Saturday, March 31, 2018

UFT Executive Board Takeaway, March 26, 2018

I'm hard-pressed to discuss what goes on at the Executive Board. Its primary function is to rubber stamp whatever. There is no virtually debate or discussion, ever, unless you pretend things whose conclusions are pre-ordained are not so.  Nonetheless, our presence there means UFT leadership has to publicly discuss things like class size and reasonable representation of ATR members. Our inclusion of a few groups has managed to help as well.

I remain flabbergasted at their inability to formulate credible arguments. I'm no genius, but every time I hear the things they say I think I could argue the other side better. I don't mean once in a while, but rather each and every time. In fact, I spoke to one former ATR teacher the day we proposed representation for them, and she made arguments that did not cross a single Unity mind. She made me consider withdrawing our resolution, but most ATR teachers I know favored it. I'm not going to write the argument here. Unity will have to figure it out themselves.

We heard several ATR teachers speak. You won't see their comments in the official meeting minutes because guest speaker comments are not recorded. Nor are questions. I have no idea why this is. I have no idea why the UFT president doesn't engage in these meetings. The only conclusion I can reach is that meetings are intended to be pro forma and of no actual significance. We're not supposed to discuss the upcoming contract, for example, because there's a committee of 300 400 talking about it.

Mulgrew stressed the importance of teams at schools encouraging union. I agree on that. If we don't have a union, we pretty much have nothing to discuss, and principals have carte blanche to do any damn thing they feel like. Of course many already do that, with the support of the Bloomberg holdovers in "legal," but we are still able to fight back. Teachers without unions are teachers without contracts. If you want to know how that goes, try working in a charter school.

I have personal struggles with this, because even as we fight for the union, Unity publicly paints us as traitors and liars. They decline to work with us at all, even as they publicly declare otherwise. I was unable to get anyone in leadership to discuss class size with an eye toward writing a resolution, even though they publicly and privately offered to do so. Instead, they simply cut out all references to actual class size changes and placed a line in that indicated they are already working on class size. I'd argue that when you work on something for 50 years and fail to improve it, it's time to reconsider your approach.

Last year Unity unilaterally decided they needed advance notice of resolutions. I presume this was so they'd have time to develop better arguments to reject our requests. Let's examine some of the arguments they came up with on March 26th, in opposition to our resolution ATR teachers elect leaders who'd actually represent them.

The first argument was that this came up three years ago. I suppose this suggests either that nothing can change over three years, or that any decision the Executive Board made based on loyalty oath could never be wrong. I'd agree that little has changed over three years. Still, UFT Leadership did not just come down from Mount Sinai carrying the Ten Commandments, and they are more fallible than they acknowledge.

As for the second argument, that the Chapter Leader represents ATR teachers in schools, that's true, at least theoretically. I have represented ATR teachers in my building. I have also heard horror stories from ATRs who did not get anything like adequate representation, and who have been told to put up with things they should not. However, that's not even the point. The point is these ATR teachers do not get to vote for anyone who actually represents them. This point was ignored in every single Unity argument.

The next person said that this would be a big mistake because it would be saying we want to have the ATR forever. That's what you call a strawman. First of all, no one who signed this resolution wants to have the ATR at all. In fact, the ATR was the single most egregious thing in the awful 2005 Contract, and is largely what turned me to have the beliefs I now hold. In case that's not enough, our resolution specifically asked that the chapter exist only until the ATR was eliminated.

The most interesting argument was the last one, where a member got up and said that he was an ATR when he first started in 2003. This was particularly curious because the ATR was not even established until 2005. Even if you accept the premise that this person was an ATR two years before the ATR existed, how does someone get hired as an ATR? Most ATRs have either left closing schools or been placed after disciplinary hearings. Why would the DOE actually hire someone for whom they had no position? I don't imagine even Klein doing something like that.

I was also put off by the notion that ATRs left a school feeling like they were part of the family. A lot of ATRs I know leave feeling like they've been booted from the family. This was the same person who argued he'd met two ATRs delighted by the severance package. Oddly, my school is much larger than his, I speak with ATRs from all over the city, and what I mostly heard was outrage.

I was glad that KJ Ahluwalia got up and spoke reason. He came from a closing school and while he landed on his feet, many of his colleagues didn't. I have no idea how so many Unity people can stand up and say to ATR teachers that they don't merit a vote in who represents them. That's unconscionable.

As usual, Unity is behind the curve. In America today, the trend is depriving people of their vote altogether. Unity has merely allowed ATRs to vote for someone who, once elected, will not actually represent them.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

E4E Sets Agenda at UFT Delegate Assembly--Screw Class Size, Ignore Poverty, and Hope for the Best

There are few things that upset me more than the pernicious influence of Bill Gates. Gates is why we have junk science as a regular part of our evaluation. Gates is why we moved toward small schools, which even he now admits was a bad idea. Gates is why the entire evaluation system was scrapped and why it's repainted and refurbished every year or two.

Of course leadership doesn't see this quite so clearly, and that's how Gates became a keynote speaker at an AFT Convention. Randi Weingarten seemed to embolden the troops as they ridiculed teachers who protested him. The Gates offshoot in the UFT is called Educators 4 Excellence, and it's run by a couple of newbies who gave up teaching almost immediately after forming it to do whatever it is they do on the Gates dime. If you want to know more about them, read Chalkbeat. E4E is their go to for quotes from teachers, or in the case of their leadership, ex-teachers.

Leadership got together with an E4E member and whipped up a resolution about incorporating innovative reactions to discipline as opposed to suspension. You see, a lot of people of color are suspended. A lot of homeless students are suspended. And in typical Gates fashion, we turn away from the root cause of of school issues, poverty.  Gates deems it too complicated to bother with, and focuses on school issues instead. Last night, we followed his lead and did the same. The fact that Gates has never done anything that actually worked is neither here nor there.

I'm all for using whatever works to solve issues. But the resolution we passed last night continues our longstanding policy of ignoring the issues and playing along with the reformies. This policy is precisely why teacher morale is so very abysmal. You don't really see that if you're spending all your time sitting around 52 Broadway.

I'm not E4E, and I wouldn't be in a million years. I'm merely one of half a dozen people elected by the high schools to represent them. Leadership's attitude toward the high schools, essentially, is go screw yourselves. I'm not particularly sure how they expect that to win members come Janus. For example, an issue near and dear to my heart is class size. While we alone can't address poverty, we could improve learning conditions for those who suffer from it. In stark contrast with the outlandish ideas Bill Gates pulls out of his wealthy ass, we know that more attention from teachers can actually help children.

I brought this up months ago. Howard Schoor said they'd be happy to meet with us. Despite reaching out multiple times, they were never happy enough to actually do it. A few weeks ago, at the Executive Board, we decided the hell with it and put up our resolution. We proposed that we push to follow the C4E law mandating smaller classes, as opposed to placing numbers in the contract.

UFT Unity chose to strike down the clauses in our class size resolution that focused on class size. The guy they sent up to propose the changes didn't appear to even understand what he was reading. They then voted, lockstep as always, as per loyalty oath, to remove those clauses. Why bother with voting your conscience, if you have one, or repping the members, as though they matter, when there are gigs to be had and conventions to attend?

Mulgrew was in a huge hurry to get through 7 resolutions in 20 minutes, and that's probably why he didn't even give me enough time to stand up when he was looking to debate the anti-suspension resolution. After I walked, they may have done the class size resolution. This one was last on the list, I believe. I'm not sure whether or not they considered it the least important, but I certainly did. Toothless as it was, it made no difference whatsoever. Maybe I'm going about things the wrong way. My approach was to run in a David and Goliath election for a seat I thought we had a shot at winning. When we won, I thought we'd be able to make a change.

One thing we do is stick member issues in their faces a few times each month. It's quite clear to me that Unity would sit around and do nothing but rubber stamp the leadership if we weren't there. Nonetheless, maybe running in democratic elections isn't the way to go if you want to influence leadership. Maybe, instead of fighting for rank and file teachers, we should just join E4E. Evidently, that's who leadership listens to these days.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

UFT Delegate Assembly March 28, 2018--E4E Member Introduces Revised Resolution at Last Minute and No One Speaks Against

President’s Report—Michael Mulgrew

Second snow day is the last to which we’re entitled. Next year there is only one snow day. We have the most recognized holidays in the US. Some districts are having classes on Saturday this year.

National—Gun control story phenomenal. Students taking lead and shaming adults. Walkouts, march last Saturday very successful. Great issue but will be a long haul. Students recognize when elected officials do nothing and call them on it. Thanks all who made sure students were safe when they used their political voice.

Spending—DeVos targeted funding for high poverty children, special education, community learning schools, and PD. Wanted to put it into “school choice.” Work done in spending package phenomenal. DeVos got no cuts and we got 6% increase, as did all her targeted areas. Thank Senator Schumer. This helps us this year. We won’t have to backfill from state and city. This is about coordinating activity, and that’s what Janus targets.

DeVos thinks she can change work rules for unionized employees, but cannot. She tried to unilaterally issue a “collective bargaining agreement.” This was stopped.

Lobby Day—over 1100 people, NAACP, had great feedback.

W. Virginia and Oklahoma—Believe Oklahoma will settle this week. These and other “right to work” states have no collective bargaining rights. Teachers in these states have nothing to lose. Haven’t gotten raises in years, benefits taken away more and more. Didn’t care about consequences, were ready to leave state. These are AFT states but wildcat strikes.

Janus wants us all in same position, so we have nothing left and nothing matters anymore. We will not let them do that to us. These won’t be last two states. Oklahoma recognized they had to do something.

