Saturday, January 20, 2018


The American Federation of Teachers put out a press release announcing that the Union has filed an Amicus brief in the case of Janus vs AFSCME.

For those living in a cave (far too many public employees fit this category I fear) who have not been following developments, this is the case that looks to make union dues optional in the public sector. The argument from Mark Janus that agency fees for non-union members violate free speech rights of public employees who do not join a union because everything a union does with a government employer is political so forcing public sector workers to pay fair share fees is a violation of First Amendment free speech rights.

The argument from the defense is that since all employees benefit from the collective bargaining unions do, therefore everyone has to pay for collective bargaining. No free riders.

Here is what AFT President Randi Weingarten said in the AFT press release:

“The fight for prosperity and opportunity for all, embodied by the labor movement, is an anathema to the corporate backers of this case—the people funding it are the same people attacking civil rights, attacking voting rights and attacking public education.
“This case warps and weaponizes the First Amendment by enabling one person’s complaint—without any record or evidence—to undermine the interests of millions of workers across the country who benefit from collective bargaining. And it suggests that collective bargaining, which operates just like any other workplace consultation process, should draw far more constitutional scrutiny than its equivalents.
“The current law has preserved labor peace for four decades by balancing the interests of workers and employers and fostering partnerships to improve school districts and other public sector workplaces. We argue that engaging in collective bargaining is constitutionally no different than the state paying a consultant to advise it on employment relations issues. Further, the plaintiff’s argument is a dishonest rejection of established legal precedent, reaffirmed many times, and therefore must fail.
“I am confident that if the nine justices of the Supreme Court consider this case on the merits, not ideologically, they would agree.”
Unfortunately Randi, I think most of us would agree that five of those nine justices (John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Neal Gorsuch) will consider the case on ideological grounds and will bend the constitutional reasoning to fit their right wing point of view. I fully expect the unions to lose the case and what happens after that depends on how the decision is written and what the reaction is.
If you want to know why so few union members are shedding tears over the probable loss in this case, read this part of Randi's statement very closely, "The current law has preserved labor peace for four decades by balancing the interests of workers and employers and fostering partnerships to improve school districts and other public sector workplaces." She's kind of arguing something we all know: that we are company unions. Those partnerships she talks about are dominated by management. See NYC teachers for evidence.

Friday, January 19, 2018


Harris Lirtzman is a retired teacher who once worked for both the New York State Comptroller and the NYC Comptroller. He is our unofficial ICEblog budget expert. Last night he commented on our analysis of Arthur Goldstein's January Delegate Assembly report where UFT President Michael Mulgrew spent some time covering Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal.

Mulgrew made our governor student of the month. One idea Cuomo has would replace or change the state income tax (no longer federally tax deductible) to a payroll tax. Another is to turn state taxes into charitable contributions (still federally tax deductible).

Harris commented here last night:

Harris L. said...
All Mulgrew's blithering about how NYS will be able to find a practicable way to replace the now-limited deductibility of income and property taxes by making state taxes "charitable contributions" or by replacing the income tax with Rube Goldberg-type changes to payroll taxes is just that, blithering.

Nobody knows what the governor's talking about. The few bread crumbs he's dropped randomly in press conferences make no sense to budget and tax people who do this stuff for a living.
Mulgrew can wish it were so but he ought not put around the idea that pressures on state and local budgets resulting from the damnable federal tax law can be easily waived away by some state-based shenanigans that the IRS would disallow anyway.

Harris supported his comment by sending me an article from the NY Times which shows how complicated Cuomo's tax proposal would be.

From the Times:
The report, released this week, laid out at least a half-dozen ways New York could rewrite its tax code, with no indication of which option legislators might pursue. There was a potpourri of progressive rates, wage credits and tax-withholding schemes, with officials cautioning that all the options would require further study. No bills have been drafted.

The possibilities included completely replacing the state income tax with an employer-side payroll tax; introducing a new progressive payroll tax in addition to the existing income tax, with tax credits to make up the difference; or designing a payroll tax only for wage earners above a certain income threshold — the taxpayers most likely to be hurt by the federal tax plan in the first place. Some versions would be mandatory. Others would be opt-in.

More than anything, the report illustrated how difficult it may be to turn academic theory into real policy, serving as a cautionary guide to other states contemplating similar options. And it underscored the political challenges that lie ahead for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, as he seeks to sell a new payroll tax that could slightly reduce workers' wages, even though the net payout, after taxes, would remain the same.

