UFT President Randi started last Wednesday's May DA by bringing up the staff and Chapter Leader from MS 8 in Jamaica Queens where they got rid of a tyranical principal, John Murphy. Randi mentioned that 65% of the staff were untenured but the school community including parents and teachers were joined by clergy and other members of the community and they stuck together to protest on a daily basis and call for Murphy's ouster. The Chapter Leader then spoke and thanked the UFT leadership. Randi ended this by talking about how schools should stick together in solidarity.
She then said the Union must support Chapter Leaders which led to the resolution that she took from ICE, modified and made her own that was presented to the Delegates and carried easily (see story from May 16 on this blog).
Randi then talked about how the recession doesn't feel like what it is: the worst recession since the Great Depression. She said the city and the Department of Education are not aligned on the budget. The city doesn't think there needs to be cuts in the schools but the DOE is talking about cutting school budgets. She added that she expects to see over $400 million in cuts which would be a roughly 5% reduction. She then said that the city reversed itself and now is no longer talking about teacher layoffs. She then stated that the hiring freeze, while helpful for Absent Teacher Reserves, could lead to higher class sizes.
Randi then told us that she wrote a letter saying that the city should reconsider a retirement incentive. She then said that the hiring freeze should be for new schools as well as existing schools and that those who went to college to be teachers and graduated with teaching certification should not have to take a back seat in hiring while Teaching Fellows or Teach for America candidates are hired first.
On school governance, Randi talked about the NY Post fight against us and their goal to scare anyone who wants any kind of changes to the law that sunsets next month that gives the mayor complete control of the schools . Randi then gave us the bad news that there seems to be a consensus emerging to keep mayoral control but in the next few weeks many proposals on parental voice and checks and balances would be discussed. In summary, she stated that we have much work to do as the city budget will be coming soon while at the state level, modifying the Mayoral control law is also on our immedate agenda.
Randi then told the Delegates that another evaluation of Chancellor Joel Klein would be coming to the schools in the next month.
She then reported on a settlement of a lawsuit where the UFT won a lump sum payment for Tier I and II members because of an actuarial error of $160 million.
She followed this up by talking about swine flu and the UFT's reaction. Randi then mentioned her Spring Conference speech where she urged the DOE to stop closing schools and instead have services available in the schools that are needed but poor students don't normally receive them. Randi closed by talking about Harlem parents coming out and supporting public schools. She concluded by saying that when the entire community is involved, we win.
Questions concerned teacher center cuts that the UFT is fighting, seniority transfers which Randi doesn't want to push for because it would mean forced transfers and fair student funding which Randi said should be studied, as it is a difficult system to understand.
A resolution on the Homeowners Bank Protection Act was defeated. At this point, Leroy Barr gave the Staff Directors' Report. He said that we have to hold Chapter Leader and Delegate elections in May or June. He also pushed the rally for Stella D' Oro workers who have been on strike for many months. The UFT supports their rally which will be held on May 30 at 12:30 p.m. There were also a couple of political endorsements that nobody really objected to.
Finally, Howard Solomon gave a Power Point Presentation on letters in the file. You don't know how good we have it according to Howard, the Director of the UFT Grievance Department.
Dissecting the presentation on file letters will require a little bit of research and analysis so keep coming back for Part 3 of our Delegate Assembly Report which will be released soon.