Thursday, January 31, 2019

Howard Schultz, New Anti-teacher Gazillionaire on the Block

You have to hand it to Tevye the milkman. Every time Michael Bloomberg, or Donald Trump, or Howard Schultz opens one of their overprivileged mouths I remember what he sang in If I Were a Rich Man:

And it won't make one bit of difference, if I answer right or wrong,
When you're rich, they think you really know.

So I'm not surprised when Schultz, with no political experience, who rarely even votes in elections, is all over the news saying he wants to run as an independent for President. He's running as an independent because he knows the Democrats won't vote for him. When you're planning to buy yourself an election, you can't fret over whether or not people want you. When Bloomberg couldn't make it locally as a Democrat, he became a Republican. Now that he can't make it nationally as a Republican, he's become a Democrat again.

You kind of hope that Schultz and Bloomberg will cancel one another out. Schultz paints himself as a centrist. He's not in favor of wacky notions like making sure all Americans have healthcare. Nor is Bloomberg. They've got theirs, so screw you and your family. Schultz is also not in favor of raising taxes on earnings over ten million. Why fritter away money no one needs on healthcare for Americans when it could sit in his enormous pockets and help no one whatsoever?

But that's not remotely what's got me writing about Schultz. Clearly he's just another clod pushing corporate crap. But the other day, he said this, while urging we negotiate drug prices:

"We have to realize what's wrong with the political system is that pharma has as many special interests as the NRA [National Rifle Association], as the teachers union. Let's get rid of that," Schultz said.

Wow. Let's look at who he's comparing us with. We know that people are going broke trying to pay for insulin because the drug companies have rampantly raised prices. We know that there have been sweetheart deals so that they could keep their prices ridiculously high, fleecing us and insurance companies. We know that, right over the Canadian border, the same drugs cost considerably less, and they lobby to keep things bad for Americans.

Then there's the NRA, which has been in the business of blocking common sense gun legislation, so that any lunatic can pick up an AR-15 and shoot up whatever or whoever he feels needs shooting up. We know they've brainwashed Americans that the price of freedom is tolerating mass murder in schools, and that they think sending thoughts and prayers is more important than, say, closing the gun show loophole that renders local law ridiculous and impotent. They represent themselves as the voice of the people when really they're just a lobbying arm of the gun industry.

And who else does Schultz include amongst these purveyors of death and ruin? Teachers. We are awful, because we lobby for a living wage, decent learning conditions for students. reasonable class sizes, and other such horrors. Schultz will put an end to all of our evildoing. Who the hell do we think we are, standing up for ourselves? How dare we devote our lives to helping children?

Really, though, we are just a bunch of teachers. I'm always amazed at politicians who get up in front of God and everybody and say, "I support teachers. I'm just against teacher unions." Readers of this blog may have noticed I'm not fond of a whole lot of GOP politicians. I kind of liked Bob Dole for a while, despite differing with his views, because he had a quick wit and could clearly think on his feet. Then he made a teacher/ teacher union statement like that and ruined everything.

Who the hell do these people think is in teacher unions? Unlike the NRA, we're not pretending to represent anyone but ourselves. Have we started any opioid epidemics lately? Not to my recollection. Teachers are in teacher unions, and teachers are teacher unions. When we stand for better wages and working conditions, we don't only make things better for ourselves. We make things better for our students as well. 

When we stand for union, for collective bargaining, and for collective voice, we stand to preserve a route to middle class. There are at least two people in my building who've been my ESL students. The one I know better is the first of her family to attend college, and the first of her family to reach middle class status. I will fight to keep her there, and to save that opportunity for other students of mine, and yours, and for our children.

To that end, I have no use for people who stand up and say, "I've got mine, and the rest of you can go screw yourselves." That, in a nutshell, is what Howard Schultz is selling.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Morale and Momentum

Sometimes it's hard to be optimistic, What makes it particularly difficult is the certain knowledge we're traipsing around with targets on our backs. This is nothing new. Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much, but a whole lot of them take money from the anti-teacher, anti-public-education lobby.

Michael Bloomberg, who hates us and everything we stand for, ran as a Republican to become mayor, and now wants to buy himself the Democratic nomination for President. As if that's not enough, there's that Starbucks billionaire who paints himself as a moderate because he opposes health care for the likes of us and taxes for himself. It's mind-boggling what people get away with these days.

For those of us in New York, the most visible evidence of reforminess is our evaluation system. I'm personally at a loss how we fix it. I think it was a big step that we won fewer observations. That will somewhat cut the extreme stress of working teachers, but it's not enough. I still see crazy supervisors distributing capricious and unfair ratings, and that's unacceptable. On the other hand, I still see junk science test scores helping people raise those ratings more than lower them. What do you do in the face of a situation like this? It's going to take a lot of work to turn that around, and it's sadly not going to happen overnight.

And just when you make a small bit of progress, you open Diane Ravitch's blog and see the Koch brothers have decided to remake public education. Ravitch is not pleased.

The Koch brothers are living proof that this country needs a new tax structure to disrupt their billions, which they use to destroy whatever belongs to the public.
Unfortunately, all that money will be aimed at us. Perhaps the Koch Brothers, like Rupert Murdoch, see all that education money and wonder why more of it can't be in their pockets. After all, it's important they have even more money they don't need for any conceivable reason. Maybe they want to continue teaching their twisted version of history. What we know for sure, though, is that they want their moneyed voices to further eclipse those of us who actually do the work.

In the past, most conversations about education at these twice-annual Koch confabs have quickly turned into bashing teachers unions. So it was notable when Brian Hooks, the chairman of the Koch network, went out of his way to praise teachers and acknowledge that many have been picketing recently.

Perhaps they will take a page from the Bill Gates playbook and start another fake teacher org, like E4E. Personally, I don't trust the Kochs any further than I can throw them. If you think it's a coincidence that Donald Trump is President and we have a Supreme Court that doesn't represent the will of the American people, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can give you a good deal on. They money they're dumping  into this enterprise is pretty considerable:

The announcement came Monday at the end of a three-day seminar where 634 donors who have each committed to contribute at least $100,000 annually to Koch-linked groups gathered under palm trees at a luxury resort in the Coachella Valley.

Sounds like a nice place they picked, doesn't it? Do those sound like your working conditions? Are those your students' learning conditions? Do you believe for one minute that the frigging Koch brothers are looking to invest in improving them?

The fact is they're talking about easing the tensions between charter and public schools. They're talking about having the government fund religious schools. My instant translation says they want people to stop fighting non-union schools. They want us, working teachers, to lay down our skepticism and embrace them. And what do they like about them? Well it can't be that they're are better than public schools, because they aren't.

The fact is that non-union schools pay a whole lot less than public schools. I have a sister-in-law who works for a religious school. Her salary and benefits look nothing like mine. She doesn't have tenure and has to keep signing contracts over and over. She hasn't got a pension, but rather a 401K or something. Her employer pays a whole lot less into her retirement than mine does.

These are the sorts of things the Koch brothers would like to see. They want the money you don't get paid to end up in their pockets. It's hard for me to even imagine why they need more money. It's hard for me to imagine why Americans think they merit our support. I guess, though, when you can buy media and influence enough to create something like the Tea Party, you can make that stuff happen. They made Janus happen, and that's not enough for them.

