Wednesday, June 23, 2021

UFT NOT PUTTING A SECOND RANK CHOICE SELECTION FOR MAYOR LOOKS LIKE A MISTAKE

In case you missed the NYC primary mayoral election first choice results, here is a good summary from City and State:

After nearly eight years with Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City’s Democrats are choosing a new leader in Tuesday’s primary election. The winner will be highly favored to win the general election in November and to inherit a city that’s likely to still be recovering from a historic pandemic that affected just about everything in the mayor’s purview, from crime rates to housing.

In line with recent polling, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams maintains a strong early lead having received the majority of first-choice votes. Close behind are Maya Wiley, former counsel to de Blasio, and former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. The fourth-best performing candidate, Andrew Yang, has already conceded the race, saying, “I am not going to be the next mayor of New York City, based upon the numbers that have come in tonight.” That leaves the remaining candidates with little chance of success, even with ranked-choice voting.

On the Republican side, Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, is the projected winner and candidate to face in the general election, beating out businessman Fernando Mateo.

The UFT's endorsed candidate Scott Stringer is in fifth place. The UFT errored, not so much by endorsing Stringer, but by not picking a number two choice and maybe even a third pick in the new ranked-choice voting system.  I am not Monday morning quarterbacking here. 

Back on June 11, this blog figured Scott Stringer had a diminished chance of winning but that Maya Wiley was moving up and she was with us on certain important educational priorities including lowering class sizes. This is part of what we stated in our post on the Democratic primary for mayor:

I have no idea why the UFT isn't pushing for a second endorsement now with Stringer so low in the polls. The left seems to be consolidating around Wiley. The AOC endorsement certainly gave her a big push.

The UFT didn't do anything much beyond starting a PAC and in my view producing some highly ineffective tv commercials for Stringer and then softly telling members not to rank Andrew Yang or Eric Adams. 

Shouldn't the UFT have had a major public discussion at the Delegate Assembly about endorsing a second choice? We might have been able to assist Wiley. The odds are against Wiley making up 9 percentage points now with absentee ballots and lower choices to catch Eric Adams but it is not impossible. No absentee ballots have been counted yet and many are still coming in. One never knows what will happen when the absentee ballots are added in and all of the second choice, third choice, fourth choice, and fifth choice votes are counted as candidates like Stringer are eliminated. 

Norm adds to the story with his election analysis on EdNotes. His lead:

Mulgrew told people not to vote for Adams. But in essence he may have helped Adams get elected. Mulgrew and the UFT could have taken advantage of RCV  --- but the UFT is center/right Democratic Party and Wiley was too far out -- they won't say it but would rather have Adams than Wiley - better to have more charters? Was it an error in judgment or a calculated political decision? No one outside the black box of narrow UFT decision making knows.

This piece from Huff Post may help sort out the odds:

In the ranked-choice voting system that New York City voters adopted in a  2019 referendum, voters have the chance to submit their top five choices for a municipal office.

The votes are then counted in five rounds. In each round, the worst-performing candidate is eliminated, and that candidate’s voters are redistributed to those voters’ next-ranked choice. The winning candidate is the first person to reach a majority of votes through this multi-round elimination system.

It is highly unusual for a candidate to overcome a deficit in first-choice votes to win in subsequent rounds ― let alone a lead as large as the one Adams’ currently holds over Wiley. 

Since 2004, just  15 of 398 ranked-choice voting elections with single-candidate winners have resulted in a candidate who trailed in first-choice votes winning the election, according to data assembled by FairVote, a nonprofit that promotes the ranked-choice voting system.

And as  FiveThirtyEight notes, just three of those 15 come-from-behind candidates overcame first-round deficits of more than 6.2 percentage points.

But there are a few factors that might increase the likelihood of an upset in this contest.

First, there are still many first-choice votes that have yet to be counted. New York City’s election rules allow for absentee ballots to be submitted  up to a week after Election Day. Voters have until July 9 to “cure” ― or correct ― any mistakes that would lead their absentee ballot to be disqualified and thrown out.

Thus far, 207,500 Democrats in the city have requested absentee ballots and 86,920 of those voters have returned their completed absentee ballots. 

The city’s Board of Elections is not expected to announce an official winner in the race until the week of July 12.

In addition, there are some political dynamics at play that might make Wiley and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who received 19.5% of the in-person vote and is currently in third place, more competitive in subsequent rounds.

Further down:

In a race where a number of candidates flamed out ― or lashed out ― in embarrassing ways, Wiley steered clear of major mistakes and controversies.

Wiley’s allies believe that her respectful campaigning style maximized her appeal with upscale white liberals, Black voters and staunch progressives.

As a result, they believe, she is likely to be the second-choice favorite of voters whose first-choice candidates get eliminated ― including left-wing former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. (Stringer got 5% of the in-person, first-choice vote; Morales received 2.8%.)

