Sunday, October 24, 2021

MULGREW IN EMAIL TO MEMBERS SLAMS SOCIAL EMOTIONAL TEST HE PRAISED THREE WEEKS AGO IN ALBANY TESTIMONY

Impact bargaining again? Is Michael Mulgrew going to demand another few hours of per session for teachers to give these useless tests and input data? 

The Devereux test Mulgrew is criticizing in the email below he was praising just a few weeks back in testimony in Albany.

Mulgrew in Albany:

We are happy to see that this year’s DOE budget, in part because of ARP, includes funding to hire 500 social workers and other mental health support staff. Similar to how members will be able to use academic diagnostic tools, members across the city will be able to use the Devereaux Student Strengths Assessment as a social emotional screening tool to help identify students in need. Members will be able to quickly match students with services including individual or group counseling, mentoring or small group social-skill building. 

Mulgrew today:

Dear ________,

We know how important our students’ social-emotional well-being is, and as educators, we check on it every day. But the social-emotional screener that the DOE has chosen is excessive and places an unnecessary burden on our members during an unbelievably challenging year.

For this reason, we have filed for impact bargaining since the new process represents a dramatic escalation of our workload for no good reason.

In our last discussions with the DOE on the topic, school officials told us that most students would be screened in January and the screener would consist of only 5-7 questions — a manageable number — so that we could gauge how our students were doing as part of our normal workday.

Now, the DOE wants us to administer a screening that contains 43 questions, a sixfold increase over the original plan. We don’t think such a lengthy screening is necessary to identify which students need extra support, and we can’t allow another strenuous task to be added to our plates during a time like this when we are all at our limit.

The job of an educator has changed this year. We are trying to create a sense of normalcy for the city’s children, day in and day out during a pandemic, in crowded classrooms with guidance that’s constantly changing. We are teaching through masks over the sound of loud air filters and outside noise from open windows. Our students have not been in a large classroom setting for 18 months. We’ve never been this overworked and exhausted.

Again, we see the mayor trying to rush a policy without consulting with those who are doing the actual work. We recognize this pattern: claiming he’s doing something for our children (that isn’t really being done) all for political gain. We know how important assessment is, but any screenings we use have to be done in a thoughtful and efficient way so we spend our time wisely and actually help our kids with what they need.

We will keep you updated on the impact bargaining as it unfolds.

Sincerely,

Michael Mulgrew

UFT President


The test:









Saturday, October 23, 2021

WHY DOESN'T THE UFT ENDORSE SOME BALLOT INITIATIVES?

I got this from the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY teacher union).

These initiatives are on the November 2 ballot:

The Ballot Initiatives would: 


1. Amend New York State’s apportionment and redistricting process.  

2. Establish the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment. 

3. Eliminate New York’s requirement that a citizen be registered to vote at least ten days before an election.  

4. Authorize no-excuse absentee voting.  

5. Allow the New York City Civil Court to hear and decide claims for up to $50,000 instead of the current limit of $25,000.  

I know the devil can be in the details and number 1 is way too complex but what are the problems with 2-5? Don't we have a right to clean air? Isn't same day voting registration a good idea?

Here is the UFT political Director's email on the initiatives:

Dear _______,

Early voting begins this Saturday, October 23. When you receive your ballot, in addition to voting for local representatives, you will be asked to vote Yes or No on five statewide ballot proposals. While UFT does not have a position on the proposals, we want to ensure you, as a UFT member, have the information you need to make an informed choice.

Here’s what’s on the ballot>>

The UFT is committed to strengthening our communities, and likewise, each ballot proposal gives us an opportunity to have a say on how our systems can work. Take the opportunity to read up on the five ballot proposals to ensure that you are informed when you vote in this election.


