Friday, October 30, 2020


This is from the DC37 blog:

District Council 37, the city’s largest public employee union, has reached a tentative no layoff agreement with the City of New York that would save the jobs of thousands of municipal workers through fiscal year 2021.

The agreement would save the City of New York $164 million by deferring payments to the union’s welfare funds in exchange for no layoffs of DC 37 members in city-funded positions through June 2021. 

The agreement further stipulates that should the City of New York be granted $5 billion in budget relief, the no layoff agreement would be extended through June 30, 2022.

The concessions for the no layoff agreement are explained:

·  The deferral of payments totaling $164 million to the four welfare funds (the DC 37 Benefit Trust, the 372 Severance Related Fund, the SSEU Local 371 Health & Welfare Fund, and the DC 37 Education Fund) will have no impact on the union’s ability to continue to provide benefits to its membership. 

· All parties have agreed to an audit and reconciliation of monies owed during the period of the agreement to be completed no later than May 31, 2021. 

·The City will make contributions in two lump sum payments in September and November of 2021 to the union’s four welfare funds. 

I am no math teacher but something does not seem to compute here. DC 37 is deferring $164 million with no loss of benefits to members in exchange for no layoffs. For a no layoff agreement, the UFT agreed to have us postpone payback of $450 million of money we loaned interest free to the city for work we did back in 2009-2011 from now until the end of July. The UFT is not three times bigger than DC37.  Why are we giving up roughly three times as much money?

Either the city does not owe us nearly as much as they said they did in arbitration or the UFT permitted us to be completely fleeced by the city in the latest agreement President Mulgrew made with the mayor. Something does not add up. 

Also, how is it that individual DC37 members lose nothing while most UFTers are giving up thousands of dollars each for almost another year?  To add more insult, as usual the UFT is double dipping by taking extra dues out of the half retro pay.

Can someone explain to me what I am missing so I can update this post?

Thursday, October 29, 2020


 Pittsburgh,  PA, a major city with an elected school board, voted to keep mostly remote learning until the start of 2021.

One school board member used absolutely flawless reasoning in defending the school board's vote to delay opening buildings to all but a few students. Pittsburgh is staying almost all remote even though the city has an infection rate below the legal threshold to reopen buildings that have been closed since March.

From the Pittsburgh Gazette:

Board member Sala Udin said that for him, the vote came down to the health and safety of district staff and students.

“The riddle we have to solve is that: Is improved learning worth the increased risk of bringing kids back together in large number?” Mr. Udin said. “As for the increased learning, given in time we can fix and improve the learning. If children or staff get infected, we may not be able to fix that."

This is the wise judgment we might have if we end mayoral control of schools.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


As a parent with two children in NYC schools, I see no reason to risk their health, my wife's health, or anyone else's by sending my kids back to school buildings during Bill de Blasio's upcoming exclusive 2020-2021 opt-in period in early November. I think school should be fully remote until we get and keep coronavirus under control. The buildings should be staffed exclusively with volunteers who wish to support children of essential workers who can't get any kind of child care (the REC Centers).

I have an interesting perspective on remote learning since I am a parent who was a teacher for 32 years in NYC. I see every day the live instruction my kids receive at home. They are being educated. It's not exactly the same as what they would be getting in normal times in school buildings but we are in the midst of a pandemic which has taken the lives of over 1/4 million Americans. The teachers I witness are doing quality work under these next to impossible conditions. 

I do not see teachers posting assignments and then going out to play a round of golf. I watch teachers engaging with my two kids as best as they are able to. They are attending legitimate classes. Discussions take place, work is explained, my kids are handing assignments in and it is being graded. 

I also witness my wife interacting with her remote classes just as if she was live. I hear students participating in live Meets constantly from her basement classroom in our house. She is doing everything humanly possible to make the learning experience legitimate. Remote education can succeed when teachers put in the effort and kids have the necessary devices and wi-fi capability. Instead of using resources to support improving remote instruction and lowering class sizes to the fullest extent possible, the city has wasted ungodly sums of money on a blended learning model that most parents and students are rejecting.

Now Chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio are telling parents that their offer to have children come back to school buildings for blended learning is a one time take it or leave it offer for early November. In their original plan, it was supposed to be quarterly opt-in periods. The new deBlasio policy says if we stay remote now, it's for the whole 2020-2021 school year. Never mind that we have no idea what the pandemic will look like in the spring of 2021. Maybe there will be a widely available safe and effective vaccine. The NY Post editorial board uses a drop-dead parents headline to describe de Blasio's latest blunder. I think it's more incompetence than anything else but certainly there are some bad intentions here as the mayor it seems will do just about anything to get kids back in buildings. 

Parents have already voted for remote as only about 1/4 of the students have shown up for live instruction. Why doesn't the city try to make remote learning work instead of kind of threatening parents that they can't send their kids back to buildings all year unless they decide to do so now?

