NY Teachers For Choice wants to thank legendary NYC Reporter Bob Hennelly for covering our concerns and litigation against the NYC DOE in his recent piece for Salon.com.
Hennelly is a phenomenal reporter who knows how to be extremely effective at covering the nuance of critical political issues. Here is the section of his Salon report covering TEACHERS FOR CHOICE:
In New York City it was not just the teachers’ union challenging the city, but activist union members willing to challenge both sides. Should teachers be expected to just “suck it up” and risk returning to the classroom without vaccines, just so the market economy can get back up and running? Logically, teachers challenged school administrators, as well as local and state elected officials, on what seemed like expedience.
“We can’t do everything to make sure everyone is one hundred percent safe and we can’t do everything to make sure everyone is one hundred percent free — there has to be a balance,” said Michael Kane, a proud UFT member who teaches special education in Queens. Kane started New Yorker Teachers for Choice, a union caucus against “forced medical mandates,” after it became known school staff and students were going to be subject to random, mandatory COVID testing.
“If we did not agree to it, we would be placed on unpaid leave, so this led me to a number of questions—the first one being, ‘is my specimen protected? Is it guaranteed that my specimen will be destroyed?'” Kane recalled. For a month, Kane and his colleagues were ignored, until the group hired noted civil rights attorney Michael Sussman. Sussman petitioned the city for answers, and when officials weren’t sufficiently forthcoming, sued the city.
Ultimately, the city agreed to guarantee the destruction of the specimens after they were evaluated for COVID, ensuring the testing company could not build out their genetic library with the specimens from the mandatory testing.
“In maintaining safety, there are going to be some civil liberties that are going to be sacrificed to a certain extent, but they just can’t be thrown out the window and just not cared about at all,” said Kane whose group opposes mandatory vaccine but believes that teachers who want the vaccine before they are ordered back into the classroom should get it. “I believe teachers should have access and I understand people saying they want access to it before they go back into the classroom,“
Bob Hennelly has written and reported for the Village Voice, Pacifica Radio, WNYC, CBS MoneyWatch and other outlets. He is now a reporter for the Chief-Leader, covering public unions and the civil service in New York City. Follow him on Twitter: @stucknation