Thursday, April 28, 2022

There's Only One Thing Better Than Proctoring

In my opinion, that thing is not proctoring. Unfortunately, as a teacher of speakers of other languages, next week my dance card is full. Of proctoring. (I could have said something worse there, but this is a family blog.) Tuesday through Friday, or maybe longer, I will be sitting in the auditorium testing students of other teachers. 

I can't test my own students, you see, because the State of New York has determined that I (along with every single one of my public school colleagues) am not to be trusted. All I care about is test scores, evidently, and I will therefore inflate the scores of every one of my students. 

Oddly, I don't give all of my students 100%. In fact, I fail students on a fairly regular basis, and most definitely more since the coming of the apocalypse. But Governor Hochul has determined I can't be trusted, and one day she'll likely be elected, so she must know better than I do. 

Today I sat for training on how to administer this test. I wasn't going to, because I've been giving this test for years. It hasn't changed much. It's still the same awful piece of garbage it always was. I usually teach beginners. Most of my colleagues don't love doing this, but I do. That's kind of a win-win. Three years ago I was given an advanced class for the first time in years.

My advanced students had passed the NYSESLAT test, the one I'll be administering. NY State calls them "commanding" instead of advanced, because why use precise or direct language, ever? Some of these students had also passed the English Regents exam. The first thing I did was assign a novel with simple language, something I'd done many times before. It was a disaster. I quickly learned a good number of them could not construct a coherent sentence in English. Many could not use past tense.

That didn't stop them from writing college admission essays. They were painful to read. Some were clearly put through translating software that was woefully inadequate. I modified my expectations, but I was unable to teach the basic skills they really needed. Few of them knew what I teach beginners as a matter of course. And IMHO, that's largely the fault of this test.

We were mostly able to assess the recorded answers correctly. One fooled us, though. It was a student who was, rather than composing sentences, reading them directly from the text. That one got a zero. However, the next time we caught a student reading directly from the text, when we gave it a zero, the geniuses who designed the test indicated it should get the highest possible score. 

The person giving us the training scolded us. He had sent out an invitation for us to participate in designing this test. Now here's the thing--were I designing a test, I would not have noticed quotes one time, but not another. I'd also not have capitalized the word "sun" for no discernible reason. 

That said, I'd rather sit for a root canal than spend time with people who design tests like these. Whoever is in charge of this test has determined that Common Coriness is next to Godliness, and I'm afraid I can't go along with that. Though Common Core has deserted us in name, both this NYSESLAT and the English Regents exam bear the stink of that time frame. 

These exams train our students to either a. avoid reading and writing, or b. deplore it.

I can write a test in 45 minutes that will be better than this one. I'm not saying I'm a great test writer. I'm only saying I'm better than this. That's a low standard. Still, if the city were to give my department a few days together, I have no doubt we could construct a more useful and accurate test. 

And who can best assess my students? Well, that would be me. I've been with them every day since September. It's idiotic that NY State deems me too biased to assess them. They may as well say every single one of us is unfit for our job.

Speak for yourself, NYSED.

Monday, April 25, 2022

UFT Executive Board April 25, 2022--UFT Goes to Court Over Unfounded Suspensions by DOE

LeRoy Barr-- Welcomes us.


Barr--5K walk May 14 MCU Park Spring Conference, Teacher leader action showcase. May 21 Nurse awards May 17 Better Speech and hearing May 18, virtual, Next Exec Board May 9. DA May 25  D11 dinner dance May 6 Provider Awards May 13

Reports from Districts--

Mike Sill--Summer school postings up. Involved in reaching out to people on intent list, must declare intent by May 15 or deemed voluntarily resigned. Will be process for those on vax status too. Ed TPA, which cost 300 dollars, was inconvenient, has been eliminated. 

Mike Schirtzer--Thanks Listen Up panel, was good to see classroom teachers talking to elected officials, spoke of class size, social emotional issues. 

Michael Mulgrew--Hopes everyone had and took a break.  Still trying to work out calendar. Tough with new crew. DOE vax cards--City believes some cards are fraudulent, removed them from payroll. Not about vaccine, but contract. Do they have the right to remove people from payroll? We say no. City trying to conflate arbitration award to gain additional right. We have taken legal action. When DOE issues incorrect orders, we have to challenge them. Based on OSI report. 

Listen Up was great event. Sent out video today. Will do more of that through Spring. Covered class size and inadequate curriculum. Teachers want children happy, criticized school facilities. Got people looking around. 

We are going to arbitration on 683 vacation days. Have confidence in grievance dept.

Next Monday is holiday. Still trying to get feds to stop labeling schools failures based on test scores. 

Trying to push Biden admin on retirement security, not only for us. Fewer and fewer people have it. 


Q--US History Regents June 1, only one prototype released, totally new. Are you aware?

