Commentary and Notes on the UFT Delegate Assembly, 5-25-2022

Short Version: Though there were some decent resolutions passed on Asian American curriculum and gun control, from an opposition perspective, this was a very disappointing May Delegate Assembly. The reports lasted until 5:00. There was no attention to critical subjects like the impending MOSL nightmare and our APPR mess, for which Mulgrew has suggested previously that he has only made tepid responses that will be unlikely to work. While Olivia Swisher was called on to speak during the question period, no opposition delegate was called on to raise a motion during the new motions period. Remember: we haven’t been called on since November. Then, the decorum resolution was rushed through. Three resolves that UFC put into one amendment, despite popularity over the phone, failed to pass after a one-sided (Unity-friendly) debate on the resolution itself, and only two speakers being allowed to debate the amendment – one of which was LeRoy Barr (President of Unity Caucus). I was ready to speak to this amendment on the phone, but Rashad Brown called the question after only one opposition speaker – Ryan Bruckenthal – got a chance to speak.

If this is how UFT plans to handle future delegate assemblies, the message isn’t ‘unity,’ as they’ve been pretending (little ‘u’), it’s ‘Unity’ with a big U.

Very disappointing, overall. If you are interested in seeing the resolutions/amendments UFC planned to make on APPR, mayoral control, gun control, and Tier 6 go here.

Long Version (full notes):

4:19, begins.

Mulgrew: A lot of tough things we have to talk about. Rashid Mathis, who does the voice for us, suddenly passed away at the age of 41. He did all of the town halls and helping us through hybrid during the pandemic. We’ll do a couple of moments of silence. Moment of silence begins for Rashid Mathis.

California, Buffalo, and Texas. We all know about the gun violence. We always thought that when Sandy Hook happened, it wouldn’t happen again. But it has. I don’t know what it will take to get these cowards to stand up to the gun lobbies. Just like during the pandemic, teachers were on the front lines during the pandemic. Teachers were killed to save students. Don’t know where we’ll go for this. How can we use this as a moment to say enough is enough with this? We have gun violence in NYC here as well. We have schools who are professionals at lockdowns because they have so many. It’s plagueing our city. There were teachers on the train in Brooklyn, helping, and welcoming students the next day.

3 in Buffalo were NYSUT members: 2 teachers and a bus worker.

We’re always at the center of anything going on in society, because of where we work. All the pluses and minuses of society – they always show up in schools. So let’s do another moment of silence for these three incidents.

For us, nationally, I’m not going to do a report. Everything becomes about gun violence and a woman’s right to choice.

In Albany, mayoral control is on the table, but looks shaky. We have a resolution saying we need a balance. Some people say why support any mayoral control? We don’t want the school boards. We had a series of mayors who were at war with the BOE. That was the governing body. The problem is that war of mayors in succession with the BOE led to school budgets going down. Mayors were sick of it and strategically said it was the BOE’s fault, and vice versa. That war was about 20 years.

One thing that mayoral control has solved is budget. It’s a clear signal to the City that the mayor funds the public school system. But we can’t just have one person announce one policy whenever they want. We have too much evidence that this doesn’t work.

But, other cities have mayoral control and it looks nothing like ours. That’s why we’re lobbying for checks and balances. We’re also lobbying for lower class sizes. All of this is in discussion right now.

Also in discussion is some states are getting in front of the supreme court decision on Roe v Wade and others are getting in front of gun control. So this is what we’ve been focusing on in Albany at this point. Next Wednesday, the legislative session should end (or Thursday). But we think they might extend, because of all the politics involved.

For us, the issue on class size – we’ve blown up the myth that it’s impossible to do in NYC. Mathematics is on our side. BOE got away with this for years by saying we don’t have enough classroom space. That’s not true at all schools. Many schools have the issue, but many have plenty of space. Right now, the average class size is actually low – the lowest since I’ve been here. So, we’re saying, since we’ve won 7.6 billion dollars in funding federally just to our school system, 5 billion of which still hasn’t been spent, and we now have a contract for excellence, aid for title 1 (an additional 1.3 billion dollars annually from NY just for NYC). We have the money and we have the space, but the DOE won’t get rid of its law, because they don’t want to. They’ve never believed in it, and I don’t think they want to be responsible for it – or anything. At lower levels, 20 children is the right number – 32 is insane. But should UFT members have to pay to have children in smaller class sizes? Does any other agency pay to have their working conditions like this done correctly? Do police officers pay for their guns? Do figherfighters pay for their AC? Does sanitation pay for their trucks?

