Friday, February 28, 2014


In St. Paul, Minnesota, the home of the nation's first ever teachers' strike in 1946, a recent threat of a job action appears to have been successful. 

There is an agreement providing for salary increases for teachers as well as increased staffing levels, lower class sizes and more. Admittedly, the district leaders look like they are more enlightened than average but the union resolving to take action could not have hurt.

This Minneapolis Star Tribune piece talks about the deal.  Here is a part I found quite informative for teachers everywhere:

Last week, immediately after a union rally outside district headquarters, (Superintendent Valeria) Silva and school board members heard parents speak on behalf of union proposals, among them, the class size reductions.

With a tentative deal done, Silva said that she, too, appreciated what parents and others had to say. “They came, they supported,” she said. “I was watching a community that loves teachers.”

See the highlights for yourself to judge whether or not they obtained a good contract.

Saint Paul Federation of Teachers  
Teacher Settlement Highlights 
After a 23-hour mediation session, the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers settled a landmark contract that moves the St. Paul Public Schools closer to providing the schools our children deserve. Details of the proposal will be released in the coming days. Some highlights of the settlement as they relate to our seven community-developed negotiation priorities include: 
Smaller Classes 
The district agreed to calculate elementary class size limits within each school at each grade level. This is an improvement over previous limits in which averages were calculated for each district attendance zone. Lower limits were set for high poverty schools. Secondary limits will be calculated for each teacher rather than school-wide. Starting in the 2015-16 school year, all secondary classes (except bands, orchestras and choirs, which benefit from larger numbers of students) will be required to comply with the negotiated limits. This is an improvement from existing language which applied in secondary schools only to English, math, science and social studies classes. 
Education for the Whole Child 
The district committed to hiring at least 42.0 new FTEs including more licensed media specialists, elementary counselors, school social workers and nurses. These are staff in addition to any hiring the district will need to do in order to be in compliance with the negotiated class size limits. The district also committed to ensuring access to art, music and physical education for all students. 
Access to Preschool 
The district committed to spending at least $6 million per school year to maintain and expand St. Paul Public Schools’ high-quality Pre-K program for 4 year-olds. These dollars will help reduce waiting lists for the program. This commitment ensures that the district will assign referendum funds to the Pre-K program now that the state is picking up the cost of all-day kindergarten. 
Teaching, Not Testing 
The district committed to a 25% reduction in lost learning time due to testing and test preparation activities by the start of the 2015-16 school year. In addition, the district committed to review existing assessments for cultural relevance. SPFT and the district agreed to work together to lobby state and federal authorities to reduce mandates for unnecessary testing. 
Family Engagement 
The parties agreed to an expansion of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, to pilot Academic Parent-Teacher teams (an improved way to do parent-teacher conferences), and to allow for more flexibility in the design of parent-teacher conferences at individual schools. In addition, parents will serve on school committees that make decisions about class size exceptions at their school and will have seats on school committees designated to address school safety concerns. 
Culturally Relevant Education 
In addition to our agreement to review existing assessments for cultural relevance, the parties made a significant agreement related to Educational Assistants that will increase the number of teachers of color. Educational Assistants—educators who already know St. Paul and have a strong track record of meeting our students needswill have a career pathway created that will allow them to go back to school and get the coursework completed for a teaching license. This agreement will provide paid time off for EAs doing student teaching in the St. Paul Public Schools and stipends to help pay for education leading to teacher licensure. Educational Assistants will also be encouraged to participate on building equity teams. 
High Quality Professional Development for Teachers 
The parties agreed to increase support for new teachers coming into the district through the Peer Assistance and Review program. In addition, the parties agreed to increase the recognition stipend for teachers who are successful in receiving their National Board Certification (NBCT) and to provide time and financial assistance for those going through the certification process. The agreement preserves parity for school nurses, school psychologists, certified nurse practitioners, speech clinicians (CCC) and school social workers (LICSW) in addition to covering all of the different license areas currently part of the NBCT program. Seeking a National Board Certification is one of the most rigorous professional development paths a teacher can take during her/his career. 
The parties reached agreements on a variety of other issues: Improvements to Payroll, an additional month of paid health insurance for parents on the unpaid portion of their parental/maternity leave, paid time off for religious observance, teacher-initiated school redesign, improved procedures for addressing school safety and discipline concerns, reduced usage of teachers on carts, language on staffing at Bridge View School and in the Birth to Three program, an employee sick leave bank, an ELL Professional Issues Committee, and increased protection from stranding. 
Wages and Benefits  
Under the agreement, teachers will receive their normal steps and lanes and maintain the district’s current level of contributions toward health insurance. In addition, teachers will receive an average schedule improvement of 2.5% retroactive to July 1, 2013 and a further 2% effective on July 1, 2014. Experienced teachers (steps 15-19 and step 20) will receive an additional 1% increase on top of their schedule improvement in each of the two years of the contract. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014


