Sally Beane White
For UFT Assistant Secretary, Independent
I teach at the Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Astoria, Queens. I am a certified Special Education English teacher trained in everything from Wilson Reading to International Baccalaureate Literature and have worked in settings that range from 8:3:1 to general education. I am currently co-teaching tenth grade Regents ELA as well as IB Literature in grades 11 and 12. I joined the MORE caucus as a dues-paying member in the summer of 2020 and have collaborated with UFT members across caucuses in letter-writing campaigns aimed at bringing attention to the concerns of UFT members regarding school safety amidst this seemingly endless pandemic.
I am running out of a combination of frustration and optimism. My frustration stems from the UFT's failure to even provide the means of communication that would allow it to hear from its members. Unity's top-down leadership is beyond unresponsive. It is downright oppressive. Townhalls that screen questions and participants are a complete failure as a means for gathering the concerns of UFT members. Instead, they allow the UFT to control the optics and grant Mulgrew a stage to spin our concerns rather than register and address them. Stifling the real concerns of its members allows the UFT to agree to contracts and conditions that do nothing to support us. Where were they the week of December 20th when so many of us were working in situations that led us to spend our break sick with Covid? And by what means were we to make ourselves heard?
The momentum and energy that has gathered as educators come together to demand the basics: safe working conditions, respect for our profession, and the terms of our contract are truly inspiring. We are at a critical juncture. We have the momentum we need to unseat Unity and begin building a new Union from the ground up. We need a UFT that defends its teachers and works for all of its members. We need a UFT that is energized and directed from the Chapter level upward, not the other way around. We need a UFT that is not complicit with Tweed and City Hall. These are unprecedented times that demand unprecedented change.