Easy way to fix many issues is class sizes. Shut up on just needing better teachers. Want me to be a better teacher? Lower the class size. This doesn’t mean we ‘work less’ either. We just increase the quality of our education. And the DOE is going to just continue to lie about this. They are undefeated on lying and cheating to NYC.

In the latest budget, NYC is forcing schools to INCREASE class sizes. They cut so much, that principals will be compelled to raise class sizes. How come class sizes are 30% higher than the rest of the state despite same allotment? Because the DOE doesn’t want to do it. Because if they do this, they probably can’t expand the bureaucracy.

The Superintendent process has started. Each one of these processes has turned into a competition, not a who is the right person. At first, we thought that in the C37 process, real parents would be involved. So everyone is talking to the parents. It’s a competition, not a question of who is the best person to do be a Superintendent. We got rid of the Executive Superintendents, which is good, but now we’re just shuffling the bureaucracy around via the Superintendents. We’re gonna engage in this process–have some fun. DRs are getting invited. I hope you will participate and have some fun, but the candidates you should push for are the ones you think will be there to work with us, rather than the ones who call legal to see if they can say good morning back to you.

Calendar isn’t out yet. Keeps getting pushed up. Waiting to do our SBOs. Business of setting up schools next year has to be set up now.

Principals know nothing about budgets right now. So they start talking to each other, then rumors become true. A lot is rumored about excessing. What’s that mean in terms of falling enrollment? Some schools have low enrollment, others high.

June 9th PD is coming. In our consultation, 3 months ago, we were told by DOE that the Principals Weekly would have an announcement – that it should be remote unless it’s absolutely essential for a person to be in the building. Now, you must be informed by this Friday if it’s necessary to come in. If you don’t think it’s true, contact the District Rep or Borough Rep immediately.

June 28th: Back when I was a CL, we had no virtual PDs, but had picnics. That should also be virtual this day. That means it’s a virtual day, and they have June 14th.

US History and Government Regents are cancelled. We don’t know what question it was that it got cancelled. Children will get waivers if they pass.

Politics: they redrew some of the lines in New York State. On the last Tuesday of August, New Yorkers are not here, but people we’ve endorsed who are running against eachother, along with other scenarios. So do we want to redo the process – members from the district must interview the candidate. The biggest one is the new congressional seat, this district (10), not sure how many are running – probably a lot. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler are running against each other. We’re going to have low turnout because of the timing. So this will become about early voting and absentee ballots. 25% would be high. Nothing will shock me if someone know one who has ever heard of…Jimmy the-rent-is-too-damn-high …wins this kind of thing.

A vacation day can’t be denied just because it’s asked for in the month of June.

Go back to September, close your eyes. You’re all leaders in your schools. Think of all those peaceful calm conversations you had every day (laughter). Remember you got to December, and you got a break. The numbers were inflamed and through the roof. January was the worst month of the worst school year ever. Did you ever think you’d be here on the Wednesday before memorial day? This wave is going back down. I thank you all for getting the members of this union through the year.

4:57 PM

LeRoy Barr: Puerto Rican Day Parade is back. We will participate, as in the past. Sunday, June 12th. Make sure to come out and celebrate.

There is an LGBTQ weekend being planned here for June 25th – 26th, here, and in conjunction with AFT/NYSUT. It will culminate in the June 26th parade.

5K run on Coney Island funded 6k for our disaster relief fund.

Daniel Dromm Scholarships, reach out to Rashad Brown.

Albert Shanker scholarship, 1 million will be given away on June 7th, please come out.

School Secretaries award luncheon, Saturday, June 11th.

Next DA is on June 8th.

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend.

Mulgrew: Met with Ukranian Teacher Association President. They appreciated our donation and help from the disaster relief fund. Some pretty harrowing stories. 90% of teachers are still in Ukraine, they refuse to leave. VP was 15 days in her basement with her 11 year old child, but she had service, and she was amazed as teachers kept teaching virtually even through the fighting. Because we’re teachers.

5:02

Question Period

Olivia Swisher: Never been called on before. UFT’s stance–what can we do as a union–about gun violence. We were 4 blocks away from the union and were in a shelter in place. We’re the largest local. What can we do other than have conversations?

