Saturday, December 19, 2009

UFT Elections 2010

With the final touches on ICE's 2009 platform being made this weekend, we're happy to post the Introduction to the full document this afternoon.

Over the summer, we had to take a look at our 2004 platform (available in pdf from the main ICE website) and take into account all the changes that have occurred in NYC public education under the heavy hands of Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein. As they continue to bust the unions, marginalize parents, and do what's worst for kids, we continue to pay dues to the undemocratic machine that union has become under the full undemocratic control of Unity caucus.

Unity/UFT supports mayor control, charter schools, and teacher evaluations promulgated by corporate money, and their response is pitiful when state laws and mandates are broken (special ed, public hearings, CFE misappropriations, graduation requirements, etc.). They buy into Klein's fake school grading system and highly manipulated test score data and continue to promote "collaboration" while educators are harassed, intimidated and demoralized and parents are completely shut out. Following a decidedly passive approach to unionism, they end up trying to plug up the holes instead of fighting the ed deform campaign coming directly at us from the present chancellorship and Bloomberg's big money friends.

It is not a pretty picture, but one thing is clear — Unity/UFT has been buying us all one-way tickets to the demise of our profession.

Unwilling as they are to fight our working conditions and the integrity of what we do in NYC classrooms, Unity needs to be replaced.

Here is the Introduction to the 2010 platform. See the links in the sidebar to access Parts 2 - 9.

I. Introduction

The Independent Community of Educators (ICE) caucus was founded in October 2003 by working members and retirees to assess the state of our union and NYC schools. We cannot afford to be silent on the issues that affect our working conditions, in many cases our jobs, and the future prospects of the children we educate.

In these difficult times for unionism across the nation, and with union officials failing the members politically, contractually, and philosophically against a dictatorial mayor they continue to back under the present system of mayoral control, we have chosen once again to offer an alternative platform for the 2010 elections.

The UFT has been controlled by the Unity/UFT Caucus for almost the entire half century of its existence. For the last couple of decades, we have watched as many of our hard-won rights and protections have been given back. Unity/UFT has aligned itself with the Klein, Bloomberg, Gates, Broad, Duncan, Sharpton, Gingrich, Rhee et al. reformers (deformers) looking to blame teachers for the ills of the public school system. This failed policy of collaboration and Unity/UFT’s autocratic methods have weakened the union’s ability to protect itself from the attacks against it.

We believe that UFT members can be both strong trade unionists and strong educators. Schools are part of the larger community and everyone who works in a school together with families and the surrounding community has a role in the education of children.

We aim to provide a voice for all UFT members. Classroom teachers in particular bear the brunt of the responsibility, and the blame when things don’t go well. We believe that members need to participate in governance at the school level. Through activism at the school level, individuals become empowered in shaping institutions and the roles of the people working and learning within them.

Since its inception, ICE has been fully engaged in union activities. We have served as elected members of the UFT Executive Board and have participated on UFT committees. ICE delegates and chapter leaders have helped to lead the debate at the UFT Delegate Assembly by presenting alternative views to the official union position on the following issues: mayoral control (governance), high stakes testing, charter schools, ATRs, military recruiters in the schools, privatization of our health care plan, labor solidarity, class size, school leadership teams, opposition to the 2005 contractual giveaways, school closings, contract enforcement, and what is referred to as the “disappearing” of Black and Latino educators. We have been active in the new and old media, operating nationally read blogs, producing videos, writing letters to the editors and articles, and participating in radio talk shows. We share our knowledge and experience freely with any union members who asks us for help.

ICE members are activists who stand strongly against the many inequities in our learning communities. We have joined with others and have been instrumental in the formation of the Grasssroots Education Movement, UFTers to Stop the War, the Ad Hoc Committee to Reverse the Disappearing of Black and Latino/a Educators, and Justice Not Just Tests. We also work with Teachers for a Just Contract, the New York Collective of Radical Educators, Teacher’s Unite, Time Out From Testing, the No More Mayoral Control Coalition, the Independent Commission on Public Education, the Center for Immigrant Families, and the Coalition for Public Education.

Unfortunately, the Unity/UFT Caucus has opted to ally the union with the corporate led education reformers whose plans for privatization are sweeping the nation. UFT officers played a crucial role in the initial passage of mayoral control in 2002, and they supported renewal of the law with only minor tweaking. There is an alternative to mayoral control. Educators must play a large role in developing a new vision of governance. Parents and teachers are starting to come together on their own to defend their neighborhood schools from the charter school invasion.

We do not to bemoan the obvious or blame Unity/UFT leaders for all that ails us. We aim to promote dialogue and membership awareness and develop strategies for improving conditions for educators and the entire school community.

We offer an electoral alternative and invite all concerned members of the union, regardless of political views or caucus affiliation, to consider the views expressed here and in other platforms. While we criticize the policies and philosophy of Unity/UFT, we make no personal attacks and understand that a wide range of views exists within all caucuses. No single caucus has all the answers.

Unity/UFT has been on the wrong side of too many issues. But we believe that the UFT can still make important contributions to a revived labor movement that links unions and communities. The rank and file, regardless of caucus or political leanings, share common interests, and it is on this basis that we seek a new consensus on which to unify and move forward as a union. Together we can turn the UFT into a progressive, democratic and militant organization.

Our platform is a work in progress and modified as new voices are heard. We invite you to join us in this campaign.

Email or call 917-992-3734 for information.