Sunday, January 31, 2021


The latest on the dispute between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.

From ABC 7 Chicago:

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is still no deal between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union as of Sunday evening as the district instructs all students to continue remote learning for Monday.

The district pushed to reopen in-person learning for some kindergarten through eighth-grade students Monday but has now delayed returning until Tuesday, according to a letter sent out to parents Sunday.

"Due to our concern that CTU leadership will continue to direct teachers to remain home, we cannot ensure adequate staffing tomorrow and all students will receive remote instruction. It is now our goal to welcome students in pre-k through 8th grade and cluster classrooms back to school on Tuesday, Feb 2," the letter stated.

You can view a bargaining update for yourself at the CTU website. My favorite quote from the windy city is when the mayor said CTU has hyper-democracy. No mayor has made that statement about the NYC teachers union

Speaking of New York, the snowstorm means all remote learning on Monday. That should be the status until the pandemic is under control.

Saturday, January 30, 2021


Jennifer Jennings used to come to ICE meetings around the time she became a thorn in Michael Bloomberg's side as Eduwonkette. She's now a Princeton University professor. Great to see Professor Jennings make a big splash in this PIX11 news story about COVID-19 in NYC schools. 

NEW YORK CITY — New York state numbers tell the story confirming there is coronavirus spread in schools and teachers are at risk, according to one education policy expert.

Jennifer Jennings is a sociology and public affairs professor at Princeton professor working on education policy.

“The number of positive New York City Department of Education staff cases doubled in the first three weeks of January, compared to total cases reported between September and December,” she said.

The student population is also seeing an increase.

“For all New York City kids 5 to 17 years old, over the same four month period, we had approximately 21,000 cases; we’ve added 12,500 new cases since the beginning of January alone," she said.

Jennings' findings found elementary school teachers have gotten infected at higher fractions compared to high school teachers.

The only difference, based on Jennings' research, is that elementary schools have been open.

Jennings has these strong soundbites in the PIX story:

"Teachers are more likely to get it because schools are open, period full stop."

"There's been much much higher fractions of elementary teachers who have gotten it than have high school teachers and the only difference when I first looked at this data was 19 days of school."

My son's elementary school building goes back and forth between being open, then closed, and then open again, and now closed again due to multiple COVID-19 cases (my son is fully remote). My daughter's middle school which is about twice the size of my son's school has had one case all semester. The building has been closed since November.

I can't quite figure out why the elementary and D75 educators just continue to take this and don't rebel en masse.

Friday, January 29, 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic will hopefully be brought under control eventually in spite of our inept at best, evil at worst, leadership. As we move ahead, one of the big issues in NYC is the sunsetting of the state law giving the mayor control of our schools in 2022. What will happen with the schools should be a big issue in the race for mayor this year. 

One UFT member is taking ending mayoral control seriously. Daniel Alicea is hosting his second virtual forum on Sunday evening. Sign up here. I will be watching and listening closely.

Norm and James: 

“We continue our collective journey to build a coalition of community rights-holders to Reimagine Our City Schools. 

This Sunday, January 31 , at 8 PM we will discuss viable 21st-century alternatives to mayoral control that democratize school governance.  

This a must-attend event if you want to reclaim our city schools for our New York city children and neighborhoods.

Join education activists and advocates from The People's Board of Education and the Parent Commission as they share their visions for schools FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE.

Join like-minded educators, parents, and leaders championing fundamental change of our public schools that anchor our city's communities.

Join education activists and advocates from The People's Board of Education and the Parent Commission as they share their visions for schools FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE.

Join like-minded educators, parents, and leaders championing fundamental change of our public schools that anchor our city's communities.

RSVP for the Zoom discussion at:

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


The media response to the COVID-19 pandemic has not exactly been stellar. While calling out President Donald Trump's pathetic pandemic job performance, the mainstream media has been unjustifiably kinder to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Ross Barkan has been the main exception here.  Will they give Joe Biden a pass too?

When it comes to covering President Joe Biden's new travel restrictions, I was a little surprised to read a piece critical of the new restrictions in the NY Times.

This is from the Times, The Morning, by David Leonhardt:

Good morning. Travel restrictions have been one of the most effective pandemic responses — if they’re strict.

‘Viruses don’t care what passport you carry’

One of the biggest lessons of the pandemic has been the success of travel restrictions at reducing its spread. And this is a moment when they have the potential to be particularly effective in the U.S., given the emergence of even more dangerous coronavirus variants in other countries.

President Biden seems to realize this, and has reinstated some travel restrictions that President Donald Trump lifted just before leaving office.

It’s not yet clear whether Biden will impose the kind of strict rules that have worked best elsewhere. So far, he has chosen a middle ground between Trump’s approach and the approaches with the best global track record.

Many of the places that have contained the virus have relied on travel restrictions. The list includes Australia, Ghana, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and Canada’s four Atlantic provinces. At key points, they imposed severe restrictions on who could enter.

There is a crucial word in that sentence: severe. Travel bans work only when countries don’t allow a lot of exceptions.

Barring citizens of other countries while freely allowing your own citizens to return, for example, is ineffectual. “Viruses don’t care what passport you carry,” my colleague Donald G. McNeil Jr., who’s been covering infectious diseases since the 1990s, told me.

Voluntary quarantines generally don’t work either, since many people don’t adhere to them. Some take mild precautions and still describe themselves as “quarantining.” As Donald says: “For it to work, it has to be mandatory — and actually enforced. And not at home.”

Australia versus the U.S.

Australia crushed the spread of the virus in the spring partly by ending its voluntary quarantine and requiring all arrivals, including Australian citizens, to spend two weeks in a hotel. The military then helped enforce the rules. China and some other Asian countries took similar steps. In eastern Canada, tough entry rules were “one of the most successful things we’ve done,” Dr. Susan Kirkland, a Nova Scotia official, has said.

Travel bans had such a big effect, Dr. Jared Baeten, a prominent epidemiologist, told me last year, that public-health experts should re-examine their longtime skepticism of them. “Travel,” he said, “is the hallmark of the spread of this virus around the world.”

Last year, the U.S. became a case study in the ineffectiveness of limited travel rules after Trump announced a ban on entry from China. Because it didn’t apply to U.S. citizens or their immediate family members, among others, and because Trump did little to restrict entry from Europe, the measures had little effect.

The Biden administration now risks a repeat.

Infectious variants of the virus that are spreading in Brazil and South Africa could be even more dangerous than a strong new variant found in Britain, scientists say. In response, Biden is restricting entry from Europe, Brazil and South Africa, but the policy has multiple exceptions: Americans can return home from these places if they have recently tested negative, even though the test result may not be current.

The politics of travel bans are certainly thorny. Businesses worry about the economic impact (as The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright noted in a fascinating radio interview with Terry Gross). Progressives worry about stoking anti-immigration views. And it’s already too late to keep the variants out of the U.S. entirely.

Yet travel restrictions can still save lives. The U.S. is in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible before they contract the virus, and the new variants are the biggest new challenge in doing so. “I am worried about these variants,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, the co-chair of Biden’s virus task force, said on the first episode of Ezra Klein’s Times podcast.

The U.S. travel restrictions will almost certainly have some impact by keeping out some infected people. But Biden’s policy stops short of minimizing the virus’s spread.

Contrast this to New Zealand where two possible community cases (not confirmed because the two were travellers staying in a quarantine facility upon arriving back in New Zealand) sparks major action.

Am I to understand that the US is incapable of having all travellers who come into our country spend two weeks in quarantine in nice hotels? Can't our military be used to control our ports and borders?  

It looks to me like the US half-assed response is continuing although maybe getting a bit better under Biden. We can call it a three-fifths-assed reaction now. 

