Sunday, May 31, 2020


Thanks to a reader, we now have a link for a Google Doc for Jonathan Halabi's survey on reopening buildings. Jonathan is Chapter Leader at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College. He created this survey for his chapter and his blog. He is encouraging other schools to use it to start the conversation on reopening in September.

Please take the survey and spread it to others. Our community is growing. We can make a difference.

Saturday, May 30, 2020


Chancellor Richard Carranza's letter to principals is below.

We'll print the entire letter but here is the paragraph that is most relevant:

June 4 will be an instructional day for students, meaning that we still expect all students to be engaged in remote learning even as you and your teachers are engaged in professional development. Teachers are not expected to engage students on June 4; instead, schools should set students up in advance of June 4 with independent work for the day, or provide students with centrally provided materials, which will be made available early next week.

Another UFT victory!  My own kids need the break, not more of these remote assignments. The same procedures will be in effect for the clerical day June 9.

The full letter:

Dear Principals,

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe in this unprecedented time. I know that this has been an exceptional set of circumstances, and I thank you for your commitment and leadership during this time.

The DOE continues to work to support all school leaders to make informed decisions about teaching and learning in a remote environment. With the questions that still exist concerning the 2020-21 school year, we are thoughtfully working to provide resources to inform, guide, and support you, regardless of how schools may open next year, and whatever external challenges may come our way.

To that end, we are pleased to inform you that we have created professional learning opportunities, as well as accompanying resources, for Chancellor’s Day on June 4, 2020. These resources consist of a PowerPoint presentation, facilitator’s guide, and embedded resources that will give school communities the opportunity to reflect, celebrate, and plan for next school year. Please make sure that you are logged in using your DOE account in order to access the information. School staff will have resources to engage in activities that will sharpen their pedagogical and technological skill set in preparing for the fall.

This professional learning opportunity will discuss in greater detail blended learning environments. Blended learning is a thoughtful integration of both online and face-to-face instruction that we believe affords all students the opportunity to accelerate and enrich their educational and social-emotional learning. You all have jumped headfirst into remote instruction during the last several months. Along with robust in-person instruction, continuing to strategically leverage technology will lead us to a new and innovative way of teaching and empowering all students with 21st century skills and knowledge in this unprecedented time and beyond.

I encourage you to review these materials and consider how they might be incorporated into your school-wide schedule for June 4, and the remainder of the school year. As always, we know you will be thoughtful in constructing a day of learning for your faculty and staff that incorporates your staff’s strengths and areas of growth and the resources available from across the DOE.

June 4 will be an instructional day for students, meaning that we still expect all students to be engaged in remote learning even as you and your teachers are engaged in professional development. Teachers are not expected to engage students on June 4; instead, schools should set students up in advance of June 4 with independent work for the day, or provide students with centrally provided materials, which will be made available early next week.

June 9 will also be an instructional day for all students, including students in schools with grade bands K–12, K–5, K–6, K–8, and 6–8, as well as District 75 school programs. Students in these schools are expected to be engaged in remote learning on this day even as principals and teachers are engaged in clerical work. Teachers in these schools with grade bands K–12, K–5, K–6, K–8, and 6–8 are not expected to engage students on June 9; instead, these schools should set students up in advance of June 9 with independent work for the day, or provide students with centrally provided materials, which will be made available early next week.

Please direct families to this page reminding them that June 4 and 9 are now instructional days for students. Next week, you should send out additional communication to your families reminding them that June 4 is an instructional day, and providing instructions for how students should engage in remote learning that day (e.g., by independent learning, following teacher’s instructions, or using centrally-provided resources). We will follow up with additional information on this guidance in Principals Digest on Monday.

Again, thank you for your dedicated leadership during this time. Together we will continue to lead the way in transforming teaching and learning for this new environment.

In unity,

Friday, May 29, 2020


We put up the Centers for Disease Control guidelines earlier this month on reopening school buildings.

Here is a video that a reader sent us from Education Week examining the CDC guidelines.

You need to have the reopening discussions at the school level while waiting for city and statewide guidelines.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


This is from Patch. I haven't seen much coverage of this committee.

The 45-member Education Sector Advisory Council is made up of parents, higher education officials, charter and religious school representatives, nonprofit and union leaders, and more.

Education Sector Advisory Council members
1. Melissa Aase, University Settlement

2. Shirley Aldebol, 32 BJ SEIU

3. Andrea Anthony, Day Care Council

4. David C Banks, Eagle Academy

5. Richard Beattie, New Visions for Public Schools

6. Sian Beilock, Barnard College

7. Jack Bendheim, SAR Academy Riverdale

8. Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia University

9. Phoebe Boyer, Children's Aid Society

10. Marc Brackett, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence/Developer, RULER

11. Richard Buery, Achievement First

12. Mark Cannizzaro, CSA

13. Natasha Capers, NYC Coalition for Educational Justice

14. Steven Choi, New York Immigration Coalition

15. Michael Coppotelli, Archdiocese of New York

16. Margaret Crotty, Partnership with Children

17. Traci Donnelly, Child Center of NY

18. Gregory Floyd, Local 237, School Safety Agents

19. Jane Foley Fried, NY State Association of Independent Schools

20. Kay Galarza, Student PEP Member

21. Henry Garrido, DC 37

22. Peter Gee, The Door

23. Barbara Glassman, Include NYC

24. Jasmine Gripper, Alliance for Quality Education

25. Anita Gundanna, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families

26. Andrew Hamilton, NYU

27. Kristin Kearns Jordan, Urban Assembly

28. Thomas Krever, Hetrick-Martin Institute

29. Vanessa Leung, PEP Member- Individualized Education Program

30. Stanley Litow, IBM Foundation

31. Joe Luft, Internationals Network for Public Schools

32. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Chancellor

33. Nequan Mclean, Education Council Consortium, (ECC)

34. Joan McMaster, Diocese of Brooklyn

35. Wes Moore, Robin Hood

36. Michael Mulgrew, UFT

37. Allison Palmer, ED, New Settlement College Access Center

38. Shael Polakow-Suransky, Bank Street College of Education

39. Susan Stamler, United Neighborhood Houses

40. Robert J Troeller, Local 891, Custodian Engineers

41. Javier H. Valdés, Make the Road

42. Dennis Walcott, Queens Public Library

43. Sheena Wright, President & CEO United Way NY

44. Michelle Yanche, Good Shepherds Services

45. Rabbi Dovid Zweibel, Agudath Israel

Of course there are no working teachers on this council.

Do you have any confidence that this group will get the reopening of the school buildings right?


Jonathan Halabi over at JD2718 has created a survey that I believe every school chapter should be discussing.