Mulgrew: We’ve had rallies, gun buybacks. We have to make a decision, because we have so much gun violence here in our own cities. I thank g-d all the time. There’s crazy issues around the city. There was an emotionally disturbed individual who ran into a school. NRA convention is coming in Texas. I know there’s a resolution people have told me they want to bring to the floor today. The strongest advocates are the mothers. They’re done. We’re in a battle with gun lobbiest and politicians who are afraid to stand up. Majority of NRA members agree we don’t need these rifles. But there’s too much money in it. And NRA will spend money to get candidates out there who vote with them. That’s Citizen United. The NYPD is confiscating guns at a record number, but the city is infiltrated.

Name Missed: Shake the hand of a soldier if you see them. Question about school day. The Chancellor talked about how he wants the school day to be longer. He’s still talking about that. What is the likelihood that our day will change?

Michael Mulgrew: No. We have schools…If you want to extend time, we can have teachers work on different schedules or on Saturdays. This isn’t mandatory – it’s voluntary. Why have a longer schoolday? That’s the first question. Finland has a shorter school day and they’re considered best or second best in the globe. So what do they want to do? More of the same? More thinking about actually good curriculums? Do we want kindergarteners in school longer so we can do more damage to them via assessments instead of letting them play?

Teacher will work 70 hours a week for their children, but say you’ll add 20 minutes to the schoolday and they’ll go crazy. Why don’t they train people on this stuff? I do believe this mayor wants to make a difference. Dyslexia screening, yes, but how? We aren’t all reading teachers. There’s a skillset you need.

Next week the socio-emotional screenings are due again. Why? This was an 18 million dollar screening. The minute you identified kids needing outside help you were supposed to get that help. Didn’t happen. So why are we doing all this?

Online-Bryan will do this today. This was difficult, we all had a relationship with Rashid.

Margaret Negrelli: June 28th, principals are saying that they’ve been told it’s their discretion.

Mulgrew: We talked about the pandemic and other reasons we shouldn’t be in person. Email LeRoy Barr.

Name Missed (Bronx): Issues with getting into DOE emails. Are they tracking us when we get these codes sent to our non-DOE phones?

Mulgrew: That is our official response. We don’t have DOE phones, so we can’t be asked to use our DOE phones to do DOE work. The reason for it is we’re getting hacked. That’s why we have a double authentication system. That’s fine, but they don’t pay for your phone. Enough is enough. Double Authentication should only happen if we don’t have to use our devices, or at least give us a stipend to use our own devices.

Matthew Colacurto: We have a good Superintendent (D. 79) who is being forced out. So what can we do as a union to help them make the decision to keep the good Superintendents around.

Mulgrew: I agree with your assessment about your Superintendent. Working with the union doesn’t mean they’re in the tank with us – it means they solve problems. Your Superintendent has to deal with issues that don’t fit into the other districts. They’ve risen to the ocassion.

Motions:

Name Missed: Motion to move motion 11 (Asian American Curriculum) to number 1, because May is AAPI month. (Mulgrew apologizes for clapping). Person starts motivating, and is stopped because motivating the motion is out of order.

Mulgrew: Motion to thank Rashid for everything he has done (unanimously passes).

Motion moving the Asian American Curriculum motion from 11 to 1, passes 95%.

Mike Sill: Moves a new resolution to number 2, resolving to condemn gun violence and putting in programs to identify students, supporting bans on high capacity rifles/other safety measures. Passes 97%.

Resolutions:

AGENDA ITEM #11 – ASIAN AMERICAN CURRICULUM RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, the New York Department of Education Mosaic Curriculum for K-12 students purportedly
includes information about African American, Latino/Latina/Latinx, and other diverse student
populations, but does not include information about East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, West
Asian or Pacific Islander communities or immigrants from those communities (Hereafter referred to as
AAPI)
WHEREAS, reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans jumped 342% from 2020 to 2021, continuing
a pattern from the previous year: Anti- Asian crimes increased 124% between 2019 and 2020 (NY 1
News, April 8, 2022)
WHEREAS, AAPIs represent 18% of NYC’s public school population, according to a study in the New York
Times in January 2022, (but only 1-2% of the nation teacher population, according to PEW research.)
WHEREAS, Asian Americans have been part of American history since the 16th century , including major
waves of immigration in the 1800s, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and
selective immigration policies in the 1970 and 1980s that have had a resounding effect on the
composition of NYC schools to this day, but that history has been missing in the school curriculum;
therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the UFT supports the inclusion of AAPIs in the DOE Mosaic Curriculum; and may it be
further
RESOLVED, that the UFT partner with the Asian American Education Project in moving forward state
legislation supporting the inclusion of curriculum representing AAPI history.

