Friday, December 28, 2012


The UFT is apparently using the leverage the law gives us regarding the new evaluation system and the DOE is not happy about it.  Therefore, the DOE has gone to the Public Employees Relations Board to file a charge against the Union.

It seems the UFT is linking an evaluation agreement to reaching agreements on how the new system will be implemented, which schools will be closed or phased out, reduction in paperwork and a salary increase.

Good negotiating guys!  It's more than likely just a coincidence that the phone calls referred to in the DOE PERB charge took place on December 6 and the ICEUFT piece that was linked by Gotham on evaluations was posted on December 2.  We probably had nothing to do with it but we are indeed satisfied that the UFT leadership is at least talking tough in negotiations.

I think this is hopeful news. Yes the UFT might just be saber rattling but I think President Mulgrew and lead negotiator Michael Mendel are fully aware that they cannot sell a lousy agreement on evaluations (the only kind the DOE would ever agree to) to the membership.

I do not believe PERB has the authority to impose a settlement so basically the public relations battle is starting over who is to blame if and when the city loses $250 million in state aid because there is no agreement on a new evaluation system.

You can read the DOE complaint in its entirety in the middle of the Post article that is linked above and I urge everyone to take the time to do so.

Hope you are all enjoying your vacation.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


No need for much editorializing here.  This letter from President Mulgrew speaks for itself on the state of negotiations on an evaluation system agreement.  Unless he is truly bluffing and just taking a tough negotiating stand, it looks as though this is not going to get done by Chancellor Walcott's so called deadline of December 21.

The letter below was sent to the Department of Education by UFT President Michael Mulgrew. It describes
the conditions necessary for there to be any future meetings between the UFT and DOE regarding 
development and implementation for a new evaluation system.
Dear Chancellor Walcott,
The Department of Education’s demonstrated inability to manage the school system correctly has led us to
have serious concerns about getting anything constructive done with you. Two and half years ago the state
decided to change this year’s standardized tests to the Common Core standards and since then you have
done nothing to create a curriculum based on the Common Core. You have now left teachers in a 
horrendous situation where they are scrambling to try to get material appropriate for these new tests to
teach their children.
Inevitably, this will lead to a drop in standardized test scores — which I know once again you will try to
blame on the teachers because you will not take responsibility for your incompetence. Despite all of this
and many other examples, the teachers in our schools have worked through Hurricane Sandy and many
other challenges to serve the children in our care, even as the union has continued to try to negotiate a
new evaluation system.
We were recently informed by our members in the schools that you have launched a new program, the
Teacher Effectiveness Intensive Three Week Cycle, without any planning or proper training for the schools.
Charlotte Danielson’s rubric requires intensive training in order for it to be used correctly, but you have
refused to certify or intensely train people so that they can properly use this tool. Your decision to launch this
new program without a plan that would lead to its successful implementation is mind-boggling to us.
Given this history, at this time we will only meet with you to discuss a planning and roll-out process 
for the new evaluation system — in case we ever get to such an agreement. We understand that 
an evaluation system that will create a constructive practice in each school that will enhance
instruction and benefit our
over 1.1 million students is a critical opportunity. An evaluation system that will change the culture of 
our schools is something that the UFT has been working on for over three years. 
We hope that you will not be party to wasting such an important opportunity. We await your 
communication to set up such a meeting on the planning and roll-out process for the benefit
of our children and our schools.
Michael Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew
UFT President

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The following piece is from the UFT weekly Chapter Leader email update.

UFT blasts DOE for sowing “terrible atmosphere of fear” around the new evaluation system

UFT Secretary Michael Mendel sent a blistering email to Chancellor Dennis Walcott and his deputies earlier today charging that the manner in which principals and networks are practicing and preparing for the new evaluation system in schools “has been a disaster and that it has created a terrible atmosphere of fear around both the new evaluation system and the Danielson protocols.” He noted that in many parts of the city, teachers are being told that the new evaluation system is “a done deal,” even though many of the details are still be negotiated. In some cases, he said, teachers are being told that starting in January there will no longer be pre- and post-observations. “In many places,” he said, “eight or nine administrators are walking into a teacher’s room without warning, writing notes in the back of the room and leaving.” Mendel reaffirmed the union’s full commitment to a new evaluation system that supports professional growth throughout a teacher’s career and provides for a fair and honest evaluation process. But, he said, the present structure of the DOE and past practice since September 2011 “demonstrate that you cannot and will not roll it out successfully.” Mendel said that if the DOE does not insist that everyone “learn together in a non-threatening way,” the new evaluation system will be doomed to fail. “And let’s be clear,” he concluded. “This failure rests squarely on the DOE’s shoulders.”
It looks as though the rhetorical fight is escalating.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


UFT President Michael Mulgrew gave a really strong impression at the December Delegate Assembly that there is little chance that there will be an agreement on a new evaluation system before the January 17, 2013 deadline. However, if there is an agreement, the Unity majority decided that it will not go to the membership for a vote even though it is a contractual change.

Mulgrew began his report by telling the Delegates that 88% of UFT members responding to a survey felt they were not supported properly in their schools; half said that students with IEPs are not receiving proper services and there is a huge increase in UFT Special Education Complaints.

Mulgrew went on to talk about politics.  He told Delegates that if a state's Democratic party cannot control at least one house of the legislature, then the unions in that state are in trouble and that is why Michigan passed a "Right to Work" law.  He stated that politics matter and that is why we worked so diligently to get an increase in Democrats in the New York State Assembly so now there is a super-majority and all three caucuses in the dysfunctional New York State Senate are talking to the UFT.  He carried on by saying that the so called "Right to Work" laws, where unions cannot automatically collect dues, are really a way to force unions to spend all of their time organizing and trying to collect dues.  He said the AFT and AFL-CIO are working on the situation in Michigan.  He then brought it back to New York by noting that same groups that worked to limit union power in Michigan are here providing funding for the same goals.

Mulgrew next talked about the mayor and the evaluation system.  He said that Mayor Bloomberg, the Daily News, Fox and the Post were once again attacking us.  He stated that Bloomberg never liked the state evaluation law because only 20% of a teacher's evaluation would be based on student test scores and the mayor didn't like that there was collective bargaining in the law.  He asserted that the UFT had to go to Albany to get an agreement in 2012 on the appeals process and so we are the only district in the state that will have an appeals process that is part of the law.  He then stated that when the law takes effect, it will be a stronger appeals process than what we have now (that is debatable for sure).