We need to be active, vigilant and outspoken. We can't afford to feel sorry for ourselves and we can't afford shyness. All over the country, teachers have had enough. While we're better off than a whole lot of our brothers and sisters, we can't afford complacence either. We need to stand strong and make Americans and New Yorkers face the truth--the very same people who attack us are attacking the middle class. People who'd build walls aren't really worried about Mexicans--they're worried about us.

It's our job to keep them that way. We can either place our heads in the sand and cry, or fight the bastards. I much prefer the latter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

At PD, I Learn ESL Teachers Are Obsolete

On the left, you see an ESL teacher. On the right, of course, is the State of New York, which knows everything. How do I know that? Because they say so, and that ought to be good enough for anyone.

I'm one of those old-fashioned ESL teachers who studied Dr. Stephen Krashen's theories. They are obsolete, of course. I know this because someone who worked for a NY State Regent told me. The person didn't actually provide any citations, but she said so, and since she makes more money than I do, she must be right.

One of the "obsolete" Krashen notions is that language learners need comprehensible input. If they don't get it, they tune out. I actually do a workshop where I illustrate that very phenomenon to English speakers. I give them a piece that borders on incomprehensible, so complex that few can understand it at all. I then break it up, do a Keynote presentation, and by doing that, pull my audience back into a place where they know what's going on. Actually, the geniuses in Albany say there is no such thing as complex text. I guess they never read Beowulf, or Moby Dick, or Shakespeare, But hey, they're the experts, and I'm just an obsolete ESL teacher.

The main reason I'm obsolete is I have this archaic notion that it's different teaching English to people who don't speak the language, as opposed to people who do.  You probably can't see the text in the photo to the right, so I'll type it out.  An "outdated guiding assumption and principle" is this:

The strengths and needs of English learners and their classmates are distinct and necessarily demand different approaches. 

Here is the "21st century reality and guiding principle:"

In many classrooms, the literacy strengths and needs of English Language Learners, Multilingual Learners, Monolingual Learners, and their English-only peers are more similar than they are different. Learning academic English, oral and written, should be an instructional priority for all.

(Let's ignore the profligate use of capital letters, since anyone who works in Albany and makes all that money is necessarily a genius.) This asserts that there is no difference in what people who speak English need to learn in an English class, and what people who don't speak English need to learn in an English class. And they've pretty much gotten their wish, too. Newcomers can now come to NY schools and be told it's time to read To Kill a Mockingbird. Don't like it? Tough crap. Sink or swim. This is how you learn academic English, and that's our only goal. We don't care if you can talk to your friends. We don't care if we make you hate reading, writing, English, your teacher, or yourself. We are the sole arbiters of what "21st century reality" is and what we say goes.

My colleagues and were asked to post questions about the reading, and indeed we did.  

Where is parent involvement in this plan? 

 Like all things reformy, everything is the fault of the teachers. The teacher is the only variable.

What is the role of school leaders?

I can only suppose it entails telling teachers they suffer from "outdated guiding assumptions and principles," and that the state would now dictate what "realities" are. Screw everything you studied in school. We, who come up with new crap every year to replace the old crap from last year, have come up with new crap, and it's infallible, unlike the crap from last year (which we also said was infallible).

What research supports the contention that ELLs don't have distinct needs?

I can't imagine there is any, since ELLs are acquiring a language, while native English speakers are not. I acquired a second language when I became an ESL teacher, because I thought it behooved me to do what I was asking my students to. Let me tell you something--it's a whole lot harder than reading a novel in your native lanaguage. I had a Spanish teacher who thought it was a good idea that a bunch of near beginners read La Muerte de Artemio Cruz. I can assure you it was not. One of my fellow students and I read it in English, and it was still hard. The teacher thought we were geniuses because we, unlike anyone else, were able to discuss it. Actually the teacher had picked a task that was way too difficult, and we just found a workaround.

However, since the geniuses in Albany are now simply redefining what "realities" are, they have no need for research to support their positions.

If ELLs do not have distinct needs, why is ESL instruction needed?

If ELLs do not have distinct needs, why not dump them into classes with everyone else? Why bother giving them time to learn English? Why should anyone bother studying language acquisition? Why bother learning that language acquisition ability begins a steep decline around puberty, or that the older people are, the more difficult it is for them?

To me, it's entirely conceivable that NYSED looked at how young children acquired language, and
did not bother examining high school students. If it works for a five-year-old, why shouldn't it work for a 17-year-old? They're not different. They're all kids, right? We'll just tell the teachers to differentiate instruction and take no responsibility whatsoever for the disasters that ensue.

Here's the toughest question, referring to what the state calls "outdated guiding assumption and principles."

Why are these outdated?

Well, because MaryEllen Elia, or Betty Rosa, or someone else in Albany says so. We don't need to give no stinking reasons. We have declared that this is the way and everything else stinks, and that will be true until next year, when we have a new way and everything else stinks.

How will they implement the idea that all classrooms will use similar instructions and strategies?

That's a tough question, but as for all things educational, Bill Gates has an answer. Actually all we need to do is record the lessons of teachers and show them to everyone. This is just an extension of the incredible efficiency we get from Albany. When it turned out there was a shortage of ESL instructors, they simply eliminated the need for ESL instruction, substituting nonsensical assertions like we didn't need to teach English to people who don't speak it.

Here's a reality--New York State is indifferent to the needs of newcomers. This is a arguably a violation of Lau vs. Nichols, and therefore a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I plan to do some arguing that it is. (I wonder if anyone in Albany has studied American History, or whether they also consider that obsolete.)

The people who created these programs belong somewhere that has nothing whatsoever to do with education. They don't give a golly gosh darn about our students or their families, let alone us. I'm sick to death of hearing about how newcomers will not only magically learn basic English, but also acquire academic English. Lots of us have taughts ELLs to pass the English Regents. The only thing that proves is that they can pass the English Regents, spitting out formulaic crap to fool readers.

It would be far better if we were allowed to teach them English. And if any of the geniuses in Albany wish to learn English, I'll make myself available to them too.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Denver--The Teachers vs. the Morally Bankrupt

 Denver teachers were set to strike today, but it looks like they may be delayed for a while. But don't worry. The people who staff the schools are gonna take care of everything. They plan to  fill schools up, evidently, with just about anyone they can get to sub.

It's very tough to be a sub, as far as I'm concerned. One of my least favorite things is getting called each semester for my freebie. I don't know any of the kids, and I likely as not don't know the subject either. There are a whole lot of subjects I'm not good at, and I've subbed in each and every one of them. Sometimes kids are reasonable and cooperative. Other times they aren't.

I have things I use in my classes to make things go better. They work because the students know me and I know them. Sometimes we respect each other. Sometimes they know that I'll call their homes, report them to their coach, go to a teacher they really respect, or find some other way to make behavior inconvenient. When I sub, it's different. I just call the dean and get a kid or two removed. Hopefully that looks inconvenient enough to the rest of the class, and they will be reasonable.

You never know, though. Now I'm certain there are subs who are better than I am, because I'm really not good at all. So on that basis alone, I have to respect people who come in and do this on a regular basis, or even an irregular basis.

