Monday, October 18, 2021

WHY ISN'T THE UFT CONTRACT OR UFT CONSTITUTION IN THE CHAPTER LEADER BACKPACK?

 I heard from chapter leaders that their chapter leader backpacks the last few days. In it was:

  • Tools for Schools, an Overview for  a Safe, Healthy, and Secure School Environment
  • School Safety, Victim Support Program
  • A Bunch of COPE cards (can't forget to get money for politicians, can we?)
  • Leaflets to put on the UFT Bulletin Board
  • Leaflets on Teacher leadership
  • COPE Pen
  • Pouch with chapstick, bandaids, and ointment in a small tiny pouch. 
  • A Plastic folder file.
What was missing?
  • No UFT Contracts for each title
  • No UFT Chapter Leader Handbook
  • No UFT Constitution
The backpack itself gets a nice review for quality but how is the chapter leader supposed to do the job without a Contract or a Chapter Leader Handbook to guide her/him? The UFT in the past sent the Contracts for many titles and the Union's Constitution to Chapter leaders in these backpacks. No more.

I'm old school and liked to carry the Contract around to show its importance like Hall of Fame baseball manager Earl Weaver used to carry around a rulebook. I'd refer to it in a second if an administrator or UFT member asked but I haven't seen a written UFT Contract since the 2007-2009 edition. I don't even think there is a current Contract online. Only the 2009-2018 version exists online. The current Contract, now three years old, (remember it was agreed to months before the prior one expired) still only exists as a Memorandum of Agreement. The UFT and DOE had a year and a half to incorporate the contractual changes in writing before the pandemic but I guess they couldn't be bothered.

Please no snarky comment about how I demand that you pay dues to this inept organization. No, I want you as a collective to take it over and fix it. 

UFT GETS THE DOE TO AGREE TO FOLLOW CONTRACT ON OBSERVATIONS

I guess this is considered a victory by the UFT to get the Department of Education to follow the Contract and only require two informal observations for tenured teachers rated effective last year. Not being rated in 2019-2020 in the middle of a pandemic is no longer going to be held against teachers. Now, how about a maximum number of observations in the Contract like many other districts in NYS have? I would push for that.


Dear ______,

After weeks of negotiations, the DOE has agreed to change its position that the lack of ratings in 2019-20 should be a determining factor in the number and type of observations that teachers are required to have this school year.

Under the teacher evaluation system, if a tenured teacher received a rating of Effective for the previous two school years, that teacher would only need a minimum of two informal observations for the current school year. However, because teachers did not receive a rating for the 2019-20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DOE instructed principals in September that tenured teachers rated Effective would need one formal and one informal observation this school year.

The DOE has now agreed that any tenured teacher rated Effective for the 2020-21 school year will receive a minimum of two informal observations. (As before, members can request a formal observation if they wish, but it is not required.) No change has been made to the number of observations required for teachers rated Highly Effective (two informal observations) or teachers rated Developing (three informal observations and one formal) for the 2020-21 school  year.

If you are now eligible for two informal observations, but have already had your initial planning conference with your principal, you will not be required to have another IPC but you should let your principal know that you’d like to receive two informal observations instead. Remember that observations cannot occur before the IPC is held.

Read the DOE summary and FAQs about this school year’s policies and see more detailed information below.

Sincerely,
Michael Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew
UFT President

Sunday, October 17, 2021

CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION BACKS MILITANT WORKERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY; WHERE IS UFT SUPPORT?

This is from the CTU supporting striking workers in multiple unions.  I have heard nothing from the UFT. Working people around the country are saying enough. Maybe UFTers (rank and file, not the leadership) will rise up too. 


We stand with workers at Kellogg, UAW and IATSE television and film union

Poor working conditions continue as companies continue to profit off the lie of corporate support of "essential" workers. Educators can relate.


CHICAGO, October 14, 2021 — The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today in solidarity with entertainment workers, and workers at Kellogg and John Deere, all of whom are battling for better working conditions and fair, living-wage compensation:

Frontline workers, from people who package our breakfast cereal to those who make the equipment that builds our roads, have risked their lives to keep their corporations afloat through the pandemic. Now, workers at giant corporations that include Kellogg, John Deere and major film and television studios, are demanding more than just lip service for their sacrifices, just as educators in Chicago and across the nation are demanding more from their school districts when it comes to safety and support.

At Kellogg, workers in the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union have vowed to stay out "one day longer" than the boss in their strike for fair wages and benefits, and reasonable working conditions. At John Deere, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union overwhelmingly rejected a substandard offer from the company that would have included income inequality. And in the entertainment industry, members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) — from cinematographers and camera operators, to carpenters and makeup artists — want an end to excessive hours, exhausting back-to-back shifts and compensation for some crafts that is literally impossible to live on.

Each of these struggles remind us of 2012, 2016 and 2019, when we took collective action for the schools and the city our students and their families deserve. What unites us all is a basic demand for fairness. Labor provides the profit that these companies' shareholders live off of, just as our school district operates on the backs of the labor of teachers, PSRPs, clinicians, counselors and librarians. Yet the corporate strategy of all of our bosses is to demand more of workers in exchange for as little regard as possible.

Our sisters and brothers in the BCTGM, UAW and IATSE are fed up with this exploitation and indifference from management, especially at a time of record revenue for so many of the corporations and businesses that have provoked job action. Their struggle is our struggle —the struggle for basic rights, living wages, health care that sustains our families, and workplaces that are safe and responsibly run.

We stand in solidarity with our fellow workers at Kellogg, Deere, in the entertainment industry and beyond in their battle to force their bosses to share profit with the very workers who create this profit. And we join them in the larger struggle to lift up and support all rank-and-file workers in our country and elsewhere, who all deserve economic justice and freedom.

