Wednesday, March 31, 2021

As 25% of UFT Disapprove of Carranza, 75% Must Be Asleep

That's about the only conclusion I can reach when I read that 25% of us disapprove of former Chancellor Carranza. It's sad, really, because he had a lot of potential. He came in talking racism in the DOE, and I'm sure he was absolutely right. In fact, he was sued for so-called reverse racism after firing just a few people. Maybe that's why, in one of his greatest failures, he failed to rid Tweed of all of Bloomberg's leftovers.

This particular disappointment was not just a sign that Carranza wasn't doing his job, but also a sign that the mayor was not doing what he elected to do. And as Bill de Blasio bumbled through eight years as mayor, we had abundant notice that he was not the alternative to Bloomberg we'd all hoped for. Sure, he wasn't outright hostile to us for even existing, as was Bloomie. Sure, he didn't try to wow us with his 9th grade Spanish. But he didn't work to make the DOE something that helped rather than impeded us.

In lots of ways, Carranza failed us even more. If you saw him speak early in his tenure, he was impressive. He was super smart, clearly in control when he spoke. He had a great memory for figures, and he could defend his ideas well. Of course, he didn't always do so. But when he came to UFT, he showed great empathy for those of us who did the work. He spoke glowingly of teachers, and said he wanted to end his career as one.

He seemed to have something none of his recent predecessors did--a vision. He seemed to care greatly for our kids, and there was nothing about him trying to pit teachers against children. This is the despicable tactic of Bloomberg, Giuliani, Cuomo, and Spawn of Trump. It was great to see that gone.

The pandemic, unfortunately, changed everything. With de Blasio's rep swirling the bowl, the mayor saw opening the buildings as his chance to be the hero he envisioned himself as. He would keep them open no matter what. The buildings would close over his dead body. Alas, the dead bodies that did result were not his. He stubbornly kept schools open longer than he should have, even as Broadway closed.

Where was Carranza? Evidently he was told to stay on message, and complied. I will never forget, when we handed him 108,000 signatures asking that he close the buildings, he asked for 108,000 signatures of epidemiologists. That's a ridiculous and insulting ask. It revealed, however, that all his happy talk about us meant little or nothing. Rather than represent the interests of NYC's 1.1 million children (let alone the teachers), Richard Carranza was going to spout whatever his boss told him to.

I now think the position of chancellor is not all that important. When push comes to shove, the chancellor is not an advocate, but rather a lackey. I'd be happy fpr the new chancellor to prove me wrong.

However, I shall sit while waiting for that to happen.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

State of a Nation Dying of Racism

How do we spend hundreds of years as a country and not manage to progress beyond Racism 101? It's everywhere, and just months ago 75 million Americans voted for it. When they lost, and not by very much, a whole lot of them were ready to overturn democracy so that racism could remain in the forefront, rather than a few inches in the background. 

But still it rears its head everywhere. What's the real agenda of Fox News? Now, in fact, there's OAN and Newsmax, because Fox News is just not racist and authoritarian enough for some. Tell people their racism is okay, and they'll support all sorts of programs that benefit them not at all. Huge tax cuts for the rich? Great. I'll be rich at any moment as long as we can keep children in cages and socialism at bay. No way do I want decent health care because next thing you know, those people at the border will have it too, and that will be the end of Western Civilization. 

A Republican Senator can get up in front of God and everybody and say he wasn't afraid of the mob trying to overthrow a democratic election. They were okay somehow because they weren't from Black Lives Matter. For this guy, as long as Black lives don't matter, democracy doesn't matter either. It's ironic, because the first reaction of the talking heads on the neo-fascist news networks, when the Trumpies attempted a coup, was to say the insurrectionists were Antifa, whatever that is, or BLM carrying Trump flags as camouflage. Yeah, that's the ticket.

That's what happens when your role model is a malignant narcissist who can never admit fault. Trump was a Great President. Never mind that half a million Americans are dead because he not only failed to plan for the epidemic, but also dismantled Obama's pandemic prep. Never mind that he failed to enact a national plan because Jared thought mostly blue states would be affected. Evidently, if enough Democrats would drop dead, it would aid in his re-election. 

And despite that, 75 million Americans went to the polls and demanded their racism. In the states controlled by those racists, we now see a rollback of voting rights. In Georgia, you can go to jail for bringing voters water while they stand on line. Of course, the only reason they need to stand on line is because their polling places are intentionally inadequate. A Georgia state representative was charged with a felony for knocking on the governor's door while he signed the bill. 

It's ridiculous and inexcusable. And now we see that Trump's vitriol has further real-world consequences as anti-Asian violence surges across our sick country. In Atlanta, there was a murder spree, and a sheriff's spokesman said they guy killed 8 people because he had a bad day. Frankly, I've had some very bad days. I might take an Advil. I might write a nasty blog. I don't go out and kill eight people. We later learned that this "bad day" genius promoted anti-Asian shirts on Facebook. He should be fired.  He should've been fired before.

Two weeks ago we did parent teacher conferences. Most of my students are Chinese, and I don't speak Chinese. A Chinese-American paraprofessional helped me. Between parents we talked. She told me she was now afraid to go out at night because of anti-Asian violence. I was horrified by this. Not only that, but she lives in Flushing, which is a largely Asian community. She said that her family didn't want to travel around America because it was too dangerous. 

How can we make people live like that? How can we tolerate it? How can we put up with politicians willing to change laws so they can pick voters rather than have voters pick them? I'm reminded of a line from Pearl Buck's The Good Earth. "There is a way when the rich are too rich."

We can't sustain a country in which the rich are too rich, especially one that maintains that greed by bamboozling half of the public, promoting and tolerating their awful racism. We need a change in direction, and we need it immediately.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

UFT Delegate Assembly March 24, 2021--UFT Opposes Adminstration of NYSESLAT, Retirement Incentive Has Passed Both Houses, Cross Your Fingers

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Welcomes us. Asks for moment of silence for son of UFT member who passed.

Two more days of work before break we didn't get last year. Last year's Easter week will be our first arbitration when arbitration opens.  

COVID--We asked DOE for clarification--CDC puts out guidlelines. State has to adopt them. If you arrive in NYC April 1 or after you don't need to quarantine. Whether individual is vaccinated or not is their own personal info that they do not have to share. . Some schools have asked people if they are vaccinated. They should not do that. If this happens, contact If you have positive test results in your class, they will tell you to quarantine, What they should be saying is that IF you have been vaccinated, you don't need to quarantine. It is your choice whether to come up with that info or not. 

We have a mayor who thinks he's a doctor. Newscasters think they're doctors. We will follow actual doctors and the law. DOE should sent out guidance to all by Friday. If violations continue, we will take legal action.

CDC guidelines--They are not mandated. States decide what to do with them. CDC was politicized last year. AFT and NEA don't understand how CDC has come to new conclusions. All studies were done in rural areas. We need to know whether schools can or cannot do it, and if it's safe. Mayor spoke quickly. We have spoken with a lot of other people who agreed we will look at it and work on it. Only mayor said we will just go out and do it.

