Wednesday, May 31, 2017


AFT President Randi Weingarten wrote an anti-voucher op-ed in the LA Times with pro-charter advocate Jonah Edelman in which she yet again endorses charter schools.

Here is the latest smoking gun paragraph:
We believe taxpayer money should support schools that are accountable to voters, open to all, nondenominational and transparent about students’ progress. Such schools — district and charter public schools — are part of what unites us as a country.

Nobody should be in the least bit surprised that Randi supports charter schools even as they undermine public schools. Randi, after all, had the UFT open up two charter schools.

The reaction from Diane Ravitch  to the Randi-Edelman piece was to call the op-ed basically good except for the above paragraph we just copied.

Then Diane lays it out there:
It is public schools that unites us as a country, not charter schools. We have seen a steady parade of scandals, frauds, abuses, waste of taxpayer dollars, exclusion of children with special needs, from the charter sector.

Charter schools should be subject to democratic control (an elected school board), should be financially transparent, and should have the same requirements for teachers as public schools. They should be required to accept all children who apply, in the order of their application. They should not be allowed to exclude ELLs and children with disabilities.

Charter schools exist to bust unions and undermine public schools. They are a form of privatization. They should not be put into the same boat as public schools because they are not public schools.

Who again is our national union president?

The reaction in the comments section on Diane's blog from our friend Mike Fiorillo is worth a close look.

Michael Fiorillo says:

Ya gotta give it to Randi: though a willing tool and enabler of privatization for two decades, she can always be counted on to sink even lower, and do even more to prostrate herself before the Overclass and its rapacious appetites.

It wasn’t enough that she has betrayed the people paying her generous salary for years, and functioned as an “asset” (re: 2009 Broad Foundation annual report) of Eli Broad’s and his ilk, but apparently she now feels compelled to publicly ally herself with an avowed enemy of public education and s*%t-heel like Jonah Edelman, who can be expected to turn up shortly on another YouTube video, smirking and bragging about how he punked the teacher’s unions yet again.

After all, Edelman knows, even if Randi doesn’t, that charter operators will have their bread buttered on both sides by Trump/De Vos, while crying crocodile tears at how awful they are. They will be very, very happy circulating her agreement that charters are “public schools.”

I’d wish shame on her, but that’s pointless since, as with Trump, it’s a waste of time to try to shame the shameless.

Or is it that, having worked tirelessly to ensure that teachers didn’t fight the metastasis of charter schools (in fact, having partnered with crooks like Steve Barr), she now feels the need to distract and misdirect them from the consequences of her malefaction? After all, it’s been obvious for quite a while that charters were the camel’s-nose-under-the-tent for vouchers. Or should have been.

Go away, Randi; just go far, far away, and remain silent for a long time while you ponder your endless duplicity and betrayals. Think of the careers destroyed by what you’ve done, and the resulting misery experienced by schoolchildren, just so you could have the self-aggrandizement of “a seat at the table” with a group of well-dressed, well-spoken pigs.

I think I might surprise some readers here but I would not go as hard on Randi as my friend Mike Fiorillo does. Harsh, yes but not that hard.

Randi is the personification of the modern Democratic Party. Just like the party, she tries to be Wall Street and Main Street simultaneously. It is a contradictory position for sure but it is very mainstream.

Since it is virtually impossible to win a general union election in the UFT, NYSUT or AFT, we have to find new ways to say that this status quo is unacceptable to rank and file public school teachers. Mike makes the case well that Randi's policies have ruined many careers and provided misery for untold number of kids but how do we turn it around?

The answer can't be to stop paying union dues when teachers need a union more now than ever.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Our friend Patrick Walsh sent this opinion piece out on Facebook concerning teachers leaving the job in huge numbers in Florida. It is well worth reading and watching the video that goes with it.

From the Sentinel:
Florida politicians keep pushing good teachers away.

With a lack of respect. With obsessing about standardized testing over learning. And with cruddy salaries.

There is a price to pay for close to half of Florida public school teachers leaving within their first five years:
The constant turnover costs us money — $130 million a year, according to a 2014 study. It costs us talent. It deprives students of professionals who studied and train their whole lives to work with students.

The solution proposed may surprise some of our readers:
Ask teachers to name the top 10 ways to improve the classrooms where they spend all their time.

Not another test, regulation or byzantine bonus based on 30-year-old test scores. Let teachers teach. And don't punish those willing to teach in schools with impoverished populations.

The teachers want to stay. Some might even come back. Lein (a teacher who quit) said he would. In fact, he said "Absolutely" without even a pause.

But that won't happen until Florida politicians stop yapping and start listening.

The powers that be don't listen to us in NYC either and will not as long as their campaign war chests are filled with charter money.

Monday, May 29, 2017


As my generation hits retirement age and we leave the system, it looks like the government and the anti-public education zeolots have succeeded in demonizing teachers so that very few people want to enter the profession.

new york state's teacher shortage

As this NYSUT article makes clear, there is already a teaching shortage in certain certification areas.

In November 2013, SED [State Education department] reported the following statewide teacher shortage areas between 2010 and 2014: bilingual education, chemistry, CTE, earth science, English language learners, Languages other than English, library and school media specialist, physics, special education, special education – bilingual, special education – science certification, and technology education. In New York City, SED identified shortage areas that include the arts, biology, chemistry, CTE, English, health education, library media specialist and mathematics.

English is a shortage area in NYC?

As conditions in the classroom continue to deteriorate, the shortage should worsen unless there is another economic upheavel.

The answer from the SED and Regents will probably be to put in more alternative certification programs to make sure classrooms are covered. Classes will be filled with less qualified teachers.

Honestly, if a young relative came to you and asked if he/she should be a teacher, what would you tell him/her?

My mom was a teacher for over 30 years and was truly supportive when I told her I decided to teach. However, I don't see myself reacting with much enthusiasm if one of my own kids told me he or she wanted to pursue a career in the classroom.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


One of the more frustrating aspects of teaching in the modern world is the daily battle of the cell phone.

No matter what the teacher does, it is a real problem going up against the constant pulling out of phones in class. Personally, I have tried to go hard (sanctions for having a cellphone out that I can see), go easy (use them in class to look up signficant information), or go discreet (quietly nudge kids to put them away).

Unless the teacher is willing to really enforce the rules and has backup from administration/deans, this is not an easy one to win.

I am not at all startled in any way shape or form that a teacher has finally lost it when it comes to the battle of the phones.

This story came to me from my friend Marc Epstein from the NY Post:
A Harlem high school teacher was charged with assault for manhandling 17-year-old student who wouldn’t get off her cell phone, cops said.

