Archive for the 'NYC' Category

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.

Funding

The current teacher funding formula is another Klein leftover. It encourages principals to avoid hiring experienced educators. It punishes schools that hire them. This hurts principals, teachers, schools, kids. Shouldn’t Mulgrew and Fariña be ending Fair Student Funding?

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.