Candidate for UFT High School Vice President, independent High School Math Teacher, HS of American Studies at Lehman College, the Bronx
My name is Jonathan Halabi. I am a high school math teacher, a chapter leader, and a proud activist for members’ rights, fairness, and justice.
I have been a teacher for 25 years, a chapter leader for 20 years. I served 11 years on the UFT Executive Board (High School). I have been active in the math teacher community. And I have been active in the UFT – contributing positively beyond my chapter I grew up surrounded by “union.”
My mother participated in three major organizing drives – at a hospital in New Haven – our apartment was like a second headquarters – we lost – at Yale University – we won, and at Harvard, where she remained an activist
and led the solidarity committee work until she retired.
Teaching is my second career. I worked as a planner for the NYC Department of Transportation, then was briefly a mapmaker. I was a good union member, but not an activist.
It took less than a year at Christopher Columbus HS in the Bronx for the Chapter Leader to rope me onto the committee and assign me new member outreach. I
was elected delegate, and eventually Deputy Chapter Leader. When I transferred to the HS of American Studies, a new mini-school, everyone assumed I would become the chapter leader, so I did. The first day the principal violated the contract I marched into
her office and demanded she stop. She ignored me. A month later the principal told teachers to work during lunch – we had a chapter meeting – we were unanimous – and this time she backed down. Our collective voice matters.
In 2009, I was elected as a New Action (NAC) representative to the UFT Executive Board. On the Board, I was an advocate for members in schools terrorized by abusive and incompetent principals, fought for better protections for our most vulnerable members
– probationers, and ATRs, and strongly opposed Danielson and APPR. With New Action co-chair Michael Shulman we helped make our union's opposition to Stop & Frisk an official UFT position.
I served in other UFT roles: on new school hiring committees and as the co-chair of the specialized high school task force. In my school (a specialized high school) I organized members in support of a proposal to reform admissions, and later in conjunction with administration and parents, to expand the Discovery Program. I created and ran an afterschool program where local middle schoolers come to our school and get support from our students. (we hope to resume when the pandemic recedes).
My first “big” UFT activity was as part of a Bronx-wide professional conciliation (Article 24) led by DR David Schulman. The Bronx HS Superintendent was trying to impose a really lousy math curriculum. We stopped him. The intersection of math and union politics drew me in. We developed a harsh critique of the new math regents (Math A and Math B). I served on the board of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State. I became a regular participant and occasional speaker at math teacher conferences. I helped train new math teachers. I served three terms on the NYSUT MST Subject Area Committee.
In my school, I have developed a myriad of math courses, electives, and seminars. My involvement and my sense of fairness have informed my teaching praxis. I wander off
the curriculum to allow students to engage in more interesting, engaging work. And starting from being opposed to too many standardized tests, I have radically moved towards other forms of classroom assessment as well.
It’s been 25 years of on-the-job training for me, a teacher, union leader, activist. I’ve never stopped learning. I will never stop fighting for fairness and for what is right.