The teacher, 44-year-old Abdu-Allah Torrence, asked the student to stop using her phone, and then grabbed her by the back of her neck and pulled her backwards when she didn’t do as he asked, according to police.

The student was taken from the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change on W 135th St. to Harlem hospital at about 4 pm Tuesday, investigators said.

She was treated at the hospital and released.

Torrence was issued a desk appearance ticket for misdemeanor assault.

While I don't support what the teacher allegedly did (however, I would like to hear the teacher's side of the story), many of us have been put in situations with defiant kids on cell phones and other issues where we have to almost totally hold back as our authority has been greatly reduced, or even eliminated, in the 21st Century classroom. If there are toxic administrators thrown into this mix, the frustration level is making many teachers sick, or wanting to leave the system or both. Our job is now impossible in many schools.

Unlike many of the readers here, I don't believe it is realistic to go back to the Bloomberg citywide cellphone ban (parents and students would go ballistic) but I would like to see an enforceable disciplinary code. If opposition ever comes to power in the UFT, I would push for teachers having a real say over classroom and school discipline policies. I don't think the majority of parents would oppose that, nor would most of the students for that matter.

Have any of you ever asked the kids how they feel when some of their colleagues get away with virtually anything?

Friday, May 26, 2017


Comptroller Scott Stringer announced that the DOE can't account for $347 million it spent to wire middle schools for high speed internet. Stringer also said that a survey of teachers and principals showed that large numbers were not satisfied with their internet service at school.

This is from a Daily News piece:
The city Education Department has no record of how it spent $347 million earmarked to upgrade internet service at middle schools, an audit showed Sunday.

The department began to update its broadband technology by installing fiber optic cables and other components in all of its 503 middle schools in 2007.

The project was completed last year, but there are no documents showing how much it actually cost, project plans or progress reports, according to city Controller Scott Stringer.

In addition, many educators are frustrated by the service, according to a user-satisfaction survey Stringer’s office conducted.

All told, 33% of the 440 middle school principals and staff who responded said they were not satisfied with the internet service, 45% said the speed did not meet their instructional needs, and 25% said the service was inadequate.

“If we’re going to be the greatest city in the world in this century and the next, we have to prepare our kids for the future,” Stringer said.

“It’s pretty hard to engage a child when the video takes five minutes to load,” he added. “It’s not easy to spread joy and promote the love of learning if a child is at a laptop watching the spinning wheel of death for an extended period.”

The Department of Education comment on this story is a classic:
In response to the survey, department officials argued there was no need to improve the internet service.

They said “school-based respondents were confused by the phrasing of the auditors’ User Satisfaction Survey question about bandwidth upgrades.”

DOE wastes a fortune; educators are unhappy and the DOE replies that nothing is wrong.

OK so this story is really a "dog bites man" piece that Harris Lirtzman sent me.

Is anyone in the least bit surprised by the DOE wasting money or people in the schools being unhappy with their internet service?

Do any of our readers have any stories of wasted money or slow internet?

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Diane Ravitch has an exellent piece in the New Republic that everyone should read in which she blames the Democratic Party for their own demise when it comes to education.

Diane writes:
Listening to their cries of outrage, one might imagine that Democrats were America’s undisputed champions of public education. But the resistance to DeVos obscured an inconvenient truth: Democrats have been promoting a conservative “school reform” agenda for the past three decades. Some did it because they fell for the myths of “accountability” and “choice” as magic bullets for better schools. Some did it because “choice” has centrist appeal. Others sold out public schools for campaign contributions from the charter industry and its Wall Street patrons. Whatever the motivations, the upshot is clear: The Democratic Party has lost its way on public education. In a very real sense, Democrats paved the way for DeVos and her plans to privatize the school system.

Diane is 100% right on this but she leaves out another inconvenient truth: the weakened unions have continued to blindly support and almost never oppose Democrats, no matter how awful their public school records are.

Case in point: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

This is from Diane's piece:

As Democrats learned years ago, support for mandatory testing and charter schools opens fat wallets on Wall Street. Money guys love deregulation, testing and Big Data, and union-busting. In 2005, Obama served as the featured speaker at the inaugural gathering of Democrats for Education Reform, which bundles contributions to Democrats who back charter schools: Among its favorites have been those sharp DeVos critics George Miller, Michael Bennet, and Cory Booker. Conservative funders like the Walton Foundation also give generously to charter schools and liberal think tanks such as the Center for American Progress.

The money had its intended effect. When Andrew Cuomo decided to run for governor of New York, he learned that the way to raise cash was to go through the hedge funders at Democrats for Education Reform. They backed him lavishly, and Cuomo repaid them by becoming a hero of the charter movement. Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, often celebrated for his unvarnished liberalism, is another champion of the charter industry; some of its biggest funders live in his state. California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill to ban for-profit charters in the state, and has resisted efforts to make charters more accountable. As mayor of Oakland, he opened two charter schools.

If memory serves me correct, Zephyr Teachout primaried Andrew Cuomo in 2014. Where were the teacher unions? Did NYSUT or the UFT endorse her grassroots campaign? No, we stayed neutral allowing Cuomo to breeze to reelection and he hurt us badly the next year. For daring to stand up to the governor, Dick Iannuzzi and most of his leadership team at NYSUT were ousted by a UFT led hostile takeover in 2014.

How about former UFT President, now AFT President, Randi Weingarten suporting charter schools and then opening two UFT charter schools? (For the record I voted no on both.) She once told the UFT Executive Board that all ideas except for vouchers are on the table. 

Diane Ravitch writes a great critique of the Democrats but not blaming the unions for their support for so called school reform is a major omission. The big unions have gone along almost every step of the way with the right wing education policies.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Mayoral control of the NYC schools will expire next month unless the Legislature in Albany and the governor renew it. It looks like the Legislature will extend it. This is from Politico NY:

ASSEMBLY PASSES TWO-YEAR MAYORAL CONTROL EXTENDER — POLITICO New York’s Bill Mahoney: The Capitol began what has become an annual dance on Monday as the Assembly passed an extender of mayoral control of New York City public schools and Senate Republicans expressed concerns about the way the system has been working. The only difference in this session's debate was the way the Assembly's one-house measure was written. A bill introduced by Speaker Carl Heastie on Friday tied mayoral control to dozens of tax extenders, enabling the chamber to make the argument that the system is just as important to the smooth functioning of local governments as a county's ability to impose sales tax. "As I've said before, it wasn't our inclination to open up and add policy things for what we feel are straight extenders, and we look at mayoral control the same way," Heastie said before session. "I think that the children of the city of New York deserve more stability, and that's why if we put them in the extender bill and treat it like an extender, we'd like to give the mayor two years of stability with the city school system."