With regard to the pandemic's impact on the public schools in NYC, the NY Post looks like it wants public schools open no matter what but they don't have any criticisms of charter school buildings that stay closed. Today, the spin of the Post coverage of lower NYC enrollment this year seems to be that the sky is falling because there is a 4% enrollment drop during the pandemic. 

From the NY Post:

The city Department of Education has long hailed its pandemic performance as a “gold standard” — but an increasing number of parents appear to disagree.

The nation’s largest school district shed 43,000 kids this year — or 4 percent of overall enrollment, according to preliminary DOE figures.

With birth rates shrinking and charter popularity rising, city school enrollment has been eroding for years.

But this year’s drop — accelerated by ongoing coronavirus upheaval — has been marked.

Some parents have opted for city private or charter schools with more stable schedules while others bolted the boroughs completely.

Family flight was sharpest among those with younger kids just beginning their education.

City kindergartens saw a decline of 9 percent this year, while pre-K enrollment fell by 13 percent.

No mention that these two grades are non-mandatory school attendance grades so it would be natural they would have the biggest decline during a pandemic but also not a word on how NYC is not unique in facing declining enrollment. 

Gothamist at least gave a more complete picture in their coverage:

While New York City still has the largest school district in the country, enrollment now stands at 960,000 students compared to the reported 1.1 million students in the 2018-2019 school year. Other school districts have seen similar declines in enrollment -- Dallas public schools were down 4% in December, according to the New York Times. In October, Washington state reported a 2.82% decrease in enrollment statewide, with a 14% drop in kindergarten, NPR reported.

Media reporting of just about everything has to be in the context of the pandemic. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021


K-8 educators have been ordered back to work inside Chicago Public School buildings. The Chicago Teachers Union believes buildings are unsafe so they will be having none of this.

This is from the CTU quoted in the Chicago Sun Times.

"So it’s come to this,” the union wrote in an email to members Tuesday afternoon. “Short of some late-breaking change, *all* CTU members will begin working remotely tomorrow, Wednesday, January 27. And if CPS retaliates against members for exercising their right to a safe workplace, *all* CTU members will stop working on Thursday and set up picket lines at their schools.”

As a result of the CTU resolve, all learning will be remote tomorrow.

The immediate implications of the union’s collective decision to reject in-person work because of health and safety concerns is that about 3,200 preschool and special education students will return to remote learning Wednesday, just two weeks after resuming in-person instruction for the first time since last March.

Schools chief Janice Jackson wrote in a letter to families Tuesday that “the district has no choice but to ask parents to keep your children home tomorrow.”

You see ladies and gentlemen, if there are no teachers, there is no in-person schooling. We enthusiastically support the CTU militancy.


UFT Solidarity listens when UFT members have valid suggestions to try to fix our union. Last week Solidarity's Council discussed how their resolution calling for the UFT to take a strong position against remote Danielson never made it to the floor at the Delegate Assembly. This issue needs to be debated by the UFT but never was. Solidarity did have a discussion on how undemocratic UFT electronic meetings are.

Democratic procedures are essential in any labor union. I went right to Robert's Rules of Order to see what it says about electronic meetings. There is nothing there about questions being screened or rewriting rules for the duration of a pandemic to limit debate, to suppress open discussion or not allow members to question if the rules are being adhered to. 

Electronic meetings are supposed to be the equivalent of regular live meetings. UFT leadership has used the excuse of the pandemic to screen questions and create an even more controlled environment compared to in-person meetings. Some of Solidarity's leaders asked if I would like to join them in a push to bring back some democracy at UFT meetings. I said yes. 

Step I is to let UFT leadership know they are out of order. We can go further if they refuse to change their electronic meetings' undemocratic rules.

Our email to Staff Director Leroy Barr in full:

Dear Mr. Barr:

Recently we have been reviewing Robert's Rules of Order as it pertains to remote meetings. We are thrilled that the UFT is hosting Delegate Assembly, Town Hall and Executive Board in these tough times. But we are alarmed at how these sessions are carried out. Members are muted, unable to freely ask questions, they cannot engage easily in the Delegate Assembly for motions and someone screens questions ahead of time (so people known to be vocal or problematic will not be called on).

Additionally, the rules for remote DAs eliminated the ability of participants to raise a point or order, a point of information, a point of personal privilege or any other motion that interrupts debate. The body is ultimately responsible for enforcing its rules, not the president or even the parliamentarian.

We read Robert's Rules of Order on electronic meetings after a UFT Solidarity motion against Remote Danielson was ignored. We believe the way the UFT does them is not exactly proper. For an electronic meeting a group using Robert's Rules of Order must have "conditions of opportunity for simultaneous aural communication among all participating members equivalent to those held in one room or area."

Having someone screen questions and not being able to make a motion would not meet that definition. Elminating the ability of participants to raise a point or order or a point of information does not meet this definition as well. Pressing 0 should be all a member needs to do to get the floor.

We want you to change the way you do meetings, assembly's and town halls. Let us engage in democratic discourse and not a watered down version meant to stifle dissent.

FYI, here is a link to the sample electronic rules that do not include limits on member rights.

Please let us know when you receive this and when you plan to make these changes.

Sincerely yours,
Lydia Howrilka, James Eterno, John Lawhead and Quinn Zannoni

Sunday, January 24, 2021


Unions can still be bold. Our lives are on the line in the pandemic. We fully endorse the Chicago Teachers Union rank and file voting to stay remote.Their full statement is below.

This is the key part in my opinion:

This is an unprecedented fight, but it’s a winnable fight if we stay united. Remember, we are not negotiating class size, benefits or staffing; we are bargaining for minimal risk of COVID-19 infection, and minimal risk of death.

We will continue to work remote so we can keep ourselves, our families and our school communities safe. If we are locked out by the mayor and CPS, then the choice to strike is theirs, not ours.

Why didn't teachers in NYC ever get a vote on staying remote? Chicago Public Schools responded to the vote by pushing the report day back to Wednesday for teachers. They were scheduled to return tomorrow.

This is the full statement from the Chicago Teachers Union:

Chicago Teachers Union members have voted to authorize all rank-and-file educators in Chicago Public Schools to conduct remote work only, starting tomorrow, Jan. 25, 2021.

With 86 percent voter participation, 71 percent of voting members have spoken in favor of continued remote work tomorrow, the first day the Board of Education requires educators in kindergarten through eighth grade to appear in person. Students do not return until Feb. 1, 2021.

So what does this mean? It means the overwhelming majority of you have chosen safety. CPS did everything possible to divide us by instilling fear through threats of retaliation, but you still chose unity, solidarity and to collectively act as one.

The results of this vote show our collective power. Organizing works, and whatever we do, we must do together.

Tomorrow, we choose to work safely and remotely — together.


Bargaining continues today, where your action is producing some progress. We learned last week that only 19 percent of students eligible to return to in-person instruction on Jan. 11 have returned.

Nineteen percent.

CPS wants to present to parents that in-person learning right now — before vaccination and with high community spread of COVID-19 — can look like it did before the pandemic. The district is demanding that 80 percent of educators need to return for less than 20 percent of students.

But the fact of the matter remains this: 19 percent of students have returned. The district doesn’t need anywhere near all of our membership to return to meet that need.

We have made major gains. Our pressure twice delayed opening last fall. CPS has clarified many building-level safety “expectations,” even though enforcement is uneven. The district has also granted more ADA accommodations — despite the flaws in that process — started a surveillance testing program for staff, and indicated it is willing to do the same for students. Without your advocacy, CPS would have never purchased the number of air purifiers that it has so far provided, despite their limited capacity.

CPS, however, refuses to move from its Feb. 1 reopening date for our students, and is staffing schools with the expectation that the entire student population will be returning to classrooms.

We know, however, that this is not the case. Again, only 19 percent of students eligible to return to in-person instruction on Jan. 11 have returned.

