Wednesday, November 30, 2016

NO GUTS NO GLORY; SAME OLD UFT

NYC Educator's report of the most recent UFT Executive Board meeting shows that very little is changing at 52 Broadway.

We need some bold strategies from the leadership in the face of the pretty much guaranteed bleak future under President Donald Trump with anti-union laws and an anti-labor National Labor Relations Board.

Add to that some anti-union Supreme Court Justices and at some point in the next year or two we should have a Friedrichs II case that will take from public sector unions their right to collect union dues from people who don't want to join the union.

A smart union would be using the time now before the storm to seriously organize and mobilize its members.

Will that happen? I wish I could be optimistic.

The UFT Executive Board in a resolution can't even use the name Donald Trump when condemning campaign rhetoric from the recent election. That was what they were reconsidering on Monday. The leadership says they don't want to alienate UFT members who are Trump supporters. That is ridiculous. Look at the comments on this blog. Those people are gone already. They will only come back when, to paraphrase Trump, the Union starts winning again.

In reality, it looks more like the UFT is continuing their ingrained strategy of concessionary unionism where they give away many of our rights but they keep their lofty positions. It seems the ones they don't want to alienate are those close to the top of the Republican food chain. Maybe they can beg them to leave the union, not the teachers, alone.

We keep hoping that something, anything, will happen to tell us that the UFT, NYSUT or AFT leadership gets it this time and will do what it takes so that we can survive but the only hopeful sign was they allowed a real debate to take place on Monday on whether or not to condemn Trump in some whereas clauses. Other than that it is business as usual at the Union.

Restarting a public relations union proud campaign isn't going to help much either.

Please someone give me some kind of hope that there will be a change that can make some of us pro-union people feel like we can really work with our union to fix it so our members will want to be mobilized.

Monday, November 28, 2016

BASIC UNION ORGANIZING IS NEEDED NOW

NYC Educator earlier called for a sea change from Union leadership to prepare for when the Donald Trump Supreme Court or the Republican Congress and President Trump end automatic dues checkoff for public sector unions. They would make union dues voluntary but not union services.

NYC Educator's final paragraph

If there is any chance of our surviving in a Right to Work United States of America, it's time for a sea change in our sleepy and complacent leadership. Otherwise, it's clear the only thing they value are those cushy offices on the 14th floor. I wonder if they'll be able to pay for them with a 70% drop in dues revenue.

I don't know if the current Unity leadership is capable of such a sea change. It would be nice to be proven wrong.

If I was in power, I would do a basic union organizing drive right now, before anything is done to hurt us. I would do what Randi Weingarten talked about when I think she was legitimately embarrassed by how bad the 2005 contract really was.

After that awful contract received a 40% no vote from teachers, the UFT started exploring a no contract=no work policy. To cushion against the blow if we actually went on strike, we were going to look at working with a pro-labor bank (Amalgamated) to try to deduct union dues automatically without needing to go through our employer, the Department of Education.

This of course was only lip service from Randi and when Mayor Michael Bloomberg dangled some decent money for an extension of the 2005 disaster of a contract, Weingarten jumped at it and took an early contract in 2006. That was a major mistake as I see it. We never again heard about taking back the 2005 givebacks or the UFT collecting dues on our own. No contract=no work seems like a foreign concept to UFT leadership today.

Now with our very existence at stake, why not try to do a basic organizing drive around being a real union? That is a way to move forward.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

TWU MAKES STRONG CONTRACT DEMANDS

One of the mistakes that I have constantly criticized the UFT leadership for is not demanding real contractual gains at the start of collective bargaining negotiations.

When a union asks for a little, in the final settlement we will end up with even less but if we ask for more, we start the negotiations from a greater position of strength. The argument against my thinking is that a union that demands too much will lose public support.

A public sector union that agrees with me and has traditionally worked that way is Transport Workers Union Local 100. They are led by President John Samuelson.

Earlier this month TWU Local 100 held a 7,000 strong rally at MTA Headquarters in Manhattan where they made real demands for a fair contract. Their current agreement expires in January 2017.

Take a look at what they are asking for in negotiations with the MTA .


The list specified the demands as follows: 
Wages – 
Substantial wage increase – continue raises above rate of inflation, 
Eliminate health benefits deduction, 
Increase DIF, 
Increase longevity pay, 
Cash out all unused sick leave – when resigning, retiring, or dismissed, 
COLA for active and retirees, 
10% night differential, 
Improve Workers Comp benefits and procedures, 
Workers Comp pay in first pay period, when not contested, 
MTA to match 401(k) and 403(b) at 20%, 
$20 meal allowance, Increase equity fund payment to maintainer titles to $960. 

Health benefits and health – 
Improve health benefits – including optical and dental for retirees, hearing aids, 
Lifetime medical coverage for spouse if death before retirement, 
Raise Medicare Part B to national coverage, 3D Mammograms covered (Women’s Table), 
Improve High option, 
Facilities for those who are nursing to express milk, 
Increase time and coverage for cancer and wellness screenings, 
Improve air quality in TA facilities, 
Eliminate diesel powered equipment in shops and stations, 
Healthcare upon hiring, 
Braces for adults, 
No placement on FMLA while on comp, 
More restricted duty jobs, 
Health club membership, 
Back support as PPE.
  
These demands are local-wide. There are additional Departmental demands submitted by each of the seven Departments within TWU Local 100, specific to Departmental concerns.

The divisional demands would include the work rules.

This chart shows how they did in wages and benefits compared to the United Federation of Teachers in the last round of bargaining.*

Labor militancy is the only possible answer to our plight as public sector unionized employees, including teachers.


*Before anyone comments that Transit Workers pay a portion of their checks for healthcare, I know that but they didn't agree to the givebacks (savings) on healthcare that we agreed to in 2014 and we still must come up with more this fiscal year. The purpose of this post is to compare bargaining strategies of the two unions and suggest a path forward for labor that Verizon workers (in the private sector) were successful with also.


Friday, November 25, 2016

NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION STARTS THE FIGHT AGAINST DEVOS

I received the email that is copied below in my inbox this morning. Carol Burris, the retired former award winning principal from Long Island who now heads the national Network for Public Education, is leading the battle against Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.


Carol Burris
|
Today, 7:56 AM

Well, the veil is off. With the nomination of a billionaire who has lobbied for privatization of Michigan schools, it is clear that Trump/Pence are serious about their plans.

I don't need to tell you what they are; you already know.

NPE will be fighting that effort, starting with a letter campaign to the Senate asking them to vote "no" on DeVos. We are starting up now and ramping up in the months ahead.

Please put this link on your Facebook page and share it widely.


Please send your own letter today.

Thank you all. 

