Sunday, May 30, 2021


Sue Edelman has an article in the NY Post showing declining student enrollments in NYC public schools. 

Here is the first part:

Enrollment in city public schools has fallen below 890,000 students — down from more than a million kids a decade ago, according to internal Department of Education records viewed by The Post.

In late January, DOE officials pegged this year’s enrollment at “approximately 960,000 students” — a 4 percent drop over last year after 43,000 kids exited the system. The latest school registers indicate an additional loss of 70,000 students. 

The DOE disputed that number last week — but refused to give the current enrollment. On Saturday night, the DOE released figures based on what it called audited counts on Nov. 13, 2020, putting citywide enrollment at 1,094,138. Then spokeswoman Danielle Filson tweeted that the number was “955,500 DOE students plus charters for a total of 1.1M”

Remembering how the student enrollment numbers used to decline each school year at Jamaica High School as the school year progressed due to students dropping out or moving away while fewer pupils enrolled mid-year, it is probably not that unusual for there to be a drop in student numbers during any school year systemwide. That decline is probably being accelerated due to the pandemic in 2020-2021. It is possible that Sue's numbers and the DOE's audited numbers from the fall might both be correct and the drop could be real but not that alarming at the end of May. 

Looking ahead, nobody really can project with any degree of accuracy how many families will come back and how many new students will enroll in September but let's assume for argument that Sue is right and there is a significant drop in students attending NYC public schools and that the decline will continue in the fall. Shouldn't lower enrollments combined with more federal and state money and a no-layoff agreement between the UFT and City-DOE that lasts through June 2022, as well as no restrictions on DOE staff hiring lead to lower class sizes?

I'm wondering how lower class sizes won't happen in September with all of the forces that are in place. The UFT inexplicably is only demanding lower class sizes in a mere one hundred schools in the Union's five-point plan for reopening in-person schools for everyone. If ever there was a time to demand it across the board, it is right now. The funds are there and there might even be more space available. I do not for the life of me comprehend why the UFT is not getting strongly behind state Senator Robert Jackson's bill to lower class sizes in NYC.

Maybe the UFT is distracted. Perhaps President Michael Mulgrew is too busy spending all of his lobbying energy trying to convince Mayor Bill de Blasio to sign on to the Early Retirement Incentive for all titles and license areas at the last minute. May 31 is the deadline for the Board of Education (Department of Education) to sign on for the ERI. 

We had an email sent out a week ago from Mulgrew on the ERI. Radio silence since then. All we have heard this weekend is DOENUTS blog speculation. Read his odds. His guess is as good as anyone's today. Once we have more, we will try to blog again. 

Friday, May 28, 2021


This is official from the DOE to principals on hiring. To me, permanently staffed means a regular position with rights but let's hope this is how DOE interprets it.

Hiring Updates for the 2021–22 School Year

As shared in the May 26 Citywide Principal’s Meeting with the Chancellor on the 2021–22 school year hiring, in order to support schools with staffing needs in this upcoming school year, the following policy updates are effective immediately and will be in place for the 2021–22 school year.

  • No hiring restrictions on school pedagogical titles: In preparation for the 2021–22 school year, there will be no hiring restrictions on any school pedagogical titles.  
  • New approach to managing the ATR pool: Superintendents, executive superintendents (or a designee), and BCO staff will find funded vacancies in their districts for all newly excessed staff who have not found a job through the Open Market Transfer (OPT) system, in preparation for the upcoming school year.  Effective in FY22, newly excessed staff will no longer be Centrally funded. Note that this does not include principals and assistant principals.   
  • Addition of excessed staff in schools where they are assigned for the 2020–21 school year:  
    • Transfer Subsidy Placements of Excessed Teachers: Most excessed educators will be permanently staffed at the school where they are currently assigned at no cost to the school (and not taking up a vacancy) for as long as they remain in the role/title. This will allow teachers to continue working with the colleagues and students with whom they've built relationships this year.   
    • Provisional hires: Similar to previous years, at the end of this school year, provisionally hired staff will be retained as permanent staff at the school, if both of the following conditions are met: (1) the school has a vacancy in the same title/license area the following school year or available funding; and (2) the employee did not receive an overall rating of “ineffective” or “developing” on their Measures of Teacher Practice (MOTP) in Advance or an overall “unsatisfactory” rating in EIS.   

The DOE will review cases of every staff member in D96 (in excess) for legal reasons and will individually discuss these cases with principals before they are placed at the schools by June 11. Principals will make the final determination about whether a teacher will be staffed and Centrally funded at their school, if the employee is in the pool for legal reasons.   

