Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Kinky Boots, the Rubber Room, and Me

I belong to a TDF sponsored program that sends my students to the theater each year. It took me years of applying, writing, and begging, but I'm really glad I was finally able to get in.

For the last two years, we've seen Wicked, which I love. There's a lot of work involved in taking ELLs to Wicked. First of all, it's based on The Wizard of Oz, and none of them have even heard of it. So I had to show them the whole film, explain it, and then give them enough background on Wicked that they could follow it.

Kinky Boots is easier in one way. They don't need a whole lot of background to understand this particular story. However, it entails a whole lot of cross-dressing, which I'm concerned will bring up a whole lot of prejudice. A lot of students from other countries have quite conservative backgrounds. It's too bad because I'm sure they, like everyone, have their share of various orientations. Who knows how many of them are hiding?

That's not my business as much as teaching tolerance. TDF expects me to give two lessons related to the show, and I guess that will be my goal. I can give them a brief idea of the plot, but I need them to focus on what's happening and somehow preclude their being judgmental. I also have to do this in such a way that keep me out of the rubber room. The show itself is not graphic or anything. A friend suggested it's very PG, and I agree with that.

All my students are victims of prejudice, what with Orange Man in the White House, even if he says some may be good people. He trashes Mexicans, he trashes Muslims, he laments about shithole countries, even as his supporters send bombs to his opponents, march as Nazis and who knows what else. I'm going to try to make them understand prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination.

I will first focus on how there are people who hate us, every one of us, for our nationality, our religion, our color, our gender, or whatever. I'll then introduce the idea of people with various sexual orientations and hope they will see it's no different. It's tough because I sometimes hear a stray comment, where one boy makes fun of another, saying something like, "You have a boyfriend."

A student surprised me the other day. Mma Ramotswe, the lady detective in the book The Number One Ladies Detective Agency, is always saying awful things about men. Men are always running after women, she says, and there are always women in bars willing to go with these men. Doesn't that make women just as bad as she says the men are, I asked?

The student said yes, women are always making problems. That's why he was going to marry a man. I was pretty surprised that the students failed to react to that. Maybe homophobia is dead in that room. I don't know. On the other hand, they boy who said that made a pretty huge generalization about women. I'd rather see people go for pure cynicism and think that no one whatsoever is any good. Then there's no discrimination.

I'm a little concerned, but I think I can do a good job. Maybe I can teach students something other than schoolwork for a change. If you haven't seen the play, you really should. It's life-affirming and funny. I didn't love the soundtrack when I just listened to it, but after seeing the show I really like it a lot. I've seen it available on TDF.

If anyone has any teaching tips, I'm open.

Monday, October 29, 2018

UFT Executive Board October 29th--Contract Voting Results Will Be Released Sunday

6 PM  Secretary Howard Schoor welcomes us.

No speakers


President is not here.

David Kazansky—Last week has been horrific and violent, from pipe bombs to president’s opponent, to two innicents shot in Kentucky, to Tree of Life Synagogue. Asks for moment of silence.

Staff Director’s Report—LeRoy Barr—Sunday is Teacher Union Day. Carmen Alvarez receiving Charles Cogen Award. Asks for votes on November 6. Ballots important. Upcoming resolution on a ballot proposition. Contract voting in progress. Wants ballots by Wednesday. Count on Friday. Bronx Parent Conference coming. DA Nov. 7th. Next Exec Board Nov. 5th.


Mike Schirtzer—Were also verbal attacks by Pres. against migrants, Muslims, Central Americans—DOE has respect for all policy—Can we push chancellor and DOE to make sure they push this policy, perhaps backpack it, considering what’s going on?

Schoor—We will work on that.

Arthur Goldstein—When I was a little boy, we went to the World’s Fair in Queens. They had push button phones and they were amazing. I’ll bet in 1970, when they were installed in UFT offices, they were incredible.

I’m particularly concerned about this because we need to turn our State Senate blue. You probably know that the legislature has passed universal health care for our state each of the last few years, only to have it drop dead in the Senate. We’ve resolved to support universal health care.

In Canada, that’s how they did it. They enacted health care province by province. If we take the first step in New York, maybe California will follow, and someone in Kentucky will wonder why they don’t have it. What would it take to bring our calling centers into the twenty-first century?

Jonathan Halab
i—Thanks for speaking about Louisville and Pittsburgh. Hopes to make a more general statement or resolution.

—Mulgrew had press statement.

—Sentiment is important to put forward. I’m member of UFT Caucus. I support contract, but I’ve heard people voting no have had difficulty putting literature in boxes. Want to make sure, before elections, that DRs get copy of Baserman decision. Says people within school may put teacher caucus material in boxes at any time.

—We have that policy, and last election Mr. Barr took care of it. We will continue.

KJ Ahluwalia—ATR numbers this year compared to last? How do we stand in terms of class violations?

Schoor—UFT paper says class size is down.

Mike Sill—Didn’t bring last year’s number. These are pre-October 15th numbers, Were 800 last year, but now is 874. Expect it will be lower soon.

Schoor—New contract talks about ATRs, and placement, if passed, will begin in September

Michael Mulgrew—Says this week is Teacher Union Day. Would like to celebrate school communities, 100% union and others. This is an election week for us. Tom Murphy isn’t here, but we are becoming more active outside, and are working in NC, NJ, FL. Keep plugging away, please thank them. It’s tough out there. FL Governor race is ugly. We are on front lines. Since Sunday is Teacher Union Day—should we hold election results to Sunday for Teacher Union Day? If we do that, observers must sign confidentiality.

Moved and seconded.

Kate Martin—concerned because members of DA worry over lack of transparency. May alienate people, think they’re holding something, and it might be a bad look.

Arthur Goldstein— I would like to know as soon as possible.

Delores Sozuponi—Thinks celebrating on teacher union day by releasing then is better.

Question called.

Ayes have it, will be released Sunday.

Mulgrew—Still negotiating with DOE about timeline implementations. Major issues are operational committee and para due process. Last week para was suspended without pay due to allegation. Hope to conclude by Friday. Having early contract not norm. Will put out info after contract vote.

Thanks people on campaigns. Very big deal to win Senate. Have to get law changed on test scores being part of evaluation. Don’t want to extend moratorium, want law changed. Need to say NY cannot mandate test scores in teacher evaluation. Thanks everyone doing political work.

Schoor—thanks Executive Board for maintaining confidentiality during Contract Committee. DOE may not be able to, but we can.

Reports from Districts—

Sterling Roberson
—Reports on CTE HS fair Saturday at Westinghouse HS. Many teachers and schools came out. 500 teachers and students, thousands of parents, despite rain. Thanks all.

Paul Egan—Eagles and Chelsea won, ruined by Red Sox winning series.

There are a number of races in the Senate, only one in city we may flip is Marty Golden. We have done a lot of work there. Thanks those working on campaign. Polls are mixed. Brand new voters may be key. Doing phone banks. Working with outside people. Have 73 in district alone. Higher turnout with younger voters, we win. 6,000 members in district.

Have shots in other parts of state—Goren may take Marcelino seat. Bill Larkin’s been in seat for long time, and he was getting democratic vote. Good will doesn’t transfer to current candidate. Looks like another pickup.