Still, I'm not sure the best sub on God's green earth could do what they're asking out in Denver. Let's just imagine you're a sub, walking into a school with not one teacher who's usually there, and having to deal with kids who know all their teachers are outside walking a picket line. I'm supposing their best hope would be that the students cut en masse.

But it's scab ahoy over at DPS recruitment:

DPS officials have said that, in the event of a strike, they will pay regular substitutes double the daily rate, or $212 a day, and “super subs” — retired teachers — $250 a day.

DPS is full of fine people. In fact, they even apologized after they threatened striking teachers with deportation. What more could anyone ask in terms of role models? As for budget, they're certainly focused on saving money, what with instigating a strike that will preclude paying any full-time teachers. I sure wouldn't want to be one of those "super subs," crossing a picket line consisting of my brother and sister teachers. Some people need the money.

Douglas County resident Tom Shor saw substitute teaching as a way to supplement his income as the owner of a hot dog stand during the offseason. Shor said he used to substitute teach years ago, noting that the district was “offering a decent salary.”

I don't know how much money you make selling hot dogs in Denver, but I guess when the dogs aren't moving, you stab unionists in the back and save the money to invest in sauerkraut for when it's finally in season again. The district says it's being very picky about who it hires.

To be considered for the substitute teaching job, candidates need to have a bachelor’s degree and make it through an on-the-spot interview...

Sounds tough, huh? An on the spot interview with people absolutely desperate to fill positions. Maybe they hold a mirror in front of your mouth and check whether it mists up. Maybe they have stethoscopes to conclusively check for pulse. Furthermore, candidates are gonna need "training." How much? Who knows? But everyone needs to be trained by Monday, evidently. You can't just hire any scab. You have to hire trained scabs.

It's really fine that the people who run Denver schools have no qualms about placing strike-breaking backstabbers in place as role models for children. A lot of administrators pretend to be principled, and to want the best for children. These administrators are fine with sub-standard conditions for working people, and for children.

Kids under their tutelage can learn that school leaders think you take what you can get, and if you protest, screw you, you're fired. They can learn school leaders think their skills mean nothing, and they may as well be replaced by hot dog vendors straight off the street.

Should the strike occur, the real teachers will be outside of school, standing up for themselves, and for the future of the children they serve. The administrators, who don't give a golly gosh darn about living conditions or learning conditions, ought to find jobs more suited to their talents. Maybe they can be robber barons. Or hot dog vendors.

I sure hope no one I know buys hot dogs from them. You never know where people like that have been.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Dog Behind the Fence

That's Toby. He's my best buddy and closest confidante. I don't write everything here, but I tell him everything. He knows all my darkest secrets, but so far he's not talking. You never know, though.

Here he's checking out the laptop. He wants me to tell him how it works but I'm not buying it. Once he starts blogging, I'll be finished. I let things out a little at a time but he says everything all at once.

Also, he's catching on that toys often come from Amazon. Once he starts using this computer, I'll have my house full of toys and treats. Who knows whether or not he understands about credit limits? I stopped his formal education after Puppy 2 over at Petco. 

I spend more time with Toby than I do with most humans. Toby's a good little walker, and I'm out with him as much as I can be. I usually walk him twice a day, in the morning and evening, and my wife covers the afternoon. If I'm off I'll cover afternoon too.

This has really piqued my interest in winter coats. I have these heavy fleece things that I wear, and I'll cover them with either a leather jacket or, on really freezing days, a North Face parka, seemingly designed for Antarctic exploration.

Toby also has a little coat that I found on Amazon. When it gets to be freezing or below I make him wear it. He doesn't hate it nearly as much as the raincoat I bought him because it hasn't got a hood. Toby does not care for the whole hood concept. I do, though, so I've thus far bought two hooded jackets from LL Bean, one labeled, "warmer," and another, "warmest." I was kind of surprised that neither outperformed the leather jacket I bought at Costco, even though they were over double the price. I sent them both back.

My point is it's January, and it gets really cold out there. And yet, around the corner, every time I walk Toby, not matter what time it is or no matter how cold it gets, there's a big dog behind a six foot white fence who barks at us. I think it's a big dog, judging from the sound of his bark. Also, I've seen this big black nose protruding from below the fence on several occasions.

Toby and this dog have an odd relationship. Of course Toby's curious about that big old nose, but I don't let him get too close. I'm not sure how much flexibility that mouth has from under the fence, and I don't want to find out either. The two dogs behave oddly. The dog on the other side barks wildly at us, but cries when we leave. Toby sometimes cries from the street, like he wants to play. Other times he runs, like he's afraid of the big dog.

What bothers me is that whoever owns this dog just leaves him out in the yard all the time. I understand that some people may have issues walking, and may sometimes let a dog out in the yard. I think it's better to walk with the dog, but that's just me. It's one thing, though, to let your dog out to do what he needs to do. I think it's another to just leave him out there by himself all the time, no matter what time it is.

It's also pretty goshdarn cold out there in January, and I don't think February is gonna be any better. I'm not an expert, but I think treating someone "like a dog" is one thing. (Sometimes there are reasons to do that. Think how Bloomberg Leadership Academy-trained supervisors ought to be treated.) Mistreating an actual dog is another thing entirely. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

The New Girl

Last night we did an additional parent-teacher conference for ELLs only. I'll tell you the truth--I didn't expect much of a turnout and brought a book. I was all set to sit around reading crappy fiction all night, but to my surprise, people showed up. One of the people who showed up was a girl I'll call Sylvia. She showed up with her dad.

I was pretty happy to see them. I've called dad and left messages for him, but I never knew whether or not he listened to them. Evidently he did. Sylvia ended the semester with a 67 average. I'm sure I passed her, but not by much. She failed the last test or two, and I'm worried she'll fall too far behind by the end of the year.

My beginning class contains two groups, and two groups only--speakers of Spanish and Chinese. My goal is always to get them to mix as much as possible, because English is their common language. If I can get them to cross-speak with one another, they'll have pretty much no choice. It's hard, though. Imagine if you and I were in China, learning Chinese. It would be our natural inclination to stick together and speak English, even if it hindered our Chinese. It's the same with my students.

Sylvia has always looked kind of shell-shocked and terrified, so I've been pretty easy on her. I won't place a non-disruptive student at a table with students who don't speak her language if I think it will make her miserable and uncooperative. But last night she surprised me a lot. Dad and I were speaking Spanish, and she was very sociable and cooperative. When I spoke of her coming late and missing homework, she copped to it all and hid nothing.

She also showed a sense of humor I'd never seen before, laughing at things her dad and I said. I told her she'd made a big mistake by showing me who she was. Now that I knew, I'd hold her to a higher standard. I wouldn't hesitate to move her seat. Her days of sitting with her friend and hiding out were numbered. I also told dad that any problem would result in a call home. Now that I know there's someone actually hearing my messages, I don't feel like I'm wasting my time.

Sylvia, like a lot of my Spanish speakers, is from El Salvador. I don't know if this is will sound like a bad thing, but I'm very careful with my Salvadoran students. This is because frequently, when I speak to them alone, or when their parents come in, they have horror stories you'd never anticipate. Once, I brought a girl out into the hall, and I don't even remember why. Whatever the issue was, it paled in comparison when she broke out in tears and told me she'd had a brother murdered before coming here.