Carol

Thursday, November 24, 2016

RANDI STATEMENT ON DEVOS

AFT President Randi Weingarten issued a press release on Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

The worst of privatization is coming. Prepare yourselves. It will take everything we have to save public education as we know it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Press Release

AFT President Randi Weingarten on Nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

For Release: 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Contact:

Greg Greene
(404) 808-0329
ggreene@aft.org

WASHINGTON—In response to President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education, AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement:

“The president-elect, in his selection of Betsy DeVos, has chosen the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education.

“In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.

“DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools. The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation.

“We have an obligation to all children in America. That’s why we’ve fought to ensure that struggling schools get fixed, that we fight for kids to have the powerful learning, the social and emotional and wraparound services, and the great teachers they need. That’s why we fight for parents to have the voice they need and communities throughout the country to have the local decision-making for their schools and the investment they need, so we do everything we can to help all children have a great public education. What this pick means is far from ensuring that every child has the option of a great public education—the many who have it now will lose it. That’s been the experience of 25 years of privatizing: It helps very few, and many students now go to schools that have faced years of austerity and disinvestment.

“Betsy DeVos is everything Donald Trump said is wrong in America—an ultra-wealthy heiress who uses her money to game the system and push a special-interest agenda that is opposed by the majority of voters. Installing her in the Department of Education is the opposite of Trump’s promise to drain the swamp.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

TRUMP CHOICE FOR EDUCATION SECRETARY PRO-VOUCHER, PRO-CHARTER

Donald Trump is picking Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of Education. Trump managed to find a choice for Secretary of Education who could make John King look good. That was not an easy task.

I am not taking any bows that we predicted this type of person would be hired in a post last week. We are getting exactly what we expected when we stated:

The next Education Secretary will almost certainly be be a pro-private school voucher, pro-charter school, anti-public education zealot.  

It is even worse. DeVos who is now against Common Core but is talking about Common Core like standards. She worked with Jeb Bush on education.

Almost makes me nostalgic for Rod Paige. 

Here is the lowdown on DeVos from Mitchell Robinson, a Michigan State University Professor via the Diane Ravitch blog.

The news that Donald Trump has named Betsy DeVos as his choice for Secretary of Education is just another brick in the wall for Mr. Trump's plan to turn the US into a giant flea market, selling off the bits and pieces of a once great nation for parts to the highest bidders.

I had to laugh in recent weeks as folks set off alarms at the rumors of Michelle Rhee or Eva Moskowitz being appointed to the position. The truth is Rhee and Moskowitz are mere amateurs at this school privatization scheme. For Pete's sake, Ms. Moskowitz still spends her days actually stepping foot in to schools in NYC, terrorizing students and teachers. And Rhee, a former Teach for America recruit, whose "go to" classroom management technique was taping the mouths of her reluctant "scholars", has been in hiding after a disastrous run as Superintendent of DC's schools, an experiment that ended in failure for all concerned, and threatened to dim the rising star of the corporate reform movement-until recently, when she had her icky hubby reemerged for a photo op at Trump Tower.

Betsy DeVos, on the other hand, is a pro at this game. And unlike Rhee and Moskowitz, who depend on the kindness- and financial backing-of others, Betsy has the financial wherewithall to bankroll her own plans. Like her new boss, Ms. DeVos-allegedly-won't be beholden to any "special interests" in her efforts to turn our public education system into a Sotheby's auction.

Rest assured, also, that unlike Ms. Moskowitz, Betsy DeVos hasn't been spending any of her valuable time in... "schools" lately, and certainly hasn't been close enough to real, live students to tape them up-even though I'm sure she approves of Ms. Rhee's approach to building a safe and welcoming classroom learning environment. No, Ms. DeVos has been busy dreaming up new ways to capitalize on the billions of taxpayer dollars currently being wasted in children, teachers, and schools, and helping her puppet in the Michigan's governor's residence with his plan to destroy the state's schools.

Remember, Michigan is the state where the Governor poisoned the water in one of the city's largest cities, and more than 400 days later has still refused to replace a single water pipe. And the state whose lawyers recently claimed-and I swear I'm not making this up-that the state's children had no "fundamental right to literacy."

This is Betsy DeVos' and Rick Snyder's dream for how a state should govern-that a state and its elected officials have no responsibility to provide clean drinking water or a quality education for its children. It's a dystopian vision of the future that absolves a state's leaders and institutions from providing, maintaining, repairing and supporting its schools, roads, water systems, and infrastructure, or protecting its most vulnerable citizens from the permanent damage caused by a poisoned water supply.

So, if you want to know what our new federal education policy is going to look like under Secretary DeVos, what has happened in Michigan under Gov. Snyder-and bankrolled and supported by the DeVos family, provides the best example of what to expect.

Robinson continues by describing something called "skunk works' which is as sinister as it sounds.

The idea behind the "skunk works" plan was to radically increase the use of technology (i.e., virtual charters, online classes) to dramatically reduce the number of teachers needed, and to decouple tax dollars from schools by providing every student in the state with an "education debit card" that could be used for a wide range of educational experiences (i.e.m music lessons, art classes, sports teams).

The ultimate goal here was to create a new "value school" model in the state, delivering schooling at a per-student cost of roughly $5000 over $2000 less than the average reimbursement provided by the state for each child enrolled in a district's schools- with "edupreneurs" pocketing the balance. For Snyder and DeVos, the purpose of education is not to help develop a more informed and educated citizenry, or to help children to become more fully human by providing a comprehensive, high quality curriculum, including music, art, and physical education in addition to the rest of the disciplines. The purpose of education under Snyder and DeVos is to turn the state's once excellent system of schools into an educational WalMart, bosting "low, low prices" in place of quality instruction...

Ms. DeVos is the perfect ideological mate for Mr. Trump: neither seems concerned with allowing petty little things like rules, regulations, or ethics get in the way of them pursuing their agendas. The Constitution only applies to the "little people," not the billionaire "deciders" who will make the rules in the Trump administration.

Betsy DeVos was the absolute worst possible choice for Secretary of Education, so it's no surprise that Trump chose her for this cabinet post. Her appointment is much closer to Trump's choice of Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist than it is to his choice of Reince Preibus as Chief of Staff. One is a party insider who will make the "trains run on time; the other is an arsonist who would happily burn the station to the ground.

Betsy DeVos' mission is no less than the total destruction of public education. her apparent support for charters is merely a head fake to the right to distract us from her ultimate goal of "decoupling" state and federal dollars from supporting schools of any type.

Under Secretary of Education DeVos, we will see the emergence of a two-tiered educational system:

One, a system of elite private and religious schools for well-to-do, mostly White parents with the means to afford expensive tuition payments, staffed by qualified, certified teachers, with a rich curriculum based on face-to-face instruction in clean, safe, well-maintained schools...