Heastie's measure passed 101-26 Monday with minimal debate. While there was generally strong support from the Democratic conference, some Democrats did express concerns about mayoral control. "No one person should have that kind of dictatorial power over 1.1 million children in New York City and the 24-plus billion-dollar budget," Assemblyman Charles Barron said. "The mayor has failed us in New York City ... It's about our children and our children are being failed by this flawed system of mayoral control. I vote in the negative." 

Senate Republicans on Monday said they are resisting an extension of mayoral control over New York City schools because of the city's "lack of detail" on education spending. "A fundamental shortcoming of this administration has been a lack of transparency and response to requests for information," Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, said in a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio. Flanagan said the city Department of Education should publish its reports in an Excel format, providing more details, particularly on how it spends the nearly $9 billion provided to it by the state. The GOP conference is calling for a building-by-building breakdown of state and federal education spending, as is required under education law, according to the letter. "Only once we have received this information will it allow a transparent and careful consideration of the equitable or inequitable distribution of funding, which is key to ensuring that over one million children receive the education they deserve," Flanagan wrote. — 

This seems more about torturing the mayor a little before the Senate gives in but I really wish the Republicans would stand their ground and allow the mayoral control law to expire next month.

I am not afraid to see the return of school boards under the 1996 school governance law.

I told Senator Leroy Comrie when a group of us met with him earlier this month that the mayor needs to have his power curtailed when it comes to the schools. The school system would revert to the 1996 law if the current law is allowed to expire in June.

More from Charles Barron in this piece from NY1 on the same issue.

"We don't need mayoral control," said Assemblyman Charles Barron of Brooklyn. "And don't talk to me about school boards being bad. Every other county has school boards except for New York City."

Some people who read this blog might not agree with Barron on many issues but on mayoral control and school boards he is right.

In the end, when Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein, the Republicans and the regular Democrats get together on school governance, there will more than likely be a deal with mayoral control extended for another year.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Correspondent Mike Schirtzer from MORE just texted that a question was asked tonight about the status of the Absent Teacher Reserves at the Executive Board.

UFT Secretary Howie Schoor said we're working with the DOE- we are bargaining - near an agreement - nothing to report now.

He added that we should have something next meeting- city wants a deal we want a deal, but can't bargain in public.

On our friends from the High School of Applied Communications, Borough Rep Ron Freiser said it's two or three teachers. We must talk to all of them. VP Janelle Hinds is going in.

Howie Schoor said steps are being taken but we need to get steps straight.

More on the meeting from NYC Educator.


Mayor Bill de Blasio received some very good news with the latest Quinnipiac Poll showing that he suddently has a 60% approval rating. This is up from 50% positive in February.

Beating corruption charges matters or maybe it was that UFT endorsement that caused the mayor's poll numbers to rise.

This is from Politico NY's story on the poll:

De Blasio, who is facing little in the way of opposition as he seeks re-election in November, also has majority support for his second-term bid, the poll shows. Fifty-seven percent of New York City voters say he deserves re-election, compared with 35 percent who believe he doesn’t.

If the election were held today, de Blasio would trounce his two declared Republican mayoral challengers, real estate executive Paul Massey and Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.

De Blasio would beat Massey by a 63-21 percent margin, and would beat Malliotakis by a 64-21 percent margin, the poll showed. 

Since he has no serious opposition for reelection, is this as good as it going to get for teachers and other union workers in the city?

As for who still opposes de Blasio, we go back to Politico:

Just 39 percent of white voters said they approve of the job de Blasio is doing as mayor, while 55 percent said they disapproved. 

Another recent poll from NY1-Baruch College contradicted those findings on white voters. NY1 had the mayor at 51% approval among whites.

Not to be outdone, Governor Andrew Cuomo's poll numbers are flying high too. He has a 69% approval rating from NYC according to the Quinnipiac's poll.

I guess we might be getting the early 2018 UFT-NYSUT endorsement for Cuomo soon.

What is fueling this increase in popularity for the mayor and governor? Being anti-Donald Trump seems to be all that a NY politician needs to do to gain public support.

Comptoller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James did well in the poll too.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


One of the more baffling aspects of dealing with the Department of Education is how sometimes rank and file members who try to fight back against abuse from administrators are put in no win situations.

A principal and/or assistant principal makes life miserable for a teacher by writing lousy observation reports, making up incidents or twisting them into knots to put letters in the teacher's file and then giving the teacher the worst possible classes to teach that the teacher did not request.

If the teacher grieves everything including the rotten program and files APPR complaints, then the DOE may tell them to cool it with so many complaints. The teacher is accused of being crazy because they fight everything and don't give the principal a chance.

On the other hand, if the teacher tries to work things out with the principal and does not grieve everything, the UFT will immediately ask the teacher why they did not grieve.

See the dilemma.

My advice for tenured teachers*, for what it is worth, is to try to have a conversation with administration to work out any issues but if that fails, then grieve, grieve and grieve some more if there are contractual violations.

File APPR complaints on any adverse observation. (Do not hesitate as we only have five school days from when an observation is issued to file an APPR complaint.)

Grieve programs that do not meet contractual guidelines. (Be really fast here as there is a two school day time limit to file.)

Don't wait for harassment to get out of control before fighting back.

Even if the initual grievances are lost at the school and Chancellor's level, do not be discouraged.  The powers that be expect teachers to give up. Be persistent and scream retaliation if there is pushback from administration because of filing grievances.

Don't worry about appearing grievance crazy. By fighting back, a teacher creates a record and a paper trail.

Final word: Save everything and be organized.

*There are ways for non-tenured teachers to fight back but it is not easy and often times requires a different approach.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


ICE is Norm Scott's brainchild. Friday's ICE meeting at the diner was one of the most fun ever. It was an intimate gathering that turned into an almost four hour Norm Scott marathon monologue. I do not say this to criticize Norm--not at all. He was in rare form. I surprisingly agreed with almost everything he said.

Norm spoke eloquently about CPE1's victory in getting rid of an abusive principal, MORE, the problems with getting out a wide distribution newsletter, the Executive Board, the life of a caucus, the situation in Chicago, Los Angeles, contract vs social justice unionism, MORE's Save our Union Conference, the UFT in the world where members don't have to pay dues, his health (He's fine!) and more that I can't even remember. He did all of this while still managing to eat a full meal. It was a sight to behold.

