Archive for June, 2015

Is it time to put large schools back together?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June June 2015 Leaflet Front

On June 1, 2015, New Action introduced a resolution (here) to consider the circumstances of campus high schools. In the last 15 years many of large high schools have been replaced with campuses of mini-schools, with swarms of administrators.

In swaths of the City, large high schools are gone. Middle schools, 6 – 12 schools, and even elementary schools share space with high schools. Science labs and music rooms are converted to classrooms in one school, while other schools teach chorus in regular rooms and science without labs rooms.

In many campuses there is little interaction between the staffs of mini-schools. School spirit often did not translate well to the campus. Some mini-schools have few tenured teachers – many chapters are weaker, many members do not know their rights, or are afraisd of excersing them. Yet there are positive exceptions.

The resolution called for the UFT to create a committee to look into these circumstances. How can cooperation between schools on a campus be increased? How can a greater sense of community be developed? How can some of our large academic, comprehensive high schools and CTE schools be reconstituted? The resolution also called for the committee to make recommendations to strengthen chapters and support chapter leaders in campus schools.

The resolution was tabled by Unity Caucus.

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Resolution on Academic, Comprehensive, and CTE High Schools

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June 2015 Leaflet back

(click here for more information about this resolution)

Whereas the DOE has closed many academic comprehensive and CTE high schools since the late 1990s and,

Whereas large parts of the city have left students and parents with no large schools to choose and,

Whereas in some cases elementary and middle school students have been placed in schools with high school students and,

Whereas hundreds of small high schools have been created to replace large schools often without replicating the numerous curricular options, services and extra-curricular activities that the large schools once offered and,

Whereas the campus school model has led to the DOE creating multiple administrations in each building leading to increases in cost and bureaucracy, and

Whereas large academic, comprehensive high school buildings were designed and built to accommodate one school, but forcing several schools to share space often leads to poor utilization of the cafeteria, auditorium, gyms, or their use at peculiar and limited times of the day, and

Whereas large academic, comprehensive high school buildings were designed and built with a single wing of science labs, a single wing of music rooms, of art rooms, and other and specialty rooms, leaving those specialty rooms inaccessible to students from small schools once the building has been dissected, and

Whereas in many small schools there are predominantly inexperienced staff members who face serious challenges enforcing the UFT Contract and protecting members’ rights, and

Whereas in a December 4, 2002 UFT Delegate Assembly resolution the UFT affirmed our commitment to “encouraging a variety of educational settings for students and staff,” but decried the lack of foresight and planning, and

Whereas, in May 2005 the UFT’s Small School Task Force issued a groundbreaking report, recommending changes to how small schools are created, and

Whereas the efficacy of using one building to house multiple schools had not been studied or evaluated, be it

Resolved that the UFT should establish a committee which will:

  • Study the efficacy of the campus school model
  • Review the conclusions in the UFT’s Small School Task Force report
  • Determine what options, activities and community experiences have been denied students in campus buildings
  • Determine which campus schools have had some success and why
  • Evaluate the effect of breaking up large schools have had on the UFT Chapters
  • Examine the practices that have enabled some small chapters to address these challenges

and be it further

Resolved, that this committee shall make recommendations, including but not limited to, how to increase cooperation among the schools in a campus, improve the delivery of services to students, develop a greater sense of community and cohesion within the buildings, and/or how to reconstitute some of the large academic, comprehensive and CTE high schools,

And be it further resolved that this committee shall make recommendations for helping strengthen chapters and support chapter leaders in campus schools.

Discontinued Probationers

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June June 2015 Leaflet Front

This year New Action/UFT members have been meeting with discontinued probationers, UFT officials, and representatives of Chancellor Farina to discuss unfairly discontinued probationers. We made some progress: under Klein, these teachers could apply to work under another license or in another district, but when a principal offered them a position, the DoE would start a lengthy investigation – most schools hired someone else. These investigations now take a day or two; some probationers get new positions.