Stay safe and healthy,

Cassie Prugh
Assistant to the President and Political Director

Friday, October 22, 2021

PROFESSIONAL STAFF CONGRESS WORKING ON NEXT CONTRACT WHEN THE CURRENT ONE DOES NOT EXPIRE UNTIL 2023

While Michael Mulgrew talks about forming a 300 person negotiating committee that will have little, if any, input into next year's contract negotiations, the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY teacher union that I also belong to) is gearing up for a fight for the 2023 Contract. The PSC is attempting to mobilize every PSC member for the contract battle. This is part of an email I received earlier today:

Colleagues,

Our union contract expires in 18 months. By Spring 2023 the PSC aims to have enough power and capacity to win major new public investment in CUNY, pass the New Deal for CUNY, and settle a great new contract.

Be part of the campaign by RSVPing for the PSC’s Hybrid Rally During the CUNY Board Meeting Monday, October 25 at 4:30 PM. Tell us you’ll be there, in person or online, at Baruch College or on Zoom.

The Strategic Action Plan to achieve our goals will require active listening and communications about members’ needs. It will mean organizing structures that reach into every department and office, growing our membership and ranks of activists, and increasing our ability to exert power for members in the workplace and in Albany and City Hall. We’ll try to seize every available opportunity—and create new ones when possible.

What will the UFT be doing to mobilize UFTers for the September 2022 Contract? Probably nothing. We will just get a sales job that it is the greatest thing since sliced bread no matter what.

We need a better UFT, not to abandon it. Vote opposition next year. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

FIVE GUNS FOUND IN TWO DAYS AT CITY SCHOOLS

 Moving school safety from NYPD to DOE is a terrible idea.

This is from the NY Daily News:

The NYPD recovered two guns from public school students on Thursday — making a total of five firearms found in city schools in the past two days.

School safety agents on Thursday found one of the guns in the backpack of a 17-year-old student at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens after the student showed the weapon to a classmate, according to police.

The other gun was found in the backpack of a 14-year-old student at Intermediate School 98 in the Bronx. A classmate told a parent the student was showing off a bright pink handgun on Wednesday. The parent alerted school officials — who found the loaded gun in the student’s backpack on Thursday, according to police.

The suspect “was a 14-year-old who was being all gangster,” a seventh grader at the school told the Daily News.

The suspect “was a 14-year-old who was being all gangster,” a seventh grader at the school told the Daily News.

“The whole school was in lockdown,” the student recalled. “They told us there was a gun in the school. It lasted two periods. We couldn’t leave the class. They had us go to one side of the room.”

The discoveries come just a day after officials found three handguns at high schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn, two of which were loaded.

Two of the firearms were detected by metal detectors at Bronx high schools. Another was discovered in the waistband of a teenager during a fight at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn, according to sources.

RETIREES WIN IN COURT A DELAY FOR IMPLEMENTING MEDICARE (DIS)ADVANTAGE

A judge has delayed the new Medicare Advantage plan for city retirees. Mulgrewcare will have to wait.

The judge ruled that the city and MLC were irrational in forcing retirees to have to decide by October 31 if they want to join the new Medicare Advantage Plus or pay a penalty ($192 per month) to stay in Senior Care. The judge did not kill Mulgrewcare but it is on hold.

This is from the decision:

As to likelihood of success on the merits, the Court feels that the method of implementation of this plan at present has been irrational, and thus arbitrary and capricious. It is not in dispute that currently, in the midst of a pandemic, that has been hardest on the elderly and infirm, retirees have been given a deadline of October 31 to either do nothing in which case their health care plan will change, or to stay in their current plan in which they will likely have to pay what can only be described as a penalty. At the same time, there is little clarity as to which health care providers will be accepting this new Medicare Advantage Plan. It is simply irrational for retirees to have to make this decision as circumstances currently stand.

INDEX NO. 158815/2021

NYSCEF DOC. NO. 114                                                    RECEIVED NYSCEF: 10/21/2021

petitioners and similarly situated individuals are required to opt-in or out of a medical program by the October 31, 2021 deadline there would certainly be irreparable harm. Accordingly, it is hereby

ORDERED that the respondents are enjoined from enforcing the October 31, 2021 Opt- Out/ Opt-In date; and it is further

ORDERED that petitioners maintain the status-quo enrollment in until the respondents cure deficiencies with the implementation of the proposed new Medicare Advantage Plan, and it is further

ORDERED that such new plan be sent to this Court for this Court to review and determine whether such plan cures the defects as indicated above, and it if further

ORDERED that such plan be sent to the petitioner’s counsel seven days prior to such submission to the Court and petitioner may then provide any input regarding the proposed new plan to the Court.


