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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Except for the compliant press, does anyone believe that the grades the New York City Department of Education gives to schools mean much?  Chaz discusses the absurdity of schools receiving A and B grades that have very few students who can be considered ready for college work.

This story hits close to home.  As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I teach at the phasing out Jamaica High School.  One of the schools replacing us as we phase out is called Jamaica Gateway. They received an A on their report card.

I congratulate Jamaica Gateway for their grade..  Their administration is very professional.  They have been nothing but kind to me as I try to coordinate SAT exams in Jamaica's building. Some of their staff transferred from Jamaica High; we work very well together. Jamaica Gateway's Chapter Leader is a good friend.  Their students achieved a 97.5% graduation rate and a 60% college ready rate. That's not bad at all.  Where did these graduates come from?  The answer is Jamaica High School.

Many of the top achieving juniors and sophomores from Jamaica High School were automatically transferred into Jamaica Gateway when it opened in 2011.  Their entire 2012 graduating senior class was educated at Jamaica High School for three years.  I was the Advanced Placement US History teacher for many of these kids two years ago.  There were some really great students in that group.

The Jamaica High School-Jamaica Gateway formula of taking top pupils and moving them out of a school that the powers that be want to fail and placing them into a program that they want to succeed is a mini-version of the school reform movement.

Who is left behind in the traditional school?  Many of the students who remain at Jamaica High School are those who have more challenging needs such as English Language Learners, Self Contained Special Education pupils, and students who are over-age and lack credits.  (We also have some Jamaica High School loyalists who had to opt out of the transfer to Gateway.)  The inevitable result of cherry picking the top students is that the new school will succeed and the old school will fail. Then, the education officials go out to the public and say, "You see the new school is doing so much better than the school it replaced." This happens in charter schools and new public schools all over.

When the DOE wants to increase the overall graduation rate, they can then scare the living daylights out of the teachers in the new schools and remaining traditional schools so teachers know to pass virtually everyone to avoid the fate of schools like mine.

Does this help education?  Playing political football with children is something that historians will not look kindly upon.  Sadly, it is now coming to the college level.  Students who are not prepared for college often drop out. What to do?  Water down the college education. This is part of a petition from the Professional Staff Congress (professor's union) at the City University of New York.

"Under the pretext of easing student transfer and increasing graduation rates, Pathways will deliver a minimal curriculum for CUNY’s working-class students: it removes science lab requirements, limits foreign language requirements, and cuts back on faculty time with students in English classes.  Pathways is an attempt to move students through the system more quickly even as budgets are cut—by reducing academic requirements. Pathways is austerity education for an austerity economy." 

On a different but related topic, my colleague Marc Epstein has written a piece for the Huffington Post critical of the destruction of neighborhood schools.  It seems that the recent super-storm Sandy and the subsequent shutdown of the New York City transportation system revealed something we all know: students are using the public transportation system in much greater numbers than in the past because they are attending schools all over the city. Wouldn't we be leaving a much lighter carbon footprint if we fixed neighborhood schools so that young people would not have to travel across the city to get to school each day?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The Union has produced a Question and Answer sheet pertaining to the three days of vacation time that we are surrendering from the midwinter break because we missed days due to super-storm Sandy.  The Q and A explains some of our dilemma but not everything.

Basically, the UFT argument is that we are adhering to the law so we have no choice but to give up three vacation days. A very close look at the situation still reveals that there is some wiggle room that could have been used but was not.

The original calendar had us working 184 days.  Subtract the 4 we were off for Sandy and we are still working the 180 required by state law. (I understand that some schools missed more than four working days but we are talking about the majority of the system.)

-  4

The problem is that there are not enough instructional days in that 180. The state only allows four conference days as part of the 180.  We have already used all four up.  There were the two in September before the kids came in, Election Day and Friday, November 2.  That is the day the city made us come back to school after the storm but the kids stayed home.  We did a great deal of orientation on that day which is allowable according to the state.

If the two remaining conference days (January 28 and June 6) are switched to teaching days, we would pretty much be in compliance with the state regulations.  We would have 180 days with four used as conference days.

Don't let anyone tell you that Regents days and rating day don't count as State aidable.  Here is what the state says:

"Regents Days
Regents examination days, including rating days, count toward fulfilling the 180 required days of instruction, but schools need not take attendance on such days."

