Saturday, September 30, 2017


The UFT leadership is making a big deal out of Chapter, District and Central consultation meetings with administration at all levels of the Department of education. These consultation meetings are all part of the UFT contract. See Article 19H of the Teachers Contract.

According to UFT President Michael Mulgrew, once the UFT gets the information they can take care of problems. Forgive me for being skeptical. I see little evidence that this will succeed system wide.

Take for example, Queens High Schools where this blog has documented many awful principals.The UFT is highlighting Namita Dwarka from Bryant, Jose Cruz from Math Science Magnet High School, Meredith Inbal from Queens School of Inquiry, Charles Ogindimu from Frederick Douglass Academy VI, Allison Persad from Young Women's Leadership School of Astoria and Kayode Ayetiwa from Humanities and the Arts Magnet High School because they all received low scores on teacher-principal trust on last year's school surveys. UFT wants to concentrate on high staff turnover as a problem. The Superintendents' response is classic. Staff turnover is a result of teachers leaving for the suburbs (see below).

The focus here will be on Ayetiwa. He had numerous grievances and other complaints filed against him by the staff during his first year in 2016-2017. The reaction from the principal when people filed grievances or spoke up at meetings was fast and furious as the Principal and two assistant principals turned up the heat against the targeted teachers and other UFT members. The UFT was powerless to stop the assault against the Chapter. The Chapter Leader ended up out sick in part from the stress. Then, a teacher who many thought was a supporter of the Principal ran for the job and lost an election to a pro-union teacher who spoke out at meetings.* Ayetiwa responded by going after that new Chapter Leader by giving him an adverse annual MOTP rating.

Recently, there has been a mass exodus at Humanities and the Arts with many teachers and other UFT staff being forced to transfer, brought up on 3020a or 3012d charges or pushed into retirement before they were ready. School aides now serve as deans; the student population is down as word has spread to avoid the school. It is so bad at Humanities and the Arts that a guidance counselor awaiting 3020a charges has been exiled to a room in the basement where she must sit all day as if in a medieval dungeon prison.

For full disclosure my wife Camille was one of the teachers who took a job elsewhere this fall after she worked at Humanities since 2004 and was UFT Delegate since 2005. As the Delegate, Camille and her Chapter Leader documented numerous abuses from administration in consultation meetings, through the grievance process and other forums the last two years. The UFT, from the District Representative up through the Vice Presidents for Academic and Career and Technical High Schools, Staff Director and Union President were informed along the way. (The AFT President was informed too.) The Union response has been to deal with problems individually and to encourage people to parachute out of the school. How does that build a strong union?

After they have conceded the battle, the UFT makes it a district consultation issue? A little late guys! The damage to the Union has been done. 

I'm not saying the UFT shouldn't tell the Superintendents about the terrible conditions at Humanities and the Arts and the other schools. However, having endured the endless ramblings of Superintendent Juan Mendez during the Jamaica High School closing battle and hearing horror stories about how Superintendent Elaine Lindsey ignored or dismissed complaints from our friends at the High School of Applied Communications about Principal Michael Weinstein, these two superintendents might not be the best people to resolve problems fairly with teachers.

The UFT is wasting great organizing opportunities at schools like Humanities and the Arts and the other ones on the list. Instead of telling members to run for the hills, the UFT should be picketing in front of these schools and screaming to the press after we tell the Superintendent what is befalling our members and the kids.

Below is the account from Unity's Gene Mann's The Organizer documenting the Queens High School District Consultation meeting with the UFT. Jonathan Nuesra, Chapter Leader from Bayside High School, took these excellent minutes. After that you can read the UFT Chapter Leader Weekly Update to see how the UFT is emphasizing how consultation is the way to resolve issues at the school level.