To sum it all up, a grand tax rewrite to get around the federal tax changes is not likely to pass in Albany.  Still our governor, who is probably eying the White House for 2020, is Mulgrew's student of the month. 

Hey, states rights are cool nowadays. You never know but I haven't forgotten Cuomo's anti-teacher, anti-public school, anti-labor record.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Family matters kept me away from the January Delegate Assembly. Fortunately, Arthur Goldstein was there and filed a report.

You can read it here.

I will quote one specific line from President Michael Mulgrew's report:

UFT is largest most powerful union in USA.

Does the word delusional come to mind or are you glowing with union pride in hearing our President boast about our size and strength?

Here is what Arthur said Mulgrew reported about the NY State budget:

State—Governor rolled out budget. Good things about public ed. Got large applause when he said NY State would protect union and workers. Proud NY State spends more on ed. than other states. Says we have educated him, are highly effective.

Budget proposal—two year process—have to meet minimums from last year—1.5% increase in education. Came in with 3% increase instead. He’s signaling he doesn’t know if he can get much further. Also, health care 3%. Important for students and communities we serve. We will not get involved in fights with health care workers, will have mutual support.

More important is idea of restructuring taxes in NY State. We will get a huge budget cut next year. Governor has taken lead and said in this. Federal tax plan specifically goes after 12 states, donor states, including us. We pay for services, 48 billion more than we get back. Being used in states that got tax break.

Now we are punished for not supporting candidates who passed that tax bill. Will cost NY 14 billion additional next year. Governor trying to give us deductions back. Will probably be used to give governor and corporations tax breaks.

NY State will create tax credit for charitable funds. 10K limit for state, local taxes, and mortgagee. Other piece is payroll tax, still deductible. We may lower income tax and increase payroll tax to use as a deduction.

Feds will call It outrageous. NY is acting like a corporation. Sad we’ve gotten to the point we even have to look at this, but if not, we will be hurt—individually, and our schools will hurt too.. We will work with governor to not allow fed scheme to hurt us.

Governor now gets student of the month, star on refrigerator, we must keep him there.

Cuomo student of the month? Ouch.

Staff Director Leroy Barr later in the meeting spoke against a MORE resolution calling for the UFT to support Black Lives Matter week in February. Leroy opposed it because he claimed it was a splinter issue. (I think he meant to say splitter because it would split the membership.) Leroy as reported by Arthur then said, "Many years ago, Vietnam War was splinter issue. UFT said, we’re not going to politically engage in that.Would take us away from main issues. Membership must be aware of attacks coming in next three months. We need to stay focused to stay largest and most powerful union."

Here we go again with the "most powerful union" line. If we are the most powerful union, why do so many of us feel we are treated like crap by the DOE and city? We can't even get two observations per year like just about every other school district in the state has. We can't get ATR's permanent jobs. Powerful?

DA voted down support for the Black Lives Matter week. (Some of our right wing people who comment are going to be happy about that. Will you give the UFT credit?)

I will try to attend the February DA meeting but don't feel I missed much in January. 


David Bloomield is a CUNY Education Professor. The NY Post asked him to do an op-ed on who the next NYC schools chancellor should be. Bloomfield writes a rational piece and proposes some real candidates who are not against teachers to be the chancellor.

It is the Post so a few of the teacher bashers like John King are raised just like they were in the almost completely anti-teacher candidates put forward by a NY Times editorial. However, Bloomfield in the Post puts forward qualified candidates, for example Josh Starr, who certainly are not known for blaming teachers for the problems in education.

If Bill de Blasio were bold and really wanted to show off his progressive credentials, he would take on the charters and stand up for public education as a signature issue. It might make a few donors unhappy but he would win politically. I don't see that happening but you never know.

More likely, we can expect more of the same of Bloomberg lite, featuring closing schools, testing, testing and more testing, continued pressure on teachers to pass students who do not deserve to in order to make statistics look good and lawyers everywhere to attack us.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Mike Schirtzer is a UFT Executive Board member from the opposition to Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus and a Delegate. He also is a teacher at Leon Goldstein High School in Brooklyn. Mike is one of the few people who could really revive the UFT.

On Facebook Mike concludes Martin Luther King does not belong to either the right or the left. Asking to be judged by the content of your character as opposed to the color of your skin seems kind of out of place for both sides nowadays.

