Archive for the 'New York' Category

The UFT Opposes Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address Proposals – Now we Need a Real Fight!

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

In mid-­‐‑January 2015 New Action spelled out the dangers in Gov. Cuomo’s blueprint for educators:

• Raising the charter school cap
• Extending the time to get tenure to 5 years
• Two ineffectives and you’re out –eliminating due process
• Merit pay
• Raising standardized tests to 50%
• Putting “failing” schools into receivership –

ending collective bargaining agreements

The union has not and will not blast NYS School Chancellor Meryl Tisch for being the “architect” of this plan. Back in December, Tisch wrote a 20 page letter, laying out the proposals above. Tisch prior to this, threatened to close 94 NYC “failing” schools.

The UFT’s Unity leadership proposed a social media campaign, but realized quickly and correctly that such a campaign alone would not cut it. Now the question is what kind of a campaign will we/they engage in? Forums on February 12 and the call for every chapter to meet is a good start.

When we were battling Bloomberg, the union established a “War Room.” Isn’t a War Room needed now? Include rank and file members, independents, and members of our various caucuses.

For our part, New Action will support every anti-­‐‑Cuomo action the UFT leadership puts forward. But we are concerned about mobilization, and we are concerned about half-­‐‑measures

This fight will take a full mobilization of the entire membership to be successful. It needs to be coordinated from the school level, the district level and from the top leadership. We call on the delegates and chapter leaders to support our call for real membership mobilizations including, but not limited to:

  • Get out in front of our schools (informational picketing)
  • District rallies
  • Unite with nearby schools and plan actions
  • Call our legislators (friendly and unfriendly)

• Organize Solidarity days (including ‘color days’ – black seems appropriate)

• Demonstrate at the Governor’s office in NYC • Unite with parents in the fight
• Unite with our allies in labor

To mobilize our members, we need to be engaging in meaningful fights. In districts that have been riddled with charter schools, members are opposed to lifting the cap, but would be energized if the fight were against charters, not just the cap. Teachers don’t want evaluations to be based 50% on test scores, but would be far more motivated to act if we were fighting against using test scores in evaluation, period. And none of us wants five years of probation, but by combining the push against Cuomo’s proposal with a campaign to end the DoE’s arbitrary, unfair, and capricious extensions of probation, we would be reaching out to members who might otherwise feel isolated.

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Support the I Refuse Resolution

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

 

New Action supports putting the I Refuse Resolution on this afternoon’s agenda. To be clear, the “I Refuse” speaks to supporting parents who opt their children out of State testing. It does not speak to teachers refusing to do any part of their jobs. Additionally, New Action supports widely distributing the NYSUT “Opt Out of State Tests Fact Sheet” to educate members and parents about rights and consequences vis a vis state testing.

Abusive, Incompetent Administrators – What can we do?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the October 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: October 2014 Leaflet

There are plenty of good principals in our system. But under Bloomberg the number of inexperienced and poorly trained principals soared. Abuse of members was encouraged; it became a systemic attitude, an epidemic. Carmen Fariña, counts over 300 incompetent principals. However, in 10 months as chancellor, Fariña has not made a priority of removing incompetent and abusive administrators.

The UFT is not using the Principals In Need of Improvement program. And when we had PINI, Unity Caucus did not use it where members were afraid to fight. This needs to change. We need to organize in schools with administrators who terrorize our members, and who destroy their schools. The union might provide assistance to an individual member, which is good. But we also need campaigns against the abusers, including pickets in front of some schools. We need to stand together. Two examples:

PS 3 on Staten Island…is a school that has had many problems with their principal. Both tenured and probationary teachers have been harassed. Senior teachers have been forced to retire. A probationary teacher who received all S ratings her first year suddenly receives all U’s the second. She is discontinued and cannot work. How does this happen? Who was rehired to replace her?

The District Representative put letters in mailboxes to survey the staff – but the letters disappeared. The principal denied any knowledge, but what else could it have been? This principal has not been disciplined. Our union has not protested in support of the members in PS 3. They need our support.

The Baychester Middle School…has an outrageously high staff turnover rate. Just this past June, on the last day of school, 20 minutes before dismissal, with no prior warning, the principal discontinued four probationary teachers. Their careers were ended, without even a chance to say goodbye to many of their colleagues. In a school with just two dozen staff members, nine did not return this September. And in each of Baychester MS’s first three years, about a third of the staff have left.

The principal, with only five years teaching experience, has picked up some pretty shady habits. There are allegations he phoneyed up mentoring logs, and provided new teachers with little or no support. For two years he had no School Leadership Team, raising the question: who exactly signed the CEP?

Principal Shawn Mangar boasted “I’ve been investigated a lot of times. Nothing has ever come of it.”

What else can the UFT do? Bring the problems to the Chancellor: The UFT leadership should be bringing each case of an abusive administrator directly to the Chancellor. Many should not be running schools. The Chancellor can act.