But they go onto say that Adams or Garcia are more likely to be the runner-up choice for Yang supporters. 

It looks like an Adams-Curtis Sliwa race in the fall. Do you think the UFT stays out?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

MULGREW ADMITS HE WAS WRONG ABOUT CONTRACT END DATE AND STILL CAN'T EXPLAIN WHY DOE GETS TO VIOLATE EVALUATION LAW

We have answers from Arthur Goldstein's Monday night Executive Board Report to questions we asked in our post from last weekend. We wondered why Mulgrew repeatedly told Delegates the UFT Contract was up in November when it does not expire until September 13, 2022. His answer to the Executive Board via Arthur:

Contract ends next September, not this year. Was mistaken at DA. We want to use entire year to start this. Not sure if de Blasio is even interested. If there is opportunity, we will take it.

That admission that he was mistaken at the DA is a UFT milestone. I can't recall ever hearing a UFT President admitting to an error unless it was for something done years before. That said,  it still is scary that Mulgrew repeatedly misstated the approximate end date of the UFT Contract at the DA and none of his associates on the call would correct him. That says something. Many of you correct me when you think I get something wrong. 

On teacher evaluations, again from Mulgrew via Arthur:

Bad principals--DOE decided to do APPR. Above 95% HE or E before MOSL even kicks in. We will go after anyone who doesn't do this correctly. 

5% of 80,000 teachers is 4,000 UFT members. As long as DOE violates the law correctly, the UFT is okay with it. We copied the summary of the state law waiving evaluations right from the NY Senate webpage for the bill:

provides that no school district shall complete an annual professional performance review for the two thousand twenty--two thousand twenty-one school year.

Why didn't the Legislature write that school districts shall have the option to complete an annual professional performance review for 2020-2021 if that was their intent? 

I am not a lawyer but I don't understand how the State Education Department and DOE get to violate a law that does not seem at all ambiguous.  Thousands of teachers can still be put in harm's way based on evaluation in a pandemic and Michael Mulgrew still can't explain how the SED and DOE can just unilaterally ignore what looks to this layman like clear language. All the UFT President can say is they will go after anyone who doesn't do it correctly.

We will keep trying to make our readers aware of what's going on but we need you to spread the word.

Thanks.

Monday, June 21, 2021

UNITY WINS RETIRED TEACHERS CHAPTER ELECTION BUT SUPPORT FINALLY SLIPS

After waiting for decades for the opposition to Unity Caucus to finally break through, there is a significant drop in support for the Unity Caucus in this spring's Retired Teachers Chapter election. Retirees make up Unity's strongest base of support and as such they handicap any opposition group that wants to challenge Unity, Michael Mulgrew's political party. This invitation only caucus that has run the UFT since the early 1960s demands that followers support caucus decisions in public and union forums. EdNotes is reporting tonight that the opposition to Unity, the Retiree Advocate, has received 30% of the vote in this spring's election. 

That may not seem like much but if we look at the results from the most recent citywide UFT election, in 2019 Unity received 89% of the vote and the three opposition groups could only muster a combined 11%. I am no math expert but for opposition to go from 11% to 30% in just two years is a significant gain.

From 2004 through 2016, Unity's share in general UFT elections ranged from 84-88% among retirees. Unity's 89% in 2019 with a split opposition was a record since 2001. The Retiree Advocate normally gets slightly more than what they receive in citywide elections in the Retired Teacher Chapter election but not almost three times as high a percentage. If this is a preview for the next general UFT election, the opposition retiree vote should increase. This is why the opposition groups need to unite and not be divided as they were in 2019.

Retirees on Medicare potentially being forced to go from Medicare Part A and B (public plan) to Medicare Part C (privatized plan) is not sitting well with many UFT and other city worker retirees. Many don't want Mulgrewcare. This only became an issue toward the end of the campaign for chapter elections. Next year, in all likelihood it is going to be a major issue.

The Retiree Advocate intends to be heard as part of a city worker retiree rally and march in downtown Manhattan on June 30.


Norm Scott explains how the rally and healthcare privatization are related to the election:

Note how Mulgrew keeps harping on our (RA's) role in pushing back against privatizing that we are "politicizing" the issue. After all, who really cares about taking away our medicare? We just want to hassle Mulgrew.

With the whole world having moved away from privatized health care, Mulgrew acts like a Republican and moves us away from public health care. Sure it's politics -- the UFT's weak center Dem politics.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

ARE THERE ANY REASONABLE, RESPONSIBLE, DECENT PEOPLE LEFT IN UFT LEADERSHIP?

I often shake my head at UFT actions and inactions but the last few days I am at the point of asking if everyone down at UFT Headquarters has lost all sense of rational thought. 