By keeping most kids at home, parents have seen through the media hype that schools are safe. We know what happened in schools in the spring when 75 in service DOE employees died of COVID-19; the bulk of the system being remote might just be preventing a repeat catastrophe in the fall. We should not be taking needless risks now as the virus spreads again but we also don't need to be locked in for remote until September 2021. 

Oh, and the UFT, it looks like their strongest reaction will be on social media.

Do you see de Blasio worried about that Tweet? Does anyone respect or fear this union any longer? The union needs to be repaired so badly.

Monday, October 26, 2020


For everyone who keeps asking questions on the Early Retirement Incentive bill up in Albany where I have few, if any, answers, here is the latest from the Chief Leader civil service weekly newspaper.

Unions Throw Weight Behind Bill Adding 3 Years' Pension Credit


The municipal unions are backing a bill introduced in Albany that offers an early-retirement incentive of up to three years of additional pension credit to tens of thousands of civil servants who are at least 55 years of age and have logged 25 years of service or are otherwise eligible to retire.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Chairman of the Committee on Civil Service and Pensions, and Assemblyman Peter Abbate, who heads the the Committee on Governmental Employees, drafted the measure they estimate will save the city hundreds of millions of dollars and help close its $9-billion budget gap.

Offered to Civilian Staff

The incentive is being offered to civilian employees who are enrolled in the New York City Employees' Retirement System, the city Teachers' Retirement System and the Board of Education Retirement System.

There is a carve-out provision that permits the city to reject an early-retirement request if the applicant "holds a position that is deemed critical to the maintenance of public health and safety."

In 2010, when a retirement incentive was offered statewide, $681 million was saved over two years.

"A public health-crisis has caused a fiscal crisis, and to fight it, we need to be resourceful and use every tool available to us to prevent layoffs," Mr. Gounardes said. "An Early Retirement Incentive saves jobs while providing public employees an option to retire early that they may wish to take."

The bill's supporters hope it will provide an off-ramp for thousands of older civil servants who have pre-existing health conditions and might be more susceptible to the coronavirus.

'Already Lost Hundreds'

"We have already lost several hundred public employees in New York City to COVID," Senator Gounardes said during a phone interview. "We have many people that have still had to be out there on the front lines doing their job and are obviously vulnerable to this virus, so this will also help them."

According to the estimates in the bill, 34,700 employees of the more-than 75,600 who are eligible would opt to take advantage. The average age of the early-retirement program participants is projected to be 60.8 years old, with an average of 26.3 years on the job and a $91,000 average salary.

After getting $450 million in short-term savings when an arbitrator's ruling allowed the city to delay paying half of its $900-million retroactive wages obligation to the United Federation of Teachers, Mayor de Blasio stepped up efforts to get relief from other city unions while waiting on possible Federal aid and authorization of $5 billion in additional borrowing authority from Albany.

"The COVID-19 global pandemic has crippled our city's economy," District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said in a statement in support of the early-retirement bill. "Municipal workers, who guided this city through the darkest days of the pandemic, are now in danger of losing their jobs at the worst possible time. That is why this Early Retirement Incentive legislation is so important."

UFT: A Dual Benefit

"In times of fiscal stress, measures like this have helped local governments maintain services even as they reduced spending," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew, adding that the bill "would provide a welcome additional incentive for educators who want to retire early, and at the same time help our city and school system deal with the current financial crisis."

"Employee layoffs are detrimental to the city economy, the provision of services and the workers," Municipal Labor Committee Chairman Harry Nespoli said.

But Sen. James Sanders warned that the bill could hurt some agencies, saying, "Sadly, some of your most capable workers will leave. Anytime a bureaucracy divests itself there are problems that come along with that...We will lose a certain amount of institutional memory."


I heard reports from schools in NYC today that as the weather turned cooler and rainier, the pigeons are now seeking refuge from the elements and are flying into schools with obsolete ventilation that have to keep windows open. The birds apparently like it on the inside and some decided to stay and fly around. We heard squirrels are climbing through the windows in other schools and deciding to stick around too. 

I don't know anything about the rumor that Bill de Blasio, Richard Carranza, and Michael Mulgrew have come to an agreement to count the pigeons and squirrels as students. Some will be recruited as staff according to another rumor. A third bit of scuttlebutt has it that all three leaders agree that the pigeons and squirrels are subject to the new grading policy and should receive only passing grades. Gossip around also says any teacher who tries to remove the birds or squirrels will be subject to disciplinary action. 

Seriously, we have a situation where windows have to be left open to allow some ventilation to slow an airborne COVID-19 virus. It's getting cold in some school buildings. Add to this, the wind today was helping the rain pour through the open windows so it was a cold and rainy day inside certain schools. Does anyone wonder why only a little over 1/4 of the students have returned for any in-person learning this fall? Many who saw what conditions were like in the buildings, turned around and left rather quickly.