 A Model:  The Importance of Consultation
         The Consultation Committee in your school is replicated at District and City Levels.  The agendas for the meetings outside of your school come from the concerns you raise in consultation in your school.
         The Queens High School Consultation of September 15 is an exemplar.  Note how, in my annotation of Jonathan Nuwesra’s meticulous minutes, the UFT folks raised issues, the superintendents (in this case) went on the record with some surprising claims and some promises, which will be followed up at subsequent meetings.
         The meeting was held at 30-48 Linden Place, Flushing, NY.  The UFT members present were 
Camille Toma – CL of Martin Van Buren HS (Renewal Schools)
Christina Lopez – CL of The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens (New Visions)
Janice LaVaute – CL of Civic Leadership Academy (New Visions)
Brian Gavin - CL of Glover Cleveland HS (District 77)
Jonathan Nuwesra - CL of Bayside HS (New Visions)
Sandra Dunn-Yules - UFT QHS Special Representative
Washington Sanchez - UFT QHS Special Representative
James Vasquez - UFT QHS District Representative 
The Superintendents present were
Elaine Lindsey - D24, 25, 26, 27, 29 and 30 QHS
Juan Mendez - D28 New Visions QHS
Michael Alcoff – Renewal High Schools
Kathy Pelles - Consortium, International, Outward Bound QHS
Fred Walsh - CUNY QHS
I.    Schools with High Turnover and School Surveys 
The UFT Consultation Committee highlighted several schools that have high turnover rates of staff.  These schools included Bryant HS, Humanities and the Arts, Math and Science, The Young Women’s Leadership School Astoria, Frederick Douglas Academy VI.  What do the Superintendents do when receiving reports of schools with high turnover? How is high turnover addressed?
Response: Superintendents believe there is no “cookie cutter” approach because each school may have different causes leading to high turnover. There is a conversation with Principals reviewing the relationship of trust as measured in school survey data. There is a belief that the NYC school system loses educators to our wealthier neighbors to the north and east. Geography may play a role in impacting hard-to-staff schools like those on the peninsula where it is difficult to place math and science educators. Superintendents do not believe that trust alone correlates to high turnover.
Editor’s Note: “There is a belief” does not equal evidence that the members who leave those schools go to higher-paying jobs in Westchester and on Long Island.  Other schools on the peninsula do not have the high turnover that FDA VI has, nor do other schools in Astoria suffer the same staff losses as William Cullen Bryant and Young Women’s Leadership School.
The UFT C.C. agrees that geographic location and competition with other school districts in NY may make it more difficult to recruit and retain staff, and that is why it’s so important to create school communities where the staff feels supported and trust the administration.  The UFT has received complaints from members working in high turnover schools and those complaints have been forwarded to the superintendents.  In many cases, UFT members have stated that they would leave their present school location if they could. These reports are connected to low morale and trust in these schools and not because of out-of-district employment or geography. The UFT C.C. asserts that there is a correlation between the measurement of perceived low trust on school surveys and high turnover of staff. It is an important indicator of the success of leadership at a school. How are Superintendents using school survey data to address the issues of low trust and high turnover at Bryant HS, Queens School of Inquiry, Humanities and the Arts, The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria? 
Editor’s Note: The high school boroughwide average for the teacher-principal trust questions on the school survey is 79.13.  For the schools mentioned in the minutes:
Q252 Queens School of Inquiry (Meredith Inbal) 70.5
Q260 Frederick Douglass Academy VI (Charles Ogindimu) 54.75
Q286 Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria (Allison Persad) 31
Q445 William Cullen Bryant (Namita Dwarka) 39.75
Q492 MAST (Jose Cruz) 53
Q498 Humanities and the Arts (Kayode Ayetiwa)28
Response: At PPOs, there is a discussion between a Superintendent and Principal. There is a conversation about perceived trust levels in these schools. In some instances, Superintendents meet with teachers to gain a better understanding of the trust issues in the schools. In general, Superintendents are looking for (1) the number of teachers completing the survey and (2) the ratio of teachers taking the survey among the whole. Superintendents believe that in cases where there is high turnover, Principals should focus on retaining their faculty in the school.
Superintendents agreed to a follow up at the next meeting to discuss trust and high turnover in the highlighted schools, Bryant HS, Humanities and the Arts, Math and Science, The Young Women’s Leadership School Astoria, Frederick Douglas Academy VI.

NY State begins the second year requirement that educators meet 100 hours of CTLE within five years. Many educators are apprehensive about acquiring the necessary hours because of availability, timing, geography and expense. The UFT C.C.  reported that faculty in our schools often feel “left out” of the CTLE conversations. This is a factor that might impact trust and high turnover. How can we address the concern and better provide for CTLE/PD opportunities for employees?
Superintendents agree that schools should look into UFT Teacher Centers as a possible solution to better provide CTLE within schools. In addition, Superintendents suggest that schools look into webinars paid for by the school and seek opportunities at the BFSCs. Both of these avenues may provide opportunities for CTLE both during and after the school day.

