Friday, January 08, 2016


On Wednesday, we reported on the January Delegate Assembly where UFT President Michael Mulgrew revealed our state legislative priorities for 2016.  Up in Albany we are basically asking for nothing new from the state government. Here are the priorities according to President Mulgrew:

1-Funding from Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement from 2007 to reduce class sizes like the law said they had to do by 2011.

2-Make charter schools accept more English Language Learners and special ed students.

3-Some undefined education issues.

Basically we are asking Albany to enforce existing law.  The state was supposed to provide funding to reduce class sizes to averages of 20 students per class in grades K-3, 22 for 4-8 and 25 in high schools by 2011. I believe charter schools were supposed to take more special education and English language learners in the 2009 law.

We are often asked how we would be different if we were in power at the UFT and NYSUT.  The answer is simple in terms of Albany priorities:

With the new federal education law now leaving much to the states, we should push as hard as we can to repeal last year's abominable Education Transformation Act which gave us receivership where collective bargaining agreements could be abrogated by outside receivers and teacher seniority as well as tenure are rendered meaningless in certain receiver schools.

This awful law also made student test scores 50% of our evaluations and moved the probation time for teachers from three years to four before new hires can be eligible for tenure.  Teachers rated ineffective for two years in a row have very little chance in dismissal hearings under this anti-teacher piece of legislation. This law has to go and we should be educating and mobilizing our rank and file throughout the state to repeal it once and for all.

In fact, we should go a step further and say the laws on rating teachers since the now defunct Race to the Top was passed should be repealed.  We need to start over from scratch on teacher evaluation.

The parents are with us as 240,000 students opted out of state exams last year. The September Quinnipiac poll showed the public favors the unions over the governor to improve education in NYS by a wide margin of 54%-31%. Andrew Cuomo's popularity on education is way down. Who knows if the governor will be indicted for corruption? Whether he is or isn't fighting to stay out of jail, he certainly is not in a strong position politically on education. In addition, it is a presidential election year so forget about there being any threats from Washington to cut funding if too many students opt out of standardized testing. This is our chance to fight back politically and mobilize our members around repealing some horrific education laws.

Our union leaders are only going to ask for more money.  I have no problem with asking the state to increase funding for city schools but we should be activating the membership to take action to get rid of some really terrible education laws too.


NYC Educator said...

Well said James. I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Maybe off-topic, but: does anyone know what the recent letter from GHI/Emblem Health means? It says something about needing to be pre-certified for a doctor visit, but neither that letter nor anything I can find on the UFT website explains the details. Called Central and they don't know what I was talking about. Entire staff at my school is freaking out. Is this the start of the $2 billion in "health care savings" required by our new contract? How has our access to health care changed? Thanks for any info!

TeachmyclassMrMayor(andyoutooMrMulgrew) said...

The "cost savings" started when they decided a "retro-payment" schedule & raise schedule. Based on how we really should be getting paid, everyone of us is getting screwed out of $10-20K a piece. So, at least for this "deal/screwing" the city is already getting plenty of cost savings.

Now, maybe this working towards the savings in the next screw...I mean deal. So anything with the UFT/Unity/AFT-Mulgrew/Weingarten is possible.

Anonymous said...

This is the letter.

Of course this is not something to speak about at the Delegate Assembly.

Anonymous said...

During the December DA when Mulgrew said that due to the current circumstances in Albany we weren't expecting to get much done during this legislative session I blurted out "Well, THAT'S the wrong attitude!"

Afterwards, I went up to him and said that given that 2016 is an election year for many of our representatives in Albany this definitely is when we should be pushing them to repeal Cuomo's education law. He was supposedly running late for something and didn't have time to talk but said, "We know when to push and when to pull back." I just shook my head.

The next evening I attended a District 28/29 "Meet the President" event and while Mulgrew was again discussing current state political issues he said, "We have a strategy..." then he looked at me and said, "I'm not going to tell YOU all of my strategies, but we're working on things behind the scenes." Given that neither I nor anyone had said a word prior to his comment, it appeared to come out of left field and everyone in the room turned around to see who he was talking to.

At this week's DA when he outlined UFT's NY legislative priorities for this year I was more than a little disappointed that there was no mention of anything other than funding and charter school acceptance of ELL & SE students. I'm just so tired of our union stepping down when they should be stepping up. I hope NYSUT will feel pressure from members throughout the state and push legislators to repeal or at least amend Cuomo's education law, but, sadly, I don't have a lot of faith in that happening either. I think our only hope (other than a Cuomo indictment) may be for other teacher and parent groups (Local unions, Badass Teachers Association, Opt Out, NYSAPE, rogue UFT & NYSUT members, etc.) to put pressure on our Albany lawmakers.

It's just so discouraging that we can't depend on our union leaders to do what we pay them to do. Oh well, at least we can count on them to come up with tons of asinine DA resolutions on every issue outside of our union's control.

Mary Ahern

Anonymous said...

They do not care. These guys are busy reworking their resumes because Freidrichs is coming. They are neither crafting nor pursuing a strategy.

Anonymous said...

Meathead Mike may just be in a lousy mood because he knows a stiff pay cut may be coming for him and his cronies in 2016. A mass exodus from the UFT may just be enough to humble this cocky, overpaid, good-for-nothing.