The district is so far unwilling to phase in or add capacity over time for in-person staff to get vaccinated, but it is our belief that vaccinations must be connected to staffing. More individuals receiving more COVID-19 vaccinations means more individuals who are comfortable about returning to classrooms. CPS is also still denying household accommodations, insisting that educators return to buildings even if that member has someone in their household whose underlying health condition puts them at risk of death if the member contracts COVID-19 and infects a loved one.

Finally, CPS refuses to adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metric for core indicators, which is 3-5 percent. But we need hard points to hit for opening schools, closing schools and staying safe, especially as our city reopens and President Biden says the COVID-19 pandemic will get worse before it gets better.

What’s next?

This is an unprecedented fight, but it’s a winnable fight if we stay united. Remember, we are not negotiating class size, benefits or staffing; we are bargaining for minimal risk of COVID-19 infection, and minimal risk of death.

We will continue to work remote so we can keep ourselves, our families and our school communities safe. If we are locked out by the mayor and CPS, then the choice to strike is theirs, not ours.

Remember, our fight is about a pandemic and making assurances for safety, and you have voted overwhelmingly in support of safety. There’s no doubt we all want to return to in-person instruction. The issue is CPS’ current unpreparedness for a return to in-person instruction, and the clear and present danger that poses to the health of our families and school communities.

The core of our fight remains the need for rules to maintain health and safety, committees to enforce those rules, voluntary staff return, testing for students and staff, and an agreed-upon health metric to go into effect should COVID-19 cases and positivity start to increase.

Please watch your email for more details and guidance for tomorrow, and information on our collective action this week while we continue to fight for a safe reopening plan. There has been some progress at the bargaining table since the State legislature voted to restore our bargaining rights, but our success in this moment hinges on our unity and our ability to take strong collective action to support our fight for a truly safe path — for everyone — back into our school buildings.


The piece below is from the weekly UFT Chapter Leader update that covers this Wednesday's live proctoring for middle school teachers. The UFT does not mention COVID-19 or safety in their guidance to the chapter leaders for the Specialized High School Admissions Test nor the upcoming SAT. 

UFT urges fairness in upcoming test proctoring assignments

The Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) will be administered to all 8th-graders at their own middle schools in Districts 1-32, 75 and 79 on Wednesday, Jan. 27. In discussions with the DOE, the UFT emphasized the need to provide reasonable notice when assigning teachers to report to schools based on the number of students taking the exam. Teachers and other staff who have no responsibilities in relation to this admissions test should not have to report to the school building that day. Proctors will have per-session opportunities including a 90-minute training session and any proctoring time that extends beyond normal school hours. Private school, charter school and home-schooled students will take the SHSAT at central DOE sites on weekends along with any interested 9th-graders in public schools. The union’s Specialized High School Task Force in 2014 recommended universal administration for the SHSAT to expand opportunity and equity for students who have been historically underrepresented in these elite schools. 

One UFT Executive Board member has some very important questions for the UFT President concerning live proctoring:

With regards to upcoming testing in middle and high schools, SHSAT and SAT, can you or (Mike) Sill clarify, members not on accommodation can be called in?

How much advance notice needs to be provided?

What are the COVID precautions in place for testing (masks, capacity per room, windows and COVID sample testing)?

how can we ensure DOE and administrators follow these guidelines?

What should members do if they report to proctor and there seems to be too many students per room and/or other COVID precautions are not being followed?

Are we, UFT, concerned that opening up for SHSAT and SAT puts our students and members at risk?

 Administrators are concerned too. This is from Chalkbeat:

"During such a time, it is hypocritical to put student and staff health at risk and funnel school resources towards a test that is antithetical to the stated mission of creating more equitable schools,” more than a dozen principals wrote in an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “We implore you to reconsider this decision that places an undue burden on already stressed and overwhelmed schools.”

Later, we hear from the CSA Vice President:

The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the union that represents principals and other school leaders, is worried about the short runway schools have been given to make sense of all the requirements detailed in multiple memos and a 73-slide, two-hour training.

“Under normal conditions, this would be a challenging task for school leaders and their staff,” said union Vice President Henry Rubio. “Given the pandemic, we have serious concerns about the city’s timetable, about the necessary staffing it requires, and the [education department’s] ability to conduct a safe and orderly administration of this exam.”

My advice has not changed all year. Follow DOE protocol outlined in DOE documents.  Fail the COVID-19 health screening test if you are called into the school when you have any possible COVID-19 symptoms including a runny nose. You may not even have to lose CAR days


Working people need to have the strike or threat of a strike in their toolkit to have leverage in contract negotiations. We saw this illustrated this past week as 1,400 Teamsters staged a one week strike at the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx.  A famous congresswoman skipped Joe Biden's inauguration in part to support these workers on their picket line.

From the NY Post:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrated a wage increase for Teamsters workers at a Bronx produce market, following a week-long strike that was set to end Sunday.

“Our food produce workers wanted a $1 raise after risking their lives in COVID. They were denied, asked to pay more for healthcare, & told ‘you’re lucky to even have a job,’” she tweeted Saturday afternoon of the Hunts Point Produce Market workers. “So they went on strike. Community supported them. Now they’re getting a $1.85 raise and $0 out of pocket.”

Ocasio-Cortez spent Inauguration Day picketing with the 1,400 Local 202 members who staff the market — which supplies 60 percent of the region’s produce.

Ninety-seven percent of union members officially voted Saturday morning on a new contract that will boost their hourly wages by $1.85 over the course of three years, Local 202 President Danny Kane Jr. said. 

Congratulations Hunts Pont Produce Market workers.

Friday, January 22, 2021


 From UFT Solidarity:

Hi all!

UFT Solidarity is hosting a member support meeting on Tuesday, Jan 26. We are focusing on member support issues and prepping for CL/Delegate elections this spring. We'd love to have you all join us especially if you serve(d) as a UFT rep in your school. ALL ARE WELCOME. Please RSVP here and let me know if you want to help or join!

If you are interested in changing the tightly controlled Michael Mulgrew/Unity Caucus run UFT, running for chapter leader or delegate is a great place to start. Elections are generally fair at the chapter level.

We can transform the UFT into a more democratic organization. Solidarity is doing the legal research to expose the completely undemocratic electronic Delegate Assemblies where questions and resolutions are screened in advance by Mulgrew supporters. 

Electronic meetings are supposed to follow parliamentary procedures from Robert's Rules of Order. Remote meetings should be equivalent to live meetings. There is no way electronic UFT Delegate Assemblies pass the rudimentary democracy test. Their parliamentarian is a hired hack. Unity wrote procedures for meetings that do not allow anyone to question if the rules are being adhered to or if there is a quorum present. That is improper. If I was still a Delegate, I would demand democracy. 

as a UFT member, I am outraged that Delegates have not had any opportunity to freely debate what should be in a remote evaluation system.

The lack of democracy will only improve when UFT members who are impacted by this undemocratic union structure educate each other and take it over. Solidarity is doing their part. I am happy to help out. Now, it is up to you.

Thursday, January 21, 2021


From the Selim Algar in the NY Post:

The city's largest charter school operator has thrown in the towel on classroom learning for the remainder of the academic year due to the coronavirus, officials announced Thursday.

Success Academy — which enrolls roughly 20,000 city kids — will also end the year early in order to move up the resumption of classes next summer.

Like everyone else, we desperately want to be back on campus, but we are prioritizing a consistent, productive learning experience by staying remote now,” said founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz. “By opening early, we can take full advantage of the safer summer months to make up for what we believe will be some degree of learning loss, while also giving teachers and families a break.”

The vast majority of Success Academy schools are co-located with traditional public schools and are thus tethered to Department of Education  dictation on building availability.

The vast majority of Success Academy schools are co-located with traditional public schools and are thus tethered to Department of Education  dictation on building availability.