The other, a parallel system of "fly by night" virtual and online "schools" that open and close seemingly at random, and for-profit charters operated by scam artists like Northern Michigan's Dr. Steve Ingersoll, with little to no state or federal regulation or oversight, and a bare bones, "back to the basics" curriculum delivered by unqualified and uncertified "teachers".

I'm guessing that the leadership at Teach for America is practically salivating today.For the rest of us, welcome to the Hunger Games of public education...

Betsy DeVos needs to hear, loudly and clearly, that her cynical, selfish, profit-focused vision of public education isn't constitutional; it's predatory.

Her approach is not that of an educational leader; it's that of a vandal.

Tell her that these are OUR public schools, and we value them and need them. And that we won't let her, and her new Boss, destroy them.

I have nothing to add but maybe this will wake people up that we are in a very bad situation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

OUT OF CONTROL COMMENTS NEED TO BE REIGNED IN

The ICEUFT blog has prided itself on being a free speech zone but some of the comments are getting just plain nasty. When students google me, I risk being embarrassed.

Therefore, we will start taking down over the top racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ comments and other stuff that is just plain offensive and often has absolutely nothing to do with the posting it is commenting on.

Try to remember most of us are teachers and adults. Please stay on topic to the extent possible.

I'll try to monitor a little more closely.

Thank you.


Monday, November 21, 2016

UFT DAY OF ACTION TODAY

I received something in the weekly Chapter Leader Newsletter at 8:34 p.m. on Friday night about a day of action today. There was one other notice sent to chapter leaders last week. Nothing further has come from the UFT.

I think we need a little bit more serious preparation for a mobilization but here is the information.

Day of Action at your schools this coming Monday, Nov. 21

We are proud to work in one of the largest and most diverse school systems in the country. Every child, regardless of ethnic background, gender identity, faith or immigration status, has the right to feel safe in our city and especially inside our schools. That’s why we are asking chapter leaders to organize a Day of Action at their schools this coming Monday, Nov. 21.  On this day, we will come together to affirm that our schools are safe havens for learning and to demonstrate our commitment to our students and their families. The DOE advises that, as always, staff should not wear or hand out buttons or leaflets that are partisan in nature to students or parents on school premises (the sidewalk in front of a school is okay) or during school hours. Take photos of members participating in the Day of Action and post them on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #UFTDayofAction. Please send your best one or two photos (large size, with captions) to uftphotos@gmail.com for our Facebook and website photo albums. Read Carmen FariƱa’s message to educators about fostering tolerance in our schools.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

SUCCESSFUL MORE-ICE ATR MEETING

Our old friend and former Jamaica High School colleague Chaz did a great job of presenting at Saturday's Absent Teacher Reserve forum. Chaz gave out a great deal of information in his presentation and then fielded numerous questions from about 40 Absent Teacher Reserves who gave up their Saturday to attend the ATR meeting at CUNY in Manhattan.

Norm Scott and UFT Executive Board member Arthur Goldstein also made significant contributions as did the ATRs in attendance who were a knowledgeable, spirited group.

Some of the topics covered were:

  • The history of the ATR mess
  • The 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 (now expired) ATR agreements
  • Rights of ATRs
  • Contacting Mike Sill/Amy Arundell at the UFT if an ATR's rights are being violated
  • Filing grievances
  • Attempts to organize ATRs
  • Age discrimination
  • Difficulty in getting hired permanently
  • Provisional positions
  • Problem codes for people who are 3020a hearing survivors
  • Weekly, monthly, or yearly rotations-What works best?
  • Organizing ourselves
  • ATR's having a class for six months being covered under Danielson

People also shared legal strategies that worked. 


A major highlight for me was when Chaz told everyone who survived a 3020 (termination) hearing that they won because the Board of Ed was trying to fire them and the Board was not successful. Sometimes, people feel a little down after being targeted, often without legitimate cause. To see ATRs being told to feel good about themselves was uplifting. 

I was also super-impressed when there was an energetic call in the group for a follow-up meeting. 

My main contribution was to tell teachers to document, document and then document some more at the first sign of trouble. 

I want to thank my wife for watching our two kids and then talking with many of the ATRs at the end of the meeting.

If anyone needs to file a grievance on something such as an improper observation, email us at ICEUFT@gmail.com. We can walk you through the process. Also, please email us if you need other documents.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

REMINDER ATR MEETING AT CUNY THIS AFTERNOON

Don't forget that today, November 19th, at 1:00 p.m. is the information session for Absent Teacher Reserves and our supporters. It will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center on 5th Avenue between 34th and 35th Street in Manhattan on the fifth floor.


  • The blogger Chaz is the featured speaker. 









  • My wife Camille and I will be there too.


Let's plan how to move ahead as a strong group.

The event is sponsored by MORE and ICE.

Friday, November 18, 2016

IS ANYONE EXPECTING A POSITIVE FUTURE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION UNDER DONALD TRUMP?

People are just so optimistic sometimes. By hoping for the best from President elect Donald Trump's cabinet picks, supporters of public education would seem to be either in a state of denial or delusional right about now.

Like many other rational public school educators and parents, I thought every time a new Education Secretary was going to be picked since the early 2000's that our situation in the schools could not deteriorate further. I didn't get those predictions right or maybe I'm just an eternal optimist too.

Rod Paige of the Houston miracle followed George W Bush to DC to give us the impossible requirements of No Child Left Behind (admittedly with Democratic support). Paige was replaced by Margaret Spellings who was succeeded after Barrack Obama was elected by Arne (Race to the Top) Duncan, followed by Clueless John King. Obama and Bush were complete bipartisan disasters when it comes to public schools.

Now let's face reality this time around: Donald Trump is ready to take office and privatizing education is now a top administration priority.

The next Education Secretary will almost certainly be be a pro-private school voucher, pro-charter school, anti-public education zealot. Mercedes Schneider and Diane Ravitch are speculating on who will be named and the choices look like they are bad, worse and worst for public education.

Our kids are scared and our future as public educators looks quite bleak so how is the mighty United Federation of Teachers reacting?

Of course our union is trying not to ruffle any feathers. The evidence is that the leadership wants to take out the words Donald Trump from a resolution calling us to action.

The time is right for us to be bold when our very existence is being threatened but instead it's looking like business as usual down at UFT Headquarters.

Here is how NYC Educator puts it:

What you see below the post is a resolution that targets "the presidential election" where it used to target "President-elect Donald J. Trump." The obvious implication is that leadership, after wholeheartedly endorsing Hillary Clinton, is fraidy-scared to directly criticize the new American Bigot-in-Chief. And from where I stand, that means we are pandering to bigots, racists and anti-Semites.