Revised/Expanded Survey

Survey – Revised

Mid-May, 2020

This survey is voluntary. The responses will be shared with HSAS UFT members only.

For each question, choose the best answer, or answers, or think of your own. Feel free to ignore questions that are not relevant or interesting.

I would prefer not to return to work in the building until:

There is a vaccine

Medical experts say it safe

One particular person says it is safe – who?   ___________________

I get the sense that there are many fewer people getting sick

I’m ok going back as soon as it is opened

Necessary safety measures include:

Everyone is tested


Shields for adults

Shields for kids


Temperature testing

When it comes to cleaning I am most concerned with

How thorough the cleaning will be before we return

How thorough the regular cleaning will be once we return

Specific training for the cleaners

I would prefer not to return to work in the building until social distancing (six feet):

is possible at all times

is possible at most times, including the classroom, but not all times

is possible at all times, but less than 6 feet is ok

social distancing is not important to me

If we could see our students, in our classrooms, once a week, but remote teach at other times, and maintain social distancing (a hybrid model)

I would not want this – too complicated

I would not want this – sounds rushed/don’t trust the distancing

I would not want this – wait until we could open properly

I would want this

There has been talk about other hybrid models. Which of these might make sense:

Separate AM/PM groups of kids

Alternating A and B days

More face to face time with younger students (9th, maybe 10th)

While we are remote, which live methods do you use?

Live lessons – mandatory

Live lessons – recorded for viewing later

Live Discussions

Live Tutoring/Review sessions/Extra Help

Live Office Hours

None of the Above

Which live methods would you choose for your classes, if we teach remotely next year?

Live lessons – mandatory

Live lessons – recorded for viewing later

Live Discussions

Live Tutoring/Review sessions/Extra Help

Live Office Hours

None of the Above


The DoE should plan as if we are going to go back to school in September

The DoE should plan as if we are teaching remotely in September

The DoE should make plans for either contingency

The DoE should make a decision (presumably remote) now, to take away the uncertainty

Live Teaching approaches

It is good if each teacher / class has its own best approach to live teaching

It is good if the school has a schoolwide policy on live teaching

I am okay with what others do, as long as I can do what is best for my classes

I would like time to be set aside for each teacher to use for live teaching, and then let them choose how to use it

Remote scheduling

If we are remote, I would like a set daily time for each of my classes

If we are remote, I would like a set daily time, but don’t expect kids in regular class groups

If we are remote, I would like a set weekly time for each of my classes

If we are remote, I would like a set weekly time, but don’t expect kids in regular classes

The way we are now is fine.

Where do you fall on the question of remote tests?

No multiple choice

Has to be essays

Not worth doing them

They should be timed

They should be untimed

How have you modified deadlines?

Late the same day is ok

Usually give a few more days

Give about double the normal time

Barely maintain any deadlines

How important is it to get students back into the building? Are there compromises we would make to achieve that?

Give this survey at your schools, please.

I have no editorial comment except to show this graph that truly reveals how deadly this has been in NY. I read in Newsday we are still getting hundreds of new COVID-19 cases a day in NYC. I think we have to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 although I pray we are spared.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Dear Vice President Biden:

As the Democratic Party presumptive nominee, you have the power to fight for the public schools and colleges and universities that our students deserve. We are concerned educators, public education advocates, union members, parents, and students, writing to request that you demonstrate your commitment to that agenda.

Over the past decade, politicians on both sides of the aisle have made devastating cuts to public education, while privatizing public schools, scapegoating educators, and providing massive tax breaks to corporations and the rich. These attacks have resulted in a national teacher shortage and reduced educational opportunities for many of our students -- especially students of color, those from low-income households, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities.

The public health and economic emergencies resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have only made public education more vulnerable. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of public education itself is at stake.

To reverse this offensive against public education, we call on you to pledge to appoint a Secretary of Education publicly committed to reversing this failed billionaire-backed “education reform” agenda and we call on your campaign to immediately adopt the following policy planks:

* Implement a Federal Emergency Education Program that would:

Provide direct federal aid to ensure that school districts and public higher education institutions are able to prevent budget cuts and maintain pre-crisis staffing levels.

Empower educators to determine how best to utilize remote learning education technology when it is deemed necessary for health and safety reasons and how best to teach those students for whom remote learning is not feasible or appropriate.

Suspend all federal requirements relating to the use of high-stakes testing for the duration of the emergency.

* Triple Title I funding to ensure that at-risk schools get the funding and resources they need and invest in broadband so that students have access to critical resources.

* Repeal high-stakes testing mandates that force educators to “teach to the test.”

* Address the school-to-prison pipeline by investing in public schools and calling for the elimination of zero tolerance policies and over-policing.

* Ban for-profit charter schools and for-profit colleges and universities.

* Support the NAACP’s moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion until a national audit has been completed to determine the impact of charter growth in each state.

* Eliminate the $440 million annual federal subsidy for new charter schools, which have a failure rate of 40 percent and currently subsidizes billionaire-funded corporate charter schools.

* Give teachers a much-deserved raise by setting a starting salary for them at no less than $60,000 (pegged to the cost of living), expanding collective bargaining rights and teacher tenure, and funding out-of-pocket expenses for classroom materials.

* Strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by ensuring that the federal government provides at least 50 percent of the funding for special education.

* Provide year-round, free universal school meals, increase funding for Community Schools and after--school programs, and implement universal child-centered pre-kindergarten for all children beginning at the age of 3.

* Guarantee tuition-free public colleges, universities, HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions and trade-schools to all, not just those who qualify through means-testing.

* Cancel all student loan debt and place a cap on student loan interest rates moving forward.


1. Diane Ravitch, education historian and activist

2. Jonathan Kozol, National Book Award-winning author and advocate for children

3. Danny Glover, Actor, Social Justice Advocate

4. Michael Moore, Academy Award-winning director

5. Alex Caputo-Pearl, President, United Teachers Los Angeles

6. Cecily Myart-Cruz, Vice President, United Teachers Los Angeles, NEA

7. Cornel West, Professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University

8. Senator Nina Turner, campaign co-chair, Bernie 2020 and former Ohio State Senator

9. Shaun King, CEO, The North Star

10. Debby Pope, Chicago Teachers Union, Delegate and Executive Board

11. Arlene Inouye, United Teachers Los Angeles Secretary

12. Carol Burris, 2013 NYS High School Principal of the Year, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education

