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State of our Union, State of our Schools Conference

October 30, 2015 am31 7:57 am

I attended this past Saturday’s State of our Union conference. It was the first official MORE event I had ever been to.

I missed the opening plenary. What a shame!  There was an official announcement that Jia Lee would be the presidential candidate of the joint MORE/New Action slate.  I would have liked to have been there. Then there was Jia’s speech, which I caught on line, but would have liked to see in person.

But I got there in time for two of the three workshops. There was a good group of New Action supporters. But there were A LOT of people. Every room I visited was full. Not everyone else there were MORE supporters. Some were from caucuses from other cities. There were the curious. The third caucus. And people who were parts of other progressive organizations doing work in the NYC Public Schools.

The discussions I stayed for – discontinued probationers and integrating our schools – had fairly wide-ranging discussions. I agreed with a lot, disagreed with some, found some fascinating. But that’s what discussion’s supposed to be like, right?  What a contrast to the UFT Executive Board, where a handful of people speak, but most members sit silently meeting after meeting, only speaking to vote “Aye” or “Nay” in unison.

We were greeted warmly. There was genuine appreciation that we are working together on this election – even from people who were incredibly hostile to us in the past. Of course, some of them might have said the same about me.  Maybe there was a vague air of self-satisfaction from a few of the organizers – but I can’t imagine having double the planned turnout without feeling at least a little satisfied. Two plenaries, fifteen workshops, all full? Hell, I’d be smug about that.

In the rooms all ideas were taken seriously – MORE’s goal was to assemble/work on program. This was their outreach to their supporters, and they got a lot of input. And while the two groups will sit down later and go through finer points, I think they appreciated some of our input at this stage as well.

I stayed for the final plenary. Good idea. The speakers from Seattle and Philly were interesting, though I didn’t take notes, and don’t have great recollection of what they said. I think Megan Moskop spoke, maybe organizational stuff? wrapping up?  In fact, there is only one thing I really remember from the end: Lauren Cohen gave the most amazing, moving talk. I had no idea. It was personal, it was emotional, it was brave, and it drove home why we need to stand up for every single member, why we need to change “business as usual” and sweep away every ounce of Bloomberg/Klein dreck in the New York City Department of Education.

 

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Arthur Goldstein permalink
    October 31, 2015 pm31 12:49 pm 12:49 pm

    You should have seen Lauren face the belligerent mob of Unity oath-signers at the Hilton last year. They loudly booed her when she pointed out they were pledged to do as told, as Mulgrew sat and said nothing. She was unruffled and continued gracefully after the guy in charge told Unity to behave, something it appeared no one had ever done before.

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