Archive for December, 2013

Who are tests bad for?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the December 2013 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: December 2013 Leaflet


New Action opposes the Teacher Evaluation System, largely due to rating teachers based on student test scores. But we should object to tests for reasons beyond the bad APPR.

Every extra day of testing squeezes out another day of teaching. Every high stakes test, especially in this era of punitive accountability, leads many schools to increase the number of days of test prep. Each prep day squeezes out another day of real teaching. The test burden on principals has led many to eliminate foreign language and art. Recess is getting short-changed. In many schools, Science and Social Studies get repurposed to ELA and Mathematics prep in non-testing years. This is horrible for kids and schools.

Teachers are more and more forced to teach not “to the test” but “to the tests” in a dizzying flurry of diagnostics, pre-tests, and State tests. Trained professionals are being asked, nay, forced to teach what accountability requires, not what the children need.

And let’s not forget, tests make kids sick. In October of this year, the Delegate Assembly approved the following language as part of a resolution on standardized testing:

“the current intensity of the standardized test taking and test prep affects children emotionally and physically leading to anxiety, frustration, low self-esteem, headaches and other physical ailments.”


Report from UFT 12/16/13 Executive Board – Calling the Question too fast

No President’s report. Mulgrew was absent.

Staff Director’s Report (?)

I was late and missed the staff director’s report. LeRoy Barr appeared not to be there. Perhaps Ellie Engler (who was present) gave the report


I missed the questions

Reports from Districts

There were many reports from districts

Legislative Report –

Paul Egan was absent, and called in to Emil Pietromonaco that there was no legislative report.

Special Orders of Business

1. There were resolutions recommended to the NYSUT Representative Assembly. These were non-controversial (). Mike Shulman added the Mandela resolution from the previous week.

2. New Action brought forth a resolution, calling for a change in the rules of order for the DA. If a question is called before there has been a speaker against, the proposed rule would require the chair to ask for a speaker against before allowing the question to be called. Jonathan Halabi (me) motivated. John Soldini, former HS VP, spoke against, saying that calling a point of order would accomplish the same thing, Kate Martin-Bridge countered, saying that in the last two years at the DA, calling a point of order has not gotten the chair to ask for a speaker opposed, Sterling Roberson rose to warn the body not to be “fooled” by the resolution, Mike Shulman rose to underline that the resolution was clear and that there was no attempt to “fool” anyone, and Richie Mantell finally rose to table the motion, due to unclarity about Roberts Rules, etc. The motion to table passed, unanimously.

New Action Caucus has ten seats on the UFT Executive Board – the only ten seats that do not belong to Unity Caucus.

Ten is not enough to win anything – but it allows our voice to be heard, it allows us to put forward resolutions, and when there is agreement, to put forward resolutions the leadership signs onto. It allows us to offer amendments. It allows us to bring issues to the leadership.

At Exec after Exec, Unity members sit and listen. Some never speak. Most rarely speak. But New Action usually has questions, comments, resolutions, or amendments.

This year we will publish reports – sometimes on the entire Exec Board, sometimes just on New Action’s contribution.

Resolution on encouraging broad discussion

Resolution on encouraging broad discussion

(presented at the 12/16/13UFT Exec Board. Tabled. This resolution would change the rules of the Delegate Assembly so that if the question was called before there had been a speaker against, the chair would ask for a speaker against before preceding to a vote.)

Whereas, the United Federation of Teachers is a democratically run organization, and

Whereas, the UFT’s governing body is the Delegate Assembly, where policy is introduced, discussed, debated, and decided, and

Whereas, the Delegate Assembly is generally governed by Roberts Rules, with several specific changes, as the UFT has chosen, and

Whereas, on occasion, after a resolution has been motivated, the question has been called and voted upon without the nay side of the issue having been heard, and

Whereas, allowing one speaker opposed would not impose an undue burden on the body, and might enrich the discussion before the vote,

Therefore, be it RESOLVED that the rules of order of the United Federation of Teachers Delegate Assembly are amended by the addition of: “6. CALLING A QUESTION – Before entertaining a motion to ‘call the question’ on any matter, if there has not been a speaker opposed to the question, the chair will ask for a speaker opposed.”

 Introduced to the December 16 UFT Exec Board. Signed by Jonathan Halabi, Michael Shulman, Kate Martin-Bridge, Francisco Peña, Keith Fessell, Doug Haynes. Motivated by Jonathan Halabi. Tabled.

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Content of signed articles and comments represents the opinions of their authors. The views expressed in signed articles are not necessarily the views of New Action/UFT.
December 2013