Thursday, December 14, 2017


I found this piece from the Education Law Center quite interesting.

Education Law Center (ELC) has joined the legal team in NYSER v. State, a major school funding lawsuit pending in the Supreme Court of New York County. The case was filed in 2014 by parents in New York City and Syracuse, as well as statewide organizations and community groups, to compel New York State to fulfill its constitutional obligation to adequately fund the public schools.

In an amended complaint filed December 11, parents from the Schenectady, Gouverneur and Central Islip school districts joined the NYSER litigation. The inclusion of these school districts expands the case to include urban, rural and suburban communities across the state.

At the heart of the NYSER case is the State’s failure to fund the 2007 Foundation Aid Formula, enacted by the Legislature in the wake of the Court of Appeals landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State (CFE) rulings. After a decade of deep funding cuts, then minimal increases in aid, the State remains an estimated $4 billion below its funding obligations to districts under the Formula. 

Read the rest for sure. I'm told NYC is being shortchanged $3 billion by the state.

The problem is the courts are notoriously slow. The original Campaign for Fiscal Equity suit was filed in the early nineties and settled in 2007. Still no justice and it's almost 2018.

Also, if this case is settled, I hope they write it in very strong language that any additional aid must go to the classroom or direct guidance services and have penalties for districts that are not only financial if money does not get to the classroom.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Harris Lirtzman worked for the City Comptroller and he was also Deputy State Comptroller. I think it is fair to say he is an expert on government finances.

Harris has been kind enough to figure out approximately what paid family leave would cost all teachers based on what the city managers are paying for the benefit and other statistics. He used the city managers' numbers and then did a comparison using the size of the teaching force. His projections are based on the Gina Bellafonte column in the NY Times and other information that is available to the public. They should be taken as an approximation and not literally.

For those who do not wish to go through the specifics on the numbers, the cost to all of us for the paid family leave benefit for 12 weeks at full salary should be a loss of about $6.96 from our semi-monthly paychecks.

Again, please note this number is an approximation and should not be taken as exact. The cost might even be less if non-teachers in the UFT are included in the pool as the majority of non-teachers are paraprofessionals who would drive the cost down. However, it might be a little higher too since teachers are probably younger on average than the city managers and thus might be more likely to use the benefit. However, in all cases, we don't need to lose half of our sick bank, the February break or much at all for new parents to receive a paid leave benefit.

What surprised me about the figures is the average teachers salary is $66,000. Considering we currently top out at over $113,000 a year and start at $54,000, the teaching force is very inexperienced. That explains a great deal about how our union and our employer look down upon us veterans. That is a story for another post.

Here are the details on the cost of paid family leave from Harris:

I thought it was time to put some numbers to all this disembodied talk about give-backs or having women teachers pay for parental leave themselves.  These estimates are based partly on information in the Gina Bellafonte column I sent you and other publicly available sources:

1. Number of non-unionized City employees (20,000) who used parental leave since it became effective in December 2015= 436 or 2.2%So, assume 218 or 1.1% per year.

2. Number of NYC teachers= 75,000

3. Number of NYC teachers who might use parental leave per year= 75,000 x 0.011% = 825 teachers/year

4. Average salary of NYC teacher= $66,000.

5. Approximate annual payroll of NYC teachers= $4.95 billion.

6. Annual cost to City to provide parental leave to UFT members= 825 x $66,000 x 12/52= $12,565,384

7. Cost of parental leave per NYC school teacher=$12,565,384/75,000= $167/year or $13.91/month or $3.48/week.

8. Cost of parental leave for every teacher who thought she/he would want it and paid annually into a reserve fund of some sort= $12,565,384/218= $57,639/year or $4,803/month or $1,200/week.  OK, let’s assume the teacher would pay the cost over three years so $19,213/year or $1,601/month or $400/week.