The city can still make the argument that the first day when we come back in September should not be an aidable day because we were preparing our rooms and there was only some professional development. I would contend that it should be counted as a conference day since much of the time was spent listening to the rules such as, "There will be no corporal punishment or verbal abuse," and we also did a great deal of professional development. That seems like an orientation to me.

If we concede on the first day, which I would not, then we would have to make up one day.  There is precedent for us working on a legal holiday.  Recall that in 1993 we missed a week because of the asbestos crisis.  November 11, a legal holiday, fell on a Thursday that year.  We taught that day. Would we rather work on MLK Day or Memorial Day than lose most of the mid-winter break?

Even if we take the worst case scenario for most of us, which I would not, and agree that we came to work for nothing on November 2 and September 4, it is still only two days that have to be made up, not three.

As for the hyper-compliance with the law that the UFT is now citing as the reason we must shorten the midwinter break, it doesn't hold up.  Let's look at what the Commissioner's Regulations say concerning aidable days after the Regents: "Session days should not be scheduled after the June Regents examination period."  The original NYC calendar has three days on it, June 26, 27 and 28, where schools are in session after the Regents are done. I guess our contract is out of compliance.  Or, perhaps there is some flexibility here and something called the spirit of the law.

The point of all of this is to say that there could have been negotiations and the calendar could have been altered to preserve vacations, that teachers and students need to recharge, while still providing adequate instructional time.  It could have been worked out if we were dealing with reasonable people. I blame the UFT leaders for not consulting with us before they agreed to something but the main culprits here are the City/DOE who as usual showed complete contempt for both teachers and students.

Since I am trying to be fair in the spirit of the holiday, I will add that the only part the DOE got right in this entire mess was allowing us not to lose sick bank time when people could not get to work after the storm. Does that make up for the rest of this?

Happy Thanksgiving!

The union's Q and A is printed below in its entirety so our leaders can have the last word.

Q & A on making up lost instructional time due to Hurricane Sandy

We hope this Q & A answers your questions about making up the storm days. But at the risk of repetition, there are some things that we want you to know before you read the Q & A. We want to make it clear that we wish this never happened and we wish we didn’t have to make up the days. But making up the days was NOT a choice. It’s the law. We did not have the power to negotiate over if we should make up the days or not. We just discussed which days we MUST make up. This is happening to ALL the affected school districts in New York State. The Commissioner of Education cannot grant a waiver while we still have vacation days. School districts only get a waiver after ALL vacation days are used.
Why did we have to give up part of our midwinter break? There had to be better alternatives.
First of all, we didn’t have the power to negotiate over whether or not to give up days. State law requires that we make up those days. The discussions we had with the DOE were only about which days to use. The state requires a minimum number of 180 instructional days and this school year, we were close to that minimum given how the holidays fell. If this were last year, when we had 186 days in the school calendar, we would have been able to absorb the lost time. We are dealing with this issue because we have the maximum vacation time in this year’s calendar.
The union explored every possible option for making up the time, but state law and regulations would not allow us to convert PD days, get a state waiver, extend the day, come in Saturdays, work on federal holidays or use days at the end of the school year. The time had to come out of the Christmas break, the midwinter break, the spring break and one clerical half-day. There was no other choice.
Why didn’t you consult with the members before agreeing to give up those three vacation days?
Time was of the essence in this situation so members and parents could make plans. Under state law, the days had to come from one of the three breaks. The midwinter break was chosen because it was the only break that did not contain religious observance days.
The state has the power to grant a waiver in the event of a natural disaster. Why didn’t the state issue one in this instance?
By state law, we would have to use up EVERY vacation day in this year’s school calendar before the state Education Department or the State Education Commissioner can grant a waiver allowing New York City to have fewer than 180 days in the school calendar.
How have other school districts around the state dealt with this dilemma?
As of Nov. 20, 13 school districts on Long Island have already agreed to make up the time by taking away all or part of the February break and/or the spring break. Others will be following suit in the days ahead. There weren’t better choices available for any school district.
I already booked a trip to visit my family in California. Do I have to cancel my plane tickets?
We realize that a number of you have already bought airline tickets or cruises for the midwinter break and risk losing a lot of money if you canceled those trips now. At our insistence, the DOE agreed to allow any UFT member who has purchased a vacation before Nov. 20 to go on the purchased vacation and instead deduct those days from his or her CAR bank. They will have to submit proof of purchase. If they have no days in their leave bank, they can either borrow days or take the days as days without pay. These absences won’t be used against those members in any disciplinary hearing or in their end-of-year rating.
Why didn’t the union insist on making up the lost instructional time by using Election Day and Brooklyn-Queens Day for instruction instead of professional development?
Under New York State law, school districts have the right to use up to four days without instruction in the calculation of the number of days to meet the state’s 180-day minimum requirement. The DOE already used four non-instructional days — including Election Day and Brooklyn-Queens Day — in its calculation so converting those days to instruction would not have helped solve the problem.
Why didn’t we make up the time by converting the last few days in June into instructional days or by extending the school year?
State law does not allow you to make up days to meet the 180-day minimum by adding instructional days after the completion of the high school Regents. That means we could not make up the lost time by making changes to the school calendar at the end of June.
Why didn’t we convert Martin Luther King Day or Memorial Day into work days instead?
State law does not permit turning a federal holiday into a school day.
Why didn’t we make up the time by extending the school day?
According to state law, you can’t add to the minimum number of required instructional days by extending the length of the school day.
Why is it that we frequently work more than 180 days per year without getting any days back?
Our contract states that we come back to work the day after Labor Day and up to the last Wednesday in June. The length of the school year depends on where the holidays fall in a given year. This year, every holiday fell on a school day so we were already at nearly the minimum number of required days.
The mayor ordered non-school-based members to report to their work site for the whole week after the hurricane. I walked miles to get to my school. Why do I have to make up that time?
If non-school-based members such as teachers assigned made it to work on any of those four days starting on Oct. 29, they will not have to make up those days that they reported.