Friday, October 15, 2021

MULGREW DESCENDS TO YELLING AT DELEGATES HE DISAGREES WITH AND MULTIPLE DELEGATES REACT WITH OUTRAGE

Wednesday's Delegate Assembly saw UFT President Michael Mulgrew sink to new lows as the biased chair. This blog has been screaming since Michael Mulgrew took over as UFT President how he has mangled democracy beyond recognition at the DA. Mulgrew and I battled each other repeatedly over the years because he routinely violates the neutrality of the chair to advocate for himself and Unity Caucus, the political party he controls that ruins runs the UFT.  He's gotten away with more of his bias chairing after I retired because he usually is never challenged. 

In addition, during the pandemic when DAs went remote and could easily be controlled by the leadership, Mulgrew's buddy Rasheed can just cut off in midsentence anybody who says anything undesirable on the phone which was done on Wednesday in the new hybrid format (some live and some on the phone) that will be used this school year. After over a year of remote meetings where Mulgrew could screen the questions coming in and so he got used to almost never being challenged, he had to deal with a partially live DA and he couldn't handle people who were not on the Unity gravy train.

Many, probably most, of the Delegates Mulgrew calls on are receiving a paycheck or some other kind of largesse from the UFT. If they belong to Unity Caucus, they sign a pledge to support Unity Caucus positions in union and public forums. It doesn't take much talent to stack an auditorium with people on the Union payroll. This is what the rest of us are up against. 

It is very troubling, or maybe it is encouraging, that at the first DA of the new school year with hundreds of new Delegates either attending for the first time on the phone or in-person, Mulgrew showed that he has learned nothing about being impartial.

First up was a Delegate named Martina who was a young woman who asked the President during the question period about the New York State Health Act. This is how Arthur Goldstein reported the exchange between this new Delegate and Mulgrew:

Q--NY health act--Delegate Assembly supported it, but UFT ran ad against it. Why are we paying COPE dollars against things we supported.

A--We will not support NYHA. Will take thousands of dollars out of UFT pockets. If we can get our health care at no cost, we would do it. Not what NYHA will do. I know facts on social media are what people go on. But our lawyers say otherwise. 

Here is how we reported it:

Question: New York Health Act, we passed a resolution at the DA supporting it in 2015 and now we put out an ad against what we support?

Answer: We will not support the New York Health Act. It would cost members thousands of dollars. NY Health Act will not give us everything we want and have money left over. People go on what is on social media but our lawyers don't agree. Facts, people, not rhetoric.

Both reports are basically identical but neither can show the degree to which Mulgrew talked down to this woman in an angry and dismissive tone. His suggestion that this is social media spreading lies is just plain wrong. The Delegate asked about why the UFT isn't upholding its own policy. It was embarrassing to listen to Mulgrew talk down to the Delegate while he didn't explain why the UFT has a policy but Mulgrew claims that he and his lawyers can make policy that goes against what the DA decided. The proper way to change UFT policy after the lawyers give advice is to go back to the DA and vote to change it and not to yell at a Delegate who asks a question about it.

Second, Peter Lamphere from MORE (one group opposed to Unity) raised a Point of Order because during the ten-minute new motion period, Mulgrew didn't call on anyone from the opposition. Mulgrew first called upon a Delegate who introduced a motion for the UFT to urge the City Council to pick a woman as Speaker. This was followed by a motion on 9-11. Neither was very controversial. Peter said wait a minute as his Point of Order quoted Robert's Rules that the Chair is required to be impartial. By not recognizing anyone from the opposition to Unity who were supporting dozens of retirees who were outside protesting for transparency in healthcare negotiations, Mulgrew was stifling dissent. Mulgrew screamed that Peter was out of order because he called on him in the past. Peter then made a motion for the motion period to be extended. Mulgrew went on as if Peter wasn't even there. A group of from 20-35 Delegates got up and took matters into their own hands chanting, "Hands off of our healthcare!" Mulgrew tried to ignore them too and he was quite fortunate that they walked out so he could continue the meeting.

Why I say this undemocratic chairing was both troubling and encouraging is because there are Delegates online who are as outraged as I usually was at DAs. They expressed themselves online and Norm Scott over at Ed Notes printed their reactions to Wednesday's DA:

The first delegate assembly of the 2021-22 school year displayed the full disarray, disorganized, and unhinged leadership of the union. 

Since the start of the pandemic we have had a union that is far removed from its members. Yesterday we saw a leadership that is now in open contempt of its own members. 

The president of our union, paid by our union dues, actually yelled at his own members, working classroom teachers, elected by their chapters. 

Our union leadership refuses to address changes in retiree healthcare which reduced coverage which is bound to happen to active members in the upcoming contract.UFT leadership endorsed a Mayoral candidate they previously opposed, they were forced to call on executive board members who are no longer in the classroom and retirees that last taught in the 1980’s. 

Mulgrew sounded like “my angry drunk father."

A resolution was passed calling for woman leadership of our city council “but we have all men running the largest union of women in the city”  -- Chapter leader and long time teacher

Mulgrew’s report was like the worst PD I ever had to sit through”  -- New chapter leader

Mulgrew and his Unity caucus are more disconnected than ever before. They haven’t been in the classroom since the pandemic, they have no clue about anything teachers or paras deal with daily and it shows when he talks... Veteran chapter leader

Every single health care speaker was chastised, interrupted, and deemed out of order. As a new delegate it appears I'll need clarification on when we're allowed to talk about health care, because this happened during multiple parts of the agenda... New delegate  

And one more concerning Mulgrew exclusively calling on Delegates wearing pink:



I had a discussion with the UFT's parliamentarian in 2014 after five years of frustration with Mulgrew not letting dissenting voices be heard. Some of what was stated then:

During my discussion with the Parliamentarian, I even went back to the preface of Robert's Rules and read a portion where it gives the history of parliamentary procedure.  Right there on page xxiv, it says in 1592 the principle was established to alternate speakers between those for and against.  Here is the wording: "It was made a Rule, That the Chairman shall ask the Parties that would speak, on which side they would speak... and the Party that speaketh against the last Speaker, is to be heard first."  