13. Angelina Cruz, President of Racine Education Association

14. Demetrio Gonzalez, President of United Teachers of Richmond, CTA/NEA

15. Jesse Hagopian, Teacher; Editor, Rethinking Schools; Co-Editor, Teaching for Black Lives

16. Juan Ramirez, UTLA/AFT Vice President

17. Julie Van Winkle, UTLA Secondary Vice President-elect

18. Ari Bloomekatz, managing editor of Rethinking Schools

19. RoseAnn DeMoro, Former Executive Director of National Nurses United

20. Steven Thrasher, Professor, Northwestern University

21. Larry Cohen, Board Chair of Our Revolution and past president of the Communications Workers of America

22. Frank Holmquist, Professor of Politics, Emeritus, Hampshire College

23. Jane F. McAlevey, Organizer, Educator, Author

24. Cynthia Liu, K12 News Network

25. Eric Blanc, author Red State Revolt

26. Adolph Reed, Jr., Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania

27. Nikhil Goyal, former adjunct professor at New York University and PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge

28. Charles Palermo, Professor of Art History, William & Mary

29. Bob Peterson, Rethinking Schools editor and Member, Milwaukee Board of School Directors

30. Eleanor J. Bader, English teacher and freelance writer

31. Kilynn Lunsford, National Organizer, Labor for Bernie

32. Annelise Orleck, Professor of History, Dartmouth College

33. Gordon Lafer, Professor, University of Oregon and Member, Eugene, OR Board of Education

34. Corey Robin, Professor, Brooklyn College, CUNY

35. Michael Lighty, Leading Advocate for Medicare for All

36. Joanna Wuest, Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer, Princeton University

37. Jennifer Ashton, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago

38. Penny Lewis, Associate Professor, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

39. Stephanie Luce, Professor, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

40. Steve London, Professor, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

41. Douglas A. Medina, Instructor, CUNY, Guttman Community College

42. Thomas J Adams, Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney (US Citizen)

43. Cedric Johnson, University of Illinois at Chicago

44. Samir Sonti, Assistant Professor, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

45. Steve Striffler, Professor, UMass Boston

46. Allen Cholger, Sub District Director, USW (retired) and former Executive Assistant to the President, APWU, (retired)

47. William Mello, Associate Professor of Labor Studies, Indiana University

48. Nomiki Konst, Director, Matriarch

49. Nancy Fraser, Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics, New School for Social Research

50. Liza Featherstone, Adjunct Professor, New York University and Columbia University

51. Bruno Gulli, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

52. Christian Parenti, Associate Professor of Economics, John Jay College CUNY

53. Rebecca Tarlau, Pennsylvania State University

54. Glenn Kaplan, filmmaker, Member IATSE Local 600

55. Rick Armstrong, Associate Professor Department of English, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

56. Heather Lee Compton, Studio Zahiya

57. Meg Kallman Feeley, Adjunct Lecturer English, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

58. Merlin Chowkwanyun, Donald Gemson Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

59. Jim Zogby, Founder of the Arab American Institute

60. Daniel Moak, Assistant Professor, Ohio University

61. Wamiq Chowdhury, Attorney, Member NC Piedmont Democratic Socialists of America

62. Sarah Cate, Assistant Professor, Saint Louis University

63. Rebecca Garelli, Lead Organizer, Arizona Educators United

64. Marquita Walker, Interim Chair and Associate Professor of Labor Studies, Indiana University

65. Rogers M. Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

66. James Counts Early, Board Member, Institute for Policy Studies

67. Steve Presence, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, University of the West of England

68. Colleen Mihal, Professor, College of Marin

69. Lisa McLaughlin, Ph.D, Associate Professor, Department of Media, Journalism and Film and Department of Global and Intercultural Studies, Miami University-Ohio

70. Christopher R. Martin, Professor of Digital Journalism, University of Northern Iowa

71. Karyn Hollis, Villanova University

72. Adam Safer, Graduate Student, Stony Brook University

73. Bryan Wagner, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley

74. Janice Peck, Professor, Media Studies Department, University of Colorado at Boulder

75. Paul Prescod, Political Liaison in Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

76. Kevin Howley, Professor of Media Studies, DePauw University

77. Eric Cheyfitz, Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters, Professor of American Indian and Indigenous Studies

78. Carlos Figueroa, Ithaca College

79. Gino Canella, Assistant Professor and filmmaker, Emerson College

80. Daniel Brenner, Teacher, Eastern Suffolk BOCES (retired)

81. Michelle Strater Gunderson, First Grade Teacher, Chicago Public Schools, Trustee, Chicago Teachers Union

82. Robert Vitalis, University of Pennsylvania

83. Max Page, University of Massachusetts Amherst

84. Nathan Godfried, Adelaide & Alan Bird Professor, University of Maine

85. Inger Stole, University of Illinois

86. Philip Fiermonte, Former Burlington City Councilor

87. Joel Jordan, former Director of Special Projects, United Teachers Los Angeles

88. Rich Potter, Assistant Professor, American Jewish University

89. Kevin Gotkin, Visiting Assistant Professor, New York University

90. Lee Artz, Purdue University Northwest

91. Dr. Eileen R. Meehan, Professor Emerita, Department of Radio, Television and New Media, College of Communications, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois

92. Jay O’Neal, West Virginia teacher and strike leader

93. Emily Schnee, Professor of English, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York

94. David Duhalde, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Fund

95. Roxana Marachi, Associate Professor of Education, San José State University

96. Jeffrey A. Winters, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Equality Development and Globalization Studies Program, Northwestern University

97. Rod Metts, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, California State University, San Bernardino

98. Nino Gulli, Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland Global Campus, UMGC

99. William Riordan, History Instructor at the University of Colorado

100. Nicole McCormick, President, Mercer County Education Association

101. Mary Summers, Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania

102. Doug Henwood, Journalist

103. Herbert G. Reid, Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky, Department of Political Science

104. Christina Dunbar-Hester, 2019-2020 Berggruen Fellow, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

105. Hadrian Predock, Associate Professor of Practice, University of Southern California School of Architecture

106. Robert M. Saltzman, Emeritus Professor of Lawyering Skills, USC Gould School of Law

107. Howard A. Rodman, Professor, University of Southern California, Past President, Writers Guild of America West

108. Larry Gross, Professor, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California

109. Mark Jonathan Harris, Distinguished Professor, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California

110. Kathy Smith, Professor, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California

111. Miki Turner, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California 112. Sean T. Mitchell, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University, Newark

113. Rebecca C. Glasscock, Professor Emerita, Geography and Peace Studies, Bluegrass Community and Technical College

114. Priya Kapoor, Professor, Portland State University

115. Carlin Meyer, Prof. Emerita, New York Law School

116. Rianne Subijanto, Assistant Professor, Baruch College, CUNY

117. Janet Poppendieck, author, Free for All: Fixing School Food in America

118. Tulia Falleti, Class of 1965 Endowed Term Professor of Political Science, Director of Latin American and Latino Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania

119. Marisa Chappell, Associate Professor of History, Oregon State University

120. Micaela di Leonardo, Professor, Northwestern University

121. Judith E. Smith, Professor Emerita of American Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston

122. Julie Van Winkle, Secondary Vice President-elect of United Teachers Los Angeles

123. Lawrence Blum, Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education, Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Boston

124. Michael Schwartz, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Emeritus, Founding Director, College of Global Studies

125. Richard Lachmann, Professor of Sociology, University at Albany SUNY

126. Keith Brooks, retired educator, NYC alternative high school division

127. Richard Strier, Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of English, University of Chicago

128. Laura Anker, Distinguished Service Professor, American Studies, SUNY Old Westbury

129. Alan Gilbert, Distinguished University Professor, Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

130. Susan Jhirad, retired Professor of English from North Shore Community College

131. Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor, Rethinking Schools

132. Kathy Hall, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania

133. Jane Kauer, Consulting Scholar, Physical Anthropology Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum

134. Ilana Gershon, Ruth N. Hall professor of anthropology, Indiana University

135. Karen Koran, retired educator, School District of Philadelphia

136. Ana Croegaert, Assistant Professor, Anthropology + Sociology, University of New Orleans

137. Amy Stornaiuolo, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania

138. Brenda Beaudette-Kaim, French Department, University of Vermont

139. Kathryn Moeller, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

140. Bonnie Urciuoli, Professor Emerita, Anthropology, Hamilton College

141. Christy Schuetze, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Swarthmore College

142. Fran Ansley, Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Tennessee College of Law

143. Frederick Erickson, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles

144. Arléne Amarante, Assistant Professor of Law at Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law

145. Karen Weinstein, Peralta Community College District

146. Alessandra Visconti, assistant professor of instruction, Northwestern University

147. Polly Murphy - Retired teacher TN School for the Deaf

148. Alan Spector, Professor of Sociology, Purdue University Northwest

149. Maria Catalfio, retired member, OPEIU Local 494

150. Ann Jefferson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Lecturer, retired

151. Piotr Axer, PhD Candidate in Slavic Studies at Brown University

152. Bonnie Blustein, Professor of Mathematics, West Los Angeles College

153. Frances Maher, Professor Emerita, Wheaton College

154. Matt Witt, Editor, World Wide Work

155. John C. Berg, Professor Emeritus, Suffolk University

156. Ana Celia Zentella, Professor Emerita, UCSD Department of Ethnic Studies

157. Arleen Llanes, Middle School School Teacher, Bay Area

158. Daniel Merin, Climate and Culture Coach, Office of School Climate and Safety, School District of Philadelphia

159. Sylvia Lester, Child Psychologist, NYU Postdoctoral Program for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

160. Julia A. McWilliams, Lecturer, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, University of Pennsylvania

161. Monica Emerich, Instructional Designer/Project Manager, CSU Global Campus

162. Judy Norsigian, Co-founder and board chair, Our Bodies Ourselves

163. Rachel Rubin, Professor and Chair, University of Massachusetts Boston

164. Danya Lagos, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Texas at Austin

165. Elizabeth Manley, Kellogg Endowed Professor, Associate Professor of History, Xavier University of Louisiana

166. Gianmarco Savio, Assistant Professor, County College of Morris

167. Andrea Reyna, public middle school teacher; California Democratic Party Executive Board, San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee

168. Maia Cucchiara, Associate Professor, Urban Education, Temple University

169. Jeffrey Melnick, Professor of American Studies, UMass Boston

170. Sherene Seikaly, Associate Professor of History, University of California Santa Barbara

171. Nelson Lichtenstein, Distinguished Professor of History, University of California Santa Barbara

172. Alice O’Connor, Professor of History and Director of Blum Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Democracy, University of California Santa Barbara

173. Eileen Boris, Hull Professor and Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California Santa Barbara

174. Linda Burrows, Public School Teacher

175. Laurie Katz, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Ohio State University

176. Wayne Au, Professor, University of Washington Bothell

177. Susan Fountain, Adjunct Professor, CUNY School of Professional Studies

178. Robert Farrell, Associate Professor and Chair PSC-CUNY Chapter at Lehman College, CUNY

179. Elizabeth Hovey, John Jay College, CUNY

180. Glenn Kissack, Retired Mathematics Teacher, Hunter College High School

181. Leo Parascondola, Adjunct Lecturer, William Paterson University

182. Michael Spear, Assistant Professor of History, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

183. Jonathan Buchsbaum, Media Studies, Queens College, CUNY

184. Sigmund Shen, Associate Professor, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

185. Dwight Billings, Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky

186. Richard Maxwell, Professor, Queens College, CUNY

187. Stan Karp, Editor, Rethinking Schools

188. Lori Rothstein, CUNY Graduate Center

189. Carol Stabile, Professor, University of Oregon

190. Eileen Moran, Queens College, CUNY

191. Phaedra Pezzullo, Associate Professor, Dept. of Communication, University of Colorado Boulder

192. Philip Barnett, Professor, City College and Graduate Center, CUNY

193. Priya Kapoor, Professor, Portland State University

194. Rachel Youens, Adjunct Assistant Professor, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

195. Vincent DiGirolamo, Assistant Professor and PSC Chapter Chair, Baruch College, CUNY

196. Ryan Bruckenethal, New York City Special Education Teacher, United Federation of Teachers

197. Gabriel Winant, Assistant Professor, University of Chicago

198. Ruth Wangerin, Department of Anthropology, Lehman College, CUNY

199. Kathleen Offenholley, Professor of Mathematics, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

200. Olga Steinberg, Professor, Hostos Community College, CUNY

201. David Gerwin, Professor, Dept. of Secondary Education and PSC Chapter Chair, Queens College, CUNY

202. Eric Freas, Associate Professor of History, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

203. Jocelyn Wills, Tow Professor of History and Affiliated Faculty Member, American Studies & Women’s and Gender Studies, Brooklyn College, CUNY

204. Marc Kagan, Graduate Assistant, CUNY Graduate Center

205. Ruth Milkman, Professor of Sociology, CUNY

206. Nelly Tournaki, Professor of Special Education, College of Staten Island, CUNY

207. Adam Sanchez, Teacher; Editor, Rethinking Schools; Zinn Education Project

208. Blanca Vazquez, Adjunct Associate Professor (Retired), Film and Media Studies, Hunter College, CUNY

209. Lisa Rivera, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Boston

210. Josh Staub, Director of Restorative Programming, School District of Philadelphia

211. Rachel Buff, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

212. Christopher Zurn, Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts, Boston

213. Eric Fishman, Elementary School Teacher, Boston Public Schools

214. Susan Kang, Associate Professor of Political Science, John Jay University, CUNY

215. Sarah Soanirina Ohmer, Assistant Professor, Department of Latin American and Africana Studies, Lehman College, CUNY

Monday, May 25, 2020


Republicans in the US Senate are not going to send money to bail out the states and schools unless there is a liability shield for employers to stop lawsuits. This scares me as the NYC Department of Education, to say the least, does not have much of a track record when it comes to following laws, rules, or any kind of mandates that they don't like. We wrote about this on Friday. Powerful Republican leader Senator Lamar Alexander wants schools included in liability protection.  Our fears were compounded when we saw this piece in The Hill which says unions are worried about the liability shield.