Mulgrew then announced that the mayor wants the new process for evaluations to hold teachers' feet to the fire and allow for transparency.  He stated that the mayor is fully aware that language like this will lead to fights with the UFT but that the mayor as a lame duck has no hope for getting legislation passed in Albany.  Mulgrew said he believes the mayor does not want an agreement on the evaluation system.  To prove his point, Mulgrew declared that Bloomberg's education legacy is in the toilet so he will continue to blame us.  What Bloomberg and the press most fear is that the UFT will help elect the next mayor.

Mulgrew closed this portion of his report by noting that the combination of our retirees and active members gives us a very strong ground game in elections so that a UFT endorsement really matters but delivering votes on the ground is even more important. He then pivoted back to the evaluation system by pointing out that the negotiations on the evaluation system are not going well and that we cannot trust the DOE to implement a new system even if there was an agreement.  He told Delegates that Walcott's December 21 deadline was an imaginary deadline.

He then emphasized that there is a strong possibility that there would be no evaluation agreement and that the UFT must prepare for an onslaught against us from the mayor, the Post, the News and Fox. He thinks the mayor's goal is to have our approval rating go down so we will be weakened in the mayoral election as the mayor's best hope now is to pick his successor. He added that we will not agree to an evaluation system that doesn't help us help kids and that state growth scores are out and show only 7% of teachers are ineffective and that won't change much because of the formula used, even if test scores plummet

Mulgrew also declared that Joel Klein's plan to destroy the school system would come close to being achieved but it would not be successful.  Danielson, five minute snapshots and all the other stuff they are doing to our members prove they don't have the ability to implement anything.

Mulgrew followed up by saying that the School Governance Committee would soon be meeting as would the Negotiating Committee and that we are moving ahead on the contract in Fact Finding.  He then told us he would be in Staten Island with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as one school had 78% of students displaced from their homes.  Mulgew went back to say that new Campaign Finance Board Charter Revision rules would make member to member communication more difficult and then he closed by saying the mayor's race was critical.

Leroy Barr gave the Staff Director's Report saying that disaster relief was still going on so members could donate at  He gave the revised date for Teacher Union Day as January 27 noting that Michael Mendel would be honored.

The Question Period was next on the agenda. The first question was about the Teachers Retirement System and Emblem Health being temporarily moved from 55 Waters Street due to Sandy.  Mulgrew responded that the Welfare Fund and TRS were functioning.

The next query concerned data points.  Mulgrew said DOE says people in pilot evaluation schools are ecstatic but our members in surveys say otherwise.  He added that people are not truthful in DOE surveys because they want to protect their schools from being closed.  UFT surveys, on the other hand, show that virtually everyone is unhappy.  Mulgrew thought the truth was somewhere in the middle  He added that we have 12 months left of Bloomberg but the dysfunction is worsening.  He said we are trying to fix things in the system but our members are demoralized.  He concluded that we have to keep member hopes up through Bloomberg's last year.

The next question was on excessive paperwork including the acuity tests.  Mulgrew answered that we are in arbitration on things such as curriculum writing as well as teachers writing units of study. He stated we shouldn't be writing curriculum.  He added that the DOE now has 250 accountability experts who need something to do.

The next query concerned the city budget and how much we stand to lose if there is no evaluation agreement in January.  Mulgrew replied that we now have a $23.3. billion education budget and we stand to lose $240 million if there is no agreement. He followed up by declaring that it is not the money, it's a game to the mayor so we should look out for layoff notices as our enemies will go against us as if there were a strike if there is no evaluation agreement.

The new motion period followed.  Political Director Paul Egan put forward a resolution supporting issuing of Green Apple Bonds to remove PCBs from schools within three years at a net savings of $339 million.  It carried.

Kit Wainer then made a motion for today's agenda to bring a resolution to support a membership referendum on any new evaluation system.  Kit noted that this was a huge change in the contract and alterations to the contract go to the membership for their approval. The resolution also called for a campaign to educate our members on the evaluation system.  He persuaded Mulgrew to ask for a suspension of the rules so that there could be a speaker on each side, even though the resolution was for this month. The motion for a speaker carried so Kit was able to tell the Delegates that he agreed with President Mulgrew that our members were demoralized and see the UFT as just another institution that does things to its members and they are responding by tuning out the UFT.  He pointed out that turnouts are very low in UFT elections and they are poor at citywide and district wide chapter leader meetings as well so we need to involve the members and not alienate them further.  He closed by saying that 1,000 members and a group of whole chapters signed a petition to support a membership vote on the evaluation system.

Leroy Barr was called on to refute Kit's points.  Leroy said that the membership elects Delegates and Chapter Leaders to represent members and the DA has a proud history of these duly elected representatives doing their job.  He then added that the DA is the proper place for the evaluation issue to be discussed and voted on particularly since there was a school based 150 person committee meeting regularly on the evaluation system.  He added that what the resolution comes down to is the power of the DA.  He gave examples of 1964 when the DA voted for a one day boycott and 2009 when the DA voted on an agreement that gave us two days back in summer vacation.  The huge Unity majority then sided with Barr.

I would like to comment here on this issue.  In 2002, when Randi Weingarten first decided to put extended time in our contract that would be up to the discretion of management to use, the extended time provision was so bad it had to be renegotiated in the fall of that year and then in June of every year up through 2005 when Randi gave away the store in that horrible contract.  Each time the extended time provision was renegotiated, it came to the full membership for a vote.  You can look that up because I remember running the votes annually at Jamaica. Extended time is a revision of Article 6A and changes properly were sent to the membership for ratification.

The reason why the 2009 change on having the two days before Labor Day back in summer vacation did not come to the membership was because it was primarily pension savings, which are governed by state law more than the contract.  Remember our interest rate on TDA Fixed funds went from 8.25% down to 7% for UFT members in that agreement.  CSA and PSC members still get 8.25%..  I called those the billion dollar days because that's what those two days will end up costing us. However, the alterations of our work day were always voted on by the membership as a contract change. The law specifically ties the new evaluation system to our next collective bargaining agreement so there is no excuse for not having a membership referendum on evaluations.

Resolutions followed next.  First was a resolution to support an organization called "New Yorkers for Great Public Schools."  Then, there was support for Pakistani factory workers. This was followed by some real drama. Peter Lamphere motivated a resolution asking the UFT to support the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Federal Civil Rights Complaint against the specialized high school admission process.  This was a great chance for a Kumbaya moment as members of Unity, New Action and the new MORE Caucus all worked on this matter.  However, Kumbaya did not happen as Peter mentioned the 1968 strike and the UFT's divisive racial role.  He said the UFT still needed to mend fences on the race relations issue and that this would be a good way to do it. Unity stalwart Abe Levine rose passionately to declare the 1968 strike was about due process and stopping the forced transfer of teachers.  (Where are you now Abe when so many of our members are forced to transfer to a new school each week?) Abe said the strike was not about race.  Janella Hinds followed up with a substitute resolution that was approved by members in the impacted schools and Jonathan Halabi from New Action supported it. Then there was a vote and it passed.  Two more resolutions followed on national issues to oppose Republican plans to cut our social programs.  They easily passed.

