Posts Tagged 'Farina'

Report from UFT Executive Board October 6, 2014

This was the third Exec Board of the year.

Francesco Portelos was the only speaker for the open mike. His main point was that there are many members who need assistance who are coming to him, but the union should be providing better service so that members go to them instead. I didn’t follow much more as he rambled a bit. I was surprised he didn’t share his story of being observed in an Italian class (he’s in excess, an “ATR”).

After minutes were approved they moved to the Staff Director’s report, as Mulgrew had not arrived. LeRoy Barr reported on upcoming events including for UFT Disaster Relief (10/13), Making Strides (10/19), Teacher Union Day (11/2, new location, NY Hilton), and a reception at the next DA for those with 100% attendance from last year (10/22). He also mentioned the Chapter Leader training weekend.

In the question period Bill Goldman (New Action, CL Tottenville HS) asked what response the UFT has had or will have to the report out of UCLA from a few months ago that showed NY to have the worst segregation in the nation. Emil Pietromonaco indicated he would get back to Bill. (later Michael Mulgrew said we should do a new resolution)

Jonathan Halabi (me, CL HS of American Studies at Lehman College) asked if the DoE’s past practice of needlessly our arbitration dates through (here I asked for help – the chair mentioned class size, but there is another category, possibly para terminations?) has continued under the new administration. (Has the bad practice been undone). Emil’s response was that “only time will tell.”

Michael Mulgrew then gave his report. Listening to Fariña is like listening to a teacher. No more single letter grades. Culture. Curriculum. Training. Cooperation. Parent Engagement.

We are not looking to “undo” but to change the DoE. (This may have been in response to me).

The problems with professional development are coming from people not knowing how it should work. We don’t want pre-canned PD, “like a faculty conference” or “told me to keep a log.”

There are problems in Special Ed, problems with ELLs, with struggling schools. How do we move 1831 schools in the right direction at the same time? Trying to change the culture of the school system.

Michael reported on the events in Philadelphia. He described this as a political maneuver by Corbett, and pointed out that two of the votes in favor of voiding the teachers’ contract came from appointees of the former Democratic mayor. We will monitor Philly carefully, and continue to send in retirees to work on the governor’s race.

Our focus on the elections will be the State Senate. Key races everywhere, except NYC (only Schneiderman and Di Napoli). There is an independent expenditure committee (?) trying to retake the senate for the Republicans.

There was no political report, and the only report from districts came from George Altomare about the Italian American history group.

Leroy Barr reported on upcoming vacancies on the Executive Board (nominations to be offered next meeting). He also explained that the issue of unfairly terminated probationers was being dealt with by assuring that, if a principal wants to hire a discontinued probationer (in a different district, or under a different license) that we will assure those who are offered a second chance will be able to take it. This does not require a resolution.

New Action Caucus has ten seats on the UFT Executive Board – the only ten seats that do not belong to Unity Caucus.

Ten is not enough to win anything – but it allows our voice to be heard, it allows us to put forward resolutions, and when there is agreement, to put forward resolutions the leadership signs onto. It allows us to offer amendments. It allows us to bring issues to the leadership.

At Exec after Exec, Unity members sit and listen. Some never speak. Most rarely speak. But New Action usually has questions, comments, resolutions, or amendments.

This year we will publish reports – sometimes on the entire Exec Board, sometimes just on New Action’s contribution.

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Report from UFT Executive Board September 22 2014

This was the second Exec Board of the year.

The agenda was compressed, to accommodate a 6:30 visit by Carmen Fariña.

There was no open mike. After minutes were approved they moved to the Staff Director’s report, as Mulgrew had not arrived. LeRoy Barr responded to questions from two weeks earlier: We still don’t have the number of discontinuances from last year. We know of 261 extensions of probation (these are the probationers who contacted their borough offices). There were approximately 650-700 Ineffective ratings, and 5500 – 6000 Developings. There are approximately 1600 excessed members (often called ATRs).