We don't look like rural areas do. If students are supposed to be 3 feet apart in classrooms, we can't keep them six feet apart at other times. We will have to have more conversations with the city. As more people are vaccinated, conditions will change. We've been good at getting vaccine out. We've seen positivity rate drop. Still low in schools, but still same rate, .5 to .6. Fewer adults, but uptick in student population, likely due to variants. We still need PPE, distancing, and ventilation. 

Mayoral opt-in period--In our original plan, there were three. There would have been one right now. In NYC right now, 30% of parents are comfortable with children going in in person. 70% not. We don't know what it will look like this summer. Don't like remote or hybrid but we will have to figure it out.

City said this morning they will share numbers with us on a daily basis. No quarantine if you return to NY April 1 or later. No one may ask you whether you've been vaccinated. UFT program for giving members access to vaccine was highly successful, 35K matched. No big waiting list anymore. Thanks medical partners who helped. 

Contract tracing going well. Two positive non-linked cases lead to remote. Doctors will get back to us on these policies.

National--Elections matter. We were looking at 2-3 years of fighting layoffs, but American Recovery Act averts that. Infrastructure bill could be important to us. Coalition forming around green initiative for school buildings, retrofitting existing buildings and in new buildings. Ventilation has proven very important. Spanish flu changed schools, and that's why there are big windows in old buildings. Want to make sure NYC gets in there. 

In MLK building, ventilation was nonexistent, but we were able to get things fixed. Custodians said they never had this kind of support. Things moved quickly. This is what we need to do for every school building. American Recovery Act has given NYS almost 9 billion dollars, perhaps 5 for NYC. City receiving 5.4 billion for other expenses. Has changed entire budget landscape. This can stabilize parts of damaged economy. We need to make sure we stabilize and build things that will benefit us for years to come. 

Does mayor have right to just spend this or does this need to go through budget process? We don't want it all spent in next 9 months of his admin. We have to think long-term. 

State--Budget moving along. We don't like governor budget. House placed taxation on rich. Rich people upset, but ed. has been cut for three years straight. There is a majority of dems in both houses saying this is time to raise revenue. First time in years we aren't looking at cuts. We are fortunate to be in this position. 

Process may move faster because of other political things happening. As soon as this is done we will get it out to all here.

City--45 elections happening, mayor making proclamations, Andrew Yang as second coming of Mike Bloomberg. We are mostly through city council, now looking at citywide races. One person running for comptroller not invited to final forum because we took top three people. Primaries in June are making some candidates crazy. We have a lot of friends, and it's very tough when three or four friends are running in same race. Some will act out and scream. 

Big vote tomorrow--Mayor trying to get policing plan done. If not, state can withhold money. Lots of horse trading between city and city council. School safety big issue. We want school safety to stay intact. We don't think DOE will do good job. They squashed all incidents and said everything was fine. Many advocates disagree. 

DOE--New chancellor--We've met to talk planning for this summer and next year. We don't want people filling out preference sheets right now, because many programs, preferences and SBOs didn't happen. We're not sure now how we will program our schools or what we'll be able to do. Calendar coming out soon. We have a very tight calendar for next year. 

We will meet again, and try to tell people what decisions will be made and when. If science and medical guidance changes, our plans may change too. Waiting for recommendations. Trial on vaccines for 10-15 year olds finished now. Let's not forget what we've been through and what we're still doing. People complain teachers want this and that, but teachers are doing everything they can to get instruction to children. We don't like hybrid, remote, or any of this, but we do what we have to. 

Without our work and what we've been doing, all of these things would've been much worse. Concerning because it's been a year now. We've done this, kept people safe, and will do it the right way. If we can decide on dates, we can give you period of time to do programming, SBOs, etc. 

Chancellor doing well with us, No longer 39 people coming to meetings. 

Operational issues--Over 2059 filed. 1727 rectified. Lots of compensation. Key here was to have a plan and process. We're all in this together, in person, at home--None of this has been fair, but we have system so people are compensated when mistreated.

Reorganization grievances--Only 38 have reached central level, 24 rectified and 14 pending. 142 reached district level, most resolved. 399 at school level most resolved. 

PSAL--Guidelines coming out with calendar. Don't want people coming up with their own rules. Some people don't want to bother thinking things through. We will get rules out shortly.

Thanks HS for reopenings. All have made it work, elementary, D75, MS. We're handling it. Two openings for every division of this union. You did great work--no drama, no problems. Two days from break--relax, stay safe after long, difficult year. 

LeRoy Barr-- Happy birthday UFT, 61 years old. Power rooted in early actions. CL elections starting. Make sure you have election team in place, that chair is selected. Saturday training for CLs. Mayoral town hall April 7, DA April 14.


Q--In person opt in--For students already stable, kids can be shifted back into blended learning. How can we do this with so many teachers out?

A--We always said there should be three opt in periods. Mayor said only one more and things would be locked, Now he decided there would be new period. He really wants to see interest of parents. Once we have number, we can see what it means. If he says three feet, there may be issues, If our doctors say it's okay, it's one thing, But he just makes announcement without planning. Hybrid's the worst. Horrible in terms of programming and bounces everyone back and forth. Let's see what real ask is for parents and students. We have schools with only 20% opt in and teachers w/o accommodations teaching remotely. If 100% have to opt in, what do we do? Most schools have people eating in classroom, and has to be six feet apart. How do we do that if kids are six feet apart? They suggest we skip every other child. That's ridiculous, and not what CDC said, Much to be done.

Q--Opt in questions changed. Why? If you click your vaccinated, no more options. Can't I still spread covid vaccinated?

A--They were trying to be responsible to complaints, clear up things. If you're vaccinated you are clear to enter. That's CDC and local guidance. I didn't answer it, and it doesn't stop you. Form may change again. None of this info is saved anywhere.

Q--With so many changes, can mayor change mind about accommodations?

A--Yes. They just have to accommodate so you can do job safely. Previously, biggest accommodations were working on first floor or getting elevator key. We won those arguments because of underlying COVID conditions. Was nothing about caregiver, but we were able to get it. They will change sooner or later. When they change is the question. Goal is to get back to school. Nothing decided for this school year. With vaccine, and closer to herd immunity, idea is to get everyone back. There is a small percentage of population that cannot take vaccine. Some members may have this issue. As long as we don't have some crazy variant immune to vaccine, then all bets are off.

Q--AP calling parents of remote students asking them to come back face to face. Is that allowed? Is there financial incentive?

A-- No rule says they can't call. They won't come because AP calls. We have access to vaccine. Large number of our members have been vaccinated. There are activist parents being used, but parents don't want kids to get COVID. Children and families don't have access to vaccine. Should be much bigger part of conversation. Child and families have no guarantees. Does AP have those answers? If so, it's not truthful. No financial incentive whatsoever. Schools held harmless in terms of roster. Debts will be wiped off. 

Q--Elections--functional chapters--Can we have list of number of members, how much paid UFT time they get, and when elections will be?

A--We will let it out. It's nothing we hide. Each functional chapter has made decisions at different times. People need to have all the info. Not an issue.