III.        SAVE Protocol
SAVE legislation originated in the early 2000s and is a required implementation in NYC schools according to Chancellor Regulation A443. 

The UFT reminded Superintendents that removed students should not miss instruction.  Students are required, and should be expected to, complete their class assignment in a designated location (i.e.; a SAVE room staffed by a teacher). Guidance Counselors cannot be assigned to SAVE room duties.
The UFT and Superintendents agreed that the student removal procedures in a school must be codified and shared with all staff. SAVE procedures within a school should be reviewed periodically. Additionally, the SAVE procedure must be an addendum to the school’s hard copy safety plan. 

IV.        Teacher Evaluation
There is a growing concern to address how teachers are evaluated, especially where MOTP ratings are low and MOSL ratings are high. How do Superintendents look at teacher ratings and outcomes with Principals? The UFT Committee asked the superintendents to identify schools and departments where the MOTP scores were significantly lower than MOSL scores. Two schools in this situation are Bryant HS English department and Hillcrest HS physical education department. 
The Superintendents agreed to examine discrepancies in terms of MOTP vs. MOSL scores.
V.  Intervisitation
The 2017-18 school year introduces new options for MOTP observations that include peer intervisitation. The UFT reminded Superintendents that teacher intervisitations are not evaluative and have no requirement for paperwork.

Superintendents agreed and as requested by UFT are advising Principals that intervisitation is non-evaluative and does not require paperwork; there should be no written reports or submission of documents. Superintendents believe that intervisitation effectiveness might increase when supervisors promote guidance: “what does an educator want to learn/what did you learn” -or- “how might you integrate what you learned into your practice?” These conversations, while important, should be informal if they occur. Superintendents agreed that building this practice will take time. In addition, Principals should have a cabinet of teachers (i.e.; representing departments) where these “teacher teams” can discuss teacher needs and progress in terms of intervisitation.

Respectfully submitted,

Jonathan Nuwesra

First story in UFT Weekly Update for Chapter Leaders:

UFT’s first Chancellor’s Consultation meeting focuses on consultation process

The UFT leadership held its first Chancellor’s Consultation meeting of the year with Chancellor Carmen FariƱa earlier in September. Most issues on the agenda each month come directly from members, who are reporting issues to their chapter leaders and district reps. At this initial meeting, the union’s primary focus was on the consultation process in schools and at the district level to ensure that the consultation process detailed in the DOE-UFT contract is not only in place, but used effectively. Let’s make sure that our rights are upheld and resolve issues as they come up. Putting things on the record is key to holding people accountable at every level. The only way we can solve workplace problems is if we know about them. Chapter leaders can now go online and enter notes about their consultations — not the minutes, but the topics that were discussed as well as what was resolved and what wasn’t.  What’s more, district reps can now track those conversations and bring up unresolved school-level issues with superintendents. 

*This post was updated after a comment from someone who apparently works at Humanities and the Arts. The word lackey was taken out and replaced to make it clear that I am reporting on what was told to me by inside sources. Sorry about that choice of a word. 


Anonymous said...

Let me give background on Ayetiwa. He worked in FDNY in Jefferson in Brooklyn. Much written sounds familiar. School aides were deans, black males, who called students "nigga" and "bozo," teacher turnover was through the roof every year, everybody complained about both Ayetiwa and principal James Anderson. School was completely out of control, students walking around freely, some stole passes and had them in their school bags to again, walk freely through the halls, there were credit recovery signs, huge posters on the walls where students could take as many free grades as possible, the gym was full of intruders, hats and cell phones EVERYWHERE, complete student inability to read and write, and best of all a 3% college ready rate, of course grad rate was much higher. Fraud?

Anonymous said...

UFT stressing school level consultation meetings means one thing: The UFT does not want to deal with the problems at your school. By pushing consultation meetings, the UFT does not have to get involved. Such pathetic bullshit as usual.

Anonymous said...

What a surprise, another unqualified black principal put into a failing school and making it worse.

