Tuesday, June 30, 2020


I tried to listen carefully to Mayor Bill de Blasio's presser today where he talked mostly about the agreement he reached with the City Council on the final fiscal year 2021 NYC budget.  I attempted to follow the Mayor closely but de Blasio is more difficult for me to monitor than UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Mulgrew sometimes enrages me when I listen to him so I stay alert but de Blasio often bores me to tears which sometimes puts me to sleep.

YouTube has a video of the press conference.

Here is a summary of some of what the Mayor said today:

The budget is $88 billion. There is no authority from the state government to allow the city to borrow money yet and there is no aid yet from Washington that would bring stimulus money for states and municipalities. de Blasio stated that if we can't get the stimulus from DC or the borrowing authority from Albany, then October 1st looms and as the last resort he would have to lay off city workers. Layoffs are included in the budget but again he says it is only a last resort.

As for savings, de Blasio stated that there are $1 billion in labor savings that are included that he will try to agree to with the unions. (Look out as I have no idea what the givebacks will be but we can expect them. Go to about the 3-minute mark of the video to hear this part.) 

His labor commissioner said the DOE would hire from the ATR pool for new positions needed in the schools.  Summer Youth is back. 100,000 kids served. 

The Mayor said DOE will train Safety Agents for restorative justice and social-emotional learning. NYPD can still deal with violent and criminal matters in schools. The budget director said there would be $400 million cut from the DOE budget.

The mayor didn't deny that moving school safety to the DOE wasn't really an NYPD cut but he stated the roles would be changed because of the changes in approach to school safety.
The NY Post reporting on the deal says Fair Student Funding is no longer cut but rather frozen:

The ‘Fair Student’ program that helps equalize funding between Gotham’s richer and poorer school districts will see its funding remain flat, instead of facing a $100 million cut

The Department of Education’s popular ‘Single Sheperd’ guidance counselor program for high needs schools faced the ax but now has its $11 million budget back

Here is the Post's account on the cuts to the NYPD:

It transfers the school safety officers back to the Department of Education, moving $307 million off of the NYPD’s budget in the first year. It also calls for school safety agents to be moved to another still-unspecified agency, accounting for another $42 million.

Controversially, sources told The Post, City Hall also tallied the $134 million in fringe benefits — like health, dental and eye care — associated with those employees and counted those savings toward the $1 billion goal.

The NYPD is also supposed to slash its overtime spending by $352 million in 2021 — roughly half of its annual outlay, which exceeded $700 million in each of the last three completed budget.

Much of the rest of the savings come from reducing the department’s uniformed headcount by 1,163 through attrition, the sources added. Once more, City Hall counted the costs of providing benefits to those employees towards the $1 billion mark.

Monday, June 29, 2020


Part of a the negotiations for a budget deal between the Mayor and City Council Speaker due on June 30 is to move school safety from NYPD back to the DOE. 

This is from Politico New York:

The deal involves moving school safety agents, who are unarmed but wear police uniforms, into the Department of Education, canceling a July class of roughly 1,100 police recruits, and shifting certain homeless outreach operations away from police control.

In reality, moving school safety is a bookkeeping trick and not a cut to the NYPD. As for the predictable results, I want the broom contract as principals will be sweeping even more incidents under the rugs when students at some point return to school buildings. 

The people who want the NYPD budget slashed by $1 billion aren't buying this either.

“Mayor de Blasio and Speaker [Corey] Johnson are using funny math and budget tricks to try to mislead New Yorkers into thinking that they plan to meet the movement's demands for at least $1B in direct cuts,” said Anthonine Pierre, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, who called for a full hiring freeze on NYPD officers. “This is a lie.”

On other aspects of the city budget including layoffs, we still do not have a final answer.

Back to Politico NY:

De Blasio said he was “disappointed” that the state Senate has so far refused to give the city permission to borrow up to $5 billion to help plug the gaps. The Assembly, he said, has been more amenable to the idea.

Without a federal bailout, borrowing authority, or a labor savings deal by October 1, the mayor says the city will have to lay off 22,000 workers.

“This is not the 1970s. I have not gotten a coherent answer as to why it’s just not the right thing to do,” de Blasio said of the borrowing plan. “Austerity is never the way to go.”

Mike Murphy, a spokesperson for Senate Majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said de Blasio has failed to address “legitimate concerns held by our Senators.”

“We are not against a borrowing plan that makes sense, but remain concerned that the Mayor began asking for $7 billion, then dropped his request to $5 billion, all to close a $1.6 billion gap,” he said in a statement Monday. “Prudence requires the development of a plan not rushed through before action is actually necessary, especially when the possibility of additional federal aid remains unresolved.”

Never underestimate the incompetence. 


From today's Andrew Cuomo press conference in Manhattan, we learn state guidelines for reopening schools are not yet ready (see tweet below).

The longer this takes, the less opportunity all of us will have to adjust to whatever the state comes up with. Technically, the New York State Board of Regents is responsible for state education policy but we are guessing the Governor's fingerprints will be all over the final policy.

Update: We are also following the negotiations between the City Council and Mayor on a finalized New York City budget due tomorrow. NYPD cuts could be coming, including taking school safety from NYPD and returning it to the DOE.

Sunday, June 28, 2020


Thanks to a reader for sending our way this Buffalo News account of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Meet the Press appearance today.

On the schools:

The continuing national coronavirus crisis may contribute to putting the 2020-21 school year at risk, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday. 

"If this continues across the country," Cuomo said, "kids are going to be home for a long time."

Cuomo made his comments on "Meet The Press" as he discussed how New York's coronavirus numbers have dropped to all-time lows while the virus is surging in several other states.  

The governor said no decision has been made regarding schools, and that the state has plans to open schools and is preparing to do so.

However, he told host Chuck Todd, "This is complicated so let's get the facts and we'll make the decision when we have to. If this continues across the country, you're right, Chuck, kids are going to be home for a long time."

Getting the daily death count in NY down to five for Saturday, while tragic for those five families, is a major accomplishment. However, as we wrote earlier, NY is not an isolated country that can control who comes in and out. Cuomo feared a rise in NY infections because of what is occurring nationally.

"How does that number go up?" Cuomo asked rhetorically on "Meet The Press." "Two ways. Lack of compliance – and I'm diligent about staying after New Yorkers and local governments that have to police it.

"Second, I'm now afraid of the spread coming from other states because we are one country and people travel, and I'm afraid the infection rate in the other states will come back to New York and raise that rate again." 

The problem is the longer it takes to decide on what schools will do in the fall, that leaves less time for school systems to prepare and get it right.


That question looks a little too much like an aim and I think I asked it before. Okay, guilty as charged of writing aims here. After teaching for 32 years in NYC, this is what I do by reflex. I was thinking about what is going to happen in the fall in schools. 

All of us are quite concerned because there are really no good options if the Covid-19 pandemic continues as is quite probable. We may have finally flattened the curve in NY but nationally, we have not. I hope and pray there is a vaccine and/or an effective remedy but there probably won't be either by the fall. The Chappaqua outbreak shows that NY is not an isolated nation that can close its borders to minimize the chances of having a second wave of Covid-19. So, where does that leave the schools for the start of the 2020-2021 school year? September 10 is coming when NYC schools should reopen for students. 

The Options for school in the fall in NYC:

1-Open school normally and hope that nothing gets out of control. 

Highly unlikely this will occur unless there is a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine and/or a truly effective remedy.