NOT MUCH TO CHOOSE FROM BETWEEN SLIWA AND ADAMS ON EDUCATION

 I saw this on Twitter:


Choose your giveback: longer day or longer year or both. Mulgrew will settle for some cut rate pay for extra time if his past actions are a preview. I don't understand the UFT Adams endorsement. 

We need a real union!

For more analysis on the debate, go here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

NYC MANDATES VACCINE FOR ALL CITY EMPLOYEES, OFFERS $500 INCENTIVE

 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all municipal employees. He is offering a $500 incentive to get the shot. Why doesn't everyone who previously received the vaccine get the extra $500? Shouldn't people be rewarded for already having done the right thing? 

Before the comment comes: If NYC has money to pay employees $500 to get a vaccine, then surely there is money to pay UFTers who worked through 2020 spring break.



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

DOES THE UFT SUPPORT THE PRINCIPLE OF EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK FOR SIXTH CLASS TEACHERS?

Secondary school teachers all over the city are being asked to teach an extra class during their prep or professional period. If it is in a shortage area (see page 3 for list of shortage area licenses), teachers are compensated at a rate of $7,278 per semester. That is not horrible compensation for taking on an extra class. However, what if it is in a non-shortage area where a school has a class or two hanging and they won't open up more classes to hire a full-time teacher? 

The principle of equal pay for equal work should kick in. The UFT saw to it that it would be equal pay for the same work back in 1998 when they and the Board of Education agreed on Circular 6R. This very innovative document actually put teachers in charge for the most part of their professional periods and required that teachers be paid if they were teaching during their professional time at the shortage area rate, whether it was in a shortage area or not.

Randi Weingarten in the infamous 2005 giveback laden Contract gave away much of C6R when she agreed to put teachers back on potty patrol instead of making the professional period self-directed for most teachers. Giving back to the principals much more power over teacher professional time was one of her major concessions that year. However, the rest of C6R survived; the UFT still posts it on its website (see link above). This is a part of page 8:


It says 1998-99 and thereafter for non-shortage area licenses to get paid the full 7O rate which I repeat is $7,278 per term.

But is the contractual article refered to here still part of the Contract? The answer is yes. Article 7A10j is now Article 7A6d. Here it is in its entirety:

d. Provided that these periods are used to supplement, not supplant the current school program, and subject to the specific provisions regarding it, secondary teachers may use this time for a sixth teaching period compensated in accordance with Article 70 of the Agreement (Shortage License Areas). The chapter’s concurrence to ensure that this is truly supplemental is necessary. 

Please note that there is an identical provision (7B8d) for middle school teachers. The language of both is the same as the old Contract. I checked. (Yes, I still keep the old Contracts.)

What I cannot begin to understand is why teachers in non-shortage areas are not being compensated for taking a sixth class at the Article 7O rate. Circular 6R has not been altered when it comes to the provision that allows teachers to teach during the professional period. 

It seems like it should be easy for the UFT to uphold this provision, but it has been brought to my attention that teachers are being given sixth classes for the term however they are only being offered coverage pay for filling in for an entire semester. That is an extreme ripoff and insult to teachers. 

The coverage rate is $45.38 per class. If we multiply that daily rate by 85 days for a semester, the total is $3,857.30. That comes to $3,420.70 less than the $7,278 the teacher who happens to be in a shortage area receives for teaching the same amount of time.

What kind of union would let its members get ripped off like this? I hope not the UFT. 

When my friend enquired to the UFT about this, the answer has been crickets from the Union. I was under the impression that the UFT stands by the principle of equal pay for equal work; that we are one union. I hope they take up the cause of teachers who teach a sixth class all being paid at the same rate. 