All of us sat there spellbound and occasionally threw in our two cents.

We are lucky to have Norm actively involved in the Union. He has been an activist for well over forty years. May he continue on for another forty.

Norm blogs over at EdNotes. It is well worth a read.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Public schools lost in the Los Angeles School Board elections on Tuesday. Two pro-charter candidates, backed by huge outside money from some of our least favorite billionaires including Michael Bloomberg, won elections giving the pro-charter group a 4-3 majority on the Los Angeles School Board.

This is not good news.

Election results show that one of the races was a close 51.5%-48.5% vote (provisional votes have yet to be fully counted but the small lead is expected to hold) and the other was 57%-43% so it isn't like public schools don't have our supporters but the charter people can outspend us by huge margins as this excerpt from an analysis of the election by Peter Dreier at the Huffington Post shows.

Once Nick Melvoin joins the Los Angeles Unified School District board, he’s going to require all high school civics teachers to add a new lesson plan to their curriculum: “How To Buy An Election.”

That’s what happened on Tuesday. Melvoin and his billionaire backers dramatically outspent school board president Steve Zimmer’s campaign, making the District 4 race the most expensive in LAUSD history.

Political pundits will spend the next few days and weeks analyzing the Los Angeles school board election, examining exit polls, spilling lots of ink over how different demographic groups — income, race, religious, union membership, gender, party affiliation, and others — voted on Tuesday.
But the real winner in the race was not Nick Melvoin, but Big Money. And the real loser was not Steve Zimmer, but democracy – and LA’s children.

Melvoin’s backers — particularly billionaires and multi-millionaires who donated directly to his campaign and to several front groups, especially the California Charter School Association (CCSA) — outspent Zimmer’s campaign by $6.6 million to $2.7 million. Melvoin got 30, 696 votes to Zimmer’s 22,766. In other words, Melvoin spent 71% of the money to get 57% of the vote.
Here’s another way of looking at the election results: Melvoin spent $215 for each vote he received, while Zimmer spent only $121 per vote.

Dreier says the big money came from the usual suspects for school privatization including Bloomberg, Eli Broad, the Walton family (Walmart), Reed Hastings of Netflicks fame and others.

Here is a  Facebook statement from our friends at United Teachers of Los Angeles where the President, Alex Caputo Pearl.

Tough loss but we must move forward!
We’re in the midst of an existential fight for the soul of public education, and last night we lost an important round. It’s a troubling development — for our communities and for our democracy — that a handful of wealthy individuals can essentially buy a local election.

The California Charter Schools Association and its billionaire supporters poured more than $10 million into the campaigns for Nick Melvoin and Kelly Fitzpatrick-Gonez, outspending the locally supported candidates by more than 2 to 1. Their goal, linked to the Donald Trump/Betsy DeVos agenda on the national level, is to dismantle public education through the aggressive, unchecked expansion of corporate charters at the expense of neighborhood schools.

“The billionaires bought this election by spending more than has ever been spent in a School Board race in U.S. history, more than big-city mayor races, and more than most U.S. Senate races,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “Like Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, they want privatized, unregulated schools that don’t serve all kids.”

Our campaign volunteers met the outsiders’ millions with heart and determination, turning out in unprecedented numbers for the campaigns. Through those efforts we are better positioned for the work to come.

“We have just begun to fight,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “We are doubling down on working with the movement of parents, youth, community, educators, and unions that formed around Steve Zimmer and Imelda Padilla. Together we will fight to invest in our neighborhood schools and put common-sense regulations on charter schools that protect students, families, and taxpayers. We will fight against privatizing our public schools and against creating ‘separate and unequal’ for our kids. We cannot lose the civic institution of public education, and we cannot lose the fight for educational justice.”

Even though these elections were bought by the billionaires, the privatizers still won and now control the School Board in LA. A teachers strike out there seems rather likely.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


The following question was asked at the May Delegate Assembly to UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

From our report:
Question: City has surplus. Can we get lump sum payments early? (payments we will be getting in October of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 for work we did from 2009-2011 that other unions received in those years)
Mulgrew Answer: Other unions had to pay to get lump sum payments on time. Ours is too large. We can't get it early.

This is how NYC Educator recorded the same question and answer:

CL--City has surplus--can we get lump sum payments early?
[Mulgrew]: Issue is our lump sum payment is so large, other unions were much smaller, city made them pay to get in on time. Some unions gave up Welfare Fund payments. Sorry, can't be early.

Is Mulgrew accurate that our payments are too huge. One of our readers asked an expert at the city's Independent Budget Office. The expert's answer was posted here on December 23. I will repeat it fully below to invalidate Mulgrew's statement that the payment is too large. The cost to the city was estimated at a maximum of $560 million according to the IBO expert but would actually be less because those who resign or are terminated do not get the payments.

The FY 2018 NYC Executive Budget is $84.86 Billion according to the city's Budget Summary. Our $560 million (less because of attrition) would cost the city a little over a half of one percent (.00656% to be a little more precise) of its budget if we were paid back in full this fiscal year. We would not put the city in bankruptcy but the UFT won't even ask for what is rightfully ours.

We have already ascertained that negotiating is not one of Michael Mulgrew's chief talents. I think we can safely conclude that math is not one of his major skills either. Then again, 75% of teachers and 77% of UFT members trusted the union that this was the best we can do and voted for the contract. People like me were not able to convince the masses to vote no. I only got a near unanimous no vote at Jamaica (one abstention from someone who was about to retire).

December 23, 2016 ICE Blog Posting:

I sometimes can still be a little surprised by the extent to which the UFT was taken to the cleaners by the city and the Department of Education in the last contract in 2014. A reader wrote to the Independent Budget Office to find out how much our lump sum payments would cost the city.

This is the money we worked for between 2009 and 2011 that we essentially loaned to the city. NYC is paying us back with no interest in installments. The first payment was in 2015. We get nothing this year but the remainder of the loan will be paid back in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

How much will this cost the city?

The IBO expert estimated the maximum our loan will cost the city is $560 million but said it would be less because of all the UFT members who will resign or be terminated by 2020 and so won't be paid back in full.

Overall, the city is planning to spend $82 billion in this fiscal year. Paying back our loan will not even cost the city anywhere close to 1% of the budget. Add the large reserves the city has and there is little doubt that we are being ripped off big time by the 2014 contract.

I do not expect the city to feel sorry for us and give us our money back early but how could teachers not be angry about being ripped off so badly compared to other city employees who had this money years ago? We still only have half of the salary increases other city employees received from 2008-2010 added to our regular checks. The full amount won't be added until May 2018. 