2-Open with "blended learning" in some kind of a hybrid model with different cohorts going to school on different days and doing remote learning from home on other days so that social distancing is possible in school buildings. 

This is the likely scenario but it will probably please nobody including parents who need help with watching their own children when they are at work outside the home but their kids are scheduled to be learning from home. This situation includes a great number of teachers and other school staff.

Personally, I think the city should at least attempt to have uniform cohorts in all schools citywide as much as they possibly can so parents who are workers can match their cohort with their children to the maximum extent possible. I would do this first within the school system but then attempt to expand it to other city workers and even include the private sector business community as well as the rest of the region if governments are so inclined. Matching cohorts across the area would keep people from overcrowding school buildings, the roads, and public transportation while still permitting some in-school learning. 

I know, I know you are all going to pounce on me by saying a crowded big high school can't have the same cohorts as a tiny high school or small elementary school. I agree we are not one size fits all. However, I would argue it is possible to get everyone on the same page if we base the cohorts on the biggest schools and allow much smaller class sizes and/or more in-school learning in less crowded buildings. Parents would have the option of transferring this summer as the schools that have more space could be more attractive. The idea is everyone knows in advance what the possible days of school are citywide and parents can coordinate schedules as best as possible. Support centers could continue for essential workers who need childcare.

I am dreaming here. This would require a level of thinking and planning that will go way over the heads of the Department of Education, the City of New York, the State of New York, the surrounding state governments and the business community. 

Let's acknowledge we will get the DOE version of blended learning which means sort of organized chaos in 1,800 different schools that will go in about a million different directions. We haven't even talked about the problems with children social distancing and Personal Protective Equipment or how teachers who have preexisting health conditions where they work fulltime remotely will be programmed. Also, what happens if there is COVID-19 in a building?  It closes or we leave anyway if it doesn't close. We will write about that in detail in a different post. Let's now examine the final alternative.

3-Continue with remote learning exclusively. 

This may yet happen but I believe there will be more live, what is called synchronous, instruction. No more posting an assignment for the week and heading for the golf course, although some will probably figure out a way to get around anything. 

If the massive spikes in cases in the south and west continue, NY is not a separate country, as mentioned above, and will not be immune. Remote learning at least keeps us as safe as possible. I hate it as a parent. My wife can't stand it as a teacher and my kids don't like it as students but being as safe as possible has to be an alternative. 

In the final analysis, all three options are terrible. I am confident that nothing will be implemented properly in NYC and the UFT response will be inadequate. I hope I'm wrong and the DOE gets it right. I was emailing back and forth with Reality Based Educator this morning. I'll leave the conclusion to him. I pointed out that my science knowledge is not that advanced.

He answered: 

Mine either, by my cynicism and skepticism is professional-grade. What I have seen from people in charge - from Trump to Cuomo to de Blasio to the WHO to the CDC to the DOE to the UFT - is mistake after mistake.

This is what a failed nation looks like, isn't it?

Sadly, it is hard to answer that question negatively.

P.S. If you haven't yet taken Jonathan Halabi's COVID-19 survey that a reader turned into a Google Doc, please do so. It's much better than the DOE survey. I still haven't seen a UFT survey on returning.

Saturday, June 27, 2020


There were two recent articles in the NY Post that don't expose the Department of Education in a favorable way. Today, Sue Edelman has a piece on the lack of transparency in DOE when it comes to recording how many people were sickened due to COVID-19. Back on Thursday, Selim Algar cited a letter Comptroller Scott Stringer wrote to the Mayor and Chancellor on how poorly the DOE is planning for the fall.

From Sue's piece:

 The city Department of Education refuses to say how many teachers and other workers have fallen ill with COVID-19 — or even whether it’s keeping track of the pandemic’s impact on its staff.

The secrecy has exacerbated credibility issues in the agency that began at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, when the DOE failed to close schools and promptly inform employees about infected co-workers, insiders told The Post.

“The DOE has lost the trust of a lot of families and staff. A  key part of restoring that trust is transparency and not keeping information from people,” said teacher Liat Olenick.

“They absolutely should be tracking Covid cases among the staff, and sharing that information with the school community.”

As Chancellor Richard Carranza prepares for a full or partial reopening of school buildings this fall, he and his executive team should know how many employees have gotten sick and how many can safely return, staffers said.

“It would tell you about the condition of your workforce,” Manhattan teacher Ellen Schweitzer said. “While preserving privacy, there should be extensive tracking and contract tracing, especially when children are showing up.”

Without naming the fallen employees, DOE has tallied 79 killed by COVID-19 as of June 22, including 31 teachers and 28 paraprofessionals.

The DOE does not count a school nurse and 14 school safety agents because they were paid by other city departments, bringing the true total of school workers lost to 94.

Further down, the case that MORE started where they managed to get hundreds to file PERB charges against the UFT is publicized:

Meanwhile, a group of teachers has filed an “improper practice” charge against their union with the state Public Employee Relations Board for failing to represent them during the pandemic.

The United Federation of Teachers “halted indefinitely” the filing of more than 200 COVID-related grievances against the DOE for alleged health and safety violations, the group said in a statement.

“By keeping schools open and requiring staff in the buildings until March 19, the DOE endangered the lives of thousands of employees,” it said.

I heard from Jeff Kaufman on this case. We don't understand why both the DOE and UFT were not made co-defendants here as they are working together but we will see where the PERB charge goes.

While reading the Edelman article, there was a link to another from Thursday by Selim Algar.

The Department of Education gets an F for its planning ahead of the new school year, city Comptroller Scott Stringer said Thursday in a scathing letter to city officials.

“While I can appreciate the complexities involved in making many of these decisions, there is no good reason why planning and preparation for the fall – as well as communication with parents and staff – is not more advanced,” Stringer wrote to Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.

To maintain social distancing, the Department of Education has broached the likelihood of staggered classes in September, with groups of students alternating between remote learning and in-person instruction.

But beyond that, increasingly frustrated parents say they’re operating in the dark with the opening bell set to ring in just 76 days.

“Parents, for instance, have no idea what days their children will be at school and what days they will be at home, much less what the school-day hours will be,” Stringer wrote. “Teachers have yet to be told what their class structures will look like, or when they should report to work.”

While Stringer said he was “humbled and amazed” by the transition of school staffers to remote learning amid the coronavirus crisis, he demanded increased DOE transparency and specificity on the practice moving forward.

This blog published an unofficial calendar based on past years and we made a prediction that the fall will be a mess.

Further down, Selim writes:

Stringer submitted a list of 18 questions he wanted answered by July 3 to help parents prepare for what awaits.

Among them, he requested a summary of specific staggered class proposals.

“For parents – especially those who work on an hourly basis and depend upon predictable schedules to make a living – this is vital information,” he wrote.

There are so many teachers and others who are employed in the schools who have the same childcare dilemma as they are parents. Clearly, all of us need guidance. 

Friday, June 26, 2020


Dear UFT Member,

As this school year comes to an end, I know that you have many questions about returning to school buildings in September. As you know, the DOE is considering the option of a blended model of in-person instruction and remote learning.

We recognize that some UFT members will not be able to report to work in person due to medical conditions that put them at higher risk. The DOE is creating an online application for members to apply for medical accommodations that could allow them to work from home. You should expect to receive an email from the DOE to your DOE email address by July 15 with instructions about how to complete the application online and submit the required supporting documentation from a medical provider.

Here is the information that the DOE sent to principals regarding the application process. It is important to note that anyone seeking such an accommodation must apply on the electronic form once it is available, even if they have already applied on the paper form.

