I’d Rather Not Be Union Leader If Someone Else Would Stand Up

Lead Us circa 1967-8 by Ian Hamilton Finlay 1925-2006


After Friday’s third failed attempt at recalling me as union chapter leader, I stopped by a bar where a lot of IS 49 staff was engaged in a Happy Hour fund raiser. I heard we won first place. My stay was extremely brief, but it was enough to see and hear some things. Some told me they voted to remove me, because things were so bad at school that they need someone inside the building. I respect those individuals and their honesty the most. I agree that someone in the building would be best. However, when I asked who would replace me, none could provide a name. This had been the case for a year.

I told the entire staff that I would simply resign should someone get up and stand up and speak up for the rights of the UFT members. As of yet, no one has.

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!” –Bob Marley

So I continue. I continue fighting Goliath, with an empty sling. I say empty sling, because I hardly hear of the violations. I was told that no educator tells me of violations because of the fact that “the staff doesn’t trust me.” I call bullshit on that statement. The staff doesn’t speak up about violations that incur to their teaching practice and school environment because they are scared or because they are apathetic. Either way, it’s wrong. Don’t blame me. I will act on any whisper of a violation.

In any case, I’d rather know that someone, anyone, in that R049 building is present to speak loud and clear about the injustices and instead I could focus on my own case. However, there is no one. Not one name has come across my conversations that spoke up and said “Hey…where is our curriculum material” , “Why are we leaving later than last year”, “Why are our teachers walking the halls doing hall duty”, “Why are we doing Close Reading during 37.5 minutes when students need math help” or “Why is there little to no discipline”

After Friday’s recall failure I was asked several times “What’s your plannow

“Now” I responded. Nothing has changed since 2011. I will continue to make every attempt to better the school and community despite ALL obstacles. I may stand alone or with an army behind me. I may be quiet or carry a foghorn. Now… I continue. However, my hands are tied to the extent the members of the community will not “Get up, stand up…stand up for their rights.

If I have to be chapter leader for one member, who still needs me to be, then I will. That community has been neglected. Neglected by local politicians, the Department of Education and by the community itself. This includes the parents and educators who won’t speak up.

The students have almost no one. It’s sad, but a reality. A reality that must changed. Despite what happens with my termination case, federal case etc., I will still be here in 5 years and most, if not all, current IS 49 members will not. Remember I used to walk to school. I’ll be there as a teacher, a principal, superintendent or a parent, but I’ll be there and therefore I will fight…no matter how big Goliath is.

If anyone wants to replace me, stand up, get up and I will stand down. Until then, get out of my way or help.

(But then again, after I am exonerated, I should be back in the building soon.)

About Francesco Portelos

Parent and Educator fighting for the student and the teacher.
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