A--Working on it. Global number one reason students don't graduate on time. Very important to have prototypes. 

Q--Members dealing with vax cards--How are we planning to support them? People I talk to say they've had the shots.

A--We are reaching out to them. Have them speak with Michael Sill. Have already started filing, can use more info. 

Q--Heard from members just returned from vacation, didn't have ballots, could we extend deadline?

Carl Cambria--We spoke with AAA, cannot guarantee after deadline members will receive them. Not ideal to go there, but they can on Thursday and Friday between 9 and 5. Was only alternative that worked. Post Office not working at same pace as last time and needed additional time. 

Priscilla Castro--Reports that during break ARP had conferences, had paras across borough.  

Servia Silva--District 3, 4, 5, 6 had para event with Welfare Fund, certification, special ed. reps, many giveaways.

Joe Eusatch--Students will get Shanker Scholarship Acceptance emails tomorrow. June 7 date of scholarship. 

6:24 We are adjourned.

Monday, April 18, 2022

I'm Running with (and Voting for) Unity. Here's Why:

The big push for opposition, as far as I can tell, is two-pronged. First, of course, they're still railing against the awful contract we ratified 17 years ago.  I didn't vote for it, in fact, but I have lived with it. There is indeed a way to mitigate its effects during negotiation. That would entail taking less money than our brother and sister unions, which would be hugely unpopular. Were leadership to negotiate such a thing, it would be labeled a "giveback," and opposition would immediately condemn them for it. So would I, and so would most of the membership.

Of course, that's not going to happen. In fact, it wouldn't happen if opposition were to win either, which is highly unlikely. It's pretty easy to sit around and write that everything sucks, and that you'd do better if elected. I should know, because I did so for years. Becoming chapter leader of the largest school in Queens, the most overcrowded in the city, changed my perspective. Change is slow, and change is tough. The best I could do, for the most part, was try to help members one at a time. 

Of course I could not always get members what they wanted. Often, people will argue about fairness. It's hard to explain that these things are not always about fairness, but rather what is written in the contract and elsewhere. In fact, the grievance procedure is very tough. Members have to be willing to not only grieve, but also sit through a virtual kangaroo court from Tweed at step two, and then wait for an arbitrator to hear the case. Arbitrators are not infallible, and I have found some either incapable or unwilling to understand basic English. 

This process was much improved by the addition of operational complaints. (This, by the way, was very much the initiative of brilliant Unity member Debra Poulos.) If your principal claims not to understand basic English, there are people in the DOE who will not abide such nonsense. Too bad none of them are sitting in Step Two hearings, but you can't have everything. 

The other big issue opposition push is opposing the Medicare program the city was going to offer. In fact, it went to court and is now in limbo, even as Adams appeals the ruling. It's quite easy for opposition to tar this program as awful, and that's partially the fault of the MLC, which failed even to recruit the doctors it was going to compensate at the same rate Medicare does before announcing the program. But why, ultimately, would any doctor accepting Medicare reject a program that paid the same?

I've read articles stating this program was inferior to the standard Medicare, but the fact is this program has never seen the light of day, has yet to exist, and aside from requiring approvals for certain procedures (as GHI already does), I can't see exactly how anyone can prove that. I was personally pretty happy it offered me insurance if I were to travel, which I'd likely do if retired. I was once in Canada and my daughter had to visit the ER. Blue Cross covered me, minus the standard deductible. I was quite relieved about that.

Of course I can't sit here and tell you that the new program will be roses and unicorns either. It doesn't exist. If I were the MLC, I'd make sure that it were all I said it was, but only time will tell. Opposition did indeed stop it in court for now. We'll see if and how that lasts.

Adams could win his appeal, or the city charter could be changed, and we'd be back to square one. Or they could lose, and we'd be back to trying to find some other way to hit promised savings. What will opposition do then, aside from complaining? As far as I can tell, not much. 

One reason, again, is they're highly unlikely to win. The other is, even if they did, they'd be stuck with hard choices. Who gets to pay this? Are we going to impose a premium on working members for the first time ever? That would be a slippery slope. Union members around this state and elsewhere know there's no end to it. I have friends from other districts who'd have to pay a whole lot more than the 200 bucks a month proposed to retain standard Medicare. You're free to believe opposition has a solution for that. I don't.

It's easy to promise the sun and the stars when you're in no position to offer anything. I've got over ten years of experience working with opposition. When I finally won an office, their position was not, "How can we expand on this?" but rather, "How can we control the people who've won office?" It was ridiculous and counter-productive, leading them to pass stupid resolutions attempting to control us or condemn us. The objective was not, in fact, bettering working conditions for teachers. 

As chapter leader, I used to seek advice from opposition members back when they were the only people I knew. You will see the extent to which I did that wildly exaggerated and twisted elsewhere. In fact, when the person who wrote that came to me for help, I got it via Unity Caucus members. I found, in fact, the more I did the job, that the only people who could or would actually help me get things done were part of the Unity Caucus.  

