Tuesday, March 13, 2018


I worked with Arthur Goldstein on a resolution to lower class size. I believe Norm Scott and Mike Schirtzer were also involved. When our resolution was presented to the UFT Executive Board by Arthur last evening, Unity gutted it to make it into just another call for more money from Albany. Unity would allow administration at the Department of Education to have a free hand in spending it on what they  want and not what schools need.

The State Legislature in 2007 passed into law lower limits for the average class sizes in NYC as part of what is called Contracts for Excellence to settle the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit. However, since that time class sizes have gone up while Unity/UFT has stood idly by.

MORE/NEW ACTION representatives opposed to Michael Mulgrew's majority Unity Caucus did not push last night to make lower class size a major contract demand because the UFT will argue that this will take away from money for salary increases. Fair enough, so why not use the C4E law to force the DOE to use state money earmarked for this purpose to actually lower class sizes to levels the city agreed to back in 2007? It's the law.

Here is the original major resolved clause as we wrote it:

Resolved, that the UFT will make lowering class sizes to C4E limits of 20 students in a class in k-3, 23 in a class grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes a major goal.

The Unity/UFT response to our resolution was to amend it by striking this resolved clause that would force the DOE to lower class sizes and replacing it with:

Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.

We need more than just more money from the state. Too many principals are spending the Contracts for Excellence money on their own slush funds for their pet programs while NYC class sizes remain the highest in the state. Arthur asked that this be changed without it impacting contract negotiations but the Unity people said no. Instead, they just want more money from the state that can be spent on more administrators or more school closings.

You wonder why many UFT members can't stand the UFT.

The entire motivation from Arthur and the Unity response from Arthur's report are below.

Class sizes

Arthur GoldsteinMORE—Since our last class size resolution, we’ve given a lot of thought to the idea that all contractual negotiation was the province of the 300 member committee. We acknowledge and understand that position, which is why this resolution makes no mention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and proposes nothing related to it.

Instead, we’re focusing on an existing mandate. This gives us a golden opportunity to support our students and members without touching upon confidential negotiations. It’s been a long time since we’ve taken concrete steps to help the class size situation. In actual fact, it’s been over half a century.
Here’s a way for us to address not only class size, but also the problematic nature of enforcement. Instead of giving teachers a day off from tutoring, let’s offer those who violate the law consequences worthy of lawbreakers. Let’s make recalcitrant principals and DOE lawyers subject to actual law and its consequences. Let’s decisively end the practice of making teachers and students pay when administrators and lawyers who claim to place, “Children First, Always” practice contempt for the law. We can do that right here and right now.

Let’s take this opportunity to show communities and members that we will zealously press for the enforcement of regulations designed to help and support them. Let’s show our colleagues, at this crucial juncture, that union is there to support them. Let’s show city parents that we, the people who wake up every day to work with their children, are the people who really put children first.
And let’s tell politicians who cavalierly ignore the law that we won’t allow them to do it anymore.

Stuart Kaplan—amendment—Strike second to last “Whereas” and first Resolved. Adds Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.

Gregg Lundahl—Asks to strike second to last Whereas (same one) Says there is a difference between C4E and CFE, C4E doesn’t have specific numbers, but there is a great deal of money withheld since 2015. Don’t wish to pay for it in contract negotiations. These are specific numbers. Much more comfortable with our substitute resolution. If we fight to do this for the contract money will have to come from somewhere. Let’s get money from state.

Kiera—Point person for class sizes. Speaks in support of the amendment. Looks at it from negotiation standpoint. Doesn’t want to make class size negotiation public policy.

First strike next to last whereas—Vote.

Passes on party lines.

First resolved—dropped

Passes on party lines.

Additional resolved.

Passes on party lines.

Resolution as amended passes on party lines.

We are adjourned.

RESOLUTION TO REDUCE CLASS SIZES TO C4E LAW LEVELS (actual class size language now stricken)
Whereas, reducing class size has proven to be one of the best ways to improve student learning, lower teacher attrition rates and disciplinary problems, and narrow achievement and opportunity gaps between racial and economic groups; and

Whereas, NYC schools continue to have the largest average class sizes in the state, and NY’s highest court said that our class sizes were too large in our schools to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education; and

Whereas, UFT contractual class size limits continue to be ignored by the DOE; and

Whereas, the DOE uses outlandish “action plans” to address these limits; and

Whereas, the NYC DOE recently reported class sizes have continued to increase this year; and

Whereas, Article 8L in the 2005 Contract called in part for a labor-management committee to discuss lowering class size if Campaign for Fiscal Equity Settlement funding was available; and

Whereas, the 2007 Contracts for Excellence (C4E) law, which settled the CFE case, required NYC to reduce class size in all grades; and

Whereas, the goals for class size in the city’s original C4E plan, approved by the state in the fall of 2007, are for an average of no more than 20 students per class in K-3, 23 in grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes; and

Whereas, the Department of Education has flouted this law flagrantly since 2007; and
Whereas, the DOE gets C4E funding that is often not used to reduce class size; be it therefore

Resolved, that the UFT will make lowering class sizes to the C4E limits of 20 students in a class K-3, 23 in Grades 4-8 and 25 in high school core classes a major goal; and be it further

Resolved, that funding for this class size reduction should not in any way affect monies for contractual raises for UFT members as the DOE is already receiving C4E money to reduce class sizes from the state. 

Added: Resolved that UFT will continue to fight to get C4E monies dispersed to NYC.


Anonymous said...

Those meetings are always debacles. It's basically ' Fuck y'all, Mulgrew rules. Don't like it - keep paying, you have to.'

Anonymous said...

As always a Union that works against common sense, and what is good for all.

