up.

Instead of fighting for ATRs, work rules, working conditions, getting rid of the lawyers that permeate the DOE, fair student funding, teacher safety, teacher happiness, or any other of the myriad of other wants and needs we have going forward as we approach a new contract next year. MORE has decided to do the opposite. Or as one member has said...
"Dwindling health care benefits in exchange for a raise that will not help us meet the rate of inflation in NYC is a major problem for us."
This is the priority.

Yes, there are things I do not like. I do not like paying $50 to go to an urgent care center when the alternative is to see my GP when I have a cold or need to get in last minute. That is unless I go to Advantage Care Physicians which there is a $0 copay. The only issue I have is that there are 0 ACP offices in Westchester County. It does me no good.

I don't care for the $150 copay for the ER. Yes, I know it is waived if admitted, but not all ER visits necessitate being admitted.

I am not happy that first year teachers will have to spend their first year in HIP. But,most of these teachers will be young and healthy and do not need the care that the more mature teacher desires. Besides, I'm sure a goodly amount of the MORE people are young or living still on mommy and daddy's insurance 

I have no problem if my copays go up another $5. I really don't care. I have had a life without insurance. My right shoulder is a mess because I did not have insurance when I dislocated it. A dear friend of mine is dead because he did not have insurance.

What I do like is that I am paying $0 a month for GHI. That my wife has about $200k of hardware in her back, spent a week in Lenox Hill Hospital and two weeks in BurkeRehab Hospital and we only owe about $200.

I'm grateful for the hernia surgery I had last month was $0. I'm grateful that when my son broke his hand and needed surgery 5 years ago that the only cost was driving to NYU.

But again, another problem with MORE is they just can't or refuse to roll up the sleeves and see the world around them. In others words, REALITY. They think we have it bad.

Well The Crack Team did roll up it's sleeves and wishes to share a major dose of reality on the kiddies at MORE about health coverage across the country. These are true stories from real teachers.

I pay a little more than $450 a month for my daughter and me and ewe each have a $3000 deductible with a $5600 out of pocket maximum per year. We live in Idaho.

$1200/month for family coverage. $15 copay for doctor visits. In NJ, our healthcare contribution is based on our salaries so if you make more, you pay more for the same coverage. That jackass Christie came up with that. Prick. Can't live on my take home anymore.

For Chicago Public schools I pay about $18 a month for insurance, put in about $100 a month to an HSA w/ $600 contributed by CPS for the year, w/ a $2000 deductible. The insurance helps negotiate prices but basically doesn't pay anything until the deductible is met.

$350 a month premium, matched by the state (HI teacher), so $700 a month in premiums, $20 copay for everything, extra for lab work, TONS of other fees. They wanted $700 for an MRI that traumatized me to the core of my being and am refusing to pay.

I am paying $1400+ per month for coverage for a family of three. I would cheerfully choke someone out to pay $600 per month.

Albuquerque Public Schools, high option plan for family of 4 - approx $650/month, plus co-pays and percentage cost-sharing (which seem to get higher all the time!) $25-$40 co-pays for appts, $50 Urgent Care,  $150 ER, percentage of everything else.

I'm a public school teacher in the state of Rhode Island and I pay almost $400 a month for a single healthcare plan. I have different deductibles to meet for different things but just for regular doctors I have to meet $250 and then my co-pays Kickin, to go to a walk-in clinic it's now $100 and to see your primary care it's $25. I am ashamed that our state does this. Good for you and your school district not charging the teachers are ridiculous amount for health care. Best of luck on the rest of your school year.

In Michigan (law change in 2012) we now are required to pay 20% of the cost of premium.  A high deductible ($2700) with HSA account costs $270 a month for full family.  Same policy with coinsurance (%20 after deductible) costs $140 month for full family.  We formed a county consortium to pool policy members and help reduce the costs.  Before the consortium, we were paying $320 a month for the full family high deductible policy; which was our only option.

We do not use our district insurance because the premium is $1265 per month for our family of 4. Yes you read that right. Nevada has the worst insurance coverage in the nation for teachers.

$104 a month for the least expensive choice through my district, which includes my husband and two kids, dental and vision.  $7000 deductible, $10 doctor, $25 specialist, $52 urgent care, $75 ER
(unless admitted, then there is no co-pay). 

It's time for MORE to stop sniffing its own farts and get a reality check not only concerning the rank and file but life as well. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The ATR Wah Wah

I've been listening to a lot of George Harrison's solo work of late. I was a big McCartney/Wings fan back in
the day and never thought John Lennon had done much with his solo work. I bought Harrison's "Somewhere in England" back in 1981 because it contained the tribute song to John Lennon "All Those Years Ago."

But his song, "Wah Wah" from "All Things Must Pass" is really hitting home of late. For those who are unaware of this song...
...Harrison wrote the song following his temporary departure from the Beatles in January 1969, during the troubled Get Back sessions that resulted in their Let It Be album and film. The lyrics reflect his frustration with the atmosphere in the group at that time... In his autobiography, I, Me, Mine, Harrison explains that the song title was a reference to "a 'headache'
Yeah, I am having a special fucking ATR headache. And it ain't happening from the students. The illogic in the banality and inanity of this fucking ATR shit is giving me a damn wah wah!!!! But I refuse to cave. I refuse to not do what I have to do to get through each day, each week, each month, each school year.

We, all of us, ATRs have that ATR wah wah. Don't cave, don't give them what they want. Stay strong, you can do it!

You've  They've given me a wah-wah
And I'm thinking of you me
And all the things that we I used to do
Wah-wah, wah-wah

You made me such a big star an ATR
Being there at the right wrong time
Cheaper than a dime
Wah-wah, you've they've given me your my
Wah-wah, wah-wah

Oh, you don't won't  see me crying
Oh, you don't might hear me sighing

I don't need no but I have a wah-wah
And I know how sweet life can be
If I keep myself free, wah-wah
I don't need no but I have a  wah-wah

Oh, you don't see me crying
Hey baby, you don't hear me sighing
Oh, no, no, no, no

Now I don't need no wah-wahs
And I know how sweet life can be is
If I keep myself free in spite of wah-wah
I don't need no but still I have a wah-wah

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Timmy the ATR Widget

Meet Timmy. Tim says hi. Timmy is an ATR. Tim has been an ATR for some time now.
Timmy always puts his best face forward when arriving to a new school and always bent over backwards for the school community. Timmy, while he doesn't love being an ATR, wants to do what's best for the kids. The students in the schools where Timmy has been have liked him.

Timmy has a masters degree in Educational Widgets. Timmy at one time had been a widget staff developer as well as a widget coordinator in his school. Timmy knows his widgets. Timmy has been to many a school where the widgets are not being integrated with the curriculum. Timmy's widget knowledge would, in theory, be beneficial to whatever school he is in.

Over the summer there was a posting for a widget staff developer working out of the Widget Department at Central. Timmy was excited. Timmy read the requirements and while he did not have some, he had most. This position would be perfect for Timmy.

Timmy wrote a great cover letter and spruced up his resumé. He emailed it in by the deadline. All Tim wanted was an interview. Nothing more or nothing less. Timmy didn't want anything handed to him.