The network opted to unhitch itself from the agency’s policy vacillations related to in-person learning before the school year and has been on a fully remote schedule the entire time.

“Increasing building closures and reopenings, often on short notice, and the disruption that would pose for families, was the primary factor leading to SA’s decision,” officials said in a statement.

The network’s 47 schools will end classes on May 28 and resume operation on August 2, Moskowitz said.

Why is there no pressure from the mayor or the generally pro-charter press for Eva to open up her schools in the middle of a pandemic?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


In Chicago, they know in person schooling is not safe in the middle of a pandemic so the union is fighting back.

From the CTU:

CHICAGO, Jan. 20, 2021—More than 80 percent of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates — the Union’s 600-member governing body — voted to pass a resolution tonight authorizing all CTU members at CPS district schools to conduct remote work only, starting on January 25, 2021, or on whatever date Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s handpicked Chicago Board of Education requires educators teaching kindergarten through eighth grade to appear in person.

The resolution will now go to full rank-and-file membership for an electronic ballot vote on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“This is about a pandemic that has killed 400,000 Americans, and an overwhelming majority of our delegates are resolved to putting safety first and continuing to teach remotely,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said. “In the absence of an actual commitment on safety from CPS leadership, the best assurance we have for the safety of our students and school staff right now is to continue remote learning.”

“Our members are resolved to continue working, teaching their students and doing so safely,” President Sharkey added. “Only the mayor can force a strike, and if it comes to that, that’s her choice. We choose safety.”

COVID has now surfaced in over 50 schools since CPS began forcing pre-kindergarten teachers and special education cluster teachers back into school buildings on Jan. 4. 

In NYC, we have many safety protocols but COVID-19 continues to spread in schools. PK-5 and District 75 school buildings remain open despite concerning COVID-19 numbers.The latest on Twitter from Sarah Allen:

Note that CTU is not calling it a strike. They are resolving to work remote exclusively. CTU's resolution again illustrates why we need a better union in NYC, not to abandon the UFT. 

Remote only until it's safe. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021


Please read the updated DOE memorandum on COVID-19 absences carefully and follow it closely.


The sky might be falling or it might not be in New York State. The state has a $15 billion dollar deficit in the midst of a pandemic but Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing two state budgets, one has huge cuts and tax increases while the other actually calls for a modest increase in spending and no higher taxes for the 2022 fiscal year that starts in April. The budget that will be in place depends on whether the federal government comes to the rescue. 

From Rochester

Tuesday the governor presented two budget proposals, each contingent on different aid packages from the federal government. The first budget, called a “worst case scenario” projects $6 billion in aid from Washington, while the other budget, “called a “fair funding scenario” projects $15 billion from D.C.

State of Politics explains further:

In one world, New York gets $15 billion in aid from the federal government to make up for the revenue that evaporated over the last year amid the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring. 

In another world, New York only gets $6 billion from Washington, forcing spending reductions, tax increases, and more borrowing.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a sliding doors style budget — one that considers the "best case scenario" of $15 billion that closes a budget gap and the worst, which does not get New York halfway there. 

A lot is riding on whether incoming President Joe Biden, who is sworn into office on Wednesday, can win passage of a multi-trillion-dollar stimulus package in a Congress that is narrowly controlled by Democrats. Biden has proposed $350 billion for state and local governments. 

The governor is placing his faith in Biden, who has been allied with, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New Yorker. 

Cuomo praised all three, but noted the federal government remains responsible. 

Under the best case, New York is able to continue to phase a $400 million tax cut for middle-income earners and increase education spending by $3.8 billion. The state would also be able to create a $130 million COVID relief program for businesses, especially restaurants and theaters, that have been hit hard by the crisis. 

Cuomo also proposed $350 million for legalizing cannabis for adult retail sale in the state, along with a $100 million "social equity fund" for communities affected by strict drug laws.

But the bigger question becomes what happens if New York does not get $15 billion. Cuomo said New York would face a mix of tax hikes, spending cuts and borrowing to cover the budget gap. 

Progressives in the state Legislature are likely to push for tax increases no matter what, pointing to the widening income gap created by the pandemic.

NYS budget is due before April 1. Can Congress get a bailout for the states by then? I think so. 

City and State delves into some of the budget details in their coverage:

$192.9 billion – Total spending for fiscal year 2021-2022, according to the new executive budget proposal. State lawmakers approved a $192.7 billion budget for the current fiscal year.

$10.2 billion – The decline in state revenues this year compared to projections from February 2020.

$15 billion – The total budget gaps in fiscal years 2021 and 2022, according to the governor, who is requesting that amount in new federal funding.

$3.7 billion – Total tax increases the governor will propose if $15 billion in new federal aid is not approved by the April 1 budget deadline.

$6 billion – Amount of new funding that the state is assuming it will receive from the federal government over the upcoming two years.

5% – The share of the 20% reductions in state aid to local governments in the current fiscal year that the governor proposed to make permanent in his executive budget.

$130 million – The size of a Pandemic Recovery and Restart Program proposed by the governor. This includes $50 million in new aid for restaurants as well as $50 million for a business rehiring tax credit and $30 million to fund a new musical and theatrical tax credit.

$350 million – Projected state revenues in the first year following the legalization of recreational marijuana. Cuomo proposed that $100 million of this revenue should be earmarked for a social equity fund.

$500 million – Expected annual state revenues from legalizing mobile sports betting.

$31.7 billion – Total amount of total school aid proposed by Cuomo, a $2.1 billion increase from the current fiscal year.

$24.2 billion – Total proposed Medicaid spending in the new executive budget.

The more progressive State Legislature will have their say too so this is just the beginning. I guess this is cautious optimism.

Sunday, January 17, 2021


This is from the Wall Street Journal:

BERLIN—As U.S. authorities debate whether to keep schools open, a consensus is emerging in Europe that children are a considerable factor in the spread of Covid-19—and more countries are shutting schools for the first time since the spring.

Closures have been announced recently in the U.K., Germany, Ireland, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands on concerns about a more infectious variant of the virus first detected in the U.K. and rising case counts despite lockdowns.

While the debate continues, recent studies and outbreaks show that schoolchildren, even younger ones, can play a significant role in spreading infections.

“In the second wave we acquired much more evidence that schoolchildren are almost equally, if not more infected by SARS-CoV-2 than others,“ said Antoine Flahault, director of the University of Geneva’s Institute of Global Health.

Please, someone, send this news to Mr. Cuomo, Mr. de Blasio, Mr. Mulgrew, Mr. Trump, and Mr. Biden. This is the Wall Street Journal, not some left-wing pro-union publication.

Kids may be less likely to die from COVID-19 but they are not immune. 

From Wired:

In April 2020, children under the age of 18 made up just 1.7 percent of reported coronavirus cases, according to data from the CDC. By August, that figure had shot up to 7.3 percent. As of January 13, 2021, more than 2 million kids have caught Covid-19, and children comprise 10.8 percent of the nation’s caseload. According to a report released by the CDC on Wednesday, about 12,000 kids were hospitalized with the disease between March 1 and December 12, 2020. During that time, 178 died.

Do kids spread COVID-19?

Again, to Wired:

When it comes to the debate over opening schools, the other crucial questions are not about severity, but about spread. How easily are kids getting infected, and often are they transmitting the disease to others?

One way researchers have gauged that is to track infections within households where at least one person has tested positive. Two early studies in China found that kids were less likely than the adults in their household to contract the coronavirus. But scientists at the CDC had a hunch that something else was going on. The researchers leading those studies were only swabbing family members if they started to feel sick. Anyone who had been infected but wasn’t showing symptoms would be missed. Moreover, schools in the areas where the families lived were mostly closed. Kids were staying home, reducing their odds of exposure to the virus.