Anna Kaplan/ Elaine Phillips is tossup. Turnout could change things. Few of our Suffolk members vote, but we could be up 4 to 6. John Brooks is at risk, but is doing better. Upstate seats also in play.

November 6th is Election Day. Vote to flip Senate.

—Flanagan says NYSUT is evil. COPE money going to our candidates.

Resolution condemning Kavanaugh Confirmation Process

LeRoy Barr—Not about fact that process took place—about what happened during process. Was a sham. Fact that there was an attack on assault survivor is outrageous. We believe survivors. Important we write this and condemn process, and disbelieving survivors. Asks you vote for this.

Kate Martin—Corrects typo in second whereas.

Schoor—Editorial change, done.

Passes unanimously.

Resolution to celebrate 58th anniversary of first UFT strike

George Altamari
—This is a holy recommendation to all those in UFT, in labor, all those who want greater freedom, greater justice. Would’ve been failure without organization, dedication of those who came with merger. Was momentum Action through Unity and Teachers Guild. Were stuck at 1000 members. Together, we had 3,000 out of 50,000 and we had chutzpah to merge. Went into Spring term, Mayor Wagner gave in, and we called off a strike in 1960.

We had time to analyze what we did. When we prepped for first strike we had courage to be tested, but didn’t have a system to turn 3K members into majority of 50K teachers. Used Delaney Cards. District reps were originally chairs, unpaid. We gave them special Delaney cards. Entered with six promises, including right to collective bargaining. Had no lunch period, needed doctor notes to be sick. No class size regs.

When we didn’t get six promises, we voted for merger, for strike. Picked day before Kennedy’s election. We knew we would be fired, but we would see if Democratic Party would help. Law said you lose job and any chance of getting it back. Had 3K of 50K and tackled giants. Relied on those who organized school by school. You could see with Delaney cards who was picketing what.

We hoped to hear from Democratic Party. We didn’t. We were paying half for medicine. We had to strike even though we were fired, and we were. We decided no strike is ever lost, and went on to win.

Passes unanimously.

NYC Charter Amendment proposals

Paul Egan—NYC charters have three pieces on back of ballot. One is three are on back of ballot. Want to encourage members to vote. Recommend first proposal we vote yes. Would reduce amount any one person or organization can give, give voice to small donors and working people.

Passes unanimously

We are adjourned 6:55.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Get Us Two Observations, UFT!

You sing 'em the blues
And then they ask for a happy tune
And when you start to smile they'll say gimme dat rhythm and blues
And when you give 'em dat rhythm and blues they'll simply smile and say
We didn't want to hear you play
We didn't like you any way...

~Ray Davies

I keep hearing that lyric. It reminds me a lot about the number of observations. People everywhere said there were too many observations. I agreed. People feel like they have the Spanish Inquisition marching through their classrooms.

My members complained about it. Even the ones who had supervisors who were Not Insane were on edge until they were over with in May or June. It was unholy and unhealthy. Worse, perhaps, it was stupid. It was a remnant from Reformy John King's original plan. Reformy John said six observations, but only four if you'd take a formal. I think CSA pushed back on that a little.

On the blogs I'd see complaints about it. If you don't get us two observations, UFT, we're gonna opt out of the union. I took that seriously, mostly because it was ridiculous that we were sitting through so many observations for no good reason. I stupidly thought that maybe if we actually won the two observations some of those people might be happy.

I was wrong, of course. We won two observations and people said, hey, why isn't there a maximum on observations? Why didn't you get rid of Danielson? How come we can't roll back time and make things the way they were in 1996? How come we have to still come to work even if we don't feel like it?

The one I really like is how come we didn't reduce class size. I know why we didn't reduce class size. It's because the DOE doesn't give a flying crap about class size. They told me so to my face, after I told them what it was like to teach a class of 50, and yes I have done that. With an oversized class, you get an "action plan" to give you one period of C6 off a week. I told them I needed help right there in the classroom, and the only thing I could do with those 45 minutes was seek therapy for the stress inherent in teaching 50 teenagers. These people who claim to put Children First, Always, only care as long as it doesn't cost any money. They didn't even offer to sell it to us, at least not while I was there, and I honestly don't think it should be teachers paying for something every kid needs anyhow.

I see people jumping up and down about the class size issue. Some of these very same people, when I brought an elaborate class size resolution to the Executive Board, were in my face about it. How dare I bring that up without consulting them first? Who the hell did I think I was. Here's who I thought I was--I thought I was one person bringing something to almost a hundred other people who didn't really want to hear it, and who would not receive it well. I did it anyway because I thought it was the right thing to do.

Now these same people who wanted to know who the hell I thought I was are the champions of class size. How could we possibly present a contract that doesn't win this? In fairness, a lot of these people spent absolutely no time whatsoever attending Executive Board meetings. Not only that, but they didn't bother with the Contract Committee either. Who but they would know better exactly how and what should be done, since they spent not one minute trying to make anything happen?

Those of us serving on Executive Board also fought for parental leave. You have probably heard that UFT members now get six weeks of fully paid parental leave. Once we got it, it was why didn't you get family leave? Why didn't you get the state program? That union's deal is better than our deal, because they got x while we got y. Oh my gosh, if we take the six weeks fully paid parental leave, we may have to work an extra six weeks before we retire! What an unspeakable horror, to have to teach for six weeks.

I'm absolutely certain if we had taken the state program, there would be other objections. Why isn't if fully paid? How come it's this many weeks? Why isn't it that many weeks?

And when you give 'em dat rhythm and blues they'll simply smile and say
We didn't want to hear you play
We didn't like you any way
It's very hard to please the people every single time
But look a little on the sunny side...

For me, the sunny side is this--I don't have to protest absolutely everything. I don't have to insist that because one particular group takes a position, I oppose it. I don't have to insist that because another particular group takes a position I support it either.

I'm chapter leader of a very large school. I have a job, and that job is representing these members. This contract makes most of them pretty happy, and they will vote for it overwhelmingly. In fact, I predict the entire city votes for this overwhelmingly. And yes, the 2005 contract sucked the big one, but that doesn't mean I will absolutely never support another contract.

The new agreement isn't perfect. I didn't get everything I wanted. But the nature of agreements is not that you get everything you want. We have moved forward, though. I want us to move further forward, and I will work to make that happen. I will work with anyone I trust, anyone I think has good intentions.

Honestly, though, we are teachers. Times change, and I change with them. If we aren't willing to change, if we aren't willing to learn, I'm not sure exactly how we are role models for our students and children. I am always looking for ways to get things done. If I find new ways that work I'm glad. The way to get fewer observations, by the way, is is to pass this contract. The way to make members ridiculously happy is to offer them a tremendous step forward in parental leave.

Standing around and screaming this sucks, you suck, and everything sucks, to me, is not a political stance. Refusing to associate with anyone who isn't social justicey enough is absurd. It's also as intolerant as a lot of groups that merit our abhorrence, and more to the point, not the optimal way to make things happen

I don't know about you, but I'm a little busy for that stuff.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Turn and Talk

It's a busy week for me. Not only are we running an election, and not only am I busy correcting misinformation I find all over the net, but I actually have to teach every now and then. Sometimes even more. Okay, I have to teach every day. They pay me to do this stuff, you know.