That's all folks. I leave with two thoughts. Does everyone still believe the next sellout on evaluations is just around the corner?  If it is, then Mulgrew is one heck of a con man. Unity not allowing us to vote on whatever they negotiate, is another setback.

Saturday, December 08, 2012


I read the Daily News article on the evaluation system negotiations.  The News reported on what the mayor said on his radio show yesterday.

Mayor Bloomberg said that he would rather lose the money (now $250,000,000 in state funding) and make "painful cuts" to the schools or other agencies rather than cut a deal that doesn't "hold their (teachers) feet to the fire."

"If we can't come to an agreement, it's going to be very painful, but the city's certainly not going to sign on to any agreement that isn't a real evaluation agreement, and one that can be monitored by the public," Bloomberg told John Gambling according to the News. He added that he is still optimistic a deal can be reached.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew was quoted in the same News article as saying that he's not hopeful a deal will happen. He stated, "It seems the mayor is more interested in using the evaluations to hold teachers' feet to the fire, than he is in helping them do their jobs better."

Is this all muscle flexing and saber rattling or is this where negotiations truly stand now? I have read Norm Scott many times saying we should watch what our union's leaders do and not what they say.

Accountable Talk blogger believes the fix is in after he talked to a union official who came to his school.

I refer back to our piece from Sunday on how this will all play out. I expect that maybe the governor and AFT President Weingarten might become involved at some point soon.

The rank and file should put whatever pressure we can exert to convince the UFT not to cave in by agreeing to an evaluation system that relies on junk science and harassing observations to rate teachers.

Friday, December 07, 2012


The Administration at Jamaica High School informed me yesterday that our School Improvement Grant money will soon be on the school's budget.  One assistant principal asked if I felt a deal on the evaluation system was imminent now that the DOE will be releasing more funding to schools.  I said that I didn't think it was a done deal yet but everyone I talk to and what I see on the internet points in the direction that the negotiations are close to being finished.  In my circle, there is a strong consensus among rank and file UFT and CSA  members that principals and teachers will be completely sold out when the new evaluation rules take effect. Based on the parameters of the law, this is a reasonable prognostication but as always the devil will be in the details.

I read the Gotham Schools post yesterday on where the negotiations stand currently.  It looks to Gotham like things have not been settled but this does not look like it will end happily if the issues they are talking about are what's on the table.

Here is what Deputy Chancellor David Weiner laid out for possibilities on observations according to Gotham: "Should you have five (observations) a year of that pre-observation, observation, post-observation?  Should there be two pre-observation,observation, post-observation?  Should we eliminate the pre-observation and post observation and just make it an ongoing cycle of unannounced visits?  Should the observation be shorter-- should [observers] come in for 15 minutes at a time?"

Five observations in addition to the junk science of value added.  It's back to my probationary days.  What are they trying to prove?

If I were negotiating, I cannot see circumstances where I would agree to a deal with the current city regime as anything they would sign will not be a teacher friendly or principal friendly system.

What do you think?


Thursday, December 06, 2012


Our last post on the potential for an evaluation deal for teachers has produced multiple comments expecting teachers to be sold out by the UFT.  Not one person thought there was much hope for the UFT to stand up to the mayor and governor and refuse to accept a new teacher evaluation system that is not fair to teachers. Or to put it another way, the fix might be in.

Time will tell if the naysayers will be proven correct. At the present time, what all of us must do is to tell the teachers in the schools that the UFT can ignore the arbitrary deadline set by the governor for a new evaluation system and remain under the current one.

The UFT could then sue for the $300 million in lost state aid that we stand to forfeit if there is no agreement.  How dare the governor deny the schools money because the mayor won't negotiate a fair deal with the teachers. The UFT sues based on many different grounds.

Buffalo teachers are in court right now.  They will not negotiate on the evaluation system until the city agrees to honor their contract in other areas. They are risking state aid. The UFT should also be contemplating using this tactic.

If we are not going to wage a fight now in New York City when the governor and mayor are basically trying to destroy tenure and make us employees who can be dismissed based on value added measures (junk science) that are totally invalid, then when will we ever stand up for ourselves?

NYC Educator has some ideas for a UFT commercial on this subject. His plan is to put it out there for the public and the teachers.  We should show a graphic that explains how inaccurate value added assessments are and have Mulgrew look into the camera to truly tell it like it is. We have been singled out by Bloomberg for punishment so we haven't received the salary increases that all other city unions got four years ago.  Now he wants to fire us on phony data.  It is time to go on offense. The advertisement could be for the UFT membership as well as the public.  "This is why we Fight" kind of stuff.

Meanwhile the Epoch Times has put out a lengthy article on the evaluation system negotiations where this blog is quoted.  Gotham Schools even linked to our last post which is very unusual.

Norm Scott also chimed in on the evaluation system at the UFT Executive Board the other night during the open mic period.  Norm and I haven't been there for a long time.  He made the case that the UFT should not make a deal with the mayor on a new evaluation system that uses junk science but Norm and others are calling the January 17 deadline  an "educational fiscal cliff."  I do not concur with that term as losing an increase in state aid is not taking anyone off of a cliff.  While the state funding is nothing to sneeze at, there is so much money that is wasted in the school system on non-education items that I am fairly certain the $300 million could be absorbed without the classroom being impacted. Would much of the $300 million even find its way to the classroom?  This is what a UFT mobilization campaign needs to be about.

If all the commentators are correct and we are about to be thrown to the wolves, it's time for the membership to pressure the leadership to do what is right by us.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


We have been asked what we think will happen concerning the deadline for implementing a new teacher evaluation system.  Since 20-40% of a teacher's annual evaluation will be based on growth in student test scores (what has been proven to be junk science) and the other 60% will be based on the notorious Danielson framework, teachers are justifiably nervous.

If there is no deal by January 17, 2013, the city stands to lose $300,000,000 in state aid.  The stakes are quite high.  However, New York State Law gives the UFT some leverage in the bargaining.  Here is what the law says (paragraph 8 of Section 3012-c of State Education Law) about the link between a new collective bargaining agreement and a new evaluation system:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, rule or regulation to the contrary, all collective bargaining agreements applicable to classroom teachers or building principals entered into after July first, two thousand ten shall be consistent with requirements of this section.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to abrogate any conflicting provisions of any collective bargaining agreement in effect on July first, two thousand ten during the term of such agreement and until the entry into a successor collective bargaining agreement, provided that notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, upon expiration of such term and the entry into a successor collective bargaining agreement the provisions of this section shall apply.  Furthermore, nothing in this section or in any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder shall in any way, alter, impair or diminish the rights of a local collective bargaining representative to negotiate evaluation procedures in accordance with article fourteen of the civil service law with the school district or board of cooperative educational services. 