“Back then, there was a ton of discussion about how susceptible kids really were,” says Melissa Rolfes, a CDC epidemiologist with the agency’s Covid-19 response team. “So we set out to get really good data across age spans that wouldn’t be biased by things like symptoms or seeking medical care.”

Rolfes teamed up with researchers in Marshfield, Wisconsin, and Nashville, Tennessee, who’d worked with the CDC in the past on flu surveillance. They quickly stood up a new study focused on finding the coronavirus in kids. It worked like this: If a person tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and they lived with at least one other person who wasn’t sick, the scientists would try to recruit that whole household for 14 days of daily nasal swabbing and questionnaire answering. That allowed them to capture any viral spread within the household, regardless of who showed symptoms.

What they found between last April and October was stark. People who had the virus spread it to half of their household companions. (In the earlier studies from China, it had been more like 20 to 30 percent.) And it didn’t matter whether it was a kid or an adult who brought SARS-CoV-2 home, they transmitted it to their family at similar rates. Within households, kids also got infected just as often as adults. But they tended to get less sick than the grown-ups, avoiding fevers and a cough most of the time. “Maybe they’d just have a stuffy nose, or maybe nothing, but when you swabbed them you’d find the virus,” says Rolfes. She realized earlier studies had been overlooking a lot of cases, especially in kids, because they didn’t appear ill. “We were really floored when we saw that data. A secondary infection rate above 50 percent for household contact was just mind-boggling.”

As for the new strain:

It’s still early, but all evidence so far suggests the UK variant increases transmission—by about 30 to 50 percent—equally across all age groups. So while schools might be a lot riskier, so is everywhere else people congregate indoors.

This article does not call for preemptively shutting down schools to stop the new variant from taking hold but there we disagree. I have maintained since early March that school buildings should be closed until community spread is gone. If you shut things down and get the virus under control, you can get that V shaped economic recovery that has eluded us in the USA.

From Bloomberg:

New Zealand’s economy bounced back strongly from recession in the third quarter, achieving a so-called V-shaped recovery as massive fiscal and monetary stimulus fueled consumer spending.

Gross domestic product surged 14% from the second quarter, when it contracted a revised 11%, Statistics New Zealand said Thursday in Wellington. Economists forecast a 12.9% gain. From a year earlier, the economy grew 0.4%, confounding the consensus forecast for a 1.8% decline.

New Zealanders have gone on a spending spree since the nation eliminated community transmission of Covid-19 in May and then successfully contained sporadic outbreaks. However, the border remains closed to foreigners, crippling the tourism industry, and many businesses have put investment and hiring plans on hold, which is projected to push the jobless rate higher in 2021.

Saturday, January 16, 2021


Delegate Assembly meetings usually leave me in a bit of a fog. I normally have a difficult time accepting much of what UFT President Michael Mulgrew says at face value. Wednesday's meeting was no exception as some of what he said on the number of New Yorkers who are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in NY doesn't stand up to scrutiny but there is also really positive union news on educators being permitted to jump the line and get the COVID-19 vaccination.

From the ICEUFT blog account of the President's Report:

Vaccines: State adapting federal guidelines. 5.1 million in NYS goes to 16.4 million people eligible to receive the vaccine in NYS with 1B. Federal releasing reserves of vaccines. Vaccine should lead to herd immunity. Vaccines will be released in two weeks. Pool of people eligible expanded but we still have a limited supply of vaccines. NYS has 300,000 vaccines. Governor said for unions to set up their own apparatus. Thank God we did it. Biden will get it out faster than two weeks.

Arthur has the same 16.4 million number in his report so I didn't hear it wrong.

Did Mulgrew even think before he spouted out those numbers? Consider this: NYS has a population of about 19.45 million, and a little over 4 million are children who are not eligible for a vaccine because it has not been approved for kids. Therefore by Mulgrew's count, the entire 15+ million adult population of NY plus about another million people are eligible to get a vaccine. Unless they are counting commuters, Mulgrew's numbers don't come close to adding up. If they are counting commuters in who is eligible, then those folks would not show up on their own state's (New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania) eligibility lists. My guess is Mulgrew just heard 16.4 million somewhere and used it without checking so he could placate anybody who has to wait to get a shot because they can't figure out the crazy appointment system and they won't blame the UFT. As someone who is too young to get a vaccine currently (I never thought I would use the words too young and me again in my life), I really resent Mulgrew playing loose with statistics like that. He should be more careful. 

That said, the anti-union folks here who write a nasty comment just about every posting saying that we get nothing for our union dues have been proven wrong again. Mulgrew, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, and AFT President Randi Weingarten have scored a victory by allowing teachers to jump to the head of the line to get vaccinated before the general public. You think that happens without union advocacy? 

In addition, the government is not distinguishing between pk-12 teachers working in buildings and those working remotely when it comes to getting vaccinated. Remote educators all over are being vaccinated. Some are remote because their students are remote or they are taking care of other people so they do not have any underlying medical condition that makes them more vulnerable to a terrible outcome from COVID-19. Again, I don't see all of these educators being eligible for vaccinations without a strong union push. College teachers are only permitted to receive a vaccine if they are working in person with students. 

The UFT and NYSUT have nothing but a political strategy when it comes to supporting members but give them a little bit of credit when they are successful. As for Mulgrew, he still sees the need to make stuff up. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


 I am actually on the call early this month. We are being treated to some upbeat piano music. 

UFT President Michael Mulgrew began his report by wishing all a happy new year. He said hopefully 2021 can be a better year than 2020. A lot going on.

Super crazy national government:

Second vote going on to impeach president. Was in schools. Tough to explain to students. We've never had media coverage where students can see what's happening in real time at all times. On top of the pandemic, we are trying to guide our students through this insanity at the national level. No support from the NYC Department of Ed. It is insane on what is happeniing in our country. Our focus from DC is vaccine and funding. Betsy DeVos quit so yeah. She will go down in history that she tried to take away equity, privatize and help vulture lenders. She tried to do everything in what we are against. She will go down as the worst Secretary of Education. Cardona is an improvement. He is a life-long educator. We applaud Biden for putting him in as Secretary of Education.

NY should get over $4 billion. NYC should get over $2.4 billion because of Title 1. Governor took over $1 billion from first stimulus and diverted it. They will be looking to us to fix some of the harm done by the pandemic. It is more than learning loss. If state supplants money coming from the federal government, we won't be able to help kids. Prioritization of children needs to be there. The fiscal year for city ends on June 30. Biden wants a stimulus and an infrastructure project. We want every school in NYC to be a carbon-free building. We will push aggressively for this. We want school buildings retrofitted. 

Vaccines: State adapting federal guidelines. 5.1 million in NYS goes to 16.4 million people eligible to receive the vaccine in NYS with 1B. Federal releasing reserves of vaccines. Vaccine should lead to herd immunity. Vaccines will be released in two weeks. Pool of people eligible expanded but we still have a limited supply of vaccines. NYS has 300,000 vaccines. Governor said for unions to set up their own apparatus. Thank God we did it. Biden will get it out faster than two weeks. Some large healthcare systems running out of vaccines. What federal government did was very bad. They tripled the number of people eligible while not increasing the supply. Title I could be tripled. 

We put $1.2 million into the Georgia runoff. We are pleased with the results helping our agenda. Damage to our country is huge from what is going on in DC. We should get a third stimulus from federal government.

Governor claims $63 billion deficit over three years. It is probably closer to $30 billion. In 2007-08, we had $700 million deficit. We were only large union that didn't get a layoff. Many layoffs in state in 2008-09. $9-10 billion deficits now. Safety Livelihood and profession throughout the pandemic. The biggest challenge is protecting our livelihoods. State will want to take money earmarked for education and supplant it. Next federal stimulus should cover city and state governments but it won't cover the deficit. We will push heavily on a revenue package. Assembly and Senate can override vetos. Governor has said nothing about education. Taxing the ultra-wealthy should be on the table. Rich people buying condos should not get tax breaks. Federal money should be add ons and not supplanted.