For the 2021–22 school year only, there will be a Central review process to address cases where excessed teachers with adverse ratings or performance history have been permanently placed in a school via a mandated provisional hire or transfer subsidy placement.    

Additional information, including a link to Frequently Asked Questions (including principals questions shared during the May 26 call) will be included in an upcoming edition of Principals Digest.   

Principals will receive an email by June 11, notifying them as to which staff members will be permanently placed in their schools. Excessed staff will receive an email by June 18, notifying them that they have been staffed at a school.   

For questions, email


The 16 year ATR nightmare created by Joel Klein and Randi Weingarten looks to finally be over for most of the current ATRs.

This is from the DOE via a UFT official.

I would prefer choice in the placement but except for those coming from closing schools who had wide placement choices, DOE could always place excessed teachers within a district. This slide does leave the future uncertain unless the Contract is changed to eliminate the ATR clause.

Let's give credit to Chancellor Meisha Porter for placing most ATRs permanently.

Update from a UFT official:

As you may have heard, the DOE told principals yesterday that the vast majority of ATRs will be placed for next school year.  I am waiting for the DOE’s announcement.  Once I have it, I will connect with Deidre et al. about a message.  Essentially, this is the story:  all ATRs, except those who had disciplinary issues this year (as yet undefined), will be placed in the school at which they were assigned this year.  Furthermore, as people become excessed in the future, the DOE is going to push superintendents to find funded vacancies for those excessed staff members, rather than put them in the pool.  If they do what they are saying, this is effectively, finally the end of the ATR pool as we have known it.  We are sure to have people that are unhappy with the placement and we will deal with that, but this is a very positive development for a variety of reasons.

Thursday, May 27, 2021


The latest on retiree healthcare being switched by the Municipal Labor Committee from federally administered Medicare to privatized Medicare Advantage (Mulgrewcare) for NYC government employee retirees from Norm Scott over at Ed Notes.

Someone posted this info -- the battle is between Aetna and Emblem --- we don't know which group the city or MLC favor -- I assume the city favors the one that will screw us the most. Was it our pressure? Not likely according to sources but on the other hand the pressure might have firmed up the MLC a bit to resist to some extent, though they are still going ahead.

I am guessing the city wants Aetna which is probably worse than Emblem, which at least many of us have dealt with. Isn't Aetna our dental plan, which sucks? I don't really remember and am too lazy to look it up.

The problem is it now goes to arbitration and the fact is we get screwed either way.

It is SIGNA-SIDS who administer our dental plan. 

I would argue that the thousands of retirees who want to stay in Medicare A and B should get together and at least try to shop for a separate plan for the 20% coverage that Medicare Part A and Part B don't cover. If the 10,000 of the 14,000 who signed the petition saying no to the privatization got together and formed their own association, they might be able to have a bit of leverage to get a decent plan for the 20% Part A and Part B expenses Medicare does not cover. Someone will want to cover that many people. 

If you have not yet done so, Vote Retiree Advocate in the UFT Retired Teachers Chapter election. Active people, please vote for candidates who pledge not to have anything to do with Unity Caucus and their loyalty oath in your school's Chapter election.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021


Update: An agreement between the UFT and DOE has been reached to keep marathon Mondays and Tuesdays as the default time schedule for 2021-22 but there are decent SBO options if schools don't like  the default schedule.

The original posting is below.

It looks like there will be at least one major change in the school schedule for the 2021-2022 school year. The endless professional development Mondays followed by parent engagement and other professional work Tuesdays as the default schedule for single session schools appears to be sunsetting. These two days were often referred to as "Teacher Detention." This schedule required a yearly agreement between the Department of Education and the UFT to continue. It appears there is no agreement for 2021-22.

Former Chancellor Carmen Farina was known to believe that PD cures cancer (only a slight exaggeration) but she is long since retired so it looks like Chancellor Meisha Porter wants teachers to spend more time with students so the schedule will revert back to the 37.5 minutes of small group instruction as the default schedule for single session schools for Monday through Thursday and a 6 hour and 20 minute Friday. More time in front of students for small group instruction won't make some teachers happy while others will be fine with it. In addition, say goodbye to the September and May parent-teacher evenings but hello again to after-school October through May monthly Faculty-Department or Grade Conferences. 

Here is what UFT's  Queens Borough Rep Amy Arundell said earlier today on Facebook:

The 80/75 configuration required yearly agreement between DOE and UFT. This year, there is no agreement so we revert back to the 37.5 minute configuration. 