Timmy knew getting the position would be a long shot. But Timmy was thinking. Central is already paying his salary. Wouldn't Central rather pay Tim's salary having Timmy contributing and doing something that would benefit the students if not all of mankind?

It's been almost a month, and Timmy hasn't heard back. Timmy doubts he will get the position let alone be interviewed. Timmy is stoic. Timmy will not give up on getting a permanent position.

Poor Timmy.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The UFT Hides While Teacher Aida Sehic Suffers Alone

Here we go again.

In yesterday's Post there is a story about an ATR, who escaped war in Bosnia only to walk into another one within the NYCDOE.

This, according to the Post, is some of what happened to Aida Sehic...
"...rampaging pupils broke her nose with a bag of metal rulers, stabbed her with a mechanical pencil, demanded sex acts, trashed her classroom and hurled epithets at her including “white bitch.’’
Of course, guess whose fault this was? The system? The DOE? The schools in which she taught? The administrators? The students? The students parents? Nah.

It was, of course, the teacher herself. Heck, Aida even tried to take the high road in attempting to appeal to one student's mother only to have the student retort back...
“...When my mother comes in tomorrow, she’ll deck you,”
Aida reached out to anyone and everyone she could. The DOE, NYPD, and the UFT. She got nowhere other than being brought up on 3020-a charges in 2016 for incompetence.

Isn't it possible, that the constant threat to one's physical well being, the constant fear for one's safety, just might have an affect on one's pedagogy?

Aida was excessed in 2011. She has been teaching since 1999. Three schools, IS 218 in the Bronx, MS 322 in Manhattan (School site and Inside Schools), IS 143 (Which was closed for poor performance according to Inside Schools) in the Bronx were the schools where she was abused.

Anyway, Aida was lucky. I guess. She kept her job. She was fined, $7,500. But she could have lost her life at any moment and left her two children without a mom. As one colleague shared with me who had been through something very similar to what Aida had been through...
"Wait until a teacher is killed. It's coming, people."
I don't think so. I hope not! But sadly, if it did happen, I would not be surprised.

But something is bothering me more. I am not upset at the lack of any action by the DOE or the NYPD.What I'm upset about and sadly not surprised at all is the lack of any action by the UFT. 

Why would the UFT ignore this teacher's desperate pleas for help? Where was an action team from the UFT when Aida needed one? Where were her chapter leaders? District leaders? 

This story was in in yesterday's Post. It was on the Post's website Tuesday night. Today is Thursday, September 13.Where is a statement, a communique, and email to the rank and file in support of Aida and calling for outrage against the DOE for the way her situation was handled? Something. Anything?

But I'm able to get a robocall last night at 7 PM from the UFT imploring me to vote for Cuomo and his crew. And then, guess what? I got another robocall this afternoon (As did many other teachers) again requesting that I sell my soul for Cuomo. WTF????

The UFT has time for this inane electioneering for Cuomo but doesn't have the inclination nor the time to have a teacher's back? What the F*** gives? If Aida were a cop, Patrick Lynch (as much as I think he is a turd) would be front and center having her back!!

But not our union. Not the union we no longer have to pay $100 a month to (even though I will).

Well, Aida has filed a federal lawsuit. Good for her. Even better, she has hired Bryan Glass as her attorney. She can't go wrong there. She is damn good hands. Get some fuck you money from the DOE.

We, each and every teacher, must fight back in a united method against the UFT.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Is MORE Becoming the Omega House of UFT Caucuses?

One of the reasons I chose to be on steering back in the halcyon days of MORE was I did
not think that MORE had done, nor was doing, enough to help teachers in who were having difficulty.

I thought, and others had as well, that MORE turned it's attention to too many of these irrelevant issues that just didn't affect teachers in any way. When it comes down to it teachers want bread and butter issues. They want to know when and if that next pay check is coming, will there be food on the table to feed my family, will I be able to put my kids through college. Will they have a job come September?

MORE showed no inclination to grab the real issues by the proverbial balls and lo and behold, this is why we are where we are now. Or why MORE was up in Ithaca trying to find itself.

The Crack Team has been pouring over the MORE retreat notes from their August retreat in Ithaca and many things (Which will be shared on these pages in the upcoming weeks) caught The Crack Team's eyes. One came from a session entitles, "Vision and Mission."

The question put forth to the standing room only crowd of 12 is...
...Role of a caucus in our union how do we imagine our caucus moving the union/acting within the union structure as a whole?  What should our approach to the Unity leadership be?
OK, fair enough. Good question or topic, or whatever it is called. So there was a good response from someone.
Some caucus have set up a grievance hotline – that’s effective – direct response to people. Sometimes you can help them directly, other times help them think about organizing on an issue.
Not bad. Very lucid and well thought out. Something like this is what I had been pushing for with MORE but sadly, they were disinterested. Kudos!

One response to the above caught our eyes here at SBSB.

The response is from Mike Stivers. He teaches at Millennium High School in Park Slope. For those that do not know about MHS in Park Slope, it is a ...
...a small, selective school with strong academics and a friendly vibe.
That's just super.

So Mike Stivers responded...
 MORE is not a consulting space. We can’t drop everything and help everyone who comes in
What are you talkin' about Willis Mike?

But Mike, that is real organizing. Rolling up your sleeves, getting your fingernails dirty, getting in the much and organizing and helping people. The very people you claim to want to help.

My 9th grade Algebra teacher Mr Tina would say when faced with an easy problem, "That's a piece of Entenmann's" or "It's a Twinkie." Both terms for "piece of cake." Millennium High School is an Entenmann's Cheese Danish Twist. Try some real organizing. Come to the South Bronx or try Boys and Girls High School. Leave Omega House and try Delta!

Can't drop everything? I have many a time when a teacher in need as contacted me. And I have a wife and a son. And Sparkles the Cat. Why can't you? 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Open Blog Post to a MORE Member

I got this email yesterday in regards to the piece I published on Wednesday night. I thought long and hard about whether or not to make my response private of public but decided to go with the latter for complete transparency and to clarify some things from from Wednesday's post and my general mindset when it comes to MORE.

I want to first thank the person who sent it. This person will remain anonymous and I want her to know that in no way does Wednesday's blog post nor my feelings towards MORE are not any reflection upon her. In fact I have a great deal of respect for her and find her an passionate organizer and supporter of teachers, students, the communities, and education. She is a person I would want in my foxhole.

I respect her for not only taking the time out to email me feeling that she can email me and share with me what is on her mind.

Here is the email:

Peter, why are you writing these articles against MORE? We are on the SAME side. You’re just creating divisions. With so many issues to tackle, can’t you find something worthy to talk about...perhaps on of the million of struggles we have? 

I understand there are many issues you might disagree with in regards to MORE. But how is this helping the cause in any way? I’ve done much work for MORE, and am deeply concerned about the plight of public education. Do you think it’s right to criticize people like me who are just trying to make a difference and help others?

In your article, you said, 

Time for MORE to stop worrying about itself and this "struggle" and agenda and trying to get kudos from the ISO crowd and start rolling up its sleeves and doing something for others, not themselves.”