Another time, I had a boy from El Salvador who had trouble passing tests. He would do the homework, sometimes, but I couldn't understand what he wrote. I recommended him for special education. Eventually I heard that he came here after being beaten so severely by some gang that he was permanently brain damaged.

These are the people Donald Trump wants to keep out with a wall. Trump, unlike my students, has never been beaten. I'm glad they've escaped from the violence and misery they knew, and I'll work to make sure they're happy here.

Except for Sylvia. She made the mistake of showing me she is intelligent, capable and unafraid. Now she has a problem. I hope we can work it out to our mutual benefit--she excels, and I get to watch her do it.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

What Will the New APPR Reg Mean?

It's hard to say, actually. I'm assuming readers of this blog know the APPR regulation passed yesterday in both the Assembly and the newly-blue Senate of New York State. Cuomo will certainly sign it.

I've read and heard advocates on both sides, and both make points of varying quality. I see this a marginal improvement, but only time will tell. Of course we're still stuck with Danielson, but that's not the focus of this particular bill. I'd like to move past our inane one-size-fits-all rubric, but we're gonna need something better before we can do that.

Personally, I'm not sure what that will look like. We could go back to the S and U system, for example. The best advantage there would be getting rid of the unconscionable provision of having burden of proof on teachers rated ineffective. I'm no longer as sure as I used to be that we'd see much of further benefit. There are way too many wasteful and stupid observations going on nowadays. We fixed that to some extent with the new contract, but we can certainly go further.

The main issue I have with S and U is that it's all too easy for a crazy supervisor to capriciously rate teachers unsatisfactory. Appealing U ratings was almost a universal waste of time until the UFT instituted a 13% window of appeals going to arbitrators. Of course that's not perfect either. In fact, arbitrators aren't perfect but I'd rather take a chance with an arbitrator than some DOE hack. (Make no mistake, rigged hearings of every stripe are a lingering stench of Bloomberg, and it's on de Blasio for failing to clean house.)

A lot of teachers are pulled up by the junk science. Eliminating it outright would result in a spike of negative ratings. I'm very much against taking an action like that without doing something to mitigate it. But what could it be? We have this system that tacitly acknowledges the fallibility of supervisors. The test scores, more often than not, act as a check on the worst of them. On the other hand, with test scores pretty much out of our control, and very possibly for reasons having nothing to do with us, getting rated poorly by test scores is nuts. (That's without even taking into account the rampant manipulation by the geniuses in Albany, or the fact that every working teacher with a memory knows this system was designed to fire us. The best thing I can say about it is that it's mostly failed at that task.)

Not only that, but if you have a terrible supervisor degrading everything and everyone on a daily basis, that could certainly factor in plunging test scores (not to mention teacher and student morale). It's kind of a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself. In that case, you need to hope the test scores save you, but what with death hanging in the halls of your school building, it could certainly lead students to be as as uninspired as everyone else. Yet teachers I know with awful supervisors tell me they count on the junk science to bring up their ratings.

Those of us who teach ELLs often see our ratings fall as a result of our students, who, you know, don't speak English. I have friends who teach core content, and if their classes are ELL heavy, or specifically for ELLs, their numbers come down. Of course that's no excuse. Educators 4 Excellence don't want to hear that nonsense, and if its leaders were working as teachers instead of Gates acolytes, they'd surely be able to come in and make them write like Nabokov in a New York minute (or two).

I'm rated on the NYSESLAT, the worst test in the history of human civilization, and thus far my junk science evaluation has been effective. I can only suppose it's because the test is a worthless piece of crap that measures nothing whatsoever. This hinders my ability to take any pride in my performance. Of course, if I have eleven students who are taking the NY State English Regents exam, I could be rated on that, and that may be the case this year. I could certainly see talking a ratings plunge this year.

I'd like to see an alternative to that. I'd like to see alternatives for every teacher who's rated on the basis of his or her students only. I'd like ever larger junk science pools. With this new regulation, that option could be open to me and many of my colleagues stuck on this ratings treadmill. In my building, at least, being rated by whole department or whole school scores is an advantage. We don't have any PE teachers with bad MOSL ratings, as they're rated on whole school test measures. I'm glad for them, even though the ratings are inherently absurd.

Is the system crap? Well yes, of course it's crap. Is it improved with the new law? I certainly hope so. Of course, only time will tell. While this is not the change we need, it appears to be a minor tweak that's unlikely to hurt anyone. It won't hurt to make this crappy system a little better for now, and keep an eye toward replacing it with something not insane ASAP in the future.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

UFT Executive Board January 22, 2019--We Vote to Financially Support Unpaid Federal Workers

6 PM--Secretary Howard Schoor calls us to order.

Speaker—Mike Loeb—CL 371—Low voter turnout for leadership—Worries that members will continue to pay dues if they’re not voting for leadership. Fewer than 30K voted last time. Says groups that wish ill upon us may use these numbers against us. Says NY State and city have obsolete voter process, and as democratic body UFT should show how to do election appropriately and turn out votes. Resolution was voted out of order because election committee determined rules. Wants to encourage election committee to consider his resolution to send ballots not to homes but to worksites. We do this with contracts. Says many people don’t know about election or think it’s junk mail, or don’t receive ballot. There are other ways to attack problem. Email all members about election. Did this for city and state elections. Can email CLs about election. Can do robocalls. Calls union model of democracy for country.

—We do the emails, and did it last time. Will also send texts. We already signed contract with AAA to take this process forward. Looked into school based balloting, problematic because a caucus filed charges that CLs told members how to vote. Was turned down by Dept of Labor, AFT and others. If we did this could be more charges. Maybe there are better ways we can look at in future.


Resolutions for NYSUT RA approved

Resolution to honor founders of UFT approved

President not here.

Staff Director LeRoy Barr—Successful women’s pre-march last Saturday, thanks all who came. Starting tomorrow through 2/1 UFT will run ad. Will run widely. Showing to us tonight. Used public school teachers in ads. Next DA 2/13 next EB 2/11.

Schoor—Welcomes Anthony Harmon, new Director of Staff, replacing Elly Engler who retired.


Arthur Goldstein—Last week I pointed out that charter schools could request space via a city form, but public schools could not. That’s a gross inequity. My students deserve space every bit as much as students in Moskowitz Academies. You mentioned you would bring this to the chancellor. Have you done so, and if so, what was the result?

Also, I’ve been hearing quite a bit about the new legislation that would no longer mandate state tests to be used in APPR. As you know, high schools were never part of the moratorium. As a result, my colleagues and I are rated on the NYSESLAT, the worst test ever devised by man or beast, which of course is mandated by the geniuses in Albany. Alternatively, I can be rated by my students’ test results on the English Regents exam, which is outlandish since my students, by their very nature, have yet to acquire English.

What is the vision of UFT, and how will it improve options for working teachers? Also, if this bill is passed, how will it specifically change how things are done in high schools?

Schoor—have not yet met with chancellor, believe it will be on agenda at next meeting.