Section 3012-c is the new evaluation system that grades teachers based on student growth on test scores as well as observations.  The key line is, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to abrogate any conflicting provisions of any collective bargaining in effect on July first, two thousand ten during the term of such agreement and until the entry into a successor collective bargaining agreement."  What that means in English is that the new evaluation system by law does not take effect until we have a contract to replace the one that was in effect on July 1, 2010.  Our last contract expired way back on October 31, 2009.  The Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law keeps that contract in place until we have a new one.  Our last salary increase was May 19, 2008.  Contract negotiations right now are stalemated and have gone to fact finding. A non binding recommendation will be made by a three person state panel at some point in the near future.  Almost every other city union received 4% + 4% raises without givebacks in the current round of bargaining.  We should expect the same because of pattern bargaining which links all city union raises in contract negotiations.

Please note that I don't see anything in the law that prevents the UFT from making a side agreement with the DOE that just covers the evaluation system.  However, since the law links the evaluation system to having a new contract and we haven't had a raise in four and a half years, the UFT would be giving away its bargaining leverage if we agreed to decouple the contract from the new evaluation system.  Mulgrew and company are not stupid. Unless the people who call them complete sellouts are right, it is unlikely that the UFT will agree to any evaluation system that isn't tied to a new contract. 

Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo's January 17, 2013 deadline for an agreement on evaluations is looming and cannot be ignored. I don't mean to sound uncaring here but that $300 million is a drop in the bucket in a city education budget that has over $20 billion in it. My school is supposed to get some of that School Improvement Grant state money.  The Principal informed the School Leadership Team that the money is being held up.  I am not surprised as it would seem that the city knows there is little chance of a deal being reached on the evaluation system and they are prepared to lose the funds.

What will happen between now and January 17th?  Expect a great deal of bad press attacking the UFT from the New York Post, Daily News, Gotham Schools, NY Times, E4E, etc...  The media will put pressure on us to make a deal on the evaluation system without getting a new contract.  They will say that we don't care about the children. In actuality, we are the ones who care about the students. A bad evaluation system that makes us do more teaching to tests will have an extremely adverse impact on the kids.  Will the UFT stand up to the press attacks?  I see three possibilities as to what will happen when the clock runs out in mid January:

1. There will be a grand bargain that gives teachers a contract, settles the Absent Teacher Reserve question (I don't believe the UFT will allow ATRs to be fired if they can't find a job within a specific period of time), and creates a new evaluation system.  We will not be happy with whatever is negotiated as far as rating teachers is concerned because our jobs will depend in part on what NYC Educator rightly calls junk science.  However, we would receive those retroactive salary increases and maybe a little more money to persuade us to accept an evaluation system that we probably won't like. We would also probably agree to some kind of Newark style merit pay for teachers rated highly effective.  I see a grand bargain as very possible especially if Cuomo and AFT President Randi Weingarten step in to "help out" the negotiations and pressure Mayor Bloomberg to concede a little. The UFT leadership is usually willing to give in but there are lines they have not crossed and hopefully will not.

2. There will be no agreement on the evaluation system or the contract and the UFT will take the hit.  I see this as quite possible.  Mulgrew then emerges as a hero to the teachers for standing up to the mayor and the state right before the UFT election.  He will be given credit even though the membership is not mobilized and is pretty much demoralized.  We can't put any real pressure to move negotiations to make contractual gains. The question is not whether we will have a good evaluation system.  What we are asking is, "How bad will it be?"   If there is no deal, the usual suspects will attack us and life will go on. Bloomberg will threaten layoffs and the press will continue to condemn us but we will have our jobs.  The contract and evaluation system will not be settled until we have a new mayor who will inherit the problem. I think if you polled the UFT membership, this is the scenario a strong majority would probably vote for.

3. We have a side agreement that settles the evaluation system but the contract remains unsigned. I can't see the UFT giving up the bargaining power the law gives us on this issue. It is the only leverage we have to obtain a new contract. Fact finding is not binding on either side.  At the DA, Mulgrew sounded as if he would be willing to lose the $300 million in state funds.  Was he just saber rattling?  Showing the Legislature and Cuomo how unreasonable Bloomberg has been in negotiations would not be that difficult. The UFT would be extremely foolish to accept a new evaluation system without a contract unless it is a really fair system.  Can you see the Mayor agreeing to a system that is favorable to teachers? I can't.  Remember, the DOE seems to be pricing into this year's equation that the School Improvement Grants won't be coming.  I will check for an update on this at school to make sure that the money still has not come on our budget.

The State can always extend the deadline for an agreement but then we still end up back with the three possibilities for how this will play out unless the politicians try to change the law to take away our bargaining power.  Since Bloomberg is a lame duck and the UFT and NYSUT did very well endorsing candidates in the last election, I don't see the law being changed.

I am certainly open to any other ideas on how this plays out. Please send us your scenarios.

Friday, November 30, 2012


This month's DA featured an interminable President's Report. President Mulgrew went on for over an hour.

To be perfectly fair, as this blog always attempts to be, he had a great deal to report on since our last meeting.  The problem was there was no time left after the report for anything but a brief Staff Directors' Report, a few questions where the President again was able to speak and gave long winded answers and then finally one new motion was raised.  That was it for November. No regular resolutions were acted upon and as usual, there was little debate or discussion on anything.

Here is a brief summary of the proceedings.

First, the President asked for a moment of silence for two UFT members who died as a result of the storm.

Mulgrew then told us that the only good that came out of opening schools for staff on November 2 was that members in impacted schools worked together to help students and each other.  He told us that during Sandy, the UFT shut down communications but kept its Facebook page up.  He then said that DOE sent emails and robo-calls to people without power.  Mulgrew added that 10,200 UFT members were impacted by the storm and 600 UFT members were now homeless but we received help from teachers from Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC and Connecticut.  We handed out 30,000 backpacks and raised over $1 million to help schools.  He noted that 52 Broadway looked like a factory line.  He concluded by saying that the politicians were working with the UFT and the disaster relief fund is accepting contributions.

