Archive for May, 2014

Assist teachers who need to transfer by Identifying Schools With High Staff Turnover

The following resolution was introduced at the UFT Executive Board Monday, May 19, 2014. It was defeated on a caucus-line vote

UFT Executive Board Resolution on Identifying Schools With High Staff Turnover

Whereas, the Open Market Transfer Period runs from the present through the beginning of August, and
Whereas, every year thousands of our members apply for schools to transfer into, and
Whereas, high turnover rates are an indication that a school may have a problematic administration, and
Whereas, our members seeking transfers may not know which schools have high turnovers rates, but that information is available to the UFT, therefore be it
Resolved, that the UFT will establish a procedure in which a member can call a borough office and learn if a school in that borough has a high turnover rate, and be it further
Resolved, that the UFT will publish a list in the New York Teacher which details which schools have exceptionally high staff turnover.

The Unity speakers against asserted that publishing the names of high turnover schools would be calling those schools bad schools, and that some high turnover schools are simply hard-to-staff schools, and that the staffs of those schools would be publicly shamed. Further, members already call the borough offices with questions.

High turnover rates are one of a number of factors that potential transfers should know about. Sometimes there is an understandable reason for a high number, but usually there is not. New Action continues to believe that teachers who need to transfer should have as much information as possible about the schools they are applying to.  In agreeing to the open market transfer system in 2005, the union should have assumed the obligation to protect transfers by providing such information.

 

 

The Cost of Lowering Class Size

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the April 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: April 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 and back

Lower class size is often at the top of the list when members are asked what changes could improve schools. There is more than one way to get this done, but we often think of doing it contractually, since there already are class size limits in our Contract. Article 7M caps kindergarten at 25, elementary at 32, junior high school at 33, and high school at 34, with larger classes allowed in Phys Ed and required Music, but with several (often frustrating) exceptions allowed.

We have been warned that lowering class size limits contractually would require a trade off in money. That’s as far as that conversation usually goes. But how much money? It turns out, reducing the class size limits by one student would cost about 1%. Now that would lead to interesting conversations in schools – if we tried to lower class size contractually, would members forego 1% for a decrease of one? 2% for two? 3% for three? 4% for four? or prefer to maximize raises and seek to lower class sizes through some other route?

Abusive? Unqualified? Both? – The Office of Adult and Continuing Education

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the April 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: April 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 and back

Most New Yorkers are unaware that thousands of adults across the City attend free ESL, GED, and job training programs run by the NYC Office of Adult and Continuing Education (OACE), a branch of the DOE.  Many of the adults who come to improve their lives are parents of children in NYC public or charter schools.  OACE teachers are dedicated adult education professionals.

Since September 2012, the OACE has been run by an elementary/middle school superintendent, Rose-Marie Mills, and her numerous elementary and middle school administrative appointees, whose mission has been to impose an elementary school curriculum for teaching adult students. Large sums have been squandered this year on children’s books with inappropriate elementary themes to be used in adult education classrooms.  Teachers had absolutely no input in selecting these materials.  Moreover, all suggestions for adult appropriate materials were ignored or denied.

There are boxes and boxes of unused warehoused children’s books, and OACE teachers have been left with a dearth of appropriate instructional materials.  Nevertheless, Superintendent Mills demands test scores gains, and teachers who don’t make the cut will receive unsatisfactory ratings.

Mills is obsessed with data.  OACE teachers have been harassed and disrespected nonstop since she commenced her reign of terror. Morale is at an all-time low.

The new DoE administration needs to take a close look at the OACE.  Misspent funds?  Completely data driven program?  Terrorized teachers?  Is this any way to run an educational program?

Contract Vote – Why the Rush?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the May 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: March May 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 Leaflet Front and back

New Action believes this contract- any contract- should be the subject on discussion at every school in NYC. At the UFT Executive Board Monday night, May 5, 2014 we were informed that the details about savings in our health plan would not be available for the delegates to read. Mike Mulgrew said that the 47 page educational segment would be up Tuesday on the website. And it was. But this is inadequate.

President Mulgrew stated, “We’re way ahead of where we thought we would be.” New Action members of the Exec Board asked to table the vote until Delegates and Chapter Leaders had a chance to see the changes. We also asked for a later DA, so delegates could get the MOA before voting on it.

But we are being asked to vote on this before the health component is in front of us, and before members in the schools have seen it! This is not about trust. This is not about delaying a vote of the membership. New Action asked to reschedule for one week. Frankly, it’s hard to understand why we are rushing when the President says we are weeks ahead of where we thought we would be.

Health Care

 

(Get the point?)

 

Health Care

Imagine your son came to you and said he needed to update his health care, and found a plan that he was going to sign up for.  “Have you read it?” “No, it won’t be available for a week” “Do you have to sign up right away?” “No, I have a month” “Then why don’t you wait a week, and read it first?” “But my friends, who I trust, tell me it’s fine”

When we sign something important, we read it first.