She adds:

The UFT and DOE are in discussions to create pre approved SBOs. If schools believe other configurations will better serve their students, the SBO processes will be the way to make those changes.

A teacher asked if that time will be required to be used for small groups or if SBOs will be allowed for different activities.

Amy's answer: It's all possible. Stay tuned.

Multi-session schools and District 75 schools will retain the 6 hour and 50 minute day as the default. 

For those who are nostalgic for the old becoming new again, we have printed below Contract Article 6A which appears to be making a comeback. We will have more when it becomes available.



A. School Day

1. The following shall apply except as set forth in Article 6B below:

a. The school day for teachers serving in the schools shall be six hours and 20 minutes and such additional time as provided for below and in the by-laws. The gross annual salary of employees covered by this Agreement will be increased in accordance with the salary schedules herein.

b. The parties agreed, effective February, 2006, to extend the teacher work day in“non Extended Time Schools” by an additional 37 ½ minutes per day, Monday through Thursday following student dismissal. Friday’s work schedule is 6 hours and 20 minutes. The 37 ½ minutes of the extended four (4) days per week shall be used for tutorials, test preparation and/or small group instruction and will have a teacher to student ratio of no more than one to ten. In single session schools, the day will start no earlier than 8:00 a.m. and end no later than 3:45 p.m.

c. Multi-session schools that cannot utilize the additional time in this manner due to space or scheduling limitations will have a 6 hour 50 minute day.

d. In District 75 buildings and District 75 self-contained classes in other school sites, the school day will be 6 hours and 50 minutes unless the principal and chapter leader agree to schedule the time as set forth in paragraph 2 above; however, in this event the teacher to student ratio will be no more than 1 to 5. Non-District 75 self contained classrooms shall have either a (a) 6 hour and 50 minute day; (b) a 6 hour and 57 ½ minute day Monday through Thursday and 6 hour and 20 minute day on Friday; or (c) if the time is utilized as set forth in paragraph 2 above the teacher to student ratio should be no more than one to five.

e. Existing faculty and grade conference time should be used for professional development.

f. On professional development days, the school day shall be 6 hours and 50 minutes.

2. Expedited Appeal Regarding Group Size 

In order to ensure that the maximum number of students is not exceeded there will be an expedited arbitration procedure to allow the UFT to seek both a cease and desist order as well as monetary penalties for exceeding the small group instruction size limit. The procedure is set forth in Article 22B6 and 22G. 


My understanding from a report from the Executive Board and the last UFT Town Hall is that the sticking point on the Early Retirement Incentive becoming reality is that the city wants to offer the ERI to only certain teacher certification areas but they want to exclude other certification areas. This is from our report from Mulgrew's May Town Hall:

Question: Early Retirement Incentive, is it for all titles?

Answer: City wants to set a precedent that they can pick teachers by certification area. We can't let them do that. This may be a big ugly fight. We don't want to pit people against each other. We can't agree to subjects rather than title (teacher). Paras would be included if we do ERI.

I just read the bill that is now state law again and of course, I preface my questions and comments by saying I am no lawyer and don't pretend to be one. That said, I can read and it clearly states in the law that it is up to the employer to decide whether or not to offer the ERI. 

From the bill summary:

The  ERI  Program consists of two parts and is contingent upon the employer's election to participate in the Program.

It doesn't say that the ERI is subject to collective bargaining unless I am missing something. It's up to the employer. Why can't the city just offer it to the licenses they want to and let the UFT object in court that everyone, including those in shortage areas, should be included? I also see this line from the bill:

A  participating employer may deny participation in the retirement benefit provided by subdivision a of this section if such employer makes a determination that the employee holds a position that is deemed critical to the maintenance of public health and safety.

Couldn't shortage area people be deemed critical to the maintenance of public health and safety? Again, I am no lawyer but why is this subject now to collective bargaining? Isn't it up to the mayor? Put it on him.

As for the UFT claiming that they could not set a precedent because we are one union so all titles stick together, that is rather odd. The UFT allowed for several buyouts for Absent Teacher Reserves since the 2005 Contract. The UFT also negotiated weaker due process rights exclusively for ATRs in the 2014 Contract and the Union agreed to rotate ATRs weekly to different schools, to give ATRs fewer program preference rights, and the Union was on board with other humiliations exclusively for ATRs. These provisions are in the Contract and other ATR agreements. Mulgrew's solidarity ship sailed years ago. To his credit, it is admirable that at least he is trying to recover this now.

The deadline for the Board of Education to accept the ERI is May 31.