Next Mulgrew talked about the three days that have to be made up in February that have been lost from mid-winter recess.  He said we need state 180 aidable days (He noted that aidable is not a word) and because of the shortened calendar this year, he said we had no room to maneuver.  He added that we went right to the state on this issue rather than the city.  He said some schools lost more days than others and the city wanted five days back but we held out for three. (I stand by my math from a previous post; we're working 180 days.  The city-state refused to give us credit for dodging through the fallen trees to make it to work on November 2 when there wasn't a gallon of gas to be found. This  is outrageous and was not mentioned by Mr. Mulgrew.)

Next up the President took a long victory lap about the national and state elections.  He called it a great day and said the UFT retirees were the main reason Obama won Florida.  He then congratulated political director Paul Egan for helping to win the local races. Mulgrew declared that NYSUT-UFT work made the difference in the Democrats winning back control of the New York State Senate and giving Sheldon Silver's Democrats the biggest majority they have ever had in the State Assembly. He added that we gained seats in the State Senate despite being outspent 10 to one as the Mayor is the biggest contributor to Senate Republicans, which is why upstate senators have been sponsoring bills to rob teachers of due process rights only in New York City but not in their districts.

Mulgrew carried on by talking about the evaluation negotiations.  He said there have been no negotiations on a new teacher evaluation system in over a month since the storm.  He added that with 300 lawyers and 260 accountability experts at the DOE, they like to send out surveys and data points so we have to send out surveys to counter their data points.  He then talked about how teacher evaluations need to be about helping teachers to be able to help kids.  He then predicted that test scores will plummet this year because there is no Common Core Curriculum. He added that he would be fine if there is no agreement by the Jauary 17, 2013 deadline. He subsequently told us the Principals were not qualified to evaluate using Danielson.  He concluded this section by noting that the evaluation goes beyond Bloomberg's term and that if there is an agreement, it will come before the DA.

As for the mayor's race for 2013, Mulgrew said that the work the UFT has done has sunk in as candidates are not bashing teachers and are agreeing with us that all is not well in the schools but all of the candidates still favor mayoral control of the schools. Mulgrew then passed a sheet around so Delegates could join the UFT's School Governance Committee. (State law giving the mayor control of the schools sunsets in 2015.) He then went back to the evaluation system and said that we would lose $240-300 million if there isn't an agreement by January but we are prepared to do that if a new evaluation system does not help teachers help kids.  Mulgrew then went back to the mayor's race by saying that we have worked for three and a half years to prepare for this election so we must endorse in the Democratic primary.

Staff Director Leroy Barr was next and mentioned that Teachers' Choice is back this year.  Teachers on Direct Deposit will get $45 on December 4 while those who receive checks will receive a debit card for $45 on December 15. Counselors will get $25 and Secretaries receive $15.  He also said Teacher Union day has been rescheduled for January 27 and there will be a protest at Washington Irving on December 10 at 5:00 pm against an Eva Moscowitz charter school co-locating in that building.

Questions followed next.  A Delegate asked about Article 23 harassment.  Mulgrew answered that we handle each potential grievance on a case-by-case basis.  He added that documentation is the key to winning these grievances.

This was followed by a question about closing schools.  Mulgrew noted that 60 schools are in early engagement and could be closed.  He then pointed out that 17 of the 24 schools that the UFT grieved to keep open this year now had received a grade of B or A on their report cards.  DOE responded that data had changed since last year.  He then declared that some schools will close and we will fight it.

Another question concerned Facebook.  Mulgrew answered that it is a good tool but members must be careful.  A question from PS 185 concerned low teacher morale.  Mulgrew replied that there has been a well orchestrated, well funded eight year national campaign to bash teachers but lately President Obama and the mayoral candidates have stopped bashing teachers. Mulgrew concluded this segment by again referring to the evaluation system.

Next up, there was a new motion period. David Pecararo from Beach Channel made a motion that the Delegate Assembly should require a 2/3 super-majority to support a candidate for public office who has been indicted for a crime.  He said endorsing corrupt politicians was embarrassing.  Paul Egan spoke against this by arguing that in America people are innocent until proven guilty.  He didn't want to see the UFT's hands tied.The Unity majority supported Egan so the motion failed.  At this point time ran out and the meeting ended.

Overall, this was an unproductive DA even by UFT standards. The only issue discussed was whether the UFT should require a majority or a super-majority to endorse politicians who have been  indicted.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Except for the compliant press, does anyone believe that the grades the New York City Department of Education gives to schools mean much?  Chaz discusses the absurdity of schools receiving A and B grades that have very few students who can be considered ready for college work.

This story hits close to home.  As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I teach at the phasing out Jamaica High School.  One of the schools replacing us as we phase out is called Jamaica Gateway. They received an A on their report card.

I congratulate Jamaica Gateway for their grade..  Their administration is very professional.  They have been nothing but kind to me as I try to coordinate SAT exams in Jamaica's building. Some of their staff transferred from Jamaica High; we work very well together. Jamaica Gateway's Chapter Leader is a good friend.  Their students achieved a 97.5% graduation rate and a 60% college ready rate. That's not bad at all.  Where did these graduates come from?  The answer is Jamaica High School.

Many of the top achieving juniors and sophomores from Jamaica High School were automatically transferred into Jamaica Gateway when it opened in 2011.  Their entire 2012 graduating senior class was educated at Jamaica High School for three years.  I was the Advanced Placement US History teacher for many of these kids two years ago.  There were some really great students in that group.

The Jamaica High School-Jamaica Gateway formula of taking top pupils and moving them out of a school that the powers that be want to fail and placing them into a program that they want to succeed is a mini-version of the school reform movement.

Who is left behind in the traditional school?  Many of the students who remain at Jamaica High School are those who have more challenging needs such as English Language Learners, Self Contained Special Education pupils, and students who are over-age and lack credits.  (We also have some Jamaica High School loyalists who had to opt out of the transfer to Gateway.)  The inevitable result of cherry picking the top students is that the new school will succeed and the old school will fail. Then, the education officials go out to the public and say, "You see the new school is doing so much better than the school it replaced." This happens in charter schools and new public schools all over.

When the DOE wants to increase the overall graduation rate, they can then scare the living daylights out of the teachers in the new schools and remaining traditional schools so teachers know to pass virtually everyone to avoid the fate of schools like mine.

Does this help education?  Playing political football with children is something that historians will not look kindly upon.  Sadly, it is now coming to the college level.  Students who are not prepared for college often drop out. What to do?  Water down the college education. This is part of a petition from the Professional Staff Congress (professor's union) at the City University of New York.

"Under the pretext of easing student transfer and increasing graduation rates, Pathways will deliver a minimal curriculum for CUNY’s working-class students: it removes science lab requirements, limits foreign language requirements, and cuts back on faculty time with students in English classes.  Pathways is an attempt to move students through the system more quickly even as budgets are cut—by reducing academic requirements. Pathways is austerity education for an austerity economy." 