You can say, yes, but the Unity Caucus are the only people in office. That's true. But there's a reason for that. The reason is they keep getting elected. And a big reason that happens is opposition has a pattern of uniting every few years, then devolving into battling among which faction is in control. That's simply history. You're free to deny it, or pretend it won't repeat itself. But those who fail to learn from history are going to be banging their heads against various walls for a long time. I'm done with that.

What exactly is this big conflict? It might be that my socialism is better than yours (and again, I don't give a damn who is or is not a socialist. I'm a Sanders supporter, but opposition labeled me and my friends "right wingers" before tossing us out.), or it could just be a crude battle over who has the biggest voice, or biggest whatever. I don't know and I don't care.

What I do know is a whole lot of them are unfit to lead, and while I won't single out UFT members on this space, they've made some horrendous choices. My values have not changed at all, and I'm running with Unity. I hope you support me, and I hope you vote (or preferably voted already) for us. 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Children First

There are few things that get my dander up more than that expression. For one thing, people who use it are invariably getting up on their high horses and flouting their self-awarded moral authority. 

These people are better than you, better than me, and have no reservation whatsoever about saying so. It's as though I were to call myself a master teacher. What does that actually mean, coming from me? (Were my students to say this, it would be another matter entirely.)

Of course, putting students first always implies we put teachers last. It strongly suggests, in fact, that teachers are somehow adversarial to students. It's a continual struggle, evidently, between our insatiable desire to sit around and read tabloid gossip (or whatever) all day and the good administrators, who want only to make us work for the good of those poor children. Never mind that said administrators went and took coursework with the express goal of getting the hell out of the classroom, and never mind that the motivation for many was their inability to handle the classroom. 

Another utter irrelevance is the fact that working teachers have chosen to continue working directly with children. It's not an easy task, what with the media virtually always vilifying us for our crime of taking summers off. After all, perish forbid that the children we love should grow up and take summers off too. How would Walmart employees muster the motivation to wear those blue vests and do low-wage, no-benefit work for years and years? How would Amazon get people to keep peeing in their trucks while delivering novelty t-shirts to people who can't wait another day to own them?

They say they were master teachers, and that should be good enough for anyone, least of all, you and me.

A basic concept that eludes these administrators is this: Our working conditions are student learning conditions. For example, if student athletes walk the halls carrying baseball bats year after year, despite complaints that this could be a hazard for the much-loved children, that's a big nothing to administrators. If test administration is a disaster year after year, that's not important. After all, you, a lowly teacher, couldn't possibly comprehend all the difficult steps it takes to master the intricacies of such activities. Unless it's in your classroom, of course, in which case you get a letter to file explicitly threatening job loss should it happen again. 

A big goal of Children First is thwarting those awful union contracts and agreements that inconveniently require payment, or perish forbid time, for extra work. Shouldn't career educrats in Tweed decide what work teachers do? If not them, at least principals. How on earth can teachers make their own determinations? What is all this crap in the union contract stating lesson plans are at the teacher's discretion? Shouldn't administrators be able to require inclusion of which Common Core goals they meet? And even if Common Core is dead, since whatever replaced it is the same, shouldn't they be included anyway? What are conscientious administrators to do about teachers who refuse to teach Common Coriness, the most important thing on earth? Will those awful English teachers fritter away time teaching reading and writing what people actually think and feel, which administrative guru David Coleman has conclusively labeled a bunch of crap?

To be a good administrator, it's important to control the time of teachers. You can't have them wasting their time prepping lessons when there are meetings to be had. Why not find someone monolingual, someone who's never lived in another country, and have that person lecture all the language teachers on how to be multiculturally sensitive? After all, that person has taken a training somewhere, whereas all the language teachers have done is traveled, lived in other countries, and learned the languages of the countries they've visited. What possible value could there be in that compared to having attended a lecture by someone who Really Knows?  

It's just infuriating that those darn teachers persist in being unionized and retaining collective bargaining. This prevents school leaders, clearly the only people on God's green earth who care about children, from doing Whatever They Want, a vital goal. That's why Tucker Carlson is on TV demanding you go in and thrash teachers, and that's why the fine folks who follow him think we ought to be executed. After all, if we aren't willing to pretend America is the Andy Griffith Show, how can we be benefiting our children at all?

So for goodness sake, we have to get behind these administrators. Some of them don't even want to execute the teachers! They simply want to micromanage them, because teachers can't be trusted and you have to look over their shoulders every minute. They need to control how teachers do things, control their time, and make sure they have as little independence as possible.

And because only they care about the children, they want the children to grow up micromanaged, with someone constantly looking over their shoulders, with little or no independence. 

