A friend called and patched me through.
At the beginning of the meeting, Senator Chuck Schumer called in. He and Mulgrew spoke. Mulgrew thanked Schumer. Mulgrew told the Senator that there were 20,000 on the call. Schumer said he and his family are public school believers and he and his family went to public schools. He thanked teachers for remote teaching and for doing in-person teaching during the pandemic. Schools reopened and stayed open the whole year. Thanked clerical workers, administrators, and janitors for keeping the school system open. Urgent task is to get school workers vaccinated. Schumer said he fought really hard to get money against moderates and Republicans who didn't want to give the money. Got $2.1 billion sent to schools in Cares Act. Got billions more in December package. Now we are fighting for more in the ARP Biden bill. It is in the bill. We are fighting for it in the Senate. We have a huge amount of money for vaccines. Federal government will set up vaccinating people in our cities and towns. We want everyone vaccinated so schools can open safely in September. $80 billion in new bill. You teachers are my family. Running in 1998, Al D'Amato went after teachers. Was kicking teachers around for a living. Schumer thanks teachers for supporting him back then and sending D'Amato back to Island Park.
January 5 big night and next day in Georgia as our two candidates won and Schumer became majority leader. First New Yorker and first Jew to be majority leader. Schumer knew Pastor Warnock for years. Awesome responsibility to straighten the country out after four years of Trump. Told on Jan 6 that he had to get out of area in Capitol because of insurrectionists. We are going to try to prosecute insurrectionists. We are putting Trump on trial in the US Sand hoping Republicans come to their senses. Loves teachers. They have had his back; he will have our backs.
Mulgrew Question: After COVID-19 pandemic, we are going to have a big challenge on how to deal with trauma people have been through for loss of learning?
Schumer answer: We will sit down with teachers from around the country and figure out a way to have a program to deal with this.
Question from UFTer: Will money be earmarked from federal government right to schools?
Answer: Yes we will not allow supplanting. Schools should be made whole, not half whole.
Schumer says Chuck Schumer and teachers are going to be one. It's not easy with 50 votes but he will work hard.
Schumer leaves to vote.
Two snow days this week. State has accepted a plan saying we have 180 days. Snow days are remote learning days this year. Not sure what will be in the future.
We are filing arbitration for lost spring break days last year as soon as arbitration is open.
Contract is very tight now because we can't open up before labor day or go past June 27. We have lots of holidays because we are diverse but we don't want to work beyond our end date.
Testing in school system is heading in the right direction. Positivity rate around.6 or.5%. We have closed hundreds of schools to protect everyone. We protect teachers and students. Continuing to test 20% per building. Will continue to close schools. CDC has new guidelines that are like ours but without testing. Chicago, LA and Boston trying to get what we already have. We will get criticized here, no matter what we do. We are sticking to protocols.
Middle schools: Low amount enrolled. City needs to expand testing capacity.. PK-5 has maxed out testing. We only have to open an additional 100+ schools. They do not have increased testing capacity. 20% per building per week. City says they will expand testing capacity. We are frustrated with the vaccination program. Government works for us. We don't work for them. Job is getting us vaccine. We need the vaccine for those who want it. We don't get through until we have herd immunity. If 50% don't want a vaccine, coronavirus will be around in waves for two to years.
High schools being used for COVID testing. Teachers in the B group. Before that it was 16.4 million people. A group was 3.5 million people. This is why the UFT started its own program. We matched 11,000 to get vaccinated. Opened schools without vaccines. The vaccine gives us a whole different layer of protection. Criticism on why teachers should be treated differently. We are fighting to get teachers vaccines who want it. Opening up a site at Thomas Jefferson High School. We negotiated to get release time to get vaccinated. If city wants to open up middle schools, middle school teachers should do what they have to in order to get two doses of vaccine.