On a different but related topic, my colleague Marc Epstein has written a piece for the Huffington Post critical of the destruction of neighborhood schools.  It seems that the recent super-storm Sandy and the subsequent shutdown of the New York City transportation system revealed something we all know: students are using the public transportation system in much greater numbers than in the past because they are attending schools all over the city. Wouldn't we be leaving a much lighter carbon footprint if we fixed neighborhood schools so that young people would not have to travel across the city to get to school each day?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The Union has produced a Question and Answer sheet pertaining to the three days of vacation time that we are surrendering from the midwinter break because we missed days due to super-storm Sandy.  The Q and A explains some of our dilemma but not everything.

Basically, the UFT argument is that we are adhering to the law so we have no choice but to give up three vacation days. A very close look at the situation still reveals that there is some wiggle room that could have been used but was not.

The original calendar had us working 184 days.  Subtract the 4 we were off for Sandy and we are still working the 180 required by state law. (I understand that some schools missed more than four working days but we are talking about the majority of the system.)

-  4

The problem is that there are not enough instructional days in that 180. The state only allows four conference days as part of the 180.  We have already used all four up.  There were the two in September before the kids came in, Election Day and Friday, November 2.  That is the day the city made us come back to school after the storm but the kids stayed home.  We did a great deal of orientation on that day which is allowable according to the state.

If the two remaining conference days (January 28 and June 6) are switched to teaching days, we would pretty much be in compliance with the state regulations.  We would have 180 days with four used as conference days.

Don't let anyone tell you that Regents days and rating day don't count as State aidable.  Here is what the state says:

"Regents Days
Regents examination days, including rating days, count toward fulfilling the 180 required days of instruction, but schools need not take attendance on such days."

The city can still make the argument that the first day when we come back in September should not be an aidable day because we were preparing our rooms and there was only some professional development. I would contend that it should be counted as a conference day since much of the time was spent listening to the rules such as, "There will be no corporal punishment or verbal abuse," and we also did a great deal of professional development. That seems like an orientation to me.

If we concede on the first day, which I would not, then we would have to make up one day.  There is precedent for us working on a legal holiday.  Recall that in 1993 we missed a week because of the asbestos crisis.  November 11, a legal holiday, fell on a Thursday that year.  We taught that day. Would we rather work on MLK Day or Memorial Day than lose most of the mid-winter break?

Even if we take the worst case scenario for most of us, which I would not, and agree that we came to work for nothing on November 2 and September 4, it is still only two days that have to be made up, not three.

As for the hyper-compliance with the law that the UFT is now citing as the reason we must shorten the midwinter break, it doesn't hold up.  Let's look at what the Commissioner's Regulations say concerning aidable days after the Regents: "Session days should not be scheduled after the June Regents examination period."  The original NYC calendar has three days on it, June 26, 27 and 28, where schools are in session after the Regents are done. I guess our contract is out of compliance.  Or, perhaps there is some flexibility here and something called the spirit of the law.

The point of all of this is to say that there could have been negotiations and the calendar could have been altered to preserve vacations, that teachers and students need to recharge, while still providing adequate instructional time.  It could have been worked out if we were dealing with reasonable people. I blame the UFT leaders for not consulting with us before they agreed to something but the main culprits here are the City/DOE who as usual showed complete contempt for both teachers and students.

Since I am trying to be fair in the spirit of the holiday, I will add that the only part the DOE got right in this entire mess was allowing us not to lose sick bank time when people could not get to work after the storm. Does that make up for the rest of this?

Happy Thanksgiving!

The union's Q and A is printed below in its entirety so our leaders can have the last word.

Q & A on making up lost instructional time due to Hurricane Sandy

We hope this Q & A answers your questions about making up the storm days. But at the risk of repetition, there are some things that we want you to know before you read the Q & A. We want to make it clear that we wish this never happened and we wish we didn’t have to make up the days. But making up the days was NOT a choice. It’s the law. We did not have the power to negotiate over if we should make up the days or not. We just discussed which days we MUST make up. This is happening to ALL the affected school districts in New York State. The Commissioner of Education cannot grant a waiver while we still have vacation days. School districts only get a waiver after ALL vacation days are used.
Why did we have to give up part of our midwinter break? There had to be better alternatives.
First of all, we didn’t have the power to negotiate over whether or not to give up days. State law requires that we make up those days. The discussions we had with the DOE were only about which days to use. The state requires a minimum number of 180 instructional days and this school year, we were close to that minimum given how the holidays fell. If this were last year, when we had 186 days in the school calendar, we would have been able to absorb the lost time. We are dealing with this issue because we have the maximum vacation time in this year’s calendar.
The union explored every possible option for making up the time, but state law and regulations would not allow us to convert PD days, get a state waiver, extend the day, come in Saturdays, work on federal holidays or use days at the end of the school year. The time had to come out of the Christmas break, the midwinter break, the spring break and one clerical half-day. There was no other choice.
Why didn’t you consult with the members before agreeing to give up those three vacation days?
Time was of the essence in this situation so members and parents could make plans. Under state law, the days had to come from one of the three breaks. The midwinter break was chosen because it was the only break that did not contain religious observance days.
The state has the power to grant a waiver in the event of a natural disaster. Why didn’t the state issue one in this instance?
By state law, we would have to use up EVERY vacation day in this year’s school calendar before the state Education Department or the State Education Commissioner can grant a waiver allowing New York City to have fewer than 180 days in the school calendar.
How have other school districts around the state dealt with this dilemma?
As of Nov. 20, 13 school districts on Long Island have already agreed to make up the time by taking away all or part of the February break and/or the spring break. Others will be following suit in the days ahead. There weren’t better choices available for any school district.
I already booked a trip to visit my family in California. Do I have to cancel my plane tickets?
We realize that a number of you have already bought airline tickets or cruises for the midwinter break and risk losing a lot of money if you canceled those trips now. At our insistence, the DOE agreed to allow any UFT member who has purchased a vacation before Nov. 20 to go on the purchased vacation and instead deduct those days from his or her CAR bank. They will have to submit proof of purchase. If they have no days in their leave bank, they can either borrow days or take the days as days without pay. These absences won’t be used against those members in any disciplinary hearing or in their end-of-year rating.
Why didn’t the union insist on making up the lost instructional time by using Election Day and Brooklyn-Queens Day for instruction instead of professional development?
Under New York State law, school districts have the right to use up to four days without instruction in the calculation of the number of days to meet the state’s 180-day minimum requirement. The DOE already used four non-instructional days — including Election Day and Brooklyn-Queens Day — in its calculation so converting those days to instruction would not have helped solve the problem.
Why didn’t we make up the time by converting the last few days in June into instructional days or by extending the school year?
State law does not allow you to make up days to meet the 180-day minimum by adding instructional days after the completion of the high school Regents. That means we could not make up the lost time by making changes to the school calendar at the end of June.
Why didn’t we convert Martin Luther King Day or Memorial Day into work days instead?
State law does not permit turning a federal holiday into a school day.
Why didn’t we make up the time by extending the school day?
According to state law, you can’t add to the minimum number of required instructional days by extending the length of the school day.
Why is it that we frequently work more than 180 days per year without getting any days back?
Our contract states that we come back to work the day after Labor Day and up to the last Wednesday in June. The length of the school year depends on where the holidays fall in a given year. This year, every holiday fell on a school day so we were already at nearly the minimum number of required days.
The mayor ordered non-school-based members to report to their work site for the whole week after the hurricane. I walked miles to get to my school. Why do I have to make up that time?
If non-school-based members such as teachers assigned made it to work on any of those four days starting on Oct. 29, they will not have to make up those days that they reported.

