Friday, October 21, 2016


I often wonder why I worked to get a seat at the Delegate Assembly after being a Chapter Leader or Delegate for two decades but then being off after Jamaica High School was closed in 2014. I kind of  got used to not being at meetings in the second half of the 2014-15 school year but UFT addict that I am, I ran for office and was elected Delegate even though I was an ATR-Provisional Teacher at Middle College in 2015. Since being back at the DA for over a year now, I notice not much changes; the majority Unity Caucus members still stifle almost all debate.

For the October DA, leaders of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) came up with a sensible amendment to a resolution supporting the NAACP's call for a moratorium on opening new charter schools. Here is the original UFT resolution:


WHEREAS, charter schools in New York City do not accept or keep comparable numbers of high-needs students as traditional public schools - whether special education students, homeless children or English language learners, according to Department of Education data; and

WHEREAS, while the New York City charters educate a mere 7 percent of the students, they account for 42 percent of the city's suspensions, according to The Atlantic/CityLab, effectively forcing out students who do not fit in; and

WHEREAS, the national board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on Oct. 15 took a strong public stand against the expansion of charter schools until charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools, public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system, charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate, and charter schools cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest-performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP has taken this principled stand in the face of intense pressure from well-funded charter school advocates; and

WHEREAS, the Movement for Black Lives and other civil rights groups have also called for moratorium on charter schools; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT affirm and support the NAACP's position on the grounds that, until charter schools embrace the same challenges that public schools face, the NAACP is right to call for a moratorium on their expansion.

The word challenges was very disturbing to some in MORE who wanted to delete the resolved clause and replace it with this amendment:

RESOLVED, that the UFT affirm and support the NAACP's position on the grounds that charter schools create a two tiered, separate and unequal education system so the NAACP is right to call for a moratorium on their expansion.

They asked me to present the amendment and I agreed to do so.

Here is the rationale I worked on in support of the amendment.

I don't believe the word challenges fits in the resolved clause. It could be interpreted to imply that we consider our public school students to be difficult. Public school teachers who choose to work with special education children, English language learners or work in alternative/transfer schools do so because we passionately believe in what these kids can do. The last thing in the world we should ever do is say we want to send them to Eva Moskowitz.

The third whereas clause in our resolution talks about charters not being transparent and accountable, public funds being diverted to charter schools at the expense of public schools, charter schools expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and de facto segregation. This is much more than it being a matter of charter schools just meeting the same challenges that public schools have. Charter schools are not labs where schools could experiment free of district rules as they were originally intended to be  but instead have become a major cause of the development in this country of a two tiered, separate and unequal education system. Those whereas clauses would be better supported with stronger language in the resolved clause.

I never had a chance to present and motivate the amendment because right after Anthony Harmon motivated the original resolution, retiree David Pecararo (who this post is dedicated to) rose to call for debate to be ended. President Michael Mulgrew then did ask for a speaker against and while I was at this point frantically waving my lonely card, he of course looked the other way and called on someone who said a few things and at that point debate was ended. I felt that same old DA frustration that I have endured for twenty-two years.

I saw David after the meeting and he said he called for an end of debate so quickly because it was adjournment time and he wanted to make sure the resolution was dealt with and not postponed until next month. I found that hard to swallow since in my two decades at the DA, I have never seen an item that was up for discussion dropped in the middle because it was 6:00 pm adjournment time. David stated that has happened and then he did apologize to me.

The actual fault rests with Mulgrew who called on a speaker for and then should have not called on David but should have looked for others who wanted to speak against. The President knows full well that Unity speakers do not speak against Unity resolutions except under very rare circumstances and I don't raise my card normally to glow about something the leadership has brought up (plenty of Unity supporters can do that). I was seated at the same angle from the chair as David (just further back) so if the President saw the two of us raising our cards, he should have called on me. I will concede Mulgrew has evolved a little over the years as he at least did ask for a speaker against after the motion to end debate was offered but it's pretty much the same old lack of debate.

That's it for my little rant about how the DA remains a very undemocratic body where the Unity majority abuses its power. I just hope something changes before I leave for good next time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


The first Delegate Assembly of the 2016-17 school year is today. Once again these reports from the DA are from a smartphone so I apologize in advance for any errors.

President's Report
President Michael Mulgrew was talking about fighting charter schools when I arrived a bit late.

State and National
Working on standards to replace Common Core. We want ELL and special ed standards.