NYSUT reported that the bill to waive teacher and principal evaluations for the 2020-2021 school year passed unanimously in both the Assembly and Senate. The governor then signed it. We covered this bill on June 9. The language is pretty clear:

§ 3. Section 3012-d of the education law is amended by  adding  a  new subdivision 17 to read as follows:

 17.  NOTWITHSTANDING  ANY OTHER PROVISION OF THIS SECTION, FOR THE TWO THOUSAND TWENTY--TWO THOUSAND TWENTY-ONE SCHOOL YEAR, NO SCHOOL DISTRICT OR BOARD OF COOPERATIVE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES SHALL  COMPLETE  AN  ANNUAL TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL EVALUATION REQUIRED BY THIS SECTION FOR ANY CLASSROOM TEACHER OR BUILDING PRINCIPAL AND STATE FUNDING SHALL NOT BE WITHHELD FROM ANY SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR NOT COMPLYING WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION.

Evaluations are over for this year so observations from supervisors such as Namita Dwarka at Bryant HS who do not support teachers are gone, right?

Well, no because it looks like the UFT is allowing the DOE to get a waiver from the law that waives teacher evaluations without public objection. This is what President Michael Mulgrew said about evaluations according to our notes at the UFT Delegate Assembly on Wednesday:

APPR. School districts do not have to do APPR but can do it. City plugging in MOSLs. People were not working under conditions they were hired under. Breathe deep and relax. If the city tries to use it, we will deal with it. SED guidance is out.

What am I missing? The law's language again:

...NO SCHOOL DISTRICT OR BOARD OF COOPERATIVE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES SHALL  COMPLETE  AN  ANNUAL TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL EVALUATION REQUIRED BY THIS SECTION FOR ANY CLASSROOM TEACHER OR BUILDING PRINCIPAL..

The part about not losing state funding is if a district does not comply with Section 3012-d, not the waiver subdivision. What union would not cry foul if a district tried to get a waiver from the evaluation waiver? I say that as a union activist and not a lawyer. I totally cannot comprehend why the UFT is not even protesting, but rather is supporting an evaluation system that allows principals to be abusive, even during a pandemic.

Speaking of head-scratching moments, a union president needs to have extensive knowledge of many areas in order to do the job right. The UFT President falls short in so many categories (see one example above) but one would think he should know off the top of his head when the UFT Contract expires. 

Why did Mulgrew repeatedly say at the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday that the Contract expires in November. He sounded as though he is ready to put a negotiating committee together with some urgency. A quick check will show Mulgrew's date for the expiration of the Contract is off by almost a year. The UFT Contract expires on September 13, 2022. Why didn't one of the other officials on the call correct him? If there are going to be negotiations for an early contract before Mayor Bill de Blasio leaves office in January, shouldn't we be discussing that and not making up a date for the end of the Contract that is totally false? 

Either Mulgrew doesn't know the end date of a collective bargaining agreement he negotiated and signed off on which just shows incompetence or something is going on behind the scenes to possibly negotiate an early new one without any discussion with elected Delegates. If something is going on with negotiations, it just gives more evidence of the UFT leadership's autocratic style of union governance.

We saw more evidence of tyrannical leadership during the motion period on Wednesday at the DA when Delegate Daniel Alicea was mysteriously dropped from the DA phone call right before he was supposed to speak and he was not allowed back to get the floor to present his motion. This resolution concerned preserving retiree health benefits in the federal (public) Medicare Part A and B program and not switching Medicare retirees into a Medicare Advantage (privatized) plan. It is very controversial and it is costing the UFT leadership some support within its strongest backers: the retirees.

The UFT leadership does not know how to react when confronted by a real threat but instead just reverts to acting like a petty dictatorial regime. Please spread the word and let's vote them out. That is the best hope for a better tomorrow for NYC teachers.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

BRYANT HIGH SCHOOL CHAPTER LEADER GEORGIA LIGNOU GUEST BLOGS ON ABUSIVE PRINCIPALS

Schools with abusive principals cannot be the friendly and healthy environment students need.

In a school ruled by fear, the priority is not the students, it is always the principal. What dominates the mind of the teachers is what the principal will see, what the principal will think, and what the principal will say. When the Principal, surrounded by the AP’s, patrols the hallways as a lord would a fiefdom, the teachers who hear the walkie talkies before the administration turns the corner, change their demeanor, and adjust their lesson, because at that moment, the priority is not the students, it is the principal.

In a school ruled by fear, classroom visits by the administration become traumatizing experiences for the teachers and for the students. Students know the teachers are nervous, awkward, and just not themselves. What message does this send to students? What examples do we become for them? What adulthood do we model? What abuse do we teach them to tolerate?

In a school ruled by fear, new ideas do not blossom. The frames within which new ideas can exist have been limited and predetermined. So, what is discussed and attempted is only to reaffirm preexisting notions. Processes like Professional Development and inquiry often become tedious Orwellian exercises in futility, as participants keep repeating and searching for what they are expected to find. The use of the correct bureaucratic jargon makes the outcome sound impressive, but this does not mean that it has any positive impact on the students.