Janella Hinds—Our purpose would be to ensure alignment among all educators. As we are engaging that is our goal moving forward.

Mike Schirtzer—A few of the pro public school opt out groups have come out against bill, arguing it does not decouple evaluation from testing. Why is UFT and NYSUT for bill?

Paul Egan—Coming up for vote tomorrow, they are making calls and so are we. It eliminates state growth model. Eliminates requirement to use state tests for APPR. like Regents or NYSESLAT, will be subject to collective bargaining. Cookie cutter approach doesn’t work everywhere. Current APPR may be used in transition. All teachers may be covered in group measures. No one will have to increase testing, we expect it to go down, not up.

—Same bill that passed Assembly last term.

Egan—Yes. A783 Assembly S1262 Sentate

Schirtzer—Speaker tonight on board for E4E, several locals have taken stand against them, financed by Walton, against tenure, ATRs, what is our stance?

Schoor—Have not taken a position. We oppose some things they do and support others.

Jonathan Halabi—Thanks for seating returned. Reimbursement for nurses—A colleague went to Bronx office and filed grievance. We have over 400 high schools, mostly mini-schools. One benefit is being able to come together and plan. Time to do that is really important. Best time is during Regents week. Once again we’re having teachers sent out of building for grading. Problematic in that we miss much. This is wrong. Schools should grade their own Regents, perhaps not own students, or we could trade with other schools. We’ve gotten nowhere with DOE. When was last time we raised it, who said no? Can’t believe Carranza thinks this makes sense. Who are mid-level bureaucrats blocking this?

Schoor— Came up in contract negotiations, said they would meet.

Janella Hinds—We have met, DOE has a position, we continue to seek a different way. At this point, they are not moving.

Halabi—Who said no?

Hinds—Entire DOE. Don’t know that Carranza agrees. They say NYC has not had a scandal. They are worried about a cheating scandal like Atlanta or DC. We continue to push for pilots. We will continue to press.

Reports from Districts—

Janella Hinds—Pre women’s march breakfast was phenomenal. Pols got to talk with Mulgrew, about obstacles in getting into office.

Legislative report—Paul Egan—Saints got what they deserved. Chelsea lost. Bad weekend. May change. APPR bill will probably come up tomorrow in Senate. Will hopefully pass. 23 people on ballot for public advocate. Will see about endorsement.

March 18 is Lobby Day in Albany. Teachers may be released. Should fill in TRAC form.

Schoor—We supported expansion of voting rights. Where do we stand?

Egan—Some things have passed, others will require constitutional amendment, can take two years. Changed primaries so they are on same day, will be in June so state and city go with federal ones. Public advocate race election is on February 26, and exact same people will have exact same election in June.

NYSUT RA resolutions
, different from those approved.

LeRoy Barr—First is certified school librarians and media specialists—Want to have them at every school in city and state.


Resolution on career and technical education—slight edits—giving sub resolution. Supporting recruitment, certification and retention.


UFT resolution to honor founders

George Altomari—Thanks for remembering past. March 16 is birthday of UFT. Something special about a union that wasn’t given help. We didn’t have power, labor movement developed it, We had collective begging, not collective bargaining. Founders of AFT didn’t act, didn’t put it on the line. Good part of 60s was where people started to wonder what labor was fighting for. 50,000 teachers—what did we want—we knew power had to be taken. Was hard to convince people, because those who had wealth and power didn’t want to give it up.

We knew getting it was one thing, but keeping it was different. We couldn’t have high school teachers against others. We needed solidarity, unity. We got that. On March 16 1960, we merged, We put away things that divided us. Decided we all needed more money, respect, dignity and formed UFT.


Financial support for federal workers without pay

LeRoy Barr—Stands to motivate. Passed resolution in support of govt. employees. This goes further. We will make financial contribution to workers going on missing second paycheck. We will contribute to AFT, which will make sure they got it, and we will put up a contribution link so members can contribute. Asking for support. Fund is AFT AROS.


We are adjourned 6:52

Monday, January 21, 2019

Michael Schirtzer and Arthur Goldstein for UFT Executive Board 2019

 By Mike Schirtzer
Three years ago, I asked for your vote when I ran for UFT Executive Board, a 101 member group that meets every two weeks to set policies for our union, negotiate the contract, and bring reports from schools to the leadership. During the last union elections, I ran on the MORE/New Action slate in order to challenge the Unity Caucus. We ran on a promise that we would bring rank and file voice to the UFT with matters that are important to our members in the school. Along with six others on our slate, I won, and we have had the great privilege of representing high school teachers and all UFT members on this representative committee.

I am now running for reelection with Arthur Goldstein, longtime chapter leader/ELL teacher at Francis Lewis High School and a well published columnist who has written for the Daily News among other publications. In the upcoming union elections, we are running as independents on the Unity slate, which includes UFT President Michael Mulgrew. We ask you to vote for us by checking the “Unity” box on your ballot that will be mailed to your home.

This time around, we won’t be running with the opposition groups that we have been part of in the past. By working with members of Unity, we’ve been able to promote significant advances for the members of this union. Our former group, MORE, is refusing to run with other groups or open their slate to independent voices like ours, making it clear they do not want to win. Conversely, when the leadership of UFT asked us to run with them on the Unity slate, we insisted that we maintain our independent voices. We made it clear that we will still challenge them when there is reason to. They agreed that our dissent is valuable and that our only loyalty must be to the members of our union, the people working hard for our students every single day. Unity is providing us the opportunity to bring multiple perspectives to the Executive Board, which is the change this union needs.

It’s unprecedented that Unity/UFT leadership invites us to run with them, yet does not make us join their caucus. In the future, if there are legitimate reasons to form a group to oppose the union leadership, I would join a united group that welcomes everyone. As of now, Unity is welcoming our voices, even though we have had our share of disagreements. They want us to raise issues that our members find crucial and this is exactly why we have made this decision.

None of us joined this profession to become wealthy, but thankfully we’re able to provide decent lives for our families. With our new contract, teachers’ top salary will rise to over $128,000. The teachers that went on strike in West Virginia and Oklahoma teachers were on food stamps, welfare and working multiple jobs. The Los Angeles teachers union is on strike because the cost of living is higher than NYC, while top salary is only $85,000 and some classes have 50 students. Several teachers from our school who have graded AP exams out of state came back with horror stories from teachers they met. Their salaries are so low that they can’t even pay their bills without working several jobs Some reported being fired on a principal’s whim. This is not a situation we want, and UFT is the only force that stands in the way of such a future.

There is not an urban school district in this country that has the salary or benefits that we do, and this is because of our union. The Janus decision threatens all that we have. A strong UFT, with diverse voices, is more important than ever. We are running with Unity to strengthen our union and protect our rights in order to better the lives of the children we serve.

We Won 100% Paid Parental Leave

Nearly 200,000 UFT members now have 100% of their salary when they have or adopt a baby. This is an unheard of benefit around in this country. Even fathers can take the six weeks paid. Before this policy men could take only three days off for their child's’ birth or adoption. This was an absolute sin.  Emily James started a petition which was signed by 85,000 people demanding the mayor give us this long overdue benefit. I reached out to Emily, and brought her to the board to present it to our leadership. Emily and I joined with members of Unity and the UFT’s media department to plan actions all across the city. Thanks to our work, a membership that is over 75% women now has their full pay and can still take their banked  (CAR) days when they give birth or adopt.