This was in Gothamist today. After they report how few COVID-19 cases have been reported in the mostly empty schools, they say this:

Still, confidence in the city's in-person learning program has been waning. As of last week, less than half, or 46% of roughly 1 million public school students, had signed up for the blended option, what some critics have said is an indictment against the city's plan. Back in August, when the city conducted its first survey, 74% were slated to attend in-person learning, although those who did not fill out the online form were by default registered for the school's hybrid program.

During Monday's press conference, de Blasio revealed that the true number of students showing up for in-person learning was even worse than surveys indicated: only about 283,000 children have shown up out of roughly 460,000 who signed up. Attendance among those students is around 83%.

We posted yesterday how this attendance figure is probably inflated too. It might be as inflated as a high school grade. Gothamist also reported how Carranza and de Blasio are only going to make a one-time offer in early November for parents to send their kids back into school buildings. That reportedly will mercifully be it for this school year. 

For anyone who decides to return, please say hi to the pigeons, the squirrels, as well as the staffers who for some unknown reason just keep resigning themselves to these unhealthy working conditions in so many buildings. I'm praying for you. I wish I could do more but I am only a dissident union blogger.  


 The DOE grading policy for 2020-2021 is out (see below thanks to Jeff Kaufman).

From the document:

Updating courses not successfully completed

If a student does not pass a course by the deadline, the original ‘NX’ mark must be updated to an ‘NC’ (no credit). The mark of ‘NC’ does not have a numeric equivalent and will not be calculated into a student’s grade point average. No final mark may be awarded in any terms other than the original term in which the student earned the initial ‘NX’.

Attendance can't count but class participation can:

• Attendance may not count toward grades: Attending school, participating in class, and demonstrating understanding are all essential components of student learning, and school communities must make every effort to ensure that students attend school, with a goal of every student, every day. Students’grades must reflect the extent to which they have met the learning outcomes for their courses. At the high school level, any student who achieves the learning outcomes for a course must be granted credit, as described in guidance from the New York State Education Department. When students attend remote and blended learning consistently, they have the greatest opportunity to make progress, receive support from their teachers, and demonstrate their learning. Schools have flexibility in determining the factors that contribute to grades as described in their school-wide grading policies. With the understanding that course time is no longer a requirement for earning credit, courses that currently include attendance as a factor in student grades must remove that factor completely. Schools should use Insight to monitor attendance trends and guide continuous improvement strategies.

Sunday, October 25, 2020


I have read numerous articles from Sue Edelman exposing what is going on in NYC public schools. This weekend there were three very interesting pieces that caught my attention.

The first was on a birthday party for an eighth-grade girl that could end up being a COVID-19 super spreader event.

An 8th grader held a birthday party with four classmates from her Bronx school before testing positive for COVID-19 — raising fears of a “super-spreader” event, The Post has learned.

The party, which took place inside a small apartment, featured a “cake fight” with girls smearing icing on each other’s faces, the kids told staffers at PS/MS 20 in Norwood.

“She blew out the candles,” one said. “They were not social distancing, and nobody was wearing masks.”

The birthday girl, 13, did not come to school on Monday because she felt ill.

On Wednesday morning, the mom told the school that her daughter had tested positive.

“She’s very sick,” with a fever, chills, chest pain, a sore throat and rashes, the insider said.

The school immediately sent the students in the same class to the isolation room to wait for parents to pick them up. The students were told to quarantine for 14 days.

But the girl’s seven teachers were not informed until the end of the day — after teaching all their other classes — because administrators could not find substitutes to cover for them immediately, insiders said.

Why would anyone be afraid to go on the record for this story? Later, there are quotes but they are just identified as staffers.

The Department of Education’s “Situation Room” — a multi-agency team that handles all reports of COVID-19-positive teachers and students — should have extended the quarantine to the four girls and their close contacts, staffers contend.

“At the end of the day, our safety is not a priority,” one said.

The administrators are willing to risk teachers' health but the teachers are still too scared of the administrators to call them out by name and use their own names. I'm glad they called Sue Edelman but anyone who I felt did not make my health a priority would not get off without me naming them and utilizing my own name.

Sue has two other pieces this weekend. One is on the no-fail grading policy that was leaked to her that I think most will oppose. The other is on DOE attendance which varies widely from school to school. It is amazing that 152 NYC schools reported perfect in-person attendance. Say what you will about Arthur Goldstein going over to Unity and we have criticized his lack of criticism for Mulgrew since his conversion, but Arthur will still speak out about DOE folly and he is not afraid to use his name.

From the Post:

Stunningly, 152 schools reported 100% in-person attendance.