Labor unions are growing increasingly concerned about GOP efforts to implement a coronavirus liability shield for businesses after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she has no red lines on the next COVID-19 relief bill.

Pelosi indicated this week she is open to negotiations with Senate Republicans on the House-passed $3 trillion aid package, which doesn’t include any provisions or restrictions on potential liability protections.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has insisted that any coronavirus relief legislation that contains aid for state governments must be accompanied by a liability shield for employers, a stance backed by both the White House and pro-business lobbying groups.

Labor unions, however, have stressed there is no room for negotiation. 

“After experiencing eight workers die and more than 300 test positive for COVID at JBS Greeley in Colorado, it’s clear companies are responsible to provide a safe, healthy work environment for its employees. If they fail to do so, laws must hold them accountable for those failures,” said Kim Cordova, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, which represents 22,000 workers, including those at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colo.

“Any attempt to shield companies from liability is a potential death sentence for front-line essential workers — putting all Americans at risk in the long term,” she added.

Has anyone been able to ask UFT President Michael Mulgrew or AFT President Randi Weingarten about our position on this issue? 

How about you? Would you take federal stimulus funds if they are tied to a liability shield preventing lawsuits against employers including the NYC DOE?

Sunday, May 24, 2020


This looks like a purely symbolic action but at least this group of CUNY faculty within the Professional Staff Congress called Rank and File Action is doing something collectively.

We CUNY faculty (adjuncts, graduate teaching fellows, tenure-track, and tenured) pledge to withhold our Spring 2020 grades in protest of the massive wave of layoffs and the June tuition hike and wellness fee proposed by CUNY management. The purpose of this pledge is to build an action capable of forcing the CUNY administration to reverse its policy of preemptive layoffs and austerity, and to negotiate with the union in order to secure every single job at the university for the Fall 2020 semester. We commit to sharing this pledge with colleagues in our departments and programs, across all disciplines, to garner the broad participation needed for this action to succeed. 

* All of us pledge to wait to submit grades UNTIL May 28, CUNY’s deadline date at most colleges for accepting S20 grades.
* If we reach a 70% CUNY faculty pledge support by May 27, we will withhold our Spring 2020 grades AFTER the respective grade submission deadlines on our campuses, as well as after May 29, the date by which teaching adjunct faculty receive their reappointment or non-reappointment letters via email.

I very much doubt they will get anywhere near 70% participation but at least these union members are trying something.

The organizers received some coverage in Left Voice. This part of the Left Voice piece struck me:

What makes this action particularly interesting and, in many ways groundbreaking, is that it was built entirely without the support of the leadership of the university faculty and staff union — the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) — and its resources. The PSC leadership has repeatedly argued against work actions or strikes to defeat these layoffs, choosing instead to bargain behind closed doors and lobby politicians at City Hall and in Albany. At the last delegate assembly meeting of the union, the question of a strike was brought up several times by delegates, and the union leadership’s response was that such actions would be illegal and therefore could not be considered. Such unwillingness to challenge the status quo, such deference to the closed-door negotiating process, over which they have full control, shows both the weakness and undemocratic nature of even so-called progressive unions. 

The PSC is so far ahead of the UFT in that they actually have real discussions at their Delegate meetings. If an opposition is not allowed to express themselves in union forums, then it isn't a democracy. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020


Nobody that I know of has expressed complete rage in public (using their own name) except for me about the UFT's lack of action in March when the Union was not willing to pull members out of schools that had COVID-19 cases. The UFT cares more about protecting their dues than the lives of their members. But what to do about it?

There is a group of individuals that say we should cease paying dues to such a morally bankrupt organization. They then provide a compelling list of other UFT failures including but not limited to: the 2005, 2014, 2018 Contracts with paltry raises and huge givebacks, the 2009 agreement to reduce the interest on the fixed TDA from 8.25% to 7% that CSA (principals and assistant principals) and PSC (CUNY teachers) have not had reduced, Danielson observations, Tier VI pensions, four years to get tenure and routine extensions of probation, etc. These arguments are all valid.

Even some of my colleagues who are very pro-union want us to consider encouraging our readers to drop out of the union. I thought about it. I called it a potential "dues strike" and did some research on how those who went on a "dues strike" could still be protected in case they were in trouble at work. Every avenue on the internet I went to would lead me to anti-union websites who want to finish unions off and use our anger with the union leadership as a justification. There is one group that will even take your money and support you as long as you are against union action.

From a critic of this organization:

The organization focused on the bottom line, literally, because it barely raises enough money to sustain itself, and as a result, does not provide its employees with decent wages and benefits. This was always troubling to me especially since we represented teachers who are underpaid.

The structure is decentralized with so-called hubs in Orange County, CA and Alexandria, VA although there is no management actually in the Virginia office.

I thought this was an organization focused on advancing the teaching profession but saw little evidence of that. In fact, there are no teachers in senior leadership at AAE. They'll say that the board is made up of teachers but they hardly have any say in day to day work and the founders have zero K-12 experience. I found it's a front organization created to sell teacher liability insurance. In fact, the founder was an insurance salesman, which now all makes sense. I kinda feel duped and so should teachers if they think this is more than an organization that tried to sell liability insurance.

Advice to Management

If you are anti-union, say so. If you are pro-teacher, act like it more than selling a product. If you are trying to improve the teaching profession, prove it. Otherwise, be who you really are, an insurance company (but currently in disguise).

These people are not our friends. A separate right-wing organization that is Koch funded is backing a lawsuit by two Chicago teachers who crossed the picket line during last year's successful strike and now want their union dues back. The Chicago Teachers Union only lets members stop dues in September of each year. Here is the reaction to the suit from a CTU lawyer in the Chicago Tribune:

In response, CTU attorney Robert Bloch said the suit was part of a national effort to hurt unions and workers’ rights.

“This is another anti-worker lawsuit from a reactionary, Koch-funded law project, filed as part of a coordinated, national right-wing effort aimed at undermining the rights of workers and their unions," Bloch said in a written statement. “We operate stringently within the letter of the law” governing dues collection, he said.

I believe those right-wing funded or at least inspired individuals might be two or three of the regular commenters on the ICEUFTblog. The two Chicago teachers who are suing for their union dues back are Ifeoma Nkemdi and Joanne Troesch. They sued the CTU, the Chicago Public Schools, and the AFT to get their dues money back. These two scabs from last year's strike were tried by the union.

Someone who crosses a picket line could face “appropriate charges” by the CTU executive board and then go through a judicial process akin to a trial, according to the union’s bylaws. If found guilty, they could be fined, or even expelled.

In March, the CTU informed Troesch and Nkemdi that they had been found guilty of violating the union’s internal strike policy and would be kicked out of the union unless they paid a fine equal to the amount of money they made during the strike, according to copies of the notices.

It's not dues first at the CTU. They don't want teachers who are scabs in their union.

Nkemdi said she was paid for the days during the strike when she worked, helping out with child care alongside nonunion staff, since schools remained open for students who needed care. When she walked by the picketing teachers, they called her names.

“They called me a scab. They said, ‘You turned your back,’” she said. “They were just saying how dumb and stupid I was. ... It was very traumatic, and I knew right then and there that I had to take a stand. I wasn’t going to be bullied out of my decision, and I wanted to make sure other teachers, if they felt the same way that I did, that they had opportunities without harassment and without bullying to go ahead and do so.”

There is no defense for crossing a picket line and making your brothers and sisters face the risk from the strike while you get paid.

These are the types of teachers and groups that are backing pedagogues who want to quit their unions. I looked around if there were non-right wing alternatives and I couldn't find any.

Quite frankly, I am in a terrible bind now. I despise what the UFT did in not telling people to leave unsafe buildings in March and letting those three days of staff development occur on March 17-19 at the height of when COVID-19 was spreading in this area. UFT inaction played a role in getting people sick. I know full well the Union will probably have no good answers in the fall if there is a second wave of COVID-19. Michael Mulgrew, in my opinion, will not tell members to leave unsafe situations as he did not in March and has been silent on the question since then.

In addition, it is virtually impossible to change the UFT electorally since Mulgrew controls very tightly the flow of information. I have said on many occasions that it is unfeasible to get to the huge number of UFT retirees scattered all over the country to get them to answer yes to the three questions Politics 101 says must be answered yes before voters will vote for you:

1. Do they know you?
2. Do they like you?
3. Do they trust you?

I still keep praying that something will happen to wake up teachers so that they demand a real say in their union representation. I even did the research in 2017 to find out what it would take to pull one of the three teaching divisions (high schools, middle schools, elementary schools) out of the UFT and start a separate union. Just to be clear, if a group broke off and started their own bargaining unit, they would keep all current salary and benefits, including the welfare fund. The Taylor Law taketh away double pay in a strike but it also giveth the right to keep a contract until you negotiate a new one.

For high schools, it would take about 100 activists to get about 60 signatures each from high school teachers exclusively to get a decertification referendum to start a separate union. At the time this was being pondered, the daughter of High School Teacher's Association and early UFT leader Roger Parente got in touch with Norm Scott to defend her father's honor. Doctor Matilda Parente and I soon thereafter became email friends. I think she saw me as a spiritual heir to her father. Chaz was also notified and did not discourage this push for divisional unions. We asked for 100 activists. So how many volunteered to help? Ten. Maybe COVID-19 has changed things and teachers are no longer willing to accept a union that would send them into unsafe buildings. I don't know.

Electoral or structural change is tough but the alternative right now to the UFT is right-wing and neo-liberal groups who want to destroy public education and make working conditions and salaries much worse (see Moskowitz, Eva for a possible future for education). They could do real damage in this economic climate. I don't support Mulgrew and I don't endorse Koch. The UFT  might react if a bunch of school Chapters go on a "dues strike" with demands for union reforms.  Scattered individuals opting out mean nothing even if it is a thousand lone wolves. You will only weaken the UFT more than it already is.

I thought about if there is anything of value in the UFT. There is. The school Chapter level is where there is still real democracy (Chapter Leader, Delegates, School Leadership Team, School Based Options, PROSE, Chapter Committee, School Safety Committee). A majority can still have a great deal of say in school-based decisions if they are organized. If you leave the union as an individual, you lose a chance to serve, vote, or have any influence at the school level. Some schools still do it right. Make sure yours is one of them.

My best hope now is that more schools will become organized and we will stand by them if they take action as we did in March when UFTers asked me if they could stay out if it was unsafe. It is still worth the price of paying dues to have a say in how your school is run. If everyone in your school is on the take or you are an Absent Teacher Reserve, then I totally understand your frustration but rather than quitting, expose the corruption out loud like we bloggers do. You'll feel better and the world is listening.

Finally, I have trouble making the stop paying dues argument in my own home. My wife (a great union activist) told me it was not up to me to lead anyone who wants to quit the UFT. She correctly pointed out that as a retiree, I switched over to her health plan and face absolutely no risk if I leave the Union. I pay dues basically for symbolic reasons as I get no substantial material benefit from being a UFT member.

Friday, May 22, 2020


Senator Lamar Alexander is the Chair of the US Senate's Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions. ICEUFT gets his press releases for some reason. Senator Alexander recently had a conversation with about 90 college presidents from his home state of Tennesee. Here is part of the press release Alexander issued on reopening schools and colleges:

Senator Alexander concluded: “The concerns that came back to me in our call were three things. One, every president asked about liability. They don't want to be sued if they reopen their school and a student gets sick. And I told them that Senator McConnell has said, and I believe every Republican Senator agrees, and I hope many Democrats do as well, that we won't pass another COVID-19 bill unless it has some liability protection for colleges and schools as well as businesses and others who are trying to reopen and help our country get back to normal. The second question we heard a lot about was testing. And third, I heard comments from presidents who would like to have more flexibility in any funding that we provide for colleges and in the funding that we've already provided.” 

We now know the Republican price for federal money to bail out states, including schools: no wrongful death lawsuits.

The NYC Department of Education protected from lawsuits? Are you serious? If there are no liability worries, I am confident NYC school buildings will be open at least partially in September.

It's too easy here to throw a cheap shot at Michael Mulgrew telling us to get our wills in order at yesterday's town hall. I don't think he meant to tell us we better be ready to die in the fall. Nevertheless, liability protection for the DOE may be a very steep price to pay for federal money to reopen school buildings and support the states. It's funny how Mulgrew didn't mention this when he told everyone to join the committee to fight for that federal money. He made it as if it isn't a red vs blue issue. It certainly is.

Thursday, May 21, 2020


I was walking in the yard. My wife called me to remind me this was on.

President Michael Mulgrew:
Finalizing a posting for summer school. Posting should be out tomorrow. It's remote. Being careful. Putting up safeguards for labor-management work. Everything is for during this emergency situation only. Massive summer school. Will children come and will there be enough teachers? We got our raise. We still have Memorial Day off.