 I’ve spent so much time working with MORE and other public education activism groups in general, at the cost of my own health, relationships, loss health & free time and time to just plain rest. It’s articles like this that dissuade me from the cause. Why should I bother when people who have the same concerns and struggles as I do write such offensive articles. Although there members from the ISO in MORE, they spend as much time and efforts in this struggle as you do, if not more. I am NOT an ISO member. But I respect the enormous amount of time, work and sweat they have put into this struggle. 

If you and others think that these kind of articles are indeed in any shape, way, or form productive to the struggles in public education, then perhaps there is no hope for the plight of public education after all. 

Although I have committed much time to MORE and other types of public education activism, there was NEVER a time when I looked forward to giving up my time with loved ones, my family and partner, and attending to my own health. I worked with MORE because I felt I had a duty to. For all of those teachers, students, parents and other public education employees who are voiceless and haven’t the faintest inkling that they can make a difference, it is for them that I continue the fight. In other words, my activism with MORE and elsewhere has always been a GREAT sacrifice, even though I have grown to respect and love SO many of the individuals involved. 

In essence, I am deeply offended by your article, saddened that someone from the same cause would write such a thing, and essentially, am wondering if the fight is really worth it or if it will get anywhere at all because of individuals like you who write viscous blogs against the very people who are on their side. 

Sincerely and deeply offended,
I'm going to try to address point by point but I'm to address the overall gist first.

If you will notice on the front of this blog on the right hand side there is a clock entitled, "Days The MORE Duo Have Been Banished." As of me typing these words the clock is at 139 days, 5 hours, 42 minutes, and 50 seconds. That is the amount since both Mike S and John S have been banished from MORE. I need not write once again what stand up people they are. We all know that. I however will link the posts of what MORE has turned into (here, here, here, here, and here). Let me ask you this. Would you not be abhorred  with these shenanigans from any administrator, the NYCDOE, or even the UFT to any staff member either in your school or one that you just met in line at Target? What would you comments be if you read this on Facebook and it was the DOE doing this to a teacher? Knowing you, knowing what a kind, caring, ethical person you are, you would not stand for it, would you? 
Both Mike and John were labeled  as nothing more than misogynistic pigs. John was labeled as violent for supposedly threatening someone. In fact this person he "threatened" threatened John!

It would have helped so much if in your own way (Unlike mine and others big mouths) you spoke up for John and Mike and for truth. You think that within about 6 weeks of a new Steering committee that 3 members were extra-judiciously removed from Steering?

Three like minded members that along with two others formed a majority that's sole purpose was the betterment of what you say is the "struggle." Members that the Man Wearing the Red Star (And it's not a Heineken red star!) could not control.

I am sure you sacrificed much in this "struggle" (Which I would rather call a cause) as have I. But I will be honest with you. I know MORE and myself don't have the same goals, and I'll tell you another thing. I don't think you and MORE have the same goals either. You and I are on the same side. It is a side that MORE isn't on. This "struggle" is not for just a few, it is for the many. Your work has shown me that you know this.

The point of my blog on Wednesday was that I was trying to show that MORE, of course this is my opinion, still doesn't get it. That where the retreat was located, the message of the place it was located is so elitist. That MORE time and time again shows that the rank and file, that the downtrodden and middle class means nothing. Take you car. Drive through the Catskills, Upstate, Western NY, or the Southern Tier and these are the towns and the people that are struggling and want help. But help that doesn't come from the end of someone's nose. 

Anyway, thank you for your time in reading this. I hope we can continue to communicate constructively in the future. In fact, if you still have my number, feel free to call anytime. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The MORE Caucus Can't Get It's Cheese Right

You know that seen from the Three Stooges in which Curly upon seeing a mouse goes batshit crazy screaming, "Moe, Larry, the cheese, Moe, Larry, the cheese..."? MORE has become Curly. Or rather, Curly is smarter than anyone currently in MORE.

Think about it. If Curly were in MORE and needed the cheese he would first be asked to assure those in MORE that the cheese he wants his not GMO and that it is pre-approved by PETA. Soon there will be breakout groups and discussions on the type of cheese and if the workers struggled to make the cheese. Then someone would throw a hissy fit because Curely would go "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk," when he he sees a female. Well, you know...

MORE would fuck up Curly's cheese. Just give him the damn cheese and be done.

I say this because while I had found out that MORE was planning a retreat, which I think was a great idea (In theory) they again overthought the matter a dang fucked up again.

Why choose Ithaca NY? I love Ithaca, I was there in February with my son touring Ithaca College. It was beautiful then. I can only imagine how nice it is in August. But Ithaca is super liberal town. Again, perception.

But once in Ithaca one can stay at one of the chain hotels? No, not with MORE. The EcoVillage, where one can be...

...part of a global movement of people seeking to create positive solutions to the social, environmental and economic crises our planet faces.

BARF! Again perception.

Right there MORE is showing it wants to make its bonafides with the Shining Path Red Star Javier Chavista Hipsters.

Want to do something right? There are plenty of small towns and small cities in upstate New York that are economic basket cases. Ithaca is not one of them. Hudson, Binghamton, Ellenville, Poughkeepsie, Monticello, Elmira, Corning (so-so), Columbia County, the Southern Tier, that a decent hotel could have been found, perhaps a golf course, or even better a casino. But MORE chose to make themselves feel good instead of putting money in the pockets of those who need it.

I touched on this topic back in April when I wrote about how the Democrats are out of touch. MORE is nothing better than the current state of the Democratic Party.

Two weeks go we drove through Western New York and the Southern Tier and I saw the towns that were dead. That are dying. That need help. I was going to write this blog about the rest of the agenda, which let me just quickly touch on.

Not one mention of anything to do with the desperate state of the emotional, financial, and professional needs of teachers as well as not one thing on the agenda about MORE looking inward in how it has gone off the rails and decides rules on the whim, how one person has become the de facto "big head" and rules by fiat. No mea culpas, no "OMG, what have we done," no nothing. But I digress.

MORE, or at least those members that just sit around and sniff their own farts all day...Dare I name them? OK, two of them are "The Special Little Boy" and Greg Marmalard. Dinner on me if you can guess who I am talking about. But I have digressed again.

As I was saying. Time for MORE to stop worrying about itself and this "stuggle" and agenda and trying to get kudos from the ISO crowd and start rolling up its sleeves and doing something for others, not themselves.


   MORE Retreat on Scribd

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Scarsdale Student Desperately Needs Help to Continue His Education

The following is written by a dear dear friend of mine from high school. His son is entering
his senior year at Scarsdale High School. They both are from rural Virginia and his son was sent to live with his aunt (My friend's sister who had guardianship) in Scarsdale before his freshman year. The boy being Asian was being bullied relentlessly in Virginia because of his ethnicity and his grades had suffered. Once he was ensconced at Scarsdale High (which happens to have a sizeable Asian population) he thrived academically and socially.

Well, as we know, families tend to fight. My friend's sister and his brother in law have just notified my friend and his son that he is no longer welcomed back. Yeah, you read that right, several weeks before his senior year. This young man deserves to graduate with his class and his friends. My friend is looking for a host family and it is all on the up and up. He will pay expenses, etc... Tuition at Scarsdale is $28k

Anyway, let him explain it. If you can help, please share this, email me (, leave a comment. School starts in about three weeks. Any advice, advocacy, whatever, will be helpful. Names have been changed. Bold added for emphasis.

