Open mike – there was only one speaker, Marjorie Stamberg, who spoke about the repression of teachers in Mexico, especially from the south (I think she mentioned Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas). Marjorie spent time this summer in Mexico. She said that she would bring the information to the Committee on Economic and Social Justice. She left packets of informational material with some of the Executive Board members (including me)
Mulgrew was absent.
Francisco Peña (New Action) asked where we were with Factfinding, wasn’t the report already due. Emil Pietronomico answered that factfinding is ongoing, and passed the question to attorney Adam Ross, who reported that the last day is November 4, and that we expect a report shortly thereafter.
Michael Shulman (New Action) asked about the City’s suit against the UFT over arbitrators. Emil passed this question to attorney Adam Ross as well, who explained that arbitrators are chosen by mutual agreement, which the City does not seem to accept means that we must agree with their choices. In addition, the City ended an effective time-saving mediation program – they force every case to trial (I’m not sure what “trial” means here – jd). They brought us to court, and we (UFT) are moving to have the case dismissed.
Joel Garcia (New Action) asked for the number of current teachers in the Absent Teachers Reserve (Excessed Teachers, often referred to as ATRs). He also asked what was going on with rotation. Emil quickly conferred, and said he would get back to us next time.
Doug Haynes (New Action) reportedly hearing anecdotally about a spike in retirements, and asked whether there actually was such a spike. Emil said he would get back to us.
Jonathan Halabi (me, New Action) asked, since observations under the new evaluation system had begun in many schools, what sorts of problems and complaints, expected and unexpected, were we hearing about, which ones were showing up a lot. Emil said issues are being reported through an online system, and that there are different issues. Most people noticed that he did not respond to the question.
There were four resolutions during the special orders of business.
1. On inclusive language (say “member” when we mean members, and “teacher” if we specifically mean only teachers – remember we organize counselors, paras, secretaries, related service providers, etc, all of whom are UFTers)
2. Improve NYC’s electoral system
3. On the 53rd Anniversary of the 1960 UFT Strike (George Altomare, in the discussion, talked about events leading up to the strike)
4. Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on High-Stakes Consequences for State Tests – LeRoy Barr motivated, strongly, this resolution which was not on the agenda, but was signed and submitted by six Executive Board members (Emil, LeRoy, Anthony Harmon, Marie Kallo, a signature I don’t recognize, and Sterling Roberson) The “whereas”s reaffirmed UFT policy, including much that New Action disagrees with – including Common Core, and using test scores to evaluate teachers. The resolution, however, called for a moratorium on consequences for the tests.
Jonathan Halabi (me, New Action), rose to reaffirm that there were major differences on much of this resolution, but that we fully supported the moratorium, and that the resolution should get unanimous support.
Which it did.
New Action Caucus has ten seats on the UFT Executive Board – the only ten seats that do not belong to Unity Caucus.
Ten is not enough to win anything – but it allows our voice to be heard, it allows us to put forward resolutions, and when there is agreement, to put forward resolutions the leadership signs onto. It allows us to offer amendments. It allows us to bring issues to the leadership.
At Exec after Exec, Unity members sit and listen. Some never speak. Most rarely speak. But New Action usually has questions, comments, resolutions, or amendments.
This year we will publish reports – sometimes on the entire Exec Board, sometimes just on New Action’s contribution.