Archive for the 'New York CIty Department of Education' Category



Put them back!

Klein broke up neighborhood schools – It’s time to fix this!

Teacher Diversity in Our Schools

Under Bloomberg/Klein the number of teachers of color in our system fell dramatically. The UFT’s Social and Economic Justice Committee (which New Action co-chairs) played a leading role making the issue of diversity of the NYC teaching staff a UFT priority, bringing it to our Delegate Assembly in 2011.

The work of this Committee has led to meetings with Fariña’s reps. A current proposal includes selecting high schools to serve as pipelines to recruit young people of color, and publicizing it in community centers, among counselors, at college and career fairs, fraternities and sororities, etc. Discussions have taken place regarding funding. A promising effort is the possibility to partner with the Brooklyn Borough President’s office.

The UFT and DOE are meeting monthly to get these proposals going by September. New Action has been and will continue to be right there to assure these happen.

Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave– A Demand Whose Time Has Come!

UFT members are often shocked to learn that all they receive upon having a child is six weeks of UNPAID maternity leave.  Teachers who devote their lives to fostering the growth and development of our city’s children find that they receive no real support from their employer when they have a child of their own.

Members can use days from their sick bank (CAR) for birth and child care purposes but is this adequate? It is nonsense that a progressive union and a progressive city administration did not address this in the last round of negotiations. We should not wait until 2018 before members get a chance to weigh in on this all-important issue. New Action/UFT calls for a six week, paid leave to be negotiated NOW between our union and the progressive de Blasio administration.

Special Education

Special Ed for 12 years under Bloomberg was devastated. It was if he took a bulldozer to special education under the guise of reform. Children with special needs suffered the most.

Klein empowered principals and ignored children, emboldening incompetent principals. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, it is impermissible to recommend services based on the availability of the program or personnel, space, budget or administrative convenience. But that is what happened.

Under de Blasio and Fariña, it should be possible to reverse the damage done to thousands of children during the Bloomberg years of neglect. But there needs to be real, enforced controls on principals piling extra work on special education teachers and professionals without providing adequate time. And our students with special needs should be freed from Cuomo and Tisch’s cruel testing requirements.

In Support of Opt Out

In New York State our children are being inundated with Common Core exams that determine their teachers’ ratings (even gym, art and music teachers!) and narrow the entire school year to a rigid “teach to the test” agenda.  We stand in solidarity with parents who want to opt their children out of this needless overtesting. We call for an end to the discredited practice of tying teacher ratings to high-stakes tests that serve no purpose for students.  The “test and punish” agenda of the Cuomo administration is very good for testing companies like Pearson and extremely bad for all the real stakeholders in education: teachers, parents and students.

We applaud the statement by NYSUT President Karen Magee supporting Opt Out. New Action/UFT supports the opt out movement, and we recognize the hard work of the NYC parents and educators who are spreading the word.  In just one case, the Brooklyn New School, 84% of parents chose to opt their children out.  It is time for our union leadership to get on board.

Unfairly Discontinued Probationers

Probation is a training period. Principals, APs and mentors work with beginning teachers. But during the probationary period, teachers can be discontinued at any time. Under Bloomberg weak, abusive, or incompetent principals used probationers as scapegoats. They did not try to help these teachers. And in many cases these abusive administrators unfairly terminated new teachers.

Probationers who have been discontinued have the right to be rehired, either in another district or under another license. But the DoE has effectively blocked principals who want to hire them. September 2, 2014 New Action organized a press conference for discontinued probationers who had been offered positions by other principals, but who the networks or the department blocked.

This school year New Action/UFT members have been meeting with discontinued probationers, UFT officials, and representatives of Chancellor Farina to discuss the issue. We are cautiously optimistic that principals will once again be allowed to hire previously discontinued probationers. But this is not enough.

New Action/UFT has been in the forefront of the fight against abusive and often corrupt administrators. Where a principal has shown questionable judgment, it is in our mutual interest to challenge that judgment. We support the Chancellor’s vision for collaborative schools for NYC students. But the school system the Chancellor envisions cannot happen as long as hundreds of capricious, arbitrary administrators lead schools.

Resolution in support of Unit Costing for the NYC Department of Education

The following resolution was submitted to the April 27, 2015 UFT Executive Board. Jonathan Halabi (me) motivated, and began by excusing the technical nature of the details.

1. School Closures + 2. Unit Costing + 3. End of Seniority Transfers + 4. Fair Student Funding have led to a crazy system where principals avoid hiring experienced educators (to save money) but end up costing the city more (by hiring brand new hires). This is the combination that floods the ATR pool.

Schools that desperately need experienced educators are coerced into avoiding them. Schools, principals, teachers, and kids are the losers, and only Klein and Bloomberg and the reformers are winners.

And now that school closures seem to be stopping, Andrew Cuomo is going to start it up again, with receivership.

The easiest link in that quartet to attack is Unit Costing – especially since we can negotiate outside the contract, with Fariña who has every reason to agree with us, and it is either cost-saving or cost-neutral.

The reso was tabled to check if it is in conflict with previous resolutions. We expect to revisit it at the next UFT Exec Board, May 4.

Whereas under the Bloomberg and Klein regime, the number of educators seeking to transfer was forced to go up, while it became harder for educators with significant experience to transfer;

And whereas massive school closings led many experienced educators to seek transfers;

And whereas the end of seniority transfers took away the guarantee that most educators would be able to easily find new placement, and introduced “mutual consent” whereby an educator could be easily rejected;

And whereas the end of unit costing put an actual price next to each educator’s name in the school budget;

And whereas Fair Student Funding gave principals budgetary incentive to avoid hiring experienced (and expensive) educators;

And whereas this helped flood the ATR pool and keep it full;

And whereas this led to many administrators avoiding accepting experienced educators;

And whereas this result was caused by all four of the above changes taken in combination – massive school closings, the end of seniority transfers, the end of unit costing, and school based personnel budgeting – and that any three of them would not have been enough to cause this crisis;

And whereas this led to de facto budget cuts for schools that did not lose educators in any given year, due to contractual raises;

And whereas this led to the perverse practice of principals hiring brand new educators, inflating the DoE budget, which is real, in order to reduce the school’s budget, which is not;

And whereas the new de Blasio Administration and chancellor Fariña have not continued the practice of massive school closures, but Andrew Cuomo has forced “receivership” into law, which will force experienced educators to apply for new placements;

And whereas the United Federation of Teachers successfully bargained a clause in the new contract that removes the financial constraint on principals hiring ATRs, but 1) that provision does not apply to other experienced educators, who our schools desperately need, and 2) notwithstanding the clause in the new contract, many principals are reluctant to take ATRs because of a long history of paying a financial penalty for hiring experienced educators;

And whereas Klein’s DoE successfully argued that unit costing was not subject to collective baragaining;

And whereas the new de Blasio Administration and chancellor Fariña have been willing to engage in constructive conversation with the UFT, therefore

Be it resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will vigorously raise the issue of returning to unit costing (ie, charging each school the citywide average for each salary) with Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for school year 2015-2016, and will negotiate a rapid implementation, without harming current school budgets;

And be it further resolved that these discussions and negotiations are understood to be separate and apart from any contract negotiations.


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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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