On the up side

For months New Action has emphasized: no more working under an expired contract, full retro, including for retirees, no givebacks, and 4 and 4. The 4 and 4 is there, but is deferred for in service members. It is possible to interpret some work rule changes as givebacks, (thought that’s a stretch). Otherwise, those requirements have been met.

The paperwork (and computer work) provision is an important (grievable) gain. And few members will miss faculty conferences.

Education Reform is a Mistake

The PROSE schools (Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence) open the door for charter-style “reforms”. These reforms swept the country in the last decade, without providing better places to learn or better places to work. New Action also opposes the “career ladder” institution of Model Teacher, Ambassador Teacher, and Master Teacher.

Recovering from the Bloomberg Years

Substantial damage was done to our schools, to our contract (especially 2005, which Unity pushed so hard) and to our members while Bloomberg was in office, while Klein, Black and Walcott ran the show.

Fariña and de Blasio are pro-public education, and will be much better for us. Mulgrew says there is no comparison. But the new attitude has not made it to the trenches. The Chancellor needs to take steps we feel in the schools, so all of us begin to experience the difference.

In this contract proposal we get one piece back from 2005: the system of billing each principal for the salary of each teacher – thereby fostering discrimination against senior teachers – is being waived for teachers in excess (ATRs). We need this citywide. New Action pushed for this to be in this contract. But it can still be negotiated outside of the contract. Likewise, many practices including extending tenure, unfair discipline, colocation, can be negotiated, even after a contract has been signed.

Fariña and de Blasio are silling to work with us. We need to show them how to provide our members immediate relief.

Retro is there, but Money is Deferred

We expected 4% and 4%, that was the pattern, plus some weaker numbers moving forward. And that’s (almost) what we got. By deferring the 4/4 to late in the contract, it was possible to get a slightly larger total number, 18%. Members who can wait to see the money will end up a bit better off from the deferral, with a higher base going forward. But members who needed money in their pockets today have a right to be disappointed. The first raise we will receive since 2008 will be just 2%, plus the $1000 one-time bonus.

The retroactive money will be complete, but takes a long time to pay out, as expected.

The Smelly Elephants in the Room: Abusive, Incompetent Administrators

Some elements of this contract, for example repurposing time, can be quite positive where administrators and UFT members collaborate. But too many of our schools are led by abusive or incompetent. In those places, how can collaboration work? This union’s leadership has too often looked the other way. We must prioritize correcting the behavior of these administrators, or removing them. We must all benefit from the positive parts of this contract.

UFT Executive Board Resolution: Election of District Representatives

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the April 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: April 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 and back

The following is drawn from a resolution, motivated by New Action’s Jonathan Halabi at the Executive Board meeting of April 7, 2014. Before any discussion occurred, Assistant Secretary Leroy Barr, a leader of Unity Caucus moved to table, which passed, cutting off debate.

In June 2003 the UFT Executive Board changed the District Representative position, an elected position for 34 years, to an appointed position, and then President Weingarten argued that the change was necessary based on the DOE’s move to Regions and would not have a negative impact on the service relationship between the chapter leader, the members, and the DR. She also maintained that with the movement to Regions we were not going to have districts and an appointed position would be a better one for our UFT. Regions no longer exist and networks appear to be on the way out. The democratic process is best served when elections determine who will represent the membership, and the election of DR’s by Chapter Leaders can only cement the relationship between the two and further union democracy.

“Therefore be it resolved, that the UFT Executive Board calls for a change from the current appointment to the election of District Representatives.”

Cuomo dumps on de Blasio and on NYC public school students

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the April 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: April 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 and back

This winter, when Mayor de Blasio approved most, but not all, planned co-locations, including several charter schools, he thought he had found compromise with the hedge fund billionaires, Moskowitz, and Cuomo. He was mistaken.

After weeks of unrelenting attacks in the media, Cuomo stood at the side of charter advocates in Albany and declared war on the Mayor and the public school students of NYC. He, with the State Senate, orchestrated a budget that robs NYC public schools to pay privately run charters. Former Mayor Bloomberg set the stage for this confrontation by destroying scores of public schools and turning over their buildings to charters.

Charters (privately managed schools that live off public money) operate on an uneven playing field. They select their own students, limit special education students, limit English Language learners, throw students out at will, and receive preferential treatment for co-locations.

According to Diane Ravitch’s recent post “New York Schools: The Roar of the Charters:”

On the same day that de Blasio organized a rally in Albany on behalf of raising taxes on the rich to pay for UPK, she (Moskowitz) closed her schools and bused thousands of students and parents to Albany for a pro-charter school rally. Governor Andrew Cuomo stood by her side, pledging “to save” charter schools and to protect them from paying rent; his ardent devotion to the charter cause may have been abetted by the $800,000 in campaign contributions he received from charter advocates in the financial industry.

This chapter is not yet closed. This Thursday, April 10, 4pm, parents, teachers, students and others will rally in front of the New York Public Library at 5th Avenue and 41st Street. They will protest awful provisions in last week’s State budget, including Albany forcing New York City to offer valuable public school space for free to all new charters. New Action urges our union to support this effort and calls on all staff and friends of public education to attend.


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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.
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