Seung Lee: Endorses, mentions how we have a high percentage of Asian American teachers and not students.

Passes, almost unanimously.

Resolution 2: Reads some names of recent casualties in the tragic events in California, Buffalo, Texas, and NYC. We’re tired of hearing about all of this. Tired of Republicans shucking and jiving. Tired of politicians paid for by merchants of death. Since politicians don’t want to get this done, we have to–as the people–take care of this. This is a school issue and organize our people power. Please support this resolution.

Margaret Joyce: Endorses. There have been more shootings than there are days in the year so far. It’s too much. Shocking that our elected officials can’t have sensible gun laws. Guns are now the leading cause of death in children. Need to reaffirm resolves from AFT. Want action and change.

Ilona Nanay: motion to amend at the end.

Resolved, that the UFT and AFT take steps to immediately divest pension fund monies from all companies that manufacture and sell weapons that have no purpose other than mass destruction, especially AR-15 and other types of such weapons.

Mulgrew: needs clarification, because we already divested I think. Asks trustees. We divested from fossil fuels…(I think this too). Trustees confirm. We were the first pension fund to divest I believe.

Ilona Nanay: Thrilled to hear that, thank you.

Tom Murphy: Time to act. Please vote for this.

Passes overwhelmingly.

Emily Black: Congratulations on your re-election.

Mulgrew: I never talk about this, but thanks for everyone who ran. It’s not easy. Thanks to the union and election for handling it.

Emily: Decorum resolution. Need to have good debate and not fall to polarizations. Need to be professionals. Our important work has to be done. The people who will suffer the most. Our youth will suffer if that work can’t be done (below).

RESOLVED, that we the members and delegates of the United Federation of Teachers regardless of any
caucus or affiliation recommit ourselves to the principles of respectful and open debate; be it
RESOLVED, that we affirm our commitment to argue our differences without attacking the intention or
integrity of individuals; be it
RESOLVED, that we renew these commitments with the sole purpose of maintaining the solidarity and
integrity within our union, the very fabric of who we are as union activists.

Geraldo Maldonado: Rise in support. We are professionals and educators. Discourse important, as is respect.

Linda Acevedo: Rise in support. I work hard to bring back vital information back to the people. Heavy heart that there was stuff I wanted to tell them, because so little got voted on. We have diverse opinions. This year was a disaster. Whether it was for the right reasons or not, month after enough – things were brought up. We need to have voices heard and be able to represent our schools.

Olivia Swisher: Motion to amend. In support, but have three resolves to add.

RESOLVED in the spirit of camaraderie, transparency and fairness, the chair will adhere to the rule of calling on alternating sides for and against so as to allow for equal voices on matters being debated.

RESOLVED  that In the spirit of preserving the delegate assembly’s position as the ultimate deliberative and decision making body of our union that reports should not take more time than deliberative business.

RESOLVED that a joint subcommittee be formed to discuss restructructuring procedures and protocols for the Delegate Assembly, and determining recommendations for bylaws and the agenda.

LeRoy Barr: Rises in opposition. This discussion is important. We have customs and Robert’s Rules, so going back and forth doesn’t have to happen the way said here. Putting a limit on the time that president makes report. On a month to month basis, we had to have reports during the pandemic. Sometimes reports are longer, some times they are shorter. This is a critical time for this union. I always get thank yous.

Ryan Bruckenthal: speaking in favor of the resolution. Will support either way. This amendment speaks to ways in which we can increase democracy. Democracy is power, and our union is better when things are more democratic. There are different caucuses and tendencies. This type of debate is productive. Unity is good sometimes, but we can have really productive debates, so regardless of how this goes right here, optimistic about pushing democracy further.

Rashad Brown: Calls question. Voting to close debate without attention to whether anyone else wants to debate.

Mulgrew then mischaracterizes point 1 to suggest that he has to call on people ‘for and against’ at all times…as people are voting.

Amendments do not carry (287-293–roughly 50/50 on the phone, much less in the room).

Original Decorum Resolution:

Yays: 436, nays: 105 (phone). Room: yays: 140, nays: 15.

Passed.

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