At one of those schools, Francis Lewis HS in Queens, teacher Arthur Goldstein called the  figure “ridiculous.”

Firstly, Francis Lewis gives its 4,500 students all-remote instruction. Students may come to school one or two days a week only for tutoring and other support services.

Secondly, Goldstein said, “No school ever has 100% attendance. Students get sick, students have other issues. Even before COVID, we never had 100% attendance. It’s impossible.”

Francis Lewis listed remote attendance at 94%.

Keep up the great reporting, Sue. If I was ever in charge of the UFT, I would ask Sue how much money she wants to be the editor of the NY Teacher. She's done their job better than them for years.

Saturday, October 24, 2020


The education deformers have a new weapon in the war against teachers and teacher unions. Neoliberal reformers are blaming teachers for not wanting to sacrifice our lives for in-person learning in a pandemic and of course they want to slam teacher unions.

The Lancet is a leading medical journal. It's funny how this extensive research from 131 countries showing how closing schools is effective to slow the spread of coronavirus and opening them back up leads to a significant increase in infections isn't on the front page of the NY Times. I doubt the study will be covered in any corporate neoliberal publication but Reality Based Educator sent us a link.

From Twitter:

Quote Tweet
Tom Wenseleers
School closures, public event bans & workplace closures were most effective in reducing the rate of spread of the coronavirus in a new study of nonpharmaceutical interventions across 131 countries,
Wait, what's that first thing on the list? School closures? But the ran multiple articles this week telling us big schools systems nationwide should follow NYCDOE schools and go back to in-person learning - even as the nation hit highest daily covid count yesterday.

From the summary of the research in the Lancet: 

Individual NPIs (Non-pharmaceutical interventions), including school closure, workplace closure, public events ban, ban on gatherings of more than ten people, requirements to stay at home, and internal movement limits, are associated with reduced transmission of SARS-CoV-2, but the effect of introducing and lifting these NPIs is delayed by 1–3 weeks, with this delay being longer when lifting NPIs.

There is a worsening pandemic again in this country. We have never gotten COVID-19 under control in the United States since it first hit earlier in the year. We should be calling for all remote learning until there is no community spread, not the half-baked de Blasio, Carranza, Mulgrew blended learning that I think most insiders would agree is not working too well in plenty of schools.

For some context for people who cannot understand where the major push to open up is coming from, there is an important piece in Jacobin. It is called Neoliberal Education Reformers Have Found a New Way to Scapegoat Teachers. It analyzes the motives behind the open up the school buildings' crowd in some detail.

The introduction:

Liberal writers sympathetic to the corporate education reform movement are beating the drum about reopening schools, claiming to stand up for low-income students. But attacking teachers and their unions does nothing for poor and working-class students — it simply scapegoats the people who have dedicated their lives to actually helping those students.

Please read the entire piece to see what we are up against. It isn't just Trump; this is bipartisan. We need to have a strong union and not the Mulgrew misled UFT to stand up to the deformers as they attack teachers and their unions now for trying to protect our health.

Friday, October 23, 2020


 From the Poughkeepsie Journal:

A staff member at the Dutchess County BOCES Alternative High School in Poughkeepsie died over the weekend, after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the month, District Superintendent Richard Hooley said. 

The school had been in hybrid learning since the beginning of the semester and the employee came into contact with students and staff immediately prior to the Oct. 6 diagnosis, Hooley said.

We are sorry for this loss. The article does not provide the name of the deceased.

Here in NYC, nothing is changing. DeBlasio-Carranza-Mulgrew's blended learning is not working.

Also tonight, why is this huge study from India on COVID-19 spread published on September 30 not cited every five seconds?

(CNN)Children can spread coronavirus among themselves efficiently, but young adults are the primary source of coronavirus spread, according to a study published Wednesday.

The study, based on a giant contact tracing effort involving more than 3 million people in India, shows most Covid-19 patients never infected anyone else. The researchers found that 70% of infected people did not infect any of their contacts, while 8% of patients accounted for 60% of observed new infections.

The study also contradicts the widely held belief that children are unlikely to catch the coronavirus.

"We find otherwise. They are getting infected in significant numbers," study leader Ramanan Laxminarayan of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi, and also of Princeton University, told CNN.
Finally, it is interesting to note that there was a positive COVID-19 case in the elementary school building my son attends this week and then there was a sudden shift to remote learning as his remote class got a group of new students. 
Yesterday was a bad day for coronavirus cases with over 70,000 new positive cases reported by NPR and NY is getting very close again to officially having escalating community spread. Why are people urging the school buildings to be opened in the middle of this?


A NY1-Ipsos poll found that a majority of the public does not agree with Mayor Bill de Blasio's school reopening plan. NYC, NY Times, and UFT propaganda are not fooling most people.

A good summary of the main results is at Reality Based Educator's Twitter which I copied below the NY1 graph.