Maybe with your help we can finally catch up to where England's Parliament was in the 1590s at the UFT in 2021.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

LIVE BLOGGING FROM OCTOBER DA (unedited, updated with News 12 Reports); SOME DELEGATES CHANT "HANDS OFF OUR HEALTHCARE" AND WALK OUT AFTER MULGREW ONLY ALLOWS MEMBERS OF HIS UNITY CAUCUS TO MAKE MOTIONS WHILE IGNORING NON UNITY DELEGATES

 Presidents Report

The Delegate Assembly began with a tribute and a moment of silence for a chapter leader who had passed away. President Michael Mulgrew then welcomes new people and then thanked the district reps. 

He started the regular part of the report by saying there is no stability in the school system. Talked about blended learning from last year, remote parent teachers that is being done this year. 2,200 operational complaints resolved. 2,030 resolved. No contract for a pandemic. We negotiate and end up yelling back and forth with DOE. We don't care about reports they have to produce. If it doesn't make a difference to children, it doesn't make a difference to us. This is not covered as we were hired under a certain set of conditions but we are doing jobs for which we were not hired for. We are making new agreements because the circumstances are constantly changing. Changes not good for us or the children. It is stress on top of stress but we are stuck in a pandemic and we are stuck until we get out of it. We are thel largest system with a flimsy management system. This is uber stress on everyone right now. Answers change because of new conditions which lead to new setups. We are beyond flexible. Tell me another profession that no matter how much you plan, it will not turn out that way. We got into this profession to teach children, to counsel children and to make a school run. I hope and pray that by the end of the month we can set up a normal school system. This month we are not going to be there. Trying to set it up for all of you. Main focus for this year is to figure out how to relieve as much stress as we can but we know it is going to be a very stressful, tough year. Waiting for January. We are at the end of an administration. I am happy we have pre-k. We achieved that under this administration. Have we achieved goal that DOE is to help schools, not make them accountable? We have not achieved that. New challenges with a new administration. How do we pull the stress away from our members? We are not supposed to change rules constantly and we went to the State Department of Health over how to measure 3-feet. What is instructional lunch? We had a year without observations so people don't have two observations so they have to get a formal observation. That is the job. All of you volunteered and were elected. We need to stay together. As a chapter leader, other chapter leaders were support system. Job to make others' jobs better. If you chose this job in the middle of a pandemic, you are dedicated.

This will be a long report.

Agreement on partial closings. Since we believe that it will be very hard to have a classroom closure in the elementary schools. When you are told to supply instruction remotely, that is when the partial closing piece kicks in.

COVID protocols: what was put forth in City Council hearing last week is true. Only the Department of Health can change COVID protocols in NYC. Principal is responsible for saying who had close contact with someone who is positive. Some said it was everyone. Situation Room calling principals and telling the to do what's right. Can only close a school if there is an investigation saying it closed because of COVID spread in the school but Department is not doing investigations. Three-feet is now from center of desk to center of desk so classrooms are crowded up to 55. Guess that parents want schools open. Did they ask if people want to stay open if there was COVID in schools? Someone wants higher office. Numbers dropped dramatically in NYC in the last three weeks. Very low percentages. We know all are vaccinated but teachers take great pride in keeping students safe. We are going to the State Department of Health. It is probably going to get work. Who is the next Chancellor? Who keeps their job? It's Lord of the Flies over there. We did not want to put four or five classes in an auditorium. Rolled things over from last year. Negotiating redeployment. Constant challenge as we go to the end of this administration. Numbers are down, great

Politics

Most people don't like politics

Nationally, we are looking at the big package. Infrastructure: we want an infrastructure package. We want schools built with zero consumption. Rich Mantell thanked. On a meeting with Senator Schumer. Ventilation problems for years as we are not under OSHA but we were able to fix ventilation problems in three months. We need a big infusion of cash. NLRB ruled against us previous four years but we are hoping for a better outcome now.

Albany

Primary for governor chosen by Democratic party in February before primary in June. Had dinner with Governor Hochul. She has been good on putting some uniformity in place. There will be plenty of other candidates. 

Legislation to lower class sizes. Going after it through City Council legislation. We need to deal with real estate development and seats. Where they build housing is important in terms of seats for schools. 240 school seats for 6,000 units of housing at Hudson Yards. City Hall trying to block this. General elections in NYC. We have endorsements. We give mayors open arms. As chapter leader, it worked out twice and once it did not. We are happy we have a Bronx Plan. We need a partner to help us with Tweed Courthouse. Do we want a partner? Up to this Delegation but wouldn't recommend it.

Medicare Advantage Plus

In-service health plan coming up. We have a healthcare crisis in this union. Fight to keep what we have and expand it. Kick relatives who say we have free healthcare. The entire MLC does healthcare together. Medicare Advantage is usually a bad thing but we are not recommending Joe Namath's Medicare Advantage. He was a great quarterback. We knew we were looking at major premiums for our retiree healthcare. It is used against us. Unions can't talk about wages because there's been a 10% increase on premiums. Hospitals ripping us off. We're in a medical crisis. Nobody considers costs. $500 to take someone's temperature. Hospitalization costs keep going up. The entire workforce of NYC formed our own Advantage plus plan. In three years, people will all like it. Keep writing as that friction keeps the system going in a bitter place just like with the operational complaints.

SBO deadline

SBO deadline October 15. We extended last year; should we extend this year? When school comes to us, we say yes if it is outside. We want let people work for less money. Who wants SBO process to remain open? Many said yes, some didn't care and one voted no. SBO is our process. If you don't want to do it, don't do it. Make a deal if they come up with something you don't like. 

Observations

You need a formal and informal observation because nobody had a rating two years ago. Don't be afraid of observations. Some schools are supportive, some use it poorly. We have way too much on our plate to tackle making observations supportive. . We are negotiating that it should be two informals. We will get information out on this tomorrow or Friday. 

New hires

5,000 new hires. We are getting corrupted files from the DOE. 

Instructional lunch

Kids eat lunch in the classroom. Anything that you are doing under new agreements you must know codes have not been created. Payroll secretaries should be on a perch. You have to keep track of all of these things. Have your members be in close contact with payroll secretary. 

