UFT Chapter Leader Explains the Battle to Remove Murry Bergtraum HS Principal

Here at DTOE, we believe in the idea that the best defense is a great offense. In these days where attacks on educators and education are ever increasing, different public style tactics need to be used.
“Go Public or Go Home.”
DTOE member and UFT Chapter Leader John Elfrank-Dana explains the battle and success to bring dignity back to his school’s classrooms.
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After a 2 year struggle the UFT Chapter at Murry Bergtraum High School managed to push out another abusive principal. The second in 4 years. As I said on Ed Notes blog when it was announced our latest principal, Lottie Almonte was coming the late summer of 2012, We stand ready at Murry Bergtraum with an open hand to work with anyone who wants to collaborate. We have the four Cs: Communicate, Consult, Collaborate in the context of the Contract. Dictators will be sent packing.”
Unlike the campaign to oust Andrea Lewis, the previous principal, we had no help from the UFT on this campaign, and even then the help with Lewis died after Tom Dromgoole (former DR) and Leo Casey (HS VP) left the UFT. A new “We play well with others” ethos took hold at the Manhattan Boro Office. The more grievances we file the worse I was perceived as a Chapter Leader by UFT HQ. I didn’t know how to get along, yet my grievances usually focused around basic contractual rights: seniority, posting of positions, and the like. We filed numerous Special Ed complaints at first with UFT then changing to NYSED where we found a more effective response. We worked with the Devil, the New York Post. But, the reporter and I developed a rapport and way of working together that produced positive results for the school. Mulgrew chided me for this and I told him that if the UFT brought back the Principal In Need of Improvement program we wouldn’t have to.
I have worked under 9 principals. The first principal and I during my first 4 years as Chapter Leader had a cooperative relationship. It was only the last two principals, the first who thought she was the queen and the second who acted like she thought the union, perhaps correctly, didn’t exist. But, she was wrong in that the union, which is the chapter, not 52 Broadway (resembling more and more a dues collection agency) was very much alive. It was alive in the courageous members who dared to speak out (see video: https://sites.google.com/site/uftmbhs/) at the PEP meeting last week, and all the other members who file grievances, made complaints, spoke to reporters, started petitions.
I would encourage all tenured teachers to stand for the dignity of the profession. With a shrinking base of contractual rights the battle goes beyond contract. Protecting the students is a must. We are inextricably bonded, like the mother to a child. As UNICEF recognized at its inception, the health of the child is dependent upon the health of the mother. The teachers are the incubators for the intellectual potential of the students. The dignity and discretion of the profession must not give an inch.
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DTOE is working on publishing the list of about 30 administrators nominated by staff and parents as being in need of improvement. Check back soon. Education’s F-List and ANOI Nomination Form
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Art GrosmanThe Year of the Educator, Good-bye 2014! - Don't Tread on EducatorsJohnfportelosMarjorie Stamberg Recent comment authors
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Michael Fiorillo
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Michael Fiorillo

Beautifully stated and full of wisdom, John. Thank you.

john elfrank-dana
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Thanks Michael.

A supporter
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A supporter

Yes, thank you for this piece so beautifully expressed. Ah, if only others were this brave and resistant.

Marjorie Stamberg
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Marjorie Stamberg

John, is this the principal that just got picked up by Adult Ed, D 79, which has the first prize in dictatorial insane principals right now?

Marjorie Stamberg

John
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John

I don’t have anything certain other than the rumor that she is going to work and some adult Ed capacity.

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[…] have done over this past year alone. We have seen the removal of abusive administrators like Lottie Almonte and Arisleyda Urena thanks to the spirit and dedication of educators in for standing up for their […]

Art Grosman
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Art Grosman

Can you put me in touch with Marjorie Stamberg? She will know who I am from almost 50 years ago in Washington DC. Please pass my email address along to her.—artgrosman@juno.com. Thank you. Art