Anonymous said...

The only antodote to a dysfunctional school and principal is STRONG parental support of UFT staff. A few humdred angry parents picketing alongside a united school staff will scare the shit out of the superintendent and he will reem that principal a new asshole for causing him such a headache. The UFT's job therefore has to be to make parents aware and rally them together. If that fails, then get the hell out of that shithole.

Anonymous said...

Unmm. When was the last time the UFT picketed in front of a school? I have been teaching 23 years and I have not seen a UFT led picket in front of a school since the 90's. Maybe I am missing out but I have literally not seen it since then. The UFT does not like to "rock the boat". Bunch of wussies if ya' ask me.

Anonymous said...

Chapter leaders can go one way or the other. Just because someone is a chapter leader does NOT signify they are prostaff. Sometimes they are the problem as well. Then where does someone turn to. I'd say report it to the chapter leader and follow it up with the district rep and borough rep.
Life Sciences Secondary School in Manhattan is a sad case.

RBE said...

Telling the superintendent about abusive principals?

That's a fucking joke.

Farina has her superintendents telling principals all across the city that ineffective and developing ratings must increase in every school and that Danielson should be wielded as a weapon against teachers.

The UFT should be targeting Farina and her superintendents for the abuse principals and assistant principals mete out because that's where it's emanating from.

We know Farina ran her own school just like this - meted out the abuse to vets, added on mandate after mandate until people felt like they couldn't take it any longer and left.

Now Farina's burn and churn strategy has been taken system-wide and the UFT leadership enables it by doing nothing about it.

Janus is coming.

Mulgrew and the UFT leadership think they're slick and that membership can be fooled by their bullshit.

But rank and file know - this is a company union that does little to protect members and maximum to suck all the perks and privileges they can out of us.

It will be very interesting to see what membership looks like post-Janus.

I bet that 30% fewer number the UFT throws around for their post-Janus prognostications is on the low side.

It doesn't have to be this way.

They could be responsive to members, protect us against abusive admins, fight Farina and her insanity.

If they did this, they wouldn't have to worry about Janus. People would be happy to pay dues for the protections.

But because the UFT is a company union completely unresponsive to membership, they need worry about Janus very much indeed.

Anonymous said...

I’ve been reading your blog for years now, and as a result of your and NYCEduator’s work have become an avid MORE supporter, so I was interested to start seeing my school, Humanities and the Arts, pop up on here from time to time last year. I’ve never commented on any of these posts, as despite our difference in opinion on the administrators at the school, you are certainly entitled to your opinion and to voice it, just as I am entitled to mine.

Reading this post, however, has me disgusted that a member of the UFT would go after another by noting that “The Principal then had a lackey run for the job who lost an election to a pro-union teacher.” As someone who is not in the school, and someone who’s wife was out on leave during the entire term when the election in question took place, I am unsure how you came to this conclusion, or who your “sources” were. The individual in question has done absolutely nothing to deserve being called a “lackey,” and has challenged the principal on behalf of the school’s faculty on numerous occasions – the foremost being in the discussions surrounding the SBO that was in the forefront at the same time as the vote for union rep. I could list more examples and go on about this, but ultimately, I know I won’t change your mind. You also fail to point out that the initial election for union rep was a tie and the subsequent election was a nail-biter—so clearly approximately 50% of the faculty disagree with your assessment of his character.

Go ahead and attack the administration all you’d like. But to baselessly attack a teacher who made an admirable decision to run for a position that would require him to volunteer much of his time defending teachers is a disgusting thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Stick to your guns James. This so called teacher advocate who ran for chapter leader is now on the witness list to testify against another UFT member in a 3020a hearing and might be on the witness list to testify against other UFT members too. He routinely puts down teachers and students, particularly special ed students. That "nailbiter" on the second election he lost was by a margin of 57% to 43%. If it was a national election, a 14 point loss would be considered a landslide. Two other people who were going to vote against this so called teacher advocate would have made the total close to 60% in favor of the person who was pro-union who really did stand up to the principal in meetings and is now paying a very steep price.

James Eterno said...

Email me please 8:04 p.m. We have changed the posting but would like to hear the other side of the story for sure.