  • This is nothing but the “law of large numbers” applied to parental leave.  We apply the “law of large numbers” to most things that have social and economic utility but which cost a lot of money—it’s the reason why we each pay a relatively small amount of our salaries to pay for health care for everyone rather than requiring only those smart enough to know when they’re going to get sick to pay for it themselves.
  • The actual cost may be more or less.  It’s possible that more teachers are women than in the sample from non-unionized City employees. It’s probable that younger teachers will take parental leave and it's possible that there are more young teachers than in the sample.  But young teachers are paid a lot less than the average salary.  Hard to know how this would all cross-cut. Let’s assume it costs twice as much—double the figures in Line Nos. 7 and 8.
  • The managers paid by perhaps twice what the two year experience with parental leave seems to cost per the Bellafonte column.
I don’t know what the usual practice is for calculating the cost of a “give-back” in City labor negotiations. If it’s the cost of a new benefit against the total existing payroll then the give-back would be $12.6 million/$4.95 billion= 0.25% which seems reasonable and is about half the cost that the managers paid.  If it’s the cost of the give-back against the cost of the annual raise then it would be a large number.  I’m guessing it’s the first…

Monday, December 11, 2017


It has been three years now since I have been working at Middle College High School at LaGuardia Community College. After the bitter phase out of Jamaica High School ended in 2014, I never thought I would ever have any chance to again be content in a NYC teaching job.

However, after working for three years in an enlightened atmosphere featuring wonderful kids, a great staff and a supportive administration, I can say that teaching in NYC can be enjoyable. It is not perfect at Middle College by any means but teachers can apply our craft in a friendly environment.

We work on a trimester model so today I met different groups of students. I saw familiar faces and some new ones.

Believe it or not, after 31 years of teaching I still get that adrenaline rush on the first day of a new school term. Only the DOE-UFT nonsense has me jaded.

The House I coteach decorated our classroom door for the holiday season.

I write about Middle College not to boast that I landed on my feet but to say that this kind of educational setting should be a model that schools should strive to achieve.

Saturday, December 09, 2017


We have this article from the UFT on paperwork in the weekly Chapter Leader Update. It follows the Principal's union, the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, sending something out to their members basically telling them they can do whatever they want with paperwork. Thanks to the person who commented who sent the CSA missive.

From CSA to Principals:

Paperwork Reduction

Please be advised of the following clarification that your superintendent may have already shared with you regarding DOE/UFT paperwork agreement:

Last year the DOE and UFT reached several resolutions regarding individual school issues under the Paperwork Standards. The UFT subsequently distributed a document summarizing last year’s resolutions.

The only resolution that applies to all schools is the resolution regarding Other Professional Work – which was announced in the September 6 edition of Principals' Weekly. All other resolutions are non-precedental and do not apply to any other school.
If you have a paperwork complaint and the union is citing a prior resolution or distributing the UFT summary of resolutions to principals, please be advised that the prior resolution is not binding on your school and should only be considered as an example as a potential resolution; each resolution is school-specific and tailored to the program/needs of the school. Please contact your superintendent for clarification.

The DOE is committed to reducing redundant and excessive paperwork and below are a few highlights of the standards:
Schools may adopt only one school-based system for tracking student attendance (not including SESIS) in addition to the DOE source attendance system, except when expressly required by law/grant. Schools may select Skedula as the one system and require all staff to use Skedula.

Staff may be required to use Atlas or other comparable program, as well as create curriculum maps and other planning documents, as part of professional development work on Mondays or common planning time during professional activity assignments.

Lesson Plans may be collected and copied in a non-routinized manner and must be accessible to supervisors for review during observations (evaluative and non-evaluative).

Classroom bulletin boards are useful instructional tools. Bulletin boards should never be evaluated using a rubric and only in-room bulletin boards may be part of a teacher’s evaluation.