What can you do: Contact your District Rep. Contact New Action.

Send us your story –let others know what is going on, and that we are not alone.

Abusive, Incompetent Administrators – Overlapping Problems in our Schools

(from an updated version of the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2014 Chapter Leaders’ Meeting).
For a printable version click: Fall 2014 Leaflet Front and back

The number of incompetent principals in the system, according to Carmen Fariña, is over 300. Many are the same principals who are abusive of our members, other staff, or students.

The UFT has a PINI Program – principals in need of improvement. Unfortunately, PINI is not utilized as much as it should be, and Unity Caucus will not use PINI in the hundreds of schools where members are too afraid to fight.

Campaigns against these abusers are especially needed. Can you imagine conditions so bad that your colleagues are too scared of reprisal to complain? These are schools where the union should be going in to organize, where the leadership should be addressing the problem principal directly with the Chancellor. But instead, our leadership may provide some individual support to the teachers involved, but does not challenge the abuser.

What do do: Contact your District Rep. Contact New Action. Read “A Primer on School Changehttp://www.uft.org/news-stories/primer-school-change. (New York Teacher)

Some Urgent issues for today – Funding

(from an updated version of the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2014 Chapter Leaders’ Meeting).
For a printable version click: Fall 2014 Leaflet Front and back

Which costs more: hiring a brand new teacher, or placing a teacher whose salary is already being paid? Clearly, it is cheaper for the City to place the teacher whose salary is already being paid.

Fair Student Funding (FSF), though, perversely “charges” the principal pretend money, and leads most to avoid placing the teacher who is already on payroll!

Fair Student Funding leads to discrimination against experienced teachers, and costs the City more money!

Excessed teachers in the ATR pool will not be part of this calculation – but principals have become used to avoiding them and will continue to discriminate.

This can be easily fixed: School budgets should be charged the Citywide average teacher salary for each teacher, not school average.

Some Urgent issues for today – Teacher Evaluation

(from an updated version of the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2014 Chapter Leaders’ Meeting).
For a printable version click: Fall 2014 Leaflet Front and back

New Action has opposed the Teacher Evaluation System since its inception.

Rating teachers based on the Danielson model look like the “checklist” we used to decry. Tying evaluation to student test scores is inherently arbitrary and unfair.

Yet this is the system in place. What should we do?

The union worked with Fariña to creating additional observation options. The new contract reduced the number of items we are rated on. These are positive changes.

But we need more. State law linking ratings to student test scores should be amended. “Developing” ratings have consequences – including getting passed over for transfers. We need the right to appeal D’s. And we need a process for questioning the principal’s judgment BEFORE the final rating.

“We Will Not Go Back” – support march for justice

New Action supports the “We Will Not Go Back” march on Staten Island this Saturday, August 23, 2014. Further, we support the UFT leadership’s decision to be a sponsor.

The event, called by the National Action Network, is demanding justice for the deaths of Eric Garner, 43-year-old father of six from Staten Island, and 18-year-old Michael Brown, killed in Ferguson, Mo. There are three co-sponsors: the NAACP, the UFT, and SEIU-1199.

Garner, a Black man from Staten Island, died after being placed in a chokehold by a policeman on July 17. He had been selling loosies. Michael Brown, a Black man, was shot at least six times by police and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 7. The killing has generated protests in Ferguson and around the country. The protests in Ferguson have been met by disproportionate police force, including military equipment and paraphernalia, including tear gas, tanks, assault weapons, and sniper rifles.

The Staten Island Advance quoted de Blasio:

De Blasio said protesters should model their rally after a 2012 peaceful march in which he was a participant to change the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.
“It was the decisive moment in crystalizing support for change in the stop-and-frisk policy,” said de Blasio, according to the report. “It was an absolutely peaceful demonstration that got its message out and there was absolute coordination between the police and protesters.”

In the wake of the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, New Action’s Michael Shulman proposed to the UFT Executive Board a resolution opposing stop and frisk. A similar resolution was passed, and the UFT’s stance led the way to a citywide coalition calling a powerful demonstration. Opposition to stop and frisk became a key plank in Bill de Blasio’s successful campaign for mayor.

There has been some negative reaction to the march and UFT’s role. The PBA’s president denounced Mulgrew. Others have questioned the leading role of Al Sharpton. While we understand the objections, the march is organized for justice, not against an organization or for an individual. New Action strongly supports the march. Marching for justice is the right thing to do. Further, New Action applauds our UFT leadership for endorsing the march. We are with Mulgrew on this one.

Assemble at Bay Street and Victory Boulevard, Staten Island (short walk from the Staten Island Ferry), 11 AM this Saturday, August 23, 2014. The march kicks off at noon, and is scheduled to end at 3. See here for directions. Or click here to see if you can get a seat on a bus caravan.