The poll found Andrew Cuomo is still very popular. I don't get it. 

Correction: RBE got in touch with me. The percentages on NYC schools should've started remotely only was 70% yes to 21% no.  We reported it as 30% no originally.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


 I hope everyone read the city-DOE's defense in the recent arbitration agreement. The city claimed that because the payment was due on October 1 and they didn't pay yet as of October 9 so that date is meaningless. They didn't say it but they implied that they can pay whenever it is convenient as we never received a dime on October 1 (the payment due date) since 2015. They are always late and the UFT lets them get away with it. 

But don't worry, we have the very angry Michael Mulgrew on our side. He agreed to a deal so we have unambiguous language to get the lump sum payment (well, at least half of the full amount the city owes us) by the end of October. The agreement says, "Board/City to make a Lump Sum payment equal to 50% of the payment which would otherwise have been due (approximately $450 million), by no later than October 31, 2020." Pretty clear, straightforward language, right? Wrong for per session and retirees.

Mulgrew told the Executive Board the per session 1/2 retro payment will have to wait.

As for retirees, we will be waiting a little longer too.

This came my way this evening:

We have ironclad language stating we must get half of the money owed to us by no later than October 31. Instead, we will be waiting until after November 16. 

Okay in the age of COVID-19, this isn't that big a loss. But still, the UFT does not even have enough pull or the desire to compel the City DOE to live up to a rather simple date of October 31 that they agreed to. It was easy for the DOE to withhold the funds. It should be just as simple to deposit them. Try paying a parking ticket late and watch the penalties get added on. DOE does whatever they want and UFT just goes along.


The NY Times put out what Reality Based Educator (see below) called a "Mission Accomplished" piece on COVID-19 in NYC public schools.

Out of 16,348 staff members and students tested randomly by the school system in the first week of its testing regimen, the city has gotten back results for 16,298. There were only 28 positives: 20 staff members and eight students.

The Times says NYC could be a model nationally for school reopening. This is a huge stretch for the paper of record.

The NY Post has an article written by Selim Algar that puts some real context around the numbers the Times reported.

A total of 2,056 city kids have tested positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of September — with an infection rate of 2 percent, city figures show.

Further down:

Between October 13 and 19, 23,217 kids were tested and 419 were positive, a 1.8 percent infection rate.

There's more in this article:

Department of Education schools are separately required to relay student COVID-19 cases reported by families, teachers, and labs to the city for confirmation and began doing so on September 8.

As of Monday, the city has counted 527 cases — 226 students and 301 teachers and staffers, according to the data.

Those figures include both remote-only and in-person learners.

On Monday alone, schools reported 27 new student cases and 35 teacher positives.

As part of Mayor de Blasio’s school reopening plan, between 10 and 20 percent of school populations are being randomly tested each month to guard against outbreaks.

The DOE started that process on October 9 and tested 5,829 students and 10,519 staff members over the subsequent week.

A total of 20 employees and 8 students came up positive for a minimal infection rate of 0.17 percent.

While the process is still in its early stages, only 15 percent of blended learning students have so far submitted parental consent forms allowing them to be tested on school grounds.

Asked if that tempered his faith in the 0.17 infection rate and its value as a student coronavirus indicator, de Blasio reiterated his confidence in the city’s approach.

“The results we’re seeing in the schools are just extraordinarily clear and consistent,” de Blasio said at his daily briefing on Tuesday.

Extraordinarily clear and consistent. Virtually no COVID-19 in the schools? They are almost immune. Send in the scientists.

How can we account for it? Here is a message sent to me from a New York City teacher this morning that might in part explain some numbers:

On days when I go into the building, I have exactly 1 student. And I don't even teach him, I just watch him all day while he logs on to other classes while I teach the kids who are at home. 

This teacher is teaching real classes remotely. There are reports of blended learning schools where there are actually many live students who are attending but what I am hearing from the teacher above is more typical of the teachers I talk to. 

The low in-person enrollment may have something to do with the low number of positive COVID-19 test results. It's easy to social distance if the building is pretty much empty

The reality is much more complex in the buildings than the rosy picture the mayor is depicting. If the alarming data is right that we might inevitably be headed for a new round of escalating community spread of COVID-19 infections, the Times and the people suing to open school buildings might not look very smart.

Does anyone have attendance numbers from any school buildings?

Monday, October 19, 2020


I read NYC Educator's Executive Board Minutes this evening. Arthur Goldstein, who writes those reports, is pretty much a full-fledged, hardcore Mulgrew-Unity supporter these days. That said, he still does a very good job of writing accurate minutes of UFT meetings. I sometimes compare my Delegate Assembly notes with his and they are pretty similar. 