From the Independent Budget Office:
I am replying to your email sent to Ronnie Lowenstein regarding the “bonus” payments to be made to members of the UFT as per the collective bargaining agreement of 2014.  I assume in referring to bonus payments you are in fact referring to the retroactive lump sums to be paid out on October 1st of 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

While IBO does not have an exact cost for how large these retroactive lump sums will be, because they are directly linked to the number of union members who will be employed on the days the payments are scheduled to be made, we can estimate the maximum cost of these lump sums based upon the total PS costs for pedagogical employees in 2009-2011.  Based upon the total PS costs from those years we estimate that the entire lump sum payment would be a maximum of $560 million if every member were to remain employed by the DOE through 10/1/20

This total would translate to a maximum of $70 million paid out in 2017 and $140 million paid out in 2018 – 2020.  These funds, if not already accounted for in DOE’s financial plan, would increase the city-funds portion of DOE’s budget by less than one percent in 2017 and around one percent in each subsequent year.   

IBO has not made any estimates about what the final cost of this portion of UFT’s collective bargaining agreement would be although we assume, as a result of attrition and other separations, that it will somewhat less than the $560 million.   

While I can’t say for certain, and I am looking into it further, I do believe that these costs are included in DOE’s financial plan.  As you surmised there likely is no breakdown of PS funding which would allow you to see the budget for regular salary segregated from these lump sums.  If I am able to find any more clarity on this issue I will keep you informed.

Thank you for reaching out, if you have any furthers questions or concerns feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Monika Garg has, in the words of the NY Times, "stepped aside" as Principal of of Central Park East 1 Elementary School in Harlem. This story was reported on  Education Notes earlier.

When Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez came back to CPE 1 completely cleared of charges on Monday, apparently Principal Garg couldn't face her. The UFT Delegate Catlin Preston is still facing charges and will hopefully also be cleared.

It took an extraordinary effort from this school community but this is a true victory for parents, teachers and students. A well organized group of teachers, parents and other activists can still be successful in fighting an abusive principal, even if a small minority of teachers and parents support the principal.

Perhaps the highly publicized removal of the principal from Townsend Harris High School and now the reasignment of  CPE 1's principal will give hope to teachers, other staff, parents and students struggling against anti-union administrators throughout the system. It takes a real collective effort from a school community but it is possible to stand up to a principal who is clearly not willing to work with parents and teachers. If someone is not a good fit for a school community, he/she should be reassigned or not assigned in the first place.

It is my humble opinion based on what I have heard that CPE 1 and Townsend Harris are just the tip of the iceberg. Many other principals need to be removed or at least reigned in.

Here is the letter from Acting Supt Dolores Esposito via Ed Notes:
Dear CPE 1 Community,

Since arriving at CPE 1 yesterday, I have met with members of the school community including students, school staff and families.

I want to share an important update. Principal Garg has chosen to take a new position in the Department of Education and will not continue as the Principal of CPE1. This is effective immediately. During her tenure at CPE 1, she has focused on serving the needs of the whole child while providing a high quality education.

During the transition, I will continue to serve as Acting Superintendent in charge of CPE 1. Together we will focus on identifying the next leader for this school in accordance with Chancellor's Regulations. My primary focus continues to be delivering a high quality education for all students in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment. With nearly 30 years as an educator and as a former graduate and adjunct professor of Bank Street College, I will use my experience in progressive education to support the school.

I look forward to working together with everyone at CPE1 to advance equity of opportunity and excellence for all students.



Monday, May 15, 2017


Before the May 10 Delegate Assembly, I thought I would do a snap poll to find out how the Middle College High School Chapter was feeling about the possibility of leaving the union and not having to pay union dues. The UFT Executive Board had passed a resolution on educating and mobilizing our members on staying in the UFT even if dues are voluntary that was being raised at the DA.

I asked this very simple question to chapter members who I polled individually:

If union dues became voluntary because of an adverse Supreme Court decision and you could receive the same services without being in the union, would you still pay union dues? 

All but one teacher said they would stay in the union. I was somewhat pleasently surprised by the results but I should not have been. This was a pretty good sampling size of activist and non-activist teachers. Over and over I heard that we need a union to have decent wages and benefits and we have to pay for that union.

A question that came back was this: We need a union but why does it have to be this one?

It was very difficult to respond to that one. We discussed the moral bankruptcy of our union as it is currently structured, but some were impressed by the services the UFT does provide.

This blog has a wide range of readers who are from the left, center, right and apolitical. Can people ask in a very neutral way the poll question I asked at MCHS at your schools. I would really like to see the results.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


I had some time to read yesterday's NY Post piece on parking permits. We wrote about Michael Mulgrew's letter to us on parking on Tuesday and then Mulgrew talked about it at the DA on Wednesday. He said we won an arbitration on this issue to obtain more placards. However, the Post had a link to the website for the Council of Supervisors and Administrators (the principal's and AP's union) where the story reads a bit differently.

Here is a portion of a letter that is on the CSA website:

Here is how it will work. What follows is according to a statement by the Department of Education. The DOE will shortly begin to issue parking permits to school-based and other members of CSA, DC 37 and UFT.

These permits only allow the user to park at schools in the designated school parking areas as indicated on parking signs, and in no other locations. The city is issuing the permits as a result of a legal decision and negotiations between unions, the DOE and the city of New York. [CSA litigated and won the permits but the city decided on its own to grant permits to teachers as well.]

The permits for school-based staff will be school specific – that is, they will indicate the name of each school and the permissible streets for parking. These school-specific permits can only be used to park in the designated areas at the school displayed on the permit and not for any other school. School-based staff who work in more than one school will be issued permits for each of the schools they work in.

If I recall correctly, the permits in the days before Bloomberg made the changes were not school specific; they were good for any "No parking, except Board of Ed" spot by any school in the city.

CSA explains the flaw in this "victory" and why I think this isn't a big win:

 Please note that there is no increase in the number of parking spaces for each school.

Therefore, the additional permits will not increase the ability of staff to obtain a parking spot in a designated area.

This is a gain for people who arrive at school before anyone else as parking will be first come-first served.

According to the Post, however, it's a major victory for all of us:

Paul Steely White, executive director at Transportation Alternatives, warned that streets will become “more chaotic and dangerous” since staffers will likely abuse the parking perk.

“People get entitled with what they think the placard will entitle them to,” he said. “There’s a wink-and-a-nod culture where placards are seen as a license to leave your car wherever you want. There are a very real repercussion for innocent New Yorkers.”