If an ERI is finally accepted by the mayor, more UFTers and other city workers will be eligible for Medicare. It is important for all of us to sign the petition to oppose Medicare privatization (Mulgrewcare) no matter what our age is. 

This is from the Professional Staff Congress Retiree Chapter:

PETITION ON THE MLC NEGOTIATIONS. We have been working with the Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations (COMRO) on mobilizing municipal retirees in response to the proposed move to Medicare Advantage. COMRO has an online petition addressed to the mayor and the MLC entitled “Preserve Medicare Part B for NYC Retirees.” As of 5/6 it had 11,000 signatures. The more signatures gathered, the stronger the impact. To view the petition and add your name, click here.

It's up to over 13,400 signatures now.

Finally, please tell your friends not to forget to vote for Retiree Advocate in the Retired Teachers Chapter election.

Monday, May 24, 2021


Mayor Bill de Blasio went on Morning Joe to announce that NYC public schools will be 100% in-person in September. From the transcript of the interview:

Mika Brzezinski: Let's get now to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is joining us now. He has a big announcement to make exclusively with us about New York City public schools. Mr. Mayor, thank you. What's the news? 

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Mika, it's good news. New York City public schools, one million kids, will be back in their classroom in September, all in-person, no remote. That's the news I think parents, kids, everyone's been waiting for, to know we're going to be back strong, ready, safe. COVID is plummeting in this city, I'm happy to say. We're almost at eight million vaccination doses since day one. And it's just amazing to see the forward motion right now, the recovery that's happened in New York City. But you can't have a full recovery without full strength schools, everyone back sitting in those classrooms, kids learning again. So, that's what we're going to have in September.  

The UFT reaction:

Chalkbeat has a decent summary on where things stand.

Some highlights:

With the vast majority of students learning remotely, it remains to be seen how many families will be hesitant to return this fall, even as the citywide coronavirus positivity rate, at 1.13%, has reached its lowest level since September. Some parents still have health and safety concerns, particularly as students under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccines and not all school staff have been vaccinated.

Further down:

The announcement follows similar declarations across the country. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said all of the state’s students must return for in-person instruction next year. Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, a national teacher’s union, also recently called for the reopening of schools for full-time in-person instruction next school year.

But some districts, including Washington, D.C., will make a remote option available if families demonstrate a need to learn at home. And Success Academy, New York City’s largest charter network, will give families the option to learn remotely for at least the first marking period.

Questions still remain about what schools in the nation’s largest school system will look like next year. Parents and school leaders are awaiting guidance from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Preventions on social distancing, but de Blasio said Monday that he expects the CDC to relax social distancing rules in classrooms before the start of school. As of now, masks will still be required in schools, and some form of COVID-19 testing will remain in place, though schools will likely be selected at random rather than this year’s regular testing, officials said.

And more:

A top education department official said last week that roughly 10% of city schools would be too overcrowded under current distancing guidelines to welcome back all of their students next fall, but that the city was working to figure out alternatives, including using auditoriums and gymnasiums or turning to community-based organizations for help.



Here is a link to the live Facebook feed.

Our source reports around 150 people at the press conference.

Gloria Banderman at the mic. She Emceed today. Gloria is the UFT Retiree Advocate candidate for Chapter Leader.

Sunday, May 23, 2021


The latest email from Michael Mulgrew on the possible ERI.

We are still fighting for an early retirement incentive.

The battle with City Hall to secure an early retirement incentive that benefits UFT members for all job titles continues. We are up against a major obstacle: City Hall is concerned that a broader early retirement incentive will lead to a shortage of qualified staff in certain titles, but letting the city choose only some titles for an incentive would set an unacceptable precedent. We can’t let that happen.

We are hard at work trying to negotiate the crucial details of this incentive before the city’s May 31 reporting deadline to the state. We will continue to work hard and hopefully come to an agreement that provides this well-deserved opportunity to as many of our eligible members as possible. We will keep you posted every step of the way.

“Our battle with City Hall continues. We will not let them divide our members when it comes to the benefits they all deserve. We stand together in solidarity as a union.”

–Michael Mulgrew, UFT President

Saturday, May 22, 2021


 This was on Twitter today:

For those of you unfamiliar with Sara, she is the President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. She is a real union leader. While Michael Mulgrew is trying to sell Medicare privatization for NYC Retirees (Mulgrewcare), Sara supports Medicare for All:

The head of a flight attendants union that represents nearly 50,000 members across the country said Thursday that there is “broad support” within the labor movement for “Medicare for All.”

