Michael Mulgrew at the September Chapter Leader meeting made a big deal about the UFT fighting against excessive paperwork and making sure teachers in core subjects have curriculum. How real and how winnable is this battle?
I do take the President at his word that they are trying to stop the excessive paperwork and see to it that everyone has curriculum. This post concentrates on curriculum.
Here is what Arthur Goldstein said in his minutes of the September meeting on this issue:
No. one issue for members, from poll, is paperwork. Was problem years ago, is no provision in contract, yet two years later it remains number one issue. There is a disconnect because things members are doing are things they are not supposed to do, as per contract. Much paperwork is tied to curriculum. Who thinks they get curriculum? Much laughter ensues. Should be a list of topics, with scope and sequence, with what students are expected to know, for semester or year: Why are teachers writing this? Why would a principal ask you to write something she is supposed to supply.
We get paperwork complaints in June because of bad rating fears. Important to file complaints more early. We have to change that culture. Mulgrew's issue is we have to figure who has a curriculum, who doesn't, and how we systematically collect it. DOE has a lot of curriculum offered to principals online. Why do they ask us for it?
If administration just tells teachers to go to the Engage NY website, does that constitute providing a curriculum?
What specifically does our Contract say?
Article 7R2 covers curriculum:
The Board of Education (DOE) agrees to provide teachers with either a year-long or
semester long Curriculum that is aligned with State Standards in all Core Subjects.
Curriculum is defined as:
a) a list of content and topics;
b) scope and sequence; and
c) a list of what students are expected to know and be able to do after studying each
Core Subjects are defined as follows: Math (including, but not limited to, Algebra and
Geometry), Social Studies, English Language Arts, Science (including, but not limited to,
General Science, Biology, Earth Science, Chemistry and Physics), Foreign Languages
and other subject areas named by the DOE and shared with the UFT. It is understood that
the DOE’s obligation to provide curriculum shall extend to Core courses that may be
It is further understood by both parties that there are instances where teachers may
want to participate in the development of curriculum. Such instances include, but are not
limited to, the creation of new themed schools or programs within a school, or where a
teacher or group of teachers wishes to create or help create a set of lessons around a
particular theme or subject, where approved by the principal.
Nothing in this agreement
is intended to prohibit voluntary collaboration or work by teachers and other school staff
However, if there is a specific request by the DOE or a school administrator for a
teacher or teachers to write curriculum, then the teacher(s) must be given sufficient time
during the work day to do so, in accordance with provisions of the collective bargaining
agreement or given sufficient time after school, in accordance with the provisions of the
collective bargaining agreement pertaining to Per Session.
This provision seems to give the administrators some work in developing curriculum. But what constitutes an adequate curriculum? As is par for the course, the UFT allows language to be inserted in the contract that lets the DOE off the hook. Here is the last paragraph of Article 7R2:
The failure to provide curriculum as defined above shall be subject to the grievance
and arbitration procedures set forth in Article Twenty-Two of the collective bargaining
agreement. However, such grievances shall be strictly limited to whether a curriculum, as
defined above, was provided. The sufficiency and quality of the curriculum provided
shall not be grievable.
If administrations provides something from a foreign country or another state or just copies the state rubbish and says it is the curriculum, what can we do about it?
Go out and fight for that curriculum folks. However, when you get a pile of garbage that is called curriculum or are directed to some website for it, I hope if teachers try to grieve that the UFT backs them up. This contractual language unfortunately does not give me too much hope that we will all be receiving adequate curriculum at any time in the near or distant future