We are fighting for our schools and our profession. It will not be easy to save our schools or our livelihoods. You would think the UFT would be able to write that Donald Trump, and not the presidential election, is a problem for us.

UPDATE: I just opened my email and AFT President Randi Weingarten has sent a message that is more powerful. It is copied below the UFT resolution.

Read the resolution as well as Randi's email and tell us what you think.

Resolution Calling for Respect for All People

(Changes are in bold; original language is crossed out)

WHEREAS, President-elect Donald Trump the presidential election targeted communities on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, and displayed abusive behavior toward women, has threatened the nation's promise that all people are worthy of respect; and

WHEREAS, President elect Donald Trump the presidential election has outlined an education agenda overtly hostile to public schools and teachers, promising to prioritize vouchers and charter schools at the expense of public schools; and

WHEREAS, the recently-concluded presidential election has returned open racism homophobia and misogyny to the forefront of national politics and featured incendiary rhetoric with little precedent in modern history; and

WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the election, our communities have suffered hate-motivated violence and vandalism at a pace exceeding the wave of Islamophobic incidents in the wake of the September 11 attacks; and

WHEREAS, this divisive political atmosphere has given rise to fear and anxiety among students and inflamed racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom; and

WHEREAS, people are upset and feel that government has failed them, there's no reason to give into a climate of fear; and

WHEREAS, the UFT remains committed to creating a safe and supportive environment as well as stamping out bias-based bullying and harassment in all its forms by providing training for compliance with the Dignity for All Students Act and by operating the Building Respect, Acceptance and Voice through Education campaign, which includes an anti-bullying hotline, fairs and presentations in schools; and

WHEREAS, the New York City Department of Education Respect for All campaign considers harassment and discriminatory behavior, physical injury or threat of injury, harassment, teasing, taunting, peer rejection or exclusion to humiliate or isolate a person to be a violation of Chancellor's Regulations A-831 and A-443, and the Student Code of conduct; and

WHEREAS, the Dignity for All Students Act approved in September, 2010, by the New York State Legislature contains the following provisions:

  • A policy that specifically prohibits discrimination and harassment in public schools based on actual or perceived race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, sexual or physical or mental disability, with procedures to ensure that the policy will be implemented and enforced; 
  • Training of administrators, teachers, and other school related professionals and students on how to deal with diversity in schools and address incidents of harassment and discrimination when they arise;
  • Documentation and data collection to determine just how prevalent the problem of harassment is in New York's public schools and where the needs are most profound;
  • Funding to implement the principles above in a way that avoids unfunded mandates for school districts; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the UFT affirms that public education is critical to the future of this country; that all communities inside our school communities deserve respect and dignity; and that workers have a right to unionize and be treated fairly, and that the UFT will aggressively fight the erosion of these core values; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls upon every school to launch a series of actions to defend our communities and our schools and affirm our values, beginning on Monday November 21, with a Day of Action; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls upon every school to form an action committee to plan and execute these actions; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will partner with and encourage the DOE to support the expansion of the Respect for All initiative, so that school communities serve as sites where all students and staff are safe from acts of discrimination because of ongoing positive and developmentally appropriate behavior and speech in and out of the classroom; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT urges the DOE to require time during the school day for educators to engage in conversations and activities that will support learning communities that celebrate diversity while ensuring tolerance, respect and positive conflict resolution, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will urge the DOE to present professional learning to develop our abilities to design and implement learning activities during which differences are respected and celebrated.


James,
After a bitter campaign, and an election in which Donald Trump won the electoral vote but Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, our nation remains deeply divided. And the division seems to be worsening: In the 10 days since the election, the hateful rhetoric of the campaign has spread and even turned violent.

In his victory speech and during his “60 Minutes” interview, Trump urged Americans to come together as one united people to take on the challenges before us. But his actions tell a different story. By appointing Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn—three men with long and disturbing records of bigotry and racism—Trump is only adding to the climate of fear.

It is our moral imperative to fight the normalization of hate, and while we will take actions in our schools, work sites and communities to protect our kids and fight bigotry and bullying, as so many of our members already have, Trump has a unique and moral responsibility to denounce these hateful and intimidating actions.

This morning, we sent Donald Trump a letter signed by the AFT and the Southern Poverty Law Center calling on him to speak clearly and loudly against the hate. More than 100 groups representing millions of people have also signed. Add your voice and name to our letter.

In the months leading up to the election, Trump’s campaign rhetoric found an audience with those who would use our differences to divide us. And in the days following the election, we have seen people—seemingly emboldened by his victory—committing harassment, vandalism, property destruction and even assault based on those differences.

We know that millions of his supporters would never participate in these actions, but the campaign rhetoric has created an environment that enables and encourages those who wish to harm others.

Personally, I am especially troubled by incidents taking place in schools and on college campuses—places where we do everything we can to ensure our children are safe and nurtured, and have the opportunity to grow and learn free of intimidation and hatred. But now we are hearing reports of disturbing behavior: children chanting “build the wall” at their Latino classmates, Muslim students and educators harassed for their clothing, male students intimidating their female classmates, LGBTQ kids threatened and harassed, and swastikas being painted on classroom doors.

There is no room for this in America. Donald Trump must step up and lead by denouncing the hateful rhetoric and violence following his election.

Many of these hateful acts have been carried out in his name. And while Trump may not condone this behavior, his silence gives tacit permission to those who carry out these acts.

As Americans, we are better than this. You can stand up against these attacks by adding your name to this petition.
Trump has said he will be the president for all Americans. We ask that he keeps that promise by loudly, forcefully, unequivocally and consistently denouncing these acts and the ideology that drives them.

We must all send a clear message that hate has no place in our public discourse, in our public policy or in our society, starting with our next president. Sign the petition now.

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT president

P.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center is collecting data on the effects of this divisive climate, especially in schools. Complete its survey here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

MULTIPLE UNITY CAUCUS MEMBERS VOTE FOR NORM SCOTT

In a vote only a little less unlikely than the election of Donald Trump as US President, it was reported by NYC Educator that four Unity Caucus members defied their caucus obligations to vote for Norm Scott for a seat on the UFT Executive Board. There was a vacancy on the Board and an election to fill the seat was held on Monday.

We know there was Unity dissent since there were only six opposition members who were in attendance at Monday's meeting and Norm received 10 votes. That means four from Unity had to have voted for Norm. Four Unity votes for an opposition member is unprecedented. The Unity candidate, Nancy Barr, still easily won but elections are about expectations and Norm was expected to get six votes. He wildly exceeded expectations.

