Saturday, March 14, 2015


There was a great deal of news occurring this week so I decided to combine the stories into one post and give a quick report and editorial comment on each. Thanks to Jeff Kaufman for keeping us updated by sending out the weekly newsletter for chapter leaders.

Topic 1: Tenure
From the UFT Weekly Chapter Leader Update:

UFT to appeal preliminary ruling in motion to dismiss tenure lawsuit

UFT president Michael Mulgrew said the union will appeal a state judge's March 12 ruling that allows the plaintiffs' lawsuits challenging teacher due-process rights and seniority to proceed.  The suits were filed last year by a New York City parent organization and a state group headed by former TV personality Campbell Brown.  The decision did not address the merits of the case; the judge simply ruled that the lawsuit could go forward.  The UFT has intervened as a defendant in the lawsuits, along with its state affiliate, the New York State United Teachers.

Commentary: This is round one of what will more than likely be a long term struggle.  By the time this suit is finally ruled on by a judge, appealed to the Appellate Division and ultimately decided by the NYS Court of Appeals, most of us will probably be already long since retired, terminated, resigned or in the afterlife.  I think the UFT and NYSUT have handled this suit properly.

Topic 2: Assembly Budget

Again we go to the UFT Weekly Chapter Leader Update:

All our work with the state Assembly is paying off.

Members of the Assembly are holding firm so far against the governor. The one-house budget resolution submitted on Monday by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not contain the governor’s education proposals and calls for significantly more school aid. The Assembly resolution’s proposed $1.8 billion increase in statewide education funding would be mostly channeled to foundation aid, which is targeted to the districts with the highest-need students, including New York City. Not surprisingly, the one-house resolution submitted this week by the Republican-controlled state Senate mirrored the governor’s education agenda. In addition, it called for allowing up to 30 percent of teachers in charter schools to be uncertified and providing building aid for charter schools. We, again, thank all of you who traveled to Albany on March 4 for Lobby Day and have been calling, faxing and sending postcards to the governor and state lawmakers. Over the next two weeks, let’s keep the pressure on. Here are all the ways that our school communities can lobby the governor and our state lawmakers. For more detailed information, read the Chalkbeat article on the Assembly resolution and the Auburn Citizen article on the Senate resolution.

Commentary:  The Assembly is taking a position for more school aid and against Governor Andrew Cuomo's so called reforms but the Senate is agreeing with the Governor.  That is two out of three opposed to us.  Most people feel that a deal is being worked out behind the scenes where Cuomo will get some of what he wants but not nearly all of it.  By April 1, expect to see something worked out where teachers will lose something (30-40% of teacher evaluations might be based on the results of a single student test score on an unreliable/invalid test, the charter school cap will be increased or choose a different poison) but the UFT will claim victory because there will be a substantial increase in school aid.  If anyone thinks that major parts of the boost in school funding will filter down to the classroom, they will probably be proven wrong.

Topic 3: Actions

One last time to the UFT Weekly Chapter Leader Update

Thank you for an amazing week of school-based actions

Thanks to all of you, school communities across the city came together this week to express their outrage with Gov. Cuomo's anti-teacher, anti-student education agenda. Whether by marching, wearing a specific color, filming a video or passing out leaflets to parents, chapter leaders spearheaded the week of action.  The protests peaked on March 12, when, parents, their children and educators at 500 or more schools joined hands to form a human chain around their buildings before or after classes as if to protect them from the governor's proposals.  This past week, you and your members sent a clear message that it is educators and parents - not the governor or corporate interests - who know #AllKidsNeed.

Commentary-Keep up the fine work everyone. This blog also supports Public Advocate Letitia James' rally Sunday at City Hall Park at 1:30 pm and we endorse the rally outside Governor Cuomo's Midtown office at 633 Third Avenue (at E 41st Street) on Saturday, March 28 at noon. Perhaps the pressure can move the needle in Albany a bit in our favor.

Topic 4 Absent Teacher Reserve Arbitrary Rotations

You won't see this is in any UFT publications.

ATR's are being rotated to different schools after being in their current schools for just two weeks. The ATRs had received emails the last two weeks stating that they would be in their current schools through April 3 (the start of spring break).  Why the change now?

I am reasonably certain that those who were in difficult schools are thankful to be rotated out earlier than expected but many others who had planned their lives around being settled in a school until April 3 are not happy.  I know of a colleague who had scheduled an observation with a supervisor for this coming Wednesday.  She was working with a class and a teacher so that she could be prepared but now the ATR has been rotated and is back in a state of uncertainty.

Is there any rhyme or reason to the ATR rotation system?  It is a textbook example of arbitrary administration. 

As usual with the ATRs, we ask the same question: Where is our union?



Anonymous said...

Most ATRs and new teachers I know are much more upset with the UFT than with the DOE. There are lots of horror stories out there. If union dues become optional, the UFT will lose 75% of its members. Why don't they help us?

Anonymous said...

Great question. I agree on how 75% think UFT is a waste.

Anonymous said...

Had an awful week dealing with cell phones. The union should have put their foot down to stop this. Interesting piece,

Anonymous said...

Is there anyway that we, as professional educators, can decide that we do no longer want to be a part of this union? I don't see how the UFT is helpful to any of us anymore.

Anonymous said...

Prognosticating about the stupid deals coming down the pike is like trying to soften the blow. Want to stop this crap? Strike. We should have done so at the first mandated APPR. I used to think ours is the worst teachers local in the country. But, looking at the fights being up in Germany and Myanmar, I realize we are the worst in the world!

Anonymous said...

Look deeper. The UFT is the worst teacher union in the universe.

Anonymous said...

You can opt for agency fee collection and object to the nature of the union. You still pay dues, can't vote, and may ask for a refund on your pro rated lobbying and political action.

Anonymous said...

We had a great ATR at my school the past 2 weeks. In addition to being a great teacher she also helped make signs with our rally on Thursday. As CL I added her to my email distribution so she would know what's going on. Last night I received an email from her:

"Hi xxxxxx thank you for the update. I wanted to let you know as an ATR I was transferred as of tomorrow. Apparently the ATR people don't care about the fact I was happy at your school. I would really appreciate being in the loop if you don't mind, I really felt like part of the staff at xxx. I don't get any other so at least if I get your info I know what's going on. I will be more than happy to appear w xxx to support you. Thank you for Everything."

It's sad. This is no way to treat our teachers. I'm going to remain anonymous to protect her identity.

James Eterno said...

Add her to our list too please. She sounds like a great teacher.