I am looking for a family in Scarsdale who would be willing to be a host and guardian family to my 17 year old son.  
Hello, my name is Hank, my son’s name is Bill. Bill has been living in Scarsdale for the last 5 years, and should be a graduating senior at Scarsdale High School (SHS) this upcoming year. Bill lives with my sister and her husband in Scarsdale for the majority of the year, and then he comes home to rural, Virginia during his breaks and summer vacations. 

 The reason Bill is living in Scarsdale is because there are very few Asian students in our school district in Virginia. My son and daughter are both half Filipino and half Caucasian, and unfortunately his peers in school bullied him with racial jokes and taunts, making his school experience a pure hell.  My sister in Scarsdale whose youngest two children were recruited to Princeton for their fencing, offered to home school Bill and to make him an Epee fencer like his cousins. With hopes to get him into a great college, at the time it was an offer I could not refuse. My wife and I knew it was going to be hard sending our boy away, but it was with family, and it was the best we could do for him given the situation at school wasn’t going to get better. I prayed Bill would be able to handle being away from us at age twelve, but we felt the education he would receive would be extraordinary. We also felt Scarsdale is a beautiful community offering a much more diverse population, so we knew he would feel more welcome.

After two years of home schooling, my sister said it would be advantageous if Bill enrolled in SHS, and I agreed. Seeing our little boy, who was a C-D student in a not very academically challenging school system, to one of the top elite high schools in the country, my wife and were bursting with pride. 

Bill has been at Scarsdale High for 3 years now, he has challenged himself by taking some of the more difficult courses offered, and has been rewarded with great grades and teacher accolades. Right now after the end of his junior year, Bill boasts a 3.71 GPA and got an outstanding score on his ACT and is a member of the Honor Society. All his hard work has truly paid off, and he is quite proud of his accomplishments. 

 A few days ago, my brother-in-law called my wife Susan and said that Bill was no longer welcome in their house to finish his senior year! This was a decision made by both my brother in law and my sister. He told Susan that Bill talked to the school counselor without their permission. They felt Sam undermined their rules and he discussed family matters with outsiders and betrayed them. Bill had also gotten into a verbal argument  with his 23 year old cousin and they weren’t going to put up with that either. So they said Bill was not welcome to come back to their house after the summer vacation. Unfortunately, I have no way of changing or fixing this situation. My sister has already filed papers to dissolve their guardianship. I have tried to have other family members help or intervene but to no avail. My brother lives in Hartsdale (right down the street from my sister), said he was more than happy to take Bill, but because she is giving up Bill’s guardianship it also gives up his residency, so Bill can’t stay there and commute. Scarsdale High School does offer a $28,000 out of district fee for graduating seniors who have completed 11th grade which he has. Unfortunately this is not an option we are able to afford. 

I would happily pay all attorney costs, all Bill’s food, clothing, medical and anything I might be forgetting if someone would be kind enough to open their heart and their home to a boy who wasn’t divulging deep family secrets. He was only discussing what every 16 year old who is trying to keep up his grades, his fencing, and social life , basically anxiety... I’m proud he made the choice to talk to someone and not keep it bottled up, just sorry for the drastic consequences. Please help, I don’t know anyone in Scarsdale and have run out of options.
Thank you for your time,

Hank Henry

Please, if anyone has any ideas, any one that can advocate, facilitate, come up with an idea please let me know.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Crack Team Announces It's Contract Demands

With DC 37 caving into the City and setting a pattern with a 7.42% raise over 44 months that's what it looks like UFT members will get once we get a new contract.

The Crack Team has gotten together and is willing to endorse such a pay raise but the support is conditional. Conditional upon what The Crack Team wants in return. This shall be known as The Crack Team's contract demands.

All ATRs must be placed. Not force placed, but rather intelligently placed. Each to the best of their abilities and each to a school in which the ATR can thrive and work in an environment that is conducive to the growth of said ATR and the school's students.

End Fair Student Funding. Mulgrew has said that the UFT cannot bargain budgetary demands. The Crack Team calls bullocks! When there is a will there is a way.

Bye-Bye Monday PD. A complete waste of time. There is no real professional development occurring.  I'd much rather watch hours upon hours of Kathy Griffin.

ATRs must be observed and rated as per diem substitutes are. In lieu of all ATRs being placed, ATRs must be treated as the DOE sees us. As nothing more than substitutes. Treat us the same way.

End Field Supervisors. If the above is impractical than do away with the field supervisors. Create with the UFT a truly transparent and fair method of observing and rating the ATRs. However the guiding philosophy must still be Teaching for the 21st Century.

Two observations per year for tenured teachers. I'm getting tired of meeting teachers from all over New York State and looking at their faces as I share with them we have 4 observations.

Bye-Bye Danielson. 'Nough said.

Discipline must be scaffolded. The contract states a "Counseling Memo." How often is a counseling memo used? All discipline at the school level should and must begin with a counseling memo. Too much mundane bullshit is settled with a letter to the file.

Clearly define what one needs to attain tenure. Too often now newb teachers are left in the lurch with subjective decisions on whether or not they will receive tenure.

All letters to file can be grieved. This was an injustice was this ended. Not being able to grieve all letters to the file just gave principals the ability to pile on the mundane crud.

Ability to face your accuser. Principals testifying by telephone? So much is missed when one can't see body language.

Principals held accountable. It is time that these principals are treated and subjected to the same methods as teachers are. Principals who are sued should stop being indemnified.

Bye Bye lawyers. Better uses for these lowest of pond scum can be put to better use by keeping the Trumps out of prison.

Bye bye 75% of the dead weight at Tweed and 65 Court St. McDonald's has been using computers to place orders. Stop and Shop has more self check out registers than manned ones. It's all the same.

Supply all ATRs with M&M's. Once a month all ATRs receive a bowl of M&M's, but there is a caveat. No bowl shall contain blue M&M's (Thanks to Van Halen for that idea).

If these demands are enacted (And any others I have missed) The Crack Team can live with the shitty raise.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Pay Dues. Don't Freeload.

The Westchester Journal News has reported that New York State has stopped collecting
agency fees from 31,000 state workers. As far as I am concerned that is 31k freeloaders and rats.

I am getting tired of this whining from UFT "members" who are threatening to withhold dues in light of Janus. Yes, as I ahve said in the past, I empathize with them. But a dysfunctional union is better than no union or not being in a union.

I have been reading a lot of the comments on James Eterno's blog. Yes, the grievances and feelings are real. But the one question I brought up and could not be answered to the complainers is, "What have you ever done for 'the cause'"? The question has been met with silence. Instead of cursing the darkness light a god damn candle.

I ask those that are thinking of freeloading that are reading this, what have you done? Where have you been? And please, anonymous comments on blogs don't count.

Even under the best of circumstances if the UFT was strong and proactive there would be people complaining and kvetching. Nothing is perfect. Too many are looking for a perfect fit on an off the rack world.

Yeah, our working conditions and the way we have been treated pretty much sucks. But we make more than most teachers in the country, let alone New York State. We have solid pensions awaiting us. We have rights that are bargained for. And, we have great health benefits.

