Thursday, February 07, 2013


I arrived at this month’s DA as UFT President Michael Mulgrew just began his report with a countdown to how long Bloomberg has in office. The regular agenda was basically for political endorsements but, as usual, there was a lengthy report from the president.

President’s Report
Support for Striking Bus Drivers’ Rally
The report began with the president asking, and the Delegates allowing, a resolution in support of a rally for Local ATU 1181 bus drivers and matrons to move to the front of the agenda. Local 1181 has been on strike for several weeks over job protection. UFT Vice President Sterling Roberson motivated this motion by telling Delegates that 154,000 students are impacted by the strike including over 50,000 special education pupils. He and the President added that attendance among special education students is down 36% since the strike began. The resolution to support the Sunday, February 10 march over the Brooklyn Bridge starting at 12:30 pm and subsequent rally at City Hall carried unanimously.

Following the vote, Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello addressed the Delegates and was warmly received. He told us we need to stand up to the bully mayor and his union is doing that and so is the UFT. He thanked the UFT for support and said labor is being tested and we are fighting for the labor movement and for kids.

President Mulgrew stated that the deadline dates that are being talked about in the press are not exactly deadline dates. February 15 is the date when the Department of Education needs to resubmit a plan on how to train teachers under the new evaluation system because the first plan is not working. UFT says the plan is bad. Mulgrew then said that if DOE does not comply, then the state could either remove money from the system or take control over how up to $870,000,000 in state and federal aid is spent in NYC. In other words, he reasoned that State Education Commissioner John King could be de facto running a large part of the New York City school system.

He next talked about a February 22 deadline. February 22 is the last date to put amendments onto the state budget bill. He said that if there is no agreement between the UFT and the city on evaluations by this date, then there would be an amendment in the state budget adding binding arbitration by State Education Commissioner King for our evaluation system into the state budget bill. He later talked about how the new evaluation system would be an improvement because to change how we are evaluated, we must stop the proliferation of paperwork as well as providing teachers with curriculum that includes scope and sequence. 

He also referred to Student Learning Measures. Mulgrew told us that only 40% of teachers deal with standardized tests. He predicted that scores on these tests would go down but regardless, 7% of teachers will have growth scores that are ineffective, 9% will be highly effective and the rest will be in the middle.

Mulgrew then clarified what Student Learning Measures are about. He told Delegates that there will be a baseline assessment that schools would choose and then at the end of the semester there would be a look at student growth with student ability and attendance taken into account. He concluded that this would be a proper growth measurement.

AFT-Washington DC
Conditions for teachers are horrendous around the country according to Mulgrew. He said we have Democratic state legislatures and governors beating up on unions as now 24 states are “Right to Work” which even President Obama is calling “right to work for less.” He added that other states want our evaluation law where only 20% of a rating is based on student test scores on standardized tests. He carried on by noting that the education deform policies have failed and the federal government is walking away from ideas like closing schools. He then stated that there is a new federal study saying charter schools are doing the same as public schools but the charter schools can drop students. He added we must deal with poverty. He also told Delegates that No Child Left Behind has not been reauthorized for many years and according to that law, 100% of schools will be failures by next year because all students are not graduating.

He said the debate in DC is not about the schools and that even Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan know that deform has not worked. He added that civil rights groups are filing federal civil rights complaints and lawsuits against school closings.

He also talked about many states not having curriculum for Common Core so test scores will plummet around the country because of this. He closed by saying we are starting a national offensive against what is going on.

Fact Finding Process-Contract
Mulgrew informed Delegates that the Negotiating Committee met last week and scaled down the issues for fact finding (non binding arbitration). The scaled down issues were approved by the Negotiating Committee. He added we have been working over three years without a contract and are hoping to start the fact finding hearings in March but the city is dragging its feet. He stated that all the unions in the city are currently working under expired contracts.