But there is a much larger problem – abusive and incompetent administrators. New Action/UFT has been in the forefront of this fight. Where a principal has repeatedly shown questionable judgment, it is in our mutual interest, the DoE and the UFT to challenge that judgment. This is not happening.

When an administrator is abusive – and there are too many absuive principals and APs out there – part of that behavior included bullying new teachers. We need to have the offenders’ bahavior corrected, or need to have the offenders removed. Reviving the “PINI” – Principals In Need of Improvement campaign would be a good first step. Unfortunately, there has not been progress on this front.

Congratulations, after a long year

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the June 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: June June 2015 Leaflet Front

Congratulations to Reelected and Newly Elected Chapter Leaders!

What a big responsibility! Chapter Leaders are the backbone of our union. Take a deep breath, recharge over the summer, and let’s work together to build a stronger union and a better school system next year!

A long 2014 – 2015

This was Year 2 of the new evaluation system. In December Merryl Tisch recommended horrible changes – Cuomo took them, and tried to force them through the State budget. We tried to stop some, but he got his way on too much. We will see more changes to the evaluation system coming soon.

This year the opt-out movement became a union issue in New York State. NYSUT took a strong stance. The Delegate Assembly rejected a strong resolution, but eventually adopted an opt-out stance.

Year Two of the de Blasio and Fariña administration continued to produce friendliness at the top, but without positive change reaching the schools. We need to let them know we expect better for 2015 – 2016.

Call / Write to help make evaluation fairer

Yesterday, seven regents advocated for a more fair process for determining how teachers will be evaluated in New York State. Their statement can be found here<http://dianeravitch.net/2015/06/09/significant-number-of-new-york-regents-offer-alternative-vision-of-teacher-evaluation/>.

The regents listed below are all from Metropolitan New York and did not sign on to the statement which offers an alternative vision of teacher evaluation. Two more signers would constitute a majority of the Board of Regents.

All those concerned about the APPR should phone/write these 4 NYC-connected regents to strongly encourage them to sign on to the statement.
Lester W. Young, Jr
Member at Large
55 Hanson Place, Suite 400, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
(718) 722-2796<tel:%28718%29%20722-2796>
Regent.Young@nysed.gov (link sends e-mail)<mailto:Regent.Young@nysed.gov>

Charles R. Bendit
Member
1st Judicial District
111 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1500, New York, N.Y. 10011
Phone (212) 220-9945<tel:%28212%29%20220-9945>
Regent.Bendit@nysed.gov (link sends e-mail)<mailto:Regent.Bendit@nysed.gov>

James E. Cottrell
Member
Member at Large
SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Avenue – Box 6, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11203-2098
(718) 270-2331<tel:%28718%29%20270-2331>
Regent.Cottrell@nysed.gov (link sends e-mail)<mailto:Regent.Cottrell@nysed.gov>
Christine D. Cea
Member
13th Judicial District
1050 Forest Hill Road, Staten Island, NY 10314Regent.Cea@nysed.gov (link sends e-mail)<mailto:Regent.Cea@nysed.gov>

School Budgets – Return to Unit Costing

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the March 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: May 2015 Leaflet

Before Joel Klein, schools budgeted for a certain number of teachers (units).

The DoE under Bloomberg/Klein deducted actual teacher salaries would be deducted from school budgets, encouraging principals to actively discriminate against teachers with more experience.

This system is insane. It does not save the DoE one dime, and it discourages schools who need experienced educators from hiring them.

New Action introduced the unit costing resolution on tonight’s agenda. Please support it.

Tripod Surveys – Don’t Count, Won’t Count – but Fariña Won’t Let Go

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the March 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: May 2015 Leaflet

In the new new evaluation law, there are no student surveys of teachers. But there were in the old new law, which is why the DoE prepared “tripod” surveys and sent them into the high schools. This year was supposed to be a pilot that doesn’t count. There is no “next year” because of the change in law. And the surveys take half an hour of class time – while students are preparing for Regents exams (which count in MOSLs)

New Action brought this issue to the UFT leadership, who were rebuffed when they asked to pull the surveys. What is Fariña thinking?