Because, it turns out, people who don't give a crap about teacher morale don't give a crap about student morale either. Everyone knows that suffering builds character. That's what the racist, corporate United States are all about. That's why we don't have nice things, like universal health care. That's why I spend twenty years teaching in a crumbling trailer. And that's why COVID accommodations for much of the country's schools entailed, maybe, one window that actually opens.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

UFT Delegate Assembly April 13, 2022--Tier 6 Improvements and Other Stuff

Michael Mulgrew--Welcomes us. One day from Spring Break. We've come very far from September. Concerned about incidents. Every day a school is on lockdown. Good things--Thanks for HS and MS awards. 5K family walk or run coming May 14th at Cyclones field in Coney Island.

Last Friday was horrendous shooting of three students. UFT-represented charter run by group of teachers--We have a better procedure with NYPD to get people home. We've had people there all week. These things are getting worse. Then the incident yesterday happened. Was en route to a school nearby, nurses at NYU Lutheran dealt with this. Thanks Jeff Povalitus  and safety team.

Thanks CL of Sunset Park HS who was gr.9 mieeting students this AM. Education, school and community are important. We're in the middle of it and has been tough year. When we return there are 44 more days of school and three holidays. This has been toughest year and takes major toll. When you have a break, you need to take it. Be careful, but use the break. If you're involved in DA you're even more involved in these position. Take a breath and relax a little bit.

Federal--We have a new judge on SCOTUS. 

State--No Lt. Governor. In touch with NYSUT. Will see where that goes. Will be usual public political process. NYSUT endorsements for federal and state upcoming. Thanks everyone who helped with budget. Very good one in year when contract ends. Were good surprises. 475 million for NYC schools 100% foundation aid. 100 mil for trauma. Teacher centers expanding--450 K for United Community Schools. Day care providers paid by market rate, which we moved from 68 to 80%.

Tried for hazard pay, were not able to get it in budget. Talking about teacher retention, and they gave bonus to health care, and some of those titles work in schools. Some of our titles will get up to 1500 at a time. Whatever we can get, we go for. We will get more info out. 

When we shut down March 15 2020, every school nurse went to work and didn't stop. Recognizes them. Still fighting for nurse in every school, but how many do we need in bigger schools? For every CL, if you have a school nurse, should be on safety committee.

No one knows when COVID is going away. Doctors say these things will be floating around. You need a medical pro in your meetings. When we were facing this, every school found a nurse. We can't go back on that. 

Tier 6--Happened ten years ago. We were able to fis tier 4. Goal to fix before anyone has to retire on it. Was campaign by governor and wealthy people who put up misinformation and created this tier. Same people try to stop improvements. But you cannot recruit 21 year olds and retain them if they have to work to 63. Unions look to UFT trustees for help. Thanks Deborah Penney.

Penney--Pleased to say we got two reforms. Tier 6 only ten--Tier 4 took longer to reform. After 17 years contributions stopped after ten. Tier 4 was 24 years old before we got 25/55. We've been chipping away at it. We had five reforms and two passed. Five years for vesting now. Other a little complicated. From April 2022 to 2024 rate based on base pay only. Two year lag in contributions. Starts at 3% and can go up to 6. This bill said, to help members, they'd be held harmless for contribution rate. Only based on base pay. We will continue to keep chipping away. 

Mulgrew--First change to tier 6 now and we will keep working on it.

NYC DOE--Lots of unknowns--superintendents, principal budgets, supes going through rigorous process to see if they will remain. We think DOE is not working to benefit schools, has gotten worse. Clearly brought out during pandemic when schools ran and DOE didn't even show up to work. Everyone has relationships within school system but we have to wait and see where it goes. Concern is, they want to do thorough job, but we have to open in September. Many of us start planning a month ago, and it's not happening. Will be very strange end of school year. 

Majority of people brought in by Banks not from DOE. Want to solidify early childhood program. Need to do something with curriculum. Do we want one standardized? No, but nor do we want a thousand. Speaks of children have career pathway, but we also need to build an awareness. Civics important to mayor and chancellor. We train 50 HS people a year to do civics. DOE does nothing. It's about we're on this planet, in this city together, and responsible for one another. We support these things.

Special ed will be big issue. We're at 22% and everyone else is at 14. We're at a mandate-based system. We need teams of intervention people who need to be able to work with kids instead of doing paperwork. There has to be help aside from referrals. Some services not supplied anyway.

There are deputy chancellors doing thorough job, but they don't have much time. Asked they not do social-emotional screening for spring, but they made an 18 million contract. 48 dropdown question menu flagged kids for help, and no help came. Why do it again since first time didn't work? Has to do with contract. This is wasted money. Will see what happens.

