Thursday, September 25, 2014


The story of oversize classes in New York City schools this fall seems to have escaped the mainstream media. The following report is taken directly from last Friday's UFT's weekly Chapter Leader Update.

Thanks to the timely reporting of our chapter leaders, the union filed grievances on Sept. 18 on more than 3,500 oversize classes. The filing of grievances is the first step in the expedited arbitration process in our contract to get class-size violations addressed quickly. Although this year’s Day 10 count on Sept. 17 reflected 210 fewer oversize classes than last year, the classes were dispersed over more schools than in the past. Elementary and middle schools in Queens had a substantial uptick, with 119 more oversize classes than last year. A news story with the details will be coming next week. You can still file a class-size grievance, but only for new violations, and the regular time limits for all grievances will apply. Class size limitations are in Article 7M of the contract.

An updated story is at with Chapter Leader quotes.

There are over 3,500 reported oversize classes this year but:
  • We have a new Chancellor who is supposedly education oriented. 

  • We have many-many Absent Teacher Reserves available to teach classes who instead are substituting. 

  • We had an infusion of extra state aid this year. (Much of the funding is in addition to the universal Pre-K money.) Where did the money go?  Not to the schools as budgets have been frozen.
The oversize class problem not going away provides more evidence that not much has changed in the classroom since Bloomberg/Walcott left and de Blasio/Farina took over.



Anonymous said...

James, a question for you:

A couple of teachers in my school have mild disabilities which require days off from time to time. A new edict from the administration is that teachers are required to walk with their classes when returning from fire drills (as opposed to the teachers taking the elevator and students taking the stairs). Some classes are as high up as the ninth floor. This is of concern to those teachers with the disability, but many others as well. Is it legal to make anyone wok up 9 flights? WHat recourse?

Anonymous said...

walk up ... sorry

James Eterno said...

Call UFT immediately as this looks like a contractual violation (article 2). You might also want to check with federal government as this could be a violation of Americans with Disabilities Act.

Anonymous said...

This is why the NYC DOE is a JOKE.
They drown us in all this Danielson bullshit and flood us with 100 new acronyms every year, but the one thing thats proven to work, LOWER CLASS SIZE, they don't believe in.

This is why i have little respect for these bureaucrats in charge of us and am always embarrassed to tell anyone that I work for the NYC DOE.

David Hedges said...

Teachers are placed at greater risk when the class size is greater than what the DOE has determined is a safe and lawful size. Class size is first and foremost a safety issue. Besides there being a legal ratio of minors-to-adult, the size of the room and the number of unblocked exits needs to be standardized.
Assume, for instance, a teacher is incapacitated in some way, either by a student, an intruder, health, or by accident, how are the children protected when the room is over crowded?
The additional stress and strain on the teacher in over crowded classes has repercussions on the health of the teacher, as well as the health of the children who are mandated, by law, to be in that room.
It is not just a matter of contract, it is a matter of safety and of conscience. If there is no room, legally, the child must be sent to a place where he or she can be safe and the teacher, as well as the students, should not be required to breathe in more than 34 other exhales without a mask.

David Hedges said...

How many ATRs have had increased health problems since becoming ATRs and forced into Rotation? What is the impact, both physical and mental, of spending a week in a school where you carry your coat, umbrella, lunch, water, coffee, and lessons around with you? High blood pressure? Anxiety? Grinding teeth in your sleep? What kind of depression do you feel, at this time in your lives and at this point in your career, when you perhaps expected to feel the glow of professional satisfaction and pride, but to be treated like a homeless sub? How does that affect you? Weren't you expecting to finally get to choose the classes you wanted to teach when the course selection sheets are posted? Weren't you expecting that students and staff would know your name and have heard what to expect from your class by hearing so from the underclassmen? Weren't you expecting that the vocation you chose out of love and a noble calling wouldn't turn around and say to your complaints, "But you're getting paid!" - and those words out of the mouth of both the DOE and the UFT!?

Our health, both mental and physical, has been attacked through this program of Rotation-heit. It began as a way to shake us off and continues as a way to humiliate, degrade, and ultimately make us unhealthy to teach. It is a selection process that smacks of abuse and echos to the beat of the National Socialist Party of Germany. Even the best teachers are being rendered unfit for service through this treatment. No municipal authority, such as the DOE should be permitted to do this to its teachers, unless a particularly evil message is at the heart of their agenda.

David Hedges said...

As far as walking up stairs, the teacher should apply for an Accommodation through HR-Connect Medical that stipulates that his or her classes be on the ground floor. Medical documentation should accompany the request. Someone moving slowly on the stairs can the the cause of a major human pile up that can have grave results. Placing a disabled teacher anywhere but on the ground floor places everyone at risk and it must be corrected before the next fire drill. I would also sent the FDNY a note to report the problem. Better to be safe than sorry

Anonymous said...