I was a member of the Executive Board representing the High School Division for a decade. In that time there were plenty of interim elections to replace Officers, including the President, and Executive Board members who retired, moved on to the AFT or passed away. Over the twenty years I have been following the Executive Board, only once can I recall a single Unity Caucus member not voting for the Unity candidate. It was in 1997, my first year on the Board. It was such a rare event that then President Sandy Feldman noted from the chair that the vote crossed caucus lines.

One Unity member in two decades that I know of crossed party lines to vote for someone in the opposition until Monday night. Norm in one election quadrupled twenty years worth of vote totals for opposition candidates.

Maybe Unity members were impressed by Mike Schirtzer's speech on behalf of Norm or perhaps multiple Unity people wanted to actually make a protest point. Then again it is possible that the Unity candidate was someone who was unpopular or maybe four of them like that the jokes are back in Norm's Ed Notes.

Before anyone thinks there is a real crack in the Unity machine, let us remember this was a secret ballot election so we will never know, unless they come out and say, who the Unity dissidents were. They are about as likely to admit they voted for Norm as they are to split a mega-millions jackpot on Saturday. Then again, these are strange times for sure so perhaps we will find out.

Anyway, congratulations Norm on a job well done! You won over more Unity people than I ever did.

Monday, November 14, 2016

WHAT TO SAY TO UNION LEADERS CALLING FOR UNITY AFTER THE ELECTION

After the election of Donald Trump as President and Republicans gaining control of all three branches of the federal government in 2016, I expect to be told by union leaders that we must be united like we tried to be in the Bloomberg years in the face of viscious attacks against us. I concur that we are now possibly close to being destroyed but this is not the time to blindly follow the people who in some ways have led us to the edge of a cliff by trying to be reasonable with those who are out to destroy public education.

After former Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed the virulent anti-union Joel Klein as his Chancellor, UFT leadership from the Unity Caucus led by Randi Weingarten appealed for the membership to be united in the face of unprecedented attacks against us. Most of us agreed to a large extent. I was appointed to the UFT Action Committee where I supported just about every union action around trying to get a fair contract.

How were we rewarded for hitting the streets and even Madison Square Garden when the union asked us?

We settled for the giveback laden 2005 contract. This is the contract that left teachers in New York City with the miserable working conditions that we basically are stuck with today. 2005 changed everything as those of you who were employed before that time are well aware.

2005 ended seniority and SBO transfers and left us without regular jobs if our schools closed. Many of us were forced to become Absent Teacher Reserves where we are sent packing from school to school with no permanent job. Hundreds are Provisional Teachers where we are covering for someone on leave while they are out but still have no permanent position. In 2005, we also agreed to give up the right to grieve file letters thus allowing administrators to say almost anything they want about us and leaving us basically no recourse other than to write a response and wait three years while praying the Department of Education doesn't bring us up on charges. We were also sent back to cafeteria and hall patrol in 2005; we settled for weaker due process and agreed to work a longer school day and year all in exchange for salary increases that barely kept pace with inflation. We were told it is the best we can do.

Union leaders are probably going to call us anti-union if we dissent today in the age of Trump. Nothing would be further from the truth. Many of us are very pro-union and want to see the revival of a militant trade union strategy in the face of the adversity we will surely soon face. Militant trade unionism on behalf of our membership and public education is really our best hope to survive the onslaught that will soon be headed our way.

Don't worry if union leaders or their followers tell us we are going to weaken the union by speaking in opposition to the UFT leadership. We were told for years during the Bloomberg era that dissent within the union was going to be used by our enemies against us. I am not buying that line now as an excuse for the leadership of the UFT, NYSUT and AFT to keep their lofty positions while telling us dissent is anti-union in troubled times.

We are well aware that a new case like Friedrichs to take away automatic dues checkoff for public sector unions is more than likely headed to the Supreme Court soon. We escaped Friedrichs earlier this year only because Justice Antonin Scalia died. A union that stands by its membership will get its dues from the vast majority of its members, automatic checkoff or no automatic checkoff. This is no time to allow Trump to be used as a scare tactic by union bosses to keep ignoring the membership, including ATRS, by saying we must be unified. This leadership is in many ways responsible for the mess we are in by making nice-nice with the politicians who have worked against us.

The remedy for Trumpism, Cuomoism, de Blasioism, or throw in the degenerate politician or party of your choice here, is for the union rank and file to act in a militant way. Organize for that real fight and we will unite. 

As for dissent in times of crisis, the USA held a contested presidential election in 1864 in the middle of the Civil War. When Europe was being overrun by Hitler's army in 1940, Britain's opposition Labor Party helped a revolt against Neville Chamberlain's government that brought it down. 

UFT President Michael Mulgrew last week said we must stand by our core values. I agree. Union democracy is one of those values that cannot be compromised no matter the political situation. Our union needs to fix its structure if it wants to be truly inclusive, particularly when it comes to ATRs who have almost no representation at the Chapter level. 

Now is the time to introduce a series of other reforms to make the UFT a more democratic union such as divisional elections of vice presidents so that the high school teachers exclusively vote for the high school vice president, the middle school teachers exclusively vote for the middle school vice president and so on through the other two divisions. 

It is also time to call for proportional representation for elections for the AFT and NYSUT Conventions so other voices are heard and we don't make any further political endorsements without real discussion from the rank and file. 

Beyond democracy, member grievances need to be taken seriously and if administrators are not working with us, we need to expose them in public. Mayor Bill de Blasio needs us for his reelection. Why would we give him a free ride now?

This is just a start as I am sure the readers of this blog can come up with many other ways to fix the UFT, NYSUT, AFT.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

MORE-ICE SPONSOR MEETING WITH ATRS

The UFT is holding its annual information sessions for Absent Teacher Reserves in November. As an ATR-Provisional Teacher since 2014, I realize that much of what the UFT does in these sessions is top-down and leads to frustration among the ATRs.

To show that there is another way of running a union, MORE-ICE are sponsoring our own interactive session with the ATRS and their supporters.

The meeting will be held on Saturday, November 19th at 1:00 p.m. at the CUNY Graduate Center 5th Avenue between 34th Street & 35th Street in Manhattan on the fifth floor (room 5414-please have ID).  

  • The blogger Chaz will be a featured speaker.
  • UFT Executive Board member Arthur Goldstein will be there.
  • Norm Scott (Ed Notes) will be in attendance.
  • My wife Camille and I will be there.
  • Other notable people from the ranks of the opposition to Unity Caucus will be attending. 
We are not looking to talk down to anyone. We pledge not to tell you that you are lucky to have a job and that in Chicago after schools are closed, teachers have 10 months to find a new position or they are out of a job. If we say that, it will only be quoting the UFT officials.

We do need to share strategies on how to survive as an ATR, how to use the contract to protect yourself and importantly how we can work as a group to further the cause of ATRs.

