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Meeting Notes from Organizing Committee Meeting April 1, 2009 at CUNY

Our next meeting: Tues Apr. 7 at 5pm at CUNY, Rm 5414 – or 5409

Meeting Notes from Organizing Committee Meeting April 1, 2009 at CUNY
Any additions or comments leave a comment.

About 20 people present, with reps from ICE, TJC, ISO, NYCORE, TU plus independents

Agenda
1. Introductions
2. Debriefing from March 28 conferences: what worked and what didn’t.
3. Rally/march up Broadway to Tweed
Main principles of agreement of this coalition
3. Charter school conference
4. Address 3 core issues of conf at this meeting. (No time to address in depth.)
5. Name of this group (some disagreement at to necessity of this – tabled.)

Bill facilitated
Norm took notes

Conf. Debriefing
People felt the conference went well.
Opening presentations went well and students were excellent and had a positive impact.
A suggestion we should have broken the closing schools group into 2 sections because it was so crowded. People wanted to speak and not enough time for all. Strategies for fighting closing schools were not well developed. One of the goals was to get reps from closing schools together in a strategy session and that was weakened.

Need to tighten up control of media. It was an error that we did control and authorize folks who filmed our conference. We need to ensure that agreements for conference/events are adhered to (e.g. tabling fees for literature).

Rally/March
This took the bulk of the meeting.
A discussion of whether to make demands of UFT: oppose high stakes testing, restore 2005 sellout contract, oppose mayoral control. Suggestion to use next 2 Del Ass. With informational pickets – pro-testing UFT has misled. Mayoral control being used to push privatization which would not have been possible if there were local school boards.

Some opposition to trying to get UFT to do anything, referring it to a drain on energy and fact the leadership might try to take it over and undermine it. People disgruntled about UFT.

Lots of responses, with most disagreeing.
-the issue is how best to approach union than either or. Can reach some people. Go to DA with demands and a strategy on how to get people behind it. Ask for endorsement of rally. Apr 22 has open mic on contract where we can present demands on testing, merit pay.

-It is our rally and UFT are welcome to join it but not lead it. We need PR with a clear, unified message instead of a laundry list. Use UFT Spring conf on May 9 to promote.

We need to try to bring in more than teachers to rally to be effective. Make sure parent issues are part of that. Maybe students too.

Question of whether this group is broad-based beyond educators. Argue for educators. We have commonality and are coalescing. As identity forms we can build alliances with other groups. [Some discussion about other groups like mayoral control commission and other groups protesting Klein/Sharpton event at Sheraton on Friday Apr. 3. Feeling we need to build these contacts.]

Not a rally at Tweed alone but a march up Broadway which is more active and militant.
We would stop at UFT and make demands of the union around our issues (e.g. take strong positions against all school closings & high stakes testing, restoring seniority rights transfer, & aggressive push for hiring freeze until ATRs are placed.)
Let’s make a list of demands – outreach, tasks – so everyone has things to do. If not we will lose steam.

We need to address neo-liberal agenda and attack on union rights.

What are goals of rally? To change policy, which policies, get people to do what?

We need some winnable goals. In Chicago they stopped 6 schools from closing. Get UFT to oppose closings, get ATRs hired before new teachers. Mayoral control.
[Side note- since meeting recent UFT/NYCLU suit “stopped” school closing but DOE is undermining by urging parents to keep kids away from schools.]

Who is target? Who do we want to meet with? Shape message, outreach. Sugg to form committees to break down work.

The process of building something is often more of a key than outcomes in building a core of activists. This rally should not be viewed as a one-time event but possibly in a series of events that help build an activist core.

Goals/demands suggestion: equitable schools. End mayoral control is not enough. We need a vision of what kind of schools we want. Central theme is students and how they are affected if we want to build this beyond teachers. All of the factors we are talking about are detrimental to students. [Sidebar: Neo –liberals always talk about how schools are too much for adults and not students. This concept allows us to reverse that argument].

Need more targeted goal: stop closing schools. Target Tweed and UFT. Would DOE meet with a delegation of teachers from closing schools?

Focus on specific schools. But be more positive in demands. Rather than stop closing schools, keep schools open, fix our schools, don’t close them. Start our campaign with a press conference.

A List was generated as we spoke:
Neo-liberal, privatization
ATR
Curbing Principals power
School closing
High stakes testing
Mayoral control
Lower class size – use atrs

One of goals – to oppose business union, lack of democratic process, lack of promoting teacher/student rights, democratic quality education.

Reachable goals. How did they stop school closings in Chicago? Basic movement building.

Philosophically, a success if we put a dent in mayor’s armor and get into consciousness of people.

We should not stop at school closing. In JNJT highs takes testing petition almost everyone signs whereas closing schools issue may not affect many people. Suggest high stakes testing and mayoral control. Make connection to how these affect kids.

On PR: We need a leftist journal to write about what we are doing. A New Republic reporter came to our conf and wrote something negative.

Many of these issues can go to committees. The broad idea of this group is addressing the attack on public ed. What are demands of specific rallies? A need to see a road to victory.
School closings drew people to conference.

A way to link 3 concepts of conf: If we were to put the concepts graphically, think of 3 boxes with closing schools in middle, In is high stakes testing and output is Atrs, amongst many other things.

If we bring people from closing schools together even if a smaller rallies, that would be successful. Focal point of outreach should be the closing schools.

Let’s build a movement and this is the embryonic stage. Points of struggle to build a movement. We need to build specific actions and need a focus for each action. One point of struggle at a time.

Focus seemed to be narrowing down to closing schools with high stakes component and possibly ATRs.

Suggestion for committees: General demands of this group/specific goals/name, demands for rally, outreach, after the rally, press/get message out, media, finances, logistics, literature/propaganda, charter school forum.

Charter School forum
First a discussion of a group of teachers meeting with parents in Hamilton Hts on Monday Apr 6 to discuss charter schools. A few people will be going.

Conference date discussed. Should it be on a Saturday? Would conflict with Teachers Unite 4-week workshop. Decision to keep April 27. Location needs to be found.

Two committees formed:
Charter school conf
Rally

Broke into brief sub-committee meetings.

Next meeting, Tues, Apr, 7 at CUNY. Room 5414 or 5409
Will meet in sub committee from 5-6 and meet as bigger group form 6-7.

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