Monday, November 19, 2012


UFT members recently received an email from President Mulgrew that included the following paragraph:
"With respect to the school system, we all understand that our students lost at least a week of instructional time as a result of this unprecedented natural disaster. Under state law, the school calendar must have a minimum number of days. In any given year, the New York City school calendar has from 182 to as high as 196 days, depending on when the holidays fall. Unfortunately, because we were at the low end with 182 days this year, there are no days to absorb all the instructional time we lost. We will have to make that time up. We have had to do this before on several occasions. Most recently, in the early 1990s, members had to give up vacation days to make up days when schools were closed because of the asbestos crisis. We are talking to the state Education Department and the city Department of Education about what needs to be done to be in compliance with the law. We better hope that we don’t get hit with a major snowstorm this winter. We will keep you updated."
Where does Mulgrew come up with the 182 number from?  We started out with 184 work days. That should mean we have 184 days where we receive state aid or what are called aidable days.
According to the NYC  Department of Education, "Calculations of aidable days incorporate Chancellor Conference/Regents Examination Days. Under Commissioner's Regulations, Chancellor Conference Days may include general staff orientation, curriculum development, in-service education, or Parent-Teacher Conferences.  They may not include routine administrative matters such as grading examinations or pupil assignments, record keeping, or lesson planning." The state allows four of these conference days per year.I do not understand how the DOE came up with 182 days for the middle schools and 183 days for the elementary schools and the high schools. We are working 184 days.
Count up our work days yourself. 16 for September, 22 in October, 19 in November, 15 in December, 21 in January, 15 in February, 16 in March, 20 in April, 22 in May and finally 18 in June.  I have added up these numbers multiple times and it comes to 184.  Subtract 3 from October and 1 from November that we lost because of the storm and that leaves 180 work days. Recall that we worked on Friday, November 2 so that can be an allowable conference day. Add two conference days in September and Election Day and that is our allowable four for the year.
For the high schools, we only need to take away our remaining conference days  (January 28, June 6) and turn those into instructional days and then we have our 180 days.  By my calculations, changing the two conference days into teaching days should put us in compliance with state law.  I don't see how the middle schools and elementary schools would not be in compliance either as they have fewer conference days (no January 28) than high schools. Since four is the maximum conference days allowed by state law, it appears we have no choice but to change these into instructional days.
If anyone has other ideas, please inform us.  I can't see why Mulgrew is talking about giving up vacation time when it is not necessary. I do agree with him that we better hope there is not a major snow storm this year or we will have to dip into vacation days to be in compliance with state law.  