Tonight's UFT Executive Board notes from Arthur are strange in that Michael Mulgrew continues to spout out a completely debunked story that the arbitrator ruled that we must postpone half of the retro until mid July 2021. The truth is the UFT agreed to postpone the retro and the arbitrator just wrote what the agreement between the UFT and the City-DOE says.

From NYC Educator:

Why did union agree to split lump sum? Union did not agree. Arbitrator made the decision, and we agreed to no layoffs and guaranteed raise. That's agreement.

"Union did not agree...That's agreement."

Only in Michael Mulgrew's world, or maybe Trump's or Cuomo's or de Blasio's, could someone say this and expect anyone to believe it.

Read the consent award for yourself to know that Mulgrew is still not telling the truth on the issue.

The arbitrator's own words:

I implored and pressured the parties to explore a possible resolution to this matter. They asked me to work with them to find a proper solution. The parties then requested I memorialize that settlement in this consent award that is set forth below.

Before writing the actual DOE-UFT agreement, the arbitrator states:

Accordingly, as a result of my intercession with the parties, it is agreed: (bold added by me)

He then writes up the agreement that says when half the money is due: no later than October 31, 2020. The remainder of the payment shall be made in the second payroll of July 2021. 

I do not believe the UFT is even going to hold the DOE-City to that agreement. This is Arthur citing Mulgrew on the per session retro:

Retro for per session should follow same path as other retro. 

I gather that means it will be after October 31. Retirees probably won't get the money until later than October 31 too. No wonder why the city-DOE keeps going back on their written word with Mulgrew. He repeatedly lets them get away with it. 

As for going fully remote if NYC gets the expected third wave of COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months that I hope and pray we avoid but fear is already on the way, Mulgrew offers little hope:

We're focused on getting schools open. Data shows it's relatively safe right now, but we can't be too sure. We will likely be in this setting for rest of school year.

The main reason for low infection rates in schools is that there are so few students (see below) and staff in many of them. The majority of student families have chosen full-time remote learning. A substantial number of UFTers and other employees are working remotely too, some in spite of getting zero help from their union. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020


I would like to know why teachers and anyone else coming from New Jersey are not being required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York as is supposed to be the law and part of the NYC School Reopening Plan.

From the NYC School Reopening Plan on Page 26:

School-based staff and students cannot report to school if they have:

Traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days. 

What are the guidelines for quarantining from the NYS Department of Health that the city's Reopening Plan refers to?
This is on page 2:

All travelers entering New York who have recently traveled within a state with either:
• a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average; or
• a testing positivity rate of higher than a 10% over a seven-day rolling average, will be required to quarantine for a period of 14 days consistent with the Department of Health (DOH) regulations for quarantine. 

New Jersey's positivity rate for the last seven days is in the NY Times. Today, it stands at 66 per 100,000. That looks to be worrisome. If we were following the rules, all NJ residents who are NYC DOE employees should be remote only for at least the next two weeks according to two media outlets. 

Channel 7 Eyewitness News covered this story. 

New Jersey's positivity rate would now put the state on its own quarantine list after seeing 973 positive tests across the state Wednesday.

Anyone traveling to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut from states where there are 10 cases per 100,000 residents must quarantine for 14 days.

Gothamist confirms these numbers:
The sustained increase in cases has made New Jersey travelers eligible for 14-day quarantine requirements mandated by many states, including New York and Connecticut.

The blithering idiots who run our national, state, and local governments as well as our union probably won't follow their own rules.

Give me New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern's "Go hard, go early" tough lockdown approach. It's worked twice when cases have appeared in the community there. Oh and she shut the borders too.

From the NY Times:

The strategy is aimed at eradicating the virus with a swift science-based policy, one that trades weeks of lockdown and sacrifice for an emergence to full economic activity.

She just won a landslide reelection victory. Nothing succeeds like success.  My wife, Camille has a cousin who lives in New Zealand who was quite happy to go home after visiting relatives in Britain earlier this year.

I am aware that it is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison as New Zealand is an isolated island but Vietnam took a tough approach too and it worked. We should think about it now as the next wave is starting to hit NYC. Step I should be making the schools all remote until further notice.

Update Monday:

Every Tuesday, changes are made to New York's Travel Advisory list by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Based on 2 On Your Side’s review of the publicly available data, five states meet the criteria this week to be added to New York’s Travel Advisory list including several border states.

The five states that now have seven-day rolling averages of new cases per 100,000 residents that are greater than 10, a line set by New York State to be included on the list, are Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

During a conference call Monday about the state's progress on the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo was asked about the increase in the numbers in New Jersey and Connecticut and what that means for travel between the bordered states.