Election Day

Postings going up for per session to load asynchronous work up for Election Day. Last Thursday we had consultation on official DOE policy on people working at home. DOE with Chancellor not there said it was remotely but now they are saying maybe not. Principal must inform you by October 15 which is Friday or you are working remotely. Up to you whether you want to ask if they are informing you or not. 

Class sizes

We set a record for schools  with oversize classes at 41 schools with 132 classes.

Screenings

How many have had conversations about academic and social-emotional screenings? These screenings are supposed to be done through principal and chapter leader. Academic screenings end next Friday, October 22. Screening will produce a lot of information for your school that they need to act on. If chapter leader is not part of discussion, this could become very problematic. Will send out agreement again. Will have to wait until January according to DOE on social emotional screening. DOE put in a grant proposal to the federal DOE. to help undo the harm because of the pandemic. We got the grant which has money and NYC DOE has to run reports and they have made it a teacher or guidance counselor's job. We get compensation for this. This will be a long report. Can we get that out in bullets in English?

UFT debt clinic

2.5 years ago we started debt clinic. People retiring still paying off student loans. National scandal. Thousands have been through UFT loan program. We filed lawsuit against Betsy De Vos and it was settled today. Any teacher whose name was on the lawsuit has student debt completely erased. Any member who could have been able to reduce debt is going to have a chance to be involved. Members screwed by loan companies. 

Thanks to all of you who wore pink. That is a huge issue to us. Breast cancer rate higher than national average. Thank Servia Silva who has run strides. We are the biggest group. Thanks them. (delegates cheer.) Servia and team have raised $10 million. We want this eradicated. This feeds the soul. We want 3d imaging for mammograms. We have partnered with Lennox Hill for this. It can detect three years before other machines. That deal is in place for 3-d mammogram. Half of members 50 and above did not have baseline mammograms on record. Goal to have 100% of members 50 and above to havea mammogram. Whole schools show up for Strides. They walk with member who has cancer or who has survived.  Thanks everyone and ends report.

Staff Director's Report

Making Strides walk this weekend. First new chapter leader weekend postponed. Townhall for new members. Election Day November 2. Many political endorsements coming up. Teacher Union Day is November 7. That is the anniversary of our first strike. Veterans Committee asking people to join on November 11. Next DA is in November.

15 minute question period

Question: Chapter leader gives name and school: MOSL deadline 10/22, is there any guidance coming from UFT?

Mulgrew Answer: We will send out something on MOSL Friday.

Question: Middle school chapter leader asks about waivers on Regents for global.

Answer: Conversations going on at State Education Department. It is good to have Betty Rosa at SED who tells us what is going on and makes decisions on behalf of the kids. She told previous governor she doesn't work for him.

Question: District 25 Two informal observations?

Answer: Principal can do observations. Mulgrew says he was observed 18 times one year. One principal he asked to observe him more but it blew his mind.

Question: What happened to the mayor's substitutes?

Answer: There weren't 11,000 but was 6,500.  Happy court intervened to put date back. People were supposed to be redeployed. We have enough to cover for an emergency. About 2,000 unvaccinated on absence without leave. About 900 got exemptions. Hopefully we have long term solutions.

Question: Paras covering classes at lunch?

Answer: We rolled that agreement over from last year. Schools that lost paras due to the mandate realize it's a big deal.

Question: New York Health Act, we passed a resolution at the DA supporting it in 2015 and now we put out an ad against it?

Answer: We will not support the New York Health Act. It would cost members thousands of dollars. NY Health Act will not give us everything we want and have money left over. People go on what is on social media but our lawyers don't agree. Facts, people, not rhetoric.

Question:  New teachers in school not getting paid yet? Two pay periods, nothing. Told check is in the mail.

Answer: Mike Sill is looking into this and writing the chapter leader's name down. The check is in the mail is not appropriate.

Question: Testimony at City Council to get the 20% back for weekly testing. Is there an update on that?

Answer: Things are falling apart at City Hall. It is not where we were at last year. Last year it was a model for the country; this year it is not. Will it be fixed before this administration leaves? Probably not but cases are dramatically falling.

Question: School nurses in egregious state. Nurses being split to go to uncovered schools. 400 uncovered positions. Ads offering more money. What can we do to ensure more nurses? Will it take the death of a student to get a nurse into every building?

Answer: Mulgrew agrees with the nurse. We thought we crossed this hurdle last year. We took a big hit with the mandate. Said it over and over. Eric Adams has worked with us on this issue. Adams says it's unconscionable that there is not a nurse in every school building. DOE makes excuses about DC 37 nurses vs UFT nurses and there has to be a ratio. We are pushing on this. Administration is crumbling near the end. This is like how we were short 1,500 safety agents before the mandate. DOE hired private people for outside the schools.

Motion Period

Motion for today's agenda on the UFT urging the City Council for City Council Speaker. Hybrid vote: Voting at home. Then Mulgrew asks for vote of those in the hall. 87% yes-13% no. Internally it was way over 87%.

Point of order from Peter Lamphere on people from Mulgrew's Unity Caucus only being called. Mulgrew says it is out of order.

Motion on NY schools on 9-11 on a curriculum on the day.  It passes easily. Peter Lamphere makes a motion to extend motion period. Mulgrew doesn't entertain it so many people who wanted a hands off our healthcare motion to be raised and were not able to raise their motion. A chant goes on of "Hands off our Healthcare." Many delegates walk out.

Special Orders of business

Resolution to support a bunch of City Council endorsements. Mulgrew forces a vote on ending debate when nobody wants to debate. It gets 86% yes-14% No. On the actual endorsements, it is again 86% yes and it carries.

At automatic adjournment time, a motion is made to extend. 62% vote in favor. 449 to 276. Mulgrew extends. 

Motion to endorse Eric Adams and Brad Lander for comptroller. A unity Executive Board person says we must endorse Adams or he will only get support from charter schools.

A Delegate on the phone speaks against Adams saying we got fliers in the mail saying not to vote for Adams.  That is followed by a Unity retired district representative. He praises Adams. Says Adams respects teachers and doesn't respect DOE. Admits we don't agree with Adams on everything but says nobody is better suited than Adams now. This is followed by another Unity retiree. The question is called and 75% vote yes. Vote on the actual resolution is 76% yes.

