Wednesday, September 18, 2019

UFT Citywide Chapter Leader Meeting September 18--Paradigms and Telephones

4:23 UFT President Michael Mugrew welcomes us, salutes new chapter leaders.

Says he loved being CL, first year was really tough. Recalls defending contract, says CLs are not alone, and we support one another. Says union is focused on giving CLs more tools.

Says besides December 23rd, he has concerns. Looking at end of current administration and political context. They have this year and next year. Would like to get things done in that time. Says pre-K will be mayor’s biggest legacy. We have to protect it. Also wants to expand it citywide, which UFT supports.

Disturbed we are hearing nothing good about school system. Enemies are happy at that. Parents saying we don’t believe in standards, suspensions, G and T, only makeup and demographics. Fact is school system doing better than ever but we don’t hear it. Even with vocational diploma never had grad rate this high. Outperformed rest of state four years in a row. Not heard in public discourse.

Policy issues bantered about by people who don’t know what’s going on. This can be dangerous. We kept them from eliminating suspensions. Graduating entire class of social workers. Will be another one. School system not only about child who commits an act. We also need to help victims and remaining students.

We have led charge on school integration for years. We believe no more than ten or twelve districts could do integration well because of demographics in district. Proud that teachers led way on progress we’ve made. Need to continue focus while education children day to day.

G and T also tough subject. We participated in committee. Said from day one never believed in Joel Klein’s program as he changed it a decade ago. Klein standardized tests for four and five years old, and six years of this administration has not changed it. UFT wants to get rid of Klein’s G and T, but not G & T itself. Should have multiple measure criteria and never use standardized test again for four and five year olds.

No one is hearing about graduation and dropout rates, or outperforming state, but only these things. We need to take what we’ve been doing and work with communities to show our successes. No one would have anticipated this 15 years ago. Have we had the right supports? Curriculum? Real conversations with principals about changing dynamics in evaluation? “(Very few say yes.)

We should be in much better place, going further, but are dealing with agenda led by people who don’t understand what we do. We have a period to focus on great work, celebrate school communities.

December 23rd—Been dealing with state and DOE since calendar came out. Believes common sense and rational adult thought will prevail in a short period of time. If we lose one day, we still have three snow days. Lots of confusion now, will play out. You know a certain NYC paper would write an editorial about it were it to happen. We have to be reasonable—most people work on the 23.

Climate march Friday. DOE asks that we advocate in calm and rational way. Ss seem to have been reasonable. Did this after Parkland with anti-gun march. Governor and mayor did walkouts with schools. Knew it would happen like it or not, but there is a little different guidance. Not saying teachers should be arranging school trips. Rally outside of UFT between 3 and 5.

DOE was attacked when they did this, papers said they didn’t care about teaching and learning. Students believe climate change is quite important now.

Survey—Checking whether things happened—Will ask whether DOE priorities for beginning of year were satisfied—student removal? Video seen? Conversation as school community on it? They were told by chancellor and two deputies they had to do it? Have you been given curriculum? Has principal discussed new expedited class size grievance process?

Today is day ten. From today to September 24, class size overage is in your and your principal’s discretion to fix. Still at school level. September 25, it is not. It goes to the district rep. and superintendent to fix. They won’t be able to drag process out and fix it when you’re walking into arbitration, maybe months later. On October 4th, it goes to citywide labor management committee for oversized classes. If they don’t agree on a remedy will go to expedited arbitration. No more waiting until April. We will not let DOE do this.

Evaluation law was changed last year. NYSED finished new standards. City teachers worked on them. Commissioner resigned. Standards not rolled out correctly, want reset. No guidance on different aspects of MOSL including NYSESLAT. We will continue to work to protect people and keep you informed. Acting Commissioner should be around for at least six months while they do a nationwide search.

We worked on web design for year and a half. Need you to learn when you call UFT must identify yourself and say I am a chapter leader. Will help you get through to whom you need to speak. We’re trying to get everyone the info they need when they call. Wanted to change things dramatically. Met with CLs and DRs. Biggest issue was things people wanted to change to do their jobs better. Centralized training and calling.

Want to help CLs organize and empower chapters. Some people have trouble organizing consultation committees. Wants to see people empower, organize and engage.

CLs get a stipend, $6 for every member you represent. Used to be 5. Decided there was more work for you. Want to say consultations are important, and change process, not base. Want points for DA attendance, consultations, COPE membership, and will up stipend up to 1K. Will see if it works.

Union focusing on contact centers, events, and EOE, (empower, organize, engage). Trying to maintain correct union profiles via call center. Call center is dispersed across entire city. We get ready for anticipated topics—next will be retro. We want to give as much info, accurately and quickly as possible.

Events—everything in union is an event. We’re at an event. DR meeting is an event. Teacher Union Day an event. October 20 11 AM. Wear pink. We want more district and borough based events. Had bowling parties.

We are not DOE, who says they want to help but sends you paperwork.

Consultation, safety committee important. Can use student removal procedures. Principals have been trained.

Politics—AFT will endeavor to engage as many presidential candidates as possible and hold decision until next spring. Engaging with certain candidates to come to NYC—we want bigger names. Upset NY State has so little to do with primary winners. By the time they get to us it’s done. God bless the people of Iowa, but really?

Sunshine committees—organize to have fun. Have bowling or movie night. District reps and borough offices trying to do it. Promotes engagement.