Yeah, Mulgrew got stupid again about saying health benefits can be bargained. Would you rather have no health benefits? Crappier health benefits? A friend of mine that teaches in Armonk NY told me that he has a family deductible of about $6k on his health plan and pays into it 10% (or a little less) or so of his pay. If you have GHI you pay $0 and with the out of network rider (which I have) $16 a month.

I have been without insurance and on insurance. Guess which I prefer? Thirty years ago I dislocated my right shoulder (I am a lefty). It was popped back in never saw a doctor because I had no way to pay for it. I have developed horrible arthritis, I have bone grinding against bone, I'm in pain, can't golf, and I will need a shoulder replacement eventually.

In January my wife had almost her entire back fused. We saw the hospital bill. It cames to about $550k, with about $200k for the hardware in her back. Maybe another $95k for the bed. We owe $200.

This is what you can give up if you fail to join the union and other things as well. Under law freeloaders are covered by the CBA. Well, what happens if the next CBA there are provisions for freeloaders to be own their own? Too bad.

Remember, how the UFT got the family leave (Yes, it's not parental, stop bitching.). And something that was just shared with me. Family leave was negotiated outside of the contract so we would not have to do a quid pro quo. Yeah, sometimes the UFT gets it right.

But the worst thing, aside from being a freeloader, for not paying dues is that you will hurt each and every member staying in the union (I've been to a union meeting already. The anger at the freeloaders is just beginning), in negotiations, in solidarity, in advancing our needs, and more importantly, the needs and wants of the communities we teach in.

Being angry and frustrated is fine. Acting out on being angry and frustrated impulsively and for spite will hurt others and worse, yourself.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Mulgrew and UFT Came Through on Parental Leave

I am or was agnostic about parental leave. Kind of the way how I feel about inter league play in MLB. If the Yankees never played the Reds (except in the World Series) again I couldn't care less. I mean heck, my wife is 55. Her child bearing days are over. But we have it and I am happy for those who plan to take advantage of it. I would have much rather have had family leave, but let's take it step by step.

My biggest concern about parental leave was how much it would cost me and others in my past their child bearing years cohort. Having the contract extended another 73 days plus full salary for six weeks is not bad. Look at what DC 37 gave up for family leave. Yes, DC 37 will get up to 10 weeks, but only up to 55% of their salary. Plus, they will have .13% deducted from each pay check.

Having said that, we got the better deal and it could have been worse if it were not for Mulgrew.

A very very good source has shared with The Crack Team here at SBSB that the city was originally demanding a deduction from our check of .5%. After confirming with my 17 year old son, .5% is more than .13%. Mulgrew held his ground that there would be no deduction.

Plus, the timing of the announcement last week was no coincidence. Mayor De Blasio was about to fly down to Texas to show solidarity with the parents and children being separated but he was about to be shamed by the UFT for showing more concern for the children down in Texas than the unborn children of NYC teachers.

I'll give credit where credit is due. Let's hope this holding firm is a pattern in the upcoming contract negotiations.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Leave UFT and You Get Nothing!

So the Janus ruling is in (Read the ruling in it's entirety here). I'm going to continue to pay my dues and pay them proudly.

Yes, there are plenty of things I can list and discuss about how I don't feel the UFT has been there for me or for many. I have major disagreements. But, I believe in unionism, I believe in the members of the union, and I believe that only it's members can affect change.

I empathize with those who wish to withhold dues now that Janus is in. These people have every right to feel left out and angry. But cutting your nose off to spite your face is not the way to go about it.

The way to fix the union is to be more involved. To speak up more in meetings, to speak up more to the leaders, to have more knowledge of what goes on about you. We are only as strong as our weakest link. To those who wish to stop paying dues, you will damage those who remain members of the UFT. As with parental leave does not benefit all members, those that will not ever benefit from it are accepting of it for it will benefit other members of the rank and file. The time to stick together is more important now than ever.

Having said that, what will one lose if you leave the UFT? The UFT was good enough to publish what will happen on it's website today.

No Free Legal Services

There you go. Get called into SCI or OSI. You get nada. Bupkus. No lawyer, no UFT rep. You are on your own. Same goes with if you are called into a discipline meeting with the principal. You are left to your own devices. Good luck!

Free counseling

Free or discounted training or professional development

An attorney during 3020-a employee discipline procedures

There you go. Yes, NYSUT lawyers can be hit or miss but I believe that if you are not proactive in your defense whether or not you use NYSUT or private attorney you are destined to be screwed. Go out and spend unless you hire Jordan Harlow your are looking at spending $10-15k for your 3020-a.  

Member discounts through the UFT, NYSUT and AFT

Who gives a shit? Discounts for the Brooklyn Nets? Big deal.

And you will not be able to participate in union elections, contract ratification votes or votes about school-based options.

There you go. You are a nothing. Zero. A ghost. Want to be part of change you can't and should not. 

In my opinion, anyone that opts out (And I have mentioned this before) should get nothing. No rights to the pay scale, no health benefits, a big fat nothing. Negotiate as an individual for your own salary, hours, time off, health benefits, working conditions, lunch, prep, everything! Better, each Chapter Leader should hand out a list of who has paid in and out and distribute the list hang on UFT bulletin board in each and every school.

Those who benefit from what I and others who are members are nothing but moochers and freeloaders and worse, rats.

Yes, you do have a right to be angry at the UFT, but now is the time to grow a set, roll up your sleeves and stop making excuses at sitting around and not being active in the UFT.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

MORE Misjudges It's Priorities Yet Again

It's June 20. The school year is about over. What's happening in the world of the NYCDOE?

We got family leave. I will write more about this tomorrow. ATRs are getting the rating sheets in. Some are not very happy. I had to counsel one very pissed off ATR the last few days. The Open Market is out but as we know it's a scam. Regularly assigned teachers are find out whether or not they are ineffective, developing, effective, or highly effective. Teachers are being denied tenure or having their probation extended. Teachers city wide are taking copious amounts of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. ATRs are concerned if the next contract will be their end. Teachers are facing abusive principals. Teachers see incompetent and crooked principals get away with everything. The list can go on and on and on and on.

But where there should have been leadership, a light to guide the rank and file by, to grab the bull buy the proverbial testicles has once again taken an opportunity to miss the opportunity.

MORE again stretches a triple into a single.

At tonight's Delegate Assembly MORE is bringing up a resolution (in which none of the above, nor anything that was not mentioned that would be 100% beneficial to the rank and file) matters one iota to putting food on a teacher's table, putting a teacher's children through college, or just having a teacher not dread going to school in the morning.

What is this resolution? It's all about the upcoming New York State gubernatorial election y in September. More so, in my opinion, it is more to get Howie Hawkins name out there.

Look, I think Andrew Cuomo is a complete putz. As for Cynthia Nixon, I want more information. I think she is a stalking horse and put in there by De Blasio to piss off and pull Cuomo to the left. But Hawkins? He's turning into Lyndon LaRouche or Gus Hall. Just running for the sake of running. Besides, his policies are fantasy land.

