Posts Tagged 'Charter schools'

UFT vs. Charters: Could new NYC charter schools mean layoffs down the road?

Governor Hochul is reportedly preparing to alter the charter cap so that as many as 106+ new charter schools can be ‘built’ (really co-located) across New York City. Charter schools are an assault on public education even in ‘good’ times. But today, enrollment is down, hiring freezes are up, and the specter of layoffs looms. Allowing more charter schools to open today could ultimately threaten the very nature of teaching as a unionized profession in New York. 

Frozen and Broken Dreams 

Even with new class size legislation that should technically force the City to hire more educators, the loss of thousands of students from our rosters has led to an anxiety that layoffs might finally hit New York public schools for the first time in decades. While layoffs have so far been averted, at a minimum, the DOE has recently frozen hiring for many licenses. When hiring is frozen, that means newer teachers must look elsewhere to start their teaching careers. When that happens, younger teachers find that in order to teach in NYC, they must work at charters.

Source: Graph by Nick Bacon using data from NYSED.

Charters have notoriously low rates of unionization and no concept of tenure or due process. As a result, teachers who work in charters must put up with horrendous working conditions. It is therefore no surprise that charters have twice the teacher turnover of public schools. Indeed, at charters, great teachers–and developing but potentially great teachers–are churned out at a dangerous rate. Even if you don’t care at all about teachers being happy in their jobs, this should matter to you. Teacher experience is known to be one of the most important factors in teacher effectiveness. If Hochul greenlights the creation of more charters in NYC, she will effectively ensure that good teachers who would have worked until the age of 63 at DOE schools are instead churned out at 23 in charters. Does Hochul really want a part in replacing the current system with that of a revolving door of ‘teacher temps’ who never make it to the years where they would be most effective at educating NYC’s students?

The Specter of Layoffs

We haven’t had layoffs since the 70s. That isn’t to say that there haven’t been threats. As recently as 2020, Bill de Blasio formally threatened he might lay off City workers, including teachers, due to budgetary woes caused by the pandemic. Our budgetary situation is at least temporarily much better, and no formal threats are on the table. But, there have been hints. Mayor Adams’ willingness to cut budgets for schools despite new class-size legislation does not bode well. And, ambiguous comments made by people at the top have implied layoffs could very well be a thing someday if trends continue. 

In the context of declining enrollment, new charters could spark a specific form of layoff in which DOE teachers are terminated and forced to become teachers at non-unionized charters. Imagine getting hired at a public school, forming pedagogical relationships with your students, getting tenure, becoming involved in your UFT chapter, only to be laid off because too many of your potential students enrolled in a charter school that was heavily marketing themselves next door. Not only would you now be jobless; you’d also likely be forced to apply for a job at one of the very charters that cost you your job. You’d still be an NYC teacher, but now you’d have no union, no tenure, and no due process. Your life, in effect, would be turned upside down, just so a few people at the top of charter schools could make a buck. Make no mistake, this is an actual risk if we allow charters to expand in the context of declining enrollment.

The Fight Ahead: Utilizing Contract Action Teams to Fight Charter Expansion

Charters are inherently bad for New York City educators. However, the fight against them presents an opportunity for unified action. All UFT caucuses agree that charters are something we need to fight. Now, with Hochul looking to expand their role in our city, charters are presenting an existential threat to public education and unionized teaching in NYC. As discussed above, teachers in earlier stages of their careers, especially teachers with ‘less hard to staff’ licenses, are particularly at risk, because a charter expansion could mean they’re laid off from the DOE and forced to find jobs with Eva Moskowitz. That’s unacceptable. And it would inflict untold damage on our union.

Here’s an idea: Let’s build off the successes of our new-found ‘contract action teams’ and start brainstorming ways we can fight charters. Unlike with the contract, for which actions are currently seen to be limited because we are still in the ‘pleasant’ stage of negotiations, the fight against charters is imminent. The battle lines are already being drawn. What can our chapters do to start readying for the fight? How can UFT leadership help motivate and support our chapters to do that organizing? Whatever the answer is, it can’t be nothing. Too much is at stake. 


Stand up for Public Education – Defeat Cuomo’s Voucher Bill

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

Andrew Cuomo continues his fight against public education and the students of New York State. We must continue to oppose him.