We Brought Back Two Observations

Teachers in our schools and all across the city reached out to me and Arthur when we began contract negotiations. They all wanted the observation minimum of two per year, as per state law. Teachers who had been successful for decades often had administrators who taught for a few years visiting their classroom four times and being forced to provide far more “constructive” criticism than was merited. Even worse, teachers new to the DOE having all their observations in May and feedback in June. We fought for change and won. Arthur and I repeatedly brought to Executive Board and Contract Committee meetings member demand for less observations. When we met with DOE negotiators they said no, but we kept the pressure on and prevailed. Beginning next year, 85% of tenured teachers will have two observations and one will be in the fall semester.

We Fought Against Oversized Classes 

Those of us in Goldstein High School have had the unfortunate distinction of being named in the top 10 citywide worst offenders for class-size violations two years in a row. We’ve had 40 students in a class, which led to a failure to comply with special education mandates. By the time we won our grievance, it was already December. We faced massive program changes, crying children, teachers and paras juggling schedules. Arthur and I made class-size overages a centerpiece of our work at UFT Executive Board. We knew too well the process under the old contract did not work. Our new contract demands a quicker response in fighting back against the constant loopholes. Schools in repeated violation will have arbitrators make immediate solutions without an endless grievance process.

We Worked Together to Stop Abusive Administrators

UFT members from across the city reached out to us to bring them to our meetings so they could share stories of absolute craziness from their inexperienced, terrible administrators. Principals and APs pushing unproven policies from cookie-cutter lesson plans, rotating bulletin boards, to outright harassment. Because of their testimonies, UFT leadership took up these issues with the mayor, chancellor, and superintendents. We also negotiated an unprecedented anti-retaliation clause in our new contract that protects members who report these administrators. Some situations were resolved, while  some administrators were just shuffled to another school. This is an ongoing problem. Arthur and I, with your support, will continue to bring these situations to light. We will press UFT to take more aggressive actions in public to let our members know that an attack on one is an attack on us all.  We are asking for your vote on the Unity slate, so we can continue to fight these battles, and do what we do best: represent you.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Evaluation Bill--More Moratorium, a Sea Change, or Are We Missing Something?

It looks like the Senate and the Assembly will pass a bill that got stalled in the Senate last year. This bill will mean that state tests will no longer be required to assess teachers in NY State. It doesn't necessarily mean they won't, though. Evidently, this will be negotiated locally. I've got mixed feelings about this initiative.

One thing that never got much mention in the press, given the moratorium, is that high school teachers were not relieved, ever, from being judged by state testing. So to us, the moratorium has always meant nothing whatsoever. How will this change things for us? At the moment, it's impossible to say.

The problem, of course, is that tests don't really measure what we do. The American Statistical Association says that not only do teachers affect test scores by a factor of 1-14%, but that undue focus on test scores actually impedes us from helping kids, the most important thing we do. I know that I will spend a good part of next semester prepping kids for the English Regents, which will help them do nothing whatsoever aside from, hopefully, passing one single test.

I'm currently rated by a test called the NYSESLAT that measures nothing I can determine, aside from how Common Corey my newcomers happen to be. This would be useful, I suppose, if it prepared them for life. Perhaps when boys meet girls somewhere, they say, "Hey, look how Common Corey I am," and true love ensues. Perhaps not. Perhaps Common Coriness is a qualification for an important job somewhere. I don't really know.

I kind of value my MOTP rating, as it comes from a supervisor for whom I have (I have to admit) great respect. For the first few years, the MOSL dropped me from HE to E, which meant one more observation a year. The matrix changed that, and last year I was observed only three times. That is the only thing that changed, other than being able to tell a Chancellor's rep I was rated highly effective at a recent grievance hearing.

I took a strong stand against this law, and against junk science evaluation, which I believe test score evaluation is. While I stand by that, it's also true that fewer NYC teachers got bad ratings under this crazy system. My friend, a high school chapter leader, told me that 30% of the teachers in her school got bad MOTP ratings, and that the MOSL was the only thing that helped them. I also know a teacher who was rated developing in the MOTP, but ineffective on the MOSL, and that brought her down to ineffective.

So do we embrace this system because it helps more people than it hurts? I can't really jump up and down in celebration when it's still dragging teachers into ineffective territory. Will the new bill somehow become an improvement? It really remains to be seen. For now, I'd like to see choice at individual schools in NYC. For example, my school does well on state test scores, but yours may not.

Will there be other options? Perhaps. Will they be supported by research and/ or practice? Almost certainly not. I know of absolutely no such practice.

The only thing that really makes this system work, despite all the stress and misery it causes, is that it rates fewer teachers negatively. But hey, bad ratings are serious shit these days. You could face a 3020a hearing where the burden of proof is on you to prove you are not incompetent. That's one mountain I would not wish to climb. No one should have to do that.

Why is there an elephant in that cartoon?

Every teacher knows. The reason this system works for UFT members is that city supervisors are so terrible, a crapshoot like this one means a crazy supervisor may not be able to rate us poorly and fire us for no reason. That's really a shame. My friend who has the crazy principal likes MOSL because it saves a lot of her colleagues.

My opinion is this--I value input from my supervisor, who was a long-term teacher in my subject area. If she makes suggestions, I will certainly try them. I look at the checklist rating sheets and if I don't get below effective I'm happy. But if she were left to her own devices, to write something, well I'd read it and think about it. I'm certain that would be more valuable. If you have a good supervisor, the older system is absolutely better.

Sadly, many, many city teachers suffer under toxic supervision. There are so many walking, talking remnants of Bloomberg in this city that it's hard to fathom fixing the problem. No evaluation system will be valid, let alone productive, until we address that.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Moving Forward

I'm running for UFT Executive Board again, and this time I am running on the Unity Caucus line. I have not joined the caucus, but they approached Mike Schirtzer and me and specifically asked that we keep challenging them. Given our former caucus stabbed Mike in the back, and was surely not looking for me to run again, this was the best option for us, albeit one we did not at all anticipate.

It's sad when ostensible teacher groups chose to place narrow sectarian goals over real teacher interests. It's pretty easy to get up on your hind legs and shout about striking. Strike, though, is something you do as a last resort, after everything else has failed. In New York State, with Andrew Cuomo pretending this year to be Bernie Sanders, we have better options.

Strike in New York means losing two days pay for each day we're out. It also means coming back, as Norm Scott did, to be probationary employees for a year. That would give the still-Bloomberg DOE carte blanche to fire real activist teachers. While I'm not keen on that notion, I'd walk if times warranted. However, we are not up against the wall that striking American teachers found themselves facing. A strike would not garner public support today, and it would be easy for our enemies to beat back what support and alliances we now enjoy. Janus proponents would have a field day, at our dire long-term expense.

Teacher priorities are certainly not the priorities of fanatical ideologues looking to foment revolution and utilize our union as a vehicle. Teacher priorities, however, are my priorities. They are Mike Schirtzer's priorities as well. We believe empowering teachers is a fundamental social justice issue. We've made ourselves available to members who wanted to meet with us twice monthly for the past three years, and we plan to continue doing so. Even if that were not the case, I'm chapter leader of a very large school and I see teacher issues up close and personal every day of my working life.