State—Budget still going on. Our lobbying and strategy should work, especially with feds. Nothing in policy we are fighting against. We need to deal with moratorium sunset next year. GOP Senate will give money to charters while Assembly will give to teacher learning centers. Movement to stop Yeshivas from being audited to give proper education by Simkah Felder. Some Yeshivas opposed, saying they teach appropriate material already.

If education aid is done correctly, we have to look at tax code. If we don’t change it, we will have huge hole in state budget next year. We will pay for services in states that don’t tax.

New chancellor comes in on Monday, Richard Carranza. Will try to meet with him. Priorities are—we like policies, each other, but people in between not so much. If they aren’t here to help school, we don’t need them. Too many lawyers. We win because lawyers are morons.

There’s also money. We lobby. DOE doesn’t stand with us. Mayor goes. It’s sad, when we’ve had close to 4 billion increase. We don’t see it in our schools. How much longer can we count on DeVos making mistakes? Chancellor needs to know work force doesn’t feel respected by DOE, and we have all this money that doesn’t get to schools.

We believe teacher evaluation is the way to have people stay in this profession and understand how tough the work we do every day is. We don’t think DOE understands.

Congratulates schools that have fought off closures. Still, many schools have fewer than 100 kids, remnant from Bloomberg.

Negotiations—congratulates nurses and NYU Brooklyn, New Visions charters, and providers.

Our negotiations—April 16 next meeting. Negotiating committee directing where we go. 400 people on committee. Every chapter represented. Surveys helpful. We have a clear understanding of what people think is important.

After break, we will push for incident reporting. You have a right to report incidents. Can do it on UFT website. When you have discipline issues school culture not in right place. Safety and discipline is an issue. Principal said he got in trouble for reporting incidents, but now has fewer. Has a positive learning collaborative, swears by our program.

Did anyone get a letter saying you had no incidents in your school? We can’t have hundreds of schools that haven’t had an incident. If that’s the case no one is in your school. We have to call BS and report incidents.

Door knocking over 21K. We have 8,000 activists participating in membership teams.

SBO season here. Don’t do SBOs if you complained about principal all year. This is our process.

CL elections will take place in May and June. Asking that you do them as early as possible. Would like that settled and done with before Janus. If you are running, you may not be on election committee.

Janus—Doing research now. Clear that attacks have already started. People have tried to hack our communications systems, set up Twitter in my name. In NYC, NY State, NJ, we had 17 incursions from people who posed as members and secretly taped union members and officials. Project Veritas is a group that does this. They smear unions and try to get teachers to drop union. We are taking legal action because they use false names. Illegal in NY.

Freedom foundation most successful model for union busting. These are front groups. They FOIL and try to get union member info. They mail and knock doors, do paid media, social medial attacks. Funded by Koch, Broad, etc. We’ve been planning for two years. Manhattan Institute has a little money, but Empire Center has over 6 million from Kochs. Stated goal disrupt, destabilize, weaken UFT and NYSUT.

Membership teams will ramp up. Educational campaign on Janus. We have tighter communication among members. They want 20% drop in UFT membership. We won’t let it happen. We are at lowest # of agency fee payers in history of union. Could be everyone has to sign a card. We would have to use all summer to do that work.

We assume we will have to get to each and every new teacher. Usually we take our time. We usually get 1500 last week of August and take time with thousands more. That will be gone. We will have to get to every one of them, at minimum. Working with DOE to try to get info in June. Fewer agency fee payers each and every week.

We will have to deal with people saying give yourself a raise, quit union. Before next DA, every union member will get a card. Expiration dates short. Only sending to union members, not agency fee payers. We will also have a mobile app. Will have discounts on things. Building them. Stores coming to us, food chains, other things. Will go live at next DA.

We know our people will be lied to. This is a part, but you cannot substitute for face to face conversation. People now thank me for home visits instead of calling the cops. Right to work people are coming to lie to you, as they’ve done in state after state.

As for chancellor, we wanted an outsider. After getting rid of Bloomberg we got more bureaucracy. DOE can’t explain positions because they make no sense.

Thanks us, wishes us great break and holiday. Says we have to have each other’s backs.

LeRoy Barr—mentions March for Our Lives and our participation. Sent buses to DC. Student walkout. Had education forum, functional CL training. Sunday HERstory month celebration first annual. 4/11 wants us to wear blue, show solidarity for students with autism. 4/21, social studies teacher conference. Prom event great success last year. Doing it again all five boroughs. Next DA 4/18, wishes good holidays.

Mulgrew—working with city council, will have to amp up family leave campaign. Hopes city council does hearing.


CL CS 42—Thanks for support for CS 42. Has UFT considered contractual provision so CLs wouldn’t have to ask principals about Lobby Day or NYSUT?

Mulgrew—Every year we have issues with AFT conference. NYSUT problems, let us know if you are elected. Some don’t want to go during testing. In Principal’s Weekly it said CLs released for Lobby Day. Would be up to negotiating committee.

Q—Discrepancy between amount of work teachers in different schools do. Some places teachers seem like they are on vacation.

A—Teachers need to work in environment they think best suits them. I taught AP classes. Was okay, kids were great, but not for me. Spent last 12 years working with average children in Brooklyn. We cannot look at other people and think they aren’t working at same level we are. I used to think little kids were easy, as HS teacher. Spent a day in elementary school, in first grade classroom, would never, ever do that. I can’t do it. Never seen anything like that. HS gives us breaks between class. Elementary exhausting. No idea how you do it. If someone doesn’t like setting they should transfer. We need to recognize we work differently. Need hazard pay depending on principal.

Q—Bennett Fisher—Confused over family vs. parental leave. I see it mention in lit as parental. Are we fighting for family or only newborn children?

A—I want both. No way to cost it so city wants crazy amount of money. State doesn’t qualify us for programs automatically. We need agreement of municipality. We don’t know where it’s going yet. Soon we will have data on what it costs. Doing parental, not giving up on family. Mayor could agree we have right to go into state program. You don’t stop, you keep trying. Their issue is they don’t want to cover classes. Moral question of whether you believe this or not. Governor agrees, believe it or not.

Q—One objection to signing electronically if problem. Door knockers should have cards.


Q—In order for us and functional chapter members to keep licenses we have to take courses. Some therapists have been denied use of these funds.

A—Bring that to us. Admin sometimes automatically say no. Depends on situation. Probably problematic administrator. Need to show us why they do it.

Q—Principal in our school says custodial budget cut. Will radically affect school. Said they may not have enough toilet paper for year. Principal will try to get CSA involved. Can UFT be involved.

A—Heard of this this week. Part of our budget process, and frustration with DOE. Head counts of employees grow and we don’t have toilet paper.


Place item for next meeting—Whereas DA is for elected reps to discuss, want 50% for motions questions and discussion.

Have been attending for two years. Excited to hear reports. This is democratic body. We need more time to discuss and debate.

On agenda.

Resolution to oppose, not endorse IDC. IDC prevents progressive legislation, Dream Act, Universal health care, more. Gives majority to GOP.

Against—Paul Egan
—Opposes because GOP is in power because of Simka Felder. IDC has been stopgap to having GOP run roughshod, has worked with us. This is internal Democratic Party fight. Need to flip Senate. Waste of time and money to fight now. Already a deal that if Dems get extra seat IDC will come back.


Resolution #1

On Safe Schools, criticizing suspension and encouraging alternates,

Mike Loeb—Points out substitute resolution. Moves to amend and substitute resolution.

Mulgrew—Not now.

Loeb—Motion for sub.

—will vote.

Loeb—disproportionately suspends homeless, students of color. Resolution calls to expand pilots to all districts. Asks for educator voice in programs. Arm us with resources.

Passes. I am not called on to speak against. No one speaks against this resolution, which was introduced by an E4E member.

Janella Hinds—Speaks of MLK. Assassinated in Memphis. Supporting strike. 49 of those workers made whole only this week.


Mel Aaronson—Speaks of UFT birthday. Says we have several people here who were here 58 years ago. Has them stand.


At this point I walk out disgusted I was not able to address the resolution introduced by E4E members.

Here is what I did not get to say. However, the resolution would certainly have passed anyway as Carmen Alvarez supported it:

I’m a great believer in unintended consequences. Of course I believe in safe and secure schools, but I question whether this will move us that way. In fact, I think it will have the effect of giving us fewer, rather than more options. Teaching is a demanding job, and we don’t make it any better by removing options from the teacher toolbox.

We all know that principals don’t see things the way we do. They think the contract is a list of suggestions, they don’t understand the difference between three months or three years, and they have to call legal to have it explained to them. This would not be so bad if legal knew the difference, but of course they do not.

Sometimes the city tells principals to report everything, Principals then go out of their way to report every time someone breaks a pencil, and pivotal community schools, like Jamaica, are closed. Then principals see schools closed, decide to report nothing, and chaos ensues. This, in fact, is mentioned in the resolution, and for all I know the reduction in reported incidents cited is a result of changes cited in the discipline code.

I don’t see how this resolution helps make principals report more freely. Having fewer options will more likely push them toward reporting even less.

Of course students should receive the most appropriate responses to whatever their actions may be, and if suspension isn’t called for, they shouldn’t receive it. However, when students offer to murder entire classes, I don’t want to be tied to an option of sending them to talk it out and have them return the next day to my class.

Let’s move, if we need move at all, to place judgment in the hands of teachers. I’m sure we can all agree that teachers, in contrast to principals, tend not to be insane.I don’t know what they teach at principal schools but it most certainly isn’t logic. That’s our province, so let’s move options in our direction and keep them in our hands.

Working teachers want and need more, not fewer options.

Fort that reason, I urge you to vote no on this resolution.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Bashful Bob and Janus

I was in college, but I was also looking for my big break. I was actually strumming a guitar and singing in some hellhole upstate when I met Bashful Bob the fiddler. As soon as I was on a break, he came up to me.