In a school ruled by fear, teachers design their lessons according to what the principal demands. The technicalities of the lesson are valued more than the essence. Teachers hesitate to use direct instruction and explain what students do not understand because the lesson will be deemed teacher- centered. They are afraid to redirect the lesson based on unanticipated student response because they will deviate from the carefully crafted lesson plan. Even when they see a deficit in content knowledge, they will skip it and move on to the student-to-student discussion part, because without that type of discussion, no lesson can ever be rated effective. The instructional expectation of the school focuses on skills across all levels and subject areas, so even the most basic lack of content knowledge can go unnoticed. Teachers will use the protocols and they will carefully choreograph their lessons, always keeping in mind not what they think is best for their students, but what they know the principal wants to see.

In a school ruled by fear, controlling the process of teaching is an administrative priority. The administration does not want to accept diverse ways of teaching even if there is clear evidence that diverse approaches produce results. The belief that certain strategies must work interferes with the ability to see that other strategies can work. A dogmatic approach to instruction does not allow the school to do honest evaluation of their own data. They are more willing to accept and to reference unspecified studies than to evaluate the results of the student population they serve. In this environment, the Danielson Rubric is a tool of conformity and uniformity. By design, the Danielson is artificial and subjective, as it focuses on random snippets of teacher practice, and it fails to recognize and account for the most important part of teaching: the Deeper relationship teachers develop with their students. However, in the hands of an abusive and unsupervised administration, the Danielson can be absurd, retaliatory, and dangerous. The Danielson framework can destroy careers and harm students because when the Danielson framework is the priority, the students are not. In a school ruled by fear, teachers plan with the administration as their audience, not the students we are called to serve.

In a school ruled by fear, there are no democratic processes. All the mechanisms put in place after years of negotiations between the DOE and the UFT are obsolete. Department Meetings, Faculty Meetings, the School Leadership Team Meetings, the PD Committee Meetings, the Consultation Meetings take place, but they do not give birth to ideas. Even the Student Government is closely monitored. Teachers barely talk and when they do, they do not question the basic premises of the principal’s design. If anybody dares to disagree, the discussion is quickly refocused, and the person is chastised or dismissed, while in remote meetings, the chat is disabled. Instead of modeling for students what democracy and free speech look like, how messy but how fruitful and creative it can be, we are teaching them to accept the pretense of democracy, participating in meetings that always end in total agreement. If the emperor has no clothes, one wonders, would anybody dare say?

In a school ruled by fear, the agency and the authority of teachers are carefully undermined. Students are questioned about their teachers, and simple misunderstandings become cases of misconduct. The school is divided, as some teachers and some students are allowed to walk in and out of the principal’s office at will, while others must try their luck in setting an appointment through the secretary. Seniority and merit do not factor in as certain people are kept away from activities and positions. Not everybody is evaluated with the same scrutiny. Teachers and even students become informants, hoping for something in return. Favoritism and retaliation keep the school deeply divided. The presence of teachers sometimes is not acknowledged, not even with a simple greeting or a smile. In this environment, students come to understand the rewards of loyalty, not the fairness of merit or the blessings of equality.

In a school ruled by fear, good educators many times go unappreciated. What makes an educator fit for the school is loyalty and compliance. There is a high turnover as many good educators leave, and at times they are even encouraged to leave. Students are left looking for their teachers from one year to the other, and courses are taught out of license. At the end it is that fear that also decides how students get promoted undermining and bypassing academic standards and expectations.

In a school ruled by fear, Assistant Principals are not allowed to make independent decisions. They are expected to reiterate and put in effect the principal’s vision. Their judgment in evaluating the teachers is undercut and undermined by the principal who has the final review of the rating reports and asks for changes having not been present during the observation. The personal preferences of the principal will dictate how AP’s program their teachers, sometimes overlooking that effective programming can tap into the strengths of the teachers and bring better results for the students and the school.

In a school ruled by fear, interactions with the principal make people nervous. Though we are careful to teach the students the evils of bullying, we do not consider the possibility that they notice their teachers being bullied every day.

The rules of human contact are simple. Any relationship that involves fear is abusive. Anybody who knowingly instills fear in others who might be in weaker positions and capitalizes on that fear, is a bully. In a healthy work environment, fear has no place and when fear is detected, steps are taken to dispel it.

A school ruled by fear cannot possibly be a healthy place for children. Fearful and victimized teachers cannot provide the social and emotional support students need and deserve. A supportive environment must be based on trust and empathy for everybody. A school must be a place where people walk in with a smile. Students need to be taught by teachers who are happy and confident, not intimidated.

Our students are traumatized by a pandemic that turned their lives upside down. They are dealing with loss, fear, and insecurity and they need strong adults to help them regain their confidence. They need their teachers to be their heroes.