Update: UFT, as usual, capitulated without a fight. We will lose three vacation days taken from the February midwinter break but continue with all of the useless staff development days.  

Friday, November 16, 2012


MORE PRESS RELEASE: UFT RTTT Agreement A Terrible Mistake

For Immediate Release

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Contact: Julie Cavanagh -917-836-6465

UFT RTTT Agreement A Terrible Mistake

The UFT has agreed to sign onto NYC's RTTT application, adding as many as 100 schools to the city’s three-year-old "Innovation Zone" and expanding online learning and instruction among other technology-based techniques.

This agreement is a terrible mistake, selling out teachers and kids. This agreement was made despite the fact that there is no research to show that the millions of dollars currently being spent on online learning in the 250 schools already in NYC's Izone have worked to improve schools, or help students learn. According to Gotham Schools, the UFT leadership’s Mendel said, "the union wanted to facilitate efforts to boost student achievement, even if it’s not clear whether the efforts will ultimately pay off," and, "that we should be experimenting with different things. If they don't work, shut it down. If they do work, then expand them." MORE caucus does not believe in this time of devastating cuts to our schools allocating millions of dollars to experiment on other people's children is what is best for our schools or the students we serve.

According to Julie Cavanagh, MORE caucus UFT presidential candidate, "There is no evidence to support online learning anywhere else in the country. Putting kids on computers does no "personalize" learning; it does the opposite. This RTTT application, which the UFT has agreed to, would allocate funding to support the creation of as many of a dozen new schools built on the basis of online learning; which would ultimately likely help the DOE in closing down existing schools rather than improving them, in the process causing more chaos, disruption and "churn" and excessing more teachers."

This agreement also obligates the UFT to adopt a teacher evaluation system tied to test scores by 2014-2015, which many experts have stated and highly flawed TDRs revealed, is highly volatile, unreliable and unfair.

"Before the UFT negotiates any new teacher evaluation system with the city, they should require that the teacher growth scores already completed by the state, that do not take class size or demographic background of students into account, be revealed to individual teachers and are proven to be valid. MORE caucus is also calling for a democratic membership vote to adopt any potential evaluation system before an agreement is made," said Peter Lamphere, MORE member.

MORE caucus believes the UFT leadership should insist on progress for reducing class size, the top priority of parents and the ONLY way to truly personalize learning or differentiate instruction instead of agreeing to misguided and destructive policies poorly disguised as potentially beneficial experiments on our children. Class sizes have risen five years in a row, with the union leadership doing little or nothing to stop it.
Thanks to Education Notes for helping with this one.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


From the Staff Directors.
Dear UFT chapter leaders and delegates,
Last Saturday, UFT volunteers did relief work in Midland Beach, Coney Island, Far Rockaway and stuffed backpacks at 52 Broadway for students from these neighborhoods.
The needs in these stricken communities are enormous. That’s why we are inviting you, your colleagues and your family to join us this Saturday, Nov. 17 for a Day of Action.
There are multiple options:

Coney Island

We will be gathering at Tom’s Restaurant on the Coney Island boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue at 9:30 a.m. to help with the distribution of sorely needed food and supplies, to canvass neighborhood residents still in their homes about their urgent needs and to help remove debris. 
To get there, take the D, F, N or Q trains to the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue station.
The following donations are also welcome: flashlights, batteries, cleaning supplies, school supplies, baby food and diapers, cat litter and plastic bags to package and distribute the goods that day.

Far Rockaway

We are sending busloads of volunteers from the Queens UFT office and the Bronx UFT office to Far Rockaway to help sort and distribute sorely needed supplies, do door-to-door deliveries to homebound residents, and do some manual labor on a few blocks that need help with the cleanup.
The bus will be leaving from the Queens UFT office at 97-77 Queens Blvd. at 9:30 a.m.
The Bronx volunteers will be gathering at the Bronx UFT office at 2500 Halsey St. at 8:30 a.m. The bus will depart the Bronx UFT at 9:15 a.m. and return about 4:30 p.m.
If you have school supplies you can donate to Rockaway students, please bring them along.