COVID-19 Reasonable Accommodations Process for Fall 2020

Employees who are at a heightened risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19 may be eligible for a reasonable accommodation to work from home/remotely. The medical conditions as set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are a guide to what will be considered a heightened risk. These conditions, while not exclusive, have been identified as high risk by the CDC as they relate to COVID-19.

DOE is modifying its reasonable accommodation request process and will be able to accept COVID-19-related reasonable accommodation requests electronically. By July 15, school-based staff will receive instructions at their DOE email address on how to complete the application online, as well as how to submit the required supporting documentation from a medical provider. The combined application and supporting documentation will be reviewed consistent with overall policies for reasonable accommodations, including informing the staff member’s principal of the general request. No accommodation request should be filed until this process is opened. Final determinations of an accommodation request may not be sent until later in August, but early completion of the application will help facilitate a faster review.

For more information about general accommodations, please email 


Please be aware of the following:

Reasonable accommodations may only be granted for an employee's own disability. School staff who are unable to work at a school or DOE site for other non-disability reasons (e.g. child care, health of others in their household) may seek other options, such as leaves, but are not eligible for a reasonable accommodation to work remotely.

If you are not seeking an accommodation, but do not intend to return to your school for other reasons (e.g. resignation, retirement), we encourage you to let your principal know in a timely manner so appropriate planning can take place. This process is not for this purpose.
Any accommodation provided is subject to review and change.

We will continue to keep you updated with more information as it becomes available. Stay safe and healthy.


Michael Mulgrew

Dear UFT Member,

As this difficult school year ends, I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to each and every one of you for your devotion to your students in their time of need.

It’s at moments when we face the gravest challenge that we discover our true strength. We showed the power of the union in our successful campaign to close school buildings and then, with virtually no preparation and scarce resources, we kept the New York City public school system running in the heart of a frightening pandemic.

When our students’ lives were thrown into turmoil by the virus and its economic fallout, you showed extraordinary caring and compassion. You connected deeply with your students and their families even as you battled your own fears and took care of your own families. It truly was an act of love.

Our union family has suffered terrible losses. Sixty-seven in-service members, two family child-care providers and 61 retirees have died from coronavirus-related causes. We honor them and celebrate their life’s work on UFT Honors, our memorial website.

It’s going to be a long, hard summer. The Department of Education has begun to put together a plan to reopen school buildings with new safety protocols and social distancing measures in place in September. But a lot of questions still need to be answered.

The future is full of unknowns, but you have my solemn promise that I will do everything I can to protect your safety, your livelihood and your profession. We will get this done together, with the help and leadership of our amazing UFT chapter leaders.

I will be in touch with you through the summer with updates and information. I will also continue to hold telephone town halls where you’ll have a chance to ask questions.

UFT representatives will be available to assist you during the summer. Please contact the union at the numbers below:

In-service DOE members, call 212-331-6311
In-service DOE functional chapter members, call 212-331-6312
For the UFT Welfare Fund (health benefits), call 212-539-0500

The UFT Member Assistance Program will continue to support you throughout the summer with virtual support groups, bereavement groups, individual phone consultations with licensed clinicians and referrals to appropriate outside services.

Take a deep breath. You made it through this extraordinary school year. Whether you are going on to work in the summer school program or take time to recharge, I wish you all a safe and healthy summer. 


Michael Mulgrew
UFT President


This is from the Daily News. It is copied in full.

Teachers will return in the fall if...: the city's teacher union boss explains the COVID protection conditions for going back to school

Teachers, parents — even students — are looking forward to returning to school buildings this fall. But new federal funds, now being held up in Washington, are the only possible way New York City will be able to invest in the protective measures and staff required for schools to safely re-open in September — even on a limited basis.

Our system is facing a double challenge: dealing with the devastating economic impact of COVID-19 on city and state budgets, and bringing back in-person schooling while maintaining social distance.

The pandemic has crippled our economy. Taxes and other revenues are well below pre-coronavirus projections. The result is that rather than increased resources, state and city budgets for the coming year include potential cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars to public services, including schools.

There have been plenty of corporate rescue missions. Airlines, oil companies and even hospital chains with large surpluses have been the beneficiaries of multi-billion-dollar federal bailouts.

Our states and cities — not to mention our children — deserve their own rescue measures.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the HEROES Act, which would send more than $900 billion to cities and states to help re-open their communities and re-start their economies, including $90 billion for public schools.

But despite the work of our local and national union to round up Republican votes, and the efforts of New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the issue to the floor.

If the Republican leadership kills the HEROES Act, we will be looking at fewer teachers and support personnel for September and dramatically less money for safety measures.

Here's why these funds are necessary:

The average classroom in New York City public schools is only about 800 square feet. No more than 10 children — one-half to one-third of the normal class size — can fit into such a space while observing the social distance recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

To safely re-open, most schools will have to create two or even three cohorts of children who would rotate between in-school and remote instruction on a regular basis. This will create major logistical challenges for food service, transportation and cleaning services, not to mention huge child-care problems for thousands of families as adults return to the workplace.

Given the increased number of classes and the necessity of continuing some remote learning, more teachers may be necessary. Fewer children per bus may mean more bus routes. Daily deep cleaning of the schools will cost tens of millions of dollars not now in the budget.

Additional spending will also be needed for protective equipment, including masks for children, and every building will need a nurse (traditionally not all schools have one). Just as important will be social workers and other mental health professionals who can help children deal with the emotional trauma caused by the pandemic.

While the virus has decisively declined in New York, we cannot afford to relax our vigilance. Florida, Texas, Arizona are seeing surges in cases and hospitalizations, and so is California, which initially took strong measures to enforce social distancing, only to backslide when people became impatient and complacent. China is already re-imposing protective measures as the virus is re-emerging there.

No one thinks the remote learning program our teachers patched together this spring with virtually no training has worked perfectly, but it has kept learning alive for our kids. It has also played a critical role in limiting the spread and the lethality of the coronavirus, which still killed dozens of Education Department employees, including 67 teachers and other UFT members.

If necessary, remote learning can continue in September. Without necessary — and expensive — safety measures, re-opening of our school buildings will pose an unacceptable risk for our children, our staff and their families. Which choice will we make?

President Mulgrew says it will be an unacceptable risk to reopen without "necessary --and expensive -- safety measures." Otherwise, he calls the risk unacceptable.  Will he back up those words if the DOE falls short on their end?

Speaking of virtual learning, I was very pleased to finally see these screens sans assignments on my kids' school accounts this afternoon. I don't know who the teachers and students are who had nothing to do for the last few weeks. Our teachers gave work right up until the end. I want to thank those P.S. 191Q teachers and wish them and all of you a great summer.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

ICEUFTBLOG VERY UNOFFICIAL 2020-2021 NYC SCHOOL CALENDAR (Updated September 5, 2020 as DOE official one is released finally)

Link to official DOE Calendar Page.

I tried to make an educated guess on what a NYC school calendar will look like for 2020-2021. To make this guesstimate, I first examined the dates for holidays on a regular calendar. I then looked at past DOE calendars to see how the school year was structured when the days of the week fell on the same days as 2020-2021. Finally, I looked at some surrounding school districts to compare. 

Not surprisingly,  many school districts have already released their calendars for 2020-2021, even though they know it might still be remote learning or blended learning in the fall. All of those days should count as school days. Finally, I asked Reality Based Educator to look my calendar over for some peer review.

