Sunday, September 09, 2007

Teachers, Parents, Students to Lose Power on School Leadership Teams if Chancellor's Regulation A655 is Changed

UFT Opposition to Changes so far Quite Low Key

by James Eterno UFT Chapter Leader Jamaica High School

The school year is under way and all appears wonderful on the outside.  Last Tuesday on the first day of classes for students, UFT President Randi Weingarten , Council of Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn were with Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Chancellor Joel Klein and Governor Elliot Spitzer in a show of unity for the start of the year. Some of you may have heard the latest optimistic UFT radio commercial.  This is the ad that is running on major radio stations where a male voice is requesting that it is time for the city to work with its teachers to create a  learning environment in the schools where teachers are partners with administration and share in decision making.  Then, Randi comes on and says that the message is brought to you by the UFT.  The timing to release this commercial calling for a collegial school environment is ironic to say the least as currently the Department of Education is attempting to strip parents, teachers and students of decision making authority on School Leadership Teams. 

School Leadership Teams are supposed to exist in every school.  They consist of parents, teachers (including the chapter leader), administrators in all schools and students are involved at the high school level.  The SLT's are responsible for making up each school's Comprehensive Education Plan and to develop a budget and staffing plan aligned with the CEP.  Decisions are supposed to be made by consensus between all constituencies on the SLT.  State law calls for shared decision making between parents, teachers and administrators.

At our first District Chapter Leader Meeting, UFT Queens High School District Representative James Vascuez handed us a packet and buried inside was a flyer asking us to "Take Action Now" because the Chancellor is attempting to weaken School Leadership Teams.  Under the proposed change to Chancellors Regulation A655 which covers School Leadership Teams, the teams would go from being collaborative to working under the principal.  A draft of a new A655 says, "...the principal makes the final determination on the CEP and the budget allocation."  Since SLT's are responsible for developing a schools' Comprehensive Education Plan, giving the Principal final say on the Leadership Team renders the SLT powerless and gives the principals even more dictatorial authority over schools.  This flies in the face of  part 100.11 of state education regulations which mandates shared decision making among parents, teachers and administrators.  The UFT is quite correct to oppose the change to Chancellor's Regulation A655.  The question is why is the UFT publicly talking about teachers sharing decision making with administration while Chancellor Klein is rewriting a regulation to strip away the authority parents, students and teachers have in schools? 

Perhaps the UFT's leadership believes that the only way to win favor with Bloomberg and Klein is to privately push to stop the changes in the SLT regulation and not mention it in public.  The Mayor constantly tells people not to yell and scream if they want something.  This may be the case however there is a public comment period until September 16, 2007 on the proposed changes to Chancellor's Regulation A655.  Why isn't the UFT at least informing its chapter leaders though multiple special emails and the weekly email newsletter or better still sending emails to all of our members who have email accounts and our parent allies about yet another attack on teacher, parent and student rights? 

We should be mobilizing to bombard the DOE with emails to opposing any change to A655 that would weaken shared decision making.    Wasn't the revitalization of the School Leadership Teams, not their weakening, one of the gains we supposedly made in negotiations to "postpone" the big rally last spring with the teachers, parents and students?  It looks like the UFT is waging an extremely low key opposition to yet another attack on us.

This is not the time for the UFT to  join along with the Bloomberg-Klein happy talk about the schools.  We need to lead the battle now to enhance teacher, parent and student shared decision making authority on School Leadership Teams.  ICE urges everyone to send an email to before September 16 opposing the weakening of the School Leadership Teams and send Randi a copy if you would like to also. It's not too late to make this a real campaign.


ed notes online said...

There you go complaining again James. Isn't it enough to spend a million bucks to give the impression they are doing something? Much cheaper than actually calling rallies, demanding UFT endorsed candidates pass laws that would require the union to sign off on basic decisions at the school level, etc.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine why someone would be a chapter leader when the union has allowed any leverage they used to have slip away.

My CC didn't even call a spring meeting to discuss cluster positions since the principal already made up her mind on the cluster positions. It didn't matter it was still part of the contract. Even now, the principal has been controlling the SLT meetings with no teacher or parent objecting to any of her decisions. Our former PA president would not have stood for it and I am sure is campaigning in her child's new school against this reform. If this reform is shot down, it will be by activist parents since teachers are afraid of their own shadows.

Anonymous said...

The blogging account won't accept my password but I'm James Eterno and I would like to note that when you do speak up as we did at Jamaica on the safety issue, the UFT will back you up. I heard from Randi twice today and she was very helpful.

Anonymous said...

What does "helpful" mean? Hearing from Randi is part of the UFT response. Did she feel your pain? Words are cheap and easy. What do the people at the school want to happen? Let us know when there are real results.

Anonymous said...

So when Randi does her job we should show gratitude?? I pay $900 a year for her to do that, yet she allowed principals to rule the roost, took away grievance rights and now principals no longer have to fix or replace broken air conditioners even though our rooms are used for summer school.

Anonymous said...

James Eterno is proof of what I have been saying. The UFT Leadership will support the membership in their struggle. Such was the case at Lafayette High School. Whether it be an abusive principal/administrator, or safety they are there for you if they are made aware by the chapter, or individual members. This has been my experience and why I support the UFT leadership.

Rick Mangone CL/Delegate 1993-2007.

Anonymous said...

The result:
Lafayette is being closed.
Jamaica is doomed.
Eterno will no longer be a chapter leader soon, to Unity's benefit.
Mangone will soon get that district rep job from Charlie Friedman - a job he feels he was screwed out of all these years while a person he felt was incompetent was occupying the position.

proofoflife said...

Well as a C.L. sitting on a Leadership Team I emailed my concerns to the DOE. I also feel that the majority of teachers are afraid of their own shadows... now more than ever! We have been put in a very precarious position with the new restructuring and so called open transfer market. However, we shouldn't just "jump" when we see our shadows we need to help empower the parents and make them aware of these proposed changes. I, for one will be doing just that.

Anonymous said...

hat are people so afraid of?

Anonymous said...

That should say what are people so afraid of?

Anonymous said...

Principals more than ever have the ability to harass teachers more than in the past. Grievances are a joke to them because they will win on the last step. Letters are written w/o the threat of a grievance.

My principal made sure I got the worst class and more than 10 in afterschool even though she assigned another teacher to be with me. All the other teachers got 8 WITH AN ASSISTANT TEACHER.

Anonymous said...

You should grieve the class size problem.