"How much are they paying you here?" he asked.

I decided to impress him. "Fifty bucks," I said.

"I happen to know they're only paying you twenty," he answered. "But I have a band, and if it works out, we can pay you forty."

Maybe I had finally made the big time, I thought. Someone had noticed me, and my career was on the upswing. We played together for years after that, in various bands. Sometimes we got really fancy and played electric. We also had some really bad moments. Once, I took second place in a college fiddle contest, while he and another guy I knew tied for third. He really hated that. After all, he was the fiddler in the band and I was just the guitar player. 

If you want things to run smothly, and you work in a small company, you have to know your place. He never let me hear the end of that.

He had some nasty habits. He didn't believe in tipping and when groups of us went out, we'd ask for separate checks, one of him and another for the rest of us. He liked to meet strange women in bars, sometimes very strange women, and let them run up tabs that counted against our already low pay. They would pay us back, he'd say, but we'd never see them again.

We fell out when he failed to show up to a gig. He used to call square dances and I took this gig thinking he would do it. But someone offered him more money to play somewhere, and he took it. He told me it was a "grand opening," but I was unimpressed.  In fact, I got stuck calling the square dance. This was challenging because I have no idea how to even dance a square dance. But I got a book somewhere and did my best.

I'm thinking of him lately because of Janus. I talk to a lot of people about what to do with non-duespayers. It's a tough call, but basically I think they're scabs. How will I treat people who make me shoulder the financial demands of union, shirk it themselves, but expect me to represent them anyway?

Bashful Bob and I used to play a little dive bar in Hoboken every Tuesday night. I think the bar would throw us a few bucks and we'd pass a hat for the rest. I was always polite, simply nodding when people declined to contribute. Bob had a different approach. He'd look at the person who failed to contribute, and sharply say, "Thank you. Hope you enjoyed the music.

I noticed that the next time he came around, people tended to contribute. I started using his technique when it was my turn, and it seemed to work.

Now our case is a little different, and we aren't exactly passing a hat. But I really wonder exactly how I will handle people who need assistance when they don't support us. A UFT official told me, "No, you have to represent them the same way you'd represent anyone else." I don't know, though. Would I be inclined to spend extra time researching charges against a person like that? Should I bother to investigate why this person is in trouble before going to a meeting about it?

There's the other side of the argument. The person will say, "See? Look, the union is useless. I needed help and the guy told me to put a letter in his box. Then I never heard from him."

On the other hand, that's the same guy who willfully freeloaded on my back. Whey shouldn't he get what he pays for? I don't know about winning over freeloaders. It would be kind of like asking Bashful Bob to leave a tip.

Monday, March 26, 2018

UFT Executive Board March 26, 2018--ATR Teachers Don't Need to Choose Representation

6:02 PM—Secretary Howard Schoor welcomes us.


—PS 433—Educator 24 years, never thought she’d be subject to humiliation and career damage caused by ATR. 3 different schools this year, hadn’t been supported. Had one supportive one but was removed. Was targeted, told I was their teacher in six weeks. Need time to build trust with children. Asked for support, names of deans or counselors, was told to move kids.

Was very tough to educate children without support. ATRs afraid to speak out. Each new school is starting again. DR warned me against principal. 5 resignations this year to date. Many afraid to speak out. I shouldn’t be in ATR. Sad that people with less experience go to Leadership Academy and become admin.

Need more meetings to improve this. 

Peter Zucker—ATR for three years, district 7. Had issues, Mike Sill, Amy Arundell have helped. Only so much they can do. Crapshoot what kind of CL I will get. We need a functional chapter. In lieu of that, we need more than just one meeting a year. Great Mike Sill comes to borough offices in October, but we should have monthly meetings. Why not see what could be done in borough offices. We could have a liaison in each office, or have ATR organize in each borough. Wants EB to support resolution.

Would like ATRs fully represented. Shouldn’t have to vote for CL in school I’m in one week.

Anne Locer—HS teacher 14 years, was CL at Lehman. Landed in place I feel comfortable. Some systems DOE has in place are not good. Was contract survey—do we need to strengthen language on safety and students—-yes. Hope we can increase investment in social workers and guidance. We need counselor caps. We need comp time positions and PD. AT Lehman I defended potential ATRs. Being in closing school draining.

Police routinely walked through buildings with weapons. Had no school ID, police gave summons for trespassing in own school. Court date was for his Regents exam.  If we can increase counselors we can do right by people. Should get cops out of schools.

Untenured teacher
—Teaching for 4 years. Teachers have so many responsibilities we are held strictly accountable for. School cut tutoring. Our SESIS hours are illegally cut. Teachers with extra curricular activities get paid for only half time they actually spend. Directive to have courageous conversations, I support but we are being held accountable for things about which we get no support. Upsets me to get developing for not having conversation without training or adequate time. Many of my colleagues were afraid to come.

—Please come. We want to hear from you. Have sent out surveys, compiling info. EB members are on committee.

Eric Mears had a statement about Danielson. Emailed him. Many concerns about 4D and 4F, not used in NYC. As for 4E—teacher listens but isn’t sure recommendations apply—This is possible but poor example. It’s about teacher openness to feedback. Have not seen this interpreted this way.

4E based only on what is observed. We would file APPR complaint for this.

Mulgrew is here—6:19


President’s report—Michael Mulgrew

First time in few years, state budget will be on time, perhaps tonight will be printed. Looks like it will be simple. Trying to get to billion for education increase. Policy doesn’t look like problem. Assembly works with us. Senate works with charters. Remember when election time comes why we do what we do.

Last week headlines about Pres. veto of bill he signed. Schumer pulled off miracle with education. Com learning, PD, Special ed got increased. Thanked him yesterday. Invited him to spring conference. Bad few weeks for Betsy, 60 Minutes and budget failures. Didn’t know she couldn’t change work rules for unionized employees. Called it collective bargaining, but was her by herself in a room. Was no agreement.

Thanks everyone for training, political activity, marches. Great to see so many from NY, thanks Janella for leading in Central Park. Great functional chapter weekend.

Don’t want to be in defensive posture because of Janus. Thanks borough reps, membership teams, says training and communication going on. Will be new UFT app and card. Model enemies want to use is freedom foundation, successful union busting operation Canvass, door knock, mailings, paid media. In NY will be Empire Center funded by Koch Bros. Plans on how to hurt us, advertise to get money from foundations.

Important our members know about these groups. We have to get them to understand first. We have to continue our work. New chancellor coming April 2. What is he walking into? Will be interesting transition. Happy he isn’t from DOE/ Frankenstein’s Castle. Things tense between us. We have to make sure he treats us respectfully and cleans out the DOE.

We will analyze and send out budget things. Wishes us great last break of year. Only one snow day in next year’s calendar. Up to us to beat Janus advocates.

LeRoy Barr
—Had walk last weekend, here and in DC, thanks Janella. Functional CL weekend, and Men in Education forum. Women’s HERstory last Sunday, celebrated UFT women. 4/13 HS Awards 5:30 5/5 5K run.


Mike SchirtzerMORE—Update on parental leave?

Schoor—No movement yet worth discussing.

—PBA asked for health care givebacks. Should we be concerned.

—Yes. City workers have same health plans. City looking for savings. There are committees looking at it. All unions negotiate as one for health care. Vote weighted. DC37 and UFT are largest. City spends 6 billion a year for health. Hopes police go first.

KJ Ahluwalia
New Action--Food step in right direction. People talking about it, smelling it. Let’s try different every time. Today’s open mike focuses on ATRs Current number? Keys addressed? Is there a mechanism in case new meetings are necessary.

Schoor—We will take it under advisement.

Mike Sill—Don’t have update, will ask. Spoke to DOE about keys. Looking at many aspects of safety. Definitely want ATR and keys to be part of it. Problem is different key schemes. Some have one master, some are all different keys. Problem is logistics.

—Safely important, we can talk on contract committee.

Report from Districts

Mike Schirtzer
MORE—Thanks to Brooklyn office for letting me into maternity workshop. Fiancee expecting. Very helpful, pushed parental leave and pins.

Rashad Brown—Wed. DA accepting prom donations.

Stering Roberson—March 13-18 Bonnie Sepulveda represented us in DR for lead free children. Feedback was great.

Deborah Penney—Pension dept. busy. Queens 400 people attended pension clinic, had to do second to accommodate. Had BURRS meeting, will be in every borough.

Janella Hinds—HERstory—thanks students from Queens Vocational HS. Provided spa services. Thanks all who attended. Women are 80% of this union.

Rich Mantel—May 5, 5K for Cinco de Mayo. MCU Park. Raise money for disaster relief. Wed, at DA collecting for disaster relief. We will have middle school anti-bullying conference, May 10.

George Altomare—Social studies conference, April 21. Urges attendance.

Tammy Muller—Thanks Mulgrew, Barr, Goldman, attorneys for securing family child care provider contract.

Paul Egan—No soccer from Chelsea. Ireland lost to Turkey. Lost to Afghanistan in Cricket.

Moment of silence for colleague, Judy Hall. Thanks everyone for last week in Albany, over 1,000 people.

NYU update—Anne Goldman—ontime contract at NYU Brooklyn. Next step is having members move forward. Can be intimidating to new grads in hospital. Have given strong and clear message. Enforcement important. 91 grievances in two months. If we don’t have framework, patients suffer. Movement not as quick as we would like. Multiple staff being added, and we have won many positions. Will give courage to those we represent.

Now a felony to attack or hurt a nurse. Patient tried to hang nurse on IV pole. Was saved by other nurses. After 25 court dates, sentencing May 4th. We will be there in support.