This is extremely preliminary before any new givebacks from the UFT like on spring break or UFT screwups like having school on Monday, December 23, 2019 that at least was reversed. We helped propel the resistance to that unforced UFT error. This year, winter recess won't start until December 24, which comes on a Thursday. Besides new Mulgrew concessions, the calendar below is also subject to changes based on the whims of an egomaniacal governor or an incompetent mayor and chancellor. If any of you see some errors, please alert me.

Very Unofficial ICEUFTBlog 2020-2021 NYC DOE Calendar

Tuesday, September 8, 2020: Teachers, Paras report

Thursday, September 10, 2020: First day of school for students
Wednesday, September 16, 2020: First day of learning for all students which will be all remote for everyone from home for September 16, 17 and 18)

Monday, September 21, 2020: First day for in school learning for some families that have chosen blended learning. Please check with individual schools to see the days when school buildings are open for particular children.

Monday, September 28, 2020: Yom Kippur, schools closed

Monday, October 12, 2020: Columbus Day, schools closed

Tuesday, November 3, 2020: Election Day,  fully remote instructional day for all students

Tuesday, November 3, 2020: Election Day, schools closed for students, staff report for torture in many schools, staff development in others

Wednesday, November 11, 2020: Veteran's Day, schools closed

Thursday, November 26 - Friday November 27: Thanksgiving Recess, schools closed

Thursday, December 24, 2020 - Friday, January 1, 2021: Winter Recess, schools closed

Monday, January 18, 2021: Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day, schools closed

Friday, February 12, 2021: Lunar New Year, schools closed

Monday, February 15, 2021 - Friday, February 19, 2021: Midwinter Recess, schools closed

Monday, March 29, 2021 - Friday, April 2, 2021: Spring Break, schools closed (Update: This includes Good Friday and Passover--Whether we get a sixth day off and even a seventh day usually depends on when Good Friday and Passover fall. A reader said to look at 2000-2001 where we only got five days. I am convinced the UFT will not push for or get Easter Monday.)

Thursday, May 13, 2021: Eid al-Fitr, schools closed

Monday, May 31, 2021: Memorial Day, schools closed

Thursday, June 3, 2021: Anniversary Day, schools closed for students, staff report for BS Staff Development

Thursday, June 10, 2021: Anniversary Day, schools closed for students, staff feport for BS Staff Development
Friday, June 25, 2020: Last day day of school for students 

Monday, June 28, 2021: Last day of school for students, teachers and paras

I count 183 school days for teachers so there won't be many extra snow days next year if this is the final calendar. Maybe just two. I kind of agree with Anon 2323 who stated that snow days may be turned into remote learning days from now on.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


The Mayor gave out the bad news in today's press conference. The budget is due July 1 and the federal government may not rescue us, or at least not in time. 

New York City is running on financial fumes, Mayor de Blasio said Wednesday as he warned he may have to furlough or layoff municipal employees — including the selfless workers who stood firm on the front lines in the coronavirus crisis.

Instead of combat pay, New York’s new heroes could face weeks without paychecks unless Washington delivers economic relief to the city that’s borne the brunt of the nation’s worst medical crisis in more than a century.

Specific layoff numbers are in the NY Post account of the presser:

“Closing the $1 billion gap would mean laying off 22,000 city employees, which is a staggering number,” de Blasio said during his daily press briefing.

What does Comptroller Scott Stringer say about the layoffs?
Back to the Daily News:

City Comptroller Scott Stringer agreed the federal government should step up, but said layoffs and furloughs should not be on the table. He suggested de Blasio could do much more to cut existing fat.

“At a time when city workers are on the front lines of the pandemic, the mayor should not threaten their livelihoods in this way,” Stringer said. “From ballooning contracts to runaway spending without results, I have said repeatedly that agencies can find greater savings without harming our workers."

As someone who spent 32 years working for the Board of Ed/Department of Ed, I have to concur with Stringer on finding greater savings without layoffs.


This is from Chalkbeat:

A spokesperson for New York City’s largest charter network resigned in protest, stating she can no longer defend Success Academy’s “racist and abusive practices” that are “detrimental to the emotional well being” of its students.

I am resigning because I can no longer continue working for an organization that allows and rewards the systemic abuse of students, parents, and employees,” wrote Liz Baker, a Success spokesperson, in a resignation letter Tuesday.

As the organization’s press associate, I no longer wish to defend Success Academy in response to any media inquiries,” she continued in the letter, which was obtained by Chalkbeat. “I do not believe that Success Academy has scholars’ best interests at heart, and I strongly believe that attending any Success Academy school is detrimental to the emotional wellbeing of children.”

Below is my favorite part:

In response to the mounting criticisms, the network’s CEO, Eva Moskowitz, held a series of town halls last week to address concerns. In her resignation letter, Baker said officials screened out critical questions from parents and employees.

“Questions deemed ‘too critical’ were rejected before they could be posted in the Live Q&A section visible to attendees,” Baker wrote. 

Sounds like UFT Town Halls. Mulgrew and Eva both have people screen their questions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


Selim Algar has a piece in the NY Post where he cites Mayor Bill de Blasio criticizing parents for wanting to escape the NYC public schools. de Blasio called those parents privileged. Later on, Selim reports on what the Mayor is trying to do for the fall:

“Folks are smart, they understand we’re still dealing with a lot of unknowns,” de Blasio said Tuesday.

The mayor stressed that the DOE is hoping to provide something close to full-time onsite schooling and that no plans have been finalized.

“The goal is to have the maximum number of kids in their classrooms for the maximum number of days,” he said. “So, if we have a situation where kids can be constantly in the classroom every single day, that’s the ideal. If it has to be some kind of alternating system, we’ll do that.”

De Blasio also held out hope that a coronavirus vaccine could prod a rapid turnaround across the board.

“When we have a vaccine, very rapidly you’re going to see a quick resurgence in so many parts of this city,” he said. “We don’t have it yet. Some people say it’s this year. Some people say it’s next year. But that will be the ultimate difference maker.”

The mayor ended with a hopeful note, urging shaken residents to take solace in the city’s improving COVID numbers.

“Look at these indicators, thank God they’ve been moving in the right direction,” he said. “And that means to me, we’ll have a lot of kids in their school buildings in September.”

 Here is a not so bold ICEUFT blog prediction: It will be one giant mess in the NYC public schools in September. 

That said, like the mayor, I too am hopeful an effective vaccine could be ready sooner rather than later. Doctor Anthony Fauci was in front of a Congressional committee earlier today.

The U.S. government's top infectious disease expert told a House committee on Tuesday he believes "it will be when and not if" there will be a COVID-19 vaccine and that he remains "cautiously optimistic" that some will be ready at the end of the year.

A note of caution:
Fauci said he'd be "very disappointed if we jumped to a conclusion before we know a vaccine was truly safe and effective."

As for what to do now, from AP:

Fauci told lawmakers he understands the pent-up desire to get back to normal as the U.S. begins emerging from months of stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns. But that has “to be a gradual step-by-step process and not throwing caution to the wind,” he said.

“Plan A, don’t go in a crowd. Plan B, if you do, make sure you wear a mask,” Fauci said.

Monday, June 22, 2020


This is in the Chief Leader civil service employee newspaper this week.

The state's public-sector unions and state legislators are talking about a retirement-incentive measure aimed at trimming the workforce without layoffs.

The discussions are taking place as the state and its localities grapple with an unprecedented drop-off in revenues as a consequence of the COVID-19-related economic shutdown.