The final resolution was to for the UFT to urge a woman to be chosen to lead the City Council as Speaker. Mulgrew leaves the chair to speak for it. A speaker against is ruled out of order and cut off the phone by Leroy Barr who is now chairing.  87% vote yes.

Meeting is adjourned.  


News 12 from the Bronx covers the healthcare protest as did amny. CBS 2 is on the retiree healthcare issue also.

ELECTION DAY WORK IS FROM HOME ACCORDING TO UFT OR MAYBE NOT ACCORDING TO DOE (Updated and Redone with DOE Information on Election Day)

 This is from the UFT concerning Election Day:

  

Sounds okay but not so fast. This is from the Department of Education on Election Day:

Election Day Guidance 

As shared in previous editions of Principals Digest, and as per the 2021–22 School Year Calendar memoNovember 2 (Election Day) is a remote, asynchronous instructional day for all students, and attendance must be taken on this date for every student. Please note the following:   

Professional Development: Election Day is also a professional development day for teachers. The DOE-UFT MOA on Digital Classrooms states that in the event all students in a school are fully remote, teachers and mandated related service providers shall be permitted to work remotely; however, the principal may, with reasonable advance notice, direct staff to be on site. Therefore, principals should inform these employees by the end of day on October 15 if they are expected to report to work in-person on Election Day. Otherwise, principals should prepare to provide professional development remotely on Election Day.   

If a per diem substitute’s assignment includes Election Day, then they would work that day and can be directed to report in-person, as needed. Principals may choose to include substitutes in professional development, where appropriate.     

Please note that kitchen staff, school safety agents, and custodians are expected to continue to report in-person and may not work remotely on Election Day.    

The UFT says, "November 2 will be a remote workday for all school-based UFT members." DOE says, "The DOE-UFT MOA on Digital Classrooms states that in the event all students in a school are fully remote, teachers and mandated related service providers shall be permitted to work remotely; however, the principal may, with reasonable advance notice, direct staff to be on site." Who is right?

Election Day used to be a day off and then it was a day off for kids but a professional development day for staff many years but now it is considered an instructional day and PD day. Why the change?

The school calendar is so tight this year that the DOE-UFT created this instructional day out of thin air. While not exactly educationally sound, it is not the end of the world.

The DOE is throwing schools a few hours of per session to create assignments for the students. This seems like wasting money to figure out busy work for kids on what had previously been a day off for them.

At some point, the UFT and DOE should agree to a fixed number of days in the annual school calendar, as most surrounding school districts have, so we can end the annual uncertainty about having the correct number of state-mandated school days. 

For all of us who have correctly criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio's school policies, we have to admit he has added three holidays to the school year (Lunar New Year, Eid Al-Fitr, Juneteenth) without asking for anything in return from teachers. The annual calendar juggling ritual that this year includes a faux instructional Election Day is a consequence.

HANDS OFF OUR HEALTHCARE RALLY OUTSIDE DELEGATE ASSEMBLY TODAY

There will be a statement made inside and outside the first live Delegate Assembly since March 2020 that business as usual conseasionary unionism is no longer acceptable to UFTers. Today at 4:00 PM is a rally outside 52 Broadway with the theme, "Hands off our healthcare." 

The UFT and many other unions forced through privatization of retiree Medicare effective January 1, 2022 and the contracts for active employee healthcare are up for renegotiation next year. The city wants more savings. There have been givebacks already in 2014 and 2018 such as new city employees being forced into HIP for year 1 which severely restricts choices of doctors, emergency room co-pays tripling to $150, and more. The only way to stop more concessions on healthcare and everywhere else is to draw a line in the sand and say that's it.

That process begins today outside the DA.




Tuesday, October 12, 2021

MULGREW CALLS CHANGES TO DOE COVID PROTOCOLS "DISGUSTING" SO WHAT IS HE DOING ABOUT IT?

This is from the Chief Leader civil service newspaper's coverage of last week's City Council Education hearing.

The Council questioned officials about social-distancing guidelines. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has recommended that students stay three feet apart, which is measured from nose-to-nose, many classrooms have desks crammed nearly on top of each other, raising concerns.

'Social' Charade'

The DOE said that desks were arranged so that students were three feet apart when measuring from the center of each desk.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew called the policy "absurd."

"This was done because they want to be able to say they brought back every child," he said. "They're trying to veil it as the CDC when it's not."

He also criticized the DOE's decision to scale back quarantine protocols late last month. Unvaccinated students who are exposed to coronavirus are no longer required to quarantine if they are masked and maintain three feet of social-distancing, while previously they would have been required to learn remotely for 10 days.

Mr. Mulgrew called the changes "disgusting," adding that Test and Trace Corps has stopped performing investigations about how COVID was transmitted in schools.

From 'Model' to Travesty 

"It's a shame, because at one point our test-and-trace facility was a model of what to do, and now it's a model of what not to do," the exasperated union leader said.

This leads to this question:

What is Mulgrew, the leader of the most powerful union in the country according to his Unity caucus, doing about these "disgusting" changes that are putting educators and students at risk of catching a serious disease in what is still a pandemic?

Answer: ?

Monday, October 11, 2021

TEMPORARY COVERAGE AGREEMENT NOT RENEWED FOR THIS WEEK

 Michael Mulgrew's latest email ending the emergency coverage agreement is below.

I have to laugh when he says we won't be exploited: The evaluation system, doing nothing when the DOE sent UFTers into unsafe buildings for useless PD in March 2020 when COVID was raging out of control, contracts with salary increases that don't keep up with inflation including one that made us wait almost 12 years to be paid back in full for work we did in 2009, working 7 days of spring break in 2020 in exchange for 4 sick bank days and a promise the UFT can go to arbitration for pay later (later turns out is December 2021 so it looks like another almost two year delay to get anything), etc.


Dear _________,

As you have so many times during this pandemic, you stepped up again this past week to minimize the disruption to teaching and learning caused by the vaccine mandate. Understanding the need to maintain the safety and well-being of our students and colleagues, many of you showed flexibility and assumed duties that were not part of your normal scope of work.