Mike's post is below.

Reverend Dr. King does not belong to the right or the left. 

The right can not support a racist and bigot, implement policies that favor one group over another, allow poor people to starve, and expand income inequality and then claim to honor King; how dare they. 

As for the left, he was a man of God and religion, that which you (the left) openly detest, he brought people together, he kept his eye on the prize, he connected class and race, he saw voting and politics as valuable, knew winning was important, and he called out the nations and its leaders for their racism on a daily basis; you have no right to claim him either.

Monday, January 15, 2018


The mainstream media, with a few exceptions, is generally very biased against teachers. This goes for the left, the right and the center. Anyone looking to see a firsthand anti-teacher, anti-public school editorial, just read yesterday's NY Times piece suggesting a rogues' gallery of blame the teachers, pro charter school candidates for Chancellor to replace retiring Carmen Farina. It reads as though the Times editorial board just asked the worst Chancellor ever, Joel Klein, who he would choose for Chancellor.

The Times suggests anti-teacher administrators from former Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky to the infamous John White, to the awful John King and not much better in between to take over the NYC schools. This is supposed to be the"liberal" N.Y. Times.

I would like to ask some real progressives who they would pick. I keep hearing about a national search for Chancellor but since the teacher bashers have had their way for so long, is there a pro-teacher person out there who would take the job?

We certainly could do worse than a Rudy Crew 2.0 but he might prefer CUNY Chancellor.

Or, perhaps, someone like Joe Rella from Port Jefferson Station would be an excellent pro-teacher Chancellor.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Today (Sunday, January 14) is the last day to spend Teacher's Choice money. The accountability forms are due to your school by Friday (January 19). I have copied the UFT part of the Chapter Leaders Update on Teacher's Choice below. I also have a question for our readers:

What do you spend most of your Teacher's Choice money on?

I know of teachers who spend plenty of money buying many boxes of tissues for their students. I spend on ink cartridges which dry up very quickly these days. But what I've noticed in looking at receipts is that I spend too much of my Teacher's Choice on dry erase markers.

The ones the school provides tend to dry out almost instantly and the ones I buy seldom last more than a couple of days before they start to dry and the kids start to complain that they can't see what I write. (Yes, I usually remember to keep the caps on when not writing.) I don't think I write too much. I certainly write less at Middle College with its better technology than I did at Jamaica High School.

I haven't used chalk for years but I'm sure it used to last longer than the markers. Then again, there is no mess with the markers.

Happy Teacher's Choice last minute spending. Don't forget to do the accountability forms. Enjoy the long weekend.

This is from the UFT January 12, 2018 Chapter Leader Update:

Submit Teacher’s Choice receipts by Jan. 19 — or forfeit your allotment

All members who received Teacher’s Choice funds must submit their purchase receipts and the Teacher’s Choice Accountability Form detailing these purchases to their payroll secretary by next Friday, Jan. 19. Members who received Teacher’s Choice funds and do not file an accountability form with the required receipts by the deadline will be obligated to pay back the money to the Department of Education. Educators in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool should submit their receipts to the administration of the school to which they are assigned on Jan. 19. The deadline for spending Teacher’s Choice funds is Sunday, Jan. 14. For more detailed information about the Teacher’s Choice program, go to the Teacher’s Choice section of the UFT website.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


In case you thought the opt out from testing movement was slowing down, this came to me from ST Caucus.

Friday, January 12, 2018


The UFT is trying to convince our members to stay in the union after the US Supreme Court almost certainly will rule that union dues are optional for employees in the public sector in the Janus vs AFSCME case.

What do you think of President Mulgrew's plan to save our union?

Dear James,

With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to hear oral arguments in the anti-union Janus v. AFSCME court case on Feb. 26, we are about to enter a new and dangerous phase for public-sector unions, including ours, that could imperil all the rights and benefits the labor movement has fought for over the years.

At this critical moment, are you willing to help keep the union alive and strong in your building?

Membership teams are being set up in every school or workplace. We are reaching out to you as a UFT delegate to invite you to help create the membership team for your chapter.

The team will be responsible for educating fellow members about the serious dangers posed by the Janus case and to build a sense of unity as we prepare to confront the challenges ahead. The membership team must be representative of the members in your building — that’s why, for instance, we want the para rep or another para to be part of the team.

Membership team members will be asked to attend one training session at their local UFT borough office. The team’s work will be done at the school site, mostly during school hours.

