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Last day, light day, good day, for flyering

April 11, 2013 pm30 11:58 pm

New Action campaign literature was distributed in schools across New York City. The UFT ballots were mailed last Wednesday, and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday last week were our most intense days. We also used the two weeks before vacation.

Now is late. Many people mailed in their ballots when they arrived, Friday or Saturday. Others may have tossed them. Too many. Honestly, even if you vote for one of the wrong slates (Unity or MORE), it is better to vote… But that’s a different post.

So, now is late. But we had bypassed some Bronx high schools, and today a team covered some. And this afternoon I went into one: Grace Dodge.

What good can it do, handing out literature after so many have already voted? I was thinking that, as I was thinking of ditching my assignment.

But as I arrived, and met one person after another who knew me, or who knew who I was… I met the chapter leader, good guy, running with the wrong slate. I met a woman from my first school – we hadn’t seen each other in years. We worked in the same “house” when I started, back in 97. I met a guy from another school, coming for per session… we worked with the Columbus people last year, to help get the UFT involved in organizing the “Chase Chase” rally against a sexually harassing principal. I met teachers in the school, with questions about their working conditions. I heard a paperwork issue. I got questions about being in a phase out school, which I never have been, but the Grace Dodge people are.

I put flyers in the boxes in the two mini-schools. In one I recognized a name on a box, the daughter of a scoundrel who has intentionally done incalculable harm to students, teachers, and communities in the Bronx. But the daughter? she is our colleague, and a teacher, and I hope she develops good union consciousness and ends up nothing like her father. (I had to take a minute and convince myself of this, having cringed in horror, on seeing his name on her box).

But the best?  By the Grace Dodge mail boxes. Schmoozing and talking. Trying to have three conversations at once. A young guy says “Mr. Halabi” (no question mark at the end) “Mr. Halabi, do you remember me?”  He’s mid-20s, big shoulders, but not tall, beard. I don’t recognize him. “It’s me,” and he said his name, and I still didn’t know.

The young man had been my student for five weeks in a summer bridge program, in 2000. The  kid, who I now recall, but barely, looked nothing like the man who spoke to me this afternoon. One was 13, from West Africa. Today’s was 25, graduate of a college in the midwest. He was subbing, and wanted pointers on landing a regular job. I may have been more helpful today than 13 years ago… but I must have done something good that he remembered me all these years later… I smiled.

I also found a few people who said they hadn’t voted, and I may have picked up a couple votes.

For distribution, covering a lot of schools is important. But today I had the chance to go slow, listen to people, share ideas and experiences. And see a former student. I walked out smiling.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2013 pm30 10:18 pm 10:18 pm

    New Action isn’t running its own presidential candidate. If both MORE and Unity represent the wrong slates, then wouldn’t voting the “right” slate leave the UFT with no president at all? This is some Orwell level logic right here.

    • April 15, 2013 pm30 11:40 pm 11:40 pm

      You know that the words “slate” and “president” don’t mean the same thing?

      Of course you do.

      • Alex permalink
        April 16, 2013 am30 11:08 am 11:08 am

        Hi JD2718,

        Why yes! Yes I do! In fact, I also know that if a UFT member were to check off the box for the slate for New Action on their ballots, they would, in effect, be voting for Michael Mulgrew as their presidential candidate! You know that too, don’t you?

        Of course you do.

  2. April 18, 2013 am30 7:55 am 7:55 am

    Yes I do.

    But you’ve campaigned, fairly dishonestly, on the premise that New Action is the same as Unity, since we put their presidential candidate at the top of their ticket.

    You know we opposed the new teacher evaluation every inch of the way, yet you implied otherwise.

    You know we opposed mayoral control, yet you implied otherwise. (the list gets long, if I include your dishonest bloggers)

    We believe that we can do better work for the members by endorsing Mulgrew, supporting much of what the leadership does, and opposing them where we object. Along the way, we can find issues they haven’t thought of, or adjust issues, and move the union in a positive direction.

    You disagree with that strategy. I get that. And you could have said that. But even your comment about “Orwellian logic” sidesteps the basic disagreement, and instead attempts to confuse the casual reader.

    I get that.


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