Educators and related service providers are not required to print collections or binders of documents that are available in electronic databases however educators may be required to maintain records of student progress in a manner that is organized and accessible for review, parent engagement, and professional conversations with supervisors

From the UFT weekly Chapter Leader Update:
An updated paperwork and Other Professional Work manual
When principals mandate paperwork that a member believes violates the paperwork standards negotiated by the Department of Education and the UFT in 2015, the chapter leader should file a paperwork reduction reporting form. The same form is now used for concerns about the assignment of duties during the 35 minutes allotted each week for Other Professional Work (OPW). The UFT has updated its Resolving Paperwork and Other Professional Work Issues Guide, which spells out the new reporting procedures and resolution process. The manual is permanently housed under the Paperwork tab in the chapter leader section of the website. Chapter leaders were able to resolve many paperwork and OPW issues in the 2016–17 school year by using the union’s new reporting process. That school year, the union went to arbitration to contest the fact that principals were assigning teachers to activities on a regular basis during OPW time. As part of the settlement of that arbitration, we have a stipulation of settlement that the DOE has shared with all principals. The stipulation clarifies the use of this time: “On an as-needed basis, principals can direct teachers or paraprofessionals to activities on the list but as per the contract, this direction cannot be done on a regular basis and must be the exception rather than the rule.” According to the paperwork standards, OPW time “shall not generate excessive or redundant paperwork or electronic work.” If you have a paperwork or OPW issue in your school, use this online form to report the issue to the UFT.

Notice there are specifics from CSA and a mostly general outline from the UFT with very few specifics.You be the judge on who is doing a better job of looking out for their membership.

Thursday, December 07, 2017


In an otherwise rather uneventful Delegate Assembly meeting on Wednesday, the UFT basically revealed to us that the framework for the next contracts for all city unionized workers will probably be hammered out by two groups. One is DC 37 whose contract is up in 2017 and they are in serious talks with the city. The other group is the Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella group of all public sector unions in the city, who will be negotiating health benefits with the city for the next round of collective bargaining.

The city is in a rush to settle with DC 37 so they won't have to deal with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association who are heading for talks with a mediator and then probably arbitration. The PBA has a very strong case that police officers in NYC are paid much less than their colleagues in the suburbs. They won't get far in arbitration, however, because the city will settle up with a weak union such as DC 37 or the UFT to set a pattern for raises and then  negotiators for the other unions will be basically stuck with that pattern. Arbitrators will use the pattern too if a union reaches an impasse with the city.

The PBA and other uniform unions usually get up to 1% over the civilian pattern but the pattern sets the framework for all unionized municipal workers as it has done for over forty years.

For those wondering what is on the table, DC 37 and UFT President Michael Mulgrew have pretty much told us what the parameters are. DC 37 has a letter out that is also on their blog that the UFT gave out to the Delegates yesterday. It shows where their negotiations stand. Mulgrew in his report to the DA gave us more information.

We learned from our President that the city is crying poverty (no surprise there) because of the tax reform bill in DC that will lead to budget cuts for NYC. We also found out that the state pattern is about 2% raises per year.

It's interesting how Mulgrew didn't even mention that the stock market is setting record highs and the city is doing very well financially. It was all gloom and doom from the chair.

We also found out from DC 37 that they are seeking a three year contract and that the city wants another $2.4 billion in healthcare savings from the MLC. We saved the city over $3 billion in the last round.

ICE-UFTBLOG predicts that DC 37 will have a contract in the next few months that will set a pattern for city workers of around 2% a year and there will be more healthcare givebacks. To put it another way, we will pay for much of our raise. Our contract will be done on time and it will mirror DC 37. Also, the UFT will soon agree to paid family leave paid for with a slightly smaller raise for all of us that will adhere to the state law  that set a pattern in the private sector.

Some highlights from the DC 37 blog:
Union wants a three-year contract.
The union’s 13 demands include a three-year agreement with a fair wage increase.

“We are looking to improve our standard of living,” David Paskin, DC 37’s director of research and negotiations said, commenting on the union’s overarching concern in these negotiations.

Paskin noted that members feel under a lot of financial pressure because of high rents, rising food and transportation expenses, and skyrocketing drug prices. Members are also anxious about their future because of the nationwide attack on public employee pensions and benefits, Paskin said.
The negotiations committee members met in caucus before the session to discuss the demands and the union’s bargaining strategy. They caucused again after they met with city negotiators to review Linn’s responses and to continue to evaluate the bargaining climate.