We are not the police. In the days when we all had Board of Ed placards, I don't remember using it to park anywhere I wanted to. If someone was not in the school zone, we were given tickets or often towed.

I very much doubt the new DOE parking permits will entitle us to leave our cars anywhere.

Friday, May 12, 2017


Great news: The Chapter Leader from Central Park East 1 elementary school has been completely exonerated in her termination hearing. According to the information I was just given, Marilyn Martinez will be back in her classroom on Monday.

I am meeting tonight with people from another school who are planning on fighting back by going to the Executive Board on May 22.

We can win folks. What it takes is union solidarity.

It starts with one school and then another, and another and another. Pretty soon the sleeping giant that is the UFT rank and file may awaken.

UPDATE: There is an in depth analysis of the situation at CPE1 over at Ed Notes. Please read it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MAY DA REPORT (unedited)

President's Report

When I arrived, President Michael Mulgrew was talking about the James Comey firing by Trump. He then talked about Betsy DeVos and the difficult federal situation. Kansas, Arizona and New Mexico bleak public school situation. Public School Proud campaign gaining support but in difficult environment. Illinois has budget problem with pensions.

Mulgrew then played a video criticizing DeVos.

Paul Ryan visited one of Eva's schools.

Great Regents meeting. Had to explain to State Ed Department that grading schools based on tests has flaws. We need a multiple measure system, not the Bloomberg system. ESSA regs will be used to identify struggling schools. Must look at growth. When looking at growth, NYC does well. CTE schools did well with Regents meeting too.

Preliminary new standards out. Special Ed, English Language Learners and early childhood need work.

Governor signed two bills. He went to a NYC public school with Mulgrew to sign bill and thanked teachers and unions. He then did a bill signing in a union hall saying union dues on state taxes are deductable.

Parking permits coming back as a result of arbitration. Need more spots. Certain administrators not collegial. Now if we get there early, we can park in principal's spot.

Told mayor we do not support his version of mayoral control. Albany has this issue heating up.

We did joint training with DOE on professional Conciliation (article 24). 

Told DOE we may be picketing certain Superintendent's offices. Superintendents in charge of principals. Festering anger in teachers to show who is boss is not positve. If they support principals who don't support teachers, they will hear from us loudly. We must hold DOE accountable for collaboration.

Reverend Barber coming to speak at Spring Conference Saturday.

Women in Need. 70% of homeless in NYC are women with children. Christine Quinn runs program. We are helping kids with schoolwork and now helping with prom dresses.

4.5% raise on May 15 check.
Lump sum in October.
5.5% raise next May.
3 lump sum payments after that.

Thanked members.

Staff Director's Report
Leroy Barr gave some dates of recent events and upcoming events. May 15 immigration forum at UFT HQ. 3000 prom related dresses and suits being given out May 28. Next DA is June 14.

Question Period
Question: When will DeVos visit a school?
Mulgrew Answer: We will talk to her. Met with student and teacher in Ohio where she visited and she did not say much. Do we try to protest her or do a photo op with some kids?

Q March resolution on grading Regents in our own schools. Any movement?
A No movement but it takes DOE time to do this. Current year already set up. Should be better treatment at grading sights as DOE is angry about our reso.

Q Sesis or childcare leave update?
A people told not to do SESIS beyond school day. This is impossible. Trying to work something out. Talked to Office of Labor Relations on family leave. They are stalling. No union yet has this benefit. Mayor wanted this for two years but no city union has the benefit.

Q Why don't we report number of Delegates here?
A We can do that and will do it next month.

Q City has surplus. Can we get lump sum payments early?
A Other unions had to pay to get lump sum payments on time. Ours is too large. We can't get it early.

Motion Period
Motion for next month  from Brooklyn Tech that talks about anti communist history and then calls for school based activism on behalf of teachers and students and getting mass support. Attack on Park Slope Collegiate for anti communism wrong. Activists need to be highlighted and defended. Almost anything can be construed as political and teachers can be subject to OSI investigation. Segregation a big problem in NYC.

Sterling Roberson spoke against. We didn't engage Park Slope Collegiate. Contract does not give us an attorney with OSI. Line between free speech and political speech has been addressed. We speak against racism and other problems of society.

Motion was defeated soundly.

Mulgrew did state that the eay OSI is being used is something we have to be concerned about.

Special Orders of Business
Motion on agency fees. Janus case coming. Ensure fair share fees. 40 year Abood precedent. Motivated by Janelle Hinds

Peter Lamphere tried to amend resolution to add resolved clauses including one to do a campaign to have UFT members in schools make presentations to have people pledge to remain union members and pay dues. Need a campaign starting in September.

Leroy Barr put through a series of amendments to strike some of the Lamphere amendment including striking taking on abusive administrators. We do that already. Public school proud has to be our focus.

Leroy cutting the amendment passed as did the original resolution. The original amendment was never voted on.

There were a bunch of city council and borough president endorsements. They carried.

Townsend Harris Chapter Leader spoke next and criticized former IA principal Jahoda and thanked UFT leadership for their help for having Jahoda removed. Used students, parents, alumni and politicians. Mulgrew will visit. Thanked CL for job he did keeping staff united.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017


This post is dedicated to the guy we call "Two Observations and a Parking Permit." You may be winning one from what I can tell based on this email from Mulgrew that came today.

Dear James,
I have news that many UFT members will welcome: Parking procedures for school employees are about to change. Every school employee who has a car will receive a Department of Education-issued parking permit, and effective May 18 the school’s on-street parking spots will become available on a first-come, first-served basis. There will not be a special on-street parking permit for the principal, the custodian or any other employee. (Off-street parking is not affected.)
Your DOE-issued permit will indicate your school and the specific on-street parking locations you may use. Your permit will not be valid outside any other school.
The number of parking slots allotted for each school and the times when they are reserved for school employees will not change. The DOE is issuing the permits, but the city Department of Transportation will continue to oversee where school employees can park on the street.
Itinerate employees (those who travel from school to school) and district-based employees represented by the UFT will receive a special permit that will allow them to park outside any school if a spot should be available. School employees who visit the same specific schools each week will get permits for each school to which they are assigned.
Principals are being notified of this change in the May 9 Principal’s Weekly, but I wanted you to know first.
If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to your chapter leader or your district rep at your UFT borough office.

Michael Mulgrew
UFT President

Monday, May 08, 2017


I made my first appearance at the UFT Executive Board in quite a while. Secretary Howie Schoor chaired.

 Open mic period was used by three schools.