This blog has explained repeatedly why the city owes us so much money if we just get the same 4% + 4% increases that DC 37 received to set a pattern in 2008 that most other city unions have also earned because of pattern bargaining.

The UFT contract for the years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 is in non-binding fact finding arbitration now.  I fully expect the fact finders to recommend for us the same raises other unions were given.  There is no precedent I know of in New York City for it not happening. Add to this the fact that the city budget has surplus money and it becomes clear the UFT really can't lose.

I also anticipate we will be given full back pay as Mayor Bill de Blasio has set a precedent with another union (LEEBA) that he will pay arrears out over three years. The argument that UFT arrears will bust the budget because arrears can't be put into future budgets does not hold up.

How much does the city owe us for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011?  We ran the numbers in September and this is what we came up with for senior teachers.

Top salary for city teachers is currently $100,049 (way under what teachers in most suburban districts around here earn).
x 1.04 (4%)

The increase for 2009-2010 is $4001.96. 

Now for year two:
x 1.04 (4%)

The increase for 2010-2011 is $8,163.99 over what we have now.

Then, the retroactive increase for 2011-2012 is another $8,163.99.

For 2012-13 add another $8,163,99.

Now add up all of the retroactive money and even if there is a contract right away, the city owes teachers on maximum a staggering $28,493.39. If this lingers into 2014, as it almost definitely will, the retroactive price-tag goes to over $30,000 for senior teachers. 

In response to a commenter on our last post, who I think was implying that we only care about the senior teachers, I ran the numbers this morning for a newer teacher who started in 2009.  This is what I came up with using two 4% increases and step as well as lateral increases. (This assumes the person started with a BA and obtained a Masters Degree before year 3.)

Step 1a with BA--2009-2010--$45,530 X 1.04=$47351.20  Arrears:                $1821.20
Step 2a with BA--2010-2011--$48,434 X 1.04 X 1.04=$52,386.21    Arrears: $3952.21
Step 3a with MA--2011-2012--$54,731 X 1.04 X 1.04=$59,197.05 Arrears:    $4466.05
Step 4a with MA--2012-2013--55438 X 1.04 X 1.04=$59,961.74    Arrears:   $4523.74
Arrears total up to October 31, 2013:                                                                     $14,763.20

There will need to be an extra half year in arrears paid out at the MA-Step 5a level if this isn't settled until the spring.

For those who don't want to do all the math, just go to the urban ed blog and use their calculator.

Any particular way you slice it, for senior, mid-career and newer teachers, the city owes us a great deal of money. 

Unlike some, I fully expect the UFT to not settle for anything less than what we are owed; it is not greed to expect to get money we already earned!

Friday, February 21, 2014


We have been talking for a while about UFT members catching up with other city unions who almost all received two 4% salary increases in the last round of bargaining with the city.  We recently found out that there is a union that is a contract behind the UFT.

The Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association (they guard the watershed upstate) recently came to a retroactive agreement on a contract with the city. They had not had a contract in nine years so they never received the increases other unions got back in 2005.