“This is really something that is very unifying for union members across the country and for all the people that they care about who are not union members and don’t have access to the same health care,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told Hill.TV in response to Medicare for All, or single payer health care. 

Sara isn't afraid to use the strike:

January 20, 2019 — AFA International President Sara Nelson accepted the 2019 AFL-CIO MLK Drum Major for Justice Award, with a call to conference activists from across the Labor Movement to talk with their union leadership about conducting a General Strike to end the Government Shutdown.

Here are some more details from a Jacobin feature:

“There are no labor rights without the right to strike,” says Nelson. “You can’t have a collective bargaining process without the right to strike.” The reason is that without that threat, management has no incentive to reach an agreement with workers. When Ronald Reagan famously fired the striking air traffic controllers in 1981, he knew this, and his move had just the consequences that he and his right-wing backers desired. Making it harder for workers to go on strike has immeasurably complicated their efforts to build and exercise power, and union membership has steadily declined.

But worker power is not just about having the legal right to strike. Power also lies in being organized and willing to strike. During negotiations, Nelson says, “You have to be able to show the company that your workforce is ready to act. You cannot lead on policy. You can’t lead by slamming your hand on the table. I’ve never seen management, when you walk in and make this impassioned argument at the table, that they sort of slap their head and go, ‘Oh you’re right! We should pay the flight attendants more!’ No, it’s when they know that you have a mobilized workforce who can go out

Nelson’s call for a general strike last month was moved by solidarity with government workers who were going without pay. But the flight attendants’ strike preparations had an equally urgent motive: fear for their own safety. Air traffic controllers — unpaid but facing felony charges if they were to strike — were working but, Nelson says, “driving Ubers and Lyfts outside their shifts to try to provide for their families when they should have been getting rest. We said, ‘There’s going to be a breaking point here.’” Nelson insists, “We just could not continue to fly and ask the members to be put in harm’s way. It was increasingly clear that we were open to accident or attack.”

Nelson’s strike mobilization was real, and industry and government alike knew it. “The airline industry knows me,” she says. “I think they know they had to take that threat seriously. It was very clear to the airline industry, to everyone on the Hill, that we were prepared to take action.”

This is the kind of union leadership we need in NYC right about now. We should be taking back our right to strike.

Thursday, May 20, 2021


By far the largest chapter in the United Federation of Teachers is the 70,000 member Retired Teachers Chapter. The chapter leader, executive board, and delegate election for this chapter is underway. I am running for an executive board position and I will be voting for the entire Retiree Advocate slate. Please vote for the Retiree Advocate slate if you are a UFT retiree and urge any retiree you know to vote for Retiree Advocate. Our candidate for Chapter Leader is Gloria Brandman, a long-time Union activist and chapter leader. If we can cut into Unity's advantage with the retirees, we can start to change this union.

The main issue for the Retiree Advocate this year is strong opposition to the privatization of retiree Medicare. This topic has really woken many retired teachers up. Mulgrewcare, as I have termed the Medicare Advantage plan municipal retirees could be forced into, does not seem to be that popular. It would set a terrible precedent if a huge group of 240,000 retired NYC workers was forced into a privatized health plan for 100% of their healthcare, rather than the federally run Medicare.

Retiree Advocate is not just campaigning against Unity. The caucus is taking action. This is from EdNotes:  




Numbers count there too even if only a press conference where usually 30 people show - Imagine if a couple of hundred showed up -- that would scare the hell out if Unity -- so if you are free on Monday -- see u there.

This is my first chapter election as a retiree as I left the system in 2018. The election, like most everything within the UFT, is tilted toward Unity Caucus. Unity has name recognition so right there on their beautifully produced flyer there is Chapter Leader Tom Murphy pictured side by side with Michael Mulgrew.

Even with their structural advantages, Unity still feels the need to cheat. Unlike in the general UFT election where the list of over a thousand candidates comes in a huge envelope with no caucus literature in it, the retiree chapter election ballot comes enclosed with an individual leaflet from each of the caucuses running that is paid for by the Union. Guess which caucus has their leaflet printed on heavier paper so it is much more attractive and stands out? I don't have to tell you that it's Unity while the Retiree advocate piece is on plain, cheap white paper. 

I handed both the Retiree Advocate and Unity literature to my 11-year-old daughter who obviously couldn't care less about the issues. Within a second, she said the Unity one felt heavier; people will look at that first. Why do you think personnel directors encourage us to put resumes on thicker paper? It is easier on the eye and hands. Unity doesn't need to stuff ballots or manipulate voting machines. Their cheating is much more subtle and sophisticated.