Q--Early retirement incentive?

A--In both of one house bills. Trying to get in into final budget. Will be huge piece, and then it comes to city. When we pushed retro payment we got city to say it supported incentive. City has to abide by it. Keeping fingers crossed. 

Q--Do new CDC guidelines change classroom capacity?

A--If we adopt them, yes. We have to see what state says. If we go to three feet from six, you will get double number of students, more or less. Problem is everywhere else they have to be six feet apart, and eating issue. With cohorts and pods, purity is questionable. Pure pod means they have no interaction outside of pod. Not happening in many places.

Q--Will there be true open market this year?

A--Working on that. Have meetings about it. Budgets at school level should be good. We expect full foundation aid and full FSF. No one could have imagined we'd have our busiest transfer year. 

Q--Observations--Admin doesn't want to count any from the fall. Do I have to persuade them or are they overstepping?

A--You have to persuade them--wording is they may use it. But they can only use favorable ones. We couldn't get governor to do waiver, but we are pursuing suspension via legislative process as many districts are having trouble figuring this out. Possibility there may be another waiver. We will see where that goes between now and April.

Q--Positive testing--If classroom has to shut down and teacher is vaccinated, can teacher say she wants to come in?

A--Situation room will say you have to quarantine. Admin crosses line if they ask whether you've been vaccinated. Depends on level. If you're coming in to teach child remotely, it's different than if you're with students. If you have had a close contact but have been fully vaccinated you don't have to quarantine. Completely up to you and reveal of info also up to you.


Alexandra Papadopolous--For this month--Resolution to urge NYC council vote no to transfer safety agents to DOE, but instead hire counselors, nurses. 

85% yes

Marie Peltzer--this month--Supports union organizing for Amazon workers in Alabama.

92% yes

Geraldo Maldonado--this month--Supporting Columbia U. Graduate Working Union, on strike after two years of failed negotiations. 

91% yes


Endorsements--Marie ?--Participated in selection process, all candidates have been interviewed, will advocate for us. 

?--Candidate interviews done by colleagues, reflect views of membership. Did survey where they were ranked. Then political experts decide viability, rate history. Rises in support. 

Victor Jimenez--agrees with last speaker.

Daniel Alicea--against, disconnected.

85% yes.

Tom Brown--Nominates David Kazansky as TRS Trustee--resepected pension advocate, serves on multiple committees, has presented on panels, knowledgeable, diligent, and passionate. Pensions stronger and safer. Asks delegates to pass resolution and nominate for re-election.  

Lina Constantino--supports resolution.

Diana Gonzalez--in favor of resolution. 

97% yes.

Janella Hinds--Cancel NYSESLAT this year. Very challenging in that it takes lots of time, little connection with what they are able to do. In light of COVID we'd like this cancelled as many other exams have been. Only students attending in person are taking this.

(I miss name, as I'm in queue.) Everyone's under way to much stress. Really support this, hopes all will vote yes. 

I speak of absurdity of this exam. (I co-wrote resolution with Janella H.)

Edward Burke--Agrees with everything everyone said, but needs to be some way to evaluate students who've never been tested. Says students are wrongly placed as beginners. 

87% yes 

6:01 We are adjourned. Mulgrew urges us to be safe and wishes we spend some quality time with loved ones. Thanks us, wishes us happy Easter and Passover.

Monday, March 22, 2021

UFT Executive Board March 22, 2021--Confusion Over de Blasio's Hastily Made Plans

UFT Secretary LeRoy Barr--Minutes are approved. Endorsement reso approved.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Thanks everyone who participated in endorsement processes. We are still checking people who've passed, and we now have two more which brings us to 78.

Moment of silence. 

Thanks everyone in HS division for a relatively smooth day. We will make sure everyone is following right procedures. 

Mayor--CDC comes out with new guidelines. Convoluted. Medically, they may make sense, but implementation may be an issue. We thought we should read these things and figure it out, but mayor had to jump out and do a big press conference without doing so. There will be a process nonetheless. 

We're not yet out of this. Look at Europe, NJ, and we don't want schools to become clusters. Vaccines are helping, but we see more students getting COVID. Parents are concerned, especially with new variants that affect younger people. If we end up in a fight with the mayor so be it.

Children can be 3 feet apart in classroom, but 6 elsewhere. Adults are six feet always. How can kids eat in classes when they need to be six feet apart? Mayor wants them to take turns, which is ridiculous.

More important piece is opt-in period. We have to do this anyway to plan for summer and September. We need to know how many students will be in person. This week was supposed to be an opt-in week according to our September agreement. Fact is we have a very low opt-in number. Very interested to see what comes of 2 week period.

They are arguing about studies, none of which is based on urban school districts. Will speak with CDC director Wednesday. 

We're now going to try to plan for next year. We're somewhat fighting with the mayor, but still have to move forward. We'll push on intervention teams. City council hasn't yet passed budget.

Having bad time in NYU because they haven't hired nurses. Hopefully we can get some relief over there.

Andrew Yang--We knew this was coming because his consultant has made most of his money attacking us. Was behind Bloomberg. Yang doesn't even know what he's talking about. Members are quite perturbed and pressure needs to stay on. Forum planned for Wed. we come back. Will be live with social distancing. Trying to finalize who we should invite, but Yang as frontrunner should be invited.

Retirees, MLC, moving toward better ways to use our buying power for health care. No one losing Part B reimbursement check. Met with three major hospitals to tell them enough is enough and we may drop them from network. Tired of costs going up 10% every year. We're starting to get response we want. 

When we come back from break, we have to get state budget done, and then we'll move into city budget and mayor's race. 

Questions/ answers

1. DOE will have new opt in period. started today for two weeks.

2. Asynchronous schedule has to be made by teacher and approved by admin.

3. Preference sheets--We asked them to put a hold, since we don't yet know how we're programming. Programming will be done late. Some schools will program anyway, but last year's programs had to be redone. Hoping to have timeline by Thursday. Trying to lower craziness and frustration.

4. CDC guidlines mean schools have to reprogram yet again. We have no idea where we're going this year Mayor makes announcements but doesn't know what he's talking about. If students come in and it's safe, that's okay. Right now, opt-in period runs through break. That's what happens when you make decisions without planning. 

Hope everyone relaxes next week. Travel restrictions changed. Be safe, and thank you for all you've done. 6:19

Friday, March 19, 2021

Note to MATH Advocate Andrew Yang--2 + 2 = 4

Andrew Yang, who famously wears a MATH lapel pin, was just featured in Politico, and had this to say:

“I think it’s ridiculous that we’re tenuring teachers at like the two-year mark or something, and make it so you can’t be paid or you can’t be disciplined or fired.”

That's certainly an interesting statement, and on multiple levels. First of all, we are not "tenuring" teachers "at like the two year mark or something." It seems to me that if you're going to stand up in public and criticize us, you ought to have some small notion of what exactly you're talking about. I've been teaching since 1984, and back then it took three years to achieve tenure. As I was hired as some sort of sub, and I swapped licenses a few years in, it took me closer to six.