Now we have further details from Reuters about the arrears:

Last Thursday the city negotiated a contract with 200 police officers in the Department of Environmental Protection for the period from 2005-2008 in a package worth an average of $53,000 to $55,000 per officer, according to a spokesman for the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association (LEEBA).

Although a small group of workers compared to the mammoth teacher and healthcare unions, the settlement indicates a willingness on the part of de Blasio to meet at least part of workers' demands.

How will the money be paid?  We have the answer from LEEBA via Reuters:

The payment will be made in three installments over the next three years, according to a LEEBA spokesman.

This isn't a pattern but it is an important precedent.  De Blasio is respecting the pattern set long ago for that particular round of bargaining.  (Pattern bargaining: one city union settles on a salary increase [or lack thereof] for a round of bargaining and then all of the other city unions get the same financial terms basically.)

It would be shocking if the mayor didn't respect the 4% +4% pattern that DC 37 set long ago for the 2008 round of bargaining that the UFT never received.

(Please note that .58% could be forfeited due to a pension agreement from 2009 that created Tier 5 but I maintain we paid for that already by later having to swallow a vastly inferior Tier 6 for new teachers. Also, interest went down from 8.25% to 7% on UFT members' fixed TDA's. TRS members who are principals, assistant principals and CUNY teachers still receive 8.25%.  How much have UFT members saved the city already as the stock market has recovered and then some?)

Senior teachers can expect close to $30,000 paid out in three installments if the LEEBA precedent and the DC 37 pattern for that time period hold. This arrears is money the city owes us; we will get it without any interest.

The UFT and other unions are talking to the city according to Reuters:

Arthur Cheliotes, president of the Communications Workers of America, which represents around 8,500 city workers, said he had a meeting with Robert Linn, de Blasio's new director of labor relations on February 11.

"He (Linn) indicated that he is getting the older contracts that have been expired the longest dealt with, especially the teachers and principals," said Cheliotes, who said the last raises given to the city's CWA workers were in October 2009.

A spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers said preliminary talks had begun with Linn but said proper negotiations were still to get underway.
Is there money for decent raises in the next round (2011-present for teachers, longer for others)?

WBAI, in covering the mayor's budget, noted how he set aside some money.  They reported that he plans to "restore $1 billion to the city's Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund.  As well, he put $600 million into general reserve funds over the coming years.  These funds could be used to deal with the city's open labor contracts."  Does that include our arrears for 2009-2011 and also the new round from 2011 to the present?

It is fairly clear the mayor's team has a number on what they will pay for in the next round but obviously will not let that go public.

The blogger Chaz is speculating on increases for the next round (from 2011-2014) for us.  I will not agree or disagree with him because there is no pattern yet but it does start a conversation.

I would not be surprised if the UFT settles both contracts simultaneously to set the pattern for the current round that other city unions would have to follow.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014


The credible threat of a strike can move labor negotiations along as the preliminary settlement for Portland, Oregon teachers demonstrates.  Labor needs to have the strike weapon to be on equal footing with management. 

As for public sector workers in NYS, the UN's International Labor Organization said in 2011 that the state’s Taylor Law, which bans strikes by public employees in New York, violates international law and a treaty ratified by the US Senate. 

Why don't the unions here push this issue?

Monday, February 17, 2014


Today's Daily News is reporting that the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association (they guard the watershed upstate) just settled their long ago expired contract with the city.  They had not had a contract in nine years so they never received the increases other unions got back in 2005.

They will receive the same 5% and 4% increases that the PBA got in those years according to the News. Their agreement doesn't set a pattern for us but here is an interesting line from the News piece:

Under the new agreement, they will receive an average of more than $50,000 each in back pay.

Is that a precedent for retroactive pay and pattern bargaining remaining in place for us?

I know nothing more than what is in the Daily News piece.


The NY Times had their best day in a quite a long while as they finally featured the news that Common Core foes come from all sides of the political spectrum.