"It's a problem. New Jersey and Connecticut have worked with us, as have other northeastern states, on a operating basis since this began, also there are so many inter-connections between Jersey and Connecticut and Pennsylvania where you have a workforce that comes and goes everyday, there's just a lot of inter-connection and travel. If you were to limit access to New Jersey or Connecticut, I don't know to what extent it would be possible to do border patrol because you don't have airports there et cetera, and it would also seriously be disruptive to the economy. So, it's complicated and we're working with them, but we don't have any final conclusion yet but for a practical matters, you can't do border control with New Jersey and Connecticut."

Listen to Cuomo, it would be "seriously disruptive to the economy." That's what matters to our leaders, not our lives. It goes from Trump, to Cuomo to deBlasio. 


 The UFT officially supports your right to speak out. The piece below is actually on the UFT website. Hold them to it. Rights mean nothing if they aren't used. Speak up, ladies and gentlemen. Tell the truth about conditions in remote learning or in school buildings and don't be afraid. Speak up about the UFT too. It's your right. 

Academic Freedom

As someone who is committed to public education and who sees up-close the condition in which our students learn and live, you are in a unique position to help influence public policy. Over the years, the UFT has often called upon its members to speak their minds and tell the truth in lobbying visits, at legislative hearings, public forums, and print and broadcast interviews. You can do this without fear of retribution. You have the right to comment on Department of Education policies publicly, but you should make it clear that you are speaking for yourself only. If any official should attempt to pressure you against speaking your mind or retaliate against you for doing so, the UFT will stand with you. However, the union strongly advises you to consult with your UFT district representative before taking such action.

Saturday, October 17, 2020


Thank you Norm Scott for linking to this for some comedy from Gaspare Randazzo.

Enjoy. The video with Mulgrew splitting two 20 dollar bills with us is great. The one with the call screener for one of Mulgrew's town halls is priceless and unfortunately too accurate.

For those who don't know, Barbara is the now famous Barbara Ignatenko who asked Mulgrew the only tough question at a town hall in the last six months and was quickly hung up on.

Friday, October 16, 2020


 This is from Politico:

The CDC is condemning mandatory coronavirus testing in K-12 schools, updating guidance after New York City began random testing this week on thousands of students and educators.

In revamped advice published this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorses voluntary “surveillance” testing in schools but decries any mandates.

“It is unethical and illegal to test someone who does not want to be tested, including students whose parents or guardians do not want them to be tested,” the CDC said.

Politico wonders whether Trump political people were influencing the CDC guidance but offers no evidence.

Only a few students and staff are testing positive in most NYC schools because many school buildings are so empty according to all but one of the reports we have received. 

One teacher who has been sick with COVID-19 symptoms is UFT Solidarity leader Lydia Howrilka.

See her on News 12 Bronx. She gives a good interview especially when you consider she is someone in the process of getting over a serious illness.


 From DOE:

Reporting Instructions for Election Day: Select School-Based Staff

School buildings across the city will be used as polling sites on Election Day, November 3. To support health and safety measures, all DOE school-based staff will work remotely on Election Day, except school safety agents, food service personnel, and custodial and facilities staff, who must still report to their schools for in-person work; DOE meal hubs will remain open. Charter schools and community-based organization (CBO) programs follow their own schedule, and may still report to school buildings. 

Since November 3 is an instructional day for students, pedagogical and supervisory staff should continue to perform their educational duties remotely. Staff without instructional or related duties that can be performed remotely may support with students and/or family outreach, or be assigned to complete mandatory trainings and/or professional learning webinars. Some examples include:

Complete Annual Bloodborne Pathogens Compliance Procedures, as announced in the September 10 edition of Principals Digest.

Mandatory Webinar about Sexual Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policies, as announced in the October 9 edition of Principals Digest;

Professional learning regarding school culture climate, such as the Trauma-Informed Care professional learning series, as announced in the October 15 edition of Principals Digest. 

For questions, contact your BCO HR director.

Thursday, October 15, 2020


I am monitoring today's Mulgrew Town Hall. He is basically repeating what he stated yesterday at the DA in his report. 

Mulgrew says working in a pandemic is tough. Walking into schools seeing amazing things. We must prepare for all battles.

Hear from members all the time. Doing the best we can for as many as we can. DOE is insane now. We work remotely on Election Day.

Mulgrew states that questions go through based on the number of people who want to talk about a particular topic.

Question: Thanks Mulgrew. Teacher qualifies for medical accommodation but hasn't gotten an answer for her application and there is already a positive case in her school.

Answer: Operator has her name and the operator will send information to Michael Sill and his office will call you. Process has slowed down and we will see where it's at.

Question: Operational complaints. D26 has a lot of operational complaints. When will they be addressed?

Answer: We gave DOE a small amount of time to hire people and now we are moving operational complaints forward. Chapter leader will get a call on technical information. Trying to resolve them over the next week or two.  

Question: Early retirement incentive: Any specifics in terms of age or years of experience? 