City Budget
Mulgrew said the city budget would cause a loss of teachers through attrition but since much of the State Legislature is from NYC, we should not lose more state aid because they do not want that to happen. He noted that the State of the City speech from the mayor would be on Valentine’s Day so we will see what the budget would be like.

State Budget
Mulgrew stated that there will be a 4.4% increase in state funding including money for Community Learning Schools and a career ladder so master teachers can mentor new teachers. He said there would also be all day Pre-Kindergarten in the budget but we have to work to ensure that it none of these funds are cut.

2013 City Elections
Mulgrew told Delegates that we won on Last in First Out Layoffs and we prevented all teacher layoffs so the mayor will continue to blame us for his educational legacy which is in shambles. Mulgrew continued by noting that according to polls, 20% think Bloomberg is doing a good job on education and 80% do not approve. He added that through the closing school fights, we earned many friends and now have trusting relationships with groups that are helping us. Mulgrew then emphasized that many unions are planning to sit out the Democratic primary but we plan on picking a candidate and going ahead. He added that all of the candidates for mayor want to change education and beyond this there are 26 open City Council seats and all of the other citywide offices are open. He then pointed out that the primary election will stay in September and we will work with candidates who want to help us. He closed his report by saying that we will make the winner and the process starts today.

Staff Directors' Report
Leroy Barr told the Delegates the “I Vote” campaign starts so we must have all of our friends, neighbors, parents and everyone we know vote if union households are to pick the next mayor. He talked about the 1181 (striking bus drivers and matrons) rally for Sunday and said it will start in Brooklyn at 12:30 pm; there will be a march over the Brooklyn Bridge and then a rally at City hall from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Barr then gave some dates for other events including Lobby Day on March 6.

Question Period
Question about two year sunset provision on new evaluation system agreement that Bloomberg would not agree to..
Answer from Mulgrew: Mayor says plans around the state are a sham; mayor really objects to teachers having choice on the assessments and committees, not management exclusively, making decisions.

Question about divesting from Bloomberg companies
Answer from Mulgrew: His company is private and we have no stake it.

Question about why we are going into binding arbitration with State Education Commissioner on evaluations.
Answer from Mulgrew: Binding arbitration is part of collective bargaining while other states have evaluation systems imposed on them when there is no agreement in bargaining. We are closely watching how the amendment to the state budget law is written on arbitration.

Question about members who worked at shelters during Super-storm Sandy not getting paid yet.
Answer from Mulgrew: We are working on this with the City Office of labor Relations.

Question about PERB decision regarding teachers being evaluated using Danielson.
Answer from lawyer Adam Ross: Danielson cannot be used for evaluation purposes. Anything referencing Danielson must be removed from files. Mention of rubrics, numbers and ratings from Danielson can’t go in the file. It can be used for unofficial ratings in TEP schools.

Question on SESIS outside school hours after the arbitration decision.
Answer from Mulgrew: We met with the arbitrator and DOE is dragging their feet. Arbitrator has also called for impact bargaining.

New Motion Period
Motion was raised for this month for  UFT to support ACEI Charter School rally seeking a contract. It was added to agenda.

Motion for this month for UFT to support for 23 Cablevision workers who were fired for discussing bargaining with management. This also was added to the agenda.

Motion for next month on supporting May Day demonstrations was defeated.

Regular Business
Resolutions on many UFT endorsements for the City Council, Manhattan Borough President, Brooklyn District Attorney, and Comptroller were raised.

One Delegate spoke against all of the endorsements. Others spoke against specific endorsements. The most controversial was Charles Hynes for Brooklyn District Attorney because of various prosecutions that have come out of that office. Even Unity’s Mark Koreshan was critical of Hynes. Hynes was endorsed but there was dissent.

The other controversial endorsement concerned Rory Lancman for City Council in Queens. I spoke against this endorsement because Lancman as a State Assemblyman worked to help close Jamaica High School and opposing school closings should be a litmus test issue for any candidate to receive a UFT endorsement.  (I will explain the Lancman-Jamaica High School story in detail in a separate post.) The first vote on this endorsement appeared to be a defeat for Lancman so Mulgrew called for a second vote and then it passed with a clear majority as the Unity Delegates fell in line and voted to support a candidate who worked to close a school.

The UFT also endorsed Scott Stringer for Comptroller and he was in the hall to address the Delegate Assembly.

UFT Endorsed Candidates
Brooklyn DA--Charles Hynes
Manhattan Borough President--Robert Jackson
NYC Comptroller--Scott Stringer (Primary/General)
City Council:
Manhattan 07--Mark Levine
Manhattan 10 Ydanis rodriquez
Bronx 11--Andrew Cohen
Bronx 18--Annabel Palma
Queens 32--Eric Ulrich
Queens 24--Rory Lancman
Queens 31--Donovan Richards-- Special Election Feb 19
Brooklyn 34--Antonio Reynoso
Brooklyn 45--Jumaaane D. Williams
Staten Island 49--Debi Rose
All are Democrats except for Republican Ulrich. All except Stringer are for primary.

Finally, a resolution in support of the staff at Garfield HS in Seattle, who refused to administer a standardized test, came up. This was raised last month by Megan Behrent from MORE but there was not time to address it. Instead of just passing it this time, the UFT had their own long winded substitute resolution that essentially said the same thing and Megan amended it and then it passed.

That's it for now. I will have more later on the Lancman fiasco.


Anonymous said...

James, as always, thank you for the report. For many of us who are left in the dark, your reports add knowledge and empower us with the facts of these meetings. I was wondering if you can fine a moment or two to possible clarify the following in your report:
He later talked about how the new evaluation system would be an improvement because to change how we are evaluated, we must stop the proliferation of paperwork as well as providing teachers with curriculum that includes scope and sequence.

"He later talked about how the new evaluation system would be an improvement because to change how we are evaluated, we must stop the proliferation of paperwork as well as providing teachers with curriculum that includes scope and sequence. "

What "proliferation of paperwork"? I am confused here. This is something I have also heard two different District Reps mention but unfortunately due to time and the many others things discussed, I was not able to get a clear explanation. Can you clarify what Mulgrew means?

"He predicted that scores on these tests would go down but regardless, 7% of teachers will have growth scores that are ineffective, 9% will be highly effective and the rest will be in the middle."

Maybe it's not my day here, but I am confused with this. Can anyone explain this in everyday terms. Much appreciated.

I noticed that... said...

The "I vote" would have been great in November 2009 when we had a chance of voting Bloomberg out and voting for Thompson in.

I will not let it rest that the union did not support Thompson. Because of that members suffered, some resigned, some were fired, and now, for the past 4 years, members are in constant anguish.

Michael Fiorillo said...

Thanks for this report, James, but I have a question:
does binding arbitration by SED head John King mean that he himself is the arbitrator, or is designated to appoint one?

James Eterno said...

Michael-I don't know for sure but I think King would be the arbitrator.

Anon at 7:01-I think Mulgrew means that the DOE has to give us time during the day to do any paperwork and the ratings will be based on some kind of curve so it's kind of guaranteed to come out with a few on top, a few at the bottom and the vast majority of us in the middle. That is just an educated guess.
I have no inside knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm! The vast majority of us in the middle. How many of those in the middle are excellent teachers? How many of those ranked in the middle are truly wonderful teachers? To use a baseball analogy - it's like taking 100 Hall of Famers and using this system on them. The Union is basically willing to concede that out of that class of 100 Hall of Famers, the vast majority will not be considered Hall of Famers but borderline or sub borderline Hall of Famers when in truth they are. Yes, I understand not every single teacher should be rated "highly effective" but many that deserve that ranking will undoubtedy not being given that rank. Insane and sad indeed.

Anonymous said...

Join the struggle against the new evaluation system then.