Here is the agenda from MORE advertising the event. Please spread the word to any ATR-provisional teacher who is in your school or who you know.



History: How the DOE and UFT created this mess starting with the 2005 contract, the 2008 ATR rally, the UFT wine and cheese party, the 2011 deal where ATRS were sacrificed (weekly rotation) for no layoffs, the 2014 agreement plus recent updates.

Know your rights and lack thereof; how to deal with roving supervisors; survival techniques.

We will have an extensive Question and Answer session with former chapter leaders/ATRs on hand to assist you.

Fighting back. What do we want? What can we do to pressure UFT and DOE for change?

Special guests: blogger Chaz's School Daze, Chapter leaders/Delegates: James and Camille Eterno and UFT Executive Board member Arthur Goldstein.

Saturday, Nov. 19, 1:00 PM-4PM
CUNY Grad Center, 5th Ave between 34th and 35th St. Bring ID. Room 5414

RSVP and share with ATRs in your chapter

Sponsored by MORE/UFT and Independent Community of Educators





Friday, November 11, 2016

THREE EMAILS FROM UNION LEADERS TRY TO LIFT THE SPIRITS TODAY

Michael Fiorillo recommended in commenting at the always insightful Perdido Street School that we read the Thomas Frank piece in the Guardian on the election. Frank trashes the Democratic party and media establishment for basically giving us Donald Trump. He includes some tremendous links.  Frank's conclusion:

The American white-collar class just spent the year rallying around a super-competent professional (who really wasn't all that competent) and either insulting or silencing everyone who didn't accept their assessment. And then they lost. Maybe it's time to consider whether there's something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.

The even larger problem is that there is a kind of chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years, a hubris that tells Democrats they need do nothing different, they need deliver nothing really to anyone - except their friends on the Google jet and those nice people at Goldman. The rest of us are treated as though we have nowhere else to go and no role to play except to vote enthusiastically on the grounds that these Democrats are the "last thing standing" between us and the end of the world. It is a liberalism of the rich, it has failed the middle class, and now it has failed on its own terms of electability. Enough with these comfortable Democrats and their cozy Washington system. Enough with Clintonism and its prideful air of professional-class virtue. Enough!

From Perdido:

Clinton shills did a lot of mocking this year, first the Sanders people during the primary, then the Trump supporters during the general.

One thing Clinton and her shills never did - try and understand the real pain and terror many in this country feel over their economic futures.

A lot of those people sent a big "Fuck You!" to the elites last night, though I think that will come back to bite them in the end.

A Republican president with a Republican Senate and a Republican House is going to do a lot of damage in the short term.

Add in all the crazies Trump is sure to bring along - Rudy, Christie, maybe Palin - and it's even worse.

As for the Supreme Court, that strategy Obama pursued doesn't look so hot now either - the chance to transform the Supreme Court is now lost to Dems.

Remember that union case that ended up 4-4 after Scalia died?

You can bet another like that one is going to rear sooner rather than later and those automatic dues the union elites lap up will go out the window with Clinton's electoral map to victory.

It's going to be a very tough few years.

The "Fuck you!" sent last night, as with the one the British sent with Brexit, is going to be a costly one in the end.

But I blame the Dem elites for this mess - this loss is squarely on HRC and her neoliberal cohorts.

On the same day that I read these pieces I opened my email box and there were emails from UFT President Michael Mulgrew, NYSUT President Karen Magee and AFT President Randi Weingarten. All three of these esteemed Democratic elites wrote on the same afternoon.

I am printing each in its entirety below and asking you if our leaders at the city, state and national level hit the right chord after Tuesday's latest election disaster?

Will there be any acceptance of any responsibility?

James,

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton understood working families have been left behind by a changing economy, punctuated by the last recession, and that anger is reflected in the results. While Hillary Clinton seems on track to win the popular vote, more people in more states trusted Donald Trump to bring the change they need than trusted Hillary.

Throughout this campaign, Donald Trump promised to fix the rigged economy. He promised to restore America’s middle class, to bring back the country’s manufacturing and industrial base, and to restore dignity and opportunity for Americans—values that we as trade unionists understand intimately. He said last night that he would bring the country together—something that is essential, given the bullying and bigotry unleashed in this election. And as unionists, we will work tirelessly to ensure that all people can reach for their dreams, economically, educationally and otherwise.

We believe deeply in our democracy. We accept the will of the people, and, as Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday, we owe President-elect Trump the chance to lead. We will also hold him accountable for the promises he made to restore the sense of greatness and opportunity that too many Americans feel they have lost, while at the same time we will continue the fight for everyone’s liberties.

As Hillary said yesterday morning, the American dream is big enough for everyone, and fighting for what’s right is worth it. She called on us not to lose faith, not to be discouraged, not to lose heart. As we work to restore economic opportunity and dignity, we must—and we will—stand up to the tides of intolerance. We will ensure that the vulnerable, the bullied and the forgotten are not targeted or abandoned; that our rights are preserved for all communities; that our democracy is not eclipsed; and that our movements and values—like labor, public education, access to healthcare, a clean environment, civil rights and so much more—are not forgotten or devastated.

Though heartbroken at this result, this was about economic change and a yearning for change, not an undermining of all things we hold dear like public schools. Across the country in local races—from ballot initiatives in Georgia and Massachusetts, to school boards in New Orleans and Corpus Christi, to levies that will support schools in Cincinnati, Cleveland and the San Francisco Community College District, to Proposition 55 in California and much more—voters chose to lift up and protect the institution of public education. Our members across the country worked hard not just for Hillary, but for their local schools, their hospitals, their public services—and many prevailed.

We poured our hopes, our energy and our hearts into this campaign to elect someone we believed would bring the change we do desperately need. It breaks our hearts that the Hillary Clinton we know and love was not the person so many voters saw. But our deep belief in our democracy, in the power of people together, in the cause of opportunity and justice, will compel us to come together to move forward, no matter the odds.

We will do what Americans have always done. We will pick ourselves up, extend a hand to our neighbors and our colleagues, and recommit ourselves to the task of fighting for an America where everyone has a fair chance; where no one is demonized, no one is excluded; and where we lift each other up rather than let anyone—even a president—push any of us down.
In unity,

Randi Weingarten
AFT President



Karen's notes: Moving forward

On Tuesday, we exercised our privileged right to vote ... a right that has been secured and defended for us by generations of veterans. Today, as always, I stand in awe of their service and the many sacrifices they have made and continue to make in service of our country. Please join me in thanking all veterans for defending and protecting our beautiful democracy.

On Wednesday morning, we awoke to a very different world than the one we were anticipating. The outcome of Tuesday's vote was not what most of us expected nor hoped for, but it is our reality. Fortunately, it is a reality for which we have spent the last three years preparing, following our mantra of educate, organize and mobilize.