Every teacher in NY State, though, can tell you that it now takes four years to achieve tenure. Not like the four year mark or something.  It's fairly precise, and you'd think a guy advocating for math in any form would also advocate for precision. In fact, I'm more of an English guy, and I seek precision in student writing. But that's beside the real point. 

Let's look at this other thing he said, that teachers can't be disciplined or fired. I'm chapter leader of the largest school in Queens. I have sat through dozens, maybe hundreds of discipline meetings. I'm here to tell you teachers can be and are disciplined. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what he's talking about. As for being fired, there is a process called 3020a in our state, and teachers are indeed fired. I know teachers who've been fired. Perhaps Yang wants us to be fired arbitrarily and capriciously, as Bloomberg did.

As for the other thing, "you can't be paid," I don't even know what he's talking about. It doesn't logically go with his complaints, false though they are, about teachers not being disciplined or fired.  In fact, considering the other things Yang says about us, despite his famously favoring universal income, maybe he wants it for everyone but teachers. Who knows? With language that incoherent, pretty much anything goes.

The real point here is that, if Andrew Yang is walking around saying things that every teacher knows to be patently untrue, it means he doesn't interact with teachers. He doesn't check his information with them. Andrew Yang is also pro-charter school. It's pretty common knowledge that most charters are not unionized. What might that imply about his feelings on union? 

Personally, I'm anti-charter. UFT, though, has not been. UFT has supported charters, brought them to the city, and even opened charters. So it's odd that Yang would target us for that. It's always disappointing when politicians scapegoat us. It's even more disappointing when they do so by telling lies about us.

And here's where Yang pulls out a real whopper of a tale:

“I will confess to being a parent that has been frustrated by how slow our schools have been to open, and I do believe that the UFT has been a significant reason why our schools have been slow to open,” Yang said.

I'm glad he confesses to being a parent, at least. As for the rest of his statement, I'm not at all sure what he bases it on. Fact--NYC was the only major city to open buildings for a long time. A lot of members were unhappy with this, but the fact is UFT worked with the city to find ways to open. What slowed school openings, in fact, was the ineptitude of the de Blasio administration.

UFT was ready to plan for September last year, but de Blasio's DOE sat on its hands and hoped for the best. It was in no way prepared for September. It hemmed and hawed, said everything was fine, screwed up safety measures, and was only kept in check by us, as we demanded safe conditions for everyone in buildings. Unless Yang has an issue with safety, it behooves him to educate himself as to what exactly went on in the city he deems himself equipped to lead.

I  couldn't say that any better. Patrick sat on the PPE for years, speaking truth to Bloomberg. While I can't imagine that Andrew Yang (or anyone) could speak Spanish as poorly as Mike Bloomberg did, he clearly knows just as little about public education. Mayoral control is an abomination. No mayor should have absolute power over an education system that belongs to a community. 

Giving this sort of power to someone who can't be bothered conversing with those of us who actually do the work, someone who opines before considering (let alone researching) his words, another self-appointed expert who invents "facts" on the spot--That would be an egregious error. 

Andrew Yang is surely good at something, and I hope he finds out what it is. This notwithstanding, he ought not to be mayor of NYC, not now, not next year, and not ever.

Safety Last, Says Bill de Blasio

Bill de Blasio, reputation in tatters after a preposterous run for President and outrageous failure to close school buildings during a raging pandemic, is perpetually late for everything. Were I as late to my work as he his, I'd be selling pencils on the corner rather than teaching English. 

De Blasio has that heavily on his mind. So how can he restore his rep?

Cuomo's fall from grace helps, in that perhaps he's not the very worst tinhorn politician in New York State this week. This makes de Blasio think, look, I can be governor. Maybe the people in New York will forget my bungling indecision. People in the city will forget that I predicted 75% of students wanted to attend school buildings during a pandemic. Perhaps they won't recall I purposefully misinterpreted data, and that it ended up more like 25%.

Hey, maybe all the people shouting for wider openings will finally get their way. After all, social distancing may fall from 6 to 3 feet, and then NYC can go back to its time-honored policy of shoveling kids into classrooms like canned sardines. Personally, I've been working in the most overcrowded school in the city for almost 30 years, so I've got a pretty good notion of how that works. 

There are a few things to consider here, and of course de Blasio has spent not one minute considering, let alone anticipating them. That's not his style, Just charge into whatever head first with no thought whatsoever, and hope for the best. After all, why change your style simply because it's drawn you into failure after failure? 

One thing de Blasio has never considered, as far as I can tell, is that virus is prodigiously contagious. Had he done that, we'd never have seen his pawn Carranza telling UFT, after we handed him 108,000 signatures asking buildings be closed, that he'd regard them only if they were from epidemiologists. So contagion is not a factor. If CDC says three feet is enough, we'll have to wait and see how many people drop dead as a result before de Blasio puts his finger to the wind and changes his mind.

Another minor inconvenience is the fact that, even if teachers are vaccinated, students are not. Covid can affect them, despite what de Blasio may believe, and long Covid in kids is indeed a thing. Just months ago, European schools closed as schoolchildren were determined to be spreading the virus. As variants of the virus arrive, and as we learn new things all the time, I personally hate learning things the hard way. 

As if that's not enough, the fact is a whole lot of city parents don't want to learn the hard way either. They do not, in fact, trust city schools enough that they'll risk the lives of their kids, themselves, or anyone. I hope the CDC is correct, and I hope we learn 3 feet of social distancing is sufficient. That doesn't mean I'm comfortable, though, with my kids or yours being guinea pigs.

As a teacher, there's nothing I'd like better than going back to my real job. That would be the best thing for students as well. Unfortunately, erring on the side of caution is not something in the makeup of the current New York City mayor. On the brighter side, New Yorkers are likely more skeptical than de Blasio thinks they are. Blatantly biased New York Times reporters can trumpet otherwise, but New Yorkers are nobody's fools, not even for the so-called paper of record. 

For as far back as I can remember, New York Mayor has been a position from which no one's gone ahead politically. After next year, Bill de Blasio may have to go out and get a real job, and that will benefit all New Yorkers. 

Except, perhaps, whoever has the misfortune of employing him. The DOE, for example, could bring him up on charges for his constant failure to report on time. I only hope I'm not his chapter leader when that happens.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Myth of Learning Loss

Life is simple for people like Bill Gates. Everything has a formula. You and I are no different from computer programs. But Bill's brain is also similar to a computer program. You know, garbage in, garbage out.

That's why we keep reading about this "learning loss." The assumption is, when school is stopped, or changed, students lose something. Whatever this is, it's so precious that it must be restored by any means necessary. So maybe we need to send kids to summer school and prepare them for the only important thing in this lifetime--the Big Standardized Test. After all, Bill Gates thinks it's important, and he has All That Money, so he must know.

The thing is, though, that learning is something a lot broader than cramming with that Barron's review book to pass the Living Environment Regents exam. I think Jack Nicholson said, "If you aren't learning, you're dead." I'd broaden that to say if you aren't learning, you're either dead, wearing a MAGA hat, or governor of Texas.

