No trouble getting on today so I am on time. We will keep updating.
The meeting began with Michael Mulgrew introducing himself and welcoming Delegates to the last DA of 2020 which happily will soon be over. Calls the people on the call the leaders of the UFT. Says Chapter Leaders and Delegates have been looked to and what CL's and Delegates have done has been phenomenal this year. Recognize what you have done. We've been fighting but using doctors to do what's right but it doesn't matter if it doesn't work at the building level. We have challenging administrators. In the mayor's race, we want DOE bureaucracy to change to support the schools, not themselves. People contacting us, remembering all the deaths. The School system has been protected by Delegates and Chapter Leaders.
Tomorrow with snow is an instructional day. First grievance out of COVID will be for compensation for spring break 2020. We were not meeting our minimal instructional days with the State Education Department for 2020-2021. SED accepted our calendar with two remote instructional snow days. NY Times said this is the end of snow days in the United States but the calendar is only for this year. Our calendar has the most holidays in the United States. Don't want to give up holidays or eat into our breaks. We will visit this in the future. There is no substitute for live instruction but members find some things with remote valuable but there are others that we don't want to keep.
We never believed the state should have a statewide program on COVID. When city wanted to move their plan, we had no problem because of testing. We closed over 500 schools. If there was a hint of this virus, there was affirmative action. Linked cases mean they are isolated. Non-linked cases mean a school shuts down. Over 40,000 tests last week. Problems last week. We will go to court if conditions aren't met. State says city must adhere to agreements.
Problems: Randomness. 20% of schools had no testing. When they were doing 20% per school per month, we asked that entire school be offered testing. Many volunteered. When people are in schools, there isn't alot of COVID spread. Doing 20% per school per week meant they could no longer test whole schools. They did not hit 20% per school target. They tried to test the whole school in certain cases. They could no longer do that. Getting the test results back became a problem. Give tests on Monday and results on Friday is not helpful.
(At this point the signal dropped. Sorry, trying to get back on.)
I got back on a few minutes later when Mulgrew was talking about children being upset. By in large, it is working with nurses dealing with students in D75. Incident with lunch in Brooklyn. Staff tried to stop principal. They documented everything. They had statements done. DOE upset. We don't care. Teachers are heroes. They tried to fix it and when we got involved, it improved. Everyone was tested.
Following State Covid-19 numbers. It is not acceptable, irresponsible if city shuts down and school buildings stay open. City and other hotspots in the state have plateaued and are starting to move down. How do we get the vaccine to those who want it so we can move back to some kind of normal?
1,140 operational complaints from over 700 schools. Most resolved. There is compensation involved that involves money. Superintendents say they have no money but that is their issue as they did this. We are teaching in non-ideal conditions. More information, myths, and misinformation out there but we continue to get our work done. UFT Member Assistance Program overrun. Also, kids have regressed developmentally. We are dealing with tough situation. DOE wants teachers to teach online tomorrow. Put up lesson and let the kids do their work. It will take five days for DOE to figure this out. Principals get very little direction. Good principals, it's okay without direction but for power-hungry and inept principals this is a problem.
Federal-Big problems with the current stimulus package. Election has not changed things where people will now work together. We are trying to keep education money in the stimulus. State and local looks like it is out. Eviction protection is a big deal. If the virus gets out of control in NYC, we shut down. Safety is important. Next piece is livelihood. In many other states and districts without strong unions, many have lost their jobs. We need a massive federal stimulus next year. There has to be money directly tied to education where states can't divert that money. Georgia Senate race is important. For next year, there will be the biggest turnover in City Council history. State is $15 billion in red; the city is $9 billion and the MTA is $4.5 billion in debt. The entire debt was $7 billion in 2008. We need a massive federal stimulus. Do we want a fight? No but will we fight? Yes. Protecting livelihood means we have to be very politically active. We are interviewing all sorts of City Council candidates. We would like to endorse 21 people in January. We have to talk to the mayoral candidates. Reporters want to talk about mayoral control but they don't want to talk about the money. What happens in the next couple of days is important but we need a bigger federal package next year. Whoever wins the city races will be our partners for the next few years. We need people who are smart and know what they're doing. Teachers in City Council term-limited out.
State-School systems opening and closing. Large systems that never really opened dealing with layoffs. If state and local money is off the table, Governor a little crazy. We are monitoring it. A glimmer of hope at the state level with testing and vaccine distribution. Vaccine is not mandated. Teachers and school staff are in the second tier of vaccine distribution. Healthcare workers and nursing homes in the first tier. Then essential workers and people with health conditions are next. Follow the Moderna vaccine closely. It is as effective as the Pfizer one but it is easier to administer. President-Elect Biden wants schools open in the first 100 days but we want PPE for the entire school year. How do we plan? We don't know if more children will be allowed into schools. Close to 90% of operational complaints tied to blended learning. We need live and fully remote. Schools know how many opted in. If that is less than 35% of entire school population, you need to have a conversation about 5 day a week schooling. DOE instructional people never did their job correctly. If you are a school that is open, number of in-school learners can only go down. Those who have not shown up by December 23 should be placed in all remote. No rulebook on how to run a school system this way. That is why we went to operational complaints.
End where it began by thanking the CLs and Delegates. Only large system in the country that is open. Safety, protect profession, (enemies like Kochs still saying we haven't done our job). Biden transition people have come to us about opening the schools. It comes down to the people at the schools. We dedicated our lives to taking care of children.
Staff Director's Report- Leroy Barr reports on some upcoming events. Many firsts with Kamala Harris as VP. UFT showing film Chisholm about Shirley Chisholm on January 21. Special election Dec 22, UFT endorses Kevin Reily. Happy Holidays.