Past early-retirement incentives targeted workers who were 55 or older and close to qualifying for full pensions.

Further down:

Feds Not Rushing In

Legislators and union leaders hope they can fashion a program that will reduce the need for layoffs by encouraging the most-senior and higher-paid employees to retirement early.

"As New York State and City approaches this unprecedented fiscal crisis, it's important to look towards early-retirement incentives to avoid layoffs and realize some savings to plug our budget gap," State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, chair of the Civil Service Committee, said in a statement.

Gearing Up for Tsunami

"We suffered a health earthquake from COVID—and there will be an inevitable financial tsunami that follows," said Assembly Member Thomas J. Abinanti during a June 17 phone interview. "Local governments and school districts in particular are not equipped to deal with that avalanche of financial problems."

He has introduced two early retirement bills, one for Teachers and the second for all other public employees. They are modeled on bills enacted a decade ago when the state had to manage the fallout from the stock-market meltdown that precipitated the Great Recession.

"These bills will need to be re-fashioned for our current circumstances, and we can't do that until we have a conversation with all the stake holders-the local governments and the employee representatives," he said.

The Westchester Assemblyman said that while the fiscal crisis was daunting, it would offer governments at every level an opportunity to foster "a post-COVID economy that would be greener and high tech.This is an opportunity for governments to modernize and re-fashion the way they do things and work with other governments nearby and for larger governments, like counties, to provide services to local governments."

Mr. Abinanti said, "I spoke with one of my Superintendents of Schools who was concerned there were some senior Teachers who are older who were not as up on the technology as you would hope in order to do the at-home learning, and at the same time were reluctant to go back into a classroom where COVID-19 was still a problem," he said.

UFT Waiting on Details

"We are supportive of the idea," said a United Federation of Teachers spokesperson. "If it were to happen, there would be many details that would have to be nailed down."

On May 28, the Municipal Labor Committee wrote Mayor de Blasio to urge that he consider offering early retirement incentives instead of layoffs to reduce the city's headcount and close a $9-billion budget gap.

There's more but no link in the Chief piece to the actual bill. Based on the interview with the Assembly Member, it seems, just as with past Early Retirement Incentives, it will be aimed at people at the top of the seniority scale.

If we get the chance, we will post a summary of the bill's actual details. However, we really still don't know how serious this talk of an ERI is.


At last Thursday's virtual Town Hall, UFT President Michael Mulgrew deferred to UFT Assistant Secretary and personnel specialist Mike Sill on a question about excessing:

Q: Date to know when someone will be excessed by?
A: Mike Sill says it is 15 days into the term.

We checked the Contract and the New York State law on excessing and layoffs.

Here is what we found under Contractual Article 17B Rule 12:

Rule 12. Teachers identified as being at risk of being excessed at the commencement of the following school year will be informed of this no later than June 15, or as soon as is practicable if identified as being at risk of excess after June 15. The deadlines for excessing teachers will continue to be governed by applicable law.

If we concede that schools are getting a budget cut, have people been notified that they are in danger of being excessed yet?

As for the applicable law, I believe we are talking about NYS Education Law Section 2588

The title: Seniority, retention and displacement rights in connection with abolition of positions in city school districts of cities having more than one million inhabitants

That would be New York City. Everyone needs to read this law even if we are not lawyers as there are some extremely important provisions.

On excessing: 
5. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no classroom teaching position may be abolished after the fifth school day of the fall school term or after the fifth school day of the spring school term and all transfers or personnel changes resulting from such abolitions which would cause the displacement of a classroom teacher shall be completed prior to the fifteenth school day of such terms, provided that the chancellor, after consulting with any affected community school board, may waive the aforesaid limitations in a specific instance because of emergency conditions or for reasons of special hardship.

Positions cannot legally be abolished after day 5 of a semester unless the Chancellor declares an emergency or special hardship situation.  Since the city budget is due on June 30, it is kind of difficult to see a financial emergency or hardship declared on September 15 but one never knows in the current climate.  The DOE then has ten days to move people which is kind of what Sill said. 

What about layoffs?
Back to Section 2588:

1. For the purposes of this section, the tenure areas applicable to all professional education positions shall be defined as the license areas established by the city board pursuant to subdivision ten of section twenty-five hundred seventy-three of this chapter, provided that, effective July first, nineteen hundred seventy-six, there shall be a single elementary teaching tenure area encompassing kindergarten through grade six. 

We know layoffs go by license.

Now for the provision we all need to study.

3. (a) Whenever a teaching position is abolished under this chapter, the services of the person holding a position within the tenure area of the position which is to be abolished who has the least seniority in the city school district, including all full-time equivalent substitute service and all full-time equivalent service as a paraprofessional, shall be discontinued, provided that the services of a person who has acquired tenure within such tenure area shall not be discontinued if another person holding a position within such tenure area has not acquired tenure.

Tenure matters folks. The wording of the law is fairly straightforward.

As for bumping less senior people by going back to a prior license where one achieved tenure:

4. (a) A member of the teaching staff who has been regularly appointed or a member of the supervisory staff who has been properly assigned or appointed and whose services are terminated pursuant to this section, shall be entitled to be placed, upon his application, in a vacancy within the tenure area of a position where such individual shall have previously served under regular appointment as a teacher or proper assignment or appointment as a supervisor, and if no such vacancies exist he shall be entitled to displace the person with least seniority serving in the tenure area of such other position, if he has greater seniority, based on length of service as a member of the teaching or supervising staff in the city school district, including all full-time equivalent substitute service and all full-time equivalent service as a paraprofessional, than such person.  

What happens if someone is excessed from a school but not laid off? 

Here it gets a little tricky. This is Contract Article 17B, Rule 11 put into the Contract in 2005:

Rule 11. Unless a principal denies the placement, an excessed teacher will be placed by the Board into a vacancy within his/her district/superintendency. The Board will place the excessed teacher who is not so placed in an ATR position in the school from which he/she is excessed, or in another school in the same district or superintendency.

What if a principal does not want any of the senior people who have been excessed to replace her/his laid-off teacher? 

Also, could Rule 11 be interpreted by UFT as a de facto no-layoff provision since it says someone who is excessed becomes an ATR? I think the layoff law would easily override this provision but we have no grievance process until at least October 1 so who knows where this goes?  It could end up chaotic.

Do all of you see anything else that I might be missing here?

Sunday, June 21, 2020


I'm taking today off mostly and enjoying life with my two kids. 

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there and those who do the daddying too.

I'll post something later tonight maybe. 

These are from my two kids, Matthew and Kara.

Saturday, June 20, 2020


Bryan and I worked together at Jamaica High School for years. It is in the Jamaica HS DNA not to be afraid to speak out. Chaz and Marc Epstein were also Jamaica colleagues. 

Here, Bryan gives his opinion opposing the return of school safety from the NYPD back to the Department of Education. 

My Comment in Today's Daily News, June 19, 2020: 

Teacher evaluation

Brooklyn: The City Council call to strip the NYPD of control of schools is a self-serving grab for attention. As a teacher in NYC schools, I can attest that the presence of safety agents on campus does not cause “trauma” to the students. How can council members demand better community relations from the NYPD while contributing to their demonization? Safety agents are peace officers who often hail from the same neighborhoods as the students, and are an integral part of our school community. Should the Department of Education regain control of security, dangerous incidents would go wildly unreported and it would be the end of classroom management as we know it. If Councilmen Mark Treyger and Donovan Richards are interested in removing trauma from the DOE, they should ask the mayor why so many administrators and lawyers from the Bloomberg regime are still in power. J.B. McGeever

Friday, June 19, 2020


A friend who was a colleague at Jamaica High School sent me this SIlive.com article.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Councilman Joe Borelli (R-South Shore) is calling for New York City to utilize Early Retirement Incentives (ERI) for the city’s senior and highest-paid employees amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, also signed by City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo (R-Mid-Island) and six other council members, Borelli said he hoped the city would “get ahead of the impending fiscal crisis supporting the implementation” of an ERI.