Anonymous said...

10:38 is the shit. Devil’s horns in the air, 80s headbanger style, “Mulgrewww Rooooolz!!!!” Leroy takes a guitar solo. Is that the meetings are like?

Anonymous said...

Folks of good conscience will opt out post-Janus. They are not free riders. They have ethically chosen not to enable the corrupt, incompetent UFT Presidrnt.

Anonymous said...

City is budgeting 1% raises for municipal unions. You think they are going to spend billions this year to reduce class size? Keep dreaming. The best we can hope for is a change to our evaluation system and or our working conditions as that will not cost the city a red cent.

James Eterno said...

State is giving money and city agreed to class size reductions. Why is this so hard to push for?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone even considered that Mulgrew doesn't care what members think because he was put in place with specific instructions to destroy the union from within?

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew is weingarten 2.0. Screw the members. As long as we get union dues, who cares? And get kickbacks whenever possible.

Remember, weingarten started this nonsense of putting union members second and mulgrew saw it from a close view.

Get us 20/50 at a 40 percent pension and I sign up for that.

In a way, I feel terrible for the tier vi people bc the majority are young and don’t realize there is no way they can do 40 years.

Considering the majority won’t get tenure, they should leave now.

But that is what the city wants. Year to year transient workers who aren’t vested with pensions.

Anonymous said...

So what is the reasoning/argument behind Unity not wanting to push for smaller class sizes? James, do you know of the reason?

Anonymous said...

Starve the beast. Next year no dues then you will begin to get a positive response!!!

Anonymous said...

unity does not want t push small class size because of the logistical nightmare it will be for the DOE to implement it. Thousands of teachers will need to be hired and new buildings built or added on to current schools. In other words, Mulgrew does not want to inconvenience the DOE and mess up his “seat at the table” with the mayor,

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:34:

Thank you for answering my previous question. I am merely trying to play devil's advocate to further my understanding. I promise you I am not a member of Unity, so I ask that you answer the following question to help further my awareness: could an argument be made that pushing for smaller class size now would hurt us at our next contract's negotiation?

Perhaps I believe in a utopia where our leadership is really looking out for us, and not just protecting their standing with the mayor, etc.

Anonymous said...

I honestly do not think that this is the time to push for class size reduction. We need to focus on fixing the working conditions of our contract that is about to expire. We need to get the UFT to fix our evaluation system in a big way. Reducing class size is a major battle for another day. We will need to rally parents, hold marches, etc. I do not think we need to try to change everything at once. Fix our working conditions first and then get ready to fight the big battle that is class sizes reduction.

James Eterno said...

Lower class size is State law agreed to in 2007 and ignored by NYC with UFT wink and nod.

I agree on evaluation but we can do both.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew needs religion and SCOTUS is about to deliver it.

Anonymous said...

That’s is truly fabulous Logic. Let’s do it! By god, that’s what DeVos has been telling us about schools for years: spending less will get us better results. You’re a genius for taking that idea and applying it to our union. While we’re at it, why don’t we smash our union onto little “charter” unions? The competition will be good for members.

Anonymous said...

Definitely thought about it. But, more likely he is just incompetent. Destroying the union would be fantastically easy if it were done from the inside. He merely damages it, but, keeps it on life support. . . Maybe that’s his goal; keep the union just strong enough to deliver votes for the neo-liberal Democrats, but, not strong enough to make a difference for working teachers. Keep us in our place and keep the schools just shitty enough not to compete with Westchester.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew.needs to work for the gotcha team.

Anonymous said...

While I believe class size is an important issue, our top concern should be working conditions. Fixing the evaluation would provide a much needed check & balance to abusive administration. We should focus on that and other working conditions (which would not cost the city a penny) before class size. Bring back S & U and abolish Danielson.

Anonymous said...

The UFT has been "fighting" for class size reductions my whole career, which is topping 30 years.

Anonymous said...

The UFT has been "advocating" for school guidance counselors'" caseload cap for as long as I have been a school counselors (20+ years). It's still an issue. At least teachers have it in their contract even if the number goes over a bit. There are so many issues. Principals with the help of the DOE are ruining this profession. Only things is, their profession is going down as well. Principals are foolish.

Anonymous said...

Transient teaching profession will attract those who don't care about the profession. That will leave students vulnerable. Parents of NYC will need to realize that having this type of workforce is harming their kids.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:50. So what's your answer? Mulgrew basically says,"F-U! UFT leadership doesn't give a shit what you dues paying members need or want so just give us your money and shut up" and we just do it? They are either going to become more receptive to our needs and wants or they are going to lose members. That's the reality. Telling people how illogical they are or calling them names, as other posters have done, may make the poster feel better but it's not going to keep anyone from leaving the union. UFT leadership can get most teachers to stick with their union by fighting to end Danielson, fighting to untie us to test scores, fighting to lower class size as the law states and by going after CSA members who do not treat UFT members with respect. When we lose members in droves the UFT leadership has no one to blame but themselves. Enough with blaming the victims of systemic abuse from the DOE enabled by the UFT! Since the UFT leadership is deaf to teachers' pleas for help, the only recourse teachers feel they have is to starve them. Teachers feel powerless and once they get the first taste of power--power of the purse--they are going to use it. Is it really too much to ask that our union fight for what teachers want them to fight for?
Roseanne McCosh

Anonymous said...

I would suggest that we occupy the UFT and demand that they restore democratically elected District Reps and restrict retirees from voting on contracts. But, that will never happen because people’s idea of protest is saving a buck. They want everything done for them. These same people would *never* strike even if we had a militant union.

I mock these members because what they want would require members to *do* sometheing. Withholding dues is *not* doing something.