NYCoRE Response to CoVID19

In our first points of unity, we state that we have a responsibility to address racism and neoliberalism as it impacts our students, our profession, and public education as a whole. 

We believe that all life is dignified and we trust that schools can exist more equitably by resisting colonial and capitalist power structures and metrics, like grade-levels, grading and standardized testing. Schools should be places where students are supported to thrive rather than places where they can fail. 

We believe that all students deserve to be embraced holistically and materially supported at school, communities and in their personal lives. 

We believe all schools should have healing practices and more wellness resources and counselors to assist and take the place of law enforcement; we also adamantly reject the militarization of schools.

We believe in the co-creation of flexible, responsive and adaptive learning spaces (schools) alongside families. Our schools should be places where everyone can thrive and self actualize. 

While we have always stood in opposition to the systemic inequities caused by racist, neoliberal policies, we are particularly frustrated by Cuomo, DeBlasio, and Trump’s legislation and action, which is exacerbating the harm to working class and communities of Color during COVID-19. At the same time, we have seen inspiring examples of mutual aid and community support. In that spirit, we invite you all to freedom dream with us; to lean into the resilience of our ancestors and communities; to use our collective imaginations, inside, outside and through the classroom to break free, to dream and seed a world that does not yet exist but that we yearn for.  

NYCoRE stands in solidarity with our students, their families and the broader communities with which we work. We believe there is both potential and a responsibility that we have in this moment. As a result, we have produced this document in which we 1) lay out demands, both our own and those of communities with whom we stand in solidarity and 2) invite you to freedom dream with us by sharing your knowledge, visions for the future, and ways to actualize these demands. 

Immediate Demands (in the next 6 months)

Education-Specific Demands:

We demand more time and space in the school day to center the social-emotional needs of our communities to grieve and process the unprecedented, long term impacts that Covid19 will have on our communities. Teachers and school mental health professionals should be provided adequate resources to support their own as well as students’ wellness specific to the unique issues the pandemic has raised for our school communities (i.e. grief, isolation, etc.). In this demand, we echo the demands of the Movement of Rank and File Educators for Equity and Compassion during Remote Learning.

We demand city-wide guidance around compassionate, transparent, ethical, equitable grading practices during this time. Students and their mental health should be prioritized over grades. In this vein, we wholeheartedly support the state’s cancellation of the Regents in June 2020 as well as other forms of standardized testing. Students should be provided with clear and specific feedback so they grow intellectually, academically and socio-emotionally as they learn (during this time and always). We should not be failing students, but rather work with teachers to create an equitable plan for success for every child. 

We demand free internet for all NYC public school students regardless if they have internet already or not.

We demand the NYC DOE involve parents and school staff in a process to think about what a safe and equitable return to physical schools looks like, including: widespread access to COVID-19 testing, safe distance measures within schools, non-crowded classrooms, etc. The UFT has a similar set of demands but we want to emphasize the need for community involvement and a focus on equity when considering how schools will be reopened. 

We demand a fully-funded ASAP for all incoming CUNY Freshmen.

We demand A Moratorium on All Terminations of New York’s Probationary Educators

Community-Specific Demands: Below are demands from our communities that we have been hearing and want to uplift. Our students’ home conditions are also their school conditions, now more than ever.

Demand for relief from state/city for undocumented folks

Rent Strike from Housing Justice for All coalitio

Ilhan Omar’s legislation, the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, the bill provides full payment forgiveness for rent and mortgages, with no accumulation of debt for renters or homeowners and no negative impact on their credit rating or rental history.

Reinstate Student Youth Employment program.

All vacant housing (rental and NYCHA) should be filled

Open 30,000 empty hotel rooms for all homeless people who need a safe room.

Free Them All Campaigns – We call on Governor Cuomo to use his clemency powers to free all prisoners, particularly those who are at risk due to COVID19, in prison and detention as soon as possible

Long Term: Freedom Dreams (we invite you to add)

Education specific:

Decisions for schools and how money is moved to schools should be made by the stakeholders who are immediately impacted by those decisions. We demand an end to mayoral control of NYC schools. 

Divert funds from regents to support social-emotional wellbeing for our school communities 

The DOE should prioritize and center holistic services that support students’ social, emotional, and health services. Address racial and economic health disparities by increasing funding to “community schools” that offer wraparound holistic health services in school buildings.  

Schools must be spaces in which all students receive support and academic, social, emotional, and health services that are true to their individual needs.

Teachers/Educators need to be supported emotionally.

We continue to embrace the 4 demands of the Black Lives Matter at Schools, which are…

  • End Zero Tolerance and Fund Transformative Justice
  • Hire More Black Educators
  • Fund Counselors Not Cops
  • Mandate Black Studies and Ethnic Studies

Demilitarization of schools (no metal detectors, no police, no ICE agents which have access to schools through police). 