It was enlightening hearing my friends from the High School for Applied Communications address the Executive Board. They had multiple complaints about their Interim Acting Principal Michael Weinstein and asked for UFT support and for the Union to publicly expose their out of control principal. One teacher had the principal in his room 40 times this year.

A group from CPE 1 came to support their embattled principal and criticize people attacking principal.

Finally, the chapter leader and the student newspaper advisor from Townsend Harris told the story of how their school worked with the Queens UFT to have IA principal Jahoda removed. They thanked Queens office.

No Mulgrew as he is in DC at AFT Executive Board.

Mike Schirtzer asked about helping High School for Applied Communications as principal is his former APO. Schoor said UFT will be at the school.

Question about UFT being proactive against abusive administrators

Howie Schoor said 13 schools are a problem. Superintendents not supervising principals. We are focusing on Superintendents.

Leroy Barr then said we are proactive.

Question was asked about grievances. Ellen Procida said there are many ridiculous rulings at chancellor's level and we are getting resolutions at arbitration but we are not where we want to be yet.

Question on class sizes from Francis Lewis not being lowered even after ordered by arbitrator. Ellen said we will be strong in compliance conference and principal could be warned to stay in compliance with class size limits in the fall as well as lowering class sizes now.

A question was asked about CPE1. Lawsuit has been filed. UFT working on making sure members are protected.

Question asked about connections on DOE attacking progressive schools. UFT focusing on superintendents. They are the principal's bosses. More paperwork problems in Queens High Schools than in other districts.

Secretary Schoor noted that UFT District Rep James Vasquez was complimented a record 3 times for his work.

Other reports were given. Some candidates were endorsed and the the accountant gave a report saying the UFT was in good shape financially.

Refinanced 50 Broadway at a lower rate recently. Capital improvements including a new roof need for 52 Broadway. Renting fourth floor of 50  to Molloy College.

UFT pension plan 108% funded.


There were family functions that took up most of the time this weekend but almost every spare minute (except for some baseball) was spent fielding questions to help UFT members who want to step up to assert their rights. One of the sources of reluctance is they have little faith that UFT President Michael Mulgrew and the rest of the UFT leadership will give more than token support for their efforts to stand up for their rights.

One school will take their case against an abusive principal to the UFT Executive Board tonight. Another is planning on appealing to a prominent politician in addition to the UFT. Others are organizing as well. The common theme is they want UFT leadership to help them but aren't sure they will receive strong support. 

Ground-up organizing is the way to go. The MORE-NEW ACTION high school representatives will continue to publicly support the rank and file. All of us can then continue and expand the pressure on Mulgrew/Unity Caucus to publicly endorse the movement against abusive administrators and not just negotiate behind the scenes.

My guess is there are many principals from hell out there in NYC but members are not confident that they can succeed in fighting back. Many won't come forward because they are fearful that UFT leaders will leave them hung out to dry. It's time to organize anyway. 

Supervisors are concerned that the sleeping giant just might be waking up.The UFT will be compelled to climb on board and pick up the fight if there is a loud roar from the schools instead of just a buzz. 

Sunday, May 07, 2017


The Council of Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) is the union for the principals and assistant principals in New York City. The CSA has released a public statement in support of embattled principal Monica Garg from Central Park Elementary School 1. Full coverage of the CSA statement and a CPE1 strike on Friday can be found over at Ed Notes.

What strikes me as fascinating is the way CSA gets totally behind principals who have alienated their school communities and couldn't lead their way out of a paper bag while the UFT will not approve of resolutions that criticize these reprehensible misleaders who are abusing our members.

Norm Scott (Ed Notes) has this quote in his piece concerning disgraced principals

Note the schools Clem Richardson (CSA) mentions -- Dewey, Harris, Clinton -- all with cheating, lying principals, who alienated their entires staffs. The CSA believes, along with Farina, that destroying a school by any means necessary is OK.

My take on this is that Farina and CSA might actually believe that the teachers are the problem in schools and need to be forced out or compelled to submit to the will of a strong principal. Farina and CSA are totally wrong. This nightmare is compounded by a UFT leadership that refuses to take a public stand in opposition to administrators who are ruining the professional lives of so many UFT members and obliterating school communities.

I give CSA credit for drawing a symbolic line in the sand in support of Garg. That is what unions are supposed to do. I only wish my union would do the same. The UFT still has plenty of chances to step up in public as the list of abusive principals in Queens High Schools alone is quite lengthy and more members will be appealing to the Executive Board for help soon.

Friday, May 05, 2017


This came to us from the Communication Workers of America.

AT&T Mobility
After giving AT&T the required 72-hour notice of contract termination last week, Mobility members have been working without a contract. CWAers are gearing up mobilization actions across the country, making sure that AT&T knows that a strike could come at any time at a date set by CWA President Chris Shelton.

A new report released today by CWA provides an unprecedented window into the company's sprawling web of 38 third-party call centers in eight countries that are driving a race to the bottom for low wages and compromising quality service for millions of AT&T customers.

The report draws on interviews and surveys of hundreds of workers in the U.S. and the global call center workforce, who detailed the harmful impact of AT&T's offshoring on workers and customers. The study also highlights the stories of U.S. communities that have been devastated by call center closures, including Ridgeland, MS; Atwater, CA; and Pittsburgh, PA.

Learn more and read the full report here.

The orange contract covers 21,000 Mobility workers. Negotiations are continuing. Read those bargaining reports here.

150 people gathered in Columbus, OH this week to let AT&T know that we are ready to do what it takes.

This blog supports the AT&T mobility workers 100%. 


Over at the Valerie Strauss Answer Sheet on the Washington Post website, Network for Public Education Executive Director Carol Burris does a comprehensive critical analysis of school privatization.

Burris presents three main arguments on why giving public money for private schools is a bad idea.

1. Privatized school choice will inevitably reduce funding for your local neighborhood public schools

 2. Direct and disguised vouchers to private schools and other public school alternatives start small and then expand, increasing the burden on taxpayers

3. Additional administrative costs coupled with a lack of transparency waste taxpayer dollars and open the door to excessive legal and fraudulent personal gain

Higher costs on taxpayers and opportunities for fraudulent personal gain seem like primary objectives of government in this day and age.

Don't worry, however, because the Union has the Public School Proud campaign to stop school privatization. Then again, maybe we should do a little more.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017


This wonderful NYSUT tweet is about making voting in elections easier for citizens. However, when it comes to union elections, it's not about easy access to the polls, it's about barriers. 