There's also a Times blog editorial by Teresa Tritch lamenting the vote of Tennessee Volkswagen workers, who decided against joining the United Auto Workers Union.

We can go back to being critical of the Times for being pseudo-liberal on another day.  Today, there is some interesting reading over there.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


The list below was sent to me from a NYC public school teacher. 

Do you want to be a teacher today?  Then understand that in many schools you will spend most of the day meeting multiple mandates like those enumerated here.

Dear Staff,

Please note that I will be looking at the following in a walk through tomorrow.

Please have these items labeled in a central location where I do not have to interrupt instruction.

Student folder
Display of work inside and outside of room
Comments on work
Date on work

Conference notes
Lesson plans
Student desks
General environment
Outside bulletin board
Leadership binders
Scaffolding of learning - charts
All assessments posted on line and analyzed
Inquiry binder for each grade - grade leaders
Inquiry notes for your struggling students
Discipline chart
Writing process chart

Did Bloomberg pretty much win?  Data driven nonsense on steroids. 

What does any of this have to do with helping students learn?

Where is the UFT?

Saturday, February 15, 2014


The Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association Website has announced that their President will be running together with six of us from MORE for Board of Director positions in the NYSUT election in April.

Independent Arthur Goldstein (chapter leader Francis Lewis High School) is running for NYSUT Executive Vice President.  That announcement was made earlier this week.

Only NYSUT Delegates can vote in this election.  Anybody who reads this blog who has a Unity Chapter Leader needs to ask them if they will show some independence from President Michael Mulgrew and vote for grassroots teachers who are trying make NYSUT into a powerful statewide force.

The entire announcement is below:

New Candidates for NYSUT At-Large Director Positions

Today we are excited to announce a team of candidates who will be running for seven of NYSUT’s At-Large Director positions in the upcoming NYSUT election.  We do so only after having given the situation very careful consideration.
Running for these positions allows us to challenge incumbents for the opportunity to sit on NYSUT’s board of directors and affect policy on the statewide level that represents both the needs and desires of the rank and file membership who we represent.  At the same time it allows us to continue the work we are doing in the schools we currently work in and the communities in which they serve.  Our candidates are a diverse collection of working classroom teachers, representing a variety of certifications within our profession and an even greater array of students they serve.
An important part of our decision to announce our candidacy now is that it is after the deadline to seek endorsement from the statewide Unity Caucus.  We want to make it clear that we are not seeking Unity Caucus endorsement as we oppose one party systems that limit democracy within our statewide union.  We believe in an active and informed rank and file.  We believe in true democratic, bottom up, member driven unionism.  We stand for social justice unionism that not only fights for teachers and our working conditions, but simultaneously our students and their learning conditions.
We believe that this declaration is not just the beginning of our candidacy for the positions we seek, but also the beginning of a movement towards a new direction for the statewide union that we all love dearly.
Our candidates for the At-Large Director positions…
  • Beth Dimino, President of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, Middle School Science Teacher
  • Mike Schirtzer, UFT Delegate- MORE Caucus, High School Social Studies Teacher
  • James Eterno- UFT Chapter Leader- MORE Caucus, 2010 candidate for UFT President, High School Social Studies Teacher
  • Lauren Cohen- UFT Delegate- MORE Caucus, 5th Grade General Education Teacher
  • Julie Cavanagh, UFT Chapter Leader- MORE Caucus, 2013 candidate for UFT President, Elementary Special Education Teacher
  • Francesco Portelos, UFT Chapter Leader- MORE Caucus, Intermediate School Science and Technology Teacher
  • Jia Lee, UFT Chapter Leader-MORE Caucus, Earth School Elementary Teacher

Friday, February 14, 2014


We are critical of  UFT leadership when necessary, but yesterday President Michael Mulgrew got it right with this statement:

Dear James,

Our members are angry about the DOE's decision not to declare a snow day today despite near-blizzard conditions — and rightly so. It was a mistake to open schools today. I understand the desire to keep schools open. The only thing that trumps that is safety. Having students, parents and staff  traveling in these conditions was unwarranted.