Teacher evaluations is a law. We have had five different laws in the last ten years. Must be a measure of student learning. We like that. It does not have to be a standardized test. DOE has sent up something to Albany. Law requires scientific, research based valid tools to evaluate us. Once DOE legal gets it, they will turn Bambi into Godzilla. They shouldn't need checklist. Danielson 3C is on engaging students in learning. We are collecting documents. DOE was looking to see how many logged on. Attendance during a pandemic is a school-DOE issue. Attendance is a problem in a pandemic that cannot be turned on teachers. DOE has so many people available. Never set up anything systemwide. DOE ready to use Danielson 3C to check how many logged on and how many turned their camera on. We need a definition that knocks that out. It is not attendance, not how long they stayed on Zoom. It is not if their camera is on. City sent up a document.
MOSL is a school choice or can use a district option. MOSL not always on classes you are teaching. Two informal observations for tenured teachers unless teacher asks for a formal. One formal and one informal for untenured. Initial Planning Conference and end of the year Summative Conference are in the plan. State law is clear. Last year, the pandemic required an executive order to stop evaluation. No executive order for this year.
Federal mandate. To receive Title I, need to give standardized tests. Last year we got a waiver. We are looking for a waiver now. New administration opened up the process. State Ed Commissioner Betty Rosa applied for waiver.
State and City budget:
Governor supplanted half the money from second Cares Act. Number one issue is keeping money earmarked for education. Thousands of layoffs in NYS already. With the federal government sending an additional $4 billion, we need an increased budget.
City budget is not in good shape. We have to take care of each other. Union is about being there for each other. We must stand up for each other.
Early Retirement Incentive:
We are trying to work that through. It will save the city a lot of money so hopefully, we won't have to deal with city layoffs.
First forum was held on Tuesday. Thanks to the volunteers. Three more town halls. We go back and forth with candidates. Some candidates change their positions after they get elected. Let's look at candidates on their policies, their histories, and whether they can get things done.
We are in a major crisis. We will get out of one crisis and go into the next one. Next crisis is dealing with so much damage. The government will tell us to figure it out because that's what we do. I have faith in us. We started things before the pandemic. We figured out remote with no help. The crisis is coming at us. Imagine 28 children with learning loss. We have dealt with that. It is the reality that we have dealt with before. There may be developmental scaffolding that has to be rebuilt. From the small group that has come in for live instruction, we know the emotional trauma. Whole different level. Developmental regression has taken place. It's not going to work to go back to before. We need a different system. We need more support. We have to be trained on identifying trauma. System. We plan for the next unit. The learning process damaged and dented at this point. We need a different system.
State supplanted every penny of the first federal cares act and half of the second. Lunar New Year next Friday. We feed NYC has raised over $100,000 so far and served 20,000 meals. We have to be there for each other. We are keeping true to our principles.
Question: Have you heard any details on middle schools opening up? Need more than a few days.
Mulgrew Answer: The city has to have the testing capacity and there has to be access to more vaccines. We want access to vaccines. We should get priority access. COVID-19 protocols have to be in place. PPE, cleaning and ventilation keep schools safe. No date yet. They are moving quickly. We will be transparent. We are in this damn thing together. People will get upset. We need a week lead time or at least four or five days lead time.
Question: Thanks Mulgrew. Question about evaluation. What safeguards are there for kids who can't get online? Some don't have devices and some go in and out.
Answer: This question explains the holdout on evaluation. New appeal system. Some of the people we are negotiating with have not set foot in a classroom since last March. We had to come up with the definition on what engagement is. Normally we have to wait to get an official evaluation before we could appeal it. Process that says that if there is a problem with being judged on logging in we can file an operational complaint. The school will have five days to fix it and then it will go directly to central DOE. In this evaluation period, people are working in a pandemic in all kind of situations. If someone tries some shenanigans, bring it to the UFT.
Question: Vaccinations for remote teachers?
Answer: You can get them now. You are an employee of the school system. Through the UFT system, we have vaccinated 11,000. Priority goes to those in person but we have had some left for remote people. We don't want to waste doses. Recommend you go on every site where you can get an appointment. Ours are not cancelled.
Question: In person teacher asked for procedures to close a building in there is COVID-19?
Answer: One positive, building is cleaned, not closed. If there are three cases that are related, school is closed until we do tracing. Hundreds of schools closed each day. We have closed thousands of classrooms. People following rules in schools. Two unrelated cases, school goes into 10 day shutdown. Ten days is the quarantine period. It is about keeping everyone safe. Some are outside contractors doing testing. Positive results coming back quickly. It is normal to be anxious after test. Working on getting tests back faster.
