Thursday, December 18, 2014


I had family commitments that kept me away from the visitor's section at the December Delegate Assembly but the very capable Megan Moskop from MORE took notes.  We thank her for doing this.  It is not an easy job as UFT President Michael Mulgrew often jumps all over the place as he gives his lengthy report.

President’s Report

US will start to normalize relations with Cuba.

Cuomo will ban fracking.

Nationally- not much going on. Senate- no shutdown of government. Republicans have figured out that it isn’t a good play. AFT is closely examining legislation.

Justice for all March in DC- UFT sent 10 buses. ½ were members, ½ were NAACP and community members. As far as these issues go, we have to be able to voice our opinions in a respectful way. We have different opinions and we need to show people on the outside that what happened in Ferguson is not what we want to happen in NYC. We need to have a place to have a respectful conversation.  The NY Post- you can’t say they’re wrong on everything and right on this.  We have to be respectful and peaceful. We have and will work with NYPD; we work inside communities. For that to work, it has to be respectful in both ways. At the school level, we do great work with NYPD, why is that never in the paper? The issue here is for us to move forward and discuss issues that are uncomfortable in a respectful way. We need to do that.  

I (Mulgrew) met a group from Ferguson in DC- it was painful, those young adults had so much anger and felt that more needed to be done and it shouldn’t just be peaceful. Everything that we tried to make sure did not happen, it was clear to me that we made the right decision.  A young person said, “I’m a peaceful demonstrator and I've been shot with rubber bullets 28 times.” In NYC the police are being respectful of the demonstrators. There will be generations of what we’ve lived through- mistrust. We’ve handled it better than ever before.

Our job as a union is to help people through difficult times. The day after the Garner Decision, we had conversations in classrooms to help our students with their anger. Yes, people want change, and as people who care for children, we have to rise above, keeping things respectful. Overall, our focus has to be on moving forward respectfully.

Rallies will continue; this has caused an important conversation. Respectful conversation to make our communities a better place.

UFT Members (Which ones? I wonder.) have been having meetings with state legislative reps from NYC.  All the reps have been visited by the charter school industry already. Mulgrew met with newly elected assembly people here yesterday.

Teacher Evaluation- In the news today. Results are “odd” in the rest of the state. John King thinks NYC’s system is more reliable than elsewhere.

Growth scores are complicated things, but we have folks who get it. “They told me this was the right thing to do.” We’re trying to figure out a way to simplify it, but this seems to work. Our system is complicated, but it works. We’ve never had this low a number of ineffective teachers. Across the state, the numbers are higher.  The Governor announced today that he wants to re-open the law and make eval more rigorous. We’re going to have to push the facts through on this one. Eval should be about helping people improve. 7% of teachers are developing in NYC. That means we have close to 6,000 on improvement plans. (Eterno's note: Is that something to brag about?) That’s new.  And highly effective, we now have a career ladder. We have to work on how to develop that more.  Our system is working.Check and balance in the law. We submitted plans across the state, SED could have said no to make us change it. John King approved ALL the plans.

Now we’ll have another fight over eval since the law is being re-opened. This is why we met with the assembly-members. We’re also working on mayoral control, and the charter cap.

Now, Legislature will push for a quota system (i.e. 10% of teachers are ineffective no matter what.) This goes against what we’re doing in NYC, because it makes us all competing against each other- which is not what we want. This will be one of our big fights.

(Megan's Note:Then why do we have a career ladder that is “competitive” for pay? I wonder.)

The governor is basically saying that the unions hoodwinked everyone with teacher eval. Small school districts were told to develop their own growth formulas, and many didn't have capacity to do it well.
Why do people think that if only 40% of the kids pass the test, only 40% of teachers are effective?  That doesn’t make sense, and we need to be talking about it, especially those of us who teach hard-to-serve populations (newcomer ELLs, etc).  Using student achievement for eval isn’t something we like, but student achievement is part of our responsibility. With multiple measures, it can be okay. We took a difficult situation, and we did the right thing.

Tenure lawsuit- We filed for dismissal. They submitted their answer, and we replied. Now we are waiting to see. What just happened around teacher eval will be part of the media campaign.

Renewal Schools- We had a meeting, and the PROSE team is also working with the renewal schools. The need index formula that Bloomberg created shows that the renewal schools are almost directly the 94 neediest schools in the city. We’ve asked those schools to come up with a plan (we want to be pro-active, and have already helped them advocate for things.) Huge change in policy under this mayor- not closing, giving money, schools can change schedules, teachers can work a longer day if they want.

District 75, 79- same sort of approach there. We want to create a plan. Chancellor is announcing a new structure for the system soon. Usually these districts are left out, but now we want to take 75 and 79 and get them out front- have asked them to “come up with a plan” for needed supports. Most are numerous programs inside of schools. These are our most challenging students, and they need the most support.

Press conference last week around class size. Group of lawyers/parents won court case “campaign for fiscal equity” ---NYC would get $$ from the state that was owed. Then the economy collapsed. Now, its booming, but we still haven’t gotten the court settlement that mentions reducing class size.  Now we are advocating for K-3 classes no bigger than 15. Funding would come from taxing luxury condos with out-of-state owners (who don’t live in the city and pay taxes).  The Daily News and NY Post have attacked the union on this, citing invalid studies that say “class size doesn’t matter, poverty has nothing to do with educational outcomes.”