If not, I have no idea why any Chapter Leader would ever approve of any sixth class as per Contractual Article 7A6d and wouldn't just tell the principal who is underpaying teachers in non-shortage areas that we are one union and we will not stand for two pay scales. There is no provision to cover vacancies in non-shortage areas in the Contract during prep time. If the principal argued back that it is a hanging class and it must be filled, my response as the Chapter Leader would be: "That's your problem. Hire more teachers and lower class sizes. No cut-rate teaching is going to be allowed here." I would then grieve if they continued to put in teachers but paid them at the coverage rate. If there were three classes, I would demand that they hire someone as that is a vacancy. I would be very hesitant about letting the shortage area work go on as well since the chapter has to concur that it is necessary. 

We need a better Union, not to abandon it commenters.

Monday, October 18, 2021

WHY ISN'T THE UFT CONTRACT OR UFT CONSTITUTION IN THE CHAPTER LEADER BACKPACK?

 I heard from chapter leaders that their chapter leader backpacks arrived the last few days. In it was:

  • Tools for Schools, an Overview for  a Safe, Healthy, and Secure School Environment
  • School Safety, Victim Support Program
  • A Bunch of COPE cards (Can't forget to get money for politicians, can we?)
  • Leaflets to put on the UFT Bulletin Board
  • Leaflets on Teacher leadership
  • COPE Pen
  • Pouch with chapstick, bandaids, and ointment in a small tiny pouch. 
  • A Plastic file folder
What was missing?
  • No UFT Contracts for each title
  • No UFT Chapter Leader Handbook
  • No UFT Constitution
The backpack itself gets a nice review for quality but how is the chapter leader supposed to do the job without a Contract or a Chapter Leader Handbook to guide her/him? The UFT in the past sent the contracts for many titles and the Union's Constitution to Chapter leaders in these backpacks. No more.

I'm old school and liked to carry the Contract around to show its importance like Hall of Fame baseball manager Earl Weaver used to carry around a rulebook. I'd refer to it in a second if an administrator or UFT member asked but I haven't seen a written UFT Contract since the 2007-2009 edition. I don't even think there is a current Contract online. Only the 2009-2018 version exists online. The current Contract, now three years old, (remember it was agreed to months before the prior one expired) still only exists as a Memorandum of Agreement. The UFT and DOE had a year and a half to incorporate the contractual changes in writing before the pandemic but I guess they couldn't be bothered.

Please no snarky comment about how I demand that you pay dues to this inept organization. No, I want you as a collective to take it over and fix it. 

UFT GETS THE DOE TO AGREE TO FOLLOW CONTRACT ON OBSERVATIONS

I guess this is considered a victory by the UFT to get the Department of Education to follow the Contract and only require two informal observations for tenured teachers rated effective last year. Not being rated in 2019-2020 in the middle of a pandemic is no longer going to be held against teachers. Now, how about a maximum number of observations in the Contract like many other districts in NYS have? I would push for that.


Dear ______,

After weeks of negotiations, the DOE has agreed to change its position that the lack of ratings in 2019-20 should be a determining factor in the number and type of observations that teachers are required to have this school year.

Under the teacher evaluation system, if a tenured teacher received a rating of Effective for the previous two school years, that teacher would only need a minimum of two informal observations for the current school year. However, because teachers did not receive a rating for the 2019-20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DOE instructed principals in September that tenured teachers rated Effective would need one formal and one informal observation this school year.

The DOE has now agreed that any tenured teacher rated Effective for the 2020-21 school year will receive a minimum of two informal observations. (As before, members can request a formal observation if they wish, but it is not required.) No change has been made to the number of observations required for teachers rated Highly Effective (two informal observations) or teachers rated Developing (three informal observations and one formal) for the 2020-21 school  year.

If you are now eligible for two informal observations, but have already had your initial planning conference with your principal, you will not be required to have another IPC but you should let your principal know that you’d like to receive two informal observations instead. Remember that observations cannot occur before the IPC is held.

Read the DOE summary and FAQs about this school year’s policies and see more detailed information below.

Sincerely,
Michael Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew
UFT President