The DOE’s lack of organization made your job more difficult than necessary, yet again. The DOE continues to show little understanding of what short-staffed schools actually need. That is why we are writing to you today to inform you that the emergency staffing agreement that took effect on Oct. 4 will not be renewed for this coming week.

We can be flexible when necessary, but we will not be exploited. Starting this week and going forward, you may only be asked to perform the job duties delineated in your DOE-UFT contract. If you are asked to do anything else, please let us know immediately by calling 212-331-6311 on Tuesday.

Please also let us know if you normally have a borough or central office position and have been redeployed to a school inappropriately — either out of your work borough or outside your license area.

Principals have been given additional funds to hire substitutes. They should follow the traditional means of filling absences and vacancies rather than pulling staff from their regular assignments.

We will continue to support our school communities, but we cannot let the DOE take advantage of our members’ goodwill. It needs to provide us with the proper staffing and send us substitutes so we can continue to do the work we are best trained to do. The DOE’s lack of planning is unacceptable, and it is the DOE’s responsibility to make this right.

Thank you again for everything that you do.

Sincerely,


Michael Mulgrew

UFT President


Saturday, October 09, 2021

NYC DESPERATELY SEEKING STUDENTS

How many students are there in our school system? Sue Edelman is attempting to discover the truth.

Where are they?

City educators are scrambling to find what some officials fear are 150,000 or more kids who have not yet set foot in school — and others who don’t show up on a given day.

“Reach out to every absent student every day,” the Department of Education instructed principals last week in a memo obtained by The Post.

Schools were told to follow up daily with each missing kid until they nail down the reason why he or she has not shown up — whether for one day or not at all.

“Outreach to families may include phone calls, text messages, postcards, and where possible, home visits,” the memo says.

In another urgent missive, principals told staffers that all schools with more than 20 percent of students absent will get weekly visits from DOE higher-ups — a dreaded occurrence. “We cannot continue in this direction,” one administrator warned.

“No one wants a visit from central when we’re understaffed and missing most of our paras (classroom aides who serve kids with special needs],” a teacher said, referring to a personnel crunch since the vaccine mandate took effect Oct. 4.

“I think they’re getting a lot of pressure to make things look normal when we aren’t being given the tools and staffing we need to be normal for the students.”

The directives went out a day after the City Council’s education committee held an oversight hearing to get answers on COVID-19 testing in schools, quarantines and student attendance.

Brooklyn Councilman Mark Treyger, the education committee chairman, said he had heard from contacts that some 150,000 students “have not come into a building” since classes started Sept. 13.

“Does that sound right?” Treyger asked LaShawn Robinson, the DOE’s deputy chancellor for School Climate and Wellness.

Robinson called that figure “unofficially, far from accurate,” but she did not give a better number. “We’re focused on every student, every day.” she said. Treyger, who has urged the DOE to offer families a remote instruction option, also hit a brick wall when asking First Deputy Chancellor Donald Conyers how many students are attending city schools.

“I don’t have that number to give you,” replied Conyers, the DOE’s second-in-command to Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter, who did not testify. 

So, are your schools crowded or empty?

Friday, October 08, 2021

SENIOR EDITOR FROM THE NATION INTERVIEWS DR MICHAEL OSTERHOLM ON SAFETY IN NYC SCHOOLS; JEFF KAUFMAN SAFETY GRIEVANCE REJECTED BY UFT

 Lizzy Ratner is a senior editor at the Nation. She is also an NYC public school parent. She interviews Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. The topic is COVID in schools, particularly NYC schools. For those who don't wish to go through the entire piece, here are two of the most concerning parts.

Osterholm: And I can tell you that New York and Southern California are not done with this virus. They will see sizable increases in this virus at some point in the months ahead.

And number two:

Osterholm: Our kids have basically become pawns in an effort to get kids back into in-class learning—

He supports in-class learning but says it has to be done safely.

In NYC, our friend and ICEUFTblog founder Jeff Kaufman grieved to get face shields for himself and his students. He was ignored by the principal and then the UFT refused to move his grievance forward.

Jeff's letter to the UFT Grievance Department asking for an appeal:

Dear Mr. Zalkin,

I received a decision from the grievance department that my Step 1 appeal will not be pursued. I wish to appeal this decision.

While I have grieved that the principal of my school would not purchase shields to protect the students and me from the spread of the Covid-19 virus. My classroom seating arrangement has students seated less than 1 foot apart and while CO2 levels may be currently low it is due to the fact that I am able to keep a garage door open in the back of the room. This will not be possible in the near future as the temperature falls.

Last year shield were purchased for classrooms even though seating was much further apart. When I requested the shields for my classroom the Chapter Leader told me that the principal would not purchase them and that to do so would create a "slippery slope" where other teachers might request protection against this virus.

I have never met with the principal about this grievance and have never been served a copy of his response. I also have no way to know on what basis your decision not to appeal was made.

It is fundamental due process that grievances be accorded the proper notice and procedural safeguards to ensure that fair decisions regarding grievance appeals are made. This is at minimum a basic part of our Union's duty to represent us.

Please provide whatever documentation you relied upon for your decision not to take the appeal and reconsider your decision not to afford me my basic rights as a member of our Union.

Respectfully submitted,


Jeffrey Kaufman

The Nation piece in its entirety. (Go there for links. We only copied the link to the latest Osterholm update podcast.)

Reopening Schools: Is New York City Keeping Its Most Vulnerable Kids Safe?

The mayor calls the city’s Covid-19 protocols the “gold standard,” but epidemiologist Michael Osterholm says there’s a lot more the city can and must do.

On the morning of September 13, shortly after the New York school system’s Covid-screening website crashed, Mayor Bill de Blasio stood outside PS 25 in the Bronx celebrating the reopening of the city’s public schools. It was a heady occasion: For the first time in 18 months, the largest public school system in the country—nearly 1.1 million students—would be back in swing, and de Blasio was intent on proving that it was not only the right but also a safe decision.