Answer: If we get it done, assuming it will be for the beginning of fiscal year which for city is July 1. Last one we did was 2002. Apply during the summer. We don't have it done yet. Still not passed by legislature and signed by governor and negotiated with city.

Question: Status of medical accommodation after Dec 31; payment for spring break?

Answer: That will be the first arbitration we file when arbitrations are back. Medical accommodations were processed faster than at any time in history and now slowing down. On Dec 31, everyone will have to do another one for January because assumption is not that medical condition lasts forever. Get more documentation in December.

Question: Speech provider concerned by excessive amount of paperwork as children change from remote to in-person?

Answer: Kids cannot switch back and forth between remote and in-person.Kids going back and forth need more paperwork done. Working out the RAD and then in-person. Special ed people at the DOE try to make our members work harder while they do very little.

Question: Random testing of students and parents in a building, principals say pre-k,3-k, k and D75 exempt?

Answer:pre-k and 3-k exempt, k in dispute, D75 not and never was exempt. Have to figure out how to get D75 testing done. Majority of D75 in buildings with other schools and should not be treated as separate. That violates federal law. That should be resolved in a week. K is still in question. Testing is proving to be invaluable. Non-invasive swab now. SUNY doing 75,000 tests a week with spit test. 

Question: School got calendar saying we are going to school but kids are remote on election day? Does everyone have to wear a mask in D75?

Answer: Please send Mulgrew that calendar. Students and teachers who can't wear a mask have to have medical accommodation. Most are wearing shields and masks. Send to special ed VP if there is an issue. This is a health emergency. That child may have to go remote.

Question: ERI, how would that effect members in 25-55 program?

Answer: It might get you to retirement faster. Until we have the particulars negotiated, we can't say for sure. Hopefully, it would help you get to retirement. City always wants us to pick specific titles. They don't want math, science or special ed teachers to retire. We don't split up our members. We will have fight over one or two retirement incentives. They will want less credit. 

Question: Principal is insisting that his interpretation of the agreement is correct. He doesn't want to hire someone to fill remote class. When do we find out about operational issues?

Answer: It will be resolved in the next week or two. Individual interpretations mean problems. We knew it would be a crazy world so we put operational issues into effect. Pay you double or teach class himself.

Question: Thanks Mulgrew for everything he does. AP comes into Meets. We are remote school. Admin has nothing to do. Written feedback. Non tenured people worried. Kids not getting everything they should be getting. Hearing anything about observations?

Answer: Operators pushing right issues. We don't have an evaluation system. First, we must straighten out operational complaints. Administrator can come into a classroom. Thank them for written feedback. We can't move forward while people are in an untenable working situation. We must first resolve operational complaints first. Representative teachers from different levels will be part of it. Observations and evaluations are a shield for us as 99% are rated positively in a given year. No agreed upon evaluation system as of yet. Live and in person fine. Majority of school system is remote. We believe it is above 60% not going to school on a given day. 80% of instruction is remote. No evaluation system as of now. 

Question: Thanks for hard work and dedication, paraprofessional responsibilities? Remote going from period 1-8 with no breaks. It is impossible. No lunch until end of the day. Guidelines? Call students, input into skedula and SESIS. Calling parents. It's overwhelming. D18

Answer: Stuff there that shouldn't be happening. Have you filed operational complaint? No. Administrators afraid of people sitting around doing nothing. They need therapy. One person not working, can't punish everyone. Have to get breaks. What paras did in the spring was phenomenal. More than half of the DOE disappeared during the shutdown. Small group involved. Most DOE were nowhere to be found. School system back semi-open and people nowhere to be found are back and accusing people of sitting around doing nothing. Para chapter leaders on phone. Will deal with this with the Chancellor.

Question: What is the procedure for people who feel that their school is not being cleaned or prepared with proper PPE?

Answer: Reach out to us and we will take care of it right away. Custodians frustrated because they couldn't do what they had to do until the summer. Frustrated with some people who have to know it is not their buildings. School must be cleaned with electrostatic cleaner every night.

Question: ENL teacher in a room in the school with no students. Do lessons online?

Answer: You can do that work from home. If students are not in a classroom, you can do that work from home.

Question: Someone in our building tested positive today, how do I know contact tracing is taking place and that myself and our students and their families are safe?

Answer: Once you find out, contact tracing is already happening. Asking the principal about other possibilities. We are teaching contact tracers what to ask. We get a report. Some people may be told to quarantine. Email Mulgrew who will give it to Ellien Engler who monitors the entire city. Over the last two or three weeks, we are more confident in the city's ability to do testing and tracing. They are not DOE people doing the tracing. Positivity rate is very low in school testing and we are doing a lot of testing. 

Question: Update on learning bridges program?

Answer: Update by the end of the week. Moving to switch so that you the essential worker has a safe place to put their children.  

 We are the only large school system in the country open. It's an amazing accomplishment.