I'm teaching an advanced class for the first time in ten years. It's not like I haven't done this before. I used to love doing it. I got a real thrill out of introducing newcomers to novels. I would do so until someone else would request the class and then I'd get bounced somewhere else. I was pretty much up for whatever. Since I've been chapter leader, though, I've been teaching the beginners. I really like doing that.

Then the geniuses in Albany did some messing around with the NYSESLAT placement exam. You see, after the introduced Part 154, they needed to prove it was working. So now everyone gets promoted to a higher level. The beginners now are really beginners. No more false beginners. Actually, a whole lot of students in my advanced class would benefit greatly from attending my beginner class. But the test says otherwise.

I've been teaching The Number One Ladies Detective Agency, which I really love. It's been getting mixed reviews from my students, though. On a recent test, I gave a five point question asking what they thought about it. Basically, they could write anything and get credit. One kid wrote something like the book is so boring he couldn't be bothered reading it. I took off five points for that one.

I've been trying to initiate book discussions. The participation wasn't strong enough for my taste. I had a handful of kids who wanted to answer every question and a whole lot of kids who didn't want to do anything, ever. Today, I tried saying something I never said before.

"Do your other teachers tell you to turn and talk?"


"Okay, Turn and talk to a partner. On a scale of one to five, with one being nothing and five being super horrible, how bad is it to steal a car?"

One of the characters in the book had done that, and his wife felt terrible guilt about it. I got much more participation than usual this time. My students gave opinions from one to five. I asked the guy who said five why he did.

"Well, there could be a pregnant woman in the car, and she could be on her way to the hospital."

I never would have thought of that. I'd kind of taken turn and talk as a cliche. I think one of the commenters on this blog called himself that. But I used it a few more times, and it really expanded the participation. I was much happier leaving that book discussion than the others I'd tried to lead.

I do more directed activities with the beginners. Can you swim? Ask him/ her/ me?
Can you dance?
Can you eat 50 hot dogs?

One kid said yes to that yesterday. I hope I'm not around when he does it. That too might be something to turn and talk about.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Blogger's Day Off...

...but you can read my op-ed on the tentative UFT contract right now at City Limits.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why I Support the 2018 UFT Contract

A version of this appears on Diane Ravitch's blog. I may be prejudiced because I was part of the contract committee. I was intent of winning fewer observations, and I was on the evaluation committee, at least for a little while. 

As far as that goes, I was pretty happy with what we worked  out.

I have opposed several UFT contracts. The 2005 contract created the Absent Teacher Reserve, which dropped many of my brothers and sisters into a limbo from which there frequently seems no escape. The last one made us wait until 2020 to get money FDNY and NYPD had back in 2010. Our new tentative contract is not perfect, but also has some significant gains.

On the Contract Committee, we sat as big shots from the DOE told us they were not remotely interested in improving class sizes for NYC’s 1.1 million schoolchildren. I told them what it was like to teach a class of 50 plus. I told them when teachers had oversized classes, their remedy was often to give us one day off from tutoring. Where we needed help, though, was right there in the classroom. I told them the best we could do was use that period to seek therapy to deal with our 50 kids. Via new streamlined processes, this contract should at least shorten the time kids and teachers spend in oversized classes. A similar process has proven very effective with excessive paperwork.

A significant win for teachers is fewer observations. Members have been complaining to me about the frequency of observations ever since the new law came into effect. We all feel the Sword of Damocles hanging above our heads. I don’t really know why I do, because I’m fortunate enough to have a supervisor who’s Not Insane. I think, though, if we want to maintain her ability to stay Not Insane, we have to stop making her write up 200 observations a year.

Of course, this will not resolve the issue of crazy supervisors, something city teachers have been grappling with for decades. While the city plans to institute a screening process for teachers (and we’ll see what that entails) future negotiations need to focus on the issue of self-serving, self-important, foaming-at-the-mouth leaders, likely as not brainwashed by Joel Klein’s toxic Leadership Academy. This contract, at least, will create more work for supervisors who use their positions to exercise personal vendettas.

People who can’t hack teaching don’t want to be responsible for 34 kids at a time. They rise up and become the worst supervisors. They may be lazy, and they may be angry that they have to actually do observations these days rather than simply declaring teachers unsatisfactory. In fact, one principal got caught falsifying observations so as to avoid the effort altogether. Supervisors like that will now have to do additional observations if they rate teachers poorly. They may now think twice now that it can cut into their Me Time. Also, we’ve got new language to deal with supervisory retaliation.

Our new agreement gives long needed due process to paraprofessionals. I’ve seen three paraprofessionals summarily suspended by principals. One of them was able to recoup lost pay via a grievance I helped her file. Another said goodbye to me, and ten days later had a stroke. I received a call in my classroom saying one of her relatives needed to know whether or not to place her in an ambulance, since her health insurance had been discontinued. I was at a rare loss for words. The secretary on the other end of the phone wasn’t, and told the relative yes, of course, put her in the ambulance, The paraprofessional died later that day.

To me, it’s remarkable that paraprofessionals, who spend all day helping the neediest of our students, are not considered pedagogues and therefore ineligible to win tenure. Our new agreement will grant them due process rights they sorely need. No longer will principals be able to suspend them without pay indefinitely based on allegations. There will be rules for when they can be suspended, there will be time limits, and there will be a process, rather than, “Hey you, get lost, and don’t come back until I feel like having you back.” Paraprofessionals deserve more than what we’ve won for them, but this, at long last, is a start.

I’ve read arguments that we should strike, like we’ve seen in red states. We are very different from teachers in red states, who’ve been under “right to work” forever, and for whom collective bargaining may be prohibited. We aren’t making 30K a year and getting food stamps to make ends meet. We haven’t gone a decade without a raise. We aren’t paying an extra 5K more each year for health insurance. In fact, unlike much NY State, we aren’t paying health premiums at all. With our last two contracts, and with no health premiums, our pay is approaching that of some Long Island districts (without the doctorate some of them need), something I’ve not seen in my three plus decades as a teacher.

I’ve read a lot of critiques about the money. We extended our contract last year to enable parental leave for UFT members. The same critics who complained about how that diluted raises from the last contract are now attaching it to this one, making it look like the contract begins months before it actually does. That’s disingenuous. (Now don’t get me wrong, I’m fond of money, and I’d like to have more. I’m writing this on a MacBook that’s partially held together with Scotch Tape.)

Some people are saying the raises don't keep up with inflation. This may or may not be true, depending on which index you use. I know very well, though, that we are getting the pattern established by DC37. I also know exactly how we beat the pattern, which we did in 2005. We do that via givebacks. I’ve already mentioned the ATR. 2005 also brought us extended time. We could agree to more extra time, higher class sizes, or more extra classes, and the city would probably pay us for that. I can assure you that every person I know who opposes this contract would be up in arms about them, as would I. Right now we can’t afford to give back anything.

Concessions about the ATR were the worst thing about the 2014 contract. Thankfully, they expired and were not renewed. The second worst thing, as I recall, was having to wait ten years for money we’d earned. We could’ve had an on-time contract if only leadership agreed to sell out the ATR. UFT hung tough and refused. I don’t like waiting for money, but agreeing to allow ATR members to lose their jobs after a certain amount of time would’ve been a disaster. Any crazy principal could target any activist teacher, and we could’ve been fired at will.