Calendar going back and forth. Asked to make virtual parent conferences permanent. Schools saw four to five times more parents. This is engagements. Elementary schools like to combine conferences. We asked to make that standard. Calendar will help with SBOs. Will be very tight. If we can't do a snow day, they have to pay us to set up classrooms. SBOs will be done with election buddy.

Summer school same as last year. If you want to spend that much time and money, you should market it and bring kids in. This is not field of dreams. We will do process and posting. Some like the class sizes.

Class size--Working with city council. When we get back we will get really loud about this. Will not be pretty. We have room. We had room once we started measuring. You want to make school system attractive? Lower class size and safe schools is what parents want. If we want parents to place kids in schools why not give it to them?

We need to look at discipline code. We're 2,000 safety agents down. Schools with three thousand students shouldn't have three safety agents. Some schools can't set up a safe corridor because we don't have the agents. Yesterday we had to do it with NYPD. We need right personnel and training. 

CL hub--approaching 50%. We want feedback. We've gotten praise on this. We have springtime stipends, membership numbers, place to upload consultation notes. Take a look at that. Will be push on COPE when we return to support tier 6 issue.

Negotiating committee--Thanks them. Have gathered surveys. Feedback sending to company we work with. Makes sure questions are objective. Will get out to every member.

Thanks delegation for what we've been through this year. First

 day this year was very tense. No idea what would happen with everyone in building again. Mayor played games with policies for own future. Now we're in transition and there's another wave. Remember January 3rd. Was most tense of entire year. Numbers going up but schools still safest place. As long as variants are less severe, fewer hospitalizations now, but think of all stress we've been through. DOE has not been helpful

We moved forward and are now one day away from spring break. Happy we've been able to increase member assistance program, with members getting therapy. Testament to all of you that you go in and keep people calm as best you can. We keep children safe despite challenges. You have kept system going, not DOE. We've been on our own for almost two and a half years. Have a great time, be safe, and be careful. 44 days when we get back. We want to be super strong in September. Have a blessed Easter, Passover and take care of yourselves.

LeRoy Barr--Elections underway. Ballots went out Friday. Gold envelope. Please vote right away. Remind them to cast ballots. Count May 10. May 14 5K run Coney Island. Spring Conference May 21 NY Hilton. Next DA May 25. Happy Passover, Easter.


Q--special ed. recovery--Will it continue in September?

A--We understand children with special needs suffered more, We want to help children, not create a compliance system. Some schools really did work, and if we can do it, we want to. We need to help children deal with issues, instead of having them sit in Tweed and do reports. We could use help rather than hindrance. I go to meetings where people tell me it's supposed to be about children, but fight to make sure kids don't get services. 

Q--Tier 6--There were five proposals. What were other three? What are next steps.

A--Will report on this at next DA. Cut down % people pay over career. Session not over. This will take us a few years. We have to get it done. Tier four finished a year before people could retire. Want to do it sooner.

Q--Union victories at Amazon and Starbucks. Exciting. There is a resolution. Have there been convos about how to support them?

A--They had their plan and wouldn't let anyone influence them. They acted like a union. We will approach them, but not tell them what to do. We will offer help if they want it. They did something no one else could do yet. Quite impressed.

Q--Negotiation re last day of school. When will teachers know if chancellor's day is remote?

A--Have not gotten response yet. Under normal calendar would not be scheduled. Have to figure out technicalities. 

Q--Can we use vacation days for 683?

A--As far as I'm concerned, arbitration says whenever you wish. Go use it. 

Q--When will 683 dates be confirmed.

A--Hoping for week when we return. DOE going back and forth with each other. Need to give people time to do things.

Q--Principal said her way or no way for SBO. Can we fight that?

A--Make sure she can only have contractual positions and no others. Dean up to a thousand, a programmer, that's about it. If you won't entertain SBOs, we won't either. That's not collaborative. My way or the highway? For school of Hospitality and Tourism? 

Q--Mayor has been talking about dyslexia. Wants to screen all. Only doctors can do it. Will teachers be required?

A--You aren't trained to do it. Mayor passionate about it because he is dyslexic. There should be literacy development screening and if there is a problem we go to next step. Dyslexia can be diagnosed in different ways, but only by trained people. Of course we should check early, but I can't screen for this. We need to do it correctly.

Q--Wants to thank DR Myra Cruz who helps me as first year CL.


Meredith Saladis--this month--Resolution of UFT expectations of new chancellor, not spend on bureaucracy, redirect money from Tweed to schools. NYSED and DOE should have system of student expectations, lobby for smaller class sizes,  listen to teachers. 

629 yes 108 no  online  passes

Anna Wanay--next month--DOE implementing mosaic curriculum K-8. Doesn't include AAPI. None at elementary level. We need education as tool against racism. Resolution--UFT support inclusion of AAPI in DOE curriculum, and state legislation to support it. 