Transformative justice, from Teachers Unite

End all high stakes testing

Cancel edTPA for 2020 and all years thereafter.

Continue to fund implicit bias training for all school staff.

Expand funds for racial equity professional staff and curriculum development.

Allocate funds for culturally sustaining, anti-colonial curriculum development. 

Compassionate, transparent, ethical, equitable grading practices. Some of this work is already happening and should continue: Performance standards consortium

Mastery Collaborative

Society

NY State pays the 4.1 Billion in Foundation Aid per the campaign for fiscal equity.

Citizenship for all undocumented folks 

Affordable Housing for All New Yorkers

Continued political education around Socialist values and practices.

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We Want a Union That Believes Black Lives Matter

During the week of February 5th-9th, in schools across the country, educators are taking part in a National Black Lives Matter Week of Action. The week of action has three central demands: 1) to end zero tolerance discipline policies and implement restorative justice, 2) to hire more Black teachers, and 3) to mandate Black history and ethnic studies be taught throughout the K-12 curriculum.

The Black Lives Matter Week of Action is part of a long history of teachers standing up for what is right, in our classrooms, in our schools, and in our communities. Most teacher unions agree: The Chicago Teachers Union, the New Jersey Education Association, the United Teachers Los Angeles, the Seattle Education Association and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association are among the growing list of teachers unions that have voted to support this crucial and timely week of anti-racist action in schools. The National Education Association’s Human & Civil Rights Department has even developed a website for teachers to share stories and resources.

Yet at the United Federation of Teachers Delegates Assembly on January 17, 2018, the largest teachers’ local in the country, at the leadership’s suggestion and after only five minutes of debate, voted against supporting the NYC Black Lives Matter Week of Action. Delivering the union leadership’s rationale against the resolution, LeRoy Barr, the Assistant Secretary of the UFT and the chair of the ruling Unity caucus, called Black Lives Matter a “divisive” issue. He argued that with the anticipated Supreme Court ruling on Janus v. AFSCME, which will likely allow public sector workers to receive union representation and benefits without paying union dues, it is crucial to remain “united.”

But united in support of what? The Black Lives Matter week of action is about uniting to support students by implementing restorative justice, hiring Black teachers, and teaching Black history and ethnic studies. These are basic anti-racist demands that any organization of educators should get behind. Furthermore, most of the students we teach and the families we serve in NYC are Black and Latino. No doubt they can unite behind these demands. This week of action is just one of the ways educators can build greater solidarity with the communities we serve. Far from being divisive, this is about unifying and strengthening our union and the communities we serve.

If, in the face of the attack on collective bargaining that Janus represents, we are in fact divided, it is because we have failed to engage and organize the union’s membership. The privatization of schools has disproportionately hurt the careers of Black teachers. As a union, we should know that an injury to one is literally an injury to all. A union that can’t support a movement to make “Black Lives Matter” won’t be able to build the solidarity necessary to overcome Janus and other right-wing attacks on working people.

We have to rebuild our union from the bottom-up and educate ourselves and each other about the problems we face and the steps we can take together to confront them. Grassroots collective actions in our schools—such as the Black Lives Matter Week of Action—can be part of this process. We invite teachers across New York City to join us and other teachers around the country by taking part in February’s Black Lives Matter week of action as a first step to building a school system where Black Lives Matter.

NYC Black Lives Matter Week of Action Organizing Committee
Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) Steering Committee
New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCORE)

We are asking UFT members and members of the community that support our statement to sign on as an individual. We will release the names of everyone who has signed on after February’s week of action to show the broad support this statement has and encourage UFT leaders and members to support the week of action in the future. If you’d like to sign on as an individual please fill out this form.

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RSVP for NYCoRE’s September Meeting **NEW LOCATION!!**

It’s time for NYCoRE’s first meeting of the 2016-2017 School Year!

**Please note that we’re at a NEW location this year, so it’s ESPECIALLY important that you RSVP!**

Location:
iMentor
30 Broad Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY

Date:
Friday, September 16

Time:
5-5:30PM Food and mingle
5:30-8:00 PM Member Meeting

**Please note that we’re starting earlier this year to allow for more time for eating and mingling!**

In this meeting, we will be reviewing our membership expectations for the year, our commitment to being an antiracist organization, our Points of Unity, our history, as well as our political lens.

We’ll be exploring these questions:
How do structural racism, whiteness, and white supremacy manifest in the public school system?
What does neoliberalism have to do with education reform?
How can we as educators resist the forces that attack the public education system?

Additionally, we’ll have some time for Working Groups to check in and meet new members.

Please join us as we strengthen our collective political analysis and prepare for the work of this school year!

**Once again, PLEASE RSVP below to give us a head count for food and so we can notify security!**

NYCoRE

http://www.nycore.org

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