New State Ed Commissioner is Betty Rosa. We have worked well with her. Lester Young new Chancellor of the Board of Regents is a NYC educator. When was the last time we had an educator as chancellor in NYC, NYS, SED and DC? If state receives extra vaccines, it is going to local Departments of healths. City stockpiling vaccine and not getting it out. State outside of NYC getting out 74% of vaccines. NYC has only distributed 52% of vaccines it has received. We will see where this goes. With a major shortage of vaccines, we will see where this goes. If they continue to keep vaccines in storage, we will get angry. We need to get 65% to 70% vaccinated to get to herd immunity. With the expansion of who is eligible, we expect shortages. Biden will invoke the Defense Production Act to make pharmaceutical companies produce much more vaccine. Happy some are getting it now but we will see how this plays out. Members calling and emailing Mulgrew. He is advising to try every avenue. School nurses getting vaccines. Continue working with our partners. There is going to be a big scrum over vaccines. We are trying to communicate that clearly. We have a long way to go on the vaccines. 

Schools staying open:

When the state came out with regulations, the state said districts had to negotiate a plan with unions. That's what we did in August. In September, state said counties could change their plan as long as it complies with state minimum standards. They could change but it is a health emergency just as making us work during spring break which we will be fighting in arbitration was a health emergency. State agreed that we had to have more testing. City positivity rate is not measured the same way the rest of the country measures. 9% was state requirement to close schools. Governor changed that. School district can remain open as long as they have a positivity rate below the area which they always will since people can't go to work if sick. We objected to the governor. Schools are very safe with our testing program. If by state numbers positivity rate goes to 9%, we have to go to war. It's just going to be what it is at this point. Doctors telling us schools are the safest place in the community. Yes, there is new information but they can't keep changing the rules. It has a detrimental effect. City number kept getting higher when the mayor was trying to get the governor to do some things. The city number is coming down. City number never counted. It has always been the state number. 

If you hear that schools are closing, that's a positive thing. 271 schools closed today. Our program was so that virus wouldn't spread in schools. Masks, social distancing, ventilation and cleaning all help but if there is any evidence that there is COVID in a school, it shuts down. Our testing system is successful. If we had our testing system set up around the country, it would be much better. Christmas Eve was a disaster when contact tracers sent out results when schools were closed. City said they want to let people go early because it was Christmas Eve. Closing schools stops it from spreading in schools. Random testing getting better but still has issues. Random lists for each school are generated by DOE. Leave it to DOE, that's not good. Now testing more children. When 2/3 of those tested are adults, it's not random. More students than adults now being tested. We prioritized those working in schools for vaccines. The city made the same decision but they put nothing in place to put that into play.


We have to have an evaluation system done by this month but we are getting nowhere with the DOE. People with the DOE we are negotiating with are in la-la land. We need a scientifically tested system to work with. DOE asking for ridiculous things. Our committee has met. There has to be a MOSL. We have to figure that out. 

Operational issues:

Chapter leaders have done a great job Almost 1700 filed. over 1,000 resolved. We are checking on them. ICT overburdening of teachers is a problem. Compensation is tied to almost all of the resolutions. We are not closing them until the chapter leader approves of the stipulation.  

NYC politics:

We have to work with the next City Council for next four years. Have people working on endorsements in every city council district. Districts do not align with school districts. Doing town halls with mayoral candidates. We probably will make an endorsement. It's too important not to make an endorsement. We need to know educational policy. Some Bloomberg associates are running. We are watching hedge funds.

Over 500 at chapter leader training. Thanks them for being chapter leader. This is the hardest time to ever be a chapter leader at the UFT. We are not the DOE if we have issues with computers. Thousands registered for one course but we had a computer problem. We will make sure people will get into courses. The elementary town hall, we didn't know 3,000 people wanted to attend. We have called Zoom to get more people in. 

We Feed NYC, we are helping. Everyone distributing food right now is facing some major shortages. In a four week period, we were able to raise a little money. We delivered over 20,000 meals to organizations distributing food. A restaurant owner thanked us for giving him the ability to distribute food. You can donate to We Feed NYC. 

Optical form of the UFT, Jeff Sorkin at UFT Welfare Fund went to an organization to go online. Email will come on that. We have gone paperless on optical.

Staff Director's Report:

Leroy Barr wishes a happy new year and notes there are over 2,000 on call. He then announces some upcoming dates of union activities including Black Lives Matter Week of Action lessons. 

Question Period:

Question: D1 CL, Happy about efforts UFT has made on vaccine. Is UFT trying to rush vaccines so schools will open?

Mulgrew answer: First of all it is safety. Goal from March 5 on was to get schools closed and this is the only way through the pandemic. No other large school system open. Chicago opened on Monday. Emails are off the charts. At the last town hall, I said it's up to state to mandate the vaccine. Members are now emailing saying teachers should have to get vaccine to get back to school. In October, some wanted schools open, some wanted them schools. We are a union. There are always going to be differences. There has been so much craziness in the country the last two weeks. Mulgrew afraid on how these vaccines will be doled out. No conversations with NYC on opening schools. When we get to stage 1C, it will be almost everyone. Schools already being used to distribute vaccines. We know politically that people try to create wedge issues. We're smarter than that. We're all at the same anxiety level. We have a reputation as a large, powerful, responsible union. We have access to the thing that gets us through this. Some want people to be mandated to get vaccine. Internal stuff splits organizations. Mulgrew appreciates that question.

Question: Student participation uniformly low. The administration is telling us to pass kids who don't deserve it.

Answer: Law says our professional judgment can't be changed as long as we can back it up. We keep asking DOE to get kids who aren't engaged. All of you can talk about it. UFT asked the DOE to put an outside the school (district and citywide) program and the DOE refused to do it. State law says as long as you can back up why you gave a student a particular grade, nobody can touch it. 

 Question: Update on retirement incentive? Will it help people with 20 years of service?

Answer: City unions (non-uniform) working on this. State will not give incentive to people who can retire in 20 years. It is one of our priorities. UFT goal to get as many as possible to be eligible. We have many new subs. The city knows this saves them money. 

Question: Overzealous AP. Can they do observation now for any evaluation later?

Answer: No. DOE polices nothing. They put out stuff and when it is not done, they don't do anything to fix it.

Question: How can the situation room be improved so there are no gaps and people are infected and nobody knows?

Answer: Testing results coming back better. We are supposed to get test results within two days, they are now doing it within 4 days. Tell district representative. Priority is to get back positives quickly. Goal to monitor to keep schools safe. They are not DOE folks. We also want people to know that the process works. When people don't know results, it leads to anxiety and fear. Get information to district reps, we will get results.

Question: Any sense of when will middle schools and high schools be returning?

Answer: No. Using large high schools for vaccine distribution. DOE does not have the capacity to do the testing so they can't open up. Just because you take the vaccine, we don't know if you can spread it still. Still need a mask. If we ever get to that, we will need time. We should be open by September. We could open before then.

Question: Gifted and talented and specialized high schools?

Answer: We want a gifted and talented program but we should not start testing before third grade. We did not get a heads up on the specialized high schools. DOE has told us they will send out new guidance for the specialized high school exam which should be given in two weeks. We need a plan that works inside of the pandemic. We think every school should have a gifted and talented program. There should be a multiple measure test put in place.

Question: Someone gets a first vaccine but not a second, what happens?

Answer: You have to start over. Scheduled to go where you got the first shot. We agreed with the state and city that we can't go through that. Working with MLC. We got release time. DOE tried to reinterpret that. Michael Sill worked on that.

Question: I missed one on a specific school in the Bronx.

Question: Teacher remote, saying school not cleaned. What is the policy on daily cleaning?