Linn said he would respond formally to the demands at the next bargaining session. But he did share his initial take on the demands with the union’s negotiating team, which includes the council’s executive officers and local union presidents.

Health care will be a major topic of discussion as the union aims to protect the benefit while the city seeks a three-year agreement with municipal unions to find $2.4 billion in health-care savings. City unions agreed to a $3.4 billion saving plan linked to the last round of bargaining, which helped fund DC 37’s 2010-17 contract.

Garrido is urging the Municipal Labor Committee — which bargains health care on behalf of all city unions — to hammer out a savings plan with the city. Without an agreement on health-care, negotiations will likely be more complicated because the city would not have a clear picture of its future financial commitments.

Linn expressed concern about the city’s $88 billion obligation for retiree benefits. In response, Garrido said, “Don’t mess with our retirees. They have paid their dues.”

The union’s demands include getting rid of the reduced hiring rate. Other demands include paid family leave; an annuity plan into which the city would contribute $5 a day; funding to reduce pay inequities; a floating holiday; an increase of meal and mileage allowances, and an increase in the city’s welfare fund contribution for each member and retiree.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Wednesday, December 6 is the Delegate Assembly. All apologies for errors on not so smartphone. I did edit a bit at home.

Mulgrew Report
Moment of silence for two members who recently passed.

Randi arrested for civil disobedience for protesting DACA.

Tax bill which will likely pass will be the biggest transfer of wealth to rich. Tax credits for buying yachts in the bill but cuts to children's healthcare. Enemies want smallest government possible. Enemies think we are all selfish and greedy but we did not get into this profession based on selfishness and greed. We will go after anyone politically who tries to destroy us.

January state budget time. State will adjust budget based on federal issues. We will see what governor will do. State must still submit an ESSA plan. Close to new set of standards. Regents have 3 year plan. Educate, build curriculum, train teachers. Well thought out plan. We are doing it right this time.

Tenure case
City and state working with us. Opponents arguing that Legislature should make it more difficult to get tenure.

Consultations have angered CSA. CSA newsletter says principals can violate UFT contract. UFT paperwork document being showed to principals. We are arguing some paperwork demands are stupid.

DC37 started bargaining for next round of contracts. Federal tax plan will lead to huge cuts at state and city levels.  We set pattern for last round. We got contractual back pay from Bloomberg years. PBA also negotiating. State pattern is around 2%. 300-350 person UFT Negotiating Committee being formed. More than enough people want to be on it. We will meet in January.

UFT is willing to help DOE do this.  DOE is working with us on PD hours.

Paid Parental Leave
We are talking to DOE and city on this. We know what cost is. We are not Seattle where this benefit was given for free by city. We are working on it and it is moving forward.

District 16 got chapter leader back in school. District 19 Superintendent brought under control by using consultation.

May or June is when decision is likely to come out. Use time to educate membership.

What will happen? Right wing has commercials in right to work states telling people they don't have to join union. (Mulgrew showed some of the anti union commercials.) Right will use wedge issues to divide us. Koch brothers people doing door knocking campaign. We are doing our door knocking campaign. Next phase is to have membership team to handle Janus issue in every work-site.

Right is saying to save dues money but it will cost us later when we are eating cat food. Membership committee should have one person for every ten members. Make sure it is representative of chapter. Paras, old and young should be on committee. Need to talk face to face. Are people saying no to union or are members not getting the information? It must be a group effort in every school to educate members. Opportunity in this process. Members will have to endure a lot of pain if right succeeds. Right thinks they have already won. We will protect our profession. They don't know what's coming.

Staff Director's Report
Leroy Barr gave some dates including next DA which will be January 17th.

Question Period
Question: Eva Moskowitz bemoaning lack of space. What can we do to pressure her?
Mulgrew answer: Her 100% success is actually 23% because of  attrition. Eva going to state legislature to get more colocated space. She has powerful friends in DC. We want charter schools accountable for entire cohorts like we are.

