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Organizing Teaching Fellows as teachers

June 20, 2008 pm30 4:12 pm

Organizing teachers? Doesn’t sound so far-fetched. After all, we (the United Federation of Teachers, its Districts, Chapters, and members) are a union.

Reach out to new teachers. Involve them immediately in the life of their chapter. Make certain the chapter is well aware of the problems new teachers face. Provide them with both support and encouragement. Protect them as best as possible from administrators.

There are two goals that work in tandem:

  1. recruiting new teachers (including Fellows) to become pro-union (not just members), and
  2. providing new teachers with support to make it more likely they continue teaching for more than a few years.

These do go together. New teachers who are looking at teaching for 10 or 20 years will be more concerned with rights, pay, conditions… And teachers who take an interest in rights, conditions, etc are more likely to stick around.

This is the part of the response to AW who’s been anxious for answers in the comments to a previous post.

Notice, this is not about changing NYC Department of Education behavior; it is all about what the union and its members do. We expect, or we should expect, that the employer plays divide and conquer. That they try to make some Fellows into pets and de facto assistant administrators, and use them against more experienced teachers. That they play favorites. That they crucify some Fellows, expecting the rest of us to look away. This is how they operate. We should expect nothing less.

But we don’t systematically organize teachers today. We represent them. We do organize them to engage in political action. But we don’t regularly address chapter building (if you’ve been to a Delegate Assembly, you know it’s one topic that never comes up). Some chapters really do do a great job. Many more just get the cards signed, and far too many do nothing at all.

Next up: organizing vs signing a card
More: what issues to address, what new issues to address
More: organizing and Central, the Borough Offices, the Districts, and the Schools
More: Reaching Fellows

7 Comments leave one →
  1. li schutz permalink
    January 12, 2009 am31 5:50 am 5:50 am

    The salaries for Teaching Fellows fail to sustain life in NYC. A $4000 salary nets only $2000 and rent is $1000 for a closet.

    They should be exempt from city tax, add on pension, and tuition (instead of giving a lump sum payment later on. My husband and I are old and can no longer subsidize our daughter. Mayor Bloomberg and Ms. Caroline Kennedy, I know that you are both interested in education. HELP NOW.

    • January 12, 2009 am31 6:44 am 6:44 am

      Given the economy, I doubt the City is going to waive taxes. As far as the pay, our contract expires next Fall, and we need to negotiate something, and I hope there is some reasonable money in it. And the deduction for tuition must be ended. She will be getting an Americorps check at the end of the year. Why not just let her sign that over? Why deduct from beginning teachers when they can least afford it?


  1. What issues matter to new teachers? « JD2718
  2. Reaching Fellows « JD2718
  3. Ouch! Looking at a NYC Teaching Fellow’s check « JD2718
  4. Reaching Fellows (reprint) « JD2718
  5. Posts from last summer about new teachers « JD2718

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