Monday, November 19, 2012


UFT members recently received an email from President Mulgrew that included the following paragraph:
"With respect to the school system, we all understand that our students lost at least a week of instructional time as a result of this unprecedented natural disaster. Under state law, the school calendar must have a minimum number of days. In any given year, the New York City school calendar has from 182 to as high as 196 days, depending on when the holidays fall. Unfortunately, because we were at the low end with 182 days this year, there are no days to absorb all the instructional time we lost. We will have to make that time up. We have had to do this before on several occasions. Most recently, in the early 1990s, members had to give up vacation days to make up days when schools were closed because of the asbestos crisis. We are talking to the state Education Department and the city Department of Education about what needs to be done to be in compliance with the law. We better hope that we don’t get hit with a major snowstorm this winter. We will keep you updated."
Where does Mulgrew come up with the 182 number from?  We started out with 184 work days. That should mean we have 184 days where we receive state aid or what are called aidable days.
According to the NYC  Department of Education, "Calculations of aidable days incorporate Chancellor Conference/Regents Examination Days. Under Commissioner's Regulations, Chancellor Conference Days may include general staff orientation, curriculum development, in-service education, or Parent-Teacher Conferences.  They may not include routine administrative matters such as grading examinations or pupil assignments, record keeping, or lesson planning." The state allows four of these conference days per year.I do not understand how the DOE came up with 182 days for the middle schools and 183 days for the elementary schools and the high schools. We are working 184 days.
Count up our work days yourself. 16 for September, 22 in October, 19 in November, 15 in December, 21 in January, 15 in February, 16 in March, 20 in April, 22 in May and finally 18 in June.  I have added up these numbers multiple times and it comes to 184.  Subtract 3 from October and 1 from November that we lost because of the storm and that leaves 180 work days. Recall that we worked on Friday, November 2 so that can be an allowable conference day. Add two conference days in September and Election Day and that is our allowable four for the year.
For the high schools, we only need to take away our remaining conference days  (January 28, June 6) and turn those into instructional days and then we have our 180 days.  By my calculations, changing the two conference days into teaching days should put us in compliance with state law.  I don't see how the middle schools and elementary schools would not be in compliance either as they have fewer conference days (no January 28) than high schools. Since four is the maximum conference days allowed by state law, it appears we have no choice but to change these into instructional days.
If anyone has other ideas, please inform us.  I can't see why Mulgrew is talking about giving up vacation time when it is not necessary. I do agree with him that we better hope there is not a major snow storm this year or we will have to dip into vacation days to be in compliance with state law.  

Update: UFT, as usual, capitulated without a fight. We will lose three vacation days taken from the February midwinter break but continue with all of the useless staff development days.  

Friday, November 16, 2012


MORE PRESS RELEASE: UFT RTTT Agreement A Terrible Mistake

For Immediate Release

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Contact: Julie Cavanagh -917-836-6465

UFT RTTT Agreement A Terrible Mistake

The UFT has agreed to sign onto NYC's RTTT application, adding as many as 100 schools to the city’s three-year-old "Innovation Zone" and expanding online learning and instruction among other technology-based techniques.

This agreement is a terrible mistake, selling out teachers and kids. This agreement was made despite the fact that there is no research to show that the millions of dollars currently being spent on online learning in the 250 schools already in NYC's Izone have worked to improve schools, or help students learn. According to Gotham Schools, the UFT leadership’s Mendel said, "the union wanted to facilitate efforts to boost student achievement, even if it’s not clear whether the efforts will ultimately pay off," and, "that we should be experimenting with different things. If they don't work, shut it down. If they do work, then expand them." MORE caucus does not believe in this time of devastating cuts to our schools allocating millions of dollars to experiment on other people's children is what is best for our schools or the students we serve.

According to Julie Cavanagh, MORE caucus UFT presidential candidate, "There is no evidence to support online learning anywhere else in the country. Putting kids on computers does no "personalize" learning; it does the opposite. This RTTT application, which the UFT has agreed to, would allocate funding to support the creation of as many of a dozen new schools built on the basis of online learning; which would ultimately likely help the DOE in closing down existing schools rather than improving them, in the process causing more chaos, disruption and "churn" and excessing more teachers."

This agreement also obligates the UFT to adopt a teacher evaluation system tied to test scores by 2014-2015, which many experts have stated and highly flawed TDRs revealed, is highly volatile, unreliable and unfair.

"Before the UFT negotiates any new teacher evaluation system with the city, they should require that the teacher growth scores already completed by the state, that do not take class size or demographic background of students into account, be revealed to individual teachers and are proven to be valid. MORE caucus is also calling for a democratic membership vote to adopt any potential evaluation system before an agreement is made," said Peter Lamphere, MORE member.

MORE caucus believes the UFT leadership should insist on progress for reducing class size, the top priority of parents and the ONLY way to truly personalize learning or differentiate instruction instead of agreeing to misguided and destructive policies poorly disguised as potentially beneficial experiments on our children. Class sizes have risen five years in a row, with the union leadership doing little or nothing to stop it.
Thanks to Education Notes for helping with this one.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


From the Staff Directors.
Dear UFT chapter leaders and delegates,
Last Saturday, UFT volunteers did relief work in Midland Beach, Coney Island, Far Rockaway and stuffed backpacks at 52 Broadway for students from these neighborhoods.
The needs in these stricken communities are enormous. That’s why we are inviting you, your colleagues and your family to join us this Saturday, Nov. 17 for a Day of Action.
There are multiple options:

Coney Island

We will be gathering at Tom’s Restaurant on the Coney Island boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue at 9:30 a.m. to help with the distribution of sorely needed food and supplies, to canvass neighborhood residents still in their homes about their urgent needs and to help remove debris. 
To get there, take the D, F, N or Q trains to the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue station.
The following donations are also welcome: flashlights, batteries, cleaning supplies, school supplies, baby food and diapers, cat litter and plastic bags to package and distribute the goods that day.