Answer: Tell the UFT. Did a walkthrough of MLK HS campus. Custodian thankful we got involved. We will take care of it. Tell district rep. We will take care of it.

New Motion Period:

Resolution to honor Stacey Abrams and voters of Georgia. She lost election for governor but worked on organizing. Let's honor them for flipping Georgia from red to blue. Nobody spoke against putting this on next month's agenda. 89% voted in favor-11% no.

Resolution for next month to condemn President Trump. 

RESOLVED that the United Federation of Teachers stands to protect the democratic process that President Trump and his followers are determined to undermine; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT condemns the actions of President Trump and the rioters as acts of domestic terrorism; and be it further

RESOLVED that as a result of these actions, Donald Trump is unfit to continue acting as our nation’s President and therefore should be removed from office immediately.

Motivator went over all of what Trump did last week and then what happened with the riots in DC. Nobody spoke against but someone had an objection to one of the resolved clauses being moot since Trump will be gone next week. 75% voted yes-25% voted no.

 Special Orders of Business:

20 candidate endorsements for the city council.

12 incumbents

8 new people 

1 endorsement for Borough President Donavan Richards (Queens)

(I couldn't keep up with all of the names as they were read for City Council.)

Update with names:

RESOLVED, that the UFT endorses Jenny Low, Carlina Rivera, Keith Powers, Gale Brewer, Diana Ayala, Mark Gjonaj, Ischia Bravo, Sandra Ung, Francisco Moya, Sheker Krishnan, Adrienne Adams, Robert Holden, Lincoln Restler, Crystal Hudson, Darma Diaz, Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Justin Brannan, Kalman Yeger, Farah Louis and Ari Kagan to be the next City Council members to represent their respective districts; 

Motivator says UFT members who are constituents in the respective districts who have been duly trained conducted the interviews.

Mulgrew: Viability, education, and labor issues are the criteria.

He asks if people want to pull individuals out for debate on particular candidates.

Jonathan Halabi says he wants Mark Joni pulled out to be discussed separately.

Motion to suspend the rules to allow debate on one candidate. Yes 41%-No 59%. 

Vote on all candidates without any debate on the package: 83% yes-17% no

Tuesday, January 12, 2021


 From our correspondent:


 Ational-craziness, Georgia elections-big win, thanks to Tom (Murphy) and retiree chapter, AFT and UFTworked together for big deal, other craziness we dont know how it will play out for us.

Biden has been clear, he wants stimulus, schools open, and get vaccines out.

It is still politics, just because there are 50 dems doesnt mean we get everything, but should be easier to get school funding, state, city, more coming our way.

We dont know where this craziness will go. We have lost clout internationally.

Here in city, we are still dealing with high covid rates, we had a bump in percentages, but rates still crazy low, like .2 in schools but were still closing schools under emergency provisions, governor said mayor cant change that.

190 schools closed today, positive tests over weekend, so Monday is always worst day, schools closed this morning, keeps our schools safe, keeps our people closed.

1B opened up for vaccines, we fought, Cuomo realized 1A needed to be done, but vaccines were being wasted, so now we create pressure on system, we were working with providers were just making sure our people get it. Many healthcare groups running out already. Until Biden gets in, we are going to run out. Biden will release reserves and use defense act to ramp us production.

Only way out through pandemic is if 70% take vaccine, if not couple of years or more.

We have lots of teachers asking for it to be mandated while others screaming you can't make us take it.

We cant mandate it, we're not mandating, state may mandate at some time, but it will come from the state not us. 

1b is 4 million people, we dont have enough vaccines.

Emails going out, we matched 6,000 members already. Itwill be one vaccine or the other, I recommend you take whichever one is available (Moderna or Pfizer).

We're the only union that has its own process, but there is scarcity of vaccines. City has had problems getting it out We dont know why, it boggles the mind.

We prioritized in person elementary, then middle and high in person members will be prioritized then to all our members

We negotiated 2 hours release time, now we have to deal with supts and p's reinterpreting. Try to show 3 days notice, if it is during work day, then show proof. We are not collecting data of who received vaccine. No database tracking who got it. 2 hours release time if during school day.

If you have adverse reaction, this will be low, very low percentage, you have 10 days of paid covid leave for symptoms, won't come out of CAR (bank) additional 2 days if you have fever. If you have amnything more serious, you will get paid additional time, depending on symptoms 2 or 8 additional days on top of 10. This was negotiated through MLC.

if state rate hits 9 percent mayor wont close schools, we will have to go to war.

If state says we're up to 9 percent it's up to mayor to close, always higher on Monday; we'll see where rates will be going, doctors say leave schools open because school rates are low

We still have politics, city elections, primaries coming in June, City council endorsements are coming, we have volunteers in all city districts.

City Council will be important because of deficit, want to avoid layoffs.

Starting in February, we will have mayoral panels; we'll do our process building our education platform, want to do these platforms, interview candidates, zooms open to membership with all candidates. 

We'll come up with list of final panelists.

We have other races, DA race in manhattan is important, very powerful, next DA will take over all the Trump stuff.

Educational policies and financial stuff is important.

Nayor made some plans for post covid, we're fine with what he has laid out, we just need financing.

Special ed and legal people at DOE are not interested in ICT compliance, when we prove it's out of compliance they dont care

 New chancellor for board of regents-Lester Young, we have a good relationship with him.

We also heard evaluation with MOSL and observations is still being negotiated.

Monday, January 11, 2021


 Vaccination update

Dear UFT Member,

We have been fighting to make the COVID-19 vaccine accessible to all school personnel as soon as possible. At his press conference today, Governor Cuomo asked the UFT and other unions representing essential workers to put together operational plans to distribute the vaccine to members who want to receive it.

We are working with hospital chains and other medical providers in the New York City area to create a vaccine distribution network for UFT members. We won't have to rely on the city's flawed process, which has left scores of vaccines sitting on the shelf. We will share the details with you as soon as we have finalized our plan.

New York City was the only large school district to reopen for in-person learning in September. It's good to see the state and the city acknowledge the vital role you have played in holding this city together throughout this pandemic.

Offering the vaccine to school staff is a significant step in ending this public health crisis. But it is not enough. With numbers in our community on the rise again, our fight to gain access to the vaccine must go hand in hand with our continued fight to keep schools safe. We cannot focus on one and neglect the other.

Other current issues

The fight to close at 9 percent

We disagree with the governor's new position that schools can remain open even if the community infection rate is above 9 percent. Safety comes first — as shown by the fact that hundreds of our elementary schools and classrooms are closed temporarily every day because the virus has been detected. We will be fighting for all schools to go remote if the New York City infection rate as calculated by the state reaches 9 percent.

State vs. city numbers

The state infection rate for New York City is the only number that matters in any decisions involving schools.

Up-to-date safety data

In our new school COVID response database, we are sharing the most up-to-date information on classroom and school closures to prevent COVID spread and most recent state infection rate for New York City. Our diligence in continuing to close classrooms with positive cases or schools with two or more unrelated cases will continue to be our priority to keep our school communities safe.

We will keep you updated with the latest developments. Thank you for all you do.


Michael Mulgrew


There is something you can count on with the government of New York City, particularly if it involves the New York City Department of Education and the UFT: Anything they do will be a mess.

Michael Mulgrew and Richard Carranza sent out emails saying priority for COVID-19 vaccines will go to those who work in person in schools. However, thanks to leads from UFT Solidarity and South Bronx School, we have been informed that any education worker can go directly to the New York City Health and Hospitals website and make an appointment for a vaccine.  

Try this link yourself.

Mulgrew said in his email:

UFT members working in the schools right now will receive priority in our matching process, but we plan to move quickly to match all UFT members who wish to receive the vaccine with a provider. Our goal is to ensure that no vaccine is left sitting on the shelf.