As a first step, membership team members will be having one-on-one conversations with all the members in their chapter to educate them about the Janus case and address any questions and concerns these members may have about how the case affects them. The membership team will also be engaged in organizing workplace actions to build union solidarity in each chapter.

We cannot let our enemies divide us. When the Janus ruling comes down, our fate will rest in our own hands. Only if we stay united as UFT members will we stave off this attack on the hard-fought rights and benefits of every UFT member.

Thank you for everything you do.


Michael Mulgrew

UFT President

Thursday, January 11, 2018


The Mayor is playing tough on paid parental leave but don't worry, the UFT is starting an email campaign. I'm sure Mayor de Blasio is scared. On the other hand, I guess we have to start somewhere and some action for something is better than nothing.

Michael Mulgrew's email to members:

Dear James,

Mayor Bill de Blasio made headlines in 2015 when he promised paid parental leave for city employees. Two years later, his administration and the Department of Education have failed to extend that benefit to public school educators — the very people who have devoted their lives to caring for the city's children.

That’s not progressive — that’s just wrong.

Please send an email NOW to Mayor Bill de Blasio telling him to support paid parental leave for UFT members. And ask your local Council member to support the UFT push for paid parental leave.

It’s time for the de Blasio administration to deal fairly with public school educators. We need the help of our Council reps to get that message across to him.

Thank you for taking action.


Michael Mulgrew

UFT President

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Below is an entire email I received from Stronger Together (ST Caucus) showing how NYSUT has done very little to implement resolutions that were passed by the NYSUT Representative Assembly to oppose mandatory use of student performance measures in teacher evaluations and more. ST Caucus is the state opposition to Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus

We see the UFT leadership, as usual, as the ones that are blocking a push for meaningful teacher evaluation law changes up in Albany.

James --
Happy New Year! We want to wish you a healthy and productive 2018.
As we approach the upcoming NYSUT Representative Assembly, we want to update you on NYSUT leadership’s progress in implementing resolutions adopted at the Representative Assembly. Monitoring the progress of resolution implementation is critical in understanding the health of NYSUT as a democratic body. The NYSUT Constitution places the Representative Assembly as the highest governing authority in NYSUT, with the exception of direct referendum of the entire membership. In short, once the Representative Assembly adopts a resolution it is NYSUT’s policy, and the degree to which our officers implement that resolution, is a direct measure of the health of NYSUT as a democracy where our strength derives from the collective will of the members.  
One of the resolutions we are watching closely is Resolution 17 Resolution to Oppose Mandatory Use of Student Performance Measures which requires NYSUT to lobby lawmakers to make any Student Performance Measure non-mandatory as part of the APPR. This issue is all the more important as we near the end of the moratorium on the use of SED provided growth scores on the APPR. Despite the adoption of this resolution, NYSUT failed to update its APPR talking points to be used for in district lobbying days last year. Andy Pallotta and Jolene DiBrango have said, in person to unionists, that they are lobbying for the elimination of mandated student performance measures, yet we can find no reference to this position in any lobbying material or NYSUT publication. This is alarming on several levels. In fact, Jolene was recently on Susan Arbetter’s Capitol Pressroom program and she only mentioned the elimination of tests from APPR, not all student performance measures, as is NYSUT’s policy.  
It is clear that we need to change the APPR law; it is also clear that there are no valid and reliable ways to incorporate student performance into a teacher evaluation system. It is concerning to us that NYSUT is squandering precious time in this debate by its muddying of the waters with respect to our desired outcome. It is irrational to expect at the end of this process we will have an APPR that is free from unsound student performance measures, if we have never asked or lobbied for them to be removed.  
Another resolution adopted at the Representative Assembly was Resolution 15NYSUT Oppose Teacher Participation in Generating Test Questions for the New York 3-8 Math and ELA State Assessments,which required NYSUT to refuse to participate in any endeavor to promote, support or organize efforts to have teachers write test items for the 3-8 math and ELA state assessments until the benchmarks have been corrected. While NYSUT is complying with the letter of the resolution, they are not in compliance with the spirit of the resolution. The ineffective advocacy on this issue makes us look foolish as can be seen in this Daily News article. This is simply ineffective and inexcusable advocacy on an issue that we have taken a position on in each of the last three RAs. In 2016 we adopted Resolution 9 Oppose the Current College and Career Readiness Standards Created by NYSED and a Call for their Replacement, which required that the “NYSUT officers shall develop, and send digitally, an open letter to the parents of New York explaining how the benchmarks have contributed to a false narrative of failure and ultimately hurt children, digitally forward such letter to the editorial boards of major newspapers and make it available to members and parents and other electronic means, as may be appropriate.” Had NYSUT done this, our position on writing test questions would have been much more clear and effective.  
It is clear from the work NYSUT has done on the Constitutional Convention that NYSUT knows how to sway the public’s perception on an issue. It is also clear that the membership is expecting the same dedication it brought to a transactional issue like the Con Con, to our transformational issues that deeply impact the professional lives of our members. Every Representative Assembly is a test to determine the health of NYSUT and value of our collective participation, the metric that we measure these upon is the degree to which NYSUT brings life to the positions adopted. We can see that much still remains to be done.