Staten Island

We are also helping fellow UFT members from Midland Beach clean up their flood-ravaged homes. Some of it will be rough work: ripping up ruined floorboards and removing insulation before mold sets in.
We will be gathering at St. Mary Margaret’s Church at 560 Lincoln Ave. in Midland Beach at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

UFT headquarters

Last Saturday, in an incredible team effort, we filled thousands of backpacks with school supplies for children from the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.
We are returning this Saturday to fill thousands more. We will begin work on the second floor of 52 Broadway at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided.
Thank you for helping these communities in great need.
If you opt for relief work in one of the neighborhoods, please dress warmly, and wear comfortable shoes and gloves.
LeRoy Barr and Ellie Engler
Staff Directors

Friday, November 09, 2012


Everyone should go over to the NYC Parents Blog to see how education issues did on election day.

Results were not that awful as Bridgeport, Connecticut voted down mayoral control.  California approved Proposition 30 to stop further budget cuts to education.  Charters are having a tough time in Washington; an awful school superintendent in Indiana was ousted and Idaho voted down three proposals that would have harmed teachers.

Closer to home, it appears that control of the NY Senate is turning over to the Democrats. Hopefully, that is good news.

On the other hand, we had some setbacks too as Georgia voted for charters (and Washington still may approve them); Oakland voted for a deform minded school board and more.  Read all about it all from Parents Across America.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Dear Delegates,
We will not be holding the November Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, Nov. 14, after all because of the conflict with parent-teacher conferences.
Instead, the DA will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Please bring winter clothing including jackets, warm socks, toiletries, baby supplies and cleaning supplies to the DA, and we will get them to school communities in need of these things.
The December DA will take place, as originally scheduled, on Dec. 12.
LeRoy Barr and Ellie Engler

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Due to the impending storm, the UFT has decided to postpone the Delegate Assembly until November 14.

I am wondering if the agenda will be a regular one or if it will just be about the storm and its aftermath.

As for tomorrow's storm, everyone please stay safe.


From the UFT staff directors.

Nov. 7 Delegate Assembly

The Delegate Assembly on Wednesday will take place as planned, but with a new storm-related agenda.  
Please bring flashlights, batteries, winter jackets and cleaning supplies to the DA, and we will get them to school communities in dire need of these things.


Absent Teacher Reserves, thanks to a DOE UFT agreement that this blog strongly opposed, are forced to move from school to school on a weekly basis within their districts.  The ATRs have no UFT representation of their own choosing at the school level.

An Absent Teacher Reserve problem was created by the horrible 2005 contract which changed the part of the contract that previously had guaranteed teachers from a school that closed or downsized a position in another school.

Now, they basically cover classes of absent teachers while hoping that a principal will hire them for a year long or full time regular position. Some ATRs are asked to perform tasks that are totally unrelated to their job and must complain to chapter leaders they might not know or non-elected UFT district representatives..

The ranks of the ATRs have grown again recently with so many schools being closed or downsized.  To their credit, the UFT has said in public that they will not settle on a contract where the ATRs can be  terminated if they can't find a full time job with a fixed period of time like a year. However, since veteran UFT members cost a principal more money on their budget (particularly among non-teacher titles), there is an incentive for principals to hire new people and leave ATRs to roam. UFT's totally inadequate answer is to tell ATRs they are lucky to have a job.

Some ATRs have organized to try to get ATRs elected representation.  Phillip Nobile is one such individual.  He asked us to print his letter to UFT Brooklyn Borough Representative Howie Schoor so here it is in its entirety.

For the record, ICE supports the ATRs having their own Chapter until we can gain decent placement rights for excessed individuals or at least having elected borough liaisons as Phillip is pushing for.


A week has passed since you and two of your reps in the Brooklyn UFT office sinned against solidarity. At last Thursday’s ATR meeting Ellen Driesen, John Capuano, and you attempted to sabotage the collection of names and email addresses of attending ATRs. This grassroots effort was the consequence of your refusal to share your sign-in sheets.