We're all learning from the pandemic. I don't know anyone alive who's been through anything like this, While it's true this won't help me pass the Geometry Regents exam, it's entirely possible I've learned something more valuable. Maybe I've learned that we need to protect ourselves and stay safe, and maybe that's more important than the Big Test.

Nicholas Tampio has a great piece in the Washington Post, suggesting students need a chance to catch up on socialization this summer, as opposed to test prep or homework. I couldn't agree more. I'm a teacher of teenagers, and they're potentially the most social beings on earth.  What exactly are our kids missing while in-person school is on hiatus, or while they're sitting masked, socially distanced, and prohibited from actual interaction with one another?

Clearly they're missing the same thing I am, which is human interaction. I didn't appreciate how important that was until this year. Though I've frequently coveted offices as I searched high and low for a place to work, I now know how unhappy I'd have been with a regular office job. The great energy I derived from my job came directly from kids with whom I interacted. I really miss that.

But that's nothing compared to what our kids are missing. School is important to get grades, to learn subjects, but it's also the social hub for a whole lot of our children. That's been effectively cut off for a year. I'm not hearing from students that they miss homework and tests.

I read letters from parents and students lamenting the fact that all they have now is work. I read a letter from a student who generally excels saying she just couldn't keep up anymore. I saw one from a parent expressing the same concern for her kid. Anyone lecturing about learning loss telling you that kids need more schoolwork simply does not know kids or what they need.

We're not going to roll back the pandemic, and forcing kids to do extra work in summer school simply won't mean it didn't happen. If we want to compensate for the losses our children have suffered, we're going to have to give them something they haven't already got. That thing is definitely not homework, and it's not some no-excuses test prep summer school either.

Tampio is right that our students are sorely in need of play, interaction, or maybe a summer camp of sorts. The thing that will make our kids productive is not a high score on some abysmally written state test. The thing that will make our kids productive is meeting their needs and making them happy.

If we lose sight of that, we're almost certainly in the wrong business.

Monday, March 15, 2021

UFT Executive Board , March 15 2021, HS Openings and More...

Janella Hinds--discusses resolution against anti-Asian actions. UFT stands against bias, discrimination and hatefulness and this is a reaffirmation of where we stand. 

Seung Lee--This has been weighing on me for a while. Important board addresses this. Anti-Asian hate crimes up over150%. Important step we start this conversation.

Cassie Prugh--Thanks people for Lobby Day. Was good timing because budgets being put together now. Did Manhattan Borough President Town Hall, and tomorrow is Mayoral Town Hall. Screening Comptroller candidates. Will be town hall with then next Tuesday. Visit website if you wish to attend. 

Karen Alford--Early childhood conference was very hands on and interactive. Facilitators and presenters were great. Thankful that it went well. 

Tom Murphy--General membership meeting March 23rd for retirees. Will discuss city campaigns, rescue act, local implications. Have bipartisan election committee.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew-- One year ago today that schools closed. Friday afternoon mayor said he wasn't closing, went through a weekend. Sunday was an ugly and dramatic day, and at 5 PM he announced he was closing buildings. We have been compiling a list of members who passed, and we have two new names we will have a moment of silence for.

One year later, things are looking up, but it's been an awful year. We will be digging out for a long time. Hopefully these will be the two last names I need to say. 

Moment of silence.

Moving forward, HSs are opening. Not required to come in both Thursday and Friday. Will be one or the others. Seeking clear guidance on PSAL. City was not looking at it. UFT reached out as people reached out to us. DOE accused us of blocking activities, which is a blatant lie. We are the only city without sport activity right now. Schools don't get to make their own decisions on this,

When we have HS set to go, if we see something not right, we need to know about it in order to fix it. We ask when you go in you check everything. 

Starting to see lists of members coming for vaccines all matched, over 36K. No one knows how many have been vaccinated because state and city have not kept records. Many sites did not check whether people were educators. We won't mandate reporting of vaccinations. 

We will continue to push for safety, and we are using medical experts. NY has done great job of completing vaccinations and safety guidelines will be adjusted. People are apprehensive. We recommend people be vaccinated but have supported those who don't want to.

Contact tracing working well. City has hired enough teams to cover high schools. I will be meeting with chancellor and CSA to plan for summer and September, so as to avoid rushed programming. 

APPR system is up and working. If there are issues, if something is doing something stupid, let us know. APPR complaint process is up.

Budget--You've seen rollout of Bident's package. Thanks everyone for lobbying in Albany. Governor and each house will put in desired budget. Senate and House came out today. 9 billion additional dollars coming to state for K-12. All goes directly to schools except 898 million. They cannot supplant the money. We recommend 898 million be done with NYSED grant process. If they accept this money. state must increase education funding. There will be increase in foundation aid. 

Much drama in Albany. They pushed back against early retirement incentive. We told them they have not been used for layoffs, but rather for savings of municipalities. It is now in both House proposals. It's not a done deal, though.

We have made an impact. We have a massive challenge ahead of us, but I'm very happy to report on where budget is at this moment. Not done yet, but in good place. We are doing alright at this moment. 

We have our fourth mayoral forum tomorrow. From there we will decide who needs to be invited to final forum. 

Q--Right now we have two hours for vaccine. State law now says four hours. Does that apply to us?


Q--School buildings closed, but schools never closed. In terms of HS, what about empoowering principals and CLs to make decisions about transitioning to all remote, or allowing struggling students to opt back in?

A--We can discuss that with city. Some parents want other opportunities to opt in. As long as we can keep up safety, we can discuss it with new chancellor. If it makes sense, and doesn't cause a mess, we can deal with it. DOE has responsibility to preclude mess, which they didn't with PSAL. 

Q--Members want to know about spring break. Will travel guidelines be updated?

A--CDC made recommendations. We have to wait for state to adopt them.

Q--Tomorrow is UFT birthday. Nov. 7, first strike, December collective bargaining agreement.

Mulgrew--Happy St. Patricks Day and UFT birthday. 6:29

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Farewell from the Chancellor

Dear Colleagues, 

Today is my last day serving as New York City’s Schools Chancellor, and I write to you to both say goodbye and to express my gratitude for each one of you. 
During the last three years, I have made about a million bucks, and haven’t paid a dime in rent. And honestly, my expense account has covered just about everything—travel, meals, donuts, unnatural acts—you name it. Your generosity and fortitude have surpassed my expectations.
We have been through unimaginably turbulent times together, and yet have achieved so much for our children. I don’t think anyone wants a laundry list, and honestly, I haven’t put a quarter in a laundry machine in years. Whether it’s shirts, underwear, suits, socks, ties, or whatever, they just appear cleaned and pressed. I don’t even know who does them. But yeah, you know, the children.
And, of course, together we took on the COVID-19 pandemic, completely reinventing what it meant to teach and learn in New York City’s public schools. I remember when you brought me 108,000 signatures asking that we close buildings. I said, hey, bring me 108,00 signatures of epidemiologists, because hey, my job was on the line and screw you all if that’s what it takes.