Abusive Principals have no place in the school system, yet they are in place, and they are tolerated, as anybody who recognizes the above description knows well. It is not the norm as many schools have very reasonable principals, but the unwillingness of the DOE to even address the problem when the evidence is loud and clear, makes it systemic. I do not know if allowing abusive principals to operate as they do is by design or a result of negligence. It does not matter. The point is that it is hurting our students and it must stop.

Now as we are trying to re-envision our schools emerging from the pandemic, the DOE and the UFT must come together to put systems in place to identify and deal with administrative abuse. The Danielson rubric must also be revisited because it prohibits the flexibility necessary to meet the academic and the social and emotional needs of the students. Let the teachers teach. We all know the craft of teaching; it is the art that we foster.


Georgia Lignou Bryant HS, UFT Chapter Leader

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

LIVE BLOGGING FROM JUNE DELEGATE ASSEMBLY

I'm on the call on time today so will attempt to give a full report.

President Michael Mulgrew began the meeting with his President's Report:

President welcomes Delegates to June DA. Can't believe we made it to the last DA of the COVID school year. Yesterday, NYS announced we reached herd immunity. Pandemic is in a much better place than it was. Thanks the Delegates. Testament to all of the hard work. We have finally reached the 70% vaccinated number. Review of this year. Training Building Response Team folks who then went in. When we had to make a change, you were there to handle it. BRTs out front. We were anxious, but okay. Then, it became, test and trace and positivity rate. The positivity rate went up. State and city had two numbers. Schools closed and then opened up again. Thousands of operational complaints which led to so many UFT members getting compensated. Finally, we watched positivity rate come down and come down more. Our doctors told us we should look at opening schools again. Remote learning messed up and then what was done with the craziness of everything. We did everything in our power to keep our school system open. We were attacked from both sides: parents wanted it completely open and parents who wanted schools completely closed. At times, there was nothing we could do. Parents passionate. Had our first full in-person event since the pandemic, 5K run and walk. Zooms so we could teach kids or going back and forth to school each day with the PPE's. We need to celebrate what we have done. Hopefully, virus will be done by the end of the summer. Have to wait for what CDC says. We have reached herd immunity. Thanks all for what union leaders have done. 

National level

It's all about the infrastructure bill. Trying to be bipartisan but some Democrats willing to do it on their own. Infrastructure bill helps  our economy. Economists saying economy will crash if stimulus money doesn't work. For us, ventilation has to be retrofitted or we have to build new green schools. Martin Luther King campus needed work done to open. We saw that existing ventilation can be upgraded to MIRV 13 system. We can take out ultra-violet lighting to put in wellness lighting. They changed lighting fixtures and flooring. We will push really hard with the federal government to make school building upgrades part of the infrastructure bill. NYC has a model building (Katherine Grim School) that produces more energy than it uses. Working with construction unions on infrastructure.

State level

Albany was going to do the "big ugly" where Assembly, Senate and Governor put what they want into several bills. It didn't happen. Instead, individual bills passed. Automatic enrollment of paras in pension system passed both houses and goes now to the governor. City wanted to drop 7% assumption rate. City gets money back if they get over 7% return but makes it up if they get less than 7%. Chickens have come home to roost on special ed. 

APPR. School districts do not have to do APPR but can do it. City plugging in MOSLs. People were not working under conditions they were hired under. Breathe deep and relax. If the city tries to use it, we will deal with it. SED guidance is out. 

We believe Assembly is done for this session. We think the Senate will come back but bills won't deal with us.

New York City

Ticker tape parade for essential workers including us. Happy it is being done and we are part of it. No details yet. We will have float, bands and have a great time. 

City budget not even close to being done but will get moving after primary day.

We are involved in over 50 races in NYC primaries. Candidates thanking us. Nobody knows what to make of ranked-choice voting. We will learn when we get results. We'll make sure we have a structure in place with our friends who get elected to move forward. News not good for our candidate in the mayor's race. All candidates have a plan to move money from bureaucracy to the schools. We will deal with any issues with whoever is elected.

DOE projecting 6,000 new hires. The city rejected Early Retirement Incentive because they wanted to hire people and not get rid of any. Focus on class size. We have a big challenge in September. Many  schools are overcrowded. Many others are not. If children need more time one-on-one with teachers, the only way to do it is to lower class sizes. Parents are with us on this and dismantling the bureaucracy. CFE is fully funded. We are going to create the leverage to lower class sizes. Teacher's Choice should be back. Last year, mayor had a temper tantrum because we fought and won to close the schools and he didn't like it. Dial a teacher and other programs should be in city budget too.