Most of the state Unity Caucus, including the huge UFT contingent, voted against a constitutional amendment that would have allowed locals across the state to vote in their own election districts in NYSUT elections rather than having to make the trip to New York City to cast a ballot. 

The majority of the locals in the state did not send anyone to vote in the NYSUT election last month. Many of the small locals cannot afford to send representatives to NYC where the election is held.

NYSUT demands open, accessible state and national elections while putting up obstacles for union elections. 

The hypocrisy is there for all to see.

This is no big surprise as elections are truly about obtaining or maintaining power for too many people who run for office in unions or government.

That is a sad state of affairs. 

It's up to the people, or in the case of the unions the membership, to keep their leaders honest.

After reading the comments from yesterday's post, it is clear to me that many UFT members are planning on sending a message fo the leadership by leaving the union as soon as the Supreme Court allows them to stop paying dues. That is scary. Even a weak union is better than none.

Teachers for sure need a union.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


The son of Friedrichs called Janus vs AFSCME is on its way to the US Supreme Court. It does not look too promising for the unions to continue to be able to collect fees from non members (agency fees).

The UFT has an Executive Board resolution on Janus. They are not waiting for the next meeting to present this. They want it voted on today.

Here it is.

This resolution was approved at Adcom on April 28th

Resolution Regarding the Janus v. AFSCME Case

WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in the fall of 2017; and

WHEREAS, the plaintiffs in the case charge that the fair-share fees collected by public-sector unions collect from workers who don’t become members are a violation of the dissenting workers’ First Amendment rights; and

WHEREAS, this challenges federal case law set nearly 40 years ago when in 1977 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Abood v. the Detroit Board of Education that although public school teachers cannot be required to join a union or to contribute to the union’s political expenditures, they can be required to pay their fair share of the costs that the union incurs in negotiating and administering an agreement on behalf of all teachers; and

WHEREAS, this case and its dangers are substantively similar to the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, for which a lower court ruling in favor of the defendants only prevailed due to a vacancy on the Supreme Court; and

WHEREAS, the Janus plaintiffs have followed the same legal strategy as the Friedrichs plaintiffs; and

WHEREAS, newly-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is likely to side with the four justices who were willing to rule with the plaintiffs in Friedrichs; and

WHEREAS, a court decision in favor of the Janus plaintiffs could effectively prevent school districts from collecting so-called “agency fees” from nonunion members represented by teachers unions and would likely extend to all other public-sector unions as well; and

WHEREAS, this means that although public-sector unions would still be obligated to represent all members of their bargaining units, they would no longer be assured of receiving fees to compensate them for the costs of representing nonmembers, which could deeply undercut the unions’ financial viability; and

WHEREAS, the Janus case is driven by the same movement that has been working for at least two decades to undermine labor unions so as to reduce their influence on politics and public policy on behalf of teachers and other working people; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the United Federation of Teachers will continue to educate our members about this case that could put an unjust financial burden on public-sector unions and cause great harm to the influence of the labor movement; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will support our AFT and NYSUT affiliates as well as other unions in their efforts to oppose an anti-worker ruling from the Supreme Court on this case; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT will mobilize our members in protest of this union-busting campaign.

Monday, May 01, 2017


Earlier yesterday, I was going over some of my old Jamaica High School materials to help prepare for a film shoot in Brooklyn for a pro-public education film where Kymberley Walcott, Jamaica HS Class of 2013, was one of the featured speakers. While combing through my archives for Jamaica High School materials, I came across the May 15, 2014 issue of the New York Teacher touting what was then a new UFT contract agreement. Three years later, UFT President Michael Mulgrew's letter to the membership sounds even more detached from reality than it did when I originally read it. Here is a part of it:

It is a contract for educators but, of equal importance, it is also a contract for education that will not only benefit us but also the students, schools and communities we serve.

After years of fighting off bad ideas from so-called "education reformers," we have in this contract turned the tables on them by enabling teacher-led innovations in our schools.

Working in partnership with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina, we now have the opportunity to rebuild our city's school system with educators--not bureacrats or consultants--in the driver's seat. Our agreement is the product of a shared belief that it is our school communities that must be the agents of change and that, when we educators are empowered to use our professional expertise, we can solve our common challenges and develop new ways to improve outcomes for our students.

Our proposed agreement, which must be ratified by the membership, includes the pay increases we deserve after working for five years without a contract.

Our previous mayor tried to make it impossible for the next administration to give educators the raises they deserve. Michael Bloomberg failed to set aside money in the city budget to pay for the two 4 percents for 2009 and 2010 that other city workers received. He also purposely drained the city's entire labor reserve fund. Over the five long years that Bloomberg refused to negotiate with us, the cost of paying out those raises ballooned. That's the budget that Mayor Bill de Blasio inherited. The cupboard was bare.

Despite that virtually empty labor reserve, we figured out a way forward with our new mayor, who was a willing and respectful negotiating partner. By agreeing to stretch out the retroactive payments and raises, we made our members whole and at the same time won significant raises in the contract's later years. Without the extended payout, we could not have achieved either. When this agreement is paid out, UFT members will have more money in their pockets than if we had done the payout in any other way.

It sounds almost comical to see Mulgrew saying the city's cuboard was bare when the city even then was running a surplus. MORE's Harris Lirtzman broke down the numbers in early 2014 to show how the city could afford a decent contract. Since 2014 black ink has become a regular feature on city balance sheets. I don't recall a time when the city's economy has been healthier. Stretching out the payments of the 2009-2010 money to 2020 cost the city peanuts as an expert from the Independent Budget Office told one of our readers.

Mulgrew referring to de Blasio as a "willing and respecful negotiating partner" sounds ridiculous now as does telling us educators are going to be in the driver's seat. Saying anything about the contract empowering educators sounds completely insane based on the number of abusive administrators, who are out of control in the de Blasio-Farina era, unless Mulgrew was referring exclusively to empowering principals. The mayor and chancellor's idea of "teacher led innovation" seems to be for us to shut up and do as we're told.

It is interesting to note that on healthcare Mulgrew's letter doesn't mention the higher costs we would be forced to accept. All he says on the subject is, "Health benefits and pensions are preserved."

When reviewing his letter, it is easy to reach a conclusion that Mulgrew was more than a little guillable or maybe he was just awe struck by having a mayor who returned his phone calls and talked nicely to him.

In the end, this contract was inadequate when it came out, as this blog pointed out the day it was released, and it is not improving with age. Then again, 75% of teachers and 77% of UFT members overall voted for it so ultimately we bear some of the responsibility, although after rereading Mulgrew's defense of his contract, I can say we were not told anything close to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth by our leader.