Every one of you, no matter the role you play, makes a difference in the lives of the City’s public school students. Please never forget that helping our school system reach its full potential and lifting up our children is not the job of one person. Unless you, of course, because that’s your job. Tomorrow I won’t have a job. I’ll take my million bucks and go elsewhere. Where? Wouldn’t you like to know?
There are so many experiences I will take with me, but I’d like to leave you with one that particularly drives home why we do what we do. In 2019, I had the opportunity to meet with students who were multilingual learners as part of a Title 3 summer program. A girl from an elementary school in Brooklyn shared with me that they had read a book about dreams. Their assignment was to write their dreams down on cards and put the cards inside  “dream boxes” they created. The idea was: If they write their dreams down, they’ll come true.
This little girl’s father had been detained in ICE custody in California. Her dream was to be reunited with her father in the land of the free. And she gave me her dream box and said, “You’re the Chancellor and I don’t want you to forget about me.”
So you see? I remember. Where’s the girl? Where’s her dad? Don’t ask me.
While it is hard to leave, I am confident that I am leaving you in excellent, experienced hands. I know that Chancellor Meisha Porter will have your backs while continuing to be a fierce warrior for our students and our schools. I mean, maybe she, unlike me, will stand up to the mayor when he does outlandish things like keeping schools fully open during a raging, deadly pandemic. You never know.

More than anything, I am proud to have served with you, and so proud of the strides we have made.  It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your Chancellor. Don’t let the fact that I’m taking the money and running diminish that.  I will miss you deeply and I wish you all well. Hasta pronto…Until we meet again. But sit while you wait for that.

In unity, 


Friday, March 12, 2021

Background Noises and Unforced Errros

I'm dogsitting this week. I've done this many times before, and it's never been much of an issue. However, that was back in the good old days when a. it was summer, or b. I had a workplace that was not my home. 

The dog in the forefront is Toby, and he resides here full-time. Behind him is Julio, my daughter's dog. They get along pretty well, but they have differing personalities. Toby's had a rough little life, and was found wandering the streets of Puerto Rico before Animal Lighthouse Rescue flew him over and gave him to us. My daughter found Julio in a pet store and bullied me into getting him for her. 

I'm not sure exactly how that molded their personalities, but I'll tell you that Toby doesn't get excited that easily. The postman can show up ten times a day and he won't raise an eyelid. Julio's just a little more hyper, and a little more yappy. So lately, my classes are filled with background barking, and me occasionally shouting, "Calm down, Julio!"

As if that's not enough, I find myself making errors with materials, and not for the first time. Because I can't distribute books, I have to copy them page by page into Google Classroom. Now I finally know why I needed a scanner in the printer I almost never used before. For my money, one of the most tedious tasks in online teaching is scanning 30 or 40 pages at a time. You scan, wait for it to show, get up, turn the page, and then do the next one. This is something particularly mind-numbing, for me at least, and I miss pages here and there. Sometimes I scan the same page multiple times.

So today, when I said let's try exercise 17 on page 64, I was not at all surprised to hear one of my students say, "I don't have page 64." I knew she was right, because she's a very bright and attentive kid. I chastised her for being smarter than me, because this was far from the first time she's done this. Personally, I think she does it on purpose. We should have rules against this sort of thing. I mean, there she is being smarter than I am in front of the whole class, and how does that make me look?

So, despite my damaged ego, I had to scan the page in right there, which took a few minutes. Fortunately, my students had Julio's yapping to divert them. But by the time I got everything ready, Toby had determined that whatever Julio was barking about was an actual emergency. Toby's not much bigger than Julio, but he has a really big-dog bark. Maybe that's how he survived the streets. I don't know.

Anyway, we finally recovered and mostly finished the exercise. I'm going to have to try and negotiate with these guys to calm down during morning hours, though. We shall have a serious conversation later today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

My New Job

My first year as a teacher was my worst. I did a lot of on-the-job learning. One thing I learned was that my supervisor was out of her freaking mind. I had no experience. She promised to help me with grading, failed to do so, and then managed to hate me and everything I stood for when I didn't get grades in on time. This resulted in things like not getting enough books when I needed them and having a kid named Frankie steal them out of the bookroom for me. 

I had students who made me crazy, but some who were helpful. One, after I told him I was going crazy keeping up with all the mail in my box, kindly arrived every morning before I did and tossed it all into the trash. While I missed meetings and such as a result, I could always say I was never notified, and no one was able to prove otherwise. During my second year, I was in a new school with a new supervisor who was actually supportive, and I started to grow into the job a little.

Every year was a little better, until this one. I'm doing the best I can, and I'm not getting into any particular trouble beyond that of being chapter leader. That's perpetual, and I've grown used to it. I'll go so far as to say helping people is very rewarding and despite my complaints, I ultimately love doing it.

But man, this year is my second worst.  Online learning thing is just not what I signed up for. I would never have lasted in a job that entailed sitting at a desk, and that's the job I have now. While we may open wider next year, I don't think we're going back to doing what we actually do. 

In our school, we had until March 8th to negotiate with students to resolve NX grades. I had a few on the borderline, pushed them a little, and managed to get them to pass before the semester even ended. I had a few others who had done nothing all year who emailed me, asking what they could do to pass. They were surprised when I said they had to make up all the work. I think they expected me to give them some sort of magic formula to pass while doing nothing whatsoever. Most didn't do anything at all, as per usual, and are still sitting on those NX grades.

One surprised me. All of a sudden I was getting notice that assignments were being made up. Look, there's a composition, 168 days late, from last semester, and there it is. And there are a dozen more. Wow, this guy is really working very hard, What determination. So I open the assignment, and it's blank. I give him a zero, to replace the zero he already had. I open another, with the same result. I decided not to open any more, as life is short.

But look, now he's making up the assignments for this semester as well. And they're blank too. This is remarkable, because I've been concerned about my students getting too much homework, Most of my homework assignments, lately, have been done collectively, in class. All students needed to do was write down the answers upon which we'd agreed and submit them. Still, this guy handed me blank papers.

I gave another zero. I wrote him a note, saying please don't hand me blank assignments. I told him I look at every assignment, and that I would give a grade of zero to any assignments that were blank. And yet I got another. I wrote him a DM in class, asking him why he kept handing me blank assignments. But I got no response. 

Some of my failing students attend after school tutoring. One student, who did little work, told me his tutor told him to ask what he could do to pass. My answer was the same. I wonder what value there is in hiring a tutor who doesn't urge students to do current assignments, yet urges them to find out what they can do to make up for those they missed. 

I had one student who emailed me multiple times asking for the Zoom code. I gave it to him each and every time. Then he posted his question as a message in Google Classroom. I told him this was the fourth time I was giving it to him, that it was the same, and here it is. To my surprise, he actually showed up twice so far, albeit late and unprepared. Maybe he'll turn around and pass, but having failed everything last semester, and having participated not at all in my class, I'm not holding my breath. 