Over the last year, Mike and I have been able to work well with leadership, and over this year alone, we've been able to move forth some important incentives for membership. First was parental leave, which means every UFT parent will be able to get six weeks of fully paid leave when giving birth or adopting. The system is not perfect, but demanding perfection is not a feasible way to move forward. UFT's priority was getting a leave that was fully paid, and that's why this one looks the way it does.

Mike Schirtzer brought Emily James to Executive Board, where she spoke of how important it was that we work toward this. Mulgrew got up, said he would get this done, and proceeded to do so.  Teachers in my building were jubilant at hearing about this agreement. It will get a lot of use in our building. Can it be improved? Of course. And now we have something to build on. I think the best improvement would be a national agreement, and there's nothing precluding our working toward that either.

I was very involved in the last Contract Committee, very much at the urging of UFT High School VP Janella Hinds. I was at first quite discouraged by the massively large group, but when Janella dragged me back we were in much smaller groups. We got to speak face to face with the DOE muckety-mucks. I was fascinated by hearing the muck from the very mouths of the DOE mucketies. I spent several summer days at 52 Broadway doing that, and also speaking truth to muck.

I pushed for fewer observations and lower class sizes. While we won only one of two, it is significant. (I was pretty surprised to hear, from the head muckety's mouth, that the DOE doesn't give a crap about class size. Maybe that could be their new motto. Instead of, "Children First, Always," they could say, "We don't give a crap about class size.") The number one complaint I get as chapter leader of a huge school is the observation system. It's clunky and oppressive, and halving the number of observations cuts the oppression almost by the same percentage. Of course there is much work to be done. I want to be part of the team doing it.

Janus has been a game changer for me. I was horrified to see people, in my Twitter feed, quoting me and using the hashtag, "My pay, my say." I blocked them. I have always been pro-union, and I will no longer give our enemies fuel to attack us. Janus was step one, and there are further attacks down the road. We need to not only survive, but also thrive. We need to take this arrow aimed at our collective heart, forge it to be far stronger, and turn it against those who'd destroy us.

Janus appears to have been a game changer for leadership too. I'm encouraged that they would approach us to continue speaking out, even though they do not always agree with us. It's important that leadership hear our voices and that we be there to make them heard. It's significant that they were responsive to us last year, and it's important that we rep membership now and in the future.

Leadership has also asked us to go to NYSUT and AFT conventions, somewhere I've thought we should've been for years. I will report back from all, and you will know what goes on firsthand. We have not agreed to vote in any bloc, nor have we been asked to. I believe along with Mike Schirtzer and me, Mindy Rosier will be joining us. This is unprecedented and a step forward.

I have looked at everything going on this year, and I've determined this is the best way to move ahead. I've long stood with opposition, However, due to the dedicated efforts of a handful of disingenuous intransigent jackasses, opposition is going nowhere but backward. I've seen internal communications asserting one caucus does not wish to win, and that they're running only to keep their name out there. Maybe they're looking for ways to lose even more spectacularly in the future. Who knows? 

I'm going to work not only to preserve and grow our union, but also to help it move into the future. I'm going to try and save ESL students and teachers who face the blithering idiocy that emanates from Albany. I'm going to work to find better solutions to issues like insane evaluations, insane supervisors, rampant overcrowding, and hurtful class sizes.

I'm very happy that Unity Caucus has invited us to take part in these efforts. I very much look forward to working with them over the next three years.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

UFT Delegate Assembly January 16, 2019--We Support LA Teachers, Federal Workers, Unionizing Museum Employees

Mulgrew speaks of weekend snowstorm, says too early in year to use our one snow day.

Welcomes us to first DA of 2019

National—Speaks of shutdown, how it affects country, working with advocates to support workers, in conjunction with AFT. No one knows where it’s going. Reported Mueller investigation is coming to a close. Uncertainty not good but we need period of uncertainty to get to better place. Workers being used as pawns. Why do workers always have to suffer? Why has it always been this way.

First and foremost, we support workers. Will work with NYSUT, AFT, NEA to support.

Betsy DeVos moving to stop protection against predatory institutions, and her family has tens of millions in these institutions.

LA—Major piece for us, knew LA was in trouble years ago. Was in middle of defund public education. They have a school board. Was very expensive election. Teacher unions spent over a million as Broad and friends spent multiple millions to charterize. Lost by one seat. Broad has decided not to invest as LA teachers haven’t had raise in ten years. The strike is inevitable as they had nothing else to do.

NY State averages 19K per student, LA at 12. Working with teachers, supporting. Message on target. Fighting for wraparound services, counselors, social workers. Our enemies say this is just about teachers hating charters, but about us serving community and children. Other side will try hard to change narrative.

About what happened last spring, saw it coming for years. When we had Bloomberg we had to deal with recession. We looked at how to preserve system and avoid layoffs. Not one UFT teacher was laid off. When we came out of recession was about funding public ed. In other places they just started starving public ed, so as to discourage it and turn it into market system.

Ten years ago, people thought we were crazy talking about this. Now, people are saying we were right.

When we came out of recession Bloomberg was leaving and Cuomo said we wasted money on public ed. Said we just wanted raises and didn’t care about kids. Before that we knew he was dealing with same people LA was dealing with. We got ahead of them, along with state union. Did not allow this scheme in NY. Had lot of action and activity.

Yesterday, at State of State, Cuomo said how proud he was that in last three years NY contributed more to ed. than any other state. That is our work, protecting profession.

When we look at LA, we have to help them because we can’t let these people succeed in scheme to privatize. We are good example of what happens when we fund ed. We have 75% grad rate, highest ever. Money matters.

You want people in office who take pride in supporting public ed. We worked to change Senate.

Women’s rights, medical and workplace, stressed, We want better voting possibilities so we become number one in participation. We want stronger laws to protect unionized workers in face of Janus. We want environmental protection, middle class tax cut. There are ten states that give more money to feds than they get back. We are number one in giving. Giving states all vote blue. Tax plan was attack on us.

NY State will finally pass DREAM act. Will be affordable housing, rent control regs.

Overall ed. number not satisfactory and we will fight it. They want to change funding formula based on need, not political leverage. Are you spending money where there is the most poverty? Not always the case in NYC. Whenever they say based on need, they are not talking only about NYC. NYC is not in big five. Rural districts are very poor. We have been advocating for this for years.

Now possible because Senate is controlled by pro-education elected officials. Elections matter. In past, we couldn’t include this in budgets. Senate liked charters. Now we can put out an agenda and get things done outside of budget.

APPR—Ten years ago test scores were supposed to be part of evaluation. Obama administration made this requirement for federal aid. Last year we finally had bill we wanted, Governor, who now loves us, said he would sign. We had everyone but six Senators. Senate would not put it on floor unless we lifted NYC charter cap and agreed to additional funding only for charters. We then opposed them in elections. They felt don’t worry, we’re only screwing NYC. On Friday afternoon at 4, Senate and Assembly introduced same bill, will go to Senate on Tuesday. We don’t want to wait—are hoping within two weeks we will finally have no mandated test scores in teacher evaluation.

