There's an interesting post and conversation going on over at EdNotes as to whether the MORE Caucus can defeat the Unity Caucus machine run by Michael Mulgrew which has reigned supreme for half a century. There's a question, in fact, whether MORE should even be running at this point or spending more time developing the kind of infrastructure and support that just might dethrone Unity in the 2016 election.
I have to admit, I don't know whether MORE can win, but I do think they need to be in the fight. While their chances may not be great against the well-oiled Unity machine, their chances drop to zero if they're not in the ring. Surely no one thought that CORE in Chicago could win, but they did, and then held a successful strike and began taking back much of what the reformers had stolen away.
So, the real question may be, are teachers in New York City as fed up as their colleagues in Chicago? Has the weakening of tenure, the lack of a contract, the endless concessions, the ATR fiasco, the shaming of teachers in the tabloids, and the failure to oppose Bloomberg or mayoral control in the last election got you thinking that a change is needed? How about the collaboration on teacher evaluations using VAM, the cooperation on Race to the Top which will result in unending testing and teaching to the test, and the impending implementation of the 57 page Danielson framework rubric to evaluate teachers? If that's not enough to rile you, think about school closings, rising class sizes, and support of charters through creating two of our own?
If none of this bothers you, then by all means vote for Unity. You will doubtless get more of the same.
I do sense an opening for MORE in this election. There is a looming trifecta of bonehead moves by Unity leading right up to the union elections. First, there was the Sandy fiasco, in which Unity surrendered three work days without a fight or even waiting to see whether the state would take action to excuse the mandatory 180 days that Unity claims are necessary. Next comes the seemingly inevitable sellout on new teacher evaluations. Finally, right before the election, we will actually have to work those three days in February thanks to Mulgrew's surrender. Those three days are key. People will be tired and angry. Can MORE capitalize on that anger?
They can if you help. Let the other teachers in your school know that MORE exists by passing out their petition on evaluations, or telling people to sign online. If you can't do that, just talk to people at your school. You'll be surprised at how many teachers don't even know that there are other caucuses.
While a win might be a long shot, it may not be necessary to effect change. Remember that Mulgrew got an astounding 91% of the vote last time around. Suppose we could cut that to 70% or less this time around. Unity would have to take notice of the fact that the UFT membership is getting educated and is ready to act. As long as they get 91% of the vote, they have no motivation to do anything but sit on their hands and not make waves when the city makes demands.
I want some waves, dammit. I don't send the UFT my dues so they can have gala lunches and plush offices and double pensions, and neither do you. Those dues are supposed to be there to protect us, the members.
Do you feel protected by your union? Do you feel that your job is secure as long as you work hard to educate children?
Neither do I. It's time for something better. Check out MORE.