September 6, 2005
CHAPTER DEMANDS TIME TO SET UP ROOMS.
FIRST CHAPTER MEETING ENDS WITH A CROWD IN PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE!
The school year started off with tremendous energy as an incensed group of well over fifty teachers charged from our meeting in the library to the Principal’s office to conclude the meeting there. We were outraged because the new Contract guaranteed that part of the time in the two days before Labor Day was to be spent setting up our classrooms. However, on Friday the administration scheduled an all day “professional development” session.
Most members agreed that the development was a waste of time and taxpayer money but also teachers were irate because we weren’t given any time to plan for Tuesday’s opening. We needed to set up for the arrival of the students but were denied. Several phone calls were made to union officials demanding that we be given our contractually mandated time and a grievance was filed on behalf of the Chapter. The Principal claimed he did not know about the new provision until after he arranged the professional development but he said it would not happen again. At our chapter meeting, we discussed the issue and we were not happy with the compromises that were proposed so we voted unanimously to continue the meeting in the principal’s office.
Many UFT members told the principal about the need to set up classrooms, prepare labs, obtain materials for Tuesday and do other tasks. We needed the time. The Principal and the union eventually agreed to cut an hour off the professional development Friday to allow us some time to prepare for Tuesday. However, we did not feel this was sufficient so it was also agreed that teachers would not be held accountable by any administrators for the conditions of their classrooms during the first week of school.
While a teacher rebellion was needed to obtain what was our Contractual right, the Contract only talks about part of the day being used for classroom preparation; the exact length of time is left undefined. The money for the “professional development” was already paid for so when we decided to fight for our time, we basically received as much as we could obtain that afternoon. What we did on Friday was a success and proved once again that if we work as a group there is much that we can accomplish for our students and ourselves. For everyone who crowded into the Principal’s office on Friday I say a huge Thank You!