Summer school has a large uptick in numbers of how many will be enrolled. Safety stuff is still in place. If you applied, you should get a job. Not sure about Big Apple Games. SBO season is open. We are going to try to extend it. 30-minute block at the beginning of the day is a big one. Four days of regular time and the kids leaving early one day is also popular for meeting. Teachers gravitating toward meeting. Contract runs out in November and we need to talk about this. Not a lot of 6 hour and 50-minute straight instruction SBOs. Programming follows. We want it done now. Get the initial rough programming together before you leave in June. It might change but we want less worry over the summer. 

Special Education

DOE is under a corrective action plan from the state because the federal government ordered this. The amount of time we spend over special education compliance is insane. This goes back to Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg who gave schools a pile of money and told principals to spend it as they like. Same issue every year. We confirm violations. Principals say there's no violation. We show documentation and DOE finally admits violation and principals say they have no money to supply the services for the kids. IEPs changed. DOE says it's not our fault that the principal spent the money. We fight back that this is improper. In Albany, there are a bunch of bills to give independent powers to do certain things. US Department of Justice is involved. NYC worse under corrective action plan. UFT fears that the DOE will blame principals. Principals will say it isn't their fault. Hopefully, CSA will be with us. Bloomberg and Klein didn't care about lawsuits. Big deal coming on special ed. Your advocacy from the schools got us to the point where this will finally be addressed. Children need proper services and proper placements.

UFT business

Healthcare report: Retiree health plan being done through the MLC. Medicare Advantage Group plan proposed. Mediator involved has not made a decision on what the better plan is. Still up to the MLC to decide. We have a very large group. We have a retiree healthcare committee. All of our healthcare negotiations go through the MLC (Municipal Labor Committee). If ever the UFT was forced to say we could not go through the MLC on healthcare, we would be out on our own and that would probably cost our members a lot of money immediately. We get a better deal by going through the MLC. We use savings back in the healthcare stabilization fund. We did two rounds of bargaining with changes. Significant increase in senior-care program. Costs accelerating greatly. We need intervention from the federal government. If we didn't go through the MLC, we wouldn't get the rates we have. We abide by what the MLC votes. There would be a significant cost increase if the UFT went at it alone on healthcare.

Contract

The temporary agreement is sunsetting on June 30. There is a side agreement for the summer. Regular Contract is open July 1 with full arbitration. The first arbitration Grievance Department will file is for appropriate compensation for working last year's spring break. We filed for impact bargaining on people being forced to set up digital classrooms. Sunsetting temporary resolution on how we run Delegate Assemblies. Many people worked on this. We are trying to take what worked with this and try to improve it. We tinker, we move to try to make it better. It's just like tinkering with lessons. What the group came up with will be the first resolution we do. It will set up the first DA in October. We are at a place where we can do in-person and remote. People have been showing up in record numbers for these remote DAs. We want people to have a remote option but we need the camaraderie of people being in-person. Remote has to be secure. We have many enemies. There are people who can't come in because of far-off travel, illness or other things. There has to be a secure system. We think we have that worked out. Working on second-floor wi-fi upgrade. We will follow the traditional rules of DA for people in-person. People can listen, ask questions, and speak in debates remotely. Middle of November our Contract expires (it expires in September 2022). We need a negotiating committee. Every chapter has to have representation. We will go through training and we will discuss things and make demands for every chapter (title). We need a resolution. Staff folks will work with each chapter. Love the way the last contract worked out as we got many things done for different chapters (titles). We need a digital committee.

We wish we didn't lose so many members in the pandemic but we did. We need to take next year to celebrate our work, those who support us and our loved ones.

Staff Director's Report

Clean and green coalition. Go to UFT.org to sign petition to get this done. Panel discussion on Juneteenth. Vote in primary on June 22 or before. Have a great summer.

Question Period

 Question: Google classroom for next year?

Mulgrew Answer: That is why we filed for impact bargaining. DOE says they have the right to do it. We had an agreement on remote learning. We have an agreement on an asynchronous day on election day. We are hoping to get compensation for this.

Question: Parent-teacher conferences, how many conferences if you have 6 hour-50 minute SBO?

Answer from Debbie Poulos: If you go to 6-50, it is only two conferences. Stay default, it is still four. Mulgrew adds all are remote.

Question: Untenured teachers who were excessed and now have been extended, what can be done?

Answer: We will talk to this chancellor about it. We will hopefully get to a common-sense approach on this. We could try to work with the next mayor. We can rectify some but not all. Superintendents grant tenure. 

Question: Will the ratings be used?

Answer: If ratings were done before we reached an agreement, no. If after we reached an agreement, yes. If principals tried to use observations from before we reached an agreement, we said no.

Question: When will we have SBO votes?

Answer: Chapter Leader can do this now through Election Buddy now. Debbie Poulos can assist you. D75 should be able to do certain SBOs.

Question: What will instruction look like next year?