Resolution on Puerto Rico Education

Carmen Alvarez
—In PR, still serious issues. Unions have helped with generators and water, but social fabric under attack. We still have over 300 schools that face closure. Impacts all positions. Many have gone to Florida or Houston. Supporting AMPR on and off island. Charters want to take over public schools. We will advance our shared values. Urges passage.

Passes unanimously.

Arthur Goldstein
MORE—It’s pretty tough to be in the Absent Teacher Reserve. You have to go from school to school and you’re unable to make long term connections with either students or colleagues. We’re now telling them they can vote for chapter leaders and delegates who will, in all likelihood, not represent them in September.

That’s absurd. I understand the rationale that the ATR is a temporary thing, and I have been hearing that since 2005. I certainly hope it’s temporary, and bearing that in mind, this resolution suggests we eliminate the chapter as soon as we eliminate the ATR. It is, therefore, a win-win. I urge you to vote for this resolution and empower our brothers and sisters in the Absent Teacher Reserve.

Dolores Sozopony—Been on for years. If I recall, we brought this issue up several times. Was brought up three years ago. I understand and feel it but they have representation from the CL of whatever school they are in. Ask vote against.

Eliu Lara
—To create functional chapter is too agree we want ATR forever. Idea is to reduce that. No doubt that any ATR who needs representation will have it, at least in the Bronx. We don’t need this functional chapter because they are represented.

Stuart Kaplan
—Opposes. When I first started in 2003, I was an ATR. First person I met was CL, who was my CL. Taught me I should treat ATRs same way I would treat any other member. Should think of training CLs to have respect for ATRs that they deserve. I’ve had an ATR In my school for three months. Always left feeling like they were part of the family.

KJ Ahluwalia
New Action--People presume I was an ATR. I wasn’t. I was in a closing school. Supposed to be temporary, but around for 13 years. It’s ideal we treat all members with same respect, but it’s not happening. Why not ask 800-900 ATRs what they need. If they think they need it they should have right.

Fails on party lines.

We are adjourned.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Famous Last Words

I'm a rule follower--I once heard an incoming assistant principal make this declaration. I'm not sure what it was meant to clarify or express. Oddly, the person who said it had no regard whatsoever for rules. She would sit in front of my face and declare there was no way she could give this teacher the class on the preference sheet.

Then, when I moved one Delaney card into another box, this person declared, "Well, it's no good for the children if we change teachers this far into the semester. Actually it was fewer than 48 hours into the semester. At the hearing, in front of the principal, she declared I offered no ideas as to how she could accommodate the grievance.

Back when this person was a lowly teacher, I got her department's personal email list from someone in her department. When I sent out my first email, she approached me and said, "I feel like I've been raped." Oh my gosh, I said, I'm so sorry. I certainly intended nothing like that. I'll take you off the list immediately. "No," she said. "It's OK. You can keep sending me email. And that, my friends, is the sort of passive aggressive unstable personality that may be deciding where you fit on the Danielson Rubric.

Only bad teachers need the union--I'd argue that bad teachers need something more than the union. Kids can be brutal, and you see them each and every day before you face administration. But everyone needs the union. It's always there for when you get in trouble. We are a collective and we support one another. It's like health insurance. Only sick people need it, but you could become sick at any time.

Also, if you have a supervisor like the one above, you serve at the whim of a lunatic. And honestly, you need not be in the eye of a complete lunatic to have problems. Some supervisors are perfectly lucid 50-98% of the time, but suffer from blind spots. If you happen to be in one of those blind spots, you'll be targeted for nonsense that would be ignored 95-98% of the time, and ought to be ignored 100% of the time. If you're in that situation, you really need someone who will enforce the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Make no mistake, any change of supervisors could place you in this position.

My first invocation of the contract was transferring away from a school in which I'd been punished for doing my job. Specifically, I'd just bought a house, and my supervisor told me I'd either have to teach all Spanish or stay late and lose the second job I needed to pay my mortgage. She did this because her Spanish 1 teacher threw kids out of the class and I didn't. She'd have fewer disruptions by forcing me to teach a class I was not inclined to teach nor particularly good at.

Legal told me it was OK--Legal thinks anything any principal does is OK. They're ethics-challenged lawyers who appear either not to have ever read the Collective Bargaining Agreement or to think it applies only to one side. They're a bunch of overpaid holdovers from Bloomberg who think they're in the Wild West and anything goes. It's their job to tell the principal that things written in black and white were actually written in invisible ink. I've been to half a dozen Step Two hearings this year testing the druthers of legal, and I've got another one this Tuesday. The problem with Step Two hearings is that they're heard by the chancellor. Sadly, Chancellor FariƱa has proven to be not much different from Chancellor Klein and most Step Two rulings go against us.

That's why we have arbitrators, who are less likely to interpret things that are not open to interpretation. Alas, arbitrators don't rule with the surety of a King Solomon, so you sometimes get bad decisions from them as well. I'll have to see. In my first eight years as chapter leader, I attended only one Step Two hearing. But hey, if legal wants to test whether day is night, I'll show up each and every time to express otherwise.

You don't need it in writing. I've heard that from DOE. Make sure you send each and every thing to them return receipt requested, because there's a 100% possibility it will get lost otherwise. If you choose to personally hand something to them, be sure you get a receipt for it. I am fortunate that I appear to have sent them all the papers that need sending, but you never know. I was once on one floor at Court Street and they asked me for my college transcripts.

"You already have them," I said.

"Yes, but they're on the seventh floor."

Well, you don't expect people who work in the DOE to walk up and down stairs, do you? You don't think they should take their valuable time and use an elevator? Maybe they should computerize things so we don't have these issues. Maybe they have by now. Who knows? But doubtless they've invented new hoops for hapless new teachers to jump through.

Children First, Always. Give me a break. This from the people who fight me twice a year so they can get away with violating class size regulations that already allow for the highest class sizes in New York State. And yes, that's one more service that "legal" provides.

What famous last words have you heard? Please share them in the comments.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Gmail Turns its Back on Me

I spent a great deal of the week in an email crisis. It's very hard for me to conduct union meetings, because we're all on staggered schedules. To be available to all staff I'd probably have to be around for four periods. My best way of regular communication with staff is via email. For nine years I've been sending out a weekly, and gmail has been pretty good about it.

That changed last week. I started to get every single one of 400-plus emails sent back with a little red-light icon. Cute though it was, after seeing it thirty or forty times it grew tiresome. Deleting hundreds of messages so I could be closer to recent ones was no fun either. I tried Gmail's paid service called G Suite. You get a two-week trial and then it's five bucks a month. Also you have to buy a domain, so I now own

G Suite worked exactly once, and then it started bouncing back again. The first person from Google told me that gmail wasn't made for mass emailing, and that I should use Google Groups. That didn't sound very good to me. Many people who write me don't really want every single person on staff to know their issues. I was pretty sure someone would write to the whole group not realizing it wasn't private. I decided to check it out anyway but I couldn't even reach the site on DOE wifi. Maybe it's blocked. Who knows? Anyway, that wasn't gonna work.

The second person from G Suite spent an hour on the phone trying to diagnose the situation. He decided my domain purchase hadn't gone through. When I checked, we got disconnected. I thought he was wrong because I was able to send out one email successfully. It turned out he was. I spent a good 45 minutes trying to figure out how to cancel G Suite and save my five bucks a month for other things. 

I went through various web searches looking for a good solution. Finally I found an outfit called Mailchimp that offered me a free service, and a pretty good one too. It would let me send up to 2,000 emails on a list more times than I ever would, and I didn't have to pay unless I went over. It also tells me how many people actually read the email. It lets me know how many people click the links. So far most people read but don't click. I had no idea about that.

I had a hell of a time finding a format, but there was a plain text option. Most of their emails are for glitzy stuff like you'd get from a company. I spent hours looking for something ordinary. Then it took me forever to get rid of the message, "Start writing your email." I'm still not sure how I did that, and I'm pretty sure I'll have the same issue next time.

So now my email looks a little fancier. It has a Mailchimp icon on the bottom, a physical return address, and an option to opt out of the list. The problem is that if people opt out, in September when I get a bunch of new members and renew the list from gmail, they'll be opted in again. I guess I'll cross that bridge later on.

I inquired to UFT for help, but was fortunate enough to figure it out within 24 hours. If I were UFT leadership, I'd give UFT emails to chapter leaders. I'm actually happier controlling my own email, but I'm always getting requests from UFT to share my lists, which I never do. After all, no one helped me write in each and every one of those 458 members. No one handed the list to me, and no one sorted it by department and function.

But had they started that way, they'd have access to all that work. You'd think that would be a desirable thing, particularly in these times. I'm not at all sure I'd take advantage of that service, but it would be smart of them to make it available.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Time for Democrats to Move on (and Maybe UFT Should Too)

A pair of columns about Democrats, one about what black voters lost by hitching their star to them, and another about the price Democrats paid for letting unions die, cried out to me. It's very much something that's been freaking me out, particularly since Trump took the White House. A lot of this began with Bill Clinton and his New Democrat nonsense.

Clinton was sorely wounded after his failed effort to nationalize health care. He stood strong and said that he was going to achieve it or strike down any alternative. ( popular joke at the time--What was the difference between Elvis and Bill Clinton? Elvis was alive.) While it was the right thing to do in many ways, his failure to achieve it meant he turned down something very similar to what became Obamacare, actually proposed by the GOP. Who knows where we might've been by now had that become law?

Clinton pivoted in the other direction, giving us the Republican Lite that failed to focus on helping the groups with whom Democrats were supposed to identify. When Obama ran, I was troubled by his educational positions. I had no idea he'd give GW Bush an extra term in education, and I had no notion he'd nationalize junk science to rate teachers. Nonetheless, he looked pretty reformy to me.