Think about this, the retired teachers send 300 delegates to the UFT Delegate Assembly because the chapter is so large. You would think there would be some kind of proportional representation for those seats. No, it's winner takes all. RA asked for five out of 300 to be jointly endorsed so there would be some diversity of opinion at the DA. Unity said no. They even threw out their own David Pecoraro for having the nerve to speak against Unity's comptroller endorsement at the DA.

Before someone tells me to complain to the Department of Labor or the NYS Public Employees Relations Board about the heavier Unity campaign leaflet, we are retirees and not employees so we are not considered workers. Nobody would listen. Before someone else tells me how they are proud to have opted out of this corrupt union, we put that argument to an end here last week. This blog is for UFTers determined to stay and fight back. Opt-out somewhere else.

If anyone wants to help, then spread the word to your retiree friends and convince them to vote for the Retiree Advocate in the Retired Teachers Chapter Leader election. You can also support non-Unity candidates in chapter elections if you are an active UFT member.


 This is part of an article from

A spokesperson for the New Jersey Education Association urged against taking “any risks or shortcuts” in restating the union’s support of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order, in place since schools reopened in September, requiring face coverings for everyone in school buildings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“NJEA continues to advocate for taking all necessary measures to protect the health and safety of all students and staff. Current medical guidance continues to recommend masking for all unvaccinated individuals, a group that includes the vast majority of the students in our public schools,” the union’s spokesperson, Steven Baker, told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday.

Any thoughts on what we should do here in NY in schools on masking in summer programs and in the fall?

We really have to be planning on what is acceptable as we move ahead.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021


 Gothamist has a piece on NYC's school reopening for the fall.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said repeatedly that his goal is to get all students back into school buildings next fall. But some educators worry there won’t be enough physical space or staff to welcome back all their students if officials stick with current social distancing requirements. 

In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for schools, saying students should be at least three feet apart in classrooms, and six feet apart when eating. The guidance also calls for six feet apart for older students in communities where transmission is high. 

The mayor adopted the recommendations for New York City’s schools, requiring three feet apart for elementary age students and six feet apart for middle and high school students. All students must also be six feet apart from adults and from each other when eating. The move allowed more children to opt-in for in-person learning, and has enabled five days of in-person instruction in many schools. 

But more than 60 percent of students continue to be remote, allowing for more space in typically crowded classrooms, but that almost certainly won’t be the case next year.

How to solve the problem? Simple, find more space to finally lower class sizes that have not been reduced in the UFT Contract in over 50 years.

In terms of space, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten wrote in The Atlantic last week that her union is committed to all schools reopening fully in the fall—with safety measures in place, including social distancing. She recommended school district leaders start searching for additional space now. 

Leonie Haimson, director of the advocacy group Class Size Matters, said the city could free up additional space by moving pre-K programs out of school buildings and into community based organizations or pre-K centers. She said the city could also use shuttered Catholic schools to create more capacity. “If you’re going to do social distancing, you need space,” she said. 

Haimson, who has spent decades fighting for smaller classes, said reducing the number of students per class is all the more crucial now, both because of safety and the need to support students academically and psychologically following the health crisis and a year and a half of remote learning. She said the city also has the resources to reduce class sizes: the state finally increased funding for schools according to a longstanding court mandate and the city has federal stimulus money to invest. 

“It’s just no brainer,” she said. “It really is a golden opportunity to finally provide kids with the learning conditions they have needed and deserved for a generation,” she said. 

In Albany, State Senator Robert Jackson and Assembly Member Joann Simon have proposed legislation requiring New York City to create a plan to reduce class sizes, starting this fall. 

I personally feel the proposed legislation is not nearly strong enough as it gives the city-Department of Education time to put out another five-year plan to lower class sizes. Since schools are fully funded for the fall, student enrollments are down, there is a need for some social distancing as elementary school children probably won't be eligible for COVID vaccinations until after school starts, and we don't know if COVID will come back, now is the time for the UFT to demand lower class sizes across the board.

Contractually, according to Article 8L, there is supposed to be a labor-management committee established to lower class sizes in all divisions if Campaign for Fiscal Equity funds are available. The money is here but you hear crickets from the UFT on class sizes. Why? Their five-point plan only mentions class size reduction in 100 needy schools. Every school needs lower class sizes, not just 100. It's been over fifty years since class sizes have been reduced in the UFT Contract. Money that would not have to be taken from raises is available. Push for it now. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021


 This is from PIX 11:

NEW YORK CITY — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has taken a narrow lead in a brand-new PIX11, NewsNation, Emerson College poll on the New York City mayor’s race that also shows Comptroller Scott Stringer surging and respondents overwhelmingly not in favor of defunding the NYPD.

