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In which I mention a couple of awards

January 27, 2013 am31 8:23 am

Today I am receiving two awards for union service. At first I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but here we are, moment is about to arrive, and I’m pretty pleased.

A ten year chapter leader pin doesn’t sound like such a big deal. I remember, twelve or thirteen years ago, filling in for my chapter leader at the Bronx HS DR meeting (Shulman back then)… every CL in the room must have had ten years… maybe a few a few less, probably a bunch a bunch more. Fast forward to today though… I have eleven continuous years of service… five elections (though just one contested)… and today I am the longest serving high school chapter leader in the Bronx. By far. (there’s one guy with more years, but just a couple at his current school).

Trachtenberg Awards go to… I’m still not quite certain. Good chapters or good chapter leaders. And lots of people get them. I’ve been encouraged to apply for at least the last four years. And I think we’ve run an ok chapter, even a good chapter. But I resisted. Until last year, when we did two particularly good things.

First, several teachers had a proposal to adjust our school’s grading system, but over several years found they couldn’t move it themselves. They brought it to the chapter, and we discussed it, shaped it, worked on a presentation, and shepherded it through a longer discussion with administration… leading to agreement and its implementation this September.

Second, Bloomberg announced that he would speak at our graduation. Several members of our faculty organized an appropriate (did not in any way disrupt the kids’ graduation, but visible for all to see) demonstration of our thoughts on this, and managed to involve almost all of us. (It was a combination of bright UFT stickers and in the same UFT light blue “Respect Teachers” stickers). OK, so some of them may have been motivated by a desire to head off a less appropriate demonstration (they worry about me, and I probably, tongue-in-cheek, played on those fears a bit), but they did a great job, involved most of those who might have hesitated, produced the stickers themselves, etc, etc.

They hand out the awards at Teacher Union Day, at the Waldorf Astoria in midtown, where I am heading now. So I’m patting myself on the back, twice, although one of the awards is really for the chapter. The Trachtenberg Award  stays with the school, not me.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2013 am31 9:50 am 9:50 am

    ATTABOY! Yes you are correct, the Bronx HS Chapter Leaders were a long serving bunch. Part of that was that they were very often considered a “partner” ,if you will, in crafting Administration policies by the Principals of the day. Not that they were getting anything other than an voice, but it was made clear to HS Principals in those years that it was smarter to resolve issues beforehand than to battle over them later on. And then along came Bloomberg, Klein, and the beginning of the “Great Slide” if you will. The renege on staffing the newly created schools (Nadelstern promised only experienced, tenured teachers and what we got was a bunch of “know everything-know nothing newbies) and gravity, top down lack of educational integrity, and inexperience overwhelmed it all. Thank you for “sticking it out” as a Chapter Leader. You deserve all of our appreciation and respect.

    • January 27, 2013 pm31 9:41 pm 9:41 pm

      Thank you.

      What Nadelstern did (with Weingarten’s complicity) was to disperse and destroy the human capital that was the 1990s Bronx high schools teaching force. Diane, Lynne, Ralph, Alan, etc did not operate in a vacuum – each of them went back to a school loaded with other experienced teachers.

      High school teachers weren’t pains in the ass because they were new and energetic – they were pains in the ass because they were experienced, suspicious, and critical – and as a body the chapter leaders represented them well.

  2. Cathy D. permalink
    January 28, 2013 am31 10:59 am 10:59 am

    Congrats Jonathan! Well deserved! Not only do you work hard for your school’s UFT members, you put yourself on the front line for all UFT members. Thanks to your tenaciousness and involvement Columbus HS Secretaries were successfull in removing the “copy machine” first year small school Principal located in the Columbus Campus. We could not have done it without you and your Ramblin House cohorts!!!!!

  3. Diane Pearl permalink
    January 28, 2013 am31 11:08 am 11:08 am

    Congratulations, Jonathan! in this “age of ruins” whereas chapter leaders side with administration or run from the position, you have been in for the long ride. Few will continue the union fight because of the severe cost of one’s career. Understandable. I hold up Dr. Virginia Barden who has not backed down from the fight of not allowing Iris Blidge High School of the Arts-Roosevelt to intimidate and drive out anyone that doesn’t feed her pathology. She has been a chapter leader under the most grueling of times. Now she sits at 1 Fordham Plaza. What can we do? They always come after someone else in the morning.
    I think passivity among teachers sits like an elephant and they are too ruled by fear, which is real. However, the NYCDOE can not fight teachers who collectively fight back.

  4. January 29, 2013 am31 8:29 am 8:29 am

    Thank you, Diane and Cathy. The award was for what we did, in my school, as a chapter, but really all of us should be helping each other, and I try to do my part.

  5. Zulma permalink
    January 30, 2013 pm31 10:02 pm 10:02 pm

    You deserve the award. You’ve earned it. Congrats. It is an honor to know you and to be one of your union sisters.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    February 3, 2013 am28 9:01 am 9:01 am


    You’re a tough guy in an increasingly tough business. Let’s see what happens when Nadelstern makes his push to be Chancellor – hopefully tou push back. Good knowing you.
    Dave l from Columbus

    • February 3, 2013 pm28 7:49 pm 7:49 pm

      Dave with the beard? or Dave without the beard? There’s a big difference!

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