ST Caucus

Monday, January 08, 2018


Kimberly Watkins is the President of the District 3 Community Education Council. She and ten other members have written a brilliant op-ed in Gotham Gazette calling mayoral control of NYC schools a failure. First, they criticize the renewal school program as a waste of precious resources and then they ask a basic question:

But a simple question remains unanswered – indeed, unasked – from the original mayoral control debate under Mayor Bloomberg: If the mayor has control, for what are the mayor, the schools chancellor, and district superintendents responsible beyond daily operations and basic accountability for the overall system?

I would argue that the answer to that is very little beyond perpetuating an often uncaring, anti-teacher, anti-student, indifferent to parents bureaucracy.

The CEC members continue by explaining how so called school choice is a rigged system in favor of charter schools:

As the elected parent leaders of Community District 3 in Manhattan, we consider this question urgent. Many districts suffer from the question of local accountability; there can be circular finger-pointing among superintendents, principals, and the DOE. Many of the school communities we represent face a crisis not of their own making and for which the Department of Education has taken little responsibility.
In the northernmost part of our district, zoned elementary schools have seen a drop in their enrollment of a full third in the past decade. Leadership under successive mayors has not led to a dramatic renewal of these public schools, but a systematic hollowing out of their enrollment and place in our community.
This is not accidental. Under Mayor Bloomberg, charter schools proliferated through cooperation between his office and charter-friendly politicians in Albany. Today, parents across the city face a wide array of school options, but choice has ballooned in geographic clusters that correlate directly with racially segregated neighborhoods. In District 3’s Harlem neighborhoods, just 36 city blocks, parents send their children to more than 60 different school options inside and outside of the district.
District 3 is not even the most impacted by this failing governance structure. In the South Bronx and all over Brooklyn, public school leaders, parents, and other stakeholders face the same conundrum.

School choice was promised to improve all of our schools through competition, but the results have been far from that. In fact, the lack of transparency surrounding charter schools makes it almost impossible for school districts to predict enrollment, manage their administrations, and develop long term plans. We essentially have a de facto two-school system Department of Education, and that must end.
Across the city, zoned schools in heavily chartered neighborhoods have higher percentages of high-needs children than a decade ago; far higher, in fact, than the surrounding charter schools. Furthermore, district schools are left to “compete” in this complex environment with no assistance from the Department of Education, which leaves principals to “market” themselves with whatever they can shoestring together from already overstretched budgets.

Meanwhile, charter networks such as Success Academy spend lavishly on marketing consultants and direct mail campaigns to attract applicants. And they deliver this marketing via third party transactions that tap into student and family residential information that the DOE licenses, yet won’t provide to traditional public schools for the same purpose. The playing field to compete for students is not level, and nobody in the mayor’s office or DOE is taking responsibility for it, preferring to leverage dwindling enrollments by school mergers, closures, and truncations without looking at key underlying problems.

And the promised systemic improvements to all of our schools? It is nowhere to be seen.
I totally agree.
Before the mayor replaces Chancellor Fariña, we ask that he taps into our collective expertise. We need an educator, with a vision that will permeate to superintendents, an adroit manager, and someone who is willing to go deep into the structure for changes that will heal gaping fissures in the organization. New York City children deserve it.
I don't see that happening but the UFT should be pushing along with the parents for structural changes within the Department of Education.
Thanks to Lisa North for sending out the op-ed.

Sunday, January 07, 2018


Many of our students have more sense than me as NY 1 reported that only 53% of the NYC public school students attended school on Friday.