I call parents and they tell me their kids don't want to attend online classes. I'm not sure exactly how that's different from saying they don't want to go to physical school buildings, but I haven't got a great retort.

I have other students who have genuine issues. I understand when they're unable to go to class. I stay in touch with them, and have thus far avoided NX with them. 

What I keep coming back to is this isn't the job I signed up for. It's not the job I grew to love. There are bright spots, with irrepressible kids I've gotten to know, or kids I knew previously, but this is the longest teaching year of my life. I'm glad not to travel in and out by car, but I'd much rather be doing my real job. I know this isn't it.

Monday, March 08, 2021

UFT Executive Board March 8, 2021--Still Chaos for Women's History Month

UFT Secretary LeRoy Barr--Minutes are approved. Happy Women's History Month. Will be a celebration, details forthcoming. Friday is Lobby Day. 

Cassie Prugh--We will be meeting with leaders and chairs Thursday. Friday our PAC and DRs will be lobbying our city and state reps.

Barr--11,000 views of town hall. Link is available for those who wish to listen. CLs need to put election committees in place. Election chairperson must be selected. Email will go out to CLs tomorrow. There wil be electronic voting for schools. Will be balloting for functional chapters. 

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--One week away from anniversary of school closing. Finished APPR, did training. Still working on MOSL. Complaint process is available. HS opening 22nd. May be update. We don't know if staff needs to come in both days.  Will try for either or. Must make sure safety is handled.

PSAL starts when we return. Will have more clarification. Will be up to coaches whether they want to go through summer. 

Federal package passed. Schumer and Glillebrand did great job. Hoping it is done by Wednesday. Will help us quite a bit. Means we will have safety issues funded. We will push for what we need to do for trauma, enrichment. Process has been bogged down. We need to help get students college ready. We will have to do a lot ourselves and shame others into helping. 

Every school system in NYS is now open. LA has a multitude of issues. No matter what they solve, there is new problem.

Governor--We need a budget done. Sad to talk about what governor is doing on National Women's Day. This is very serious. We also have a very important budget. Besides education, state still looking at massive deficit. We want fed money to come in, not allow state to cut because of it. We have to focus on budget, and get it done on time. If this continues, something will have to change. Budget process must go on. I have great faith in Tish James. She will do this properly and transparently. 

We negotiated on HS, have two weeks lead time. Will see what happens with DOE as they get closer to end of de Blasio admin.

Vaccine program running quite well, have almost exhausted our list. If you know someone who needs vaccine, send them to our website.

Positivity rate in schools is dropping, now .5. Same in communities. State number for NYC is 4%. Vaccine working but not out of woods yet. NYS has aggressive vaccination program. 

Schools are set where they are. 70% of families have chosen not to send children to school, HS 80%. Starting conversations with city about next year. Won't be normal, but we don't know what it will be. Lots has to do with medical experts. Cannot be as bad as this year. Fortunately, our plan turned out to be the plan people were using. We consulted experts. 

We will focus on either full time remote, or in person, but we can't guarantee. We will see where we are. 

Thanks everyone for doing training together. Idea was everyone could hear same thing together. Wasn't great PD, but we won't have to deal with DOE not understanding. We all saw the same presentation. 

Questions/ Answers

We already have people working with situation rooms. Might seem complicated, but it isn't. We have a process. 

CDC has new guidance, waiting for breakdown. Not ready to discuss this yet. CDC recommends guidance, state then develops own policies. States opening are disregarding them. We will lobby state if we disagree. 

Q--HS teachers going in PT conference day. Will be hectic--Please consider.

A--Will try to have people choose whatever day, check classroom, and if any program change, have it dealt with.

We will take care of teachers who don't want to work summer keeping retention rights. 

PSAL--Are there school guidelines?

Waiting for them--Different lists for different sports, want some all outdoors. As soon as we have info, will share with coaches.

HS can be used for vaccines on weekends and after school hours. We will relocate sites. Recommend that everyone get vaccinated ASAP. B group 50 mil. C group triple size. 

Thanks everyone. Happy Women's History Month. Supposed to hit 60 degrees tomorrow.

Friday, March 05, 2021

To Open or Not to Open? Depends What "Open" Means

Every day, and everywhere, you read and hear about opening the schools. Biden made it a priority, and to his credit, has managed to push out a whole lot of vaccine. He now envisions having a sufficient supply for all adult Americans by May. I spend many fun hours trying to get the vaccine, refreshing and revisiting various sites, and still feel it's a minor miracle I managed to do so. 

So Biden wants to open the schools in 100 days, and he's got 60 or 70 left. I think he can do it, actually. After all, NYC buildings are "open." Well, elementary, D75 and middle schools are, anyway. It appears that, within a matter of weeks, high schools will be "open" as well. Of course, that does not mean that we teachers are out there doing what we do. 

The NY Times is all excited about school openings, and seems to have been on a campaign for them, and against teacher union, for months. Just open the window, they say. They then give an example in which one window is open, and show what will happen. Who knows what happens if you choose a different window, or what happens when the temperature is freezing, stifling, or perhaps both, given the caprices of school temperature regulation? And hey, look at how that COVID sweeps around the teacher standing like a statue in front of the class. (The Times seems not to notice that.)

Of course, the class is socially distanced. You have only a handful of students there. So the Times, if you ignore my questions, has set forth an easy recipe for school openings. Except, of course, there are more questions. For one thing, if you only have nine students in a classroom, what exactly has become of the other 25? Here in Fun City, they're sitting in a Zoom class somewhere. So while you've technically got the buildings open, you've only got a fraction of students actually in attendance. 

Now there are exceptions. There are red states in which the governors have decided to completely ignore the pandemic that's literally killing their constituents. Have the governors determined they'll lose more opposition voters? That's entirely possible, considering that the virus seems to disproportionately hit minorities. Are Republican governors that evil? If so, calling them "neanderthal" is a relative compliment. 

In any case, Biden has made it a priority to vaccinate teachers. This is significant, because while New York has already done so, many states have not. Florida's MAGA governor, for example, is now going to have to vaccinate those teachers to whom he'd previously offered only a middle finger. He's probably the last governor who'd help educators, so it looks like teachers will finally be protected. That solves everything, right?

Actually it does not. The fact is the vaccine is not available to schoolchildren. It looks like that is changing, but what are the chances of vaccinating every school child before September? If that doesn't occur, how on earth are we going to fully open buildings? I work in the most overcrowded school in this overcrowded city, and even if every adult were to be vaccinated, would it be reasonable to expose all these teenagers in such stiflingly close quarters?

I cannot imagine how that's acceptable to any thinking person. 

The fact is, having 25-30% of students in school buildings, masked, socially distanced, and unable to freely interact is not precisely progress. It's hardly something worth battling for. It may appear otherwise, of course, if you rely on the NY Times for education information. 

Those of us who've worked for the NYC Department of Education have heard many, many iterations of doubletalk, and we see this "opening" for what it is. It's a sham. If we want to go back to in person education, we need to vaccinate everyone of every age. These half-assed solutions may be good enough for NY Times reporters, but they ought not to be good enough for teachers, students, or parents.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Teacher Evaluation--Not Quite Better than Nothing, but...