Hi James
This is Karen B. from Jamaica HS. I thought you would like to know that I recently received a letter from the
UFT saying that they asked the TRS to determine our correct allowance . . .
according to the OLD contract. We should receive this end of Sept. Of course Mulgrew phrases it like wants us to receive more than the advance payments sent during the summer, and the city will "do its work" to figure out our final allowance. But no mention of when we can expect the truly correct amount.
Just curious if you were aware of this letter to the recent retirees.

Bronx ATR said...

Excellent. Many ATRs I know have developed serious health issues born out of depression and anxiety. It's hard to be treated like a dog's turd stuck on the bottom of a shoe when you know substantially more than the 23 year old teachers and 26 year old administrators.

Anonymous said...

These clowns at the DOE, who have never spent a day in a classroom, are so slick to throw all this "Edu-speak" at us.
The "acronym du joir" is meant to make us feel
like "professionals"
But the fact of the matter is we are NOT professionals, because professionals are never dictated to by no-nothing bureaucrats.
And its these very numbskulls that tell us "class size doesn't matter". And let me add that this bozo we have a UFT "leader" is in the same league.

David Hedges said...

Just as I thought. We all have a secret we are suffering with that is directly related to the ill treatment of the DOE and the enabling words of the UFT.
I don't want to touch a fresh and painful nerve, but how many of us have either been to therapists, thought about it, and or gone to see our doctors a lot more often since becoming the whipping boys of the DOE?
Maybe I'm the only whiner or just the loudest, but I think there is public health matter at state. When a group of people, (call them a minority) have a common experience from a shared identity, (they call us, we call ourselves the name of ATR), and we're suffering, and can document that suffering quantitatively, with data, then we ought to articulate these complaints. Many of us have, and those emails get lost in the Bermuda Triangle at the DOE or the UFT. If we want to feel better then we have to reconnect ourselves to a sense of purpose- that very thing that the DOE tries to extract from us the moment we are branded ATR. Purpose is power. Even if we can't move the mountain, I hope we can all feel better knowing we are moving closer to it.

David Hedges said...

The "Problematic Behavior" clause [] in the contract has a direct impact on teachers with disabilities. Even if the DOE has given a teacher an ADA approved Accommodation, many principals don't comply. When that happens, the teacher is supposed to notify OEO. Bill Brewton at the OEO calls the principal and attempts to enforce the ADA Accommodation. Some principals don't take that very well, Dr. Blake, from STAR, for example, and start retaliating against the ATR by inventing problematic behavior and getting 65 Court St involved. My advice is to send Mr. Brewton an email telling him that the risk of expedited termination is so great, that ATRs with lawful ADA Accommodations can no longer report schools that are not incompliance. Since this section of the Contract places ATRs with disabilities at heightened risk, when compared with other teachers with disabilities, the OEO should challenge it in court.

The link to the OEO is
Anyone who wishes to speak on condition of confidentiality should contact Keaton Wong directly. She is an attorney and is lawbound to keep all interviews confidential, so there won't be any chance of retaliation from a principal.

Our rights, our health, our self-esteem is under attack. It's not the students we have to be wary of, it's the suits at the DOE.

Anonymous said...


How many hours of class time in a row should a teacher have without a bathroom break. What is the maximum amount of time a teacher can teach without a break according to the uft contract. I have a colleague who is teaching 3 hours in a row without a bathroom break. I feel something is not right.

Thank you.

James Eterno said...

I will call around to see what I can discover. Hope all is well Karen.

Anonymous said...

In all fairness allowing ten of thousands of children to cross the border is going to have an impact on many school systems. There was no way of preparing how many were going to show up and at what schools.

David Hedges said...

James- the bathroom break can be mandated through HR-Connect Medical as an Accommodation, as per ADA law, if a medical condition can be documented. Or, the easiest way if to either use the classroom phone to call the main office and have a Dean sent to the class to monitor the students while on break.

In schools where people know you, you can ask them to check on you while they do the hall sweeps.

If it's done via ADA/HR-Connect Medical, there's no legal way you can be refused, even if you use the restroom three times and hour.

Informally, colleagues are there to help and would probably be insulted if you didn't ask them. Best of Luck.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
In all fairness allowing ten of thousands of children to cross the border is going to have an impact on many school systems. There was no way of preparing how many were going to show up and at what schools.

Sunday, September 28, 2014 4:32:00 AM

I want to teach common core to the Guatemalan kids crossing the border. They are my best bet on the MOSL part of my teacher evaluation plan.

Anonymous said...

we can all thank this mindless doe a mike bloomberg creation. the doe was decent before this sicko, maniac bloomberg created a system of atr educators to carry out his ill will against the world really. the only hope is two fold:
atr educators need to file suit against the doe for this destructive treatment
with a new mayor maybe the policies will fade away along with the craziness of the bloomberg years of mass destruction to teachers and students