In the wake of the Friedrichs decision last March, I said: We may have dodged a bullet, but other attacks will surely follow. Now, we may not have predicted the results of this election, and we don't know the magnitude of the attacks that are to come, but our efforts to energize and mobilize our members leave us in a position where we are ready to stand in defense of students, parents and educators in New York State.

As my colleague, Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta, said on Wednesday morning, NYSUT stands by the same values we did before the election. We vow to continue to protect public education, quality health care, opportunity and equality for all. Here's more on NYSUT's election efforts from Andy.

Thank you to all who worked so hard on campaigns in New York, as well as NYSUT volunteers in battleground states. We will need all that energy and dedication, and more, in the future. As Hillary Clinton said so eloquently in her concession speech, fighting for what's right is always worth it. We will continue to do what we have been doing for the last three years: educate, organize, and mobilize our members, our friends, and our families. It is our right and our privilege to do so.


Dear James,
Given the import of this week’s events, I decided that instead of a Chapter Leader Update, I would send you this email addressing the election results and its ramifications on our schools, our students and our union.
I know the election results have left many of us shell-shocked. Many are worried about what the future holds for our families and our nation. And as public school educators, we are worried about the children in our care — the undocumented immigrants, the children in poverty, the Muslims, the LGBTQ kids.
As chapter leaders and union delegates, you can provide a safe place for members to talk and to lean on each other as we navigate the road ahead. As educators, we have to keep our own emotions at bay at school as we are called upon to answer our students’ questions, ensure that they feel safe and valued, and keep them inspired and focused on their education.
At our Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, you shared powerful and heartbreaking stories about your first day back at school. A teacher at International HS at Union Square relayed that an 11th-grader confided to him that her dream of going to college died the day before and her parents had started talking about moving back to their home country. A Queens teacher had to calm the fears of one 3rd-grader that World War III was coming. A Bronx high school teacher shared how she changed the topic of the Socratic seminar she had planned from Shakespeare to the election. 
In times like these, we have to hold fast to our core beliefs: that public education is critical to the future of this country; that all communities inside our school communities deserve respect and dignity; and that workers have a right to unionize and be treated fairly.
In the months and years ahead, we are going to face some of the greatest challenges that this union and its members have ever faced. There will be seismic policy shifts with Trump as president, both houses of Congress in Republican hands and the U.S. Supreme Court with a right-wing majority. We always try to work with people first but if they attack one of our core beliefs, we have no choice as a union but to fight. This is an opportunity for us to organize, both among our own members and with others in our communities.
How we fare in this battle will come down to the grit we have. We can draw strength from knowing that our fights have always been righteous fights. We will work with those who share our values — including parent and community groups and civil rights and immigrant rights associations — because we know we are more powerful when we stand together.
We must keep moving forward. Our families, our students and the communities we serve are depending on us. We will get through this together.
I thank you for all that you do.
Sincerely,
Michael Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew



Wednesday, November 09, 2016

LIVE BLOGGING FROM DA (Updated)

President's Report
I came in when President Mulgrew was talking about some positive news from the election when it came to public schools. Massachusetts charter cap lift and Georgia vouchers both went down by big margins. Public education initiatives went well in other states and cities as well. Legalizing Marijuana had a good day too.

The ugly
Donald Trump's win means Republicans have control of the Presidency, both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court. We have never faced a challenge like this but we must stay true to our core beliefs. Need to work with mayor and governor. People were crying in public transportation today. We do not have enough counselors to deal with grief in schools. Mulgrew asks people what happened at schools today. Says we must get a plan together to stop privatization of public education but now we need to listen. He then dispensed with the regular agenda to allow the Delegates to talk about their feelings on the election.

Discussion on Election
Delegates shared some thoughts about kids and how they felt in schools today. Someone did mention that Hillary Clinton got more votes than Trump.

(I am not reporting on what some individual Delegates said but there were touching moments, particularly when talking about immigrant students and their fears.)

Mulgrew said union is at its best when fighting for what it believes in.

Interesting question on how to handle teachers who are Trump supporters?
Mulgrew said many Trump supporters were just voting for change. Others different. Cities will be targeted in Title I education cuts. Letter to Obama on putting John King in check on ESSA regulations. Must focus on progress in schools. Only one school in danger this year in NYC. Next political challenge will be fighting NYS constitutional convention next year that could cut our pensions. Tell members your vote directly affects your own family.

Obama care is dead. We need to protect people as best as we can. One Delegate wanted us to tell minority leader Chuck Shumer we should filibuster everything including Supreme Court nominees.

Mulgrew is looking to organize more in schools and community. Political and legal strategies will be there. We have gone at it alone against Bloomberg. No reason for us to be alone this time. 98% of people want to take care of families and do their jobs. People cannot vote only out of anger. Must go back to schools to support public education. We will be ok but we will get hurt.



Tuesday, November 08, 2016

VOTING ON PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT-ELECTION DAY

My family just returned home from voting. What a crowd at our local school. My wife and I never had to wait on a huge line like that before to vote.

A large turnout is healthy for our democracy but in non-presidential elections where politicians are elected who make some of the most important policy decisions, we barely see anyone at the polls.

For my family, this is the fourth election of the year with the presidential primary, the congressional primary, the assembly primary and now the general election. Camille and I voted in all of them. We took our kids too. Actually, it's election number five if we count the UFT election.

Even though I am a political junkie and enjoy teaching participation in government, I must admit I am totally sick of this election for president and am looking forward to seeing it in the rear view mirror.

How was everyone's Professional Development today? At Middle College it is never stressful and usually somewhat interesting.

Monday, November 07, 2016

SPECIAL ED RULES FROM DOE

Unity's Gene Mann in The Organizer this week has published some of the Department of Education's rules concerning special education otherwise known as Instructional Support Services. Read them closely and then please tell us if your school follows them.

My guess is that since the UFT is extremely weak or nonexistent in so many schools, these rules aren't worth the paper they are printed on or electrons used online.

The kids who are not getting proper services and then are pushed through the system with undeserving passing grades are a real casualty of data driven, make the numbers look right or face consequences, school reform.