Planning on a safe environment for September. Smart betting is on a hybrid model. Part-time in school, part-time remote. Set schools into cohorts A-B is the best scenario. It comes down to how many classrooms we have. Must look at all the space. High School kids more self-directed. Different problems in elementary schools. Many teachers in focus groups. We are the experts emphatically now.

12 kids in a class for the fall will meet with CDC guidelines for our classrooms. If not sure, we should take temperatures. Memorial Day is the first day off since February break. Met with elementary, middle school, and high school focus groups. Also functionals, paras. Trying to get to the end of the school year, set up summer school and have the basic information ready for September. Can't program a school from central. Schools are all different. All have different physical layouts and different numbers of students. Safety is paramount. If a child has a positive test result, how do we quarantine? We learned how to remotely teach, but now we have to plan differently than we did before. We can reach children differently. How to teach with a kid who is in front of you on Monday who may not be there on Tuesday. What about if Cohort A comes one week and then Cohort B comes the next week? Must think it through. Plan and adjust. We are not arrogant people who say something works when we know it isn't working. The September plan is temporary. Operational complaints are working. Safeguards will be in place in September.

The virus is the biggest challenge but the budget is important because we have to fight for our livelihoods. Two teachers testified with Mulgrew at the City Council. Council said the budget will be horrible unless we get Heroes Act money. Can't let state and city try to take away money if it comes. For example, what if we have to give a mask to every kid every day? One million masks will last for one day. Cleaning, they will need extra custodians. That cannot come out of a school budget. We still do not have a nurse in every school. UFT nurses have done a phenomenal job helping through this crisis. We need a nurse in every school. We need a guidance counselor in every school to deal with the social-emotional problems. We need to lower class sizes if we are going to create cohorts. Must lower class sizes if they need a third cohort. We would need more teachers. We need to get the federal Heroes Act passed. Working with the AFT. Huge petition started a conversation on what we need to open schools again. The petition went across the country. Once it got into the news stream, politicians had to react.

NYS budget done April 1. Governor says he will put new cuts out because the economy is losing hundreds of millions of dollars a day. Governor holding off on cuts hoping federal money comes. This is a big, huge, disgusting political game. Not a blue state-red state issue. Most elected officials will do anything they can to win. They want to win and keep positions. Teachers and parents understand we need the federal package. We need the Heroes Act to be a dedicated stream of funding that can't be touched.  No loopholes so money in House package. It will help for next two fiscal years. This is the only thing that gives us a shot at protecting everyone's livelihood. If we don't have this, a lot of people are going to get hurt. Starting next push. Asked AFT. Wall Street and many corporations have been bailed out. Children have never been bailed out. Children need a lifeline. We won't let them forfeit the future of our children who are in our schools right now. Will ask Anthony Harmon who is Staff Director at the UFT to start this push.

Anthony Harmon:

Committee to get Heroes Act passed. Need people to join a campaign with us. Text word "Lifeline to 30644." You will then get a message from the UFT on how to get involved.

Mulgrew again:

They are playing games in DC. They are not even hiding it. Get everyone involved and keep moving and moving and moving.

Industrial hygienists looking at buildings. Doctors and epidemiologists who have worked with us are working with us on this for the future.

UFT legal plan for members only which is free is a robust plan. Make sure you have your health care proxy and basic will done. Make sure to have powers of attorney in place. Families in crisis not thinking about this. This is what doctors, lawyers and bankers are asking you in a crisis. Not having these things in place makes a bad situation worse. Take advantage of the plan; it is free (dues pay for it). Get the papers. Lawfirms will get it done. You don't have to go to an office. Pleading with people to do it now.


Question: CDC guidelines are federal recommendations, I work in a school with 3,300 kids and 300 staff. When will teachers know if there will be a hybrid model?
Mulgrew Answer: Getting frustrated with the DOE. We are already a month behind if it was a regular school opening. We started working on different models. Cohorts of kids who would come in at different times. CSA, DC37 and UFT agree we will follow CDC guidelines. The hybrid cohort model is the bet on how will we start. For a big school, we may need a three cohort school. Medically fragile students and staff will need to go fulltime remote. Look at space and how we can use the auditorium and cafeteria (delivering food to classrooms so we won't need the cafeteria for food and can have more classroom space) to see the space we have. It's on the table from teachers to have certain classes be fulltime remote. Good ideas coming from teachers. Hoping model is done by the second or third week of June. We need cooperation from DOE.

Question: Thank you for acknowledging the school nurses. Usually have option to work in the summer and then the caller broke up.

Question: Updated calendar for this year and next.
Answer: We've agreed upon calendar but they still have not put it out because something might change. All they have to do is put out that it may change. We are ready to have votes on SBO's. We have technology in place for SBO and comp time votes. Calendar was agreed to a month ago; we know it's subject to change.

Question: Nurse asks about summer rec center. about possibly working shifts.
Answer: Pulled most folks back from Health and Hospitals. Nurse will be front and center expert in terms of safety. (Someone jumped in: Rec Centers voluntary and per session.) 17,000 on call.

Question: Teacher evaluation and observations? Teachers worrying about tenure?
Answer: No negotiation. State Ed Department said there should be no evaluations this year. Some are being granted tenure. Fewer discontinuances. SED needs an executive order but Governor has not given it yet. It would be next to impossible to do teacher evaluation now if the Governor doesn't sign the executive order.

Question: National day of action to email, text, call and slam on social media Mitch McConnell to shame him to do the right thing by firefighters, cops, teachers, etc.?
Answer: We will do something like this on Tuesdays. No lifeline for children, but more tax breaks for corporations. C'mon man.

Question: District 75 in September, severe low functioning kids. There will not be social distancing; those kids won't use masks and won't share toys. How will D75 look at a reopening?
Answer: That situation has been spoken about and we have to speak to the people who work in those sites about what is realistic and what is not. Early childhood teachers say social distancing isn't happening with 4 and 5-year-olds. Must talk to parents to get their input. This is tough stuff but it is God's work.

Question: Remote learning, seeing checklists, will that be brought to the table?
Answer: DOE asked people to do something they were never trained to do. Synchronous learning is tough to schedule and must get others who can't get in. Working on a definition for summer school. We can't recreate a traditional classroom teacher in remote learning. Checklists don't make sense. Central DOE has never done a remote learning in their lives. Teacher Centers are all over this. Hundreds doing this and they are part of the focus groups. Key is flexibility. Google is an educational platform. Zoom is a meeting tool. Educators in offices throw around terminology but it doesn't mean the same things. Education has changed. Teachers have come up with creative ways to weave this into regular instruction. Teachers shouldn't burn out.

Question: What accommodations will be available for teachers with underlying conditions for the fall?
Answer: Even with social distancing, it is still a gathering of people. Criteria have to come from medical professionals. We are working on it.