I’d very much have liked to see class size reduced. I’d still like to see class size reduced, and I will work toward that. I also have no idea why we support mayoral control. (I don’t even know why de Blasio wants it, now that the state has hobbled his ability to stop Eva, forcing him to pay her rent.)

Nonetheless, this contract represents significant improvements for us. Chapter leaders, all of whom are sick of the grueling grievance procedure, will now have alternate means to quickly resolve issues involving class size, safety, curriculum, PD, supplies, and workload. Those of us who represented high schools on the UFT Executive Board pushed for fewer observations as per state law, and we were able to work with leadership to achieve it. Those of us on the UFT Contract Committee agreed that we wanted to improve the lot of 30,000 paraprofessionals, and we were able to move in that direction.

I support this contract, and I will encourage my colleagues to do so as well. This is the best contract we’ve seen in decades. It will pass by an overwhelming margin.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Teachers, ELLs, and What the NY State Board of Regents Hath Wrought

Yesterday I gave two PD sessions at 52 Broadway. The title of my workshop was The Affective Filter and How to Avoid it. I probably should have changed it to something more sexy because it was not all that well attended. I think the morning session had 10 participants and the afternoon had only six.

The workshop focused on the theories of Dr. Stephen Krashen, who's all about comprehensible input. Krashen says, and I agree, that the only way people acquire language is to actively use it, via input that's workable and comprehensible. Krashen says that input ought to be at, or a little above, the student level. He also says that when things get too difficult, veritable walls go up.

Part of my PD involved giving a paper that was virtually impossible to understand. Participants certainly responded as expected. They hated every minute they had to read this thing. I offered them an annotated version, which helped them to understand it. I offered another paper that explained what the first paper was about. Finally, I broke it down into far simpler ideas via a Keynote presentation.

Sometimes, if you have to teach something that's very tough, you can break it down for your students. Other times it's far more difficult. Because of the very small class sizes, we had pretty extensive participation. I repeatedly heard stories for ESL teachers who were in five different classes with five different teachers.

This was seen differently by new teachers and a veteran. There was only one veteran participant, actually, and she taught elementary. She contrasted what she used to do, which was pulling out students, to the new push-in model. She said when she was alone with the students, she was able to support their use of English. She was able to have genuine interactions and help them build confidence. Now she was expected to push in to the classes of multiple teachers.

There was no time to plan with these teachers because there were so many of them, and also because she did not share free periods with them. She said she tried her best, but the limits of trying to make multiple children at multiple levels understand material that was utterly unsuited for them made her task impossible.

The issue of students at multiple levels being grouped together seemed to bedevil every participating teacher. They are ELLs, so let's dump them all in that class. This is probably made worse by the idiotic mandate that ELLs in the same class be no more than one year apart. Thus, you can't place a freshman in a class with a junior. How do you deal with that issue? Just dump all freshman with all sophomores, and dump all juniors with all seniors. Problem solved.

One teacher running around to five different classes told me that she was afraid to complain because she didn't have tenure. I told her to come and tell her story in the ELL focus group that meets monthly at UFT. Actually I told several of the teachers to do that. I would love to see them tell their stories to the whole group. What the NY State Regents have done to  ELLs with their mindless reworking of Part 154 is an abomination. Their notion that we offer direct English language instruction only so that our students can do better in core courses shows utter English of not only language acquisition, but also common sense.

The best language learners in the world are children. Unless Eva brainwashes them very early, children are not primarily concerned with taking tests. Kids want to share and talk and play. That's a quality, we hope as parents, that will linger into adulthood. Of course we want our kids to do well in school, but first and foremost we hope they're happy. It's beyond remarkable that the Regents have no interest in that.

On a side note, I met an occasional commenter to the blog. He introduced himself and we talked for a while. He said, "You talk just like you write." I've been told that before, actually. Ultimately, it sounds like a good thing. Still, there are thousands of ELLs in NYC that can neither talk nor write in English. When we dump them into native ELA classes and tell them, "Read to page 37 of To Kill a Mockingbird by Tuesday, we aren't doing them any favors.

I'm not sure what will rouse the tone-deaf, callous, ignorant, and self-satisfied Board of Regents, but I'm thinking torches and pitchforks might be a good start.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Vote Yes

 by Mike Schirtzer

Full Paid Parental Leave For Six Weeks-✔
Two Observations-✔
Strong Protections From Abusive Administrators-✔
Raises for Paras and Due Process-✔
Healthcare for Every UFT Member Without Paid Premiums-✔
Enforce Class Size Limits-✔

Educators and union workers around the country are under attack. The Supreme Court just ruled against unions. Members can receive all the benefits of being in a union without having to pay dues. Charter schools here in NYC have terrible conditions, where teachers work long hours, have horrible medical insurance, and hardly anyone stays around very long. That’s what life is like without unions. Our new contract strengthens our union and our rights.

Let’s face facts--compared to educators around the country, we in the UFT have it good. We still have workplace protections that most don't, we still have a contract, and we still get regular raises and healthcare without paid premiums. The raises of 2% in February 2019, then 2,5%, and 3 percent are fair. We could have had higher raises, but it would have been at the expense of our paraprofessionals. Instead, the negotiating committee decided to better compensate paraprofessionals with $1,200 after 5 years  and over $3,000 after 15 years.

We all sacrificed a little. Perhaps we all get a little bit lower raise,  but compare what 3% is for those of us making $60,000 or more with the same 3% raise paraprofessionals would receive for their $25,000 salary. The sacrifice is worth it to benefit our 30,000 brothers and sisters working as paras.

Don’t forget UFT members now have fully paid parental leave for moms, dads, adoptive parents and foster parents for 6 weeks. Many around the state only get half pay. That’s another victory we fought for and won.

The Federal Reserve bank says an acceptable rate of inflation is 1 to 1.5% and when this contract was being negotiated that’s what it was. It is not the fault of UFT or the city that the extreme right wing federal policies of drastically cutting taxes for the wealthy and large corporations, while raising tariffs on things working people like us use every day has caused  inflation that now exceeds our raises. We can vote in the upcoming elections for some rational politicians to get the inflation rate back down below 2%.
Finally paraprofessionals will get enhanced due process rights many of us have always had. With this contract, they can no longer be suspended without pay if an administrator makes a false accusation, as has happened in many schools. Paras are mostly women and many are women of color. The way they have been treated and their low wages are inexcusable. Thanks to our new contract this will change for the better.

We were elected to the Executive Board of the UFT to represent high schools. It’s the 100 member decision making body of the union. We pushed really hard for paid parental leave and for two observations. This is what our members wanted, and this is what we delivered. Members also wanted stronger language in the contract to protect against abusive administrators. The new contract has an anti-retaliation clause that states the work environment must be “free of harassment, intimidation, retaliation and discrimination” or it will result in a investigation and consequences for administrators that violate it. DOE fought very hard against this, because it gives us another level of protection and actually holds abusive principals and APs accountable. There are only two observations for effective and highly effective rated teachers with one that must be completed by the end of the fall term. Last year, throughout the city most observations were done in May, which made the process a complete joke.