“Unfortunately, with weak revenue forecasts on the horizon, an ERI should be the first step taken before New York’s municipal workers are forced to cope with layoffs or furloughs,” the letter read.

As explained by Erik Cober of the Manhattan Institute: “Early retirement programs encourage employees to leave the payroll. Such programs are most effective if targeted to job titles in which retiring employees need not be replaced, at least on a one-for-one basis.

Further down:

Rather than conduct drastic job cuts, Borelli wrote that ERIs could prove effective and are favored by municipal workers.

“In 1991, for example, 4,000 teachers took advantage of the ERI, and 3,500 followed in 1995. More recently, the Citizens Budget Commission estimates that the ERI authorized by Governor Paterson in 2010, which 9,311 employees opted in, saved New York’s state and local governments a combined $681 million over two years, as they exchanged $1.4 billion in payroll costs for $755 million in pension benefit costs.”

On Twitter, Borelli shared the letter, writing: “Sometimes the old playbook still works. The Mayor MUST look at Early Retirement Incentives in an effort to cut costs in our new #COVID19 budget reality. We can’t hope for a solution, we must solve it.”

Council Education Chair and UFT member Mark Treyger signed onto this letter. The mayor would not comment on a possible incentive. Both the unions and Mayor de Blasio would have to agree on an incentive.

President Michael Mulgrew stated at yesterday's Town Hall and Wednesday's Delegate Assembly that if the city and unions agreed, the State Legislature would then have to pass the retirement incentive, since our pensions are governed by state law, and then Governor Andrew Cuomo would have to sign it. 

I don't know what a 2020 early retirement incentive would look like. In the past, incentives gave employees one month of extra pension credit for each year worked up through a maximum of 36 months. 

The full letter:

Thursday, June 18, 2020


I came on late. If there is anything new from yesterday, I will update.

Budget and politics similar to yesterday. Need Heroes Act to pass.

Trying to get beyond DOE for something citywide for childcare.

Members asking for medical accommodation also just like yesterday

Principals should have budgets by July 1 as NYC budget is due by then.

Excessing is our friend.  Long, complicated ugly summer. Many other districts people are laid off if a job is closed in a school.

Early retirement incentive. This is a good time to do an early retirement incentive. Buyout cannot damage pension system. MLC asked the city.

Walk-through with principal and CL. 60 schools did it today.

Not enough teachers to do 9-12 students in a class with remote learning.

Not always easy dealing with DOE.

Temperature checks. Schools must follow CDC guidelines. We will fight it if procedures aren't in place.

Got executive order on evaluations. Can get tenure without a rating. No school district financially harmed without having APPR. Chancellor working this out for people who would get S or U. Trying to get language saying no one can be harmed.

Filing to get full compensation for working spring break.

School safety reports to School Safety Division of NYPD. Must be managed independently with a check. Need a functioning school safety division.

Maternity and family workshops will continue.

Legal program continues. Pension clinics continue.

Death toll hardest thing we had to get through. Got death benefit for families of members who died of COVID-19. 

Primaries: need to vote.

He thanks everyone.


Question: 3 step email on opening, is UFT going to provide checklist?
Answer: Number of classrooms, staff members and expected enrollment. Then, figure 10 in a class. Non traditional classrooms. Need temporary walls in temporary classrooms like auditoriums.

Q: How do we prepare for the fall?
A: Can't work the way we've been working. Can't teach both live and remote at the same time. Form relationships with children. Can't work 12-14 hours a day.

Q: School year, when will we have calendar?
A: DOE reluctant to put out calendar. City Hall and DOE must approve. Goes from day after Labor Day through until last two weekdays in June.

Q: Date to know when someone will be excessed by?
A: Mike Sill says it is 15 days into the term.

Q: Will there be input from teachers on how school is run in fall?
A: There needs to be staff input.

Q: Childcare package, what would happen if a teacher who lives out of state needs childcare because their district stays remote?
A: Elected officials understand we can't have kids in buildings every day if they have to do social distancing. Childcare needs to be addressed. We may have to do it ourselves.

Q: Can DOE deny accommodation and then someone cannot return to work?
A: We are capable of handling this. We can appeal denials.

Q: Bilingual teacher asks about who will teach bilingual kids remotely?
A: It won't be the same teacher who teaches live in a building. Maybe people can do overtime work.

Q: Speech therapist asks about related service providers, how will they work?
A: We figured out tele therapy.  There are ways to protect everyone. Nurses will tell us who needs face shield and gown as opposed to mask.

Q: Teachers bailed city out long ago, is there talk about giving up 25% lump sum?
A: City will ask about everything. Many people retired already wouldn't be impacted. City can ask about anything. We'll be here beyond this mayor. Any change in compensation will come to membership. Right now thinking of federal stimulus package.

Q: UFT nurse asks about permanent nurse in every school?
A: We have told City Hall there must be a nurse in every school building. DOE hires only DC37 nurses. They get paid less than UFT nurses so a shortage. The city understands.

Q: Extension for CTLE hours?
A: Extensions granted.

Q: Chapter 683, D 75 on working summer and mandates?
A: VP sped and CL on this. We will ask them for update.

(James here: I missed a question because I had a phone call. Sorry)

Q: Medical accommodations apply to paras?
A: Yes

Q: Are people safe from layoff with 10 years experience?
A: No package, we need to elect a new president and senate. Otherwise, drastic cuts.

Q: Cluster positions, was that thought of? Contact with hundreds of kids.
A: DOE did not understand importance of cluster positions. We are including that in our talks. We are considering cluster exposure. Might be different PPE.

We will do town halls throughout summer. All deserve break. NYC hopefully continues as a safe place. Take time to unwind from stress of this year.

(My wife and kids using family computers. I did this on smartphone so sorry for any errors.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020


The latest from the Chancellor to the principals.

Dear Principals,

Last week we sent you an initial estimate of how many students your school could serve at one time under social distancing constraints. These estimates were intended to provide you with a starting point for assessing your school’s capacity if social distancing is required for schools in Fall 2020.

The goal of this work is to look at all possible space in order to maximize the number of students served in person at the same time under social distancing guidelines.

Today, we are asking that you take the following steps to accomplish the following objectives per the letter sent on June 11, 2020:
Verify and update the information we shared by completing this survey.
Identify ways to maximize instructional space and, therefore, the number of students who can safely be served in your school.
We ask that you do the following:

1. Please perform a walkthrough of your building within the next 2 weeks. Please invite your chapter chair, and available members of your School Leadership Team or School Safety Committee, to join you on the walkthrough. If your chapter leader is not comfortable joining in-person, they are not obligated to do so; however, they should be able to appoint a designee to join. Principals, please follow up with chapter leader and SLT/School Safety Committee members and afterwards update them on the walkthrough findings.

