We sometimes actually convince our Union to do what is right. Last month we complained here about how the UFT Vice Presidents for High Schools Janella Hinds and Sterling Roberson went right around Chapter Leader Arthur Goldstein and arranged for a Meet the Vice Presidents meeting for Francis Lewis High School. This violated decades of UFT protocol which says that the Chapter Leader is the Union in the school.
We are happy to report this morning that yesterday in my email box was something from the HS Veeps saying that there would be Meet the Vice Presidents events at Queens Vocational on December 14, Martin Van Buren HS on January 11 and John Adams High School on February 1. The Francis Lewis event was cancelled.
Meanwhile, Arthur continues to fight for the membership at the UFT Executive Board. Here is a question and lack of an answer from his Executive Board report from last evening:
Arthur Goldstein—MORE—A year ago I came to this committee with a class size resolution. This was inspired largely by an arbitrator who felt the way to address class sizes was to relieve teachers from one C6 assignment a week, which I found idiotic. I was told the arbitrator had previously made more lucid decisions, so It wasn’t so bad.
Members of this board told me that we had made sacrifices to have class size written into the contract. They neglected to note that said sacrifices took place half a century ago, when many of us were either toddlers or not even born. I placed a piece in the Daily News about this.
I’ve taught oversized classes, and I can tell you that one additional planning period is not the support we need. Teachers need help right there in the classroom. That’s why, the following semester, that I proposed adding an extra teacher certified in the subject matter to each oversized class. That way, students could get more attention from both teachers. In the event schools were not as overcrowded as mine, teachers could send small groups with the other teacher to get caught up.
The following semester, the next arbitrator ruled for exactly that. Unfortunately, by the time it was enforced there were only days remaining in the school year. I was told there was now a new committee, and that we could use it before going to arbitration. I read enthusiastic reports from chapter leaders saying if the committee didn’t work out, that we could go to arbitrators.
This year I went for another class size hearing. This year, a new arbitrator ruled again that my people would get one day off from C6 assignments if they had oversized classes. Hey, it’s great that you have a committee. Maybe it’s great that you meet and do whatever you do. Certainly people like me, chapter leader of a school with chronic overcrowding and oversized classes, haven’t got the remotest notion. You regularly report neither to chapter leaders nor to this committee.
If we are in the same place as we were last year, maybe we should rethink this committee.
I have a few questions about this:
What are we going to do about rampant class size violations and ridiculous so-called plans of action?
What are we doing to enforce the C4E ruling?
Will this body work with the high school reps to craft a resolution and/ or strategy?
Ellen Procida—says fewer than last year, can get number. Committee aware of request, but there may be people assigned to your school to help. It is my understanding ATRs may push into classes.
Schoor—We are open to meet with you.
As for Janella, did she really say that the UFT takes responsibility when schools close or are reorganized and staff have to reapply for their jobs? Maybe this is a misprint. Staff has virtually nothing to do with why schools supposedly fail. Forget poverty, lack of resources, misplaced resources, poor school leadership and much more, it's our responsibility?
From Arthur's report, this is the Question and Answer with Janella and New Action's Jonathan Halabi:
Jonathan Halabi—New Action—Teacher in Bronx for 20 years. At DeWitt Clinton people ask what they’ve done wrong that they have to apply for jobs again.
Janella Hinds—Always difficult when we face these situations. I experienced school closure. We take responsibility even though it’s not necessarily our fault. UFT had to decide next step. Closure was possible. Idea of restaffing was then proposed. UFT negotiated terms of process. Both proposals disruptive, but we believe keeping schools intact was best alternative. Similar to “out of time.” Schools were not named thus, but were in similar situation.
While Janella and Sterling are decent people, I very much doubt the members will be beating down the doors to get into the Meet the Vice Presidents meetings.