He ended up a lot worse than I'd expected. One thing that made me vote for him was his promise to enable card check. The possibility of enabling more union for working people seemed worth pursuing. Alas, he didn't bother. Obama also promised to find a pair of comfortable shoes and march with labor, but when Scott Walker shot labor in the back, Obama sat at his desk, presumably wearing heavy Oxfords that didn't encourage walking.

Hillary ran an uninspiring campaign, and the best thing people like me could say about her was, "Well, at least she isn't Donald Trump." Of course, because we don't actually run a national election, votes like mine in New York are relatively meaningless. While voting against Trump was a moral imperative, our fundamental lack of democracy left him President.

And this brings us to union leadership, which endorsed Obama despite his miserable record, and jumped at the starting gate to endorse Hillary. The idea was to be ahead of the curve. An early endorsement could, perhaps, strengthen your negotiating position. After all, AFT had endorsed Hillary against Obama, and that may have emboldened Obama to take all that reformy money and stab us in the back. Who knows?

So this time, the idea was to get with a winner way in the beginning. Or maybe it was about a preexisting preference for Hillary. I remember being part of an AFT phone call, supposedly to help pick a candidate. The first person to speak, supposedly from the crowd, was a hack for NY State Unity who ran an ad hominem blog on me. He called me a part time teacher and a part time unionist. Randi Weingarten tweeted it out and praised it, but retracted it when I pointed out his baseless attack applied not only to me, but also to every single working UFT chapter leader.

It looked to me like the Hillary endorsement was in the bag. I was not persuaded by talk of a "scientific survey" because there was no talk of how respondents were chosen and we were never shown the questions asked. It could have been a push poll, and one thing I'm certain of is no one I know actually took the survey. Also, I saw no evidence that AFT had made any demands of Hillary. Some people speculated that there was a job for Randi in a Hillary administration, but I don't believe that. I don't think Hillary would ever have risked the press reaction to a union leader as Education Secretary.

The main problem, though, was none of the above. The main problem, as we now know, was that Hillary was a loser. Why? Well, there's Russian interference. There are a whole lot of electoral irregularities, like the GOP crosscheck that actively discourages potential Democratic voters. But even after we acknowledge all that nonsense, there's the fact that Hillary failed to inspire voters to get off their asses and go to the polls. Had she managed that, she'd have won the Presidency just as Barack Obama had.

And why didn't Hillary inspire? Because she offered nothing other than more of the same. Universal health care? After having failed spectacularly to get that for Bill, she wasn't gonna try that again. Affordable college? She argued that we'd be financing Donald Trump's children, as though Trump would even dream of allowing his kids to go to SUNY or anyplace remotely similar. A living wage for all Americans? Hey, let's not get carried away. In fact, I don't recall her even bothering to pay the lip service to card check and/ or union that got me to vote for Barack Obama, once.

The point is that this corporate crap is not only unproductive, but also unappealing. Obama had enough charisma to overcome the stigma of some of his awful policies, but they hang in the air as having enabled Trump, and voters have had enough. We need to dump the "New Democrats" and find someone who supports working people.

And if UFT leadership can't find and support politicians with pro-labor, pro-teacher policies, they need to find someone who can, or make way for someone who can. We're in crisis and sleepy mediocrity simply won't cut it anymore.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Police Officer and the Community

A year ago or thereabouts, Mayor Bill de Blasio started a community policing program. The idea, I guess, was to get police on the street like the beat cops of yore. Where would these cops come from? It appears the mayor pulled them from the public schools. After all, cops don't suddenly appear from magical fairy dust, and hiring more cops would entail paying their salaries and stuff.

In our school, we had a resident police officer for thirteen years. Some people have large issues with police in schools. I had smaller ones. Our officer, Raul Espinet, tended to talk a lot at security meetings. This upset me, because our AP Security runs the best meetings I've ever attended in my life. He would have three agenda items, would burn through them in five minutes, and we would all leave. Espinet always had comments.

In fairness, how many teachers ask questions at meetings, thus making them longer? And while I'd like to chide the newer teachers for not knowing better, they frequently turn out to be vets. Sometimes they are me, in fact.

On the other hand, our deans loved him. He would give them heads up about gang activity and drugs in our area. He would preclude issues that may have entered our school otherwise. So ultimately, the information he provided was of more value than my desire to leave absolutely every meeting at the earliest possible minute. I mean, you think you go to a lot of meetings, but chapter leaders go to a lot of meetings.

Anyway, I started getting a whole lot of complaints that Espinet was leaving. The timing was particularly troubling, right after the Florida shootings. A lot of people were on edge. I contacted Susan Edelman from the Post, who was very interested. She sent a colleague to our school on parent-teacher day, and it turned out our PTA was passing around a petition to get our "armed officer" back. I didn't like the emphasis on "armed" so I didn't sign it. But a thousand other people did.

Edelman's story generated a lot of interest. NBC 4 picked it up, and within days our PTA President and one of our students were on Fox and Friends, of all places. I was able to tell some of my right-leaning friends that I was indirectly responsible for a story on their favorite network. Who would've thunk it?

Someone relented, eventually and there was soon another story saying that police would return to three very large schools in our area, Lewis, Bayside and Cardozo. My sources tell me the DOE did not want this to happen, but bowed to pressure.

This was a moment when union, community and the press came together and we made something happen. It was an energy that moved from person to person and culminated in our getting something. This is kind of how things are supposed to work. I look forward to being part of more things like this one.

Monday, March 19, 2018

On Blogging and BLM

I started a shitstorm (not my first) when I posted about the January UFT Delegate Assembly. This was the one when Dermot Myrie got up to propose a resolution to support Black Lives Matter and it was voted down by Unity. When I write about meetings, I mostly write whatever I see or hear without editorial content. I generally add a snarky headline, and the one I chose that night was "Black Lives May or May Not Matter."

This was then picked up by Lindsey Christ at NY1 and a few other outlets. It upset the hell out of the Unity Caucus, who wrote some particularly vicious things about the "not so loyal" opposition. I always read the nasty crap they write about us and think I could do it more effectively. On the other hand, I don't really do personal attack much anymore. I used to do it more frequently when I started the blog, but I use it less and less over time. It's not as effective as actual argument, which is my personal go-to.

One of the primary things that's reduced my use of ad hominem was doing real union work.  Being chapter leader of the largest school in Queens, the most overcrowded school in the city, is insane. Sometimes I tell people my job is insane and they think I'm complaining. Surprisingly, I'm not. I thrive on having an insane job. I wonder whether teaching is an insane job, if I  have an insane approach to it, or both. It doesn't much matter. I love what I do, and when I say how crazy it is, I'm fine with it. (That doesn't mean I don't like time off now and then.)

But it's easy to sit on the sidelines and bitch about the union. That's what I was doing before I got involved, though I didn't really know it at the time. I was particularly tough on Leo Casey, because he was the designated mouthpiece over at Edwize (UFT had a blog back in the day.), and frankly, he was pretty nasty to us too. As soon as I became chapter leader, I went on a mission to try to reverse our school's overcrowding. Leo Casey came to our school and set up a meeting at DOE. At this meeting we were able to come to an agreement that worked well for a few years.

So what can you think when a person you've said the most awful things about for months and months comes out and helps you? It's pretty awkward. You can't really just say that everyone in leadership sucks unreservedly, even though you've been saying that for years. It's a lot easier to talk like that if you're far away and play no part in union issues.

I have legitimate criticisms of leadership, though. There's class size, which was placed in the contract over a half-century ago. You'd hope we'd have moved forward since then. There are the excessive observations. There's the junk science. There's our wildly undemocratic process. There's the ATR, which was and still is a huge error that needs fixing.

My Executive Board buddy Mike Schirtzer wrote this a while back, and I guess it's time I say it too--I don't remotely suspect Unity Caucus of racism, bigotry, or anything of the sort. I think they made an error not endorsing Black Lives Matter, but I certainly don't believe they feel black lives don't matter either.

They called it a splinter issue. They're right that by endorsing BLM you're liable to lose the Trump/ racist contingent (assuming that isn't already a done deal). Make no mistake, there is that contingent in UFT. I saw it very much on display on UFT's Facebook page preceding the Staten Island march protesting the Garner shooting. I had not planned to attend that march, but I was so thoroughly disgusted by remarks from my fellow union members that I changed my plans.

More recently, it appears to me Hillary lost the election (among other reasons) because she failed to stand up. Hillary didn't support universal health care, a living wage, or affordable college. The guy who ran her campaign was no friend of ours. Like Obama, who proved to be a terrible education president, we endorsed Hillary unconditionally. I'm not privy to high-level negotiations, but why on earth are we giving our support to people who lecture us about "public charter schools," whatever they may be, at the AFT Convention, of all places? It was easy for me to vote for Hillary against Trump, but she didn't look good alone (or compared to Sanders, who I believe would've defeated the Donald).

To my mind, this is the same thought process that kept us from endorsing BLM. I know Trump voters who are just not going to pay union dues. Why should they? People like me will pay. Trump wouldn't pay. He'd make us do it, and indeed we pay millions for all his golf junkets and military parades and whatnot. I don't think Trump voters are the ones who will save our union. Trump voters would ruin the union just as eagerly as they're ruining these United States.

MORE isn't perfect either. MORE"s handling of the Garner march was embarrassing. I understand there was a meeting in which they tried to retroactively support it, which was even more ridiculous. Hey, you were there, or you were not there. I've been at more than one meeting in which a bunch of white people sat around and pondered how to attract more educators of color.  I wondered, why are you asking me?

