Friday, November 30, 2012


This month's DA featured an interminable President's Report. President Mulgrew went on for over an hour.

To be perfectly fair, as this blog always attempts to be, he had a great deal to report on since our last meeting.  The problem was there was no time left after the report for anything but a brief Staff Directors' Report, a few questions where the President again was able to speak and gave long winded answers and then finally one new motion was raised.  That was it for November. No regular resolutions were acted upon and as usual, there was little debate or discussion on anything.

Here is a brief summary of the proceedings.

First, the President asked for a moment of silence for two UFT members who died as a result of the storm.

Mulgrew then told us that the only good that came out of opening schools for staff on November 2 was that members in impacted schools worked together to help students and each other.  He told us that during Sandy, the UFT shut down communications but kept its Facebook page up.  He then said that DOE sent emails and robo-calls to people without power.  Mulgrew added that 10,200 UFT members were impacted by the storm and 600 UFT members were now homeless but we received help from teachers from Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC and Connecticut.  We handed out 30,000 backpacks and raised over $1 million to help schools.  He noted that 52 Broadway looked like a factory line.  He concluded by saying that the politicians were working with the UFT and the disaster relief fund is accepting contributions.

Next Mulgrew talked about the three days that have to be made up in February that have been lost from mid-winter recess.  He said we need state 180 aidable days (He noted that aidable is not a word) and because of the shortened calendar this year, he said we had no room to maneuver.  He added that we went right to the state on this issue rather than the city.  He said some schools lost more days than others and the city wanted five days back but we held out for three. (I stand by my math from a previous post; we're working 180 days.  The city-state refused to give us credit for dodging through the fallen trees to make it to work on November 2 when there wasn't a gallon of gas to be found. This  is outrageous and was not mentioned by Mr. Mulgrew.)

Next up the President took a long victory lap about the national and state elections.  He called it a great day and said the UFT retirees were the main reason Obama won Florida.  He then congratulated political director Paul Egan for helping to win the local races. Mulgrew declared that NYSUT-UFT work made the difference in the Democrats winning back control of the New York State Senate and giving Sheldon Silver's Democrats the biggest majority they have ever had in the State Assembly. He added that we gained seats in the State Senate despite being outspent 10 to one as the Mayor is the biggest contributor to Senate Republicans, which is why upstate senators have been sponsoring bills to rob teachers of due process rights only in New York City but not in their districts.

Mulgrew carried on by talking about the evaluation negotiations.  He said there have been no negotiations on a new teacher evaluation system in over a month since the storm.  He added that with 300 lawyers and 260 accountability experts at the DOE, they like to send out surveys and data points so we have to send out surveys to counter their data points.  He then talked about how teacher evaluations need to be about helping teachers to be able to help kids.  He then predicted that test scores will plummet this year because there is no Common Core Curriculum. He added that he would be fine if there is no agreement by the Jauary 17, 2013 deadline. He subsequently told us the Principals were not qualified to evaluate using Danielson.  He concluded this section by noting that the evaluation goes beyond Bloomberg's term and that if there is an agreement, it will come before the DA.

As for the mayor's race for 2013, Mulgrew said that the work the UFT has done has sunk in as candidates are not bashing teachers and are agreeing with us that all is not well in the schools but all of the candidates still favor mayoral control of the schools. Mulgrew then passed a sheet around so Delegates could join the UFT's School Governance Committee. (State law giving the mayor control of the schools sunsets in 2015.) He then went back to the evaluation system and said that we would lose $240-300 million if there isn't an agreement by January but we are prepared to do that if a new evaluation system does not help teachers help kids.  Mulgrew then went back to the mayor's race by saying that we have worked for three and a half years to prepare for this election so we must endorse in the Democratic primary.

Staff Director Leroy Barr was next and mentioned that Teachers' Choice is back this year.  Teachers on Direct Deposit will get $45 on December 4 while those who receive checks will receive a debit card for $45 on December 15. Counselors will get $25 and Secretaries receive $15.  He also said Teacher Union day has been rescheduled for January 27 and there will be a protest at Washington Irving on December 10 at 5:00 pm against an Eva Moscowitz charter school co-locating in that building.

Questions followed next.  A Delegate asked about Article 23 harassment.  Mulgrew answered that we handle each potential grievance on a case-by-case basis.  He added that documentation is the key to winning these grievances.

This was followed by a question about closing schools.  Mulgrew noted that 60 schools are in early engagement and could be closed.  He then pointed out that 17 of the 24 schools that the UFT grieved to keep open this year now had received a grade of B or A on their report cards.  DOE responded that data had changed since last year.  He then declared that some schools will close and we will fight it.

Another question concerned Facebook.  Mulgrew answered that it is a good tool but members must be careful.  A question from PS 185 concerned low teacher morale.  Mulgrew replied that there has been a well orchestrated, well funded eight year national campaign to bash teachers but lately President Obama and the mayoral candidates have stopped bashing teachers. Mulgrew concluded this segment by again referring to the evaluation system.

Next up, there was a new motion period. David Pecararo from Beach Channel made a motion that the Delegate Assembly should require a 2/3 super-majority to support a candidate for public office who has been indicted for a crime.  He said endorsing corrupt politicians was embarrassing.  Paul Egan spoke against this by arguing that in America people are innocent until proven guilty.  He didn't want to see the UFT's hands tied.The Unity majority supported Egan so the motion failed.  At this point time ran out and the meeting ended.

Overall, this was an unproductive DA even by UFT standards. The only issue discussed was whether the UFT should require a majority or a super-majority to endorse politicians who have been  indicted.


Anonymous said...

As always, thank you James for the delegate report. This is something that I cannot get from my chapter leader or school delegate because they simply do not attend. Funny story: I asked my delegate this this past Friday about what he thinks about the new teacher evaluation as well as other points concerning the latest politics. He gave me his answer - an answer which I respect but he also brought up your name as one he respects. James, I know it's a tough question and understand that it is impossible to answer but how do you think this will all go down? I ask because I believe I represent many readers of your blog that are concerned as well as look to you as well as other bloggers as voices of intellect and trust. I may be asking you to "go out on a limb" here but it is only because those who should be in the know around me are not? What does your gut tell you in regard to this new evaluation? Did you/do you take Mulgrew for his word?

In solidarity,

Rank and file member

James Eterno said...

I will answer it as soon as I am able.