LeRoy encouraged us to return our Smallheiser ballots, and announced a new location for the November 2 Teacher Union Day (the Hilton).

There were no questions during the question period.

George Altomare made the only report in Reports from Districts, and spoke of the successful Climate Change march.

Michael Mulgrew then gave his report. The joint Mulgrew-Fariña letter on lesson plans needed work because DoE legal kept getting it wrong. Principals are getting wrong info from the networks; they complain that they have been instructed by the networks to do things that are clearly illegal.

Only 350 schools are missing from the contract implementation survey, but we want to get all of them. most committees are in place. Curriculum is lagging. For professional development, there are principals who, instead of collaborating, are dictating. There is clear alignment between “us” and the DoE on beginning the conversations.

Special Orders of Business

Carmen Alvarez nominated Evelyn DeJesus for VP Educational Issues. There were no other nominations, and LeRoy Barr cast one vote, electing her. Mel Aaronson nominated Thomas Brown for Assistant Treasurer. There were no other nominations, and LeRoy Barr cast one vote, electing him. New Action did not make a nomination for VP Educational Issues. We disagree with Unity on many of the major educational issues (testing, evaluation, curriculum, etc). However, in ouor discussions before nominations were do, our supporters indicated that we find Evelyn DeJesus to be open, collaborative. We know we can talk with her. We can work with her. We decided, unanimously, not to offer an alternate nomination.

Michael Shulman (New Action) moved a resolution raising the issue of unfairly discontinued probationers. It resolved that the  UFT will contact all recently fired probationary teachers, determine those who were unjustly terminated, and  present a case to the chancellor requesting that these unjustly terminated teachers be given a second chance. Michael Mulgrew got up to agree with the sentiment, but wanted the promise of who we would reach to be defined, and not to be “all.” And then discussion continued, including members of the Executive Board who do not frequently speak, making suggestions to alternately broaden or sharpen the language. The motion’s maker, Shulman, indicated several times that these proposals were in line with the intent of the resolution. Speaking a second time (I think it was a second time, my notes were scribbled and fast), Mulgrew suggested focusing on probationers who had appealed their discontiuance, Finally, VP Anne Goldman pointed out that the comments and suggestions were moving this towards a finished product, but that in fairness we should not vote before the best language had been reached. The body voted unanimously to refer the resolution to the next Executive Board, October 6.

The meeting was adjourned. Fariña arrived, spoke for about 3 minutes, followed by dinner.

New Action Caucus has ten seats on the UFT Executive Board – the only ten seats that do not belong to Unity Caucus.

Ten is not enough to win anything – but it allows our voice to be heard, it allows us to put forward resolutions, and when there is agreement, to put forward resolutions the leadership signs onto. It allows us to offer amendments. It allows us to bring issues to the leadership.

At Exec after Exec, Unity members sit and listen. Some never speak. Most rarely speak. But New Action usually has questions, comments, resolutions, or amendments.

This year we will publish reports – sometimes on the entire Exec Board, sometimes just on New Action’s contribution.

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.

LET’S WORK WITH DE BLASIO TO PUSH OUR PRIORITIES

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

The election of Bill de Blasio and the appointment of Carmen Fariña opens the possibility of correcting 12 years of Bloomberg’s destructive policies.  The damage done cannot all be repaired overnight. However, some important advances can begin now. High on the list is negotiating a good contract with retroactive pay. New Action/UFT proposes some additional priorities.

Abusive, Unqualified, or Both?

New Action has always acknowledged that there are many collaborative and professional administrators. But unqualified principals, often with no or little teaching experience, are running too many of our schools. A principal can avoid a conversation by saying, “I have to run this past Legal” knowing full well that these Bloomberg appointed lawyers tell principals to deny everything. Those with who never were decent teachers, or with inadequate experience can feel threatened by our members’ knowledge, and treat suggestions as insubordinate. Many become petty dictators. Their orders are sometimes arbitrary, sometimes nonsensical. They don’t discuss issues with members, because they cannot. And some target Chapter Leaders.

Work together to resolve issues of abusive admins

IT IS TIME to press this issue with de Blasio and Fariña and modify the behavior of all of these abusive administrators, and long overdue that the Unity leadership demand an end to the harassment of chapter leaders. The leadership has targeted problem principals in schools where the entire chapter is ready to fight back. But this is a drop in the bucket. In most of these schools members are scared, intimidated, not ready to stand up on their own. We must help them at the school, AND bring these cases to the new administration. And we have progress already: Carmen Fariña has announced that all new principals will need to have at least seven years experience.

We can work with Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Fariña, and at the same time help our membership to become active at the school level to tackle these and other issues.

De Blasio Compromise on Co-locations – an Error

On charters and co-locations de Blasio sent a badly mixed message. He declared a moratorium, while he and Fariña examined the 45 proposals that Bloomberg rushed through last fall. But late last month they approved 36 of them, including some charters. This was not what we wanted; this was not what New York City needed. They thought that they could play nice with the private charter operators/ hedgefunders. But Eva Moskowitz, who lost one expansion, and two new schools, organized a demonstration in Albany, where Andrew Cuomo lent his support, and has been blasting de Blasio. His administration has been taking a beating in the media. Compromising with the charter operators was a mistake.

No New School Closings – a big step forward

But there is good on co-locations as well:  this is the first year in memory when there has not been a single school closure. Several charter collocations were denied. We should stand with de Blasio against Moskowitz, and against the NY State Senate’s current proposal to allow charter management companies unfettered, free access to New York City’s school buildings.

Contract?

There is also potential progress on a contract. The UFT’s Negotiating Committee met last Thursday, and while those discussions are confidential, the major media are reporting that there have been real conversations in the last few days. Given our desire to have a contract done by June, it seems that the process is moving at the right time. A hopeful sign: The New York Times reports that chief factfinder, Martin Scheinman, is now acting as a mediator between us and the City.

Mobilization

We need to get our membership involved – getting out there to support those good steps de Blasio and Fariña have taken – and pushing on our contract issues. There are stalwarts, UFTers who come to any rally, anywhere we ask. But to bring the full weight of our union to bear, we need to engage the majority of our members, and that means in school, and in front of school. School-based actions will show how serious we are, and they will give us a stronger, united voice.

LET’S WORK WITH DE BLASIO TO PUSH OUR PRIORITIES

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

LET’S WORK WITH DE BLASIO TO PUSH OUR PRIORITIES

The election of Bill de Blasio and the appointment of Carmen Fariña opens the possibility of correcting 12 years of Bloomberg’s destructive policies. The damage done cannot all be repaired overnight. However, some important advances can begin now. High on the list is negotiating a good contract with retroactive pay. New Action/UFT proposes some additional priorities.

New Action has always acknowledged that there are many collaborative and professional administrators. But unqualified principals, often with no or little teaching experience, are running too many of our schools. A principal can avoid a conversation by saying, “I have to run this past Legal” knowing full well that these Bloomberg appointed lawyers tell principals to deny everything. Those with who never were decent teachers, or with inadequate experience can feel threatened by our members’ knowledge, and treat suggestions as insubordinate. Many become petty dictators. Their orders are sometimes arbitrary, sometimes nonsensical. They don’t discuss issues with members, because they cannot. And some target Chapter Leaders.

IT IS TIME to press this issue with de Blasio and Fariña and modify the behavior of all of these abusive administrators, and long overdue that the Unity leadership demand an end to the harassment of chapter leaders. The leadership has targeted problem principals in schools where the entire chapter is ready to fight back. But this is a drop in the bucket. In most of these schools members are scared, intimidated, not ready to stand up on their own. We must help them at the school, AND bring these cases to the new administration. And we have progress already: Carmen Fariña has announced that all new principals will need to have at least seven years experience.

We can work with Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Fariña, and at the same time help our membership to become active at the school level to tackle these and other issues.