We’ve made great gains in graduation rates. We don’t think a future mayor will reverse pre-K. De Blasio said he would work on this, and he will have added two whole grades to our school system. Huge undertaking, considering 100K students per grade. Most school systems don’t have 100K students.

Now illegal to ask about citizenship in census. Its results are tied to 700 million in education funding in this state. Assuming this may be pushed to SCOTUS. If it doesn’t go to this session it will be too late. We have to help everyone in this census last time. We lost representation and money last time. 76% answer nationally, but in NYC only 61 answer. We should think about working to increase participation. Majority of community shows up every day in schools. Census designed to count residents. George Washington wrote we never want immigrants to feel they don’t belong.

Using operational part of contract. We already have resolutions. New but powerful tool. Already getting friction from CSA and principals. Don’t like to listen to us. This is major accomplishment, but useless if we don’t use it. Paperwork has helped 500 schools, but probably many more did not use process. All standards, including safety standards agreed upon. Will be going out next week.

Women’s march this Saturday. Breakfast in midtown. Now are three separate marches. We are holding breakfast for anyone who wants to come.

Public advocate race—Feb. 26 election, 23 candidates. Had three forums, but petitions not done yet. Will decide whether or not to move forward with endorsement. We never endorse before petitions certified. Earliest will be Friday.

LeRoy Barr—CTE awards 2/8 here. Black History Month film series—2/7—Anthem is Future, about Eagle Academy Schools. Pre-release chance to see it. People from film will be there. 2/14 story of Reginald L. Lewis. 2/28 Brother Outsider, 3/7, We Are Rising, about HBUs.

March 16 Early childhood conference. Paras luncheon March 23rd.

Women’s history brunch March 31. Nominating petitions downstairs.

Mulgrew—Bomb scare on Broadway right now. Just cleared.


Q—How will UTLA strike affect us?

A—We want to get out what’s happening with public ed—defunding. LA is second largest system, 600K. Why so neglected? How did it fall behind? What’s going on? Broads, Waltons, started trying to charterize city school system. Colleagues in LA have to talk about what they need to do their job. That’s what’s at stake. Other side will say ed. drains taxes and charters are better model. Yet LA charters don’t perform well.  We do this to help children. Think where we were ten or twenty years ago. Public thought we were all lazy, didn’t like kids. Took work to change. We must continue. Hard to roll back.

Fighting for future of public ed. That’s why we must implement contract. Bronx plan not about money, about saying when schools work as group of professionals they will get better results. This is what PROSE is about. We want to show people how things work. We need to change dialogue from DC.

Q—Bloomberg hates teachers. We would like to know what’s going on with his presidential aspirations. What do we do?

A—Hopefully nothing. Many asking for UFT comments. At this point, that election is far away. Our Senator starting exploratory. In terms of us, union position is what’s in our interests to protect profession and unionized workers. Clearly not DC, but Betsy keeps talking and doesn’t help herself. Do we really need another billionaire after this one?

Q—Chancellor Carranza second in row who is bilingual. What are we doing about students who are monolingual? Will they receive same training as bilingual? What’s union stance on how we move forward with multilingual population?

A—What are we going to do with monolingual adults? We screwed this up as country, starting language education in high school. Last chancellor place dual language in early grades. Embarrassment to country we don’t do better. Challenge to hire bilingual teachers. Challenge to hire teachers at all. Open to mutual agreements to have people switch certificates. Working at state level and with DOE. Good that NYC beginning to deal with this issue. We are most diverse city on planet. Most diverse space in Queens NY.

Q—Dean asked union stand on discipline code. Student got 6 day suspension for butterfly knife. Used to be 30. Dean fearful you have to kill someone to get in trouble.

A—Discipline code looks like a phone book. Size of knife makes difference in code, crazy that a half inch makes a difference. Safety standards are important. School needs to have conference with parent, but why is child bringing knife to school? Has to be conversation. We need to discuss what goes on in school. Zero tolerance means we suspend everyone. Sit in circle doesn’t work either. We need whole school approach. School must be positive place to be. Union offers training, and helps come up with plan. Can’t talk to everyone for three hours. A real plan can help.


Rich Mantel—resolution—support federal employees during partial shutdown. Urges GOP to stop insisting on border wall.

Placed on agenda.

Motion to make it first resolution tonight.


CL—Resolution for this month—to support New Museum employees to unionize, have living wage, UFT stands with employees.


Janella Hinds—Moves it becomes number two.


Resolution—to promote Democratic engagement of union members.

Point of order—Doesn’t believe it’s in order because materials already adopted rules, and Exec Committee passed.

Mulgrew—Constitution says election committee will adopt rules. Believes it’s out of order because it has already been done and adopted.

Point of order—DA is highest decision making body and would supersede.

Mulgrew—Can put it to body. Will rule if it’s out of order.

Ruled out of order.


Supporting federal employees—Rich Mantel—folks not getting paid. No reason for that over stupid wall. Folks not getting paid. Please support.

Amendment—Would like to call wall immoral.


Resolution passes

New Museum Employees—CL asks we vote in support. We should stand with them.

Passes unanimously.

Black Lives Matter resolution—Dermot Myrie--UFT should support as part of action for cultural institutions. We should implement restorative justice, have ethnic studies. Jia Lee will be able to teach this in her classroom. Week of action February 4-8. We have to rebuild union from bottom up. Resolved UFT will make demands on DOE to undo systemic racism.

Point of order—Last month this body approved resolution in support of economic justice, believes this is out of order. We did support BLM and supported activities through year. We reaffirmed support of initiatives including BLM, promoted respect and inclusion. Believes it’s moot and redundant. Asks chair to rule.

Mulgrew asks maker of motion to respond.

Myrie—Were you at NEA summit in July?

Mulgrew—rules Myrie out of order. We already support and will continue to support.

Training to CLs and delegates—CL—resolution to get DA training so we can learn how to write resolutions and use Robert’s Rules. Meetings powerful when people raise voices. Union based on solidarity. Gives chapters voice within this body. We need tools to make members feel they have voices. Please support.

Dave Pecoraro—As someone who’s done training, it is an empowering act to do it. Supports.


Serling Roberson—Resolution on Medicare negotiating drug prices. Will benefit many. NYSUT, NEA, AFT reiterate position that Medicare negotiate.

Supporter—Retiree—Would pay 200 for three month supply, when you hit gap you have to pay four times that much.


Mulgrew—We fight with drug companies and they can just raise prices 3X cost of living. Feds gave them blank check and we are paying.

Paul Egan—expand voting rights—NY embarrassment in voting rights, many people can’t vote, long lines, people can’t change affiliation. When NC brought up for voter suppression, NY’s voting rules cited as defense. Bill will help a lot. One thing to pass, another to implement. Asks for support.

Peter Goodman—We can register 16 and 17 year olds. Untold numbers of students we can get to. Many of our people don’t bother. Will be part of instructional program. Supports.


Move to extend for last resolution—passes

VP Special ed.—Support our brothers and sisters in LA. Snapshot of entire country. Asks for support.


6 PM We are adjourned.