You may have received a vote no flyer or seen posts online from a faction within the UFT that ran against UFT President Mulgrew in the last union election. I was one of the leaders of that  group. I became dismayed when they started a vote no plan against the contract and “preparations” for an unrealistic strike before they even saw the proposals. They did not join the contract negotiating committee, take part in the process, nor did they communicate with members of their own group that were on the negotiating committee. Go around your school and ask how many members want to sacrifice two days pay for every one day by going on strike. Ask how that beats inflation. Ask parents barely making ends meet, without paid vacations or pensions, without fully paid parental leave or time with their children how they’d feel seeing their kids with no place to go on weekdays. Ask parents with no pay for extra hours of work or weekends, no contract, no lunch breaks, and no due process if they'll support a no vote against this contract or better yet a strike. Imagine how they will react.

Class-size is out of control around the city. The legal limits are being violated year in and year out. Our students, parents, teachers, and guidance counselors deserve better than oversized classes. The old process doesn't work. UFT fought hard and won new procedures to have these violations be sent directly to the superintendent and resolved quickly, rather than wait for the failed arbitration process. Schools that have oversized classes every year will now get special attention from the DOE and UFT, in order to ensure it stops happening. Let’s give the new process a chance before simply condemning it outright.

The contract is not perfect, but bargaining is give and take on both sides. We’ve met many educators from around the country at union conventions, grading sites, and professional developments that tell us they wish they had the union and contract protections that we have. Our union is under existential attack, and even under so we maintain our rights. Our union is listening to members, to us,  and fighting for what we want. This contract shows when we struggle together we win together.
       New salaries: Raises of 2%, 2.5% and 3% produce a three-year compound rate of 7.7 percent, above expert predictions of inflation of 6.2 percent (Federal Reserve Bank) and 6.8 percent (International Monetary Fund).
       At the end of the contract period, new teachers will earn $61,070; teachers with a master’s and 10 years of experience will earn $101,441; and the new top salary will be $128,657. The new contract raises are in addition to lump-sum payments negotiated as part of 2014 contract, including the payment this month and others payable in October of 2019 and 2020.
       More money for Paraprofessionals -receive raises of over $1,200 for 5 years service and another $1,200 for 15 years in addition to other 2%, 2.5% and 3% salary raises
       Paid parental leave: No changes to the paid parental leave agreement won in June.
       Health care: While a national survey (Kaiser Employer Survey, 2017) showed that U.S. employees pay an average of more than $5,700 per year for family health care coverage, UFT-represented employees — thanks to the citywide agreement reached earlier this year with all municipal unions — continue to have access to premium-free health care coverage.
The proposed contract breaks new ground in workplace improvements and the voice it gives educators:
       Reduces the number of principal observations for the vast majority of educators.
       Creates a faster process to resolve class size overages earlier in the school year. For schools that are do not reach quick resolutions, arbitrators will have the authority to impose a remedy. No more ridiculous “action plans” from Tweed.
       Provides additional compensation for paraprofessionals and gives them much greater due process rights.
       Creates a way for chapter leaders to fight for improvements in safety, curriculum, workload, space and other working conditions.
       Protects UFT-represented employees from retaliation and harassment by administrators for highlighting school problems. If not resolved, an independent arbitrator will now make the final determination.
       ATR assignments will now be made at the beginning of the school year rather than after Oct. 15. An ATR’s salary will no longer affect the average salary calculation of a school that hires the ATR.
Schirtzer is a social studies teacher at Leon M. Goldstein High School. He also serves as a member of UFT Executive Board, High School Division. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Giant Steps

My friend's son is in high school now. I've known him since he was a little boy. He's disabled, and some things that we take for granted don't come easily to him. Nonetheless, he's very charming and I'm happy every time I see him.

He hit a kind of milestone a few weeks ago by getting an actual job. This is something he's never done before. He's had training, in school, and I suppose at home, but he's pretty much spent his whole life under the watchful eyes of teachers and family. There were a lot of things involved in having a job that he'd never encountered before.

The first thing he had to do was take a bus, by himself, to the workplace and back. His mom was totally freaked out over that. "He'll be fine," I said, and so did everyone else. But you know how moms are.

She decided he would do a practice run to make sure her son didn't get lost and go who knows where. She set up Google maps so that the entire family could keep tabs on one another. And just in case that proved insufficient, after he got on the bus she got in her car and followed him. After a while she felt silly doing that, so she passed the bus and went home.

"I saw your car while I was on the bus," her son told her.

"No, that wasn't me," she said. "Lots of cars look like mine."

"Maybe," he said. "But I checked you on Google maps and you were in that car that looked like yours."

"I'm sorry," she said. "I was nervous."

When the big day arrived, Mom decided to let him go on his own. This time she checked Google maps and her son was exactly where he was supposed to be. She had arranged to pick him up that evening. The manager came out to speak to her.

"He said he was tired and hungry," she said. "Please give him a good meal next time, or we might not need him anymore."

This was no good, Mom thought. She had a long talk with her son.

"Why did you tell the manager you were tired and hungry?" she asked.

"Because I was tired and hungry," he said. "You don't want me to lie, do you?"

She realized that he had never been in a situation before where he couldn't simply say what he wanted. In school, even at worksites, he could always speak to a teacher, and the teacher always understood. Maybe the prep he'd gotten wasn't perfect after all.

"This is different," she told him. "When you are in school, everyone wants to help you. But when you are at work, your bosses are just concerned with getting the work done. Maybe you can talk about how you feel after work. You can sleep if you want. You can eat if you want. But if you're working, you need to do your job."

After a while, he understood.

The next day, he had slept very well. He had a big meal before he went to work.

Mom went to pick him up. The boss had good news.

"He did a great job today. First, he apologized for yesterday, and said it would never happen again. I told him we could have a fresh start and he was very happy. Now I'm very happy too. I think this will work out fine."

Mom is still freaked out, of course. But not as much as before.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Today's Quote

I'm actually quite fond of Andy Borwitz's work, He writes these headlines that are amazing, so close to the truth yet accentuating the absurdity we all know to be there. I find myself asking, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?"

I guess if I had I'd be writing for the New Yorker, like him, rather than for NYC Educator, like me. But this was a tough thing for me to read. There's this thing Americans do--we blame education or lack thereof for many, many things. Sometimes it's true, but not all the time.

I took this a a bash on teachers, and I was not at all happy about it. I've grown kind of used to teacher-bashers, seeing them everywhere, on all media, and coming sometimes from people I'd think would support us. Borowitz bashing teachers is really awful.

When I posted this on Facebook, a lot of people told me I misunderstood this quote. He's not bashing teachers, they say. He's attacking the people in charge of the educational system. Maybe. Maybe he's focused on Bill Gates and Common Core. I mean. Bill Gates certainly sucks, as do all those vital programs that are good enough for our children but not his. Maybe he's talking about Betsy DeVos, whose programs have served to cripple public education in much of Michigan, and dump it in a dark hole somewhere in Detroit.

I did a search to find context for this quote, but I've thus far located nothing. In fact, a lot of people have written about this quote, but I can't find anything that isn't attached to this picture. Perhaps he didn't even say it. I checked Snopes and didn't find it there either.

We live in a world enthralled by video. The other day I was in a restaurant, and I was pretty surprised to see a small family in which the kids were eating and Mom was texting like there was no tomorrow. A family issue? A lover? Who knows? I have no more idea of what she was doing than I do of Borowitz's intentions, if indeed he said that thing.