Apparently, you and your reps are opposed to ATRs organizing among themselves. The UFT even denies us teachers in good standing the same level of representation (i.e., democracy) once granted to suspended and suspect rubber roomers. ATRs are essentially unmoored from the union: we have no chapters, no chapter leaders, no chapter meetings, no delegates at the Delegates Assembly, no seat on the ATR Review Committee, not even elected liaisons a` la the rubber rooms.

On top of this steady disenfranchisement, you guys decided to go gangsta and rip off our contact list. Making matters worse, you have not shown the courtesy of a reply to my email of October 27 asking for an apology and explanation. What were you all thinking?

I copied the email to President Michael Mulgrew, Secretary Michael Mendel, and Staff Director LeRoy Barr. No word from them either. It seems that your contempt for ATR organization goes right to the top.

Nevertheless, this embarrassing incident need not drive a further wedge between UFT leadership and ATRs. Surely, if we had reps of our own protecting and advancing our interests within the inner union circles, tension would relax and hundreds, maybe thousands, of ATRs would have some real skin in the game. How bad is that?

If the UFT won’t budge from its un-Jeffersonian, no-ATR-reps-at-the-table position, there is room for compromise. Unofficially, without commitment from the UFT, our people could arrange for a small group ATRs drawn from all boroughs to meet monthly with Amy Arundell, Our Lady of ATRs. Let’s start the conversation in November and see how it goes. The first item on the agenda: sharing UFT sign-in sheets.

Thanks for your consideration

P.S. I have copied all ATRs who signed our contact list before it was rudely interrupted.

Monday, November 05, 2012


Today (Monday) is the first day when the kids will return to school in most places after last week's storm . The NYC DOE has a list of schools that are temporarily closed and/or relocated because of storm damage.

Meanwhile, getting a gallon of gas has become a nightmare for many people in the New York area so those who live in the suburbs and even parts of the city may have a difficult time making it in for work.

I also wonder if buildings will be heated.

The UFT has on its website an Urgent Assistance Form for members who have been severely impacted  by Sandy. The website states, "This form is for the family of UFT members who have died or were severely injured, for UFT members who lost a family member, and for UFT members who lost or were displaced from their homes as a result of of the storm."

For those who need assistance or wish to volunteer, the AFL-CIO has this list of New York resources.

Please keep us updated on what is occurring in the schools and thank you to everyone who has pitched in to help their families, neighbors, friends, communities or anyone else during this difficult storm aftermath.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


I recently saw the post below on the UFT Facebook page and now finally it is on the DOE Web page.

From DOE
All school-based staff should report to work at 10 a.m. Friday, November 2. 

Information coming from the UFT and DOE is sporadic at best and often confusing.  I still have no idea why they want us at work Friday. It makes no sense. Anyone have an answer?

DOE has set up an appeals process for people to not lose a day in their sick bank if they can't make it to work Friday.  This is ridiculous as usual.

UFT Facebook
The DOE has just informed all school-based staff that they don't need to report to their schools until 10 a.m. tomorrow. There will still be no penalties for transit-related lateness. This new reporting time applies to ALL schools.

Latest Dennis Walcott Letter to us.

Dear Colleagues:

This afternoon (Thursday), Mayor Bloomberg made several announcements related to the City's response to Hurricane Sandy, outlined below. Please review these developments and continue to monitor the news,, @NYCMayorsOffice and @NYCSchools for the latest information about the City's response to the storm.

School Remains Closed to Students on Friday
Schools will remain closed and will reopen to students on Monday, November 5. Due to damage and power outages, some schools will remain closed on Monday. Additional guidance will be provided regarding enrollment of displaced students.

Weekend Activities at Schools Rescheduled
For detailed information click here.

School-Based Staff to Report to Schools on Friday
School-based staff should report to work on Friday to prepare for school opening on Monday. We are making accommodations for staff based at the buildings that we are unable to occupy due to damage or power outages. Later this evening we will send detailed information regarding where staff should report tomorrow. Additionally, this information will be made available on the DOE web site, Facebook, and twitter.

Central Office Staff: Administrative Offices Open on Friday
In accordance with city policy, if your office is open and you can safely report to work, please do so – but only if you can get in safely. This includes teachers assigned, Supervisors, Educational Administrators, managers and all other staff working in central and field offices.

Administrative buildings in zone A will remain closed with the exception of essential operations. Employees from administrative offices in zone A may be redeployed by supervisors to alternative work sites.