It really needs to be realized that a teeny, tiny, percentage of the rank and file has true Socialist inclinations. Most have nice egalitarian lives and those are fine. Then there are the Evangelical Socialists that are completely out of touch with reality and seek out young impressionable teachers that still live on mommy and daddy's dime to convert. I get it with these kids. They move to New York City Brooklyn, they are own their own for the first time, they want to save the world. But they are missing the bigger picture.

Any UFT caucus must do right for the ENTIRE rank and file, not just their little corner of the DOE world. MORE in essence has become a top down organization just like the UFT and it's agenda now only benefits a select few.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mike Mulgrew Comes to Yankee Stadium

I was cordially invited to attend a function, an party, or whatever the heck one wants to call it, at the Hard Rock Cafe at Yankee Stadium, this past Tuesday. The reason? Our UFT President Mike Mulgrew was their to speak to the teachers of districts 7 and 9. In retrospect it seems that the invitations were for CL's and their few select favorites. I felt like Cinderella crashing the ball. But it was nice that the person from within the UFT who extended me the invitation thought of me

As usual, it's good to see one's union dues put to good use.

The Hard Rock was closed to the public for a few hours and had about two dozen staff on hand. We were served sliders, which compared to White Castle, were just plain gross. Teeny tiny pieces of chicken served on a teeny tiny waffle with some syrup, and some kind of egg roll. Oh, and there was a nacho bar with all the fixins. The nachos came in several colors. It was nice. I mixed the sour cream and guacamole together for a nacho dip.

Mulgrew came out and started his spiel. I didn't take notes, I should have, but I am just going to free wheel from memory Mulgrew's remarks in bold and mine in italics.

"Janus...very bad. Next their going to come after our collective bargaining rights.  Look how bad they have it in Wisconsin."

Yeah, very bad. But as for our collective bargaining rights, this Janus decision might backfire. Read here. I'm going to say it again. You have every right to be angry with union. But leaving union will not help it will only hurt in long run. Best way to change is from within. 

"For the first time we have a Chancellor that is not from within and knows no one. This is good for us."

Wait, Joel Klein was from outside the DOE and look how well that turned out. 

"The chancellor wanted to meet with negotiating team in his office. Told him his office is not big enough for our 400 member team!"

So these 400 members actually have a say? I was under the impression it is only 10 people who decide. 

"We can't negotiate how schools spend their money. If schools have 42 classes they should have 42 teachers."

Right there is telling us to forget about fair student funding. 

"When I was chapter leader I complained to my principal. I soon was observed 18 times!"

I guess that is worse than Mulgrew negotiating up for us to 4 observations.

"Observations are being used to punish."

Really? He just figured that out?

Updated 5/27/18 10:48 PM:

I almost forgot. This got me laughing....

Mulgrew says: "...And in Albany they are about to pass law that does away with evaluations being tied to testing..."

Obviously he didn't read NYC Public School Parents blog!

In between all his points, his highlights, the blind were cheering and whooping it up. Maybe I see things with another set of eyes, but this was to much of a revival meeting for me. Might has well have had it in a tent and have some gospel singers there.

No mention of ATRs, Open Market fraud, fraud in general, teachers suffering, fair student funding, class size, 3020-a, grievances. Basically the shit everyone cares most about.

He did bring up parental leave. He's all for that. Has yet to say how it will be paid for. Or if there will be givebacks.

I'll give Mulgrew credit for one thing. He didn't cut and run after he finished. He stayed around and mingled. I got to meet him and he said "I finally get to meet you."

I should have bought him a beer.Gotten him drunk.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Are Jews Truly Welcomed at the MORE Caucus?

I am not a supporter of the current Israeli government. I believe they have done nothing but damage any solution to a peaceful solution to the Occupied Territories. I am sickened at the governments actions at the Gaza border last week.

I do not like white Christian males who think they know what is best for Israel. They, in my opinion, are anti-Semites and the craziest ones want to stir the shit so the "End Times" will come faster.

I really have no place for the Hasidim nor any ultra-Conservative Jews as well. I see what is happening in towns and school districts just across the river from me in Kiryas Joel, New Square , and the East Ramapo school district. And let's not forget the yeshivas across New York State and New York City.

I'm not the greatest Jew in the world. I just go to services on the High Holidays, I don't keep kosher, and my wife was the first and last Jewish woman I dated. But I had a bar mitzvah, we do Passover (though I eat leavened bread during the eight days), my son had a bar mitzvah as well as a briss. I am proud to be a Jew. When my son met former Yankee Ron Blomberg about 10 years ago Blomberg told him, "Always be a proud Jew!"

Is it any coincidence that of my two favorite bands, Rush and Van Halen, their lead singers, Geddy Lee and David Lee Roth are of the tribe?

But I will not sit idly by when outside agitators and a self hating Jew decided to bash Israel. It takes two sides to tango and it will be nice for once for the outside agitators to take a deep long look at what the Arabs and Palestinians have done all these years.

On March 22 just after the new Steering took place we received this request to vote on for MORE support....

Proposal for MORE. 

This is from Michael Letwin of Labor for Palestine who helped organize another national mobilization effort for Labor for Standing Rock, which is how some coordinated our presence. 
He is a former president of a local upstate.

Michael Letwin must be a self hating Jew. Whatever he did for Standing Rock (Which I fully supported their right not to have a pipeline through their land) pales in comparison to this.

The above email came at his request...

Subject: Urgent request for endorsements: Boycott study abroad in Israel! Sign here to take the pledge.

Greetings XXXXXXXX. Would you and/or MORE like to endorse the statement below? If so, please click here.



What Michael wanted MORE to endorse was a cultural and academic boycott of Israel, to join in on the BDS of Israel.

And people wonder about MORE? About it's motivations? What the fuck was the purpose of this other than to test the new members of Steering?

Why when teachers across New York City are under enormous pressure and being led about by a clueless union does a BOYCOTT of Israel become a priority?

There are Jews on Steering, what is this brought to Steering? Yes, two of them kind of fall into the Letwin category of Jew, but nonetheless, we are told bombarded time after time to be sensitive to others...

a. Assume good intentions.

g. Respect all viewpoints, perspectives and social identities.

Again, some rules are for all, some rules are for others. But there are no rules for what one can say or do concerning Jews or Israel. Big deal, MORE thinks, so we offend a few Jews.

Jews, and this is my honest opinion, are tolerated at MORE, those that are  the 1st or 2nd generations Jews who are part of MORE. As long as we keep our mouths quiet and go along. The Jews that are loved are the ones who sold their soul along time ago, like the special little boy. Nothing better than the Judenrat of the Ghettoes.

Little does MORE realize that the real socialists are the Zionists. The Zionists who created something out of nothing in Israel. The Zionists who put their people first and not their leaders. MORE wants to keep on laying blame on the Jews and Israel, look at how the other countries and peoples of the mid east have pissed on and used Palestine for years. Take a look at how Israel pulled out of Gaza left the Palestinians everything, the farms, the greenhouses, etc... to have a full blown economy and society and it was all pissed away by them.

Want Israel off the land? Look across the Jordan River. The entire Kingdom of Jordan was part of the Palestine province during the Ottoman Empire. Why does not MORE start a boycott of Jordan? Think Jordan has treated Palestinians any better?