I'm not sure that I'd head right to education to explain Trump voters. I'd link it with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine by Ronald Reagan.  The media used to be required to present both sides of an issue, but they aren't anymore. Hence the arrival of Fox News, which has more or less brought the lunatic fringe mainstream. People sit rapt in front of their televisions and listen to propaganda all day long.

These are funny times we are living in. In 1984 I was in East Berlin. An English teacher there told me they sold Pravda on every corner, but no one ever bought it. Fox News is Pravda for Americans. I don't know whether or not they pretend to be "fair and balanced" any more, but I talk to a whole lot of people who seem to pick their arguments up from there.

I don't teach kids to read propaganda. I try to teach them to think for themselves. I'm delighted when they see fit to argue with me. But I'm in competition with 200 video games and who knows what else. Anyway, if Borowitz said it, and if it was directed at us, that's not a fair critique. If it's directed at the people who try to control us with crap like Common Core, I understand.

And if any reader can track down where this quote came from,. what the context was, or even whether or not it's legitimate, I'd very much appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Chalkbeat, Arithmetic, and the Pattern

Chalkbeat departed from its wall to wall coverage of Eva Moskowitz and Educators4Excellence the other day to take a peek at those of us who work in what they call "district schools," and what you and I call "public schools." You see, it's important for Chalkbeat to employ the reformy lingo, and try to work it into the mainstream, just as it's important for Fox News to write up the nonsense that comes from the lunatic fringe and hope mainstream media thinks it's real.

I promised arithmetic, though, and my math teacher friends are sitting on the edge of their seats wondering how I will screw it up. I don't promise not to, but I'm pretty sure I can't rival Chalkbeat:

Unlike the first contract under Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in 2014, the pay increases included in the new contract are marginal. In that contract, starting teacher pay jumped by almost 20 percent — nearly $10,000 — because city teachers had gone without an updated contract for five years.

Now that's interesting. Not only that, but it's also partially correct. Well, except for the part that makes the last contract look like it paid more than this one. You see, it's true that we had gone without an updated contract for five years. What Chalkbeat couldn't be bothered checking out was that the new contract was for nine years. 

I'm going by memory here, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but what we got was first, the double four percent raises that NYPD and FDNY got. In addition to that, we tacked on 10% for seven years. Now here's where the promised arithmetic comes in---We got 4, plus 4, plus 10. That adds up to 18. If you divide that by 9, that means we got 2 percent a year. 

Except the other thing Chalkbeat couldn't be bothered with was the fact that much of this was deferred. For example, this week most of us got a pretty nice check we probably earned 8 years ago. Now if you take the three raises, 2, plus 2.5, plus 3, and divide that by 43 months, well, that's not as easy as 18 divided by two so I'm not gonna bother. But actually, it's about the same, and we don't have to wait ten years for it, which almost certainly makes it worth more.

I have read a lot about how it doesn't keep up with inflation, and I cannot argue that point. I will argue another, though, one that Chalkbeat couldn't be bothered with, and that is New York City has done pattern bargaining for around forever. In this century at least, the only way we've beaten the pattern was via givebacks. We beat the pattern in 2005, for example. 

All we had to do in 2005 to beat the pattern was work extra hours, enable the ATR, give up the right to grieve letters to the file, and I don't recall just what else off the top of my head. What I do recall is that the 2005 contract made me quite aware of union and turned me slowly into an activist. And it's quite clear to me that we cannot afford givebacks. You'd better believe that the same people screaming about how the new agreement sucks would be out with torches and pitchforks if there were givebacks, even for money.

There are gains in this contract, but you won't hear about them from its critics. Some of the same people who screamed for two observations now don't seem to care about them at all, and I have to tell you that is disappointing. It's particularly disappointing because I worked pretty hard to try and get this. To me it's a win. A lot of members I see face to face tell me they are happy about it. I don't know what to say to internet voices who demanded this for years and are unhappy now that we've got it. 

In any case, you won't be reading any of this in Chalkbeat. Here's what you will read, in another Chalkbeat piece full of the same errors as the last one:

City teachers will now be able to opt out of supporting the United Federation of Teachers, a dynamic that crept into UFT members’ reactions to the contract deal.

Hey, I'll bet the Walmart Family and Bill Gates, both of whom contribute to Chalkbeat, adore their allusions to union-busting. I'll bet they love watching Chalkbeat made transparently false comparisons of this contract to the last one, and I'll bet they love seeing the same writer trash our union using the same misinformation in two articles one after the other.

I wrote to Chalkbeat, and asked why they didn't write about fewer observations, or enhanced due process for paraprofessionals. I got a letter back saying that they didn't know about the paras. It hadn't been released until Friday, so they didn't know. But I released that info on Thursday, right here.


That's a tweet from Ben Chapman, education reporter for the New York Daily News. He's linking to this blog on Thursday, when I released highlights from the contract, after the city did pretty much the same. Evidently no one at Chalkbeat reads this blog. Evidently they don't follow the New York Daily News education reporter on Twitter. You know, if I were an education reporter, I would read teacher blogs and follow Ben Chapman on Twitter. In fact, I'm not an education reporter and I do both.

I guess I just don't have what it takes to make it in the big time reformy Chalkbeat news biz. My arithmetic is too good. I don't like to brag, but I happen to be a high school graduate. My teachers told me that would pay off one day and look, they were right after all.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Blogger's Day Off...

...but feel free to read about why I support the new Collective Bargaining Agreement over at Diane Ravitch's place.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

On Observations and Sandwiches

Members of the UFT High School Executive Board have been very focused on observations. As chapter leader of the largest school in Queens, I get frequent complaints about them. In fact, I've made some myself. On blogs I've seen demands for two, the state minimum. I thought that was a very fair ask, and I worked both publicly and behind the scenes to try to make that happen.

We now have an agreement that achieves this goal for a great many teachers. I'm very happy about it, and I'm very proud to have played a role, directly or otherwise, in having made this happen. In fact, a few months ago, we brought a resolution to this effect at Executive Board. This was debated fiercely on both sides.

LeRoy Barr said he was not taking a side, but that this issue should be relegated to the Contract Committee. Others said this was a terrible idea because more observations tend to result in more favorable ratings. People spoke passionately on this issue. I was a little confused, because our resolution called for additional observations only for those who were not rated effective or higher.

Carol Burris, former principal of South Side High School, and current Executive Director of the Network for Public Education, told me she used to observe her teachers once a year. If they were doing well and no complaints came forward, she didn't feel she needed to revisit them. She would do additional observations only if teachers needed further support. That made sense to me. The current NY State Law mandates two, which doesn't make as much sense, but we had to go with that as a minimum.

Thoughtful supervisors I know will observe people and tell them look, this was a bad day, let's try this another time. Boy Wonder supervisors (and despite the name, they come in all genders) will walk in on a day when there are 20 minute classes and write you up because half the students are out cutting at the Pep Rally, where there's free food or whatever.

Boy Wonder supervisors don't do things like giving teachers second chances. Lots of them are lazy, wanting to get away with as little as possible. If I'm Boy Wonder, I may be observing you, but what I'm really thinking about is going to Arby's and using my coupons on the new Roast Beef, Cheddar, and Artichoke Heart Sandwich with Ecstasy Sauce. I can get two for six bucks. Each and every time I have to observe you means two fewer sandwich.