My wife worked at Humanities for years as did my mother in law and one of the paras at my current school. We have good sources in the school but we do try to be fair here. Just get in touch.

Anonymous said...

I've been on the Consultation Committee for the past three years with a very pro-staff CL. We have been brutally honest in the issues we have brought forward. NOTHING gets resolved, because the principal insists on knowing the names of staff who brought the issues to the committee.

Another question: can the "other professional work" on Tuesdays include consultation committee meetings with the principal?

James Eterno said...

Consultation can only succeed when both sides are working in good faith.

Consultation is contractual work so should be done on school time. I wouldn't expect the UFT to back you up on this unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Thanks James- my CL is really pushing to get this done on school time this year. Sad that the school environment is so hideous nobody wants to stay even one minute longer than they have to.

Anonymous said...

How about Amy Yager at Cypress in FK Lane with her 9 % college ready rate and her school stinking of weed?

Anonymous said...

Just sweep the crap that happens in a school under the rug and rate teachers poorly and the superintendents will back principals.

Anonymous said...

how much extra will uft fleece us for in dues on the 10/15 check? Remember, its not a raise, but they still rob us? For money that's been held back for 10 years?

Anonymous said...

The UFT is counting on members not noticing, a.k.a. being stupid, like they were when the contract came up for a vote amd then they voted for it without knowing what the hell was really going on.

Anonymous said...

Hey James, wasnt one of the staples of the last contract paperwork reduction? My school uses jupiter grades. So im supposed to do 150 grades a day for classwork, plus quizzes, projects hw, plus attendance, then they say that doesnt count as parent contact even though it goes to students and parents and is visible, then im supposed to call parents on top. Huh?

waitingforsupport said...

@6:22 pm Absolutely. Tell parents and students that they are possibly receiving a subpar education because the principal demands 90% grad rate should wake folks up. We must somehow tell parents the truth about the game of education in Nyc.

waitingforsupport said...

University Neighborhood HS in Manhattan has a high turnover. CL pro union was hungout to dry and abandoned by colleagues. ATRs have complained about the treatment received to no avail. Magically the grad rate improves annually but college readiness is low. Speak up and get targeted. UFT has come in and left without changing the tone. I have two friends who have told me that they will try to leave in January because it's unbearable and toxic--not the kids--it's admin.

James Eterno said...

I hear this story in so many schools. Stay as united as possible and document everything just in case. File grievances and any other charges right away as soon as you know you are being targeted. Do not wait.

Anonymous said...

Hey James, wasnt one of the staples of the last contract paperwork reduction? My school uses jupiter grades. So im supposed to do 150 grades a day for classwork, plus quizzes, projects hw, plus attendance, then they say that doesnt count as parent contact even though it goes to students and parents and is visible, then im supposed to call parents on top. Huh?

James Eterno said...

Inform chapter leader and then district rep. Put it on the record. This certainly is a parent contact. I might call only if there are real issues with a student but I think you are talking about mass phone calls?

Anonymous said...

They said it doesnt count, so if questioned later, if I say, "but i spent how many hours a day entering stuff in", electronic is considered paperwork, they say it doesnt count...Then why am i doing it in the first place? if parents dont check, and the students get quizzes and HWs handed back to them...

Anonymous said...

We get it. You hate the Principal because he and your wife, Camille, did not get along. Your bias against him now has you belittling fellow UFT members in the school. At least you made an adjustment to your blog to fix that error which I appreciate. I feel that your defaming the school also devalues the hard work of the teachers that are working here. The reality in the school is that a majority of teachers last year did not like nor trust each other. One reason was because some teachers were not holding their end of the bargain which forced other teachers to work harder to pick up their slack. As a matter of fact this was the case long before Ayetiwa came to the school. I've worked in the school for years. I know you want to blame Ayetiwa for everything because its fits your agenda but there are more sides to your limited view of Humanities and Arts. Its funny, you say that the school size is decreasing but all of my classes are maxed out and we are still the largest school in the building. You might need to get new "sources." That being said, I need to get out of the classroom and do something else!

Anonymous said...

I love the part about addressing the high turnover.  The answer is simple and can be solved with 8 actions:

1.  Stop blaming teachers for failures beyond their control.

2.  Stop forcing grade inflation.  Let some students fail.  This will let them learn from their mistakes and set an example to others.  Yes, help your students to pass, no: to learn, but passing them for showing up occasionally is more harmful than a failing grade. 