708 yes 47 no online passes

Amy Bernstein--next month--Improve tier 6, 51K UFT on it, would like to keep it going. UFT and other unions will campaign for improvements and enhanced benefits. 

Peter Lamphere--Moves to extend motion period for ten minutes. 

Point of inquiry--? Can there be a motion placed while motion is already happening?

A--Can be in this case.

391 yes 435 no online--I cannot hear what room count is, ever.

Motion does not carry. 

Tier 6 reso vote--

668 yes 63 no  online  passes

Point of information--Can't hear inside totals

Mulgrew--Needs to repeat them 186-7 last one.  

Tomorrow night Listen up the reality is--Members will speak. Mayor had asked to come, but got sick. Chancellor, Regents, City Council coming, will listen. Will stream live on FB, be taped. Tired of others saying what schools need. Should talk to us.


Janella Hinds--In support of resolution to eliminate distributive scoring in HS Regents exams. Passed on in 2017. At that time, were told it was important for fair secure scoring. This policy separates NYC from all schools in state, charter and Catholic schools all score in own schools. Would like alignment with rest of state. Written with Michael Schirtzer. Asks for your support. 

Question called. 

589 yes 39 no online 169 yes 6 no inside  

Resolution vote--

606 yes 53 no online 182 yes 1 no inside 93% yes passes

Raphael Thompkin--Resolution to commemorate 9/11 in NYC public schools with moment of silence. Our admin denied this on Monday the 13th. Law doesn't speak to off days. In 2022 falls on Sunday. We also need developmentally appropriate curriculum. Smaller of 9/11 memorial museums in danger of closing. Museums took big hit from pandemic. Asks for support. 

Seth Gilman--Rises in support. Teaching for 19 years, was 9/11 first responder when working with police. At 22 you don't think about death much, but we lost colleagues. Important to teach our kids about. Patrick Lynch said it's been a generation. Working police tell me it's important to teach students who hadn't been born then. 2,000 people went to work that day and didn't come back. Over 500 first responders have now passed. Must be marked whether on weekend or not. I will teach about this as long as I can breathe.

You have survivor guilt sometimes. I taught this remotely. Student said he was glad I didn't die so he could have me as teacher. Please support. 

Pat Crispino--calls question.

647 yes 17 no online 172 yes 6 no in room 97%

Resolution vote--

658 yes 43 no online  168 yes 5 no  95% passes

?--Motion to suspend automatic adjournment until we can vote on third item or 6:05. 

Mulgrew--Once we start debate, we usually finish. We will finish it.  

Greg Monte--Supports resolution, talked for two years about how we were on front lines. We were not alone. Would like to recognize SRPs now. 

Rashad Brown--Supports. Important to celebrate all who support our students. Asks paras to stand. Thanks nurses, counselors. 

?--Also rises in support. Loves SRPs in school. Fearless, bold courageous when teachers and subs were not there. Help struggling students. Thankless job at times. We need to stand up because of these countless acts of courage. Asks all to stand and applaud them. 

Dermot Myrie--In opposition, is show vote, can't make amendment.  Urges body to ask for raise instead of accolades.

Point of order--He is out of order.

Mulgrew--Has right to speak against.

Question called.

515 yes 42 no online 163 yes 5 no inside 94%

Resolution vote. 

520 yes 39 no online 160 yes 8 no inside 94% passes.

Mulgrew thanks us, says take time and relax. 6:05

Monday, April 11, 2022

UFT Executive Board April 11, 2022--We Support Amazon and Starbucks Unions

Michael Mulgrew-Welcomes us. Speaks of HS and Middle School events. Budget--We did well due to union lobbying. Had 475 million increase, CFE fully funded, 18 years after fact. Mental health services, 100 million for recovery. Teacher center 14.9 million to 24. United Community Schools 450K. Child Care--200 to 300% poverty level and market rate moved. Will help providers. 2.5 million to establish nurses.

Tier 6--Thanks trustees. Asked for analysis of tier 4, passed in 1983. First year we got it reformed was 1998. 2012 tier 6 passed at night, 11:45. 2022 have already started reform. We already had 11K members leave system under this tier. Working to 63 will not work. We have started the conversation with AFL-CIO. Have vesting moved from ten to five years. For this year, pension contributions based on 2020. Last year we had all sorts of extra money being paid to extra titles, won many operational complaints. None of money rewarded was counted toward pension contributions. We have just started the journey to fix this. Never had so many leave in first ten years of tier. Thanks all who helped. 

Please enjoy break. We know it's been a very tough year. Was at school where teacher was shot and killed this AM. We're down 2,000 agents. Last year they wouldn't hire. Now we can't get the right number in schools. We need to get people home safely. Thank you for your leadership. We will get through this year in best way possible.

LeRoy Barr--Minutes--Passed. Ballots are out. People are receiving them. Please spread work. Should be in gold envelope. Tell people to look for envelope. We want high turnout. Due by May 9, but we don't want to wait until then. Next DA Wednesday. Special order of business to support union. Also for election complaints.