People angry in DC about John King putting out regulations that are against the law. We are waiting to see changes coming next year after election

State accountability from federal law is important. We want growth to be part of anything on evalutions.

Chicago and Buffalo teachers have tentative contracts. Must see it in context of municipal situation in each city.

In Chicago the pension is underfunded.

Buffalo in austerity as school system has shrunk.
Hard to negotiate when all agree city does not have money.

Mulgrew thanked Mindy Rosier for walking to Albany for education funding.

UFT legislative priorities in Albany for 2017 are to get more funding, stop a constitutional convention (it could be used to steal our pensions), not lift the charter cap and fixing the teacher evaluation system.

Andrew Cuomo has finally visited some NYC public schools to recognize some good teachers.

First UFT English Language Learner conference is booked solid.

NYC school system doing better than ever. We have caught up to state. Graduation rate higher than ever. We have classrooms in NYC with students who speak multiple languages. Conference to deal with this.

We have a book event in the Bronx. Organizer for breast cancer walk is Service Silva who addressed the Delegates.

CTLE hours. Many questions on PD hours and no answers from DOE.
Register with state during birth month.
DOE has nothing out.
UFT Teacher Center training can go toward hours. Teacher center is approved PD provider.
We need more from DOE.

Teacher Evaluation (APPR)
No agreement. UFT wants multiple measures of student Learning that is not standardized tests for growth.

650 and then 697 rated ineffective first two years of evaluation. Hoping it is lower this year.

We think we are close to an agreement on evaluations with DOE. NYC will lose $500 million in state aid if no agreement.

Matrix says if student learning is good and principal says you are bad you are good.

If principal says you are good and student learning is bad you are good.
It is a fair system.
Out of state many vacancies. Asking parents to sub.

Resolving issues. Bring them to district committees after you try to work it out at school. Chapter leader can file on behalf of school. Goes to central after district. Use process.

Classroom supplies company giving 25% off for supplies. Great vendor.

Staff Director
Leroy Barr reported chapter leaders and delegates who had 100% attendance are being recognized after the meeting.

Parent conferences and Teacher Union Day coming up. Thanksgiving winter clothing drive ongoing. Next DA is Nov 9, the day after the national election.

Question period
Dan Lupkin: 2014 UFT resolution to boycott Staples. How did we spend $170,000 at Staples last year?
Mulgrew Answer: We are getting out of contracts we can and he contacted CFO to make sure we are not spending at Staples. He will get back when there is more information.

Q What do we tell insurance salesman who want to talk at chapter meeting?

Q Paras not getting lunch. Must follow IEP kid. Is it proper?
A No

Q No SAVE rooms
A This is not proper. Call UFT safety department. It is a program to help struggling kids.

Q Functional chapters: How do we make them feel like more of a part of the chapter?
A Talk to them, get a functional rep on chapter committee.

Q Question on election. Trump and and Clinton bad. Is there a way to have discussion and debate on having a worker's party in the US?
A Diverse political views go from ultra left to ultra right within UFT. Put up a resolution on this. It is not up to president.

Q Too many emails?
A Paperwork covers electronic stuff too.

Q Principal has gone psychotic. She is not being collaborative. How do we get principals back on track?
A Use consultation committee. Talk to District Rep.

Q Update on maternity leave? Post new resolutions rather than hand them out?
A Moving in electronic direction.
Maternity: Sub costs less than teacher. Costing is moving in right direction. City calling it child acquisition. No mechanism yet. Trying to get it done.

Motion Period
Motion not to support Trump or Clinton and have a worker's party. It did not pass.

Motion for this month. New teacher induction. It is on back of Unity leaflet. It passed.

Special Orders of Business
Janella Hinds motivated a resolution to make it easier to start Career and Technical schools. It passed easily.

Resolution on integrating arts education into curriculum in every school. It passed.

Resolution to mark the anniversary of the 1960 strike. It passed. Leaders from 1960 received a standing ovation.

Resolution on UFT supporting NAACP call for moratorium on new charter schools.

Dave Pecararo from Unity called the question right after someone motivated it. Mulgrew did ask for a speaker against. I tried to amend the resolution but he called on someone else. Resolution passed. I will have more on this in a later posting.


The latest report by NYC Educator from the Executive Board leaves me more than a little bit baffled about what the UFT/NYSUT are doing to move forward a pro-teacher agenda in Albany.

