Dorancy Retweet Could Jeopardize UFT Support in Senate Race [UPDATED]

Dorancy Retweet Could Jeopardize UFT Support in Senate Race [UPDATED]

Dorancy Retweet Could Jeopardize UFT Support in Senate Race
June 13, 2014

A California court decision could affect a labor endorsement in a Brooklyn Senate race. 

Sources say the United Federation of Teachers is growing wary of endorsing attorney Rubain Dorancy in his Brooklyn state Senate race because Dorancy's campaign twitter account retweeted a statement released by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the controversial Vergara v. California court decision, which struck down teacher tenure as unconstitutional.

Duncan's statement, while not explicitly supporting the decision, was not the outright repudiation that many teacher's unions around the country had been hoping for. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge said that teacher tenure "disproportionately affects poor and/or minority students," because it makes it difficult for schools to fire underperforming teachers. 

A portion of Duncan's statement read: "This decision presents an opportunity for a progressive state with a tradition of innovation to build a new framework for the teaching profession that protects students’ rights to equal educational opportunities while providing teachers the support, respect and rewarding careers they deserve. My hope is that today’s decision moves from the courtroom toward a collaborative process in California that is fair, thoughtful, practical and swift."

UFT sources say that Dorancy's retweet of Duncan, while not necessarily an implied endorsement, would cause them to re-examine his position on charter schools and teacher tenure.
"With a tweet, [Dorancy] shot himself in the foot as far as teachers are concerned," said one UFT union source. "He showed he doesnt know the issue and didnt do his homework. Not a good first impression."

No unions have endorsed in the race, which also includes candidates Jesse Hamilton, the district leader of the 43rd Assembly district, and Demetrius Lawrence, a community activist. The loss of the UFT support would be a blow to Dorancy, as Hamilton has lined up support from local community organizations, as well as several elected officials, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who previously held the Senate seat. The 20th Senate district covers mostly Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens, but also includes parts of Sunset Park, Brownsville, Gowanus, Park Slope and Prospect Heights.

Dorancy's campaign did not immediately respond for a comment on whether his retweet of Duncan's statement meant he was in favor of the Vergara ruling. 

UPDATE: In response to the uproar about the retweet, Rubain Dorancy released a statement clarifying his position on teacher tenure, and noting his opposition to the Vergara v. California court decision. 

“My campaign retweeted some national education news to alert my followers about the kinds of things that are possibly afoot, and to be aware and vigilant," read Dorancy's statement. "It should have been accompanied with my statement on my strong opposition and total disagreement with the California court's decision."

Dorancy added that his wife is a member of the United Federation of Teachers and that he was a UFT member for a time, having "benefited greatly from from the union protection that tenure affords. Tenure and due process are the bedrock of collective bargaining agreements."

“I have always been consistent and detailed about my position on teacher support, tenure protection, public education, and the real ways to close the racial achievement gap in education. Attacking tenure is not a way to address the gaps in opportunity which were created by other factors like poverty, institutional racism, segregated and under-resourced schools, and lack of access to high quality early childhood education.”

Nick Powell