 Reports from Districts--

Rich Mantel--Saturday was Middle School Conference in person. Nice turnout, good to see people together. May 14h 5K to raise money for Ukraine.

Anthony Harmon--Black and Puerto Rican caucus, award for Janella Hinds. United Community Schools people did great job.

Janella Hinds--Thanks Anthony Harmon for chairing labor luncheon. Friday was Academic HS Awards. Was amazing to have people here again. Celebrating 2021 and 2022 winners. Thanks all who joined. 

Joe Eusatch--Schanker scholarship acceptances will go out Monday. Thanks trustees for increasing income threshold. 

Resolution to support Amazon and Starbucks unions

Arthur Goldstein--We all know union leads to a middle class for many. We also know union can be a great equalizer, which was why MLK was so devoted to it. We know it to be a force against racism, bigotry, and discrimination. Now, when we sorely need it, we have some remarkable movement toward unionization at Amazon and Starbucks. It behooves us to support our brother and sister unionists in every way we possibly can. Everything about union makes everything in our country better. I urge you to support this resolution. 

Janella Hinds--We just celebrated our own 62nd anniversary. Our movement needs these young people at Starbucks and Amazon. Please support.

Amy Arundell--This weekend Chris Smalls, Amazon Union Pres. spoke at caucus. We will miss an opportunity if we don't support these people, facing things like job loss. This brings us back to our roots.

Passes unanimously

Election Complaint-- alleges improper use of union resources, Under supervision of UFT election committee, UFT conducts elections for offices. 2022 committee has members of both caucuses. Members submitted complaints.

Recommends respectfully complaint be upheld, and that UFC caucus cease campaign activity on employer paid time, should remove member phone numbers from texting lists, and for those which they don't have permission.

Sent campaign materials to people who have not subscribed to UFC mailing lists. Says it's comprised of list from MORE caucus and activist group. UFT members can unsubscribe. Remains unclear how they got on lists, but there is not indication of violation of state laws.

Teacher says she got call in classroom during class time. Clear violation to campaign on employer paid time using employer resources, but were using DOE phone. UFC rep may not have known, but when secretary answered, call should have ended. Should not have happened during class time, and UFC should cease and desist.

UFC text campaign sent info to members who have not subscribed. Allegedly sent to member who has never provided her cell number. UFC says its list is MORE and other list. Unclear how member's cell phone got on list. Accordingly, campaign messages may violate telephone consumer protection act, UFC should remove numbers for which they don't have consent.

UFC used DOE emails to solicit information. Sent from DOE address to other teacher's address. Asks members to send info to her personal email so she can provide info. Running for exec. board. Seems to be aware of this, utilized employer resources. Attempts to reach teacher found her unavailable. Violation of NMRDA.

UFC uses UFT email group to use campaign activity. Used UFT google group to seek inexpensive copying. Improper use of union resources. Allegation should be upheld.

Mike Sill--Having heard report and recommendations, take motion on acceptance of report. 

Passes unanimously. 

We are adjourned 6:35.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Putting the Genie Back in the Bottle

Teaching is a difficult balance on the best of days. Of course, not every day is the best of days, and on those days balance is even a tougher grab. Take, for example, my writing class. It ends at 9:58 AM. 

Most days I know that, but for some reason today I did not. At 9:46 AM I decided I only had two minutes left. I therefore placed a homework assignment on the board. I wrote that the students had to  rewrite the paragraph we were working on today and hand it in tomorrow.

This seemed like a good idea at the time. Some students asked if they could photograph the board, so as not to go through the evidently excruciating task of copying my instructions. After all, there must've been two, maybe three sentences there. Once you've written that much, you've halfway done the homework, and who wants to do 50% extra work, especially if it's writing stuff?

Once everyone had copied, taken a photograph, or done whatever needed doing, it was 9:48. The bell was quite uncooperative. I quickly realized the period didn't end until 9:58, and stifled a comment that would've surely earned me my first letter in file. While I was please with having controlled that instinct, I was still unhappy with the situation. I mean, there I was with only one digit off, and my students were all packing up their stuff, ready to go. Hey, the kids thought, if this teacher wants to end the class ten minutes early, who am I to disagree? 

I immediately started behaving as though I'd intentionally written the homework at that time. Hey, why is everyone packing up? We have another ten minutes. You should be revising your paragraphs! No one paid me any attention. Homework is the thing this teacher talks about last if he bothers to give it at all, and everyone knows that. 

I tried another tactic. I walked around again and individually asked to see work, most of which now had to be unpacked from bags. I asked them where their work was and whether they'd finished their first draft. Oh, yes, everyone said. Some had really done a pretty good job. Is this your best work? Do you want me to grade it now? Most decided to at least pretend to start working again, but one bold soul said fine, go ahead.