What happens, for example, if superintendent is unresponsive, while teachers and parents are doing a lot of events? There are a lot of political relationships inside that district. We want to restructure union so it supports workplace at all time. Will continue grievances and arbitration, but want more info in hands of more members.

Of course there will be bumps in the road, but we don’t go backwards. Please have patience. People are doing things differently. We’re still dealing with Janus. They will try something else.

Deirdre McFadyen—Shows new website—launched in July. Had to upgrade for software reasons, but wanted to show value post-Janus area, focusing on your rights, your benefits, your union. Moved CL section—now right under “chapters.”

All union programs under “Your union.” UFT discounts found on member website, must be logged in. Podcasts available. Under teaching, there is new teacher section with instructional materials. Events calendar under get involved. Call center knowledge base integrated into FAQs.

Under “my account” there are customized links. New members will see Welfare Fund Application. Asks we download UFT app.

Mulgrew—This is designed to help CLs get info quickly. DOE is now officially under corrective action plan for special ed. violations. Pretty embarrassing, Much has to do with ELLs and SETTs.

NYC has said parent can opt out of having info shared with anyone, including charter networks. Will be challenged in court. Want to work on an opt-out plan. For years Klein said he wasn’t doing it, but he was. Would do anything for charters, including sharing private info. City now gives parents right to opt out, will work with parents and districts.

Thanks CLs from Bronx Plan schools. All got micro grants of 5K, were recruitment teams, AP classes, much more efficiently than DOE could have done. Clearest example of when you give it to people who do the work, they will make anything flourish.

DOE sends instructions and expects people to do things. They check paperwork. Nothing to do with you.

A plus—proud to announce that UFT has been accredited by NYSED for graduate level studies. Have it for a few course, but want to expand. Thanks Evelyn de Jesus and her team.
First classes will start shortly in Bronx.

We need to empower, organize and engage every school site. We will always get up, push back, and make it work. Can’t thank you enough for taking on this tough job. Our job is to get members support and respect they need. You made a choice to go above and beyond, to understand how important union is. We will not be stopped by teacher bashing. We will get beyond it.

You chose not only  to make a difference in children’s lives, but to protect those who made the decision.


Q—How can we support UAW?

A—Will do a resolution Monday and work with them. Workers are under attack, gave back to save company.

Q—What can we do to expose abuses inside schools before media? Sometimes done wrong way with teachers blamed. Schools pushed to pass students. We know that much of it is fake. Happening everywhere. We are under pressure from abusive principals. Untenured play along, will backfire. Leaders use comp time to create a clique, de facto admin.

A—If we’re going to make an allegation, we need documentation to prove it. If there’s something going on, we want to know. CL has right to say no to comp time positions. It’s tough. People who want jobs are members, but you have to say no if it’s making someone de facto admin. You have right to do that. DOE denies this stuff, but ends up in paper. Use consultations to build case for when we go public. We will back you.

Q—How can we inform parents of opting out of charters? In our school, five students without parent consent were enrolled in charters. One parent had inquired but not given permission. Parents sent them back to public school.

A—Will roll this out by next DA.

Q—Gifted and talented is big diversity issue. Moving forward, what will be our role? Concerned about children of color having access to these programs.

A—Was with chancellor and mayor, took first press conference. Said UFT opposed tests, wanted things back in school district. Key is how to ID accelerated learners early. Tough in young children. Tests are unfair and caused segregation. Maybe should wait until grade 2,3,4. Needs to be district based. This is all political. Should be educational.

Q—Forms for submitting consultation minutes and SBO are a little clumsy. They should be a lot easier. Also call center is difficult. Member complained about being shunted through center, had to verify personal info. Freaked out member. Are the people in call center actual UFT people and teachers? Would like knowledge base accessible faster.

A—Not all. Mix of staffers and school-based. Has been improved in last two weeks.

Q—Know union is doing a lot with maternity leave—in next year or two are you working on tiered retirement system? Tier 6 is hard pill to swallow. Paying in for entire year. Should be equity.

A—Not a fan of tier 6. We don’t negotiate these things. Literally done in middle of night in Albany. Done to all city and state workers. If we see the opportunity—we are not allowed to negotiate pension benefits—has to go to legislature then governor. Municipalities need to agree. We have to seek an opportunity. Completely agree.

Make sure new members are okay. They may not speak out.

Q—With leave, and babies, challenge is teachers have to drop their kids off when they need to be at school. Our principal helped out on member, but that’s kind of a whim. Can we get parents time to get their kids to school and get to work?

A—Not sure how much this admin will do on this issue, but we can start reaching out. We had many SBOs, over 1300—number one was parent teacher conferences. More than two thirds of schools have shifted them. Others shifted start times. If we can agree on it and make it happen, that’s fine. We should talk about this more and more.

Q—Expedited class sizes—identified classes that were over, have two classes oversized—principal say he’s filing a variant. Can you give us guidance on that? What do we say?

A—Has to see Kerry Yefet—sometimes okay, sometimes not. Depends on situation. Special education has a lot fo rules. State rules not accepted in NYC.

Q—Principal on day one sent components he wants included on lesson plans—says they’re non-negotiable.

A—Clearly did not follow chancellor’s instructions to work with you to change the culture on evaluation. Start by documenting that fact that he’s not following the chancellor’s order in consultation. Let’s set the tone.

Mulgrew—Thanks us again. First DA October 16, wear pink. Will be coat drive.
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