That quote and photo are of everyone's favorite evaluation expert, Charlotte Danielson. Evidently, after having taken tons of cash for her system, she disapproves of it. Of course, so do I. While her framework may have been helpful as a guide, it has reduced evaluation to exactly what she claims to be troubled by.

This notwithstanding, it looks like we have an evaluation agreement. I'm of the opinion that we ought not to be evaluated this year, but my powers over space and time are limited. ESSA says we need a federal waiver to avoid this, and that's not happening, especially given Biden's failure to waive testing. We'd also need a waiver from Cuomo, and that doesn't appear forthcoming either.

I've read several accounts saying we ought to approach Cuomo and ask. While that wouldn't hurt, neither would it be productive. First, it fails to consider that we need the federal waiver. Second, even a weakened Cuomo would not sign it. What's in it for him? Are we going to fight to keep him in office? I can't speak for leadership, but I've never voted for Andrew Cuomo. He's the first Democrat I ever declined to support. That's because, on his very first term, he ran on a platform of going after unions. I thought, with Democrats like that, why do we even need Republicans?

As if that's not enough, he enabled the IDC, the Democrats who effectively gave Republicans control of the Senate. He's taken suitcases of cash from charter supporters and whored himself out for Eva Moskowitz. And the allegations against him now make him seem even worse than we knew him to be. Sure, he's stood with us and helped us from time to time, but that was only to contrast himself with Donald Trump. Unlike his dad, who likely lost his job over a principled stand against the death penalty, Andrew seems to have no discernible moral center.

Despite his problems, I don't see how helping us benefits him. It would likely mean we'd have to defend him somehow. I'd vomit in my mouth if I thought we were supporting him at this juncture. And even if we did, I don't think it would make much difference. There'd be a story in the NY Post about how Cuomo was in the pocket of the UFT, and we'd still lack the federal waiver. 

Given all that, I don't see how we slip out of evaluation. So if we have to have it, what should it look like? Right now, it appears that anyone who's had a satisfactory walkthrough is finished for the year. In our school, earlier in the year, I got a lot of email from teachers wondering why supervisors were coming in to see them. There's no evaluation system, so why bother? I kept telling them that that these walkthroughs could not be evaluative, and couldn't be used against them, so there was no reason to worry.

Now it appears that they will count only if they were effective or higher, and all or most of the teachers who complained are done for the year. In my building, that means that evaluation is largely over. I was a little upset with the principal for sending all those supervisors to monitor us, but they do have the right to watch us teach, virtually or otherwise.

Now I'm getting email saying that Ms. Supervisor observed me, said it was fine, gave me a few suggestions, and does that count as an observation. I have to answer probably, since I can't read Ms. Supervisor's mind just yet. It looks like a whole lot of people who complained in the past are relieved in the present.

Given that March 2020 has raged on for 368 days and counting, this is probably the best result we could get. I'm not sure, given the evident impossibility of waivers, what could have been better negotiated. It's not better than nothing, but short of that, it's better than anything I can think of.

Monday, March 01, 2021

UFT Executive Board March 1, 2021--DOE Looking at HS Openings

UFT Secretary LeRoy Barr--Minutes are approved.

VP Sterling Roberson--Friday was CTE virtual awards, educators and others honored. Thanks all who presented and supported. 

Rashad Brown--Black History film 4:30-6:30. History of BLM

George Altomari--Irish American committee met last week. 

Tom Murphy--Retirees doing benefit meetings, general membership March 23, working on election committee. Will have info on petitioning process. 

Cassie Prugh--Good evening all! Happy Monday! Reminder to sign up for our 3rd Mayoral Town Hall on Tuesday, March 9 @ 5:30pm here.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Chancellor--Appreciate what he'd done for three years. DOE still DOE and we have to get through this year. We will do our best to make September better.

We don't know what programming will look like next year, but are looking at SBOs. 

Town Hall Thursday. Will discuss CL election process. Hoping for better relationship with labor relations board.

We are in conversations about HS openings. We have a formula and know how many people we need. We want time before we do this. HS has less in person instruction because of low number of opt ins. Nothing changes on safety. All of it still kicks in. Was good to see in middle schools. Met distancing guidelines. We've just started these conversations.

APPR is out. City has finished with principals. Need to make sure it matches context we are working under. If you had earlier walkthrough that was effective or higher that is your observation. If not, you will have another. Same for tenured and untenured. Want to keep it simple for this year. Can only observe what is seen, Cannot ask for other domains. We will get you MOSLs and insure it is all fair. We have a complaint process that should work if there are shenanigans. 

Between now and next break we have a lot of work to do. Have to set up for end of school year, and we cannot wait until July to do programming for next year. Hopefully city has learned. 

Anyone working in person should have access to the vaccine. In person HS people should have access if schools open. 

We have to deal with emotional, academic and graduation issues. Ninth graders haven't attended HS yet, and this is important in determining how they will do in HS. Are seniors getting prep for college they need? We have concerns with graduating class. College enrollment is down. Imagine this being your last two years of school. I have called City Hall. We are only district in state with no PSAL sports. Heard that group of parents meeting with City Hall are being told UFT won't allow it, but they have never spoken to us. We have testing and can make a plan. 

Thankfully our HS division has been trying very hard to work things out.


No comment on allegations against governor. They speak for themselves.

Have spoken to new chancellor numerous times. Still have issues with DOE in leadership and education, and they hurt chances of successful chancellor.

Standardized testing is a mess. If we have to report, the only test we can give is standardized. We can't do a formative assessment, though we should. I doubt many parents will have kids sit for those tests. Parents can opt out and that's a position I support. It's important we do some sort of formative assessment so we have a baseline. Sitting for a standardized test that does none of that makes no sense.

Random testing--Done by DOE, if not done properly you have to let us know. Last week was best week for testing. Changes we've made have helped. Going to city labs and coming back quicker, but we still have problems.

Q--Vaccine test was moved. How will they open up HS if they are vaccination centers?

A--We told them if they wanted to open, they had to move out vaccination centers. If they can isolate part of building, we can look at it. About a dozen sites had to be moved so MS could open.

Q--How can they keep comprehensive campuses open for vaccines and open small schools for students?

They can't. 

Q--Principal says with everyone double vaccinated, can people rethink accommodations?

A--No. Accommodations are covered under federal law, at least medical. Others may become tricky, Number of kids coming in is quite low. 

Q--Kids who opted for blended will come back. Can principals invite others?

A--Principal has no authority to do that. City can do that. Now looking at maximizing in person days. We can look at reprogramming students who show up. MS have students at five days a week. We had large rooms for them. They did good job with students with IEPs.

Q--We got MOU quickly for eval. before principals.

A--Communications people did good job. We wanted to get it out in way that we wouldn't have to deal with DOE sabotage. 

Q--Principals got very short notice on graduation last year. Can DOE give more than two days notice?

A--That's on my list. Commencement is a big deal, so let's try to do better this year. 

We are adjourned 6:32