South Bronx School says:

But according to what I was told "if you are 1B  (see list below) you won't be turned away."

This is what it says on the HHC site:


The following groups are eligible to seek vaccination in accordance with the New York State (NYS) Department of Health prioritization plan:

  • Workers in ambulatory care settings not affiliated with a hospital, including primary care, behavioral health, phlebotomy, physical and occupational therapy, specialty clinics, and dialysis centers
    • Includes all workers with direct contact with patients in ambulatory settings, including licensed health care workers, receptionists, and environmental staff
  • Funeral workers with direct contact with infectious materials and bodily fluids
  • Healthcare workers at COVID-testing sites
  • Public health workers with direct patient care responsibilities
  • Home care workers and aides, hospice workers, personal care aides, and consumer-directed personal care workers
  • Teachers and education workers
  • First responders
  • Public safety workers
  • Public transit workers
  • People ages 75 and older

Please note that it does not differentiate between teachers working at home with an accommodation and those working in school buildings. South Bronx School thinks those who have medical conditions should receive vaccines first. 

The city, the DOE, and UFT knew this vaccine was coming soon as early as last summer and this is the best they could do for getting people vaccinated. It is hard to believe that a Tweet from Solidarity sends people to make their own appointments to get vaccinated and all the UFT has is to fill out a survey and wait.

Sunday, January 10, 2021


 The UFT's exclusive vaccine program


The governor announced on Friday that you are now eligible as part of group 1B to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

For the past several weeks, we have been working closely with our health care partners to create a distribution network just for you.

To make this process easier, we have created a system that connects you directly to the provider, eliminating your need to search for locations on your own.

We will match our interested in-service members with our health care providers based on vaccine availability and the address we have on file.

We have also negotiated paid release time for our members if they are unable to schedule an appointment outside the workday. You can expect more information about the paid release process from the DOE.

Please fill out the survey below to express your interest in receiving the vaccine.

Fill out the survey

(This survey is linked to your unique member profile.)

UFT members working in the schools right now will receive priority in our matching process, but we plan to move quickly to match all UFT members who wish to receive the vaccine with a provider. Our goal is to ensure that no vaccine is left sitting on the shelf.

While the service we are providing should simplify the process for you, please feel free to explore all options.

After filling out the survey, we will email you with further details. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the UFT Vaccine Hotline at 212-701-9677.

Be safe, and thank you for all that you do.


Michael Mulgrew

UFT President

A member of UFT Solidarity responds to the UFT:

I have been hearing about this on Twitter. Mulgrew's email and survey come after people have been making appointments all weekend. 

I am also hearing from teachers worried if they will lose their accommodation if they are vaccinated or if this means school buildings will be opened.

I do not have answers. I will link to a very good CNN piece from a doctor that concerned older adults who want to visit grandchildren.

Some hopefully relevant parts:

CNN: Let's start with timing. When does the vaccine give you protection after you're vaccinated? How much protection does it offer?

Dr. Leana Wen: Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to give optimal protection. There is probably some level of immunity after one dose, but we don't know how complete the protection is and how long it lasts. The clinical trials were run with two doses, and you should definitely get both doses. Make sure you get the second dose of the same vaccine as the first (so if you got the Pfizer vaccine the first time, get the Pfizer the second time, too). Follow your provider's recommendations about when to get the second dose. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is typically given after three weeks and the Moderna after four weeks.After the second dose, it probably takes another two or three weeks to develop the optimal degree of immune protection.

Let's say you've received one dose of vaccine. After a week or two, you have some level of immunity, but you could certainly get Covid-19 if you're exposed to the coronavirus. A few weeks after the second dose, studies have shown that the vaccine efficacy is approximately 95%. That's a very high level of protection but it's not 100%. So even after getting both doses of the vaccine, you could still get Covid-19, but your chance is much lower. And if you did get it, according to what we know from clinical trials, you're probably going to have less severe disease than if you didn't get the vaccine.

CNN: Once an older adult has received the second dose, and it's been three weeks, can they visit their grandchildren?

Wen: Maybe. The answer is not as simple as saying that someone who is vaccinated can get back to pre-pandemic life. Here's why. 

First, the vaccine is not 100% effective. There is still a chance that someone who has received the vaccine can get Covid-19. This is particularly true as there are many parts of the country that are undergoing substantial surges of infection. The rate of community transmission is very high, so there is still going to be a chance of contracting coronavirus even after getting vaccinated.

Second, the vaccine has not yet been shown to reduce transmission of the virus. We don't know if people who are vaccinated could still be carriers of the virus, even if they don't get sick. That means you could be protected yourself if you get exposed to someone with coronavirus, but you could still be a carrier of the virus. When you get together with your loved ones, you could spread it to those who aren't vaccinated.

Wouldn't that mean we also don't know if vaccinated teachers could still spread it to students?

Saturday, January 09, 2021


UFT Solidarity continues doing the work the UFT is pretty much ignoring such as exposing conditions in school buildings. The media has noticed. Solidarity needs your help exposing what is actually occurring in schools.

Reopening Safely Checklist

As per the UFT, schools need to have adequate PPE and a "passing score" on their building inspection in order for staff to be able to arrive to school on September 8 for Faculty Professional Development. Let's hold all schools accountable TOGETHER. Please complete the form for your school.

Remember without having all PPE items listed by the UFT, schools cannot open to staff on September 8. DO NOT enter your school building until you receive the thumbs up from your CL that things are safe to do so.

Before you fill out this form please call the UFT PPE Hotline. Anyone can do this. 212-701-9677

You can remain 100% anonymous. 

We will be sharing the results with the UFT Borough Safety Representatives and the media to give members a safe space to report issues in their school without fear of retaliation. 

Click here for the link to the Google Form.

Friday, January 08, 2021


This is from the NYSUT (state teacher union) Weekly Leader Briefing:

Updates on the pandemic

Because of NYSUT's advocacy, the governor said Friday that education workers who want the vaccine will be able to register starting Monday as part of phase 1b. The union has updated its fact sheets on the vaccine.

After the governor outlined new COVID-19 guidance this week, NYSUT and AFT said, “We have a moral duty to follow the science on reopening schools—that’s why New York schools should immediately go to remote learning if positivity rates exceed 9 percent.”


 This is from UFT Solidarity's Twitter.

Thursday, January 07, 2021


If everyone has started to concentrate on everyday life again after yesterday's insurrection in DC when Donald Trump supporters attempted to reenact the War of 1812's Burning of Washington, remember that COVID-19 rages on in NY and around the country.

The Robert Moore report from Britain's ITV is outstanding reporting from inside the capitol building during the riot and it is frightening. Listening to the interviews, I realize it is totally futile to try to convince some of these MAGAs of anything. It explains some of what goes on in the comments here. Some are living in an alternate reality.

For those looking for a little positive outcome from yesterday's insurrection against Congress, Betsy DeVos has used Trump's role as her reason to resign.

From the Washington Post:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos submitted her resignation Thursday, citing the president's role in the riot on Capitol Hill

“There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” she wrote in a letter to President Trump. 

She possibly doesn't want to stick around for any 25th Amendment action where she would have to decide if Trump was unfit for office. For  the record, I believe going out to vandalize and storm buildings is a stupid, selfish, and illegal move, no matter what the cause is, and it's particularly idiotic during a pandemic.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues its deadly attack on us. Here are the numbers from NY today. The scariest is of course the fatalities. For NY, it was 197 deaths yesterday. Governor Cuomo does concede he is very worried about the new variant. However, he is not worried enough to close the school buildings and switch to remote learning. Nationally, we have now lost 359,849 people.

Finally tonight, for the first time in my life, I think I actually enjoyed a Wall Street Journal editorial. They are calling on Trump to resign. 

Resign, 25th Amendment, impeachment, conviction in the Senate and removal from office? Take your pick.