Archive for September, 2014

Report from UFT Executive Board September 22 2014

This was the second Exec Board of the year.

The agenda was compressed, to accommodate a 6:30 visit by Carmen Fariña.

There was no open mike. After minutes were approved they moved to the Staff Director’s report, as Mulgrew had not arrived. LeRoy Barr responded to questions from two weeks earlier: We still don’t have the number of discontinuances from last year. We know of 261 extensions of probation (these are the probationers who contacted their borough offices). There were approximately 650-700 Ineffective ratings, and 5500 – 6000 Developings. There are approximately 1600 excessed members (often called ATRs).

LeRoy encouraged us to return our Smallheiser ballots, and announced a new location for the November 2 Teacher Union Day (the Hilton).

There were no questions during the question period.

George Altomare made the only report in Reports from Districts, and spoke of the successful Climate Change march.

Michael Mulgrew then gave his report. The joint Mulgrew-Fariña letter on lesson plans needed work because DoE legal kept getting it wrong. Principals are getting wrong info from the networks; they complain that they have been instructed by the networks to do things that are clearly illegal.

Only 350 schools are missing from the contract implementation survey, but we want to get all of them. most committees are in place. Curriculum is lagging. For professional development, there are principals who, instead of collaborating, are dictating. There is clear alignment between “us” and the DoE on beginning the conversations.

Special Orders of Business

Carmen Alvarez nominated Evelyn DeJesus for VP Educational Issues. There were no other nominations, and LeRoy Barr cast one vote, electing her. Mel Aaronson nominated Thomas Brown for Assistant Treasurer. There were no other nominations, and LeRoy Barr cast one vote, electing him. New Action did not make a nomination for VP Educational Issues. We disagree with Unity on many of the major educational issues (testing, evaluation, curriculum, etc). However, in ouor discussions before nominations were do, our supporters indicated that we find Evelyn DeJesus to be open, collaborative. We know we can talk with her. We can work with her. We decided, unanimously, not to offer an alternate nomination.

Michael Shulman (New Action) moved a resolution raising the issue of unfairly discontinued probationers. It resolved that the  UFT will contact all recently fired probationary teachers, determine those who were unjustly terminated, and  present a case to the chancellor requesting that these unjustly terminated teachers be given a second chance. Michael Mulgrew got up to agree with the sentiment, but wanted the promise of who we would reach to be defined, and not to be “all.” And then discussion continued, including members of the Executive Board who do not frequently speak, making suggestions to alternately broaden or sharpen the language. The motion’s maker, Shulman, indicated several times that these proposals were in line with the intent of the resolution. Speaking a second time (I think it was a second time, my notes were scribbled and fast), Mulgrew suggested focusing on probationers who had appealed their discontiuance, Finally, VP Anne Goldman pointed out that the comments and suggestions were moving this towards a finished product, but that in fairness we should not vote before the best language had been reached. The body voted unanimously to refer the resolution to the next Executive Board, October 6.

The meeting was adjourned. Fariña arrived, spoke for about 3 minutes, followed by dinner.

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.

Report from UFT Executive Board September 8 2014

This was the first Exec Board of the year.

There was no speaker for the open mike.

After minutes were approved they moved to the Staff Director’s report, as Mulgrew had not arrived. LeRoy Barr mentioned the Labor Day parade and thanked those who turned out, mentioned the ATR meetings that are happening in the borough offices all this week, and spoke about the Citywide Chapter Leader Meeting this Wednesday, at 52 Broadway, at 4:15 PM. Secretary Emil Pietromonico announced vacancies for VP- Educational Issues (Catalina Fortino moving to NYSUT) and Asst Treasurer (Mona Romain). He spoke about two meetings for members who had been rated ineffective – seventy or eighty members came to each.

Question Period:

Kate Martin-Bridge (New Action) asked for the number of current teachers in the Absent Teachers Reserve (Excessed Teachers, often referred to as ATRs). Emil said the person who answers the question was currently meeting with ATRs, and he would get back to us.

Jonathan Halabi (me, New Action) asked, what someone like Robert Jackson, who has been a hero for public education in NYC, had to do to get the UFT’s support (NYSUT endorsed his opponent in the primary). Paul Egan responded that Jackson had challenged an incumbent, and that they had equally stellar legislative records, and that state endorsements are handled by NYSUT.

Michael Shulman (New Action) asked how many probationers were discontinued or had their probations extended last year. They will get back to us.

William Goldman (New Action) asked how many Ineffective and Developing ratings there were. Jackie Bennett was called on, but said the numbers won’t be finalized for a few weeks. Emil Pietromonico reported about 650 – 700 Ineffectives and about 4800 Developings.

Presidents report (Mulgrew arrived during the question period). #1 Issue for us is contract implementation. Surveys went out to chapter leaders. Very smooth opening to the school year. Glad de Blasio is getting kudos on the pre-k. It means our kindergarten teachers will get better-prepared kids next year. Primary election is tomorrow, please vote. A big issue with implementation will be PD. When we used to do PD we didn’t like it because it was not ours. Over 6000 new teachers this year. Extra people retired in June. Speaking about the reaction in Staten Island, he said that the shirts that we’ve seen (supporting NYPD) have been appropriate.

On evaluation, the DoE offered a fourth option:  for teachers rated E: four informal observations and nothing else.

At that point he ended the president’s report, and Emil moved the agenda to vote on approving this fourth option (actually a contract change). Ellen Driessen (DR, District 20, Brooklyn) asked if, while we are it, we could get the Highly Effective 3 + open your classroom reduced to just 3 informals (answer, we asked, this was all they were offering). Passed unanimously.

Reports from Districts – Shelvy Abrams, Anthony Harmon, Vince Gaglione, Michael Freedman, George Altomare

Legislative Repor – Paul Egan

Special Orders of Business

1. Peoples Climate March. Sterling Roberson motivated. Michael Shulman (New Action) asked if literature would be distributed at the Chapter Leaders meeting Wednesday (while acknowledging that there is a conflict with a Chapter Leaders weekend, so attendance might be lower). LeRoy Barr answered positively. The resolution was unanimously adopted.

2. Endorse Zephyr Teachout for governor. Regina Gori (New Action) motivated. LeRoy Barr rose to oppose. Paul Egan rose to oppose. Jonathan Halabi (New Action) rose in support. Sandra March rose to oppose.

We will edit this section to include some of the debate.

The vote was overwhelmingly against endorsing. Yet we do not believe that every Unity Exec Board member voted.

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.


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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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