Q Lab specialist CL asks about IDC and regular Democrats getting back together?
A Mulgrew thinks deal will get done but Democrats are still a minority. Still have a Brooklyn senator sitting by himself with Republicans. We should have a chance of gaining seats next year.

Q Question about baby showers?
A We believe we should have paid parental leave. Must take unpaid leave or use CAR days for birth mothers to get time. All families who have a child should have time to bond with kid and recover from childbirth.  Important for adoptive parents too. It is not being selfish to want this. We will not get this for free. Another union could get it and set a pattern. It might cost us more. We want to do it quickly.

Q Evaluations, can we for next contract try to negotiate to have something besides Danielson to evaluate us?
A Yes.

Q Can we have commercials to counter anti-union commercials?
A We will do that as part of campaign.

Motion Period
Family leave motion raised by MORE calling for paid family leave without givebacks for next month's agenda.

Dan Lumpkin motivated it by saying that UFT has made progress from where we were before on this issue. Must do more. Need transparency in negotiations  Rumor mill is spreading misinformation. Need to hear about bargaining.  People should see what is going on.

Point of information: Have we ever had open negotiations?
Mulgrew Answer: Not that I know of.

Point of information: What is on the table now?
Mulgrew won't answer so questioner Mike Schirtzer turns it into a parliamentary inquiry.
Answer: Parliamentarian said it is not a parliamentary inquiry. I asked about it being a point of information and made a point of order to that effect. Mulgrew answered by admitting he was out of order but we don't do negotiations in public because it would be used against us. (He answered Mike's question indirectly).

Resolution was voted down.

Special Order of Business
Resolution saying UFT opposes current Republican tax reform bills.
It passed unanimously after wording was put in that updated and clarified it.

That's all folks.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


By adding up Arthur Goldstein's Executive Board Report from last night along with the latest update from the Chief-Leader on the Policeman's Benevolent Association negotiations with the city, we can put one plus one together to conclude that the framework raise for all city workers will be settled in the not too distant future. It won't matter if the UFT has a 300 person negotiating committee or no committee at all. We can ask for the world or ask for next to nothing. The pattern will rule.

Before delving into details on the current state of city union contracts, we have to explain pattern bargaining where the city settles on a length and annual percentage rate increase (or lack thereof) with one of its many municipal unions and it sets a pattern. Subsequently, all other unions are basically locked into that pattern and receive the same raise (or lack thereof). Pattern bargaining has been upheld again and again by arbitration panels. It's the main reason why our salaries lag behind most of the suburbs. We are compared to other city workers and not teachers in Yonkers when the city negotiates our contracts. Police officers are also set side by side with other city workers and it is why they are paid less than suburban officers.

Where do negotiations for the next round of contracts stand today?

The PBA is trying desperately to have their contract settled by an arbitration panel before another union sets a pattern. In my humble opinion, the city will never let this happen. The Chief is reporting this week that a mediator is being assigned to PBA negotiations. Since the police officers have a very good case that they are paid less than suburban officers, the PBA wants to go first and set the city pattern.  They need to get to arbitration before another city union settles. However, the city knows this and they are already talking to DC 37 as we learned from UFT President Michael Mulgrew in his report to the Executive Board from Monday evening.

According to Arthur's minutes, here is a summary of the negotiations:

DC37 is negotiating. Not looking for much.

We can bank on the city settling with DC37 or another weak union like the UFT before the PBA gets to arbitration. Thus there will be a pattern established that every city union worker will be stuck with.

Please do not ask what DC 37 "not looking for much" means. I have no clue. We can speculate that it means around 2% a year or less but we really don't know.

All we know is that there is a good chance that there will be a pattern raise set in the next few months that will be used to determine the next UFT contract. On the bright side, I don't think we will have to wait eleven years to get our money like we are currently waiting until 2020 in the current contract to be paid back in full for work we did in 2009.