There was a great deal of news occurring this week so I decided to combine the stories into one post and give a quick report and editorial comment on each. Thanks to Jeff Kaufman for keeping us updated by sending out the weekly newsletter for chapter leaders.
Topic 1: Tenure
From the UFT Weekly Chapter Leader Update:
UFT to appeal preliminary ruling in motion to dismiss tenure lawsuit
UFT president Michael Mulgrew said the union will appeal a state judge's March 12 ruling that allows the plaintiffs' lawsuits challenging teacher due-process rights and seniority to proceed. The suits were filed last year by a New York City parent organization and a state group headed by former TV personality Campbell Brown. The decision did not address the merits of the case; the judge simply ruled that the lawsuit could go forward. The UFT has intervened as a defendant in the lawsuits, along with its state affiliate, the New York State United Teachers.
Commentary: This is round one of what will more than likely be a long term struggle. By the time this suit is finally ruled on by a judge, appealed to the Appellate Division and ultimately decided by the NYS Court of Appeals, most of us will probably be already long since retired, terminated, resigned or in the afterlife. I think the UFT and NYSUT have handled this suit properly.
Topic 2: Assembly Budget
Again we go to the UFT Weekly Chapter Leader Update:
All our work with the state Assembly is paying off.
Members of the Assembly are holding firm so far against the governor. The one-house budget resolution submitted on Monday by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not contain the governor’s education proposals and calls for significantly more school aid. The Assembly resolution’s proposed $1.8 billion increase in statewide education funding would be mostly channeled to foundation aid, which is targeted to the districts with the highest-need students, including New York City. Not surprisingly, the one-house resolution submitted this week by the Republican-controlled state Senate mirrored the governor’s education agenda. In addition, it called for allowing up to 30 percent of teachers in charter schools to be uncertified and providing building aid for charter schools. We, again, thank all of you who traveled to Albany on March 4 for Lobby Day and have been calling, faxing and sending postcards to the governor and state lawmakers. Over the next two weeks, let’s keep the pressure on. Here are all the ways that our school communities can lobby the governor and our state lawmakers. For more detailed information, read the Chalkbeat article on the Assembly resolution and the Auburn Citizen article on the Senate resolution.
Commentary: The Assembly is taking a position for more school aid and against Governor Andrew Cuomo's so called reforms but the Senate is agreeing with the Governor. That is two out of three opposed to us. Most people feel that a deal is being worked out behind the scenes where Cuomo will get some of what he wants but not nearly all of it. By April 1, expect to see something worked out where teachers will lose something (30-40% of teacher evaluations might be based on the results of a single student test score on an unreliable/invalid test, the charter school cap will be increased or choose a different poison) but the UFT will claim victory because there will be a substantial increase in school aid. If anyone thinks that major parts of the boost in school funding will filter down to the classroom, they will probably be proven wrong.
Topic 3: Actions
One last time to the UFT Weekly Chapter Leader Update
Thank you for an amazing week of school-based actions
Thanks to all of you, school communities across the city came together this week to express their outrage with Gov. Cuomo's anti-teacher, anti-student education agenda. Whether by marching, wearing a specific color, filming a video or passing out leaflets to parents, chapter leaders spearheaded the week of action. The protests peaked on March 12, when, parents, their children and educators at 500 or more schools joined hands to form a human chain around their buildings before or after classes as if to protect them from the governor's proposals. This past week, you and your members sent a clear message that it is educators and parents - not the governor or corporate interests - who know #AllKidsNeed.
Commentary-Keep up the fine work everyone. This blog also supports Public Advocate Letitia James' rally Sunday at City Hall Park at 1:30 pm and we endorse the rally outside Governor Cuomo's Midtown office at 633 Third Avenue (at E 41st Street) on Saturday, March 28 at noon. Perhaps the pressure can move the needle in Albany a bit in our favor.
Topic 4 Absent Teacher Reserve Arbitrary Rotations
You won't see this is in any UFT publications.
ATR's are being rotated to different schools after being in their current schools for just two weeks. The ATRs had received emails the last two weeks stating that they would be in their current schools through April 3 (the start of spring break). Why the change now?
I am reasonably certain that those who were in difficult schools are thankful to be rotated out earlier than expected but many others who had planned their lives around being settled in a school until April 3 are not happy. I know of a colleague who had scheduled an observation with a supervisor for this coming Wednesday. She was working with a class and a teacher so that she could be prepared but now the ATR has been rotated and is back in a state of uncertainty.
Is there any rhyme or reason to the ATR rotation system? It is a textbook example of arbitrary administration.
As usual with the ATRs, we ask the same question: Where is our union?