Adams got 17.5% of the first-choice votes, followed by entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who received 15.4%, and Stringer at 15.1%.

Rounding out the top five are former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia at 7.8%, fresh off an endorsement by the New York Times, and non-profit executive Dianne Morales at 5.5%.

The poll found that using the city’s new ranked choice voting system, the contest could likely come down to Adams, Yang, Stringer, Garcia and former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. Only after Stringer, Garcia and Donovan would be eliminated did the poll of more than 1,000 New Yorkers narrowly declare a winner — with Adams finishing with 53% and Yang earning 47%.

The poll was also encouraging for Stringer, who was rocked by allegations of sexual harassment by Jean Kim a few weeks ago. Stringer lost key endorsements but has steadfastly denied the allegation.

PIX11, NewsNation and Emerson College found voters believe Stringer.

Nearly 28% of voters said the allegations against him are not credible; 26.5% of voters were unsure, and 18% said they found the allegations credible. More than a quarter of respondents had not heard about the allegation.

“I want to move to talking about the issues,” Stringer said upon learning the poll numbers. “New Yorkers know me, they know my record and it’s not about any political endorsements. It’s actually about the will of the people.”

For a full look at the poll results, go to this Emerson College piece.

23% of the voters in the poll still say they are undecided so obviously, the late breakers will decide this. The margin of error is +/- 3.8% for mayor so Stringer is within the margin of error and has a real chance according to this poll. Yes, I know it's one poll but he has come from behind in past elections to win and this is post sexual assault allegations that caused many prominent endorsers to abandon him. The UFT-AFT are sticking with Stringer; they are pretty much betting the farm on him. UFT's endorsement of Stringer looks a little better now and seeing pro-charter Yang and Adams not take commanding leads is hopeful. 

I have mixed feelings about Stringer but he looks like the most viable candidate of the center-left so he will more than likely be one of my choices and probably the top one. 

Cuomo's approval is down to 45% in the poll and most voters support the NYPD.

As for the schools, the majority in the poll still gives the NYC schools passing grades in the pandemic with 6% giving schools an A, 20% saying B, 37% giving a C, 21% dishing out a D grade, and 17% saying F.  Considering what the schools have been through, it is remarkable that 53% still give average or above-average grades to the schools while 38% go below average or failing. These numbers aren't great but are better than a total disaster.

For those who missed the Democratic Primary mayoral debate last week, Politico has a good summary. A fascinating subject that came up was mandatory vaccinations for students and staff being needed to attend school:

On the subject of school reopening, every candidate other than Adams, McGuire and Wiley said they would eventually require students to be vaccinated before returning to classrooms. None supported mandating the same of teachers.

I wonder if their positions on mandatory vaccines for teachers changes after one of them wins the election.

On why I won't go near Adams or Yang:

Stringer, who’s been reeling from an accusation of sexual misconduct, pointed to PACs funded by fat cats Kenneth Griffin and Dan Loeb that have helped Adams and Yang.

“They want to protect the interests of the wealthy and privatize public education,” Stringer said of the donors.

Monday, May 17, 2021


At a recent UFT Solidarity meeting, teachers came forward who were doing regular teaching jobs but were being paid as day-to-day substitutes. I was outraged and said so at the meeting. This is improper as it violates the UFT Contract and probably labor law. Many subs who fall into this category are more than likely afraid to challenge administrators for fear of losing their jobs. 

Solidarity stepped in and put out an intake form to find out how many teachers in this category would put their names out there to be paid properly. My understanding is that at least 30 have responded. Now, Solidarity leader Lydia Howrilka is writing to UFT Personnel Specialist Mike Sill on behalf of the day-to-day substitutes. She asked me to help with finding the Contractual and Chancellor's Regulation documentation for this letter and I was happy to be involved (see below).

The UFT should be filing a class action grievance/court case on behalf of every teacher in this category in NYC, whether they have come forward or not. 

It is unconscionable that principals would hire teachers to teach regular classes and then pay them as if they are covering for other teachers. Another dirty trick is to hire day-to-day subs in a class to cover for a long-term absence and then move the sub to a new program so they won't teach for 30 days in a row in the same program which requires a higher rate of pay (Z status).

The Solidarity letter:

Dear Mr. Sill:

It has come to the attention of UFT Solidarity that there are many “occasional per diem substitutes" assigned to work a program at a school for more than 30 days who have not been receiving full salary, health care benefits and pro rata summer pay.

