Sunday, January 25, 2004

Letter from the Union

A letter arrived on Friday from Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers our New York City teachers' union. Here are some excerpts:

The new year has brought some changes, including the so-called economic recovery that Messrs. Bloomberg, Pataki and Bush are now trumpeting. That has led the negotiating committee to some rethinking and a plan that reflects the current circumstances.

But first, in case you missed it, the current issue of the New York Teacher contains a letter to you from Chancellor Klein. In it, he talks about his administration's activities, ... and asks you to share your views about how things are going. I urge you to use this opportunity to tell him the many concerns that you have conveyed to us.

His request is strikingly similar to the action the union launched earlier this month when we urged members to e-mail the chancellor and mayor on all the issues that have affected your ability to work with children in the best way you know -- be it the new management "style," curriculum, safety, overcrowding, professional development, class size, testing, discipline, special education, materials and supplies, or workday schedules and assignments.

Many people have said to me, "Why bother? They didn't respond when thousands of us rallied in October; why would they respond now?" Two reasons: First, when we began our campaign on school safety, we were similarly ignored at first. Although it will take more work to make all our schools safe, our persistence ... caused the mayor to reverse course and admit that the administration had messed up.

Second, the chancellor still believes that it's only a few activists who are complaining. Therefore it is essential that he hear from you and your colleagues. As with safety, the e-mails might open Tweed's eyes and encourage them to rethink aspects of the reorganization and its implementation. You can reach the chancellor at Two more requests: Please send a copy to us at, and forward any response you receive -- that is, if you receive one.

The rest of the letter goes on to outline the union's plan for contract negotiations, how they expect the city to respond, etc.

Okay, here's your opportunity: What would YOU say to the chancellor of the NYC schools if you had the chance? Limit your answers to THREE action-oriented, concise and civil bullet points and possibly a paragraph or two of explanation. You may answer on your own blog (leave a note here with your URL) or in the comments.

There will be plenty of opportunities to talk about the UFT later.


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