Want Israel to support the Right of Return? Does MORE support those that were left their homes and property behind in 1959-1960 when Socialist Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba? Aint' going to happen Will MORE support any Native American that makes a claim at their mommy and daddy's door for their land back? Ain't going to never happen.

I think this was a micro-agression on MORE's part and MORE should take sensitivity training.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Manor Farm and the MORE Caucus Are Becoming One

It's has become sad watching MORE turn into a caricature of itself as it slowly, but surely, sinks into the depths of collective desperation as it turns into Manor Farm.

Rules aren't made for breaking at MORE, rules are made now by a select few for a select few. If those are of the "approved" than the latest whimsical rule they need not worry. They are amongst the anointed, the privileged (for now) and need not worry about banishment.

As we know, I have been taken out the the proverbial woodshed and forced to search for my own switch for openly publishing in a quite neutral manor the "sacred parchment" and the "Dear John" get lost email. Let's not forget me publishing the "You Are to Go to Bed Without Supper Punishment" email as well.

Well, the shit done hit the fan again. I broke another rule and and received a punishment based on someone's whim. Here it is:


You have received warnings and been sanctioned in the past for violating MORE's norms of behavior. Recently, you have recently repeatedly violated MORE's norms again -- including accusing the 'crack team' at MORE of trying act like 'God'; and calling MORE 'repressive' when we enforced our norms.  

"In addition, you published a private email sent by MORE members to our steering committee on your blog. 

"You are hereby removed from MORE steering and banned from our listserves."

First off, The Crack Team only is part of this blog, not MORE. The Crack Team is a cross between the Jedi Council and the Kryptonian Council (The men who sentenced Zod, Ursa, and Non to the Phantom Zone). The Crack Team takes umbrage on its misrepresentation and demands an apology post-haste.

As for as the accusation that I claimed that MORE is acting like God, nothing can be further from the truth. What was written was...
"This is what MORE wants the rank and file to get behind eventually, akin to God handing down 15 10 Commandments to Moses at Mt Sinai."
At no time was did I mean the REAL God, but rather the God of Mel Brooks 1981 laugh fest, "History of the World Part 1." A very politically incorrect movie if I must say with one of the funniest song and dance numbers ever, The Inquisition ( I shall not comment further on this! wink wink nod nod!!) But sadly one person in MORE is seeing themselves as a type of deity (And no it's not that special little boy).

Again, private email? In landed in my email. It makes it mine. I chose to share it.

Now back to my violations. Yeah, I made a snarky comment to a female (OMG!!!!!!) aligned with Solidarity on the listserv. This female is part of Solidarity and trolls. But on April 6th I just typed "go away" in which I did get the warning according to the forum rules and suspended for 1 week for again saying, "Please. Go Away." Big whoop. But notice this. I am not running away from what I have said nor was punished for. MORE keeps on running from itself.

Yes, there is a rule that says one can't disseminate any emails on listservs without permission.

The MORE list should be a safe space where members can share comments and ideas without fear that words meant solely for a MORE audience be reprinted in a public forum. To that end, we ask that all participants on the list agree NOT to publish any email, email address, or comment posted to the MORE list without prior, written authorization of the author.
 Ask? Agree? I guess I was asked and didn't agree. Doesn't say you must. Big difference in a court of law.

But to follow the listserv rules...
1) Warn the person off-list (this should only be done if the violation is a minor, borderline, or grey area issue - clear and major violations need a public warning starting with the actions below so everyone is aware).

2) To notify the listserve that a post violates the norms.

3) To close a particular thread if there are rapid multiple violations.  Posting on a closed thread is a separate violation of the norms.

4) To move the entire listserve to moderated mode temporarily (for no more than 24 hours), and approve messages as they come through, 

5) On a second offense, remove a members posting privileges for 1 week

6) On a third offense, remove a members posting privilege for 1 month

7) Propose to Steering that a member be banned from the listserve

Should I not be at level #6? In fact, not only am I banned now from the listservs I am now, yeah you guessed it, another extra-judicious whimsical ruling, off of steering. Darn!

This was planned from the get go. As soon as myself, John G. and Mike landed on Steering along with two other like minded members a "Beer Hall Putsch" was planned. What we have been witnessing is a coup. A non-violent coup, bit a coup nonetheless. In fact throwing the three of us off of steering shows that we are just being used the same as Marinus van der Lubbe.

Where is the Steering committee vote on my being kicked off of Steering? In fact, what has happened to Steering? As far as I know Steering hasn't met since April 14. There was supposed to be a Steering phone meeting May 6 but when I inquired I heard the chirping of crickets.

Again, MORE is making up it's rules as it goes along. Those who toe the party line are safe. Those who dare to question the direction of MORE, or worse, are part of MORE because the rank and file are deemed most important are blasted with frivolous and false accusations, have their character questioned, and are plotted against behind their backs.

The imbroglio that begat all this tyranny at the hands from MORE was launched by a favorite son who had the temerity to take a PRIVATE EMAIL to him from John G and publish it in the Steering listserv. Yeah, you're right. MORE does say...
We also ask that no direct email sent from another member of MORE be posted to the lists without the author's written permission.
WTF??? What's good for the goose is not good for the gander? This is the same person who threatened Mike and John G on the Steering listserv and all that was heard were crickets. 

MORE now has officially an equivocally lost it's freaking mind. It is neither a democratic organization nor is a bottom up one. It is now lorded over by one, assisted enabled by those who know whose colon to live in. 


Monday, May 14, 2018

Why We Choose to Leave MORE By John Giambalvo and Mike Schirtzer

For those that don't know John and Mike are the Tony and Barry that I had written about last week.

The three of us went into joining MORE's steering with an idea that our positions were not to be tolerated and we saw first hand the systematic wrath incurred upon us for daring to speak up and think different.

I can't blame them for this. Both have had their characters debased and their ethics questioned. I have come to know these two men better in the last 2 months and say without a doubt that if I was starting a baseball team based on having teachers backs that both John and Mike would be in my starting lineup.

But like Arthur Goldstein had finally gotten fed up with MORE so finally have John and Mike.

This here is their opus (Bold has been added by myself).

Why We Choose to Leave MORE
By John Giambalvo and Mike Schirtzer

We became involved with teacher unionism after a few years of working in the schools as a result of our classroom and school-level experiences where we saw public school teachers and students being cheated out of the resources needed to provide them with an adequate education. Sparked by the general lack of response from our union, the United Federation of Teachers, our involvement led us to join the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), an organization that we believed would respond to concerns of UFT members by allowing them, as well as members of their school community, a space to voice concerns about our schools within the political structures of our union and the Department of Education of the City of New York. 

We joined MORE during a time when few voices within the UFT represented the needs and interests of our colleagues. 

We joined under the premise that our union had the potential to be the most powerful vehicle of change for teachers, students and families in New York City and beyond. 

We joined MORE to create a more assertive union, where member voice was the greatest priority and, when heard, would lead it to action for the entire education community. 

We joined MORE to strengthen the UFT for the betterment of the teachers, students and families we serve. We were aware that the UFT apparatus, under the almost 60 year stewardship of the Unity Caucus, had developed more than a bit of sclerosis, had not been adequately serving the needs of its members, and that that power structure needed to be challenged from the ranks. We believed MORE offered the potential to engage in that challenge.

