Archive for October, 2015

Renewal Schools – Some Questions

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

This school year we have a new group of schools targeted for intervention. There are 94 Renewal Schools, mainly in poorer neighborhoods, chosen because of lower test scores.

The Renewal program calls for 1) transformation into a Community School, 2) creating extended learning time, 3) ensuring effective leadership and rigorous instruction, 4) performing needs assessments, and 5) “Bringing increased oversight and accountability including strict goals and clear consequences for schools that do not meet them.”

We understand the payments for extended time are being fixed. We have more questions:

  • What curricula are being used in Renewal Schools, and how is “teacher voice” being recognized in selecting and implementing them?
  • Some renewal schools are in shared buildings (“campuses.”) Is the scheduling flexible enough to work with the inherent challenges of sharing a building that was not designed to be shared?
  • Has Fariña assigned experienced, collaborative, successful administrators to the Renewal Schools? Some names stand out for lacking experience. Is this the exception, or the rule?
  • How does the UFT communicate with members in renewal schools?
Advertisements

Retroactive Pay and Fairness

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the October 2015 UFT Delegate Assembly)
In a disheartening turn, after unusually harsh commentary by a teacher who is employed by the union,
the Unity leadership, followed by its caucus, voted en bloc against letting the delegates debate the issue.
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2015 October

Many members are happy to find the first lump sum payment from the 2014 contract in our checks. There are a flurry of questions – as is expected. When money is involved, we want to get it right.

The contract left out some groups of UFTers. People who have been discontinued are not entitled to the pay. Nor are people who resigned. Nor are people who left before age 55, waiting to retire when they turned 55. And people who died in service – their survivors are not entitled to the money they should have earned from 2009 – 2011. There is, unfortunately, nothing we can do to correct this unfairness.

But we can help another group. UFTers on maternity leave are not receiving the money due them this week. The City intends to pay them next round, in October 2017. There is a proposed resolution to get our folks the money they are due now. We urge you to vote to put this resolution on the agenda.

AFT Rushes to a Presidential Endorsement

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

On July 11, 2015, the AFT was the first national union to endorse the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

New Action believes UFT members want a presidential candidate who can defeat right wing Republicans. We also agree with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka who urged national unions not to rush to an endorsement. “The field is wide open. There’s a lot of time for things to happen and issues to unfold.” New Action also asks, “Why the rush?” Many UFT members support Bernie Sanders. Wouldn’t a wait and see approach put us in a better place? Allow us to bargain with the candidate?

It would be interesting to see what a poll of UFT members would produce.

New Action Proposals and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision for NYC Schools

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2015 UFT Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2015 September

In his first day back to school remarks “Equity and Excellence” Major Bill de Blasio laid out two goals for our schools and school children. First was to increase the graduation rate, which stands at 68.4%. Second was to make sure those graduates have the skills to make it to the next level. His initiative to provide free, full-day pre-kindergarten is already a major accomplishment. His commitment to work with educators and not against them is a great advance over his predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg.

He laid out six measures 1) giving educators the preparation and support they need to teach Common Core standards; 2) for teachers to work collaboratively with one another; 3) for schools to be safe and supported; 4) to make parents welcome and to open lines of communication; 5) to have school leaders with a strong vision and to open to feedback from the school community; and 6) to develop a sense of real trust throughout the school community. New Action applauds many of these goals, with the obvious exception of Common Core.

New Action would add several points to the Mayor’s list. Reduce class size. Remove the threat of being rated ineffective due to standardized test scores (See Sherri Lederman of Long Island). On trust the Mayor and Chancellor must do much more – administrators need to act collaboratively with staff – not just give feedback. Too many administrators still go after outspoken staff members, rate them unfairly, and target veteran teachers. Administrators should be held accountable for training probationers, and arbitrary discontinuances should be questioned. Schools in New York have become the most segregated in the nation – the Mayor needs to address issues of diversity. The City must also correct the sharp decline of teachers of color in NYC. We welcome much of Mayor de Blasio’s vision and sincerely hope he is receptive of several of New Action’s suggestions.

New Action 2015 – 2016 Priority Issues

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2015 UFT Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2015 September

Abusive Administrators – Identify them, retrain them, work to remove them

Teacher Evaluation – mitigate the effects, seek to repeal the State law tying ratings to test scores

Probationers and ATRs – protect vulnerable members from arbitrary and vindictive administrators