Answer: Mayor telling DOE it's business as usual. Majority coming back for the first time in a long time. It won't be business as usual. We have to analyze where children are at and then differentiating instruction. We will push DOE to put out plans as opposed to letting schools figure it out on their own individually. This is why we are advocating for the dismantling of the DOE. It won't be business as usual and we know that.

Question: Early Retirement Incentive, what happened?

Answer: ERI had to be done by May 31. City wants to increase, not decrease, headcount. They think they will need more people for next year. No ERI.

Question: Thanks Mulgrew, grievance process open July1, but is it fully open? Will we be waiting until September?

Answer: Grievance Department will be putting out guidance on this. Summer school placements and reorganizations will be done through operational issues. David Campbell will have more and we will get it out on Chapter Leader Update. Traditional grievances probably in September.

Question: Gatekeepers for retiree  medical procedures?

Answer: Advantage care in individual and groups. You are talking about individual programs. Need gatekeepers for individual programs. Group programs not like that. All the things the questioner is talking about don't exist. Group of over 200,000 people can manage what they can do. People are using this as an internal political issue. We are using our buying power to have the second or third largest group in the country which will work with a provider but we will be part of the managing of this. I hope this clarifies more. Waiting to see what the mediator decides. There is a long way to go in this process. We are trying to keep our Senior Care program to stay free. 

Question: Thanks Mulgrew, questions on Chapter 683 Chapter 683, 

Those who choose not to work and have retention rights would not lose retention rights if they didn't work this summer. If they were not in person on the first day, would there be a problem working the rest of the program?

 Another person accepted the program, but something came up, what happens to their retention rights?

Answer: Both of those people need to contact Michael Sill tomorrow and we will deal with it. msill@uft.org.

Question: Thanks Mulgrew, when will we know if we are getting additional guidance counselors and lower class sizes in the fall?

Answer: Pay attention to city budget. We need social workers and guidance counselors. There is a proposal in front of the City Council. We have another proposal on class sizes. We might get some real satisfaction on this but this will be a real fight. Courts have ruled against us but we only got lower class sizes by taking less of a raise in the past.

Question: Please don't apologize for speaking for a long time. Thank you, how can we get ready because of all of those needs for the fall? We don't even know about social distancing.

Answer: We will try to meet with DOE throughout the summer. DOE wants to test for learning loss but need a baseline. Not a lot of faith. We will meet with first deputy mayor. We want materials tools and a program. We have to be flexible for situations nobody thought of. Get the school system responsive to the needs of the school. We don't know about the social distancing yet. Some summer schools are really overcrowded. Trying to get answers.

Question: Hybrid DA by phone or Zoom?

Answer: Telephone right now.

Question: Green roofs as well as solar panels?

Answer: Green roofs are on the agenda. My generation has screwed the environment. The kids are going to fix it.

Motion Period:

First resolution to move up another one is moot because there is nothing to move up.

Motion 2: Peter Lamphere a little upset. He appreciates Mulgrew making sure things are done in the order that they are sent in by email.  Withdrawing resolution number 2 because something on hybrid DAs is on the agenda.

Motion 3: Move resolution condemning hate crimes against Asians to the top of the agenda. This is for this month so requires a 2/3 vote.

79% Vote Yes to move it up and 21% vote No

(Daniel Alicea cut off before the next motion that he was supposed to speak on.)

Motion 4: Resolution for this month from Clara Barton CL: Retirees Medicare Advantage is for-profit companies. Over time benefits erode. For example, many doctors don't take GHI any longer. Want transparency in the process. 

Mulgrew: Last resolved might be a problem with the MLC. UFT does not have the right to stop the process with MLC. We have no right to stop it. The motion is therefore out of order. This last resolved would bind us where it is not possible. Process is basically stalled at this point. We will do side-by-side comparisons. We are working with for profit groups for in-service members. 

CL says for profit healthcare is a problem. 

Mulgrew: It might not be a traditional Medicare Advantage provider.

The last resolved clause Mulgrew objected to:

RESOLVED, that the UFT leadership requests that a moratorium be placed on the final decision regarding this proposed change to Medicare Part B until such time that the membership is informed of all the details involved with this change, a full discussion has occurred and the membership has been able to give input into the decision.

(Daniel Alicea informs us he was on the call at all times and was dropped by the screener. He is quite livid right now for not being able to present this resolution as it was stated by the screener that he was off the call.)

Special Orders of Business

Motion 1 on stopping hate crimes against Asian Americans.

93% vote Yes and 7% NO on ending debate. ?The motion is not voted on but I gather the motion to end debate will be it.)

Leroy Barr asks for motion to extend to do the resolution on how to run the DA for next school year.

85% vote YES and 15% vote NO.

Leroy Barr presents resolution on hybrid DA. We are working on glitches and we have fixed them. The process is 100 times better than when we started. Doubled Delegate participation during the pandemic. For 60 years, people had to be live to participate. Remote people will have ability to vote. Many worked on this hybrid model for next year.