Question: Many teachers are parents, how are we going to resolve that?
Answer: We will do the best we can to work something out. Certain times students will be in school and this. Need daycare in place for essential workers which teachers will be when buildings reopen. We don't have enough Y's like some upstate districts. Have to make these decisions but nothing is going to solve all of the problems. Must communicate. Help people get through the challenges.

We will get back to people who asked questions.

Text to fight for the right. Enjoy first three day weekend we have had in a long time. Be proud of what you've done. We did the right thing and people know it.

Please note that once again my wife pressed the zero and as usual her question was not allowed to go through. It's all random, okay.

It is an amazing, just amazing coincidence, that just about every question starts with someone saying what a wonderful job Mulgrew and the UFT is doing.

When will there be a tough question?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


This post is dedicated to my friend Peter Zucker who wondered about my ability to take a screen shot since I am somewhat challenged when it comes to tech.

This is from Politico. These are results of a Politico-Morning Consult poll.

I am no Joe Biden fan but on public education, he at least supports our continued existence. All I can say about Donald Trump is he doesn't talk much about education so maybe it isn't on his radar but his Education Secretary is openly hostile to public schools.

The poll shows online schooling isn't going badly with the public. By a 59% to 28% margin, the poll says online learning is effective. I am not sure what that means for the future.


The NY Post is reporting on the Department of Education settling a discrimination lawsuit brought by three teachers and an assistant principal at Pan American International High School.

Most readers here believe principals like Minerva Zanca are the tip of the iceberg.

From The NY Post:

The city Department of Education has agreed to pay more than $1.1 million to four educators after it allowed a Queens principal to torment three black teachers — including saying one “looked like a gorilla in a sweater.”

The payout will go to the three teachers at the Pan American International High School and an assistant principal who was retaliated against after speaking out against the abuse, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

The settlement will end civil suits brought by the educators and a federal civil rights complaint filed by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

Please don't take the abuse teachers. Fight back, go public, go to the EEOC, the State Human Rights Commission, the UnionPERB or any reputable place for help. It is better if we can work things out right at the start if there is a problem at the job. However, document everything and fight back as fast as possible if you believe you are under attack.

We'll give United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman the last word here as quoted in the Post article.

The discrimination was brought to the attention of DOE Superintendent Juan Mendez, who did not punish Zanca even after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found reasonable cause that she’d discriminated against the teachers.

“The discrimination in this case was invidious, unlawful, and counter to our core values.  This Office will remain vigilant in ensuring that employers who do not comply with Title VII are held to account,” Berman said in a statement.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


This is from Jillian Jorgensen's Twitter page. After reading this, it looks like there are lots of incompletes (NX) going out to students.

Here's a journey in circular logic. Join me, if you will around this spool of a thread. Today, the city announced that 177,000 students are expected to attend summer school. Of those, 102,000 will be REQUIRED to attend. A year ago, just 44,000 students were required to attend.
2:44 PM · May 19, 2020Twitter Web App
Replying to
There are two reasons you might be required to attend summer school: You are in grades 3-8 and you were recommended to be held back unless you attend summer school You are in high school and did not successfully pass a required class
Well, this year's numbers include students in high school who didn't fail a course but got an "incomplete" instead. Ok, but -- nobody is failing a course in high school this year. Failing grades are now deemed incomplete due to the pandemic grading policy in effect.
Getting an incomplete means you didn't successfully complete (otherwise known as "pass) the required course. That would've meant summer school last year, too.
DOE spokeswoman Danielle Filson argues that an incomplete may not mean you failed, per se, just needed more time to pass. A year ago that would have meant failing, but this year we are acknowledging students may need more time due to remote learning.
Quote Tweet
Danielle Filson
We're including a whole new category of students that never existed prior to this pandemic- high schoolers who receive a course in progress. A course in progress may indicate that more time is needed due to the transition to remote learning, a unique situation given circumstances…
So. DOE says it is not a fair comparison because, this year, some kids need more time due to remote learning. Of course, that was exactly the point of comparing. My question was: many more kids need summer school, does that mean they fell behind in remote learning? Full circle.
Anyway, 58,000 more children are being required to attend summer school this year than last year. I'll leave it up to you to be the judge of what that means, if you're not as dizzy as I am from this back-and-forth.

Here is the Department of Ed summer school letter to parents from Chancellor Carranza:

Dear Families,

We know that the COVID-19 crisis and the unexpected shift to remote learning in the second half of the school year have presented challenges for many families all across the City. The strength, perseverance, and dedication of our 1.1 million students and the staff and families who support them day after day continues to amaze me. We have continually evolved our policies to meet this unprecedented time, developing and in some cases entirely reinventing them to support our students
and families. Today we are writing to share an update on summer school.

In continued adherence to federal, State, and City health guidelines, we are adapting our summer school model for summer2020. This year, we will offer summer school via remote instruction, allowing us to provide more students than ever before with the academic supports they need and a bridge from this school year to the next. In addition to academic instruction, students participating in these summer school programs will also have opportunities to go on self-paced virtual field trips
and engage in daily social-emotional learning activities.

Who in grades 3-8 will attend summer school?
Students in grades 3–8 who are not promoted in June will be required to attend summer school. They will participate in   of remote instruction from Monday, July 13 – Tuesday, August 18.

Some students in grades 3–8 who are promoted in June may also be recommended by their teacher for additional academic support over the summer. They will participate in six weeks of remote instruction from Monday, July 13 – Tuesday, August 18.

Your school will notify you in June if your child is required or recommended to participate in summer learning programs.

Who in grades 9-12 will attend summer school?
Students in grades 9–12 who receive a grade of Course in Progress, or who need to retake a course they have failed in a prior term, will participate in remote instruction for the course(s) in which they need to earn credit. Remote instruction will run from Monday, July 13 –Friday, August 21.

Your school will notify you in June if your child is required or recommended to participate in summer learning programs.

What about students with 12-month Individualized Education Program (IEP) services?
Students in all grades with 12-month IEPs will participate in remote summer programming from Wednesday, July 1–Thursday, August 13. All students who are receiving or are eligible to receive these services will be contacted by their school shortly.

Your child’s academic success is of utmost importance. To ensure that students across the city receive the support they need this summer, we are dedicating all of our efforts to providing mandatory and recommended summer learning programs, and we will not be operating elective Summer Academy and school-based enrichment programs this year. We will continue to share resources and summer-specific activities at in the coming weeks so that all students can find
new and exciting ways to continue their learning this summer.

We always say that New York City has the best students, staff, and families in the world, and nothing will ever change that.

You continue to prove this day after day. Thank you.

Richard A. Carranza
New York City Department of Education