The Eterno family took a vote late Thursday and split 2-2 on whether to go in on Friday (we take democracy seriously in my house). My daughter is a very dedicated student and my wife is a devoted teacher. They both wanted to go to school. My son and I voted to stay home. I went along with the ladies and went to school but our littlest one spent the day sleeping at his grandmother's. Clearly, he was the smartest in the family at three years of age. That day at pre-school that he missed will more than likely not hinder his development.

My daughter went to school at PS 191Q but her teacher and much of her class were absent. My wife had a difficult journey on the icy subway platforms, stairs and streets but made it to her job at the Academy of American Studies at Lehman College in the Bronx where administration was happy to see her and most of her students in that specialized high school were actually present. I trudged on over across Queens to Middle College and had a fairly easy day.

In case you are interested in the thinking that goes on at City Hall on whether or not to close schools, check out this story from NY 1. The "beautiful day" line from Carmen Farina back in 2014 was something we should all remember maybe as something positive as the public heat the Mayor and Chancellor took after that rather thoughtless remark seems to have had the effect of changing de Blasio's thinking on closing schools during snowstorms.

In the past, we probably would not have had Thursday off. If we had Friday off too, it would have really been a remarkable change from City Hall.

Saturday, January 06, 2018


Three years ago, going after public schools and teachers was a big state government priority for Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address. There were many lines about how making the lives of teachers worse, which was accomplished back in 2015, would improve the state. It did not. Now, public schools and teachers are barely mentioned and we are certainly not emphasized in Cuomo's 2018 State of the State speech.

You can watch it here if you are really bored. You can find out about it here from this CBS NY report. Or, as an alternative, you can read the Village Voice interpretation which is what I did and enjoyed. Their piece is entitled: We Watched Cuomo's State of the State So You Don't Have To. It's kind of a Comedy Central type approach.

Here are some of the best bits for those who don't want to read the whole article.
AG is Aaron Gordon and DC is David Colon.

DC (quoting Cuomo): “Upstate New York is no longer treated as the forgotten stepchild of Albany.”

We now rig bids for upstate just like we do downstate.

AG: Now he’s railing against the federal government, which is always a crowd-pleaser.
DC: A whole lotta rolling back from the federal government.

AG: He said “rolling back” more often than a mid-2000s Walmart commercial.

DC: “Like Fat Joe, the federal government wants to lean back while New York is sent down the tubes.”

AG: 1:55 p.m. review: Cuomo has said absolutely nothing of substance so far.

DC: Ah, more Latin, “carpe diem” this time.

AG: And just like that, he says something of substance! He proposes no public funds be used to settle sexual harassment claims.

DC: Here’s your baby, Aaron, congestion pricing.


AG: Hell yeah, the panel is creating a report with options for the legislature to consider.

DC: I’m mad. I can’t believe we waited for months for a congestion pricing plan and we’re gonna get a report to consider.

AG: Well, that was a whole lot of nothing.

DC: I am apoplectic.

AG: Cuomo says they will challenge the federal tax bill in court as unconstitutional. As the old reporter adage says, wait to report on the lawsuit until it is filed.

DC: “State’s rights” are back, baby, and they’re good again. ::Wolf howl::

AG: So is “repeal and replace”…

Huh, Cuomo says they’re exploring the feasibility of switching from reliance on income to payroll tax. I feel like this is the type of thing you can’t really assess until you actually know what the plan is.

DC: “It’s complicated and it is difficult.”

Well, I can’t remember the last time anything described like that survived Albany.

AG: He keeps saying things like “we have no choice” about systemic issues that have existed for decades that he himself has done nothing to remedy.

DC: No, see, that’s WHY we have no choice. We had choices, we waited around for a few decades, and then, voilà!

AG: This speech has done wonders for making me feel even worse about the future.

I can't argue with that.

Now back to the speech. This is all I could find on the schools from the Village Voice duo:

DC: “We have to expand pre-K to three-year-olds. This was my idea, no one fact-check this.”
Ah, an extension of the “free” college program. “We must pass the DREAM Act,” check off another IDC calamity bingo box.

On the Janus Supreme Court case where union dues for public sector employees will almost definitely become optional in a few months:

AG: A brief bit about standing in solidarity with public sector unions given federal challenges to their legality, which definitely fills me with optimism he will stand up for meaningful MTA cost reforms.