Off the top of my head, I'd say that educators of all colors and sizes want to be treated with respect. They want better pay, less stupid paperwork, fewer pointless mandates and fewer lunatic administrators. They want better, not worse working conditions. They want to work with confidence, not live in fear. One thing MORE has right is that our working conditions are student learning conditions.

Maybe we should all get together and improve those conditions. I'm ready. Alternatively, we can all run around and insinuate nasty shit about one another.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Co-teaching, Part 154, This World, and the World of Theory

I'm still at NYSABE. There is a lot of good stuff going on. Everyone here supports ELLs. UFT VP Evelyn de Jesus, speaking this morning, quoted a Czech proverb, You live a new life for every language you speak, and expressed support for tweaking Part 154 so that we could give ELLs the language instruction they need.

Alas, until that happens, we have to deal with what's in front of our faces. That's why I chose to attend a presentation about co-teaching. The presentation was certainly thoughtful. In an ideal world, everyone would follow the practices the presenter espoused. The problem is we're not quite in an ideal world. I made the egregious error of answering two questions before I realized I was thinking about a universe that was not precisely relevant to the topic at hand.

The first question was, "What is co-teaching?" My answer was co-teaching is when the principal says, "You, and you, go teach together." This was not well-received by my group. They said co-teaching is a relationship. It's a marriage. It's a negotiation. They weren't wrong. But I wasn't wrong either.

The presenters weren't totally out of the loop on what goes on. For example, the presenter acknowledged that the ESL teacher often appears to be an educational assistant. The young woman next to me said she often felt that way. In fact, she said, two of the teachers with whom she co-teaches don't even acknowledge her presence in the room.

So think about that. If co-teaching is a marriage, this young woman is conducting at least three marriages concurrently. I don't know about you, but that's a high bar for me. If we really wish these things to work, why are we setting such impossible standards? The presenter said when you have issues with your co-teacher, the best thing to do is go out for a drink or something. Don't go to the principal and complain. As the person who's often in the room with the principal and the co-teachers who've complained, I couldn't agree more. Alas, it's always too late.

The second time I opened my mouth I made yet another faux pas. What's the main issue with co-teaching? The main issue, I said, was that the English language was not regarded as sufficiently important under Part 154 to be regarded as a subject. Another attendee took exception to that. "Did you try telling your co-teacher about specific English errors, as opposed to simply labeling them "awkward?"

Now she isn't wrong about that. Were I paired up with the science teacher I might be able to offer specific suggestions on how to more effectively improve composition skills. She thought I was expressing some sort of feeling of inferiority or envy, as though I weren't being appreciated. That's not the case at all. I have multiple certifications, and I don't actually need to co-teach.

What I'm talking about is the fact that these co-taught ESL classes come at the expense of direct English instruction, something my kids direly need. There is simply no substitute for it. How would you like to go to China and be placed in a Chinese history class taught entirely in Chinese? Would it help you if I gave you five vocabulary words every day? Would it help you if I had a Chinese as a second language teacher wandering around the room to give you tips on what the hell the other teacher was talking about? Maybe a little, but probably not remotely enough for you to learn Chinese history.

Under CR Part 154, what really happens when you plant the ESL teacher in the science class? As someone who struggled with science in my native language, I don't really see how I could be expected to learn not only science, but also a new language, especially in the same time native speakers learned only science. No matter how many good ideas you have about co-teaching, that's an insurmountable obstacle right there. Furthermore, it's made worse by the fact that the ESL teacher likely has several other co-teachers and little or no time to consult with any of them.

The presenter said two heads are better than one. That's potentially true. Last year I was in a great co-teaching situation. After having mediated between bitter pairs of teachers for years, I told my boss I never wanted to co-teach. Unfortunately, I'd also told her how quick-witted and smart I found one of our new teachers. My AP, to prove me wrong yet again, paired me up with her and we got along very well. Our only issue was how fast we did things. I make decisions very quickly, and she always wanted to think about things. "We have no time for that!" I'd tell her, but she persisted. Nonetheless, whenever I got called out to some stupid meeting somewhere, I had absolute confidence my students were well-cared for.

Co-teaching would be great if we were actually adding something. Under Part 154, we add a co-teacher, but we take away a fundamental element of language learning, to wit, time. You don't acquire a language simply by wishful thinking and good intentions. Adding a co-teacher to one period does not mitigate the fact that you've subtracted another period of direct English instruction. Not only have you failed to compensate for that, but you've also taken time away from the core subject by adding language instruction to it.

Hey, it's great for co-teachers to get along. And it's great to add extra classroom support. But in New York State, they're attacking the problem backwards. If you couldn't climb a mountain in one day, I'd suggest you take two or three days to do it. New York State says do it in half a day, but here, bring someone with you.

How stupid is that?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Speak American

I'm at the NY State Association for Bilingual Education Conference, a guest of UFT Education VP Evelyn de Jesus. For some reason Evelyn thinks it's a good idea to send me to conferences that center around the kids I serve, and this is the second year she's sent me here.

I'm not at all sure how this story got past me, but a teacher saw fit to tell a Spanish-speaking student that she needed to "speak American" and actually got caught on video.

“Men and women are fighting. They are not fighting for your right to speak Spanish,” the teacher said in the Oct. 12 video. “They are fighting for your right to speak American.”

Well, I'm glad I didn't have to represent that teacher. There's not a whole lot you can say or do to mitigate that kind of speech. I won't mention the name of the young woman who was the recipient of those comments, but today we saw and heard her. It's horrifying that anyone would speak to a student like that. I'm a little upset it was an English teacher, because in a galaxy long ago and far away I was one too.

In New York City hate speech like that would be a violation of Chancellor's Regulation A-421, verbal abuse. A-421 is pretty broadly written, perhaps too much so. Anything that would make a student feel belittled or abused is a violation. If you say, "Good morning," and the student doesn't like it, and the principal doesn't like you, you're likely up on charges.

You kind of expect an English teacher to be well read. To me, at least, that would imply a rudimentary understanding of culture. If you are telling people to speak American, culture's not the first thing I'd be accusing you of. I have little to no tolerance for racism, bigotry, or even garden-variety stupidity. These are especially egregious in adults. To my mind, none of these qualities are desirable in teachers.

It's different with kids. They often don't know better, and one of the things about this job is you get chances to be proactive. You can help kids to grow up and never say things like, "speak American." I'm pretty shocked when I see bigotry in my ELLs, but I do. Sadly, I'm less shocked by homophobia, which many of them deem acceptable. They're pretty surprised when I don't wink and nod with them. I let them know that it's no different from making fun of their country, religion, color, sex, or any number of things.

The students today gave me the impression this speech was not that unusual. The only thing that really changed was that this time it was captured on video. I don't think this teacher would have fared as well in NYC. I know someone who did something I'd consider less egregious, got caught on video, and got fired. Of course you never know on any given day what some zany madcap arbitrator might decide.

Again, I am so glad I didn't have to represent the teacher who said this odious thing.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Exec. Board Takeaway March 12th--The Good, the Bad, and the Worse

I was walking to the meeting with KJ from New Action, and the first thing he said to me was, "I can smell the food." I told him that had never happened before and it seemed like a good sign. Maybe they had finally abandoned those awful sandwiches. We got there and there was all sorts of food. I tried a piece of the eggplant and it was pretty good. We hoped maybe a better fed meeting would be a more productive meeting but alas, that was not to be the case.

Eric Mears started the meeting with a great analysis of Danielson. He picked out parts that suggest teachers should essentially work without compensation if they wished to have good ratings and asked how that was even legal. He pinpointed lines that said we should, if we were truly effective, rat out our brothers and sisters. Thank you, Charlotte Danielson. You're an example for us all.

It was great that Eric was able to plod through all that nonsense to find this stuff. It's kind of remarkable that no one else did before. I often lack the patience to go through tedious crap with a fine tooth comb but I really appreciate that he was able to do it. Let's see what leadership has to say about this. Maybe they'll actually look at whatever he gave them. Stranger things have happened.

We got to hear further about the massive abuse in Adult Ed. I'm really surprised that a sitting cesspool like that has yet to be drained. It seems to be affecting some of the most vulnerable people in the city, and I'm not talking about the teachers. This superintendent appears to be getting away with murder.

ATRs are given an opportunity to vote in UFT elections for a chapter leader who will almost certainly not be their chapter leader come September. It hardly seems worth it, if you ask me. Why should I be worried about a leader who won't be my leader? This distinction, alas, appears to escape leadership, who didn't even wish to discuss it. My understanding is that they contend the ATR to be a temporary aberration. The fact that they enabled it via the 2005 contract, as well as the fact that it's endured for twelve years appears not to register.

When I asked whether we could reach out to help ATRs I was told that this wasn't a question. Howard Schoor said I knew how to write a resolution and indeed I do. I can certainly provide one for the next meeting, but given the dismissiveness of that remark I'm not confident we'll prevail. It's kind of disturbing to think that, at the same time we're urging people to remain in the union, we're telling a whole group of people stuck in a purgatory created by leadership that they don't get a meaningful vote. It wouldn't be my preferred approach.

Amy Arundell spoke about saving two Queens schools, which was a very positive achievement. It is sorely disappointing to see Bill de Blasio, for whom I worked, to whom I contributed, whose first inauguration I attended, closing schools a la Mike Bloomberg.Worse, it appears he fired the PEP member who enabled it, in direct violation of a campaign promise.

Now I rejoice as much as anyone when we avert closings. Sadly, I'm not sure I can agree that this is the result of union power. Union power is certainly desirable, and I'm sure it didn't hurt. But you also have to factor in the dumb luck of getting someone on the fake school board to vote with you. The likelihood of it happening again after this firing hovers around nil. I remember going to many raucous and passionate hearings for Jamaica, and the PEP shut it anyway.

