On Tuesday, January 22, New Action Co-chair Jonathan Halabi presented a resolution at the UFT Executive Board meeting calling on our union to get behind a bill to take absolute control over the PEP away from the Mayor Bloomberg. The bill introduced by Velmanette Montgomery and David Weprin would have severely reduced the number of appointees to half of the current level, effectively taking away the mayor’s power to close schools in the city. Halabi pointed out that the PEP has been a rubber stamp for the Mayor, and that this bill would potentially provide instant relief. In the meantime, our committee on school governance should continue to meet and work towards it recommendations.
While New Action/UFT has opposed mayoral control from the start and has recently initiated a petition drive against mayoral control, we considered this bill an important first step to that end. Three speakers on the UFT Executive Board rose to speak against supporting this important piece of legislation. They argued that the UFT has a committee on school governance and this proposal would second guess the committee’s work, that it wouldn’t give all the stakeholders a chance to weigh in, etc.
New Action speakers argued that we should not wait for the results of a committee report when we have a concrete bill that would make for a more democratic process if passed now.
The caucus-line vote was overwhelmingly against supporting the Montgomery/Weprin bill with only five New Action members present voting in support, as all of the Unity caucus members voted no. It is all the more surprising that at a publicized press conference called by Montgomery and Weprin the announcement said UFT representatives would be present.
New Action secured 2,200 signatures to end mayoral control on petitions this past spring. New Action is committed to work for an end to all vestiges of mayoral control—control which would never have come about without UFT support.