“It’s so good to see all our kids coming back to school in person where they can learn best,” de Blasio said as a collection of multicolored balloons bobbed in the background. Dressed in a trim blue suit, his face mask temporarily stowed, he touted the Department of Education’s Covid-19 precautions and vowed that students would be safe. “Kids coming to school today, all across the city, are going to experience a gold standard of health and safety measures,” he said.

De Blasio seems to like the phrase “gold standard,” as he repeats it frequently when talking up the DOE’s Covid-19 protocols. But two days later, my son offered a more, well, tarnished assessment of the situation. “My school is a Covid petri dish,” he said, citing the 25 to 30 kids crammed into his classes; the clustered seating arrangements, with four kids to each worktable; the teeming hallways in which “everyone is bumping into everyone else”; and the haphazard masking by some friends and classmates. “It’s a bit scary,” he confessed.

Since my 11-year-old son is too young to be vaccinated, I wasn’t thrilled by this report, but I wasn’t all that surprised either. In the weeks leading up to de Blasio’s Bronx appearance, I had watched the DOE roll back safety measure after safety measure as the mayor repeated his “gold standard” mantra.

True, the city does have a mask mandate, and it’s just implemented a vaccine mandate for staff, both of which put it ahead of the many districts that have pushed back against basic science. But social distancing appears largely notional, thanks to the mass overcrowding of many public schools. Testing is spotty (less than a quarter of kids have consented to getting tested) and applies only to the unvaccinated in any case (never mind that vaccinated people can be carriers). Quarantine protocols have been weakened to the point of farce—or at least confusion. And the city’s priorities seem out of whack—as seen, for instance, in its decision to chisel the funding (and hours) of the Situation Room, the multiagency brain trust that’s supposed to track Covid-19 outbreaks in schools.

Taken together, all of these issues raise questions about how seriously the DOE and the mayor are taking the crisis—particularly for unvaccinated kids—even as we all understand the mayor’s argument about the importance of consistent, in-person education. So, as the number of positive Covid-19 cases ticks up each day—a total of more than 4,000 as of October 7—I can’t help but wonder: Are families getting the full safety story? And I can’t help but worry—not only about my own kid, but also about the many other kids who might get sick and bring the virus back to their family members who may be at risk of severe illness.

To help get some clarity, I reached out to Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Osterholm became something of a guru to Covid obsessives after his “hair-raising, accurate prediction” of the early course of the pandemic, followed by his prescient warnings about this summer’s surge. Our interview, which took place over two sessions, has been edited for length and clarity.

LIZZY RATNER: So how should I feel about sending my kid back to school?

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM: Right now, schools are probably our single biggest challenge in terms of trying to reduce transmission. It is a very different world with Covid and kids this year than it was last year. The arrival of Alpha and then subsequent Delta variants fundamentally changed how we look at the risk of transmission in and by kids.

LR: Can you say a little bit more about how it’s changed?

MO: As of September 30, there have been 5.9 million children in the US who have tested positive for Covid. A hundred and seventy-three thousand occurred just in the last week. This, however, was good news in that it was the first time in six weeks that we have seen fewer than 200,000 pediatric cases reported. If you look at what’s happened as of this last week, based on American Academy of Pediatrics data, which is 24 states and New York City, there were 615 new hospitalizations. Last week, there were 22 child deaths, the highest number of deaths in the previous six weeks.

Overall, between October 1 of 2020 and September 30 of 2021, for one year there were 408 deaths in kids. Seventy-six of those deaths, or 18.6 percent, have occurred in just the last month.

LR: In terms of what these high caseloads mean for reopening schools, I want to ask about social distancing. At my son’s school there’s none of it. The principal has said we are relying on masks [to keep the virus from spreading], that’s what we’ve got. So I’ve gotta ask: Is my son’s mask going to do it?

MO: No, no, it’s not—and cloth covers in particular are not. The data that even exists in supporting the three-feet rule actually came about from the pre-Delta era. We’re writing a piece right now, a commentary on masks and schools and day care, and we’re basically laying out how much leakage occurs and what the challenges are. So you cannot count on cloth coverings for students to stop transmission in a school. We surely think you should use higher quality masks, the N95s and KN95s.

LR: The city is now testing 10 percent of the kids once a week, but the caveat is that they’re only testing the kids whose parents have given their consent. Is that adequate?

MO: There is no scientific evidence at all that testing any group once a week makes any difference in reducing disease transmission. None. You need much more frequent testing. The data we do have says that if you’re not testing at least five times a week, you’re going to miss anybody who is positive and potentially capable of transmitting. So, you know, it makes one feel better to do that kind of testing, but there are no data that support that that reduces disease transmission at all. There’s zero data supporting it.

LR: So that leads to my next question: The mayor has relaxed the quarantine rules so that any student that is three feet or more from any student that tests positive does not have to quarantine. Does that make sense to you?

MO: That is the CDC recommendation. And again, the data came from a single study done prior to Delta, done last year, for which we believe that there are very serious methodological flaws. And it just defies logic. Imagine if somebody was three feet away from you and you both had a face covering and they were smoking. Could you smell the smoke? Of course, you could. Well, if you can smell the smoke, you also can transmit the virus. So that just makes no sense.

LR: That was my fear.

MO: Yeah, you’re right. To think that you’re going to stop transmission—an aerosol-related transmission—between two kids three feet apart with face cloth coverings, you need a dose of pixie dust.

LR: It’s incredibly frustrating because you have the mayor and the DOE telling parents that we’re safe.

MO: Everybody wants kids back in school, and I understand that. I want my five grandkids back in school. But I want it done safely. And right now, we are, for the purpose of getting kids back in school, totally missing the safety.

Our kids have basically become pawns in an effort to get kids back into in-class learning—which I fully support. I want that too. But we have to look at the safety—not only of the kids but of the teachers, the staff.

LR: So, what would a safe version of this look like?