Then we come to a class size resolution. I've been trying to negotiate with Unity for months. I don't recall offhand when Howard Schoor said they'd be happy to meet about this, but the fact is I reached out immediately after that meeting. I got one response saying it was a good idea to do things this way rather than just hitting them with resolutions, but no one answered my repeated requests for a meeting. I followed up, but by last Monday I'd had it.

I sent our resolution in during the school day. Unity, months ago, passed a resolution demanding they get to see any resolution at least an hour before the meeting. Ironically, they themselves need not show us anything and can bring whatever they feel like with no notice whatsoever. In any case, on Monday I learned exactly why they need to do this stuff.

In response to our resolution, Unity put up two guys to respond. The first guy got up and read from a piece of paper about what he wanted stricken from the resolution. I stood up and was going to ask why he wanted to do that. As it happened, Unity put up a second guy with an explanation for their rationale. He explained that asking for any particular number in class size reduction would cost us money in the contract negotiations.

Now it was odd that he said that, because the resolution specifically said that this was unrelated to contract negotiations. Yet he and at least one other speaker said that any specific request for class size reduction would come with a price in negotiations. The Unity Caucus therefore voted to remove all references to specific class size from the class size resolution.

Evidently, since our resolution now made no specific class size demands, there would be no specific price paid during negotiations. In case the implication of that is not obvious. I'll point out that this means we specifically demand nothing whatsoever in the way of lowering class size. Certainly the city won't be charging us for that, and the clause saying we ought not to pay during contract negotiations remains.

I was really struck by what the guy who appeared not to understand why he was asking what he was asking when he added
Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.

Note the implication here. UFT is already doing something, evidently, and will continue doing  whatever that may be. As someone who grieves class sizes twice a year, I'm thoroughly unimpressed with our fight. Thus far, for over half a century and counting, it's yielded precisely nothing that's reduced class sizes. The notion of continuing whatever it is we're doing appeals to me not at all. The notion that UFT has been carrying the torch for lower class sizes is preposterous beyond belief.

That's why I voted against my own resolution, and that's why I'll vote against it again if it comes up in the DA. I know a meaningless, toothless nothing when I see one.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Your Door Knockers at Work

There's an interesting piece in The Chief ($) about reaching out "in building unity," and judging from this photo, it's pretty easy to see why. Note that the young woman in the photo is wearing a Unity Caucus t-shirt and appears to be in a UFT hall.

Now I'm not a fashion consultant, but I have to say that it's pretty inappropriate for anyone to knock on doors wearing a shirt like that. I'm not remotely sure that was the case, but she is clearly sending a message to Chief readers.

It is, however, a pretty good representation of union leadership, whether she intended it or not. The UFT is run by the Unity Caucus and has been since its inception. It's actually not something they widely broadcast. I barely knew it existed until 2005, when I started taking a much closer look at UFT politics. Until then they existed only as a name on a ballot that turned up every two or three years.

Unity Caucus is an elite, invitation-only caucus, a veritable gravy train of perks and gigs for those who sign up. As I write frequently, it requires its members to sign a loyalty oath. It basically says you may disagree within the caucus, but in public you must fall in line with all caucus positions. This can be frustrating, especially if you sit on the Executive Board every two weeks determined to speak what you see, as opposed to what you're told. There are seven of us in the opposition. You can recognize us because we're the ones asking questions. We're the ones bringing resolutions demanding things like, oh, following the C4E law to reduce class sizes, or giving ATR members a meaningful vote.

At the Executive Board, I watch dozens of people sit around, saying and doing nothing until and unless they're instructed otherwise. These are the people, hand-picked by leadership to represent your interests. The only problem is they aren't actually permitted to do that. In fact, they've signed a specific document pretty much promising to tow the line whether or not it serves your interests. Make no mistake, this holds us back.

Sometimes I feel the only thing I really own is my voice. I can't and won't sign an oath to give it up. That this is the price of what they call activism speaks volumes as to what our problem is. I'd actually love to work with and support the union. Sometimes I get called to do that, but not all that frequently. It's too bad we can't work that out. It kind of breaks my heart to see people whose only redeeming quality to the union is the ability to sit down and shut up. This is about the least useful quality an activist can have. But if you want to entertain working for UFT, it's the only one that matters.

We're now facing an existential threat. The reaction of leadership is the same as it ever was. Pay flunkies to work around the office, doing something or other, and continue to erect brick walls to keep the activists the hell out. That's an ass-backward approach. You are either a leader or a follower. UFT policy is to actively discourage leadership. That's bad organization, and it's also bad teaching.

I go to work each and every day and try to draw out the voices of my students. Given that they don't speak much or any English, that's not precisely a walk in the park. Sometimes I have to pry it out of them. Sometimes I feel like I'm a dentist with a pair of pliers trying to extract a recalcitrant tooth. Sometimes I feel like I'm holding them by their knees and shaking them up and down until something falls out. I never stop trying though.

UFT Unity seems to go about things differently. It's like they are emulating Michelle Rhee and taping their student's mouths shut. After all, if they're open, who knows what could come out of those things? Sadly, come Janus, listening to rank and file will become essential if we are to survive. Sadder still, leadership has almost no experience doing this, and as far as I can tell, little to no inclination to start.

It's gonna be a long and interesting year.

Monday, March 12, 2018

UFT Executive Board--We Pass a Class Size Resolution but Remove All Mention of Class Sizes

6:00 Secretary Howard Schoor welcomes us.

Speakers—Eric Mears—Health Opportunities High School—(delivered me his speech, which I present verbatim)

Ladies and gentlemen,

I speak today to address the shocking sample comments of the Charlotte Danielson rubric; particularly the “Professional Responsibilities” section.

One can infer from these comments that teachers who are unwilling to do free labor or commit treachery against their colleagues may be rated Developing or worse.  Teachers' opinions may also be used as reasons for low ratings under Danielson.

Here are four egregious examples of sample comments:

1. "The teacher listens to his principal's feedback after a lesson, but isn't sure that the recommendations really apply in his situation." (Developing; Component 4.E. - Growing and Developing Professionally)

- Here, the teacher is to be penalized for being skeptical about his principal’s feedback; in other words, for his opinion.  Indeed, even if the teacher carries out all of his principal’s suggestions conscientiously, he shall be punished for his lack of faith in them.  The Developing rating is to be assigned, in short, because a teacher has committed a thought crime.

2. "The teacher says, 'I have always known my grade partner to be truthful.  If she called in sick, then I believe her.' "  (Developing; Component 4.f. – Showing Professionalism)

- Here again, the teacher is to be evaluated based on his opinion of his colleague.  This is already absurd.  But worse, a teacher can only show that he distrusts his grade partner by investigating her, quarreling with her, gossiping about her, or performing some other treacherous act.  And the Danielson rubric would reward him for doing so.

3. "The teacher considers staying late to help some of her students in after-school daycare but then realizes it would conflict with her health club class and so decides against it.” (Developing; Component 4.f. Showing Professionalism.).

- Here, a teacher is to be punished for failing to provide extra and perhaps free labor in her school.  This fact alone would seem to make the Danielson rubric illegal and inadmissible as a document through which to evaluate teachers.  At minimum, it is contemptuous of teachers’ dignity and time.

4. "The principal says, 'I wish I didn't have to ask the teacher to 'volunteer' every time we need someone to chaperone the dance." (Developing; Component 4.d. – Participating in the Professional Community)

- Here, a teacher spends his free time chaperoning every school dance that occurs in a given school year.  But because his principal asked him to volunteer, he is perversely punished with a Developing rating.  This comment is not only anti-labor (and probably illegal) like the others.  It is also poorly written and not thought through.

Nothing can ameliorate a rubric that is tainted by these sample comments that encourage the violation of labor law.  It is immoral, illegal, and unacceptable to evaluate teachers in the way that Danielson prescribes.

So, what should be done?  I recommend two actions and a contingency:

Action #1: Demand that the DOE rescind all Developing or Ineffective ratings that were given during the Danielson era - - - or at least rescind those ratings in categories where Danielson encourages labor law violations. 

Action #2: Demand that the DOE replace Danielson with an alternative that is devised and agreed upon by NYC teachers and principals.   The consultant class does not deserve a say in any new system; not after five years of crudely encouraging labor violations under Danielson.

Contingency: If the DOE does not agree to these two demands, file a class action lawsuit on behalf of all teachers who have been harmed by Danielson.  This should be a winnable lawsuit – since the document blatantly encourages administrators to violate labor law.

A school system that uses Danielson does not respect its educators, or basic labor law, for that matter.  And a union that allows Danielson is not serving its members.  Please act, now, UFT leaders, to repair the harm that Danielson has done, and would continue to do, to UFT teachers.

Thank you.

Schoor—Are these examples?

Mear—They’re sample comments.

Schoor—Send them to me.

Roberta Pixar—fired from Adult Ed.—Asks union to help with budget. All other teachers have access to school budgets. As public agency budget is public, but Rosemary Mills has denied access as we watch program eliminated.

Told we could no longer teach low level students due to funding. Program being dismembered. We want to see budget.

One third classes closed despite over 50 million budget. Career and tech training disappearing.
Mills bought kindergarten and college books with no levels in between. They are useless, no money left to buy appropriate ones. Mills hired managers rather than buy books. More and more of our teachers and support staff are fired and handed out. Strictly per session program with no benefits lately.

Barr has budget but has not released to chapter. What is the secret? We are now being denied access by our own union.

We need to see where money has gone year by year, we need income sources and detailed expenditures. We suspect mismanagement, at least. We want our program back, alive, not moribund.
Asks that UFT stops withholding budget from members. Want to see it and five previous budgets. Will you do that?

Schoor—We have it, we are analyzing it. Parts of it are public, but not all of it. CLs entitled to part of it. There are different views of budget. We will give it to CL with our analysis.