Support the resolution on tonight’s Delegate Assembly agenda, against the “Education Tax Credit “ bill (it’s just a voucher bill.) Support the resolution against Cuomo’s latest attempt to raise or eliminate the charter cap in NYC.

And join the NYSUT and UFT social media campaigns against both of these attempts by Cuomo to undermine public education.

Contract Vote – Why the Rush?

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the May 2014 Delegate Assembly).
For a printable version click: March May 2014 Leaflet Front 2014 Leaflet Front and back

New Action believes this contract- any contract- should be the subject on discussion at every school in NYC. At the UFT Executive Board Monday night, May 5, 2014 we were informed that the details about savings in our health plan would not be available for the delegates to read. Mike Mulgrew said that the 47 page educational segment would be up Tuesday on the website. And it was. But this is inadequate.

President Mulgrew stated, “We’re way ahead of where we thought we would be.” New Action members of the Exec Board asked to table the vote until Delegates and Chapter Leaders had a chance to see the changes. We also asked for a later DA, so delegates could get the MOA before voting on it.

But we are being asked to vote on this before the health component is in front of us, and before members in the schools have seen it! This is not about trust. This is not about delaying a vote of the membership. New Action asked to reschedule for one week. Frankly, it’s hard to understand why we are rushing when the President says we are weeks ahead of where we thought we would be.

Health Care


(Get the point?)


Health Care

Imagine your son came to you and said he needed to update his health care, and found a plan that he was going to sign up for.  “Have you read it?” “No, it won’t be available for a week” “Do you have to sign up right away?” “No, I have a month” “Then why don’t you wait a week, and read it first?” “But my friends, who I trust, tell me it’s fine”

When we sign something important, we read it first.

On the up side

For months New Action has emphasized: no more working under an expired contract, full retro, including for retirees, no givebacks, and 4 and 4. The 4 and 4 is there, but is deferred for in service members. It is possible to interpret some work rule changes as givebacks, (thought that’s a stretch). Otherwise, those requirements have been met.

The paperwork (and computer work) provision is an important (grievable) gain. And few members will miss faculty conferences.

Education Reform is a Mistake

The PROSE schools (Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence) open the door for charter-style “reforms”. These reforms swept the country in the last decade, without providing better places to learn or better places to work. New Action also opposes the “career ladder” institution of Model Teacher, Ambassador Teacher, and Master Teacher.

Recovering from the Bloomberg Years

Substantial damage was done to our schools, to our contract (especially 2005, which Unity pushed so hard) and to our members while Bloomberg was in office, while Klein, Black and Walcott ran the show.

Fariña and de Blasio are pro-public education, and will be much better for us. Mulgrew says there is no comparison. But the new attitude has not made it to the trenches. The Chancellor needs to take steps we feel in the schools, so all of us begin to experience the difference.

In this contract proposal we get one piece back from 2005: the system of billing each principal for the salary of each teacher – thereby fostering discrimination against senior teachers – is being waived for teachers in excess (ATRs). We need this citywide. New Action pushed for this to be in this contract. But it can still be negotiated outside of the contract. Likewise, many practices including extending tenure, unfair discipline, colocation, can be negotiated, even after a contract has been signed.

Fariña and de Blasio are silling to work with us. We need to show them how to provide our members immediate relief.

Retro is there, but Money is Deferred

We expected 4% and 4%, that was the pattern, plus some weaker numbers moving forward. And that’s (almost) what we got. By deferring the 4/4 to late in the contract, it was possible to get a slightly larger total number, 18%. Members who can wait to see the money will end up a bit better off from the deferral, with a higher base going forward. But members who needed money in their pockets today have a right to be disappointed. The first raise we will receive since 2008 will be just 2%, plus the $1000 one-time bonus.

The retroactive money will be complete, but takes a long time to pay out, as expected.

The Smelly Elephants in the Room: Abusive, Incompetent Administrators

Some elements of this contract, for example repurposing time, can be quite positive where administrators and UFT members collaborate. But too many of our schools are led by abusive or incompetent. In those places, how can collaboration work? This union’s leadership has too often looked the other way. We must prioritize correcting the behavior of these administrators, or removing them. We must all benefit from the positive parts of this contract.

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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.
June 2023