Every time I rate a teacher developing under the new system, that's two fewer sandwiches for me. If I rate a teacher ineffective, holy crap, that will cost me six sandwiches. Oh, and if I hire a new teacher instead of an ATR, that's four sandwiches a year, for each one, and for four years! So by using this new program, we give Boy Wonder an incentive to sit at Arby's, eat whatever that thing in the photo may be, and leave you alone.

On the other hand, there is a possibility, believe it or not, that you could have a supervisor who, you know, wants to do his or her job, and maybe help you. A supervisor like that could come in multiple times and show you things that may be worth knowing. I have had supervisors like that. The second supervisor I had was kind of like that. I was an English teacher, teaching music, with no experience. He would sit down and talk to me and say things like, "Fake it until you make it." He also gave me advice on specific things I could do to get closer to the latter.

The smart supervisors we have need to focus on helping those who need it. They can do the required two for everyone else. The crazy supervisors are another issue altogether. The only viable solution, as far as I can tell, is to put them all in a large room with the DOE lawyers and let them make each other miserable for all eternity.

That's kind of a win-win. DOE legal and Boy Wonders can yell and scream to their hearts' content for all eternity, and the rest of us can, you know, do our jobs.

Friday, October 12, 2018

UFT Delegate Assembly Votes to Send Contract to Rank and File for Ratification

4:29 UFT President Michael Mulgrew asks for a delay to allow more people to enter.

4:48  Mulgrew welcomes us. Official order of business—Mulgrew makes a motion for the agenda to be the UFT Contract—passes

Asks new delegates to stand up. Many do and are applauded.

Mulgrew thanks them for taking on this role and getting involved. Says that’s why we are strong. Workers under attack, people don’t believe we should have voice, process, or collective bargaining rights.

Mulgrew starts presentation about new contract. Says all registered delegates now have entire MOA in email. Thanks attorney Adam Ross for getting it done quickly.

Says union changed way it negotiated. Trained people. Many unions no longer do negotiations and use law firms. UFT trained many people. Did not use single lawyer from outside, not done since 1962. We have 400 member negotiating committee. Negotiated across summer. Members went face to face with DOE. Told truth to their lies.

Decisions made by committee drove all we did. Had to make tough decisions, e.g. class size. Years ago UFT gave up raise to lower class size limits. Committee voted against doing that and decided to give more emphasis to rights we had. DOE likes to mess around and doesn’t clear up Sept. until March or April.

We will debate here, but entire committee recognized that paraprofessionals needed things achieved. First they are lowest paid workers. % increase therefore didn’t mean much to them. Also they had very little due process. In last years of Bloomberg they used that as intimidation tool. Suspended without pay for yelling, would be without pay for years. More and more frequent. Thought new admin would stop but was accelerated by Bloomberg era lawyers.

Sorry font is so small but you may read MOA. Calls Tom Murphy, CL of retirees.

Murphy—We want to say while elected retiree delegates have right to vote on whatever comes before this body, we want in service folks to speak and vote, since it doesn’t directly affect us.

Mulgrew—Usually we would talk about how this DA works at first meeting, but we are deciding not to approve or not, but whether to send it to membership. Retirees inside of this body do have the right to debate and vote, though CL asks they do not.

Sent out surveys last year. Collected results. Used them as priorities. Goal was to empower people at the workplace. Bloomberg was like fighting in the streets, but this time we wanted day to day work to be better environment. Working conditions and collaboration were priorities.

We hate when reformers tell us what to do. Always wrong anyway. Maybe admin needs feedback.

Compensation. 2%, 2.5, 3 Based on DC37, wanted to elongate and add value.

There are longevity boosts. 1200 paras 500 all with salary lower than 100K, and others effective February. Lump sum remains in place, not part of negotiation.

Teacher starting salary goes from 56 to 61K. MA + 30 119-128

New rights at school level. Safety, curriculum, PD, supplies, workload, space—
Based on new process for paperwork complaints. At first it didn’t move, We boosted it up. Formed aggressive committee at central. Were largely resolved quickly. CL can now bring these issues and principal has five days to remedy. If they do not, it goes to superintendent, and district rep. None came to me because they all got dealt with.

Every school has to organize and have a committee to use this tool. We are extremely proud of this. Principals probably calling saying they hate this.

Safety—always top three issues. Went from zero tolerance to kid throws a chair, let’s talk about feelings. We agree with neither. Principals were told not to suspend. We decided to boost process. We needed change in contract. DOE doesn’t want CL to see OORS reports. Now they can.

Will be more deans, up to 3 for 1500 with no SBO. CL now gets all of safety plan. Will be new standards, based on state law, chancellor’s regs and our contract. Chancellor’s regs require real student removal process in every school. SAVE room is in NY State Law. Now will be covered.

Faster class size process. Now average for remedy is 4-8 months. That is absurd. People get class sizes remedied in March. Teachers say leave kid by then. We understand lower class sizes lead to better outcomes. Had to change system. Principal has ten days to fix, then goes to supe who has another ten days, then it goes to central committee until all are remedied or going into arbitration. We believe 90% will be remedied early, leaving us opportunity to use arbitration days. Now we have to choose and prioritize. We believe they force ridiculous cases on purpose so we can lose days. Will now be six class size grievances a day. We will save many days.

Before, arbitrator had to accept ridiculous city proposals, now arbitrator will tell DOE what they may do. This is major game changer.

In the end, our members may not want to get involved. Our harassment language in contract allowed us to go to arbitration, but arbitrator was bound that decision was just recommendation. Worked well for decades. No one thought that when arbitrator deemed harassment, that employer would do nothing. We presented so much evidence we embarrassed and shamed UFT. We have retaliation and harassment language that is much stronger. Now, whatever arbitrator rules, goes. Principal can get letter in file.

Paras—due process rights, Personnel file rights, parity with teacher grievance, no longer taken off payroll because principal says there is allegation against you. Now that can only happen for same reasons as teachers. Can only be held off for 60 days without arbitration. Days of abusing and intimidating paras are over.

Prose plus—City said with new chancellor, they loved Prose. Said there was myth they didn’t like it. Mulgrew said he’d heard it, and previous chancellor didn’t like it. Said they wanted to send statement they valued it. They came up with idea, but Mulgrew wanted something different. Prose schools more than two years can apply and take votes of confidence or no confidence—important when new principals come in. We never know what they’ll do. If they’re uncooperative they have option to leave.

City wants to try remote teaching pilot for AP for all. Many not good at this. DeVos invested. We will try as pilot. Class size lower than regular groups. Want to see what happens. Should be under control of teachers. If it works, we might enhance.

New teacher leader positions. Always like to expand where members can do work other than instruction. Would hope people who do this would be at top of list to run schools, having proven they can work and collaborate with others.

Evaluation—DOE let this go to last. Resolved 2:30 AM Wednesday morning. We tried to see who liked which part and go to them. DOE went from 6 to 4, said they wouldn’t move any more. Became contentious, we didn’t understand because there was only a minimum, no maximum. Last contract, priority was retro pay, this time was evaluation.