During this walkthrough please consider:
How much of the public assembly space (gyms, cafeterias, auditoriums) could possibly be used for instructional purposes. [Note: if you are in a co-located building, we encourage you to discuss with your colleagues about best ways to maximize shared space. DOE will issue further guidance and expectations for co-located spaces in the weeks to come.]
How much administrative space could be converted to use for instructional space.
Other ways to maximize the number of students who can be served safely in the space.
2. If you have not already done so, please complete (or have your designee) complete this survey to share your and your SLT’s initial feedback on the capacity estimates, as well as your thoughts on how to use school space to maximize in person learning opportunities.

In response to feedback we have already received from many of you, we will be sending detail that underlies the estimates we sent you last week, so that you can see room-level data that underlies the estimate you received. We expect to send this data by early next week. We encourage you to submit specific space or facilities related inquiries at https://forms.gle/AhpEh1253fyMW2gp9 which we are answering via the FAQ on rolling basis at https://bit.ly/3cRm2hR.

Additionally, to access to your school building for a walkthrough, please submit a request for building access through this form that will be sent directly to your Borough Safety Director (BSD). Your BSD will ensure that a School Safety Agent is available during the time of your visit. Please do so by June 26, 2020.

We understand that all of us would like to have greater clarity with respect to programs for September; we ask for your continued patience and flexibility as we work together through this time of great uncertainty. We are grateful for your collaboration and leadership.


Richard Carranza, Chancellor

Karin Goldmark, Deputy Chancellor of School Planning and Development


Today was the virtual June Delegate Assembly. When I started to listen, President Michael Mulgrew was giving his report. He said that the federal stimulus package would not be done until after the city has a budget on July 1. Governor hasn't made cuts yet. 3% cut could come. People could be furloughed and not get paid for weeks possibly while not working. 

School buildings will not open with the huge cuts. No federal stimulus, school will not open unless there is a miracle. Getting half a school in to do live instruction is not possible. We do not open without federal stimulus. City budget will pass. Window is between July 4 and summer break for Congress. That is the window where it will get done or not in DC. All agree that schools must open for economy to resume. This isn't rhetoric. Republicans and Democrats know that without federal package, we can't open up schools. If the stimulus passes, we still have to worry about the virus. States still having problems. We in NY will open in a social distancing way. We have to be prepared for this in September.

 Amazing stories of UFT members helping each other. Principals received communication from Chancellor to have people to do a walkthrough of the school. Generic square footage for buildings was sent out. It is inaccurate. We need to look at number of classrooms (800 x 1000 square feet for a regular classroom) and then find non-traditional classroom space (auditoriums). It is set for walkthroughs. Then we must find estimated enrollment for September. Then find the number of staff in the building and expected number of students. No school will probably do every other day. It will be an A-B-C scenario or possibly A-B-C-D scenario. Safety and protecting our livelihood.

CDC and our medical professionals need to know what the approved medical accommodations can be. I can't go into the school but need an accommodation to work from home. Trying to come up with a list of medical conditions that will be acceptable for accommodation.  You don't have to answer questions from principals on this. It should be a citywide standard and then people should have time to make decisions. We are assuming 15-25% will need an accommodation. Many parents won't send their children in. Schools that have already been programmed will not work. In terms of childcare, we would like to set up ways so our members have access to childcare. We are essential workers. Support centers have been opened since school buildings shut down. We learned a lot in those centers. We learned that PPE is king. Centers were being wiped down, there was hand sanitizer. Difficult to get 4-5-year-olds to adhere to social distancing guidelines but we never had a case in centers. Rigid procedures, protocols and cleaning have to be in place. We learned that from the support centers. We have to get Heroes Act (federal stimulus) passed.

Municipal Labor Committee put early retirement incentive on the table. Every year bill introduced in Albany on early retirement incentive.  NYC and MLC must agree to do an early retirement incentive. Financial note would have to go to the State Legislature. Assembly and State Senate would need to pass it and Governor would have to sign it. Last retirement incentive was in 1995. All the unions together put this on the table. We will keep people updated on this. 

Layoffs won't be on the table if we get the Heroes Act. If we don't get that, then everything is on the table.

APPR is frozen. You can still be granted tenure if you are up for it this year. DOE has agreed in principle saying that no harm should come to anyone because they did not get a rating this year. Certification, licensing issues: we have waivers. Something was extended for guidance counselors.

Union telling DOE to stop rolling out new things currrently. We have to get school set for September. Much information in the data system doesn't work. The guidance does not say everyone has to do it. No new initiatives. We need a plan to open schools safely. DOE seems to speak to the same parents all the time. Closing out school year: can go back to school and clean out things. Adhere to social distancing and PPEs. 

Reorganization schedules aren't real when we don't know what schools will look like and how they will be scheduled.

Thank you for protests. Everyone has to be treated fairly. Optimistic that this might actually be the time. I've been optimistic before. We are a large union with many different affiliations but the evidence is overwhelming. Many resolutions dealing with that today. 

School safety is a little tricky. NYPD doesn't want school safety and they would be happy to give it up. UFT agreed with and worked with Rudy Giulliani to bring safety from DOE to NYPD. There was a problem and schools were not safe. It was bad. Imagine DOE central is in charge of school safety. It got bad when Bloomberg did zero tolerance. What happened was principals heard that as a dog whistle which meant no incidents=good school. Teachers were getting arrested then for intervening in altercations. We got that fixed. School Safety Agents are peace officers. If they are being moved, we have to be ensured that there is safety. NYPD doesn't want school safety. Taking school safety out of NYPD and moving budget to DOE is not defunding NYPD. Need to be thoughtful. We don't want to deal with DOE trying to figure out safety in the fall. For someone to be arrested, police officer must ask for permission to come in a school unless it's a really serious act. Stop playing politics with safety of children.

Elections matter. Looking at three years of pain unless we get federal package or win the White House and US Senate. You have to vote and tell everyone else to vote.

Staff Director's Report: Leroy Barr reported on early voting from June 13-June 21. June 23 is the primary election day. November 3 election day. June 19th commemorating the end of slavery will be a state holiday starting next year. This is pride month with LGBT community. Puerto Rican Day, won't have a parade. Happy Father's Day and have a safe summer. 

Mulgrew again stated we pulled it off having the system do what had never been done with remote learning. It is a phenomenal union. Hold your head up high. Nobody can believe what UFT members did in NYC.

Question:  Peter Lamphere from MORE said he was a little concerned about individual principals being asked to make decisions on how many kids can learn.
Mulgrew Answer: There are strict guidelines and if they are not adhered to it isn't going to be approved. Principals are being asked to estimate what they think they can handle. Asked about what is appropriate. When we say occupants it includes students, teachers and paras in a room. It is not the final decision of the principal.

Q: High School teacher in Manhattan, teacher told they can't do a walk-through until principal does walk-through. When will walk-through happen? What if principal says no?
A: Principal was sent a direct order from Chancellor to call CL and someone else on SLT to invite them to do a walk-through. Get in touch with us if there is no walk-through. 

Q: CL asked question about building that has four different schools. School is on first floor. Shared buildings, do we do it alone?
A: It depends on the relationship between the schools. Use space that belongs to your school and then get to shared areas and we will deal with them if they don't get along. A principal actually placed a school flag down in a field and said it was his. Scheduling is interesting on whether to scatter schedules or make them the same. This is complicated and never been done. Can students with IEPs get more in person time? That is being discussed. City Hall is holding things up. If you have a good relatioship between schools, go ahead and talk about shared space.

Q: Reorganization grievance form by today?
A: Looking at it and will have it out by tomorrow's town hall.

Q: Need plan by second week on how our health will be protected?
A: We will need a plan following CDC guidelines. Should have it by second or third week of August. Temperature, PPE, etc.