MO: You’d have school rooms that would have at least five to six air exchanges an hour. You’d have additional filtration present, such as the HEPA filters that I’ve talked about [on my podcast]. You’d have a density of no more than kids at 3-6 feet apart. Every child should be vaccinated that can be, 12 and older, and all the faculty and staff should be vaccinated. You need to test, and the more you can test the better it is—antigen testing at least every day, or no later than every other day. And basically, quality masking—KN95s or N95s on the kids. Short of that, it’s going to be good luck. And, unfortunately, we shouldn’t be betting our kids’ health on good luck.


A few days after our initial conversation, I called back Dr. Osterholm to ask him about several new Covid-related developments. The first was that New York City had instituted a vaccine mandate for all school staff, which the mayor touted as a way to “keep kids safe and the whole school community safe.” The second was that, despite the return to schools and the cases popping up all across the system, New York’s overall Covid-19 rate hadn’t increased. I wanted to know what he made of both.


LR: So, in New York, the mayor has instituted a vaccine mandate for school staff. Should we expect that to help slow transmission? And does that make up for the other holes in the safety protocols?

MO: We’re seeing several things happen. Number one is that the number of people that need to be vaccinated in a given area needs to be exceedingly high to really reduce transmission. Second of all, we’re seeing an ever-increasing number of breakthrough cases that also may be infectious. We have schools where we’ve had a number of both staff and faculty who’ve actually been breakthrough cases just in the last week. Clearly, they could be infectious at the time during the school, even though they’re vaccinated. So this is why this whole concept of an additional dose of vaccines is going to be very important.

LR: While we’re seeing a lot of transmission in schools, the numbers in New York City are not going up. What’s going on?

MO: I talked about that in the podcast: Why is Southern California and the New York to Boston metroplex seeing so few cases? And there’s no answer to that. This is part of the mystery of this virus. Why did it miss those two areas? It has nothing to do with the populations’ being fully protected [meaning fully vaccinated], because they’re not. And this has happened before. I’ve talked about the sprint versus marathon virus: Why does it basically go for four to six weeks and then just boom, it drops? We don’t know that. And I can tell you that New York and Southern California are not done with this virus. They will see sizable increases in this virus at some point in the months ahead.

LR: I can’t say that makes me happy.

MO: I know, but I think we need to be prepared for it, both from a psychological standpoint and a practical standpoint. You always prepare for it.

LR: Would you send your kid to school? What does a parent like me do?

MO: Well, my grandkids are in school right now. They happen to be in a school district that is really doing a good job of trying to adhere to the best protection, but we’ve already had infections transmitted in the school. Kids have already been sent home. All I can say is they’re doing their best. My grandkids are in KN95 masks—and I can’t wait for the vaccine to be approved for the younger ages. I can’t wait.


Maybe we should file a safety grievance demanding KN95 masks for everyone involved in the schools. My wife and kids wear them.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

DOE-UFT SPECIAL ED AGREEMENT

 

academic recovery

Dear UFT Member,

During yet another challenging school year, our members who work with students with IEPs are again being called upon to perform additional responsibilities. 

I am writing to share new information about an agreement between the DOE and the UFT regarding the implementation of the DOE’s academic recovery plan as it relates to students with IEPs. This agreement was developed to compensate you for your time preparing and developing Special Education Recovery Services Notices in SESIS and to prevent unreasonable workloads. I will also address a common question regarding the availability of testing accommodations during administration of the fall screeners.

 

Special Education Recovery Services Notices

 

The case manager for the student’s IEP is responsible for preparing the Special Education Recovery Services Notice, unless the case manager’s caseload is more than 30 students.

 

·     If a case manager has more than 30 cases, the balance of the caseload will be assigned to other members of each student’s IEP team with the exception of general education teachers. Typically, the task will be completed by a related service provider. When the Special Education Recovery Services Notice for a particular child is developed at an IEP team meeting that requires the participation of the school psychologist, the case manager would be the school psychologist. 

·     Employees cannot be required to duplicate the notice or provide information contained in the notice in any other format or in any system other than SESIS.

·     Those who prepare the Special Education Recovery Service Notices within the timelines will be paid up to two hours of per session (or applicable hourly rate) for each student.

 

See the Memorandum of Agreement »

The DOE has developed a webinar and step-by-step guide to assist you in completing the Special Education Recovery Services Notice in SESIS. Live webinars will be offered this Wednesday, Oct. 6 through Friday, Oct. 8, during school hours. The webinar will be available online for viewing afterwards, too. Information regarding the times for these webinars and the link for future viewing will be available on the DOE InfoHub on Oct. 12 and posted in the Students with Disabilities section of the UFT website shortly thereafter. 

 

Use of accommodations during screeners

 

   As with state exams, testing accommodations on students' IEPs or 504 plans should be implemented when the accommodation is permitted by the particular screener. Stated another way, the accommodation is available if the accommodation is BOTH stated on the student's IEP or 504 plan AND permitted by the particular screener. Providing an accommodation that is not permitted by either the student’s IEP or the screener invalidates the results. 

Please remember to register for our special education town hall scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 7. 

Thank you for your dedication to your students. 

Sincerely,

MaryJo

ICEUFT JOINS WITH OTHER OPPOSITION GROUPS FOR UFT ACTIVISM

ICEUFT and Educators of NYC at 7:00 tonight will be on Zoom to speak out about conditions in the NYC schools.

Here is the sign up information.


Coming next Wednesday, ICE-UFT will be joining with multiple other opposition groups for a Healthcare-Health and Safety rally at the UFT's first Delegate Assembly of this school year. Delegates, Chapter Leaders, rank and file active UFTers, retirees and others will all be there. I have never seen this kind of excited pulling together among opposition groups in the UFT.

UFTers have finally had enough.

Monday, October 04, 2021

CAMILLE ON ABC NEWS WORLD NEWS TONIGHT

 Camille is one of the the go-to people for the media on defending the vaccine mandate for teachers. First, CNN and now ABC News


Meanwhile, the UFT is now talking December for the arbitration on spring break 2020 pay and the Eric Adams endorsement was rubber-stamped by the Executive Board but there were some no votes.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

TEMPORARY CONTRACT FOR COVERAGES

The temporary coverage agreement email from President Mulgrew is copied in full below.