We need to be focused on “research” and “facts” from people who study education, and we need to be sharing those with lawmakers so they are not just hearing from Gates-funded foundations and corporate CEOs.

We have voice, we have a contract, let’s use it! Schools need to have active PD and consultation committees. Plan to implement contract is moving. By the end of this school year, there will be improvement in all sorts of things.

Happy Holidays.

Staff Report- Leroy Barr
This past week:
-Big Apple Classic leadership summit. College Fair at Barclays Center.
-Coalition for Homeless Holiday Celebration
-Tomorrow: Kwanzaa celebration at 4:30. All are invited.
-Next DA: January 14th.

Mulgrew puts on a singing hat and announces that he wants to make a segment of the DA about contract implementation- we’ll hear from PROSE people 1st.

Question- Lots of teachers have complained about admin e-mailing them outside of work time and mandating responses. Can admin do that?
Mulgrew Answer: No. We’re going to have to start grappling more with electronic communication. The best way for us to do this is to share what people are doing well and what is working. Some teachers set this up really well during the first weeks of school. Some people are using tech to make their lives easier and if we don't want to deal with that we’re being foolish.

Question: Farina has spoken about more funding, extending workday for middle schools. How will that be implemented?
Answer: I think I covered this in my report. If you want to extend learning time, you can change schedules or come up with a program that teachers buy into and are compensated for. A school decision. Maybe we should come up with some models for changing the schedules to extend learning time and change programming positively.

Question: Can the DOE and UFT work together to re-open teacher cafeterias?
Answer: Who wants that? DC37 has to man it. Teachers didn’t eat the food in those cafeterias and that’s what closed a lot of them.  What about the “fun” lunchroom program? Maybe we should have that for teachers.

Question: Thank you for the fabulous hat. Main office should have a UFT member payroll secretary and pupil personnel secretary, right? Is there a way for principals to circumvent that?
Answer: This has been a huge problem, we did an arbitration and we won. DOE lost that arbitration and set it up so that no one could become a licensed secretary. This happened to other civil service agencies too. So since they didn’t give the exam they outsourced the work. Contact Laura Tamboro. There is a new process for hiring secretaries. We’ll send it out in the CL alert.

Question- Principal is sending people for psych evals, other CL was shipped out, now that he is filing grievances, he is getting rated ineffective. Numbers are low for developing and ineffectives, but in his struggling school, this is not the case.
Answer: Talk to Leroy. We will do something about this.

Question- We need a reading specialist.
Answer: Okay. We’re talking about that.

Question: Group of us want to stop contraction and elimination of low-level students from that program. We would like to be in on the project for 75 and 79.
Answer: Great. We want to get more people involved in that.

Question: What are we actually doing to fight for class size, etc on a larger scale for all the issues that we’re facing?
Answer: That’s why we’re meeting with the assembly. We want to target what we’re fighting for. We’ve given people talking points, we’ll push that out before the “state of the state.” We have a “for” and “against” agenda.

**Megan's question (which she didn’t get called on to ask): How have members been involved in the creation of that political agenda? What is it exactly and where can we read it? How can we get involved in shaping it or sharing it?  Will the UFT be organizing members to go to charter school hearings and Moskowitz’s press conference?  I’ve signed up online for the political action committee, and have heard nothing.**

Retiree Back Pay
Mulgrew said he forgot to report on the arbitration about retiree back-pay. That is progressing, and retirees who retired at the end of last year should expect to see $ in February.

Resolution #1 In Response to the Grand Jury Decision in the Case of the Death of Eric Garner
(rally last week in DC, ongoing work here.)


Amended- by Sebastian Natera- to add “public school parent”  and “systemic racism and police brutality.”

Abe Levine- we can’t use the word racist, because it has been used by our opponents against us, and that could happen again. This wasn’t about race.

Leroy Barr- supports amendment regarding use of the word parent.  Speaks against second amendment. “I represent every member of this union,”  and we don’t want this to become a splitter issue- regardless of how we may feel individually. Where can, we find common ground to move forward- everyone needs to agree that something is not right, and something must change. People want their grievances heard, and they want them addressed. We should stay away from language that would split this union. The goal is to come through this together because we have other issues we must deal with. We have other issues that will be just as big as this.

Someone called the question (made a motion to end the debate which carried).  

Amendment 1=passed

Amendment 2= did not pass.  There were a few votes in support, and many more votes against the amendment. There also appeared to be many abstentions. These were not called for.  

Attempted point of order that was ignored. (Those who raised it were called out of order, and told that points of order are not allowed to be raised during the vote.)

Resolution Carried.

Resolution #2 In Support of More Accurate Cola Adjustments to Social Security
Joan Heymont spoke in favor while expressing dismay that there are so many senior citizens living in poverty.  She shared her recollection of going to a pension meeting when she first began teaching and hearing that it was her job to put money aside.  She believes all of us should be taken care of in our old age and shared the anecdote that her brother was unable to get Medicaid in Maryland because their cut-off is only $11,000. She stated that this issue is one of the reasons why she is a communist.

The motion carried.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report Megan.