Remember two years ago when defeating the Republicans in the New York State Senate was the most important campaign ever for the Union. The Democrats lost and then in 2015 newly reelected Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with the Republicans majority in the Senate and the feckless Democrats in the Assembly responded with the anti-union, anti-public school Education Transformation Act.

New York State United Teachers is now rewarding the Republican Senate Campaign Committee with over $100,000 in 2016. UFT Political Director Paul Egan on Monday told the Executive Board that 35% of the NYSUT membership are Republicans so I guess they aren't the enemy any longer.

I would like to know what the Republican caucus in Albany has done to help public schools and specifically public school teachers in the last few years so that they deserve our financial support? I concede that the Democrats haven't done much for us either but giving money to  the Republican caucus led by Senator John Flanagan strikes me as not being the smartest political move in the world. I would support his opponent Peter Magistrale as the Port Jefferson Teachers Association is doing.

Nothing of any substance is changing at the city or state level and yet we are as complacent a union as I have ever seen. The question is why?

Monday, October 17, 2016


There is an absolute must read blog piece from Bianca Tanis questioning why NYSUT in 2016 has donated $109,600 to the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee. That is up from a $0 contribution in 2014. These are our voluntary COPE funds that we give for political action.

Bianca cites a litany of anti-teacher-anti public education legislation the Republicans in the state Senate have endorsed that are awful including support for expansion of charter schools, keeping the horrible teacher evaluation system, denying public schools proper funding, an education tax credit for private schools and more. Granted, the Democrats haven't been much help to us either and there are Republicans who support public schools but the Republican caucus in the state Senate led by Senator Flanagan offers us basically nothing. Bianca concludes with this:

Is this the cost of a seat at the table? If so, $109,600 is a large chunk of change to sit at a table where we are being served up.

This blog agrees but still can't figure out what NYSUT political "genius" Andy Pallotta and company were up to here.


Saturday, October 15, 2016


One of the many provisions of the infamous Education Transformation Act of 2015 concerns teachers registering with the State Education Department. Here is what the UFT is saying in the weekly Chapter Leader Newsletter:

The new state certification requirements that took effect this year have prompted many questions. Here are the highlights in a nutshell: Permanently certified teachers, professionally certified teachers and Level III certified paraprofessionals are required to register with the State Education Department in the month of their birth. During the five-year period starting on July 1, 2016, professionally certified teachers and Level III certified paraprofessionals are also required to collect a total of 100 PD hours, now called Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) hours, by a state-approved provider such as the UFT Teacher Center. Members now have to keep their own records. Encourage members to put documentation of workshops they have attended in a CTLE folder. For more details, read the New York Teacher story about the revised certification requirements and this review of the various types of teaching certificates

Below it says this:

Remind members about new certification requirements : The State Education Department has published two online step-by-step guides to help members navigate the changes on how the state manages certification and tracks professional development hours. Members can consult the TEACH account guide for help creating their accounts and then use the registration requirements guide to complete registration. Although these changes went into effect on July 1, members register during the month of their birth. For information about the new registration process, including who must register and when they should register, and how members will track professional development hours, also known as Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) hours, you can read the information on the UFT website and review the chart designed by the UFT certification staff  for specific details on how these changes affect your members. To register, teachers and paraprofessionals should go to the login page for TEACH. Members without a TEACH account must create one before logging on to TEACH.  Please note: Teachers who hold Initial, Transitional A, Transitional B, Internship or Conditional Initial certificates and paraprofessionals who hold Level I or Level II Teaching Assistant certificates DO NOT need to register. Members with a professional or Level III teaching certificate issued after July 1, 2016 were registered automatically.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Word has pretty much spread around the city that UFT members are getting paid back nothing this October for the interest free loan we made to the city back in the 2014 contract.

Some people are still asking why we are not getting any money this year and have to wait until the middle of October of 2017 to receive the next 12.5% of what we are owed up to that point for work we did from 2009-2011 and should have been paid for back then. Other municipal union workers received 4%+ 4% increases in salary between 2008 and 2010. Educators had to wait until 2014 to get a contract but for some reason we agreed to defer the payments for thosee first two years.

The reason was the city untruthfully cried poverty and the UFT bought it so teachers and other UFT members made an interest free loan to the city. The city is paying us back in interest free installments in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. In addition, only half of the 8% raise other unions received eight years ago has even been added to our semi-monthly paychecks as of now.