Mulgrew back thanks Rich Mantell for coat drive. Got 800 coats out. The homeless population growing. He thanks Anthony Harmon for working on delivering meals. Food crisis in NYC. We are helping out. Karen Alford helping homeless coalition coat drive. Jeff P, Ellie Engler and UFT safety team running from school to school making things work.
Question about testing. Tested last Wednesday but 15 haven't received results.
Mulgrew Answer: New process. Issue with testing, contact District Rep or Borough Office so it goes right to safety people. Tell Donna the District Rep. We will get the results back quickly or use them to go into court.
Followup says people tested yesterday were told it would be five days to get results.
Answer: No, results should be within 48 hours.
Question: Physical dimensions not changing for five day instruction. What is the union's position?
Answer: 50 point UFT safety checklist is the standard. Mayor said 75% want in-person instruction. That was wrong but schools were programmed for 75% to come in. You know who has opted in, if you can program for the live students, do it. If 35% or below, you can try. If it can't be done safely, don't do it.
Question: Vaccinations, we will hit Tier 2. We will have to go get vaccinated or will they come to schools?
Answer: Phizer vaccine has to be kept in a controlled setting. We will guess we will have to go in and show we are DOE employees. We need a process so everyone who wants to get vaccinated can get a vaccine. City will probably send out conflicting information.
Question: Thanks Mulgrew, no testing yet at PS 44, a school opened on Staten Island.
Answer: We know about this school. We will hopefully get folks there quick. Schools on Staten Island in orange zone but not much COVID in them. Doctors have access to our information. Politicians not doctors. PS 44 is on the list. Hopefully, they will be there tomorrow.
Question: High School CL. What is happening with high schools reopening?
Answer: Do we have the testing capacity, until we have the vaccine, to keep things safe? City does not have the capacity to test in high schools. Students need to take industry assessments. Many have hands-on components. We have had conversations at state and city level. (These are not Regents exams.)
Question: Thanks Mulgrew, Principal scheduling observations and teachers have been told they would be doing observations. What is the status of that?
Answer: There are no observations. There is no evaluation agreement. State has not waived student learning but left evaluation up to districts. Many would like to go S or U but using authentic assessment will lead to teachers being treated in a fairer way. S or U led to thousands being rated poorly because they had a fight with a principal. Let's get basic authentic assessment in for this year. We are telling our people to do that. No observations at this point. We should have APPR done by early January. We need protocols on online classrooms. Administrators saying they want access as a teacher into a classroom. They already have access as administrator. They don't know how to run their own digital platform.
Question: CL from D 25, Can we have clarification on the instructional coordination period in the morning?
Answer: Coordination period is to work with other teachers who work with the same students. Grades could coordinate during this time. Mandated systematic meetings are a no. DR is on the call as well as Borough Rep who will be in touch with the principal and superintendent and we will take it from there. We don't understand the people who have to be power-hungry
Question: Onsite COVID testing, is there a system to show that it is random?
Answer: Some places it is getting better and others are not. Three problems with testing. Randomization, 20% and getting results back in a timely manner. Testing folks are good to work with. They don't take problems as personal attacks like most in the DOE. Getting additional people for contact tracing. Tell the DR and hopefully it will get fixed or go to court.
Question: CTLE hours for paraprofessional, will it be waived this year? CUNY having issues with financial aid.
Answer: Not waived as of yet. Regents meeting yesterday and today. You should call UFT call center and they will talk to certification people. UFT is offering a lot of CTLE online. Call Mary Vaccaro. We don't want anyone being jammed up.
Question: Countdown to July 1 retirement-Will the UFT continue Zoom information sessions after COVID?
Answer: Much better DA meetings online. We have huge partipation online. Pension clinics and Member Assistance Program have huge numbers. Happy that numbers are what they are but we miss seeing people. Can't wait to go into a school without a mask. Looking forward to seeing kids smile. We will figure out the balance between online and in-person.
Question: Counselors at QHS must have Assistant Principal in three way or Zoom counseling sessions. No confidentiality is what AP said
Answer: Why would this lead to better results for children? There are confidentiality provisions in the DOE. We will ask the DOE if this is a mandated practice to defend it. This sounds like a power trip. The worse the idea, the more who get promoted at the DOE.
First motion to commemorate World AIDS Day for next month's agenda. Mulgrew points out that it needs a majority vote to get on January's agenda. Motivator says that we can honor people impacted by AIDS in a better way. There was no speaker against it. Mulgrew tells everyone to stay safe over holidays. 92% vote yes and 8% vote no. It is on agenda.
Second motion is on mayoral control. Daniel Alicea presented it from MS 53. He wants this for next month's agenda. Says he is with Teachers of NYC. We need to end mayoral control as we know it. We need checks and balances. We need our union of educators to lead all stakeholders including parents, students and other community stakeholders. Growing call in our union that we need to limit mayoral control and not just cosmetic changes. It's personal. Data changed since we last discussed this issue in 2013. We need to use our power as the most powerful union in the city to step up. After two decades of mayoral dictatorship, we need to turn things up down. Revisit 2013 recommendations, endorsements can't come cheap and must be tied to candidates who want fundamental change in school governance, create an action plan with stakeholders to pressure Albany. Mulgrew asks for a speaker against. Nobody came forward to speak against. 81% voted yes and 19% voted no.
Special Orders of Business
Motion for UFT to stand for transgender rights. Protecting transgender folks. Nobody spoke against it. 95% yes and 5% no.
UFT honoring Latin American educators. Servia Silva motivated it. 40% of the students are Latinos or Latinx but only 7% of the teachers are. Nobody spoke against it. It carried with 95% yes and 5% no.
Time ran out. Mulgrew said Petrides results on Staten Island is now online. Take some time over the holiday but we need to keep the children safe. Thanks Delegates and CL's says God has blessed you. Says God bless and be safe.