I don't quite know what that stands in solidarity line means but you folks looking to withhold your union dues from what are essentially company unions should not count your chickens before they hatch as the company is standing in solidarity with us.

To sum up the entire speech, we finally have something optimistic from our reporters from the Village Voice.

AG: OK, David, what did you learn?
DC: That Andrew Cuomo will never be president.

Thursday, January 04, 2018


NYC schools will be open Friday. It is extremely cold, snowy and icy. Please be careful getting to and from school.

I was asked in the comments if we had snow days to spare this school year. The answer is we should. NYC teachers are reporting for work 185 days for the 2017-18 school year. 4 conference days are permitted within the state required minimum 180 school days. We should have enough snow days available this year.

Our neighbor to the north, Yonkers, will be closed on Friday. My guess is many other districts will close too. NYC schools are open while surrounding districts are closed or have delayed openings. Now it feels normal. One day of sanity was quite enough, thank you.

My back is aching a bit after shoveling the car out earlier. Thanks to my neighbor for using his snow blower to help me out. I will probably get plowed in again overnight. Regardless, NYC teachers, parents and students will do our best tomorrow. Please be safe. I hope the streets are clear and the buses and trains run on time.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018


Updated: It's nice to be wrong predicting school would be open on Thursday. Earlier we wrote that the odds were against a snow day (see below) based on the forecasts we were seeing at the end of the school day.

Surprise, surprise, schools are closed in NYC for Thursday, January 4, 2018. I called it wrong earlier and am happy to admit it. You never know how these storms will move. Good job de Blasio. You get credit for this one.

I just checked AccuWeather again and they are saying that the chances that NYC gets 3 inches of snow or less are 18% and the chances for more than 6 inches are 17% while there is a 65% chance that NYC gets 3-6 inches. Yes I am pleasantly surprised that they closed schools so early with an 83% probability of 6 inches or less of snow for the city.

Maybe the way the city thinks about when to close schools during snowstorms is really changing for good. Last year they closed schools twice and now once in January this year. That's positive news unless we have to start giving up days in spring break or midwinter recess because schools are closed during minor storms. We'll see.

Below is our original post from 3:18 pm this afternoon:
The talk of the teachers today is about snow.

What are the chances of us getting a snow day for Thursday?

Judging by the forecast I just looked at, I would say the odds are against it.

This looks like the worst kind of storm for teachers and students: bad enough for it to be dangerous for us to travel but not so treacherous that it is totally impossible to get through. I expect NYC schools will be open while many of the suburbs will shut down or have delayed openings.

Maybe Carmen Farina will declare it a beautiful day.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018


As we start 2018, the questions about our contract are heard over and over. The current UFT Contract expires at the end of November. Speculation on our next contract is all around. DC 37 is in negotiations with the city and will probably set a pattern for raises for unionized city workers for our next contracts within a few months. All of the other municipal unions will be stuck with whatever DC 37 agrees to because of pattern bargaining. One union sets a pattern for raises for city workers and then all of the other city unions get basically the same settlement. Pattern bargaining has been upheld by arbitration panels for decades.

We have more information on what the pattern is likely to be by examining State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's December 20, 2017 report on NYC finances.

Right there on page 17 is an explanation of the city's projections on municipal labor settlements for the next round of collective bargaining from its own budget plan:

The November Plan includes resources to fund annual wage increases of 1 percent after the expiration of the current round of collective bargaining. The actual cost of the next round of collective bargaining will be determined through negotiation or arbitration, and could be higher than assumed in the November Plan. Wage increases at the projected inflation rate, for example, would increase costs by $84 million in FY 2018, $276 million in FY 2019, $686 million in FY 2020 and nearly $1.2 billion in FY 2021.

And on page 18:

The City is expected to seek additional health insurance savings with the assistance of the municipal unions to help fund wage increases in the next round of bargaining. 

Figure about 1% from us and 1% from the city and presto: instant labor contracts.

Trump's budget and the federal tax cuts will be used as the excuse to keep raises low.

Does anyone have a different contractual outlook?

Welcome back to school everyone. I hope you had an enjoyable vacation.

Monday, January 01, 2018


School starts tomorrow so we wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year while we still have some time to think about something other than school or family.

For 2017 we posted over 300 times for the first time ever. I doubt if we will be able to keep that pace up in what should be a very eventful 2018 for NYC teachers and our union.

Rest up today, the next few months are going to be quite interesting.