Far Rockaway

We are sending busloads of volunteers from the Queens UFT office and the Bronx UFT office to Far Rockaway to help sort and distribute sorely needed supplies, do door-to-door deliveries to homebound residents, and do some manual labor on a few blocks that need help with the cleanup.
The bus will be leaving from the Queens UFT office at 97-77 Queens Blvd. at 9:30 a.m.
The Bronx volunteers will be gathering at the Bronx UFT office at 2500 Halsey St. at 8:30 a.m. The bus will depart the Bronx UFT at 9:15 a.m. and return about 4:30 p.m.
If you have school supplies you can donate to Rockaway students, please bring them along.

Staten Island

We are also helping fellow UFT members from Midland Beach clean up their flood-ravaged homes. Some of it will be rough work: ripping up ruined floorboards and removing insulation before mold sets in.
We will be gathering at St. Mary Margaret’s Church at 560 Lincoln Ave. in Midland Beach at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

UFT headquarters

Last Saturday, in an incredible team effort, we filled thousands of backpacks with school supplies for children from the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.
We are returning this Saturday to fill thousands more. We will begin work on the second floor of 52 Broadway at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided.
Thank you for helping these communities in great need.
If you opt for relief work in one of the neighborhoods, please dress warmly, and wear comfortable shoes and gloves.
LeRoy Barr and Ellie Engler
Staff Directors

Friday, November 09, 2012


Everyone should go over to the NYC Parents Blog to see how education issues did on election day.

Results were not that awful as Bridgeport, Connecticut voted down mayoral control.  California approved Proposition 30 to stop further budget cuts to education.  Charters are having a tough time in Washington; an awful school superintendent in Indiana was ousted and Idaho voted down three proposals that would have harmed teachers.

Closer to home, it appears that control of the NY Senate is turning over to the Democrats. Hopefully, that is good news.

On the other hand, we had some setbacks too as Georgia voted for charters (and Washington still may approve them); Oakland voted for a deform minded school board and more.  Read all about it all from Parents Across America.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Dear Delegates,
We will not be holding the November Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, Nov. 14, after all because of the conflict with parent-teacher conferences.
Instead, the DA will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Please bring winter clothing including jackets, warm socks, toiletries, baby supplies and cleaning supplies to the DA, and we will get them to school communities in need of these things.
The December DA will take place, as originally scheduled, on Dec. 12.
LeRoy Barr and Ellie Engler

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Due to the impending storm, the UFT has decided to postpone the Delegate Assembly until November 14.

I am wondering if the agenda will be a regular one or if it will just be about the storm and its aftermath.

As for tomorrow's storm, everyone please stay safe.


From the UFT staff directors.

Nov. 7 Delegate Assembly

The Delegate Assembly on Wednesday will take place as planned, but with a new storm-related agenda.  
Please bring flashlights, batteries, winter jackets and cleaning supplies to the DA, and we will get them to school communities in dire need of these things.


Absent Teacher Reserves, thanks to a DOE UFT agreement that this blog strongly opposed, are forced to move from school to school on a weekly basis within their districts.  The ATRs have no UFT representation of their own choosing at the school level.

An Absent Teacher Reserve problem was created by the horrible 2005 contract which changed the part of the contract that previously had guaranteed teachers from a school that closed or downsized a position in another school.

Now, they basically cover classes of absent teachers while hoping that a principal will hire them for a year long or full time regular position. Some ATRs are asked to perform tasks that are totally unrelated to their job and must complain to chapter leaders they might not know or non-elected UFT district representatives..

The ranks of the ATRs have grown again recently with so many schools being closed or downsized.  To their credit, the UFT has said in public that they will not settle on a contract where the ATRs can be  terminated if they can't find a full time job with a fixed period of time like a year. However, since veteran UFT members cost a principal more money on their budget (particularly among non-teacher titles), there is an incentive for principals to hire new people and leave ATRs to roam. UFT's totally inadequate answer is to tell ATRs they are lucky to have a job.

Some ATRs have organized to try to get ATRs elected representation.  Phillip Nobile is one such individual.  He asked us to print his letter to UFT Brooklyn Borough Representative Howie Schoor so here it is in its entirety.

For the record, ICE supports the ATRs having their own Chapter until we can gain decent placement rights for excessed individuals or at least having elected borough liaisons as Phillip is pushing for.


A week has passed since you and two of your reps in the Brooklyn UFT office sinned against solidarity. At last Thursday’s ATR meeting Ellen Driesen, John Capuano, and you attempted to sabotage the collection of names and email addresses of attending ATRs. This grassroots effort was the consequence of your refusal to share your sign-in sheets.

Apparently, you and your reps are opposed to ATRs organizing among themselves. The UFT even denies us teachers in good standing the same level of representation (i.e., democracy) once granted to suspended and suspect rubber roomers. ATRs are essentially unmoored from the union: we have no chapters, no chapter leaders, no chapter meetings, no delegates at the Delegates Assembly, no seat on the ATR Review Committee, not even elected liaisons a` la the rubber rooms.

On top of this steady disenfranchisement, you guys decided to go gangsta and rip off our contact list. Making matters worse, you have not shown the courtesy of a reply to my email of October 27 asking for an apology and explanation. What were you all thinking?

I copied the email to President Michael Mulgrew, Secretary Michael Mendel, and Staff Director LeRoy Barr. No word from them either. It seems that your contempt for ATR organization goes right to the top.

Nevertheless, this embarrassing incident need not drive a further wedge between UFT leadership and ATRs. Surely, if we had reps of our own protecting and advancing our interests within the inner union circles, tension would relax and hundreds, maybe thousands, of ATRs would have some real skin in the game. How bad is that?

If the UFT won’t budge from its un-Jeffersonian, no-ATR-reps-at-the-table position, there is room for compromise. Unofficially, without commitment from the UFT, our people could arrange for a small group ATRs drawn from all boroughs to meet monthly with Amy Arundell, Our Lady of ATRs. Let’s start the conversation in November and see how it goes. The first item on the agenda: sharing UFT sign-in sheets.

Thanks for your consideration

P.S. I have copied all ATRs who signed our contact list before it was rudely interrupted.