Additionally, the Tweed and 49-51 Chambers Street offices are currently closed due to power outages or damage. Below is a list of administrative office sites where displaced staff may report and have access to a networked computer. These sites will be able to accommodate all non-school based staff who are displaced.

Because of the lingering effects of the storm, continue to exercise caution and allow extra time for travel to work tomorrow morning. If mass transit services have not yet been restored in your neighborhood, and you have no other safe and feasible way to travel to work, then you should use your judgment and delay your arrival. There will be no penalties for transit-related lateness. If you cannot come to work, you should use annual leave, personal leave/CAR time or compensatory time to stay home.

Continue to use your judgment and ensure your safety first. Administrative offices will be open and staff can report to work or take leave. For those who have no applicable leave balance, leave may be advanced for this purpose. For hourly employees who are unable to come to work, offices should make every effort to schedule make up hours within this pay period if at all possible.

Questions about the policy should be directed to Lawrence Becker at or Joann Molter at

Difficulty Reporting to Work
To address the issue of staff who have difficulty reporting to work we have created an appeal process whereby you can provide us with the reason you were unable to report and ask that the day(s) not be deducted from your leave bank.  To access the appeals form, click here

If you have difficulty accessing this link please email or contact HR Connect at 718-935-4000.  Please note that by submitting such an appeal and showing confirmation to your timekeeper, no deductions will be made to your leave until your appeal is decided. Hourly employees should also use this same process to appeal to be credited with time. Please note that school-based staff were excused from Monday, October 20 through Thursday, November 1 so they do not need to submit an appeal for those days.

Please check the MTA web site at for the latest on mass transit service; also, please be sure to check and the Department of Education web site for any additional information. Please distribute this memo to other staff.

We will continue to update you. Thank you for your support and cooperation.

Dennis M. Walcott

Weekend Activities at Schools Rescheduled
The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) scheduled for this Saturday, November 3, has been rescheduled to Saturday, November 17. Accommodations will be made for students with conflicts. 

High School interviews, assessments and auditions scheduled for November 3-4 are canceled and will be rescheduled. LaGuardia High School auditions scheduled for November 3-4 will be rescheduled for November 10-11.  Reminder: The SHSAT exam scheduled for Sunday, October 28, has been rescheduled for Sunday, November 18. Accommodations will be made for students with conflicts. 

The GED Examination that is scheduled for this weekend will be canceled. In addition, all Office of Adult and Continuing Education (OACE) classes for this Saturday are cancelled. Superintendents will be communicating with Principals in District 79/ Alternative Schools and Programs (ASP) and the OACE to update them on disruptions. Please visit our web site for additional information.

The SAT administration scheduled for this weekend (Saturday, November 3 and Sunday, November 4), has been cancelled in the five boroughs of New York City.  A makeup date has been scheduled for New York City public schools on Saturday, November 17 for the November 3 test-takers, and Sunday, November 18 for those test-takers who were scheduled to test on Sunday, November 4.  Students can also go online and change their test date to a regularly scheduled December administration date.

For ongoing updates, check in with your school guidance counselor next week, or call 311.

Bldg ID
333 7th Avenue, New York, NY
4360 Broadway, New York, NY
1230 Zerega Avenue, Bronx, NY
1 Fordham Plaza, Bronx, NY
501 Courtland Avenue, Bronx, NY
3450 East Tremont, Bronx, NY
65 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY
131 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY
5618 Flatlands Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
1665 Saint Marks Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
415 89th Street, Brooklyn, NY
1780 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
335 Adams Street, 4th & 5th Floors, Brooklyn, NY
335 Adams Street, 6th Floor, Brooklyn, NY
335 Adams Street, 28th & 29th Floors, Brooklyn, NY
2 Metro Tech, Brooklyn, NY
1106 E. 95th Street, Brooklyn, NY
355 Park Place, Brooklyn, NY
30-48 Linden Place, Queens, NY
28-11 Queens Plaza North, Queens, NY
45 -18 Court Square, Queens NY
82-01 Rockaway Blvd, Queens NY
90-27 Sutphin Blvd, Queens NY
Petrides/715 Ocean Terrace- “A” Building, Staten Island, NY