City and mayor and chancellor wanted Bronx plan. DOE did not. We said we can’t move on Bronx plan unless eval goes where we need it. Finally that worked. They wanted good scores on domain 3 to have two. We envisioned bad results, and that this would be all anyone worried about. HE and E 2X is 2.. Prob and D 4. I 5. Over 90% of membership now falls into 2. You said you wanted this. Thanks committee.

We also got a joint training at every worksite in beginning of year. DOE opposed. Odd because this is good management practice. We now have observation windows and cycles. Over 80% have been done in April and May. How does that help?

At end new Deputy Chancellor agreed eval is broken, done as compliance exercise, people need to feel safe, and feel good about observations. We appreciate she will try. Everyone is going to be retrained.

Bronx collaborative schools—majority in Bronx but not all. Mayor wanted to make statement that Bronx faced challenges. Mayor wanted to face this. Wanted to take on most challenging situation. Reformers never want to touch it, wanted to see if he could do something before leaving office. Gives him great credit for doing this.

Will be set of criteria, collaboratively designed. Not just for “struggling” schools. After schools are chosen, they will need CL and principal’s approval. Will not waste time on schools that are not collaborative. Decision making must be by consensus, not caveat. Differential only one tool, may be subject area or title. Can be used by all UFT members. May be need for math teachers, or to retain math teachers. Is a pilot, sunsets with this agreement. If we fail, you can imagine what Betsy DeVos and reformers will say. But they would never go near this.

MA plus 30 most used differential. More options for lower cost credits. Joint UFT/ DOE control on selecting and approving. Want education schools to teach things that mirror what we actually do. Piaget’s theories are not altogether useful. Let’s approve things that are practical, like CTLE. Make them A plus credits. DOE will give at least 3 CTLE during work day. These will not be A plus, though.

Pre-employment screening—DOE does not need UFT agreement for this. They said this would be like fingerprinting. New teachers are mandated already to do two days of prep in August. DOE can require them to do it outside of work day. DOE wanted four days of training. Agreed if they used mandated days during school year. Already lost 100 teachers this year. People don’t understand the stress.

Contract Feb 19-Sept. 2022.

Mulgrew wants motion to extend meeting.

Motion proposed—we accept MOA for general membership for vote.

Mulgrew—floor open for discussion.
Shelvy Abrams—chair paraprofessionals—says it’s no-brainer. Thanks 400 member committee and leaders who negotiated. For first time I sat across table with other functional leaders. If you agree paras should get due process, congratulate them. Took us 50 years to get here. Shouldn’t be any questions. If we vote it down it’s the end of the train. Vote it up. No other way

Mulgrew—Wants members to have facts in hands, not interpretation. That’s why MOA went out to entire membership.

CL—Against motion to vote, would rather do questions first.

Passes. Will be question period. One question each. Mulgrew extends from 10 to 15 with permission from body.

Q—reps members who get s and u. How many observations for us?

A—Two S—2  U-5

Q—Spoke about para due process. What about paras now suspended?

A—Continuing conversations about speeding this up. City also wants to speed up provisions. We are early, so it’s possible.

Q—Bronx plan sounds great, but if I go to school I don’t like where it doesn’t work can I go back?

A—You can still leave, but you have one year right of return.

Q—If you work with math example and ESL and math teachers work with them…

A—directly tied to license and title.

Q—What about space? Many classrooms not conducive to learning.

A—We know schools don’t have space, and others have it but leaders don’t know how to use. We have schools over 200%, but some with available space. Now they must use it. Supe and DR will enforce.

Q—What did we have to give up to get contract?

A—No givebacks in contract.

Q—Shared space—in school with multiple principals where they won’t give space back—

A—Shame we have to enforce getting children out of bad situations but we will.

Q—What is UFT doing for special ed teachers overworked with meetings, IEP?

A—Workload now covered under new process. Bring to principal or CL.

Q—Why not close gaps for physical therapists?

A—DOE and OLR said that title not something they wanted to give more, except for raises. We created longevity for that chapter. Just because we demand doesn’t mean they say yes. Said they’re over other agency PT and OT.
Q—Staff delighted by evaluation. Can they choose formal?

A—E and HE all informal. Maybe teacher can request. We assume serious principals would adhere, if not would be evidence principal not doing job.

Q—Who is labor management committee?

A—CL decides. DOE wanted principal to choose UFT members. Recommends process.

Q—Is there anything about freedom of teacher to use chosen methodology?

A—I would tie that to PD and curriculum. We don’t believe in scripted approach. Evidence says it doesn’t produce good results.

Motion to extend question period—fails

Mulgrew—motion to recommend to membership for vote. Open to discussion and debate.

Q—What does Bronx thing have to do with Renewal schools?


Janella Hinds—Asks for support to move forward. Contract negotiated by membership who sat across from DOE. Said what we want to see I evaluation system. We have better system because of work of union. Committee was willing to see change, but wanted protections. Hopes members will support this contract.

Erica Brown, para, supports contract. Wants to send to membership. Due process big opportunity. Asks for support.

Scott McMillan—CL—Opposes motion—meeting called suddenly. Not enough time to read 63 pages. Told these things are good, but does not fully understand. Needs time. Concerns about screenings. Not major progress on class size, erosion of rights for new teachers. Shouldn’t rush in and take word. When raise does not keep up with inflation it is not a raise. Skyrocketing housing in NYC. Bigger numbers will be worth less. Not ready.

Mulgrew—Health care has nothing to do with this agreement. We are only saying this should go to membership. They will have plenty of time to read. We rushed MOA out for that reason.

Adam Marcus—Wanted to vote against. Hard to go to membership without understanding pattern bargaining. NYSUT says looming teacher shortage. Why can’t we go beyond pattern for this. Health benefits not mentioned. Anything else we give up?

Mulgrew—Health care negotiated with all unions. Done six months ago. MLC thought something bad could happen with health care because of DC. We wanted to lock in a deal. No additional copays, but made a change for all unions. We tried to get plan in better place. Was proactive approach. Has been out for six months. Was smart thing to lock down our health care with no significant cost ships to union membership. Others pay 3200 out of pocket. We are only workers who can get plans with no premiums attached. If UFT members get cancer they can go to Memorial Sloan Kettering—this is with HIP, also Hospital of Special Surgery. Go read it before you tie it to this contract.

Pattern bargaining simple. State gets 2 per year for five years. If we go to arbitration, our money would be tied to DC37. Moving months got extra quarter. DC37 did what was best for them.

Steven Goldman—Thanks union and committee for moving forward quickly. Might not have enough info. Afraid good is enemy of best. Is there plan to renegotiate?

Mulgrew—If contract not ratified, city would negotiate with other unions first. Would still continue to insist on pattern. Union has tried to break pattern for 30 years, unsuccessfully. We would go some time before city would come back to table. Exec Board, negotiation committee would not be here if we didn’t believe in it.

Para delegate—Opposes going to membership until paras get same longevity raises.

Mulgrew—Other side must also agree. I believe every UFT member deserves 10% each year. We can go for it and we can wait 30 years. Contract well over 2 billion dollars. Committee voted to make paras a priority. If you don’t feel its fulfilled, you have a vote. Not clear we would get those things.

Aqeel Williams—calls question.

Question called.

Motion to send to membership passes overwhelmingly.

DA Wednesday canceled as we vote this night to be the October DA 6:40