Jia Lee, the well known teacher activist from New York City who was the guest speaker at the 2015 PJSTA Conference Day, will be running in opposition to Michael Mulgrew for president of the United Federation of Teachers in this spring 2016 UFT election.
Mulgrew, whose position as the president of the largest local in the country, makes him the most influential teacher unionist in the country, in regards to influencing the direction of our statewide and national unions. He famously defended the Common Core at the 2014 AFT Convention by threatening anyone who “took them away” from him with violence. Additionally he marched with Governor Cuomo during the 2014 Labor Day Parade.
Lee’s record shows her to be quite a different candidate than Mulgrew. A current special education teacher, Lee has been one of the most visible opponents of high stakes testing in the state. She has worked diligently to build the opt-out movement in New York City and has traveled to other parts of the state as well to help the movement in those regions. She spoke at a Students Not Scores event in Port Jefferson last spring. Lee is also the face of the conscientious objector movement as she has refused to administer the New York State tests the past two years and helped to pen the Teachers of Conscience position paper. Lee, a member of the MORE Caucus within the UFT will be at the head of a joint slate put forth by MORE and New Action. At the statewide level, Lee is a member of the Stronger Together Caucus.
NEW YORK: Educators, parents, and community members cheered the announcement of Jia Lee as their choice for UFT presidential nominee at the State of Our Union, State of Our Schools Conference on Saturday. Fed up with overcrowding, underfunding, and overtesting, educators are coming together with the community to take back their union, and bring change to their schools through the 2016 UFT elections.
“Our schools are in crisis, in large part part because our current union leadership is complicit in bad policy and continues to tell us that this is the best they can do. It’s not the time for us to re-negotiate what has already proven to be disastrous. It’s time for teachers to come together with the community and chart a new course for our union. We are going to take back our union and lead a fight for the schools our children deserve,” said Ms. Lee.
Saturday’s conference, organized by the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) in coalition with a host of community organizations, was the first step in defining a platform for the upcoming UFT election and 2018 contract negotiations to defend and enhance New York City’s public schools. The conference featured discussions ranging from “Bringing Democracy to the UFT” to “Making Black Lives Matter in Education.”
In the upcoming UFT election, Lee will head a joint slate of teachers representing a united front of MORE and the New Action caucus. As a parent and a teacher since 2001, Jia Lee is at the forefront of the growing movement to opt-out of high stakes testing. She has served as a UFT Chapter Leader for the past 8 years, and is a conscientious objector who has steadfastly refused to administer tests that reduce her students to test score. Last year, she brought this testimony to theU.S. senate hearing on ESEA.
Educators have lost patience with Michael Mulgrew and the Unity caucus’ leadership of the United Federation of Teachers and are joining the community to continue building a movement for change– in their union and in our schools. Mulgrew has been president of the UFT since 2009 but has been unable and unwilling to effectively challenge the corporate onslaught against public education. He has agreed to high stakes-test based teacher evaluations and a contract that delayed earned pay raises for teachers.
In the last union election, in which 75% of working educators did not vote and the majority of ballots came from retirees, the MORE caucus earned 40% of the vote in the high school division and 23% of the active teacher vote overall. This year, in partnership with the New Action caucus, MORE seeks to increase voter turnout as active teachers reclaim their union.
ABOUT MORE: The Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE), is the social justice caucus of the UFT and largest force for change within the teachers union. In the upcoming elections, MORE has formed a united front with New Action Caucus to challenge Unity Caucus, the bureaucratic political machine that has dominated New York’s teachers’ union for the past 50 years. Over the past decade, Unity has led the UFT into crisis, signing off on harmful policies such as overuse of standardized testing and pay increases that fail to keep pace with inflation, while using union funds to pay UFT President Michael Mulgrew over $260,000 per year and dole out salaries of over $100,000 per year to over 100 Unity Caucus political operatives on UFT staff.
The Movement of Rank and File Educators is the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers. To learn MORE, visit www.morecaucusnyc.org
Lee’s keynote at this weekend’s MORE Caucus Conference…