From The Organizer:

Fifteen Things You-and Your Supervisors-Need to Know about Special Education
It’s important to know that the material below is directly from a DOE document.  It might be useful to print out the pdf to point out policies-not UFT positions-to your supervisors.  It is available at UFT.org>Teaching Students with Disabilities.
My thanks to Kerry Yefetz, UFT Special Representative for Special Education, for directing us to this crucial information.
 1. What is the difference between the School Implementation Team (SIT) and the school’s Committee on Special Education (CSE) [known as the IEP team]?
The IEP team (which includes the parent) is responsible for developing IEPs. The SIT is a critical structure to facilitate the strategic planning and guidance necessary to ensure the school community is prepared to serve all students. It is responsible, in part, for the timely implementation of IEP mandates. The broad responsibility of the SIT is to develop and carry out an appropriate and effective implementation plan specific to a school’s community.
2. Can a school decide to offer a specific service such as integrated coteaching or special class services, only in particular subjects (such as only locally determined “core” classes) or for a set number of periods? Can budget, availability of staff, and space limitations be considered when recommending special education instructional and related services?
No. All recommendations on a student’s IEP, including the subjects and number of periods for ICT, must be determined by, and designed to address, his/her individual needs. IEP recommendations must not be based on the services currently offered in a school, budget, availability of staff or space limitations, if those services do not meet the student’s needs in his/her Least Restrictive Environment. School leadership should work closely with borough field support centers should there be need for additional resources.
3. Who must participate in an IEP meeting?
Participation requirements differ based on the purpose of the meeting; refer to the SOPM at page 63. When a general education teacher is a required participant in an IEP team meeting, he or she must be present for the entirety of the meeting unless the teacher is excused from all or part of the meeting through written parental consent at least 5 days prior to the meeting. The same rule applies for special education teachers who are required participants.
4. How does the IEP team arrive at appropriate service recommendations? Can someone other than a mandated IEP team member make program and support service recommendations?
All special education program and service recommendations are made by the IEP team during the IEP meeting. All members of the IEP team, mandated or not, may participate in the meeting in full. IEP teams are expected to reach their decision through a consensus building process. This does not mean that all members of the IEP team must agree, but rather that they have, through careful review of all information and perspectives, developed recommendations that are appropriate for the student. If the IEP team cannot reach consensus on the recommended program and services, the District Representative makes the final determination.
5. When is it appropriate to amend an IEP after the annual review without an IEP team meeting?
In general, only minor changes in the IEP should be made without an IEP team meeting. Before an IEP can be amended without an IEP meeting, the IEP team must clearly describe all proposed changes on the Waiver of IEP Meeting to Amend IEP form (in SESIS), which must include a clear description of all proposed changes, and send the form to the parent. Additionally, the IEP team designee must discuss with the parent any and all changes that are being considered. If the parent does not agree to the proposed changes, the changes cannot be made without an IEP team meeting. Refer to the SOPM pages 72  73 for more information.
6. When students are recommended for special class or ICT for less than the full school day, how should they be programmed for the remaining periods?
As noted in the December 9, 2015 Principals’ Weekly, for all subjects for which a student’s IEP does not recommend special education services, the student must receive instruction in a general education class with his/her peers who do not have disabilities.
7. How do you functionally group students?
For special class, SETSS, ICT, and related services, students with disabilities must be grouped by similarity of individual needs, so that the provider may address the needs of each student in the group. Each student’s characteristics in the following areas must be considered: academic achievement, functional performance and learning characteristics; social development; physical development; management needs. Students with different disability classifications may be grouped together.
8. What are the required components of a successful ICT program?
ICT is an instructional model that allows students with disabilities to be educated with ageappropriate peers without disabilities in the general education classroom with the support of a special education teacher to deliver specially designed instruction and accommodate and modify instruction, as needed. One general education and one special education teacher share accountability for the planning, delivery of instruction, and assessment for all students. Teachers collaboratively plan, prepare, and facilitate lessons, activities, and projects. Coteachers must be provided regular common planning time during the work day (i.e., time dedicated for Professional Development; time dedicated for Other Professional Work; professional activity assignments; and prep periods). They should also participate together in professional development to learn the various models of coteaching and the appropriate uses and limitations of each model. ICT may be provided fulltime, for less than the entire day, or on an individual subject basis, as set out in IEP recommendations based on each student’s individual need.
9. What does it mean when an ICT class is “out of compliance”?
In New York City, the maximum number of students with disabilities in an ICT class may not exceed 40% of the total class register. State regulations limit the total number of students with disabilities in an ICT class to 12. The 40% limit and total of 12 includes any student with a disability in the class, regardless of IEP recommendation. NYSED allows one additional student with a disability to be added to a particular period or class (for a total of 13) after the start of the school year when it receives notification within 10 days of the student joining the class. The 13th student may be added only when the Special Education Office at Central has approved the placement and notified NYSED. See further information.
10. What is Chapter 408 and what does it require?
Chapter 408 refers to state law and corresponding regulations requiring that: (1) each provider responsible for implementing a student’s IEP (including general and special education teachers, related service providers, and other service providers), be provided with electronic access to, or a copy of, the student’s IEP prior to the IEP’s implementation; (2) the student’s IEP remain confidential; and (3) each staff member responsible for implementing the student’s IEP (including the paraprofessional) is informed of his or her specific responsibilities in order to ensure proper implementation. Each paraprofessional must have the ongoing opportunity to review a copy of the student’s IEP. See more information.
11. Are mandated providers, including special education and general education teachers in ICT classes, allowed to cover other duties during provision of service time?
No. As noted in the April 28, 2015 Principals’ Weekly, professionals who are obligated to provide services as mandated on IEPs (including special education teachers, general education teachers in ICT classes, related service providers, and paraprofessionals) must serve each student as mandated and may not be assigned to other duties (such as exam scoring or coverage/proctoring for other classes) that would prevent them from doing so, except in extraordinary circumstances. Substitute coverage for both general and special education teachers must be arranged when being asked to score exams.
12. What is the timeline for completing initial evaluations, requested reevaluations and threeyear mandated reviews?
The DOE has 60 calendar days to evaluate a child after receiving parent consent and 60 school days from consent to evaluate to provide the placement recommended in the initial IEP. If the child is receiving special education services, the DOE must provide the recommended placement within 60 school days of the referral for reevaluation. Please refer to the SOPM beginning at page 46.
13. Can staff members request that a child be initially evaluated?
A teacher, or other professional staff member, may request that a child be evaluated by completing the Request for Referral form (in SESIS). After receiving the request, the principal must take one of two actions within 10 school days: (1) request parental consent to evaluate or (2) provide the parent with a copy of the request and offer the parent the opportunity to discuss the request with the building administrator and the professional staff member who requested the referral. For more information please refer to the SOPM at page 25.
14. Can staff members request a reevaluation?
A student’s teacher or related service provider may make a referral for a reevaluation. Please refer to the SOPM at page 30.
15. Are there any limits on a parent’s right to refer their child for evaluation?
No. Parents may request an initial evaluation at any time (including prior to or during the implementation of Response to Intervention strategies) to determine if their child is eligible for special education services, unless the student has received a high school diploma or turned 21 prior to September 1 of the school year in question.