Mulgrew not here—says if you haven’t seen DeVos interview you should get it. This is what you get for 200 million in donations.

LeRoy Barr—middle school conference, great event, thanks Richard Mantel, guidance conference and para luncheon, went well. Letter from DOE about 17 minute walkout, March 14, encourage schools to have plans. Make sure students are safe, volunteer. UFT Anniversary March 16. Saturday elementary conference. March 21 DA, EB March 26. March against gun violence March 24.

Janella Hinds—UFT will support March for Our Lives in Central Park. March 24th

Schoor—As we get info on marches we share

Vince G—praises menu change. Thanks LeRoy Barr.


Arthur GoldsteinMORE—It appears our brothers and sisters in the Absent Teacher Reserve will be eligible to vote in chapter leader and delegate elections. That’s positive. Less positive is the fact that many or most of them will not be in the same schools come September. I speak to a lot of ATRs, and they feel about this just as many of us felt about the Electoral College when Trump won.
I understand leadership’s position that the ATR is temporary, and like everyone here, I’d like it as temporary as possible. I understand that as an objection to a permanent chapter. I’d therefore propose we establish a temporary chapter, to be dissolved as soon as the ATR is. Like all of you I’m concerned about Janus, and I think our brothers and sisters in the ATR require and deserve a unique voice to express their unique interests.

Can we work together to make that happen this year?

Schoor—You can make a proposal. Question period not proper time. Made this decision three years ago. This board voted. Some people filed a complaint at US Labor Dept.

Goldstein—With all due respect, I’m speaking for teachers here, I'm trying to help them regardless of what US Labor Dept may have said.

KJ Ahluwalia--New Action--I deal with ATRs as well, was in phased out school. What about security? Often have no keys. Have to scramble for someone to lock door. How do we protect them and make them feel like citizens instead of pariahs?

Schoor—We should ask DOE to come up with plan. Thank you for question.

Mike Sill—Appreciate that question. Wrote to Randy Asher about this issue. DOE sometimes lacks uniform policies. Some schools have universal keys, some are individual. DOE agrees. It’s something our safety division is taking up as well. Need to work to make it happen.

Ashraya GuptaMORE—We have folks here who are labor lawyers. Could we get a response on that? Is it in violation of labor law?

Schoor—Agree. That’s why I asked for questions.

Marcus McArthurMORE—People concerned about Janus. In my school we’ve assembled committee. Members want to know what’s next. What can we do now?

Schoor—Have a program, door knockers. We don’t know yet what decision will say. Could say you don’t need new cards. Might say we have to have different language and have to resign everyone. May have to do it each year. Many possible variations. We are reaching out. Soon there will be a new UFT app. Will introduce at DA on 21st. We think we do a great job now but we have to do more.

?—Professional conciliation—What if DOE gives us curriculum but it isn’t good? How can we address it?

Schoor—Article 24.

Debbie Poulos—Anyone interested in this, we created a form for assistance. Sometimes it can also be paperwork. Fill out form or email me.

Shelvy Abrams—Want to respond to Marcus—Talk to members. Those of you who heard about Wisconsin, it can happen here. This is what we can lose, bargaining, health. This is do or die situation.

Schoor—Our contract controls many things in your life. That’s what we’ve fought for since March 16, 1960. Everything is in the book and everything is at stake.

Reports from Districts

Tom Murphy RTC—We are on the road, visit 4K retirees. Janus concerns us. Trying to make PR like NOLA. Evelyn de Jesus asked us to help. We are coordinating 146 people.

Anne Goldman—Thanks from nurses who ratified a contract. We don’t assume that we will successfully bargain without power in political arena and bargaining table. Striking issue for us is they often want our pension. We’re part of a giant ruthless system, but they invested 80 million in it, result of our fight. We work with staffing similar to class size. Quite pricey to achieve. Have struck twice, but achieved our success because of all of you. We’re in it together, part of attack on each of us. Overwhelmingly ratified. Thank you.

Shelvy Abrams—Para luncheon Saturday, 1000 members. Thanks all who came, Ellie Engler and Teacher Center, did great job. Hardest working people in schools, so next time I want more than 1000 and want to see members.

Janella Hinds—March 1, we held Future in Focus, hosted 36 colleges, 30 labor unions who presented to 600 HS students, exposed to college and career, especially unionized.

Events—Triangle Shirtwaist Fire commemoration—sweatshop fire, women 16-20 died horribly, every year they remember them, March 23rd at noon.

Herstory—brunch and celebration to honor women in labor movement March 25th.
Academic HS Awards, Friday April 13th, fourth annual.

Amy Arundell—PEP meeting last week—Several schools were voted on, two of which in Queens, 42 and 53, HS in Manhattan, and others. Raucous meeting, reminiscent of Bloomberg era, ended 2:30 AM. 42, 53 and Health Careers were kept open. Denied mayor these closings. Left at 12:30 feeling sad, and someone texted me to say they didn’t pass. Isn’t that amazing?

Happened because 3 school communities fought tooth and nail for schools. Packed meetings.

Members expressed feelings with help of our reps. Much political work going on, provided financial support. Bused communities in. Testament to work not just of union but also to community partners. Great day and lesson. All of us will save all of us.

Thanks union and all resources, school communities, parents and activists. Unionism looks bright to me now.

Paul Egan—Big week for Chelsea playing Barcelona. Won on weekend. Next week is Lobby Day. Over 1100 people. Packed. Opportunity to make our presence felt. Please attend. Door knocking is ongoing. Four trainings, fifth going on in April. Asks if you know or can recommend someone please reach out.


2018 chapter election guide—

LeRoy Barr—Rises to motivate—same as what we did in 2015. Made sure that everyone repped by UFT could nominate, vote and run. Asks you adopt this guide and by laws.

Seconded. Passed.

Gender Neutral Restroom Resolution

Rashad Brown—Requests UFT provide gender neutral restrooms in offices. UFT has been in center of many fights to help LGBT and other communities. Good also for children. AFT does it at assemblies, so does NEA. DOE has it in place for students. Urges yes vote.


Class sizes

Arthur GoldsteinMORE—Since our last class size resolution, we’ve given a lot of thought to the idea that all contractual negotiation was the province of the 300 member committee. We acknowledge and understand that position, which is why this resolution makes no mention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and proposes nothing related to it.

Instead, we’re focusing on an existing mandate. This gives us a golden opportunity to support our students and members without touching upon confidential negotiations. It’s been a long time since we’ve taken concrete steps to help the class size situation. In actual fact, it’s been over half a century.
Here’s a way for us to address not only class size, but also the problematic nature of enforcement. Instead of giving teachers a day off from tutoring, let’s offer those who violate the law consequences worthy of lawbreakers. Let’s make recalcitrant principals and DOE lawyers subject to actual law and its consequences. Let’s decisively end the practice of making teachers and students pay when administrators and lawyers who claim to place, “Children First, Always” practice contempt for the law. We can do that right here and right now.

Let’s take this opportunity to show communities and members that we will zealously press for the enforcement of regulations designed to help and support them. Let’s show our colleagues, at this crucial juncture, that union is there to support them. Let’s show city parents that we, the people who wake up every day to work with their children, are the people who really put children first.
And let’s tell politicians who cavalierly ignore the law that we won’t allow them to do it anymore.

Stuart Kaplan—amendment—Strike second to last “Whereas” and first Resolved. Adds Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.

Gregg Lundahl—Asks to strike second to last Whereas (same one) Says there is a difference between C4E and CFE, C4E doesn’t have specific numbers, but there is a great deal of money withheld since 2015. Don’t wish to pay for it in contract negotiations. These are specific numbers. Much more comfortable with our substitute resolution. If we fight to do this for the contract money will have to come from somewhere. Let’s get money from state.

Kiera—Point person for class sizes. Speaks in support of the amendment. Looks at it from negotiation standpoint. Doesn’t want to make class size negotiation public policy.

First strike next to last whereas—Vote.

Passes on party lines.

First resolved—dropped

Passes on party lines.

Additional resolved.

Passes on party lines.

Resolution as amended passes on party lines.

We are adjourned.

RESOLUTION TO REDUCE CLASS SIZES TO C4E LAW LEVELS (actual class size language now stricken)

Whereas, reducing class size has proven to be one of the best ways to improve student learning, lower teacher attrition rates and disciplinary problems, and narrow achievement and opportunity gaps between racial and economic groups; and

Whereas, NYC schools continue to have the largest average class sizes in the state, and NY’s highest court said that our class sizes were too large in our schools to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education; and

Whereas, UFT contractual class size limits continue to be ignored by the DOE; and

Whereas, the DOE uses outlandish “action plans” to address these limits; and

Whereas, the NYC DOE recently reported class sizes have continued to increase this year; and

Whereas, Article 8L in the 2005 Contract called in part for a labor-management committee to discuss lowering class size if Campaign for Fiscal Equity Settlement funding was available; and

Whereas, the 2007 Contracts for Excellence (C4E) law, which settled the CFE case, required NYC to reduce class size in all grades; and

Whereas, the goals for class size in the city’s original C4E plan, approved by the state in the fall of 2007, are for an average of no more than 20 students per class in K-3, 23 in grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes; and

Whereas, the Department of Education has flouted this law flagrantly since 2007; and
Whereas, the DOE gets C4E funding that is often not used to reduce class size; be it therefore

Resolved, that the UFT will make lowering class sizes to the C4E limits of 20 students in a class K-3, 23 in Grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes a major goal; and be it further

Resolved, that funding for this class size reduction should not in any way affect monies for contractual raises for UFT members as the DOE is already receiving C4E money to reduce class sizes from the state.

Added: Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.