Michael Mulgrew

What are the UFT and other school worker unions going to do about making us whole?

What the unions should be demanding now is that people who made it in should be given an extra day in their sick banks and those who stayed out should not have a day deducted from their sick banks for missing school.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


The Board of Regents is holding off on making even minor changes to the teacher evaluation system.  They voted to table this issue until April.  For a detailed analysis of the situation, see the NYC Parents' Blog.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


The Regents Task Force has released a report that recommends some minor changes in implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Newsday offered this summary of the recommendations and vote of the Board of Regents to accept them.

The board voted to:
-- Delay until 2022 the graduation requirement that high school students must pass tougher, Common-Core-aligned Regents tests in English and math with higher "college- and career-ready" scores. The current passing grade of 65 will stand.
-- Have Education Department advise districts against using state test results in grades 3-8 to make decisions on student promotion or placement.
-- Clarify meaning of new test scores for grades 3-8 in English Language Arts and math. A "Level 2" score on Common Core tests is "on track" for eventual Regents' passage.
-- Limit the time students can spend on local standardized tests required by the teacher evaluation system, capping it at 1 percent of overall instructional time.
-- Allow appeals by teachers and principals rated "ineffective" under the new evaluation system because of student performance on Common-Core-aligned tests given in the 2012-13 and/or 2013-14 school years.
-- Lobby the governor and State Legislature for:
$10 million in state funds to develop a test to better measure the progress of Spanish-speaking English language learners.
$8.4 million in state funds to print more versions of state tests, so more questions can be released to teachers, students and parents for review and study.

Anyone needing to see that there are some real policy differences between the state teachers' union (New York State United Teachers) and our own United Federation of Teachers should look closely at the reaction of the two Presidents and a Vice President to the Regents Report.

Here is what NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi said:

"Instead of listening to parents and educators who are grappling with the fallout from the State Education Department's disastrous implementation, the task force dismissed their concerns with a report that, in the end, adds up to a 'we know best' collection of minor adjustments," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi, who noted - contrary to a comment by the governor - that the Regents did not pause or delay anything that is not already in law.

And then he added: 

Regents giving away "ice in winter"; we don't need another snow job we need a moratorium and won't settle for less!

NYSUT Vice President and one time UFT leader Maria Neira noted:

"The task force worked in secret, and the Regents accepted its report with no public input," Neira said. "This lack of transparency and lack of responsiveness to the deeply held concerns of parents, teachers and others in public education is, frankly, indicative of a body that seems to care more about the corporations influencing public education than what parents and practitioners know will work."

Now for the reaction of UFT President Michael Mulgrew:

The Regents’ recommendations do not solve the real problem with the Common Core rollout — the lack of curriculum. The Regents should be offering several detailed programs that any school district in the state could use for free.

That is our President's statement in full.

Is the real problem with Common Core a lack of curriculum?

Which leaders are in line with what the teachers, parents and students in NY are thinking?

The whole report is here; the reaction from New York State Allies for Public Education is here.  As usual, there is insightful analysis from Reality Based Educator.

Meanwhile, the story broke earlier at the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association website that Francis Lewis High School Chapter Leader Arthur Goldstein has agreed to run for  the NYSUT Executive Vice President position against Unity's Andy Pallotta.

The election will be held at the Hilton in NYC at the NYSUT Convention on April 5. Only Representative Assembly Delegates are entitled to vote.  In NYC this means only members of Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus, but outside of NYC there is a growing group of local leaders looking to move New York State United Teachers (all the teacher unions in the state combined) away from complete control by Michael Mulgrew's handpicked candidates.