Q: What is being done to sanitize materials?
A: In terms of COVID-19, it should be good. DOE says buildings have been cleaned. It's not just cleaning at night; it's cleaning during the school day. Need wipes during the school day. AT UFT elevator button is very shiny. CL's must check certain things before we get to the school year. It is a burden but we will get someone in on their behalf.

Q: SBO's, is it okay to draft SBO's until the end of the school year?
A: Be as flexible as possible on SBO's. Might want to change SBO's in August when people know what they will be facing in September. 

Q: After school day, meals go to community. How will that be impacted if schools open in September?
A: If buildings are open, city will have to prove to us how that is not interupting with school operations.
For school community distribution, we can continue with it.

Q:  What if people in your household have preexisting conditions? Can you get accommodation?
A: CDC guidelines don't cover this. We can try on a citywide level. Expecting 15-25% of our members to need accommodation so this won't be easy.

Q: Shared building including a charter school in building.
A: Public, charter and private schools all must follow the same guidelines. CDC guidelines are forsocial distancing. Charter chains tend not to be friendly neighbors. If it is a safety issue, DOE has authority to change things.

Q: Teacher's Choice can't be used for cleaning supplies. Will that change?
A: Working with the City Council right now. Trying to figure out how to get that regulation changed. Clearly, teachers are going to be buying cleaning supplies and cleaning their own classrooms.

Q: If heroes act is or isn't passed, is exclusive remote teaching possible in September?
A: If we look like Texas or Arizona, we will be exclusively remote.

Q: When will UFT issue a statement on buyout? When will they know when this will be decided upon?
A: My guess is that this will happen in August. We will do what we have to do with pension fund which has revamped how it has done business and can handle much more. It comes down to city and state governments not knowing what funding they have.

Q: What about transfers?
A: Might need to extend open market.  Schools expecting 3% cut now. Open market will probably be extended until right before school starts. Goal is for new teachers and others to continue in profession and not lose livelihood. Excessing is our friend. If there isn't a financial problem, people should be able to move. 

New Motion Period:
Delegate moves that contingency political endorsements move up because of time limitations.
91% voted yes 
9% voted no

Motion for this month to express UFT solidarity with Black Lives Matter:
82% voted yes
18% voted no

Motion for LGBTQ rights to stop discrimination against transgender men and women for next month.
UFT to stand with transcommunity against Trump's policy and partnering with certain groups.
Nobody spoke against.
89% voted yes
11% voted no

Resolution for the UFT to make contingency endorsements over the summer.
92% voted yes
8% voted no

Resolution for solidarity with US Postal Service employees.
98% voted yes
2% voted no

Meeting adjourned after Mulgrew thanked everyone in UFT and thanked leaders who are in DA and made another push for the Heroes Act to not allow our schools to be completely decimated in the middle of a pandemic.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

ENGEL AND BOWMAN ON EDUCATION (Updated: It looks like Bowman won and so did AOC!)

I understand the UFT basically endorses Democrats who are incumbents as a matter of form. One would have to be in prison to lose a UFT nod if already in office. However, occasionally a candidate comes along who checks all the boxes on education and is hard to oppose. This election that candidate is former Bronx Middle School Principal Jamaal Bowman in New York's 16th Congressional District.

Bowman is backed by the Justice Democrats, the CSA, the New York Times, the Badass Teachers Association, The Sunrise Movement, The Working Families Party, AOC, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others in a kind of a Who's Who of the progressive wing of the party. A quick look at Bowman's education plan shows there is much to like.

For example:
Instead of privatization, expanding charter schools, and shutting down public schools, let’s equitably invest in our public schools, pay our teachers a living wage, and fund full-time nurses, counselors, social workers in every school. 
Instead of a test-and-punish regime that stigmatizes, labels, and ranks students, teachers, and schools, we should educate the whole child: nurturing their physical, cognitive, social, and creative development. 
Or this:

7. Raise teacher salaries to the living wage of at least $60,000 a year and support the rights of our educators to collective bargaining and to advocate for quality education for every student. 

8. Support efforts to unionize in our schools. Support federal action to counter anti-unionization policies and practices, such as exist in so-called “right to work” states. 

Diane Ravitch is on board with Bowman as is Leonie Haimson with the NYC Kids Pac she belongs to. 

What about the UFT?

They are backing Eliot Engel, the incumbent. A reader who lives in the district sent this:


As we witness and participate in this moment of truly meaningful civic engagement, it is also the right moment to show that our voices matter. With the New York State Primary on June 23, it is critical for us to engage with candidates for public office to share our vision for our communities before we cast our votes.  

Please join us this Wednesday, 6/17 at 4 PM for a virtual rally to get the vote out to send Congressman Engel back to DC to fight for all of us.


Long before becoming a Member of Congress, Eliot Engel was a member of the UFT and NYSUT and worked as a public school teacher in the Bronx. Eliot knows how important our public schools are and works every day to ensure our students in the Bronx and Westchester have the bright future they deserve.

Eliot has always been a teacher, an advocate and our ally in Congress. He has had our back and now he needs our help.

AFT National President Randi Weingarten as well as local leaders from the Bronx and Westchester will join the rally in support of Eliot. We have to build relationships with our future elected leaders if we want to enact meaningful change. Please, if you can, join us this Wednesday for a virtual rally in support of Eliot.

Thank you and stay safe, 

Cassie Prugh
UFT Political Director 

PS: Breaking news! Hillary Clinton endorses Eliot Engel

I checked Engel's education record and, of course, he voted for No Child Left Behind with its test and punish program for schools that was a disaster. Its followup, the Every Child Succeeds Act, isn't much better and Engel was a yes vote. Check out his education platform for yourself here

I think it is clear Bowman is the better candidate for public education. I have one concern left: Why aren't the teachers who worked for him coming out to support his candidacy in droves? Maybe they are and we just don't know about it. If my last principal, Linda Siegmund, was running for any elected office from City Council to President, I would be leading the charge as would most of the staff to campaign for her. However, it was a teacher from another school who spoke at Bowman's initial campaign rally.

Leonie sent me some links to Bowman's record on the Learning Environment Surveys but those surveys are often unreliable. Leonie also did find a tribute on Twitter and one on Facebook from two former teachers who worked for Bowman.

Is the UFT going to trot out teachers tomorrow to speak poorly about Bowman at the virtual rally? I sincerely hope not but if anyone is out there who knows teachers or others who worked for Bowman, could you please get some information out now. I think it would be helpful. One retiree said to me that Bowman looks good but was he decent to his teachers or did they say good riddance when he left? This retiree wanted to know before sending his ballot back.

As for the UFT, they will always support the Democratic incumbent unless he/she is in prison as I stated earlier. That said, I don't remember the Union rallying for Joe Crowley in 2018 before he lost to AOC but yes, they are supporting AOC now. 

One more point: this piece is about a Democratic Party Primary. I ask for our right-wing readers to please stay out of this internal Democratic in house squabble. Thanks.

Update: June 24, 2020, from Buzzfeed:

Jamaal Bowman, a former educator and middle school principal from the Bronx, declared victory Wednesday over Rep. Eliot Engel, a 16-term member of Congress who represents New York’s 16th congressional district.

Another UFT defeat here but AOC, who the UFT endorsed this time, won big.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A resounding primary win by Democratic U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a fellow liberal’s lead over a longtime New York congressman signaled fresh momentum for progressive politics amid growing calls for economic and racial justice in the United States.