Meanwhile, the city has been doing quite well financially as the UFT set an abysmal pattern in 2014 for the current round of bargaining of 10% salary increases over 7 years that other city workers are stuck with. This is because of pattern bargaining which means when one municipal union settles on a raise with the city, then other unions have to follow that pattern in negotiating their contracts.

Throw in those health care cost savings which are still not done and the bottom line is we were given a lousy deal but three out of four teachers voted for it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Since the formation of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators in Chicago and their victory in the 2010 Chicago Teachers Union election, Chicago has been center-stage for teacher unions. CORE led the way by creating a more militant kind of teacher unionism that had been all but forgotten in most school districts around the country and certainly does not exist in New York City. The 2012 CTU strike led by CTU President Karen Lewis inspired many of us to believe that with member, parent-community support, public school teachers could regain our dignity.

CORE has been reelected twice in Chicago (in 2013 and without opposition this year) so many of us were watching with strong interest how their current contract battle would end. Many were expecting a long strike but instead there is a tentative agreement. The agreement is very controversial.

For a look at what is going on out there, read this piece from Substance Editor/retired teacher George Schmidt. George is kind of the Norm Scott of Chicago (or maybe Norm is New York's George). However, unlike Norm who has been a part of the opposition to Michael Mulgrew's majority Unity Caucus in NYC for decades, George was one of the founders of CORE who defeated their Unity style machine. It looks like George will be one of the leaders opposing the current tentative agreement.

For a more favorable look at the contract, go to of all places Socialist Worker. Even here, they are not glowing in their praise.

In the end, the city mostly caved on the so-called "pension pickup." Nothing will change for current CTU members or anyone still hired this year. Going forward, new hires will have to cover their pension contributions, as the city demanded of all teachers, but they will be compensated for the full amount with bigger paychecks.

Increases in base pay are meager, adding up to 4.5% in the final years of a four-year contract. But the union preserved the "steps and lanes" system that awards pay increases based on seniority and and educational experience. That's a further defeat for (Mayor Rahm) Emanuel, who has demanded that the union abandon steps and lanes since taking office in 2011.

This sort of reads like the material Unity puts out when they try to sell NYC teachers garbage. You know it kind of goes a little like this (warning satire alert):

Joel Klein wanted public terminations of 100 teachers a day who would be fired at high noon in front of their schools until all tenured teachers were eliminated but the Unity team stopped him. They are only firing 50 at a time and the terminations will only take place once a week. We can hold out until there is a new mayor. What a victory!

Someone sent ICE a copy of the Tentative Agreement from Chicago. The job security clause appears to be a little stronger than in 2012 but it looks as though layoffs are still a possibility. There are some gains on class sizes for the early grades. However, if I was a Chicago teacher, I would probably be screaming NO. As I am an outsider, best for me to leave it to the CTU Delegates and Members to make their decision.

This contract is important to activists around the country as Chicago had given so many of us hope for a new day for teacher unions. At the end of the day, maybe we all just become Unity Caucus, putting up futile resistance against overwhelming political forces aligned to destroy public education and teacher unions. Perhaps token defiance is all that is possible.

I'm still not convinced.

Monday, October 10, 2016


While looking for news on the potential for a Chicago Teachers' strike set to start Tuesday, October 11, 2016, I went over to Substance Chicago and there is a piece by editor George Schmidt describing what real unionism is all about. The article describes how to run a picket line properly and deal with scabs. George sums up with perfect advice that I hope the New York City UFT will take.

It's good that we are returning to the ethics of unions: An injury to one is an injury to all! -- NOT "contact the grievance department and maybe with a lot of approvals we might sort of do a grievance or a ULP maybe sometimes but may not whatever..."

If there is a last minute settlement out in Chicago, we will try to keep ICE readers posted. There are negotiations continuing today with the deadline looming at midnight. 

If they don't settle, based on what I'm reading from Chicago, it looks like the union will hold strong. I wish we some day soon will have the "all for one, one for all" union spirit here in NYC. We certainly had it at Jamaica High School for the most part.


There is a tentative agreement in Chicago. It still needs to be approved by the House of Delegates and members but the Chicago Tribune is reporting that there are gains for teachers. As usual, the details will tell the final story.

I don't think this blog has an ounce of influence on what goes on in Chicago but if they achieved an ironclad no layoff agreement and some real financial improvements, then it is a step in the right direction and the CTU's credible strike threat made a big difference.