Question: Thanks Mulgrew for town halls. Which specific bill should we push for to get out of committee?
Answer: Senator Andrew Gournades bill is the one to push. Bill works for the city and union. In other parts of the state, there is a teaching shortage. Other districts that have had layoffs need to have their own bill. This is about people not losing their jobs.
Question: Evaluations for fully remote teachers.
Answer: We had to set up a new appeal process. Understanding with chancellor and State Education Department. No administrators are experts in evaluating remote teachers. No executive order to waive the law. We are putting in safeguards because we are working under conditions we shouldn't be working under. There is trepidation. People were afraid of matrix. It is the teacher's greatest friend. We need a check and balance on sheer stupidity. We are reviewing the documents. We should have something in a few days.
Question: Manhattan high school teacher wants to know about opening high schools.
Answer: High schools being used as vaccination center. B group is 16.4 million. C group which is everyone else will be another 20 million people. Federal sites are coming to. High schools we are a ways off to say the least. Mayor has not approached the UFT about high schools. Criteria has to same. Not sure even about opening in September. Vaccines are a massive undertaking.
Question: COVID-19 testing. Can we increase tests given to staff members?
Answer: Many schools where everyone was being tested. When we went to 20% a week, we saw that they didn't test enough kids. More students than adults need to be tested. They are doing over 40,000 tests a week. We are for flexibility and humanity.
Question: Shout out to UFT leadership and OT chapter leader. Remote person with accommodation. If schools open up, will accommodation be honored?
Answer: Most parents do not want their kids in school buildings. 160,000 in school now. That's bigger than most systems but most are home. Parents are still saying no they don't want to send their kids in. Charters live or saying they have better remote. Medical accommodations, nobody has been talked about rescinding them. We would be shocked if anyone wants to have a conversation about that until at least July.
Question: Mental health of teachers. We only hear about students. We are experiencing something totally different daily.
Answer: We gave up with trying to work with the city on this. This administration is almost done. We need a program. We are already in a crisis. We need something. We are working on something. Give us a week or a bit more. Hopefully, we will have something before the break.
Question: Thanks Mulgrew, thanks in-person teachers. Grading policy for kids who do not do work. Also as a parent, does not want automatic 3's.
Answer: We don't want kids harmed as there is a pandemic. We should not be saying kids have passed when they have not passed. If there are policies saying there are passing percentages, please get it to Mulgrew. NX says you don't know the material. It is not in GPA. Our job is to get you to know the material. If we say a student knows the material when they don't, we are harming them. We are harming them when they pass if they don't know the material. That is the official UFT position.
Question: Teacher does in-person and remote. Requested PPE and was told there is no soap or gloves.
Answer: Send this to Mulgrew. Tell us what school it is, Schools have two weeks worth of these supplies. There are warehouses stocked with PPE. Please send us the information. We will get it fixed within a few hours.
Question: Up for tenure, is the process changing?
Answer: No teacher should be harmed because of the pandemic. Waiting for final word from state that tenure can be granted. Nobody should be harmed because they didn't have an evaluation last year.
Question: Status of gifted and talented program?
Answer: City messed this up. They no longer have the contract to do the test. They have seats. We are hoping there won't be a single use test. We need a G&T program in every school. Not in k-2. Big debate at PEP. We should have G&T because we don't want to hold people back who are working at a fast speed. Test given in k, kid with access to outside learning will have an advantage. G&T should be for those who learn at an accelerated rate. We have kids in every school who are gifted and talented. Next year or two will be messy. Hoping this gets better with new mayor.
We will get through this school year and we keep each other safe. Not sure what September will look like. Please thank political people as the mayor's election is coming. Go back a year, we were just starting this what is COVID stuff? We have to maintain our spirit. I will try to get as much vaccine for all who want it. The vaccine is the way through this. It can be 2-3 years or 6-8 months. Major challenge taking care of our students. We have to take care of each other. We figure it out and get it done. Be safe and God bless. Thanks everyone.