This is from Chancellors Regulation C206:


a. As applied in this Regulation, the term “occasional per diem substitute” means a person employed to replace an absent pedagogical staff member who is expected to return.

This Regulation covers occasional (flat rate) per diem substitutes serving more than 29 days.

b. Excluded from the scope of this Regulation is substitute service of a more protracted nature, including full-term regular substitutes or long term per diem substitutes on the regular payroll. These types of substitute service, although performed also by a person who is not appointed, require the acquisition of a credential to authorize employment as either a Certified Provisional Teacher or a Preparatory Provisional Teacher.

There are two concerns. One is teachers not getting "z status" and the other is teachers being hired for the year or term and being kept as day-to-day substitutes.Both are covered by Article 7V and 5a.

Regular Payroll Status for Per Diem Substitutes

1. The Board (“Department”) will pay on the regular payroll (i.e. Q payroll) any per diem substitute provided that he/she either:

(A)(i) was employed by the Department to replace a regularly appointed teacher who is in a Vacancy (as defined herein); 

(ii) commenced employment later than the fifteenth calendar day following the first day for the reporting of newly appointed teachers; and

(iii) was employed for a minimum of two months; or

(B)(i) was employed by the Department to cover a Vacancy; and (ii) commenced employment during the first fifteen calendar days of the term.

2. For purposes of this section, a Vacancy is a position that is filled by a substitute teacher under the following circumstances:

(A)there is no regular appointed teacher and the position is an unencumbered vacancy; or

(B) when the regularly appointed teacher is (a) on a sabbatical leave of absence for the full term or full school year; (b) on an unpaid leave of absence for the duration of the school year; (c) on an approved leave due to an injury in the line of duty (“ILOD”) and the ILOD leave is for the duration of the school year; (d) reassigned for the duration of the school year, however the substitute teacher shall not receive regular payroll status (i.e.Q payroll) for the first sixty (60) days of service in this assignment; (e) absent on paid status (i.e. using their Accumulated Absence Reserve (CAR), or borrowing up to 20 additional CAR days and/or utilizing the grace period) and whose status is subsequently adjusted to unpaid leave status for the duration of the school year; or (f) on an approved paid absence (i.e. using their CAR days and/or utilizing the grace period) for the duration of the school year.

3. In the event a substitute does not work in the assignment for the duration of the school year (except in the case of a sabbatical for one term as described above in (3)(2)(a)), s/he shall not be entitled to regular payroll status (i.e. Q payroll).

4. The foregoing shall supersede and replace Chancellor’s Regulation C-525 with respect to the criteria necessary to attain regular payroll status (i.e. Q payroll).

5. Pursuant to Chancellor’s Regulation C-520, a substitute teacher shall be entitled to Z status if s/he replaces a particular absent employee for thirty (30) or more consecutive work days. The terms of Chancellor’s Regulation C-520 shall remain in effect with respect to Z status; to the extent C-520 addresses regular payroll status (i.e. Q payroll) and is inconsistent with this Stipulation, the terms of this Stipulation shall be determinative.

Also, look at Article 5C3

3. Appointments and assignments to teaching positions shall be made in accordance with State Education Law, Commissioner’s regulations and applicable Board of Education regulations and provisions of this Agreement. Appointments shall be made from eligible lists of persons holding regular licenses. After all available persons with regular licenses have been appointed and where positions still remain vacant or arise during the course of the school term, certified provisional teachers shall have priority for any assignment. Where no certified provisional teacher is available for assignment, preparatory provisional teachers will be eligible for such assignment. Except in cases of emergency, any CPT or PPT employed to fill a full term or balance of term assignment will be retained for at least the duration of that term.

We know we have only heard from a fraction of educators who have been denied their fully earned benefits. This is outrageous and we urge you to file a grievance on behalf of these educators. 

Sincerely yours,

Lydia Howrilka 

UFT Solidarity caucus 

Saturday, May 15, 2021


Based on the many comments we received today, I think there might be a consensus that nobody is convincing anyone to either opt-out of paying UFT dues or not opt-out. Therefore, it is time to close the debate. We are just wasting everyone's time with repetitive arguments and comments.

Those on one side feel the UFT is an awfully run organization that exists to feather its own cap and nothing more. They believe that a large-scale opt-out of individual teachers will send a loud message to Michael Mulgrew and the Unity leaders who will get the message and start suddenly coming through for us so that members will no longer leave the UFT.

We counter by saying there is no need to reinvent the wheel. