Posts Tagged 'Probationary Teachers'

Resolution on Discontinued Probationary Staff Members

New Action wrote the original version of this resolution (March 28, 2016), and supported the revised version which was passed by the Executive Board (April 4, 2016) and by the Delegate Assembly (April 20, 2016.) It does not go far enough. As long as we have abusive and incompetent principals with the power to arbitrarily discontinue we will have a big problem. But this is an important start, publicly committing the UFT to trying to help, and publicly recognizing that there is a problem with incompetent administrators. New Action’s Greg Di Stefano (MORE/New Action candidate for Assistant Treasurer) has been actively working on this issue for two years, meeting with a deputy commissioner, several times with the Secretary of the UFT, organizing a press conference, a rally, and speaking at PEPs.

Resolution on Discontinued Probationary Staff Members

WHEREAS, a number of Probationary Teachers have been discontinued over the last several years; and

WHEREAS, some of these teachers were in schools with abusive, incompetent and in some cases corrupt principals; and

WHEREAS, many of these teachers were discontinued receiving no support or mentoring, a clear violation of City and State Education Law; and

WHEREAS, New York State Law states that discontinued teachers should have the opportunity to work in another NYC district or work under another license they may have; and

WHEREAS, the last administration under Michael Bloomberg purposely prevented this from happening; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT will continue to explore all avenues for these teachers to exercise their right to have the opportunity to work in other districts in full time positions or as per diem substitutes; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will continue to work with the DOE to ensure that legal, proper and fair practices are in place with regards to teacher discontinuances and that probationary teachers be treated with respect and professionalism.

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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.

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.

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.

Letter to the Chief: Restore Teacher Eligibility

From the August 8, 2014 Chief-Leader:

The UFT contract has been ratified and hailed as bringing in a new era for Teachers. Yet many problems in schools have not been addressed. During the last decade under Bloomberg and Klein, Teachers’ rights have been diminished. Teachers can no longer grieve inaccurate observation reports. Hundreds of probationary Teachers in schools with abusive administrators were unjustly fired. Some of these probationers have other Principals willing to hire them but haven’t been given the chance because the Department of Education has declared them ineligible to work.

Large numbers of new Teachers have had their probations arbitrarily extended. Seniority transfers have been eliminated.

The new Chancellor and Mayor should look at these issues. They should also address the corruption in our schools that has gone on the last 10 years. Some of these Teachers were fired and the Principals hired their friends and friends of family members. This is a citywide problem.

These probationary Teachers deserve a strong fight from our union. We urge President Mulgrew and Chancellor Fariña to work together and do the right thing and restore these Teachers’ eligibility to work.

GREGORY DiSTEFANO New Action/UFT
MICHAEL SHULMAN Co-Chair New Action/UFT
JONATHAN HALABI Co-Chair New Action/UFT
PAUL MILSTEIN New Action/UFT

Unjust, unfair firing of probationary teachers – give them a second chance.

NEW ACTION / UFT

NEWS RELEASE                                            Contact: Greg Distefano

August 28, 2014                                           Phone: 718 757 4552

 

Unjust, unfair firing of probationary teachers – give them a second chance.

Press conference

Tuesday, September 2, 4:30 PM

in front of the Department of Education (Tweed), 52 Chambers Street.

Stephanie (Barchitta) Casertano  PS3 Staten Island and

Dana Parisi PS253 Brooklyn,

both discontinued, will speak briefly, will deliver their appeals to Carmen Fariña, and will be available for interview.

Others may join them.

Under the Bloomberg / Klein administration, many principals were hired based on management, not educational/pedagogical skill. While some grew to be fine principals, hundreds remained incompetent and became abusive. And as probationers can be fired without cause, hundreds of probationary teachers were unjustly discontinued and prohibited from working anywhere in the NYC Department of Education.

The teachers here today could work elsewhere in the system – other principals want them. They spent many years of college preparation, and were fired without being given proper support. But they are unfairly barred. They are asking the Chancellor to review their discontinuances. And we urge the Chancellor to review all the discontinuances of incompetent principals.

New Action is a caucus within the United Federation of Teachers.

Discontinued?

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

During the last decade under the Bloomberg / Klein administration principals have been given much greater power and autonomy. As we know too well, many principals have abused this power. One form of abuse was the unjust discontinuance of probationary teachers. In some cases principals replaced probationers with hire friends or relatives. In others, incompetent principals erratically and arbitrarily fired young teachers, without reason.

There are discontinued probationary teachers who have other Principals willing to hire them but they are barred by the NYC Department of Education. The Unity leadership of our Union has not intervened. New Action / UFT calls upon our Union to press the new City Administration to reopen these cases. Let’s support our most vulnerable members.