It was an unfortunate choice for the guy. I looked at his paper, and it was largely incoherent. He'd been using a translating dictionary that had not been good to him. I finally managed to persuade him not to hand it in, but I would bet you he hands me the same paper tomorrow. He probably thinks I won't remember having read it, and why shouldn't he? After all, I've been teaching this class for months, and I don't even know what time it ends.

I'm not sure exactly what causes me to make mistakes like that. It could be getting up preposterously early in the morning. I teach four in a row in the extreme AM, which I agreed to do in exchange for weaseling out of the dean job I'd managed to get. People in my building will kill one another to get that dean gig, but I absolutely hated it. Maybe four in a row is doing my brain in, although I have to say this is the first day this year I've made that mistake.

I hope it's the last, but no promises.

Monday, April 04, 2022

Vote for Unity Caucus Next Week

That's my friend Alexandra on the left. I met her a few years back. Alas, she's not the subject of this post, but it's about time someone credited her for her work.

Six years ago, I ran for HS Executive Board and won. I ran with MORE. We decided to align with New Action, and I was pretty much over the moon about it. Of course, it was hotly debated. 

This wasn't the first thing I'd seen hotly debated in MORE for little or no reason. I ran for NYSUT EVP once, and there was much conversation about how we maybe shouldn't do that, because we might win, and if we did, it might corrupt us. I decided to risk it. I ran all over the entire state, at my own expense, and lost, as did the whole ticket I was aligned with.

UFT Executive  Board looked a lot more doable. After we agreed to run with New Action, four of us went out to a beer garden in Brooklyn and discussed the socialist faction and how we'd deal with them. And no, we didn't care that they were socialist. That was not the issue.  The issue was that they were uncooperative, that they'd been so for years, that they'd joined and broken with other groups over the years. We were focused on how we could win this election and expand our victory.

That led into another group, which wrote a newsletter. Our idea was to continue and expand upon our victory. Perhaps we could capture the middle schools as well as the high schools and move from there. We were doing this for a while, and it was distributed at the DA. I dropped it in every UFT mailbox in our school. The last issue I was involved with, though, ran into an issue. One of the geniuses at MORE determined it wasn't formatted the way it should. So that person reformatted it in a way that made no difference whatsoever, took over the newsletter, and promptly ran it straight into the ground. 

This was pretty discouraging. More discouraging, though, was when I came under attack for the offense of introducing a pretty thorough class size reduction resolution. Why didn't I run it by MORE first? Who knows? They'd agreed, as far as I understood, not to interfere with us. But that became difficult for some of them. In fact, one of the people had come to that Brooklyn beer garden with us. I was quite surprised because I'd counted that person as my friend. Oh well, fool me once...

Then of course, came The Great Purge. First they started taking votes on things that affected us on days I couldn't attend their meetings. This, I was told, was done in order to alienate us. As alienating tactics go, it was pretty effective. Why are these assholes doing this, I asked myself. It had something to do with their agenda, and to this day I haven't got a clue what it is. I only know it had nothing to do with bettering working or teaching conditions, or they would not have been so horrified by efforts to improve class size. 

I know they were involved with ISO, a socialist organization that soon thereafter disbanded due to sexual assault issues. I don't know what replaced ISO, nor do I care, but I know if we don't learn from history we're doomed to repeat it. These same people now control MORE and have established yet another connection with the same groups who've joined them multiple times in the past. I thought such a coalition would succeed six years ago. Again, fool me once...

I sat at more than one MORE meeting where I was grouped with a bunch of white people asking why there weren't more teachers of color. I wondered why, if this was such a concern, no one had bothered to invite them to these meetings. Last I heard, one of them just committed an enormous faux pas. I won't post it here, but I'm absolutely certain, were it me, that opposition wouldn't extend me the same courtesy. If they have no issue writing outright lies about me, they certainly wouldn't hold back on something like this.

I'm running again with Unity because I've been able to be part of real gains for UFT members. At my very first Executive Board meeting I brought up my school's rampant overcrowding, and Ellie Engler was able to get us a meeting, one that had long eluded my principal, with the building authorities. As a result, our school will have a brand new annex next year with a new culinary program. I became close to Evelyn de Jesus, and persuaded her we needed to have two observations instead of the four that were running both us and our supervisors into the ground. We won that. We were also able to win parental leave, for the first time ever. It beats the hell out of the nothing it replaced.

Opposition can claim it will do this and that, but it's dominated by the same fanatical ideologues who basically object to doing anything but advancing their own unfathomable agenda. And while I won't attack UFT members personally on this space, I have huge issues with some of the people they've chosen to put forward. Still, there is a way forward,  and there can be more victories and improvements.  That's why I'm standing for re-election with Unity this year. 

For more, read this.