Francesco Portelos is a former environmental engineer/inspector turned science and technology teacher. He is a father of two boys who attend the NYC public school system. He is also a husband to a 3rd grade teacher from Brooklyn. Thirteen years ago he made the decision to leave his higher paying career to teach in a troubled school in his community in Staten Island.
As most teachers do, Francesco Portelos stayed late and worked hard to give his students the best. Before entering the teacher activist arena, his principal wrote Francesco Portelos “is dedicated and hard working, giving the school access to the best technology the school can offer to the students and staff as well.” It wasn’t until he became a father in his school’s community, and saw the school system under the lens of a parent, that he came to learn the truth about how the NYC Department of Education and UFT operate. He began raising serious concerns at his school and was immediately retaliated by the DOE and left to fend for himself while the UFT did little to support him.
Not knowing how to give up, he pushed on advocating for himself and for his colleagues at the school. He was removed from the school and banished to a basement with gated windows twenty miles away. Did that stop Francesco Portelos? No. He ran for UFT Chapter Leader, despite his distant exile and made UFT history by being the first one to be elected while banned from his school.
That was only the beginning of a six year battle that continues pushing Francesco to create several educator advocacy groups including DTOE.org, uftsolidarity.org and ATRAlliance.org. Since raising concerns, the DOE has lodged over 60 frivolous investigations and/or trumped up charges against Francesco Portelos. Regardless, Francesco Portelos continues to be in front of the classroom today educating students and proving that you have to be strong and fight back.
He has taught all subjects from Pre-K to 8th grade. Traveling as an ATR he better understands the plight of educators from elementary to middle school, something the current Unity UFT leadership does not. When he is not teaching he is addressing calls from all types of educators, including assistant principals and principals who are retaliated by their own supervisors.
Francesco Portelos has attempted to work with the last two UFT Secretaries, Emil Pietromonaco and Howie Schoor, to help tackle the horrific attacks on probationary teachers. Hundreds of our most vulnerable, non tenured, members are discontinued every year and countless more are forced to resign. After attacks from unscrupulous, and sometimes corrupt, supervisors, these educators find themselves unemployed and often banned from ever teaching again. Both Howie and Emil, as well as the rest of the Unity caucus leadership, have failed to fix this issue despite a friendly connection with Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza. Francesco aims to get elected and help fix that and many other issues that plague our members.
You can read more about Francesco Portelos and his journey to improve a broken system on his website www.EducatorFightsBack.org The site has also been a focal point of support and inspiration for educators across the united States.