We joined MORE and were faced with working with people with many different political backgrounds and ideologies, including some differing from our views. We made concerted efforts to function collectively with other members of MORE to improve conditions in our schools. We learned the basics of their ideologies and did our best to find middle ground. We genuinely believed we were learning to struggle together in order to improve conditions, especially for those who were affected by hurtful policies on a daily basis.

We joined MORE to prioritize making connections with teachers throughout all five boroughs; to construct and devote our work towards an agenda that would have wide appeal to a majority of members of our union who have been shut out of influence. In order to be successful MORE would have to, not only offer a way forward by leading in a new direction, but do so by being responsive and interacting with UFT members in our own schools and beyond to transform a union that operated in an absolute top-down manner.

We have been disappointed.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen that MORE has been increasingly dominated by one group with a definite pre-formed unyielding ideology. We’ve come to understand over time that these voices do not represent the needs of most of our members, or even our students or parents. MORE has devolved into an organization that uses anti-democratic and secretive methods to push the agenda of this faction and marginalize, isolate and push vocal opponents out of the caucus.

There were many opportunities for the members of MORE to analyze the results of our work in order to determine the course of the group’s direction, but it has chosen not to do so. There were meetings with varying topics, causes endorsed, social media/blog data, and the results of the 2016 UFT election which provided data on voter turnout by division and district which clearly showed a much higher turnout in the Queens high schools (36.4% compared to 12.8% in the Bronx and 14.5 in Manhattan, boroughs where key leaders of the current leadership in MORE are based.)

Queens high school voter turnout was clearly the crucial difference in winning the high school seats but admitting that would be counter to the narrative being pushed.
This turnout was mainly due to the organizing efforts of two key MORE members. (Ed Note: Details and analysis of 2016 high school elections at 

This should have been an important lesson for MORE
about the kind of activism by some more members that reaches out and resonates with rank and file teachers. Yet, these people are the very people who are being pushed out of MORE. One of these people is the chapter leader of the largest high school in Queens with 300 UFT members and an elected UFT Executive Board member.

The other was a former chapter leader of a closed school who led a valiant battle to keep his school open but who was forced to become an ATR. One of the most respected voices in the UFT for almost 30 years who developed hundreds of contacts in schools all around the city, and served for a decade on the UFT Executive Board. He too is being forced out of MORE.

Along with one of us, two of the four MORE Executive Board elected high school representatives are being pushed out of MORE. What does this mean for MORE as an organization when it feels activists with this history and stature and the overwhelming support of their colleagues don’t belong? 

Instead of revisiting different petitions we advocated for or addressing the way we have utilized our positions on the UFT Executive Board to create voice for colleagues, the small group taking control of MORE chose to purposely ignore these results, criticized us, and attempted to micro-manage us over issues like class size and the defense of ATRS and rank and file UFT members over abusive principals because this work did not fit their preordained agendas. 

Attempts to build a large, robust organization, including the creation of newsletters produced for wide distribution, planning meetings with topics related to school-based issues, like the nuts and bolts of enforcing the contract or running for chapter leader, and attempts to compete in union elections (both at the chapter level and for citywide officers), have been met with obstruction, in-fighting, frustrating layers of bureaucracy and the gradual disappearance of democratic decision making. 

All this is a direct result of the group’s lack of democracy and failure to connect with members in our schools.

Predictably, instead of growing into a member driven movement, MORE has seen its numbers dwindle to levels rivaling our earliest beginnings in 2012. Instead of examining and discussing the reasons for the shrinking of MORE, such as the inability to develop a newsletter and distribution network or even a regular handout at the UFT Delegate Assembly, the constant excuse has been that all the problems in MORE have been due to some rude emails by a few people. 

In fact, dozens of people have abandoned MORE
over the years due to the rigid ideological framework imposed in MORE. Their “solution” to the crisis in MORE has been to actively move to push out even more members who do not go along with their line, many of them older and experienced in union politics, obviously a threat to their ability to win over new and inexperienced teachers who enter MORE to their ideological line. Rather than engage in discussion, including historical reference and analysis, they want to promote their own political positions, positions that are rarely open to debate.

It is especially difficult for us to remain with a group that no longer honors the principles of democracy. There was a glaring lack of due process involved in our recent suspension from the MORE listserves and the caucus’ steering committee, which just happened to remove our ability to vote on crucial decisions concerning the direction they wanted to steer MORE in. There is no provision in the by-laws from suspension from steering.

This decision began as a disagreement over political process and the tone of some emails. The suspensions were decided without either of us being present. Just four people out of nine on the committee created, ex-post facto, new rules. Since MORE is on record as opposing suspensions and calling for restorative justice for students, calls for the use of restorative justice practices in lieu of suspension in our case were voted down.

As union members, social justice activists, and New York City public school teachers, we cannot compromise the principle of due process. We must expect from ourselves the rights we demand for our co-workers and our students.

The loss of trust in the people who made these decisions will be difficult to repair. The realization that a caucus dedicated to the principles of social and restorative justice but can no longer muster enough respect for basic due process portends a future for the group that is far too troubling for us to be part of. 

It is simply not acceptable to be involved with an organization that does not hold itself to the very values of democracy upon which it is premised and for which we have both worked. 

There are many good people in and around MORE and we are proud of our past work with them. But too many priorities have changed over time, both for the group and for ourselves. We seek out the serious work of helping to build a more robust union, one that can affect policy as it improves the conditions under which we teach and our students learn. We have concluded MORE as a caucus is not capable or willing to build this movement. In order to work with rank and file UFT members and other stakeholders, we feel it’s better we separate ourselves now. We are leaving the organization and disassociate our names from it. 

We still intend to spend time learning from our from past successes and failures in future endeavors we pursue.

There is a Janus decision on the horizon, a well financed effort by corporations and interest groups to undermine unions, and a relentless effort to privatize our schools by forcing out veteran UFT members and closing schools in our poorest neighborhoods, which harms our children of color and immigrant children. It is imperative that our union fights harder than ever against these forces. 

We are dedicated to defending members unfairly under attack,
ensuring our children are provided a great public education in well resourced schools, fighting for racial integration of schools, defending immigrant, African-American, Latino, Muslim, and LGBTQ union members and students. We will continue our work in our chapters, Delegate Assemblies and Executive Board meetings to educate and activate union members, defend public education, demand due process for our students and colleagues, and advance the cause of labor unions for all workers.

In Solidarity,

Mike Schirtzer: UFT Executive Board, UFT Delegate, Social Studies Teacher

John Giambalvo: Social Studies teacher, Coordinator of Student Activities

John Giambalvo will is completing 18 years of service teaching social studies. He teaches in a Queens high school.

Mike Schirtzer, is a member of the UFT  Executive Board and a delegate from his school. He has been teaching social studies at Leon Goldstein HS in Brooklyn for 11 years

District 71 Manhattan High Schools: 683 votes= 14.5% of total HS turnout

District 72 Bronx High Schools: 594 votes=12.6%

District 73 Brooklyn High Schools: 729 votes=15.5%

District 76 Brooklyn-Staten Island High Schools: 984 votes=20.9%

District 77 Queens High Schools: 1712 votes=36.4%