Archive for December, 2012

Winter “Day of Action”

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the December 2012 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2012 December

New Action proposes citywide mobilizations this winter to address a host of issues in the schools, not least the fact that we have been without a contract since October 2009. Standing with our colleagues at our schools helps build espirit de corp. And at the schools everyone is there – we can involve those members who normally don’t travel.

New Action successfully pushed for a Day of Action this past spring. We now call on the leadership to bring our troops together again. Our issues are varied: fight for basic rights, to stop school closings, against curriculum writing, for a decent contract without givebacks and with retroactivity. But the underlying theme is constant – we need to push back, just to be treated fairly, just to produce a decent environment for teachers to teach and students to learn.

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Learning Environment Surveys – Does Your Principal Respect You?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the December 2012 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2012 December

At many schools a majority of teachers disagreed with the statement “I feel respected by the principal.” If there are extenuating circumstances for a school listed here, let us know, and we will correct the information (perhaps some principals were removed?). The list excludes schools where the response rate is under 50%. Here are the top twenty:

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Dist Borough School Not respected
12 Bronx P.S. 044 David C. Farragut 80%
17 Brooklyn Paul Robeson High School 79%
5 Manhattan Academy For Social Action: A College Board School 73%
23 Brooklyn P.S. 150 Christopher 70%
30 Queens P.S. 127 Aerospace Science Magne 68%
9 Bronx P.S. 132 Garret A. Morgan 68%
31 Staten Island P.S. 019 The Curtis School 67%
21 Brooklyn P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School 66%
11 Bronx P.S. 108 Philip J. Abinanti 65%
25 Queens P.S. 165 Edith K. Bergtraum 64%
10 Bronx The Celia Cruz Bronx High School Of Music 64%
2 Manhattan N.Y.C. Museum School 63%
5 Manhattan P.S. 133 Fred R Moore 63%
24 Queens P.S. 290 63%
29 Queens P.S. 118 Lorraine Hansberry 63%
18 Brooklyn Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School 60%
24 Queens P.S. 58 – School Of Heroes 59%
30 Queens I.S. 230 59%
9 Bronx Bronx Early College Academy For Teaching & Learning 59%
2 Manhattan Murry Bergtraum High School For Business Careers 58%

“Abusive Administrators” — a real and ongoing problem in many schools

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the December 2012 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2012 December

New Action continues to receive numerous reports about abusive administrators. The DOE itself now says that the Principals Leadership Academy has not worked. See the December 6, 2012 issue of the New York Teacher (editorial on page 8). New Action has been saying this since the inception of the “Leadership Academy.” Not long along New Action put out a leaflet that laid out 14 steps to deal with abusive principals. It first requires serious solidarity amongst the staff to be successful.

Look at our list at our website. Consult your DR. Speak with colleagues about ways to support one another.

Diversity in New York City Schools

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the December 2012 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2012 December

New Action/UFT strongly urges Chapter Leaders and delegates to support today’s [substitute] resolution calling for support to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund /Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund civil rights complaint regarding specialized high school admissions, and further calling for a UFT committee to consider alternatives.

Almost two years ago this body passed a resolution resolving that “the UFT demand that the New York City Department of Education rededicate itself to a policy of actively recruiting and hiring teachers of diverse backgrounds in order to reverse the downward trend of the last eight years in the percentages of African-American and Latino classroom teachers and to diminish the considerable gap between the numbers of African-American and Latino students and the numbers of teachers of color.” It is time to push again for diversity, on all fronts.

The Real Reason So Many New Teachers Quit

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the December 2012 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2012 December

Our leaders have told us repeatedly that a lousy evaluation system causes teachers to leave the system. A recent study by Peter Youngs and Ben Pogodzinski of Wayne State University finds something different. The following is excerpted from a piece by John Tierney at The Atlantic, dated November 16, 2012.

The researchers found that the most important factor influencing commitment was the beginning teacher’s perception of how well the school principal worked with the teaching staff as a whole. This was a stronger factor than the adequacy of resources, the extent of a teacher’s administrative duties, the manageability of his or her workload, or the frequency of professional-development opportunities.

In the case of the novice teachers, poor relations with principals come through in disagreements over school or district policies, evaluations of teacher performance, and expectations that teacher work beyond their contractual requirements. The atmosphere of distrust is often magnified as the teachers discuss their complaints with one another. And it’s not just novice teachers whose work lives are affected by the school’s head….

What is The Kings College?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the November 2012 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2012 November

Some of us have noticed that The Kings College is now renting space in 52 Broadway. TKC is an ultra-conservative institution whose president, until recently, was ideologue Dinesh D’Souza. At the November 19 UFT Executive Board New Action co-chair Michael Shulman asked how the decision to rent space to The Kings College was made. The response was that we rent space to many educational institutions, including GED programs and to programs run by the DoE itself, and while The Kings College students are here we will be mingling with them and influencing them.

Merit Pay, the Newark Contract, and one from the archives

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the November 2012 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2012 November

Merit Pay and the Newark Contract

In a hotly contested election, Newark teachers approved a contract that includes merit pay. We do not want to criticize the teachers themselves – they were under tremendous pressure to approve this contract, from the politicians, and from the AFT. The NY Times reported:

“Though Ms. Weingarten had criticized what she calls “merit pay schemes,” she and the other union leaders agreed to embrace the concept in exchange for a promise that teachers would have a rare role in evaluating performance…”.

New Action/UFT opposes all merit pay schemes, master teacher schemes, and proposals to peg salary increases to pay for performance. Like the teachers union in Chicago, we believe that what happens here will have an impact among teacher unions everywhere.

FROM THE ARCHIVES
May 9, 2001 – New Action/UFT  Says No to All Forms of Merit Pay!

New Action/UFT opposes all individual and school-wide merit pay (incentives), as well as any other non-objective pay plan. President Weingarten is advocating merit pay for schools. Merit pay, which is now being called school based incentives, is bad for our schools. The latest NY Teacher makes a strong case against individual merit pay. The very same arguments  can be made for group or school wide merit pay.

President Weingarten in an e-mail to chapter leaders last year said, “Even if the Mayor offered a school-wide plan, which he did not, this is a substantial disincentive for teachers, particularly those in hardest-to-staff schools. In Fairfax, Virginia, one of the districts that dropped a plan like this did so in part because the majority of bonuses went to schools in the wealthiest neighborhoods.” Other factors often mentioned are subjective decisions made by principals, superintendents and chancellor and the divisiveness and animosity that arise within a school or group.

At the March 2000 Delegate Assembly, the leadership introduced an emergency resolution rejecting the Mayor’s call for individual merit pay for teachers. New Action co-chair Michael Shulman proposed an amendment taking out the word individual from the resolution. The amendment was accepted as friendly and the resolution passed the DA unanimously. Subsequently, President Weingarten back-tracked and stated she made a mistake accepting the amendment as a friendly one.

On June 19, 2000, New Action’s six High School Executive Board members presented the following resolution:

Resolved, that the UFT unequivocally opposes any merit pay schemes where any salary increase or bonus for a UFT member or group of UFT members is based on student performance, student attendance, administrator judgment, union judgment, peer review, parent review, student review or any other non-objective criteria; and be it further

Resolved, that the merit pay proposals  the UFT opposes include, but are not limited to: individual merit pay, group merit pay, school-wide merit pay district-wide merit pay and free airline ticket merit bonuses for staff  in a school.

New Action believes school-wide merit pay would create an unsound teaching and learning environment filled with enormous pressures and divisiveness.