I don't think there is another person out there who is better qualified than Arthur for the Executive Vice President position.  He is Chapter Leader for one of the biggest high schools in New York City who was reelected without opposition.  Arthur is not afraid to tell the truth to power but he is a voice of reason who is no knee jerk oppositionist.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Looking through this piece from Capital New York, some labor experts expect the UFT to set the pattern for the next round of municipal union labor contracts.  All of the municipal unions in the city are without contracts but the UFT and some other unions are also without a contract from the last round of bargaining. 

Our contract expired in 2009. We would have to settle our arbitration for the last round and agree to a new contract for the current round to set a pattern for everyone else.  The Pattern set by DC 37 in the last round was for two 4% increases without givebacks.  The arrears (retroactive pay) owed to us from that time amounts to a small fortune which could be paid out over time.  But, what about the next round?

Capital reports that the mayor's labor team has met with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and then says this:

But two labor sources from separate groups say they expect the city to set a pattern for contracts with the United Federation of Teachers instead.

“Bob Linn (chief labor negotiator for the city) is going to go to the teachers and say, ... 'Let's go forward and set a pattern.' … And that’ll be the pattern for the rest of us.”

The other source said, “If I was them, I would not do anything until I settle with the teachers and set a new pattern.”

That would mean a grand bargain that would settle two UFT contracts at once.

As for when we would get our arrears, here is what Capital says:

“There’s no group in municipal labor that doesn’t want this administration to succeed, and as a result of that I think we’re going to be very collegial,” the source said. “Do we want a raise? Yes. Do we want back money? Yes. Would we wait for the back money? I’m pretty sure we’d wait a long time for the back money.”

Would the UFT be better off settling one contract and letting the PBA go first in the next round?

If the UFT has the leverage of going first and probably settling for less money in the next round to set a favorable pattern for the city, then what should we ask for in return?  How about going with the city to Albany to jointly lobby to repeal the new evaluation system law?  (I know we would have to deal with possibly losing Race to the Top money but waivers are available.) We could write the provision so that the contract wouldn't go into effect unless the Legislature and Governor agreed to changes we seek.

Sunday, February 09, 2014


Did the 2012 Chicago teachers' strike ignite a labor spark that is now going to spread to other teacher unions around the country?

Portland, Oregon teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike last week.

Now, the St. Paul Minnesota teachers are considering striking.  Their last strike was in 1946.

Here is probably the most interesting paragraph of the piece on St. Paul from Twin

A teacher strike in Chicago shuttered schools there for seven school days in 2012. Educators in Portland, Ore., announced a vote earlier this week had cleared the way for a walkout there. In these districts and others, educator unions are asserting a will to shape a national public education agenda through contract negotiations that go well beyond traditional compensation issues.

Some would call this social justice unionism.

Beyond the classroom, Long Island Railroad workers voted unanimously to walk off the job.  It would be their first strike since 1994.

Update from Jeff Kaufman:

Don't forget about the 21,000 member University of California, AFSCME 3299, whose members plan to vote this week on a strike!

Is the US changing before our eyes?  Is labor militancy gaining steam?

Saturday, February 08, 2014


A new panel has been appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate Common Core implementation.

Reality Based Educator's detailed analysis concludes that the make up of the panel predetermines that its report will favor Common Core but might make some changes in the implementation time table.  Amazing parent Activist Leonie Haimson, who wrote on the Diane Ravitch blog, seems to pretty much agree with Reality.

What about the UFT?  The Union issued this press release:

Mulgrew Praises Formation of Governor's Common Core Panel

UFT President Michael Mulgrew on Feb. 7 applauded Governor Cuomo's appointment of an 11-member group — including education expert Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University, State Senator John Flanagan, and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan — to recommend changes to the flawed rollout of the Common Core Learning Standards.

In response, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said:
"I want to thank the Governor for listening to parents, children, principals and teachers across the state who have made it clear that the rush to implement the Common Core standards in New York State has not worked.  We look forward to the panel's recommendations."

Mulgrew's on board with the Governor. Is that news?