3.  Stop harassing teachers for unimportant things.  We get it:  you're the boss.

4.  Centralize the budget for teacher salaries - the way it used to be.  This way, principals can afford the experienced teachers that are willing to stick with your school.

5.  Stop harassing and excessing senior teachers.

6.  Stop hiring newbie teachers to fill the void created by dumping senior teachers.  They tend to be the ones that quit after a month or two. 

7.  Let teachers teach.  There's so much piled on us that is not necessary, and too many rules to teaching  (created by non-educators), that it is becoming nearly impossible to teach.

8.  A happy work place his a productive work place.   Many of the major corporations have discovered this.  For example,   Google, which makes Billions of dollars in profits:

We do not need to that extreme, but how about the administration stops trying to make us miserable?  I guess the push for research and data driven methodology only applies to teachers.  Data and statistics seem meaningless when they do not agree with what the DOE wants.

My points are obvious to us, but the DOE is still oblivious to them.  Though, I'm sure that NYC will find a way to waste millions to study why there is such a high turnover rate, but will only pick the parts of the results that fit to their desires:  it must be the teacher's fault.

James Eterno said...

My source for enrollment is the DOE student vacancy list cited by Chaz.

As for having something against the Humanities and the Arts, nothing could be further from the truth. As recently as 2014 I convinced the Jamaica HS SLT to donate some of the extra money we had leftover to Humanaties.

I picked this school to focus on now because the chapter leader and delegate tried to use consultation and got nowhere and the delegate was retaliated against fiercely. That certainly does fit my agenda of wanting a strong union that protects hard working teachers like Camille and the former chapter leader.

Anonymous said...

Let me give background on Ayetiwa. He worked in FDNY in Jefferson in Brooklyn. Much written sounds familiar. School aides were deans, black males, who called students "nigga" and "bozo," teacher turnover was through the roof every year, everybody complained about both Ayetiwa and principal James Anderson. School was completely out of control, students walking around freely, some stole passes and had them in their school bags to again, walk freely through the halls, there were credit recovery signs, huge posters on the walls where students could take as many free grades as possible, the gym was full of intruders, hats and cell phones EVERYWHERE, complete student inability to read and write, and best of all a 3% college ready rate, of course grad rate was much higher. Fraud?

Anonymous said...

University Neighborhood HS in Manhattan based on source states principal during parent teacher nights has parents/students fill out a survey (not DOE survey). The survey asks questions about if they like staff and is worded to target particular subject, grade, etc. So that it is easy to identify who the staff is. Very strange. This is an oppressive environment. Staff comment there is NO union at this site.

Anonymous said...

A little BIRD whispered in my ear that you could count with your hands the number of schools that filed the requested documentation of consultations for September. Organize THAT!!


Anonymous said...

Speaking of ctle hours. Did you see the Saturday ELL conference from 8-4:15 that gets you a whopping 4.5 hours and costs $75? Wtf is going on with this union?

Joe said...

Well if we went to 22 of these conferences on Saturdays, at 75 a pop, it would only cost us 1650.00 dollars to maintain our certificate. Sounds like a great idea!!!

waitingforsupport said...

11:11am is so right. Everyone needs to play their role... EVERYONE including parents. Why isn't anyone talking about the schools seemingly being charged with dang near raising students?

Teachers are blamed for everything and if you are older you better have your stress pills prescriptions up to date.

waitingforsupport said...

If the students and parents only knew many students were receiving a shodding education they would be up in arms

Anonymous said...

Not only will it cost $1650, but it will also require 187 hours of your time. How are they not crediting the actual hours? It's like a 1 for 2 deal. As if this wasn't bad enough.

Anonymous said...

Dwarka is running a school to the ground yet everybody is looking the other way.

Anonymous said...

The UFT is not on our side.

Anonymous said...

The UFT's role is not to protect teachers' rights or to enforce the contract. Their role is keep teachers' anger levels in control and prevent them from organizing and fighting back. And they squeeze millions of dollars out of members pockets. The Janus case is upon us and its a the best chance for teachers to rethink their unionism. Do not pay for a service you do not get.