An Uncharacteristically Brief Meeting – UFT Executive Board, 11-6-23

Tonight’s UFT executive board lasted just 30ish minutes. Of that half hour, 10 minutes went to the open mic period, in which 4 people spoke well on why they thought UFT leadership had made the wrong choice to remove Amy Arundell from her post as Queens Borough Rep. Michael Mulgrew, perhaps still wounded from the ‘attacks on his ego the union’ at the previous meeting, was nowhere to be seen. I got one question in about discontinuances/denials, with Mike Sill providing data that I initially asked for back in 2022-2023. We didn’t have it then; now we do, and I will follow up with UFT leadership to get data sorted by district and hopefully by school. Otherwise, most of the rest of the meeting was reports. There look to be a number of curriculum issues still, which is worth a closer look, but that’s for another time.

Just a note: I don’t think I recall a meeting this short since before UFC won the high school seats. When Unity controlled the entire executive board, I found 30 minute meetings were pretty typical. There were far fewer questions, no debates to resolutions, and reports were kept brief. Luckily, with UFC in control of 7 seats, this brief showing was an anomaly.

The informal minutes follow.

Open Mic:

John G – Rank and filer in southeast Queens, teaching 5x a day happily. Honestly, not sure how it’s going to look in Queens. It used to be you would be retaliated against right when brought up in consultation. Amy Arundell changed that – held administrators accountable. Suddenly, you’d place something in consultation and a district rep would get back to you. The principal and or assistant principal would apologize. Queens was a very abusive workplace for a very long time. We don’t know the particulars – that is a staffing process – but want to be clear, we don’t know what it’s going to be like. Not going to stand up rights as much as did previously. Not an elected person, no motivations to be one within UFT, but as a rank-and-filer, 23 year veteran in classroom, wanted to be sure that you heard from a rank-and-filer that our future feels uncertain. One small request – rank-and-file depends on Amy, would like an adult explanation.

Howard T: CL, I was served with 3020a papers, removed from classroom. Incredible burden. At conclusion, I paid small fine and was made an ATR, humiliating. Lawyer and I agreed it was unfair and called as many as possible – only one UFT person responded, Amy Arundell. She set me on a path where I was able to take control of my teaching career. I stay in contact with Amy. Integrity, high morals. Know of no one who has been so loyal to UFT as well as to Mulgrew. Amy’s support has never waivered for Mulgrew, only reason I ever considered supporting him. Reassignment is a grave concern not just to supporters but to people who disagreed. At the very least, she has earned to due process, deserves a hearing to clear her name. Anything less means democracy just a punchline at UFT.

Arcelia Cooke: Speaking on behalf of Amy Arundell. Retiree, started in 1987, school secretary, moved up to many union positions. Had pleasure to meet and work with Amy Arundell. Removing her is bad for union as a whole. The right thing should be really be done. Speak out to do the right thing.

Lia Crommer – Advocacy of Amy Arundell. Amy shown herself to be an amazing support for borough of Queens. Teacher of 23 years, CL for 8. Was not always so pro-union, was only under Amy that I understand what solidarity really meant. Many times she’s come down at the school level to support. Stands not just for CLs but all members at school. Will answer questions well beyond closing. As a PM staffer in Queens, feels like spirit is sucked out of the room. Amy has lead from the front mentality, regardless of whether audience is 2 or 200. Difficult / daunting to push message of union without Amy as front person. Whomever has power in this decision making, ask that Amy reinstated immediately. Whole task has been depleting. Feels like same tactics we speak against for DOE are same tactics used against Amy. Depleting to see leader’s voice taken away.

Leroy: It is Teresa’s birthday. Everyone claps.

Minutes approved.

Mary Jo Genese: Also Caroline Murphy’s birthday. (Claps). Big day tomorrow for sped compliance training. Let DRs know if that’s not happening.

Mary Vacarro: Thanks everyone who filled out the survey. Final number of schools: 120 schools without all the supplies. DOE meeting with UFT at 7:30 about how to get supplies to schools ASAP. Much bigger number than anticipated. Tonight, same survey but for the math (high schools / Algebra 1). Survey is : do you have materials, digital access, and what PD have you had? We know that only half of applicable members have actually logged in.

Rich Mantell: Over 119,000 students in school system that live in temporary housing. We try to give them a coat drive to give them brand new coats and other winter accessories. Donations down this year. We bring over one hundred students come later this month for a thanksgiving meal.

First ever UFT Jewish Heritage awards. Randi Weingarten will receive the first ever tikkum olam award.

Janella Hinds: On Friday, second college fair. Over the last few weeks, welcomed thousands of students into UFT college fairs, exposed to SUNY, CUNY, private, and technical universities. Financial aid discussed.

Karen Alford: Congrats on part 2 of discussion on autism, over 100 showed up. D24 had first book giveaway. Also going to be a toy drive. Means a lot to children to have age-appropriate brand new toys just for them. Give toys to students in shelters across the city. If you are in a school with kids in need of toys, let us know and we’ll get them to you. There was a survey about 3-4 a row in elementary schools. Discovered 40 schools had 5 classes or more that still had that. Think many have been resolved, but an email is going out to inquire. DOE also has a program on this.

Mike Sill: Google classroom, should have received money. If didn’t get paid, can file a grievance. Somewhat large group of people who got added to payroll after Sep 30, they need to do per session time to get google classroom. Should be paid once  

Nick : Asks about data on tenure – asked twice now and haven’t gotten it yet. Since Mike is here this week, do we have the data yet on discontinuances/denials, hopefully by district?

Mike Sill: Average number of discontinuances is 212 since 2012. Dropped during pandemic. So average is 231 not including those two years. Last 2 years is very close to average including the pandemic. Did see numbers go up when 4 year probationary period came out, became stricter. Before 4 year probationary, in 100s.

Reports from Districts:

Elizabeth Esperet: PD to paraprofessionals, implicit bias training. Credits for CTLE.

Servia Silva: Now at 140,000 for making strides. For first time. (missed some of her latter report).

Adam Shapiro: 25th of OCT had first tenure celebration. 77 people received tenure. November, Movember – money to raise money for men’s health. Already at over 2k, so moving along. Thanks for generosity and tolerating my majestic stash.

Name missed: tenure celebration, had good time.

Ilona Nanay: Today death toll in Gaza is 10,000. Youth groups and teacher reports are calling for a day of action and cease fire. A lot of information circulating on social media. If interested, please connect.

Seung Lee: Manhattan parent conference – applause on public schools point.

Carl Cambria: school-based digital learning is live now. As of Thursday, had 12 schools or so that had filled out. Following up. If you know of any schools interested in doing this, get it filled out. We got some feedback that it’s difficult to reprogram, but on smaller scale – remember it’s there.

Rashad Brown: 42 years since AIDS began plaguing the World Aids Day, candle light vigil. Friday, December 1st.

LeRoy: Reminds to vote. Don’t have special order of business.

Motion adjourned.

Nick Bacon is a co-chairperson at New Action Caucus. He is also an elected member of the UFT executive board

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