D2 person supports hybrid DA. 

Another CL speaks strongly in favor of the resolution because she likes having the choice to get important information and can vote. Hard to get from Staten Island to DA. 

Speaker against says standing together in person has been lost. We have to stand together in solidarity.

 CL says hybrid is a good way to start as we move out of pandemic. People who want to speak can show up in person.

Mulgrew calls the question himself and the vote takes place:

While awaiting results, Mulgrew tells all to relax over the summer.

92% YES 8% NO

Mulgrew says to enjoy summer and thank you for helping Mulgrew get through pandemic.




Tuesday, June 15, 2021

UFT SETS DEMOCRACY BACK AGAIN BY CREATING SECOND-CLASS STATUS FOR REMOTE DELEGATES FOR NEXT YEAR

At the UFT Executive Board this evening, the Board voted 94-6 to create a two-tiered hybrid system for Delegate Assemblies for the next school year. Those who can make it to 52 Broadway in Manhattan will get full rights to vote on motions, to ask questions, to make motions, to second motions, to move motions, to speak in a debate, to raise points of order, to raise parliamentary inquiries, to ask for points of information, to propose amendments, and more. On the other hand, those who are remote will get the right to listen to President Mulgrew filibuster, to speak in a debate, and then vote secretly.

If you are a Delegate who is a parent who can't get to lower Manhattan by 4:15 P.M., or a Delegate who is incapacitated and or may have an emergency at school or home, Mulgrew, and the Unity Caucus are denying these Delegates some basic rights. 

It is 2021; the technology exists to put a system in place so that those attending remotely for whatever reason have the same basic rights as those attending a meeting in person.

How do famous deliberative bodies handle voting and participating remotely in a pandemic or proxy voting for new parents? The US House of Representatives permitted proxy voting during the pandemic. Probably the most copied legislative body in the world, the UK House of Commons, has given members the right to vote by proxy during the pandemic and they also allow new parents to vote by proxy

1. Proxy voting shall be available to

a. new mothers, new fathers and adoptive parents,

b. Members who do not wish to vote in person for medical or public health reasons related to the pandemic.

2. A Member shall demonstrate eligibility for part (a) of the scheme (parental leave) by self-certifying that they meet the eligibility requirements.

They vote by proxy as their constituents who voted for them have a right to know how they voted. UFT remote votes are anonymous as they will be in person too according to what I was told. I don't know of any deliberative body that votes on everything by secret ballot. Where is the accountability for elected Delegates and Chapter Leaders? Back to the UK, when they are attending remotely, Members of Parliament have these rights:

When the House of Commons was recalled on 30 December 2020, MPs agreed to extend remote participation in proceedings in the Chamber to all MPs.

This means that all MPs can participate remotely in:

  • Departmental questions
  • Urgent questions, and ministerial statements
  • Debates, including moving a motion
  • Presentation of petitions

See they can make motions. The remote MPs of course can take part in the famous Prime Minister's Questions. Watch the video below to see how the leader of the opposition Labor Party Kier Starmer gets to ask six questions to Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the leader of the second-largest opposition party, the Scottish National Party, Ian Blackford gets to ask two. Also, note how Blackford is remote. You can also see how fair Speaker Lindsey Hoyle is throughout. Watch how he rotates from one person from the Conservative Party side and then the next person to speak is from the opposition side and it goes back and forth throughout. Could you imagine Michael Mulgrew standing up to this level of scrutiny or being that fair in chairing a debate?


Oh sorry, ladies and gentlemen. I am dreaming again. I am expecting the leaders of the Unity Caucus who run the UFT to be fair to new mothers and other Delegates who can't attend meetings in person and to treat people that disagree with them with respect. Our UFT President can't even figure out how to run a debate where one speaker speaks in favor of a motion and is followed by a speaker against and then one for and then one opposed, etc. I plead temporary insanity to expect basic fairness from Unity Caucus leaders. Perhaps DOENUTS has it right comparing the UFT to the Republicans.

Women make up the vast majority of the UFT membership and parents with child care responsibilities are probably a big share of Delegates but if they have to be remote for the Delegate Assembly, they get second-class status.

You can read about the debate at the Executive Board here. The vote was 94-6 in favor of second-class status for those who attend the DA remotely. That means five Unity Caucus members joined independent Mike Schirtzer in opposing the hybrid remote DA rules. That's five more than usually vote with someone opposed to one of Unity's proposals. Maybe it's a start. 

In other Executive Board news, here's something a regular commenter (at least one) can't wait to see:

On July 1st we hope to file arbitration on last year's spring break. 

Nothing much new on retiree healthcare and for some reason the UFT is negotiating on evaluations. I am not a lawyer but I thought the Legislature and Governor were pretty clear that the law was waived for 2020-2021.

The entire resolution on remote DAs: