The War on Public Education has Many Fronts. We Need to Fight All of Them.

I don’t really have games on my phone. In fact, the only games I think I played on my phone involved group trivia when we were sharing adult beverages with friends. (“Heads Up!” is fun one.) However, to pick up my phone, during any downtime, and play a game is something I can’t bring myself to do. Perhaps it’s because I have no “downtime.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t judge anyone who is moving jewels, attacking clans, tending to their farm or flinging angry birds on their phone screen. In fact, I envy them. I wish I could stop and make downtime, but I’ve entered the war on public education activist arena and can’t turn back now. Not to mention trying to be a husband and father.

My neighbor Eric came over last weekend and we decided to have some wine and play a new game on the Chromecast. He found “Risk” and the two of us installed it. I never played it before, but the premise is you are given random territories and then assign available troops to your areas and attack and defend until you have total world domination…muahaha!

In any case, as we were playing, I looked at the screen and saw something else. The picture below. It’s an analogy I always use… “multiple fronts.” In this battle to improve our union and public education, I always picture a map on a table, in a strategy room with commanders, and little figures being moved around. Our group, UFT Solidarity, is trying to cover all borders. Then I picture other factions who only focus on one or two leaving all others vulnerable. That’s a big problem for our schools. Our current UFT leadership does the same. Actually, sometimes our UFT leadership appears to be on the wrong side of the fight. (


This seems to be the case with our opponents at MORE/New Action. Too much focus on one area and totally ignoring all others. For example the Opt-out of testing front. A great movement I fully support. As you may know we created the site and over 13,000 parents used it to refuse standardized testing this year. However, to an extent, it’s covered. Sure there is more work to be done, but leaders like activists Jeanette Deutermann, Janine Sopp, Beth Domino and many others are there doing an amazing job already. Take members of MORE/New Action out of the opt-out movement and you still have a strong movement.

Take a look at the digital debate site we created The questions and concerns coming in from members are not just about testing. So why bring in any group to lead the union who ignores the issues that UFT members need support in What about attacks on the tenure and probationary teachers, school corruption, teacher autonomy loss, subjective observations and ATR front The reason I left the MORE group after over 2 years of working was that too many didn’t want to acknowledge these other fronts existed.

I’m proud to be part of this group of educators and parents in UFT Solidarity.  They roll up their sleeves to battle wherever there is a fight and make sure our students have the best education and our educators have the best working conditions. Even better, they go in and educate other educators and parents how to fight and defend.

Truth be told we did not actively participate in the opt-out movement at first. As I said, so many great leaders were already there. When it became apparent that MORE and New Action were not going to be allies and made themselves opponents, we stepped up our game. Like we said, we created the site and more parents refused with our site than refused in total in NYC last year alone.

Going back to the game above, there is an option to click “request an ally” and you can team up with someone. That was the plan when UFT Solidarity was created. To fight different fronts and then come together with other groups. If it’s one thing I learned here though, it’s that activists get in the way of other activists. Sometimes it’s a competition and our enemies thrives on that.

A month from now, more than 180,000 ballots will be out to UFT members. Vote in all UFT Solidarity candidates and help us get the resources to really defend our public education… on all fronts!

UFT Solidarity 2016 Campaign – "You Have the Power" from UFT Solidarity on Vimeo.

Speaking of fronts, join us for our first ever NYC Education Empowerment Forum 2016 – Battling Corruption & Harassment

About Francesco Portelos

Parent and Educator fighting for the student and the teacher.
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