After listing each of the panel members, here is what Reality Based Educator concludes:

Does this sound like the kind of panel that is going to give us anything but a pre-determined conclusion that the Common Core State (sic) Standards are wonderful and if the implementation has been slightly screwy, well, that's the kind of thing you have to deal with when you're doing large-scale reform?

You can bet that whatever conclusions they reach on the CCSS, they will reiterate how swell CCSS are and how we must keep going forward (although they may suggest a slightly slower timeline than the one King and Tisch have us on now.)

In short, the panel is rigged for the pro-Common Core outcome Sheriff Andy Cuomo wants.

Linda Darling Hammond and NYSUT teacher activist Todd Hathaway, from East Aurora High School (Erie County), are on the panel.  Other than that, the deck does kind of looked stacked as Reality tells us.

Thursday, February 06, 2014


There were only two resolutions at the February UFT Delegate Assembly meeting and they both passed unanimously.  The first was to endorse Tom Brown for election as a Teacher-Member of the Teachers' Retirment Board of the City of New York for a three year term.  The second was raised from the floor by MORE's Kevin Prossen calling for the UFT to support the Portland Oregon teachers who just took a strike vote. 

Someone attending their first DA meeting on Wednesday at UFT Headquarters would never have known there are two caucuses that often disagree on major union policy questions as everybody was basically aligned.  Partisanship for the most part was put aside for February. 

President's Report
President Michael Mulgrew opened the meeting by thanking Delegates for getting through the snow to attend the meeting.  He said that getting in is the work of the Union.
National Scene
New York and Tennessee experiences show that Common Core is not working but people who don't like unions - right wing groups - are using the failure as an argument as to why public education must be privatized with vouchers and charter schools. 
There are major news stories about elected officials in Albany calling for a moratorium on using Common Core tests to make high stakes decisions. Both State Assembly and State Senate leaders have come out for a two year moratorium on using Common Core test results for high stakes decisions.
To stop high stakes decisions for students, it would take a waiver that the State Education Department could apply for from the federal government.  We are waiting to see the recommendations from the Board of Regents Task Force. 
The UFT position is Common Core student test scores should not be utilized to evaluate teachers or students.  We would need a federal waiver for students and state legislation to achieve our goal as using student test results to evaluate teachers is law in New York State.  We would have to amend the law for those 20% of student test results not to count for teacher evaluation.  UFT would prefer for 40% to be local measures. 
Union would like a change so that the State Education Department could put out a menu that would include such tasks as judging students based on student portfolios and project based work for the 40% student growth portion of a teacher's grade.  There would also have to be a standard rubric to grade these tasks. It is a complex process. 
We are waiting to see what the Regents Task Force and Governor Cuomo's Task Force come up with in this area.  It is positive that the Assembly and Senate leaders are saying we are not prepared for Common Core Tests.  Parents inside and outside NYC are saying teachers don't have the materials to help students prepare for the new tests.
There is still no real curriculum.  All we have is the inadequate Pearson materials in the city.  Many districts have nothing but the modules put out by the State Education Department.  Lobby Day will be particularly important this year.  It is March 5.  We will be lobbying for money for education, for a moratorium on using the high stakes test and for universal Pre-Kindergarten with a dedicated city funding source (tax on high income earners).
The President understands the hardship of getting to work on days when it snows.  It was certainly icy this morning.  However, many districts are already having to cancel parts of their spring breaks because they don't have enough school days in the year and the law says a district can't ask for a waiver of the minimum number of days until after they have used all of their vacation days.
We know another storm is coming.  We have heard the calls for a delayed opening but because of the way former Mayor Bloomberg messed up the bus schedules - buses have to make two runs - it is impossible to change how the bus transportation works on snowy days. 
We are not in a good weather pattern this year. After surviving the hurricane in 2012 and twelve years of Bloomberg, we can get through this winter.
Visiting nurses had a very difficult negotiation this round but they received a contract where they kept all of their benefits and received a pair of 2% salary increases.
As for the teachers and other UFT employees, our contract is being negotiated.  The NY Times was accurate that we are in discussions with the city and fact finders.  We had a meeting this week and we will have one next week.  Our goal is to have a contract by the end of the school year so changes can be implemented in September. 
Number one issue for the membership is money.  The evaluation system, reduction in paperwork and the Common Core Tests are issues where we might be able to find common ground with the new administration.  We agree with Mayor de Blasio not to negotiate in public.  Our members deserve a raise.  We have already earned the money Bloomberg should have given us years ago.
Staff Director's Report
Staff Director Leroy Barr told the Delegates that there will be a Guidance Counselor Conference on March 15.  There will also be a Paraprofessional Luncheon at the Hilton on March 15.  Lobby Day is March 5 and the next DA is March 19.
Question Period
Question: What will be the impact of the Affordable Care Act on us?
Mulgrew Answer: This question has already been asked but to address it again children of our members are now covered up to age 26 and there is unlimited drug coverage.  The Municipal Labor Committee could put out a Request for a Proposal for positive changes that would save the city a couple of hundred millions of dollars.  We tried that with Bloomberg but he wasn't interested in saving money, just having us pay for premiums.  The Affordable Care Act regulations have not yet kicked in for insurance companies but that will change in the near future.
Question: Members are being polled.  Is that coming from the UFT?
Mulgrew Answer: He has to investigate if UFT is polling now.
Question: Can teachers do classroom visits for formal observations?
Mulgrew Answer: No. Inter-visitation can work but it can't be a formal evaluation.  Peer evaluation has succeeded in Toledo and Rochester but we have to be careful with it.
Question: How should we be looking to do School Based Options for next year based on a possible new contract?
Mulgrew Answer: Our goal is to have a contract but that is a very difficult question to answer at this point. 
Question: Rikers Island students are there for an average of 50-60 days.  How can teachers be rated based on this short time span of student attendance? 
Mulgrew Answer: This was one of the arguments we had with the previous administration. This is something that we have to work out with the current Chancellor.  It is positive that educators are being hired for top positions again.
Question: Principal telling everyone in a Quality Review that if they are visited it will be an informal observation.  Is this proper?
Mulgrew Answer: There must be timely feedback for it to be an informal observation.  We need a paradigm shift with our administrators.  The question to ask administrators is this: What are you doing to help me to better instruct the students?
Follow-up Question: When I go to administration for help, they tell me to go to ARIS and answer questions on some article or to hand in lesson plans.  How is this help?
Mulgrew Answer: There has not yet been a paradigm shift in too many administrators.  We have to visit this particular school. It is a positive sign that the Chancellor wants only people with a minimum of seven years of teaching experience to be considered for principal positions.
New Motion Period
Kevin Prossen from the Movement of Rank and File Educators raised the following resolution:
The UFT supports the Portland Association of Teachers in their fight for "The Schools Portland Teachers Deserve," which calls for reduced class sizes and caseloads, more elective classes and support services for students, equity of resources for high poverty schools, academic freedom, no school closures, and use of standardized testing as only one tool for assessment.
Since this was for this month's agenda, there was no debate allowed.  It clearly received a 2/3 vote to go on the agenda but Mulgrew asked for a second vote and it passed again.  The call for the second vote prompted some outrage in the opposition section of the hall but the motion clearly carried and was placed on the agenda. 
Later in the meeting, this motion carried unanimously after being motivated by Kevin Prossen and then Staff Director Barr also spoke in favor. Bipartisanship at its finest! 
Special Order of Business
The only resolution this month on the regular agenda was to nominate Tom Brown to replace the retiring Mona Romain as a Teacher-Member of the Teachers' Retirement Board of the City of New York.  This also carried unanimously after Treasurer Mel Aaronson gave an emotional farewell speech for retiring Mona Romain and then Mona addressed the Delegates.  We wish Mona well.
Mulgrew ended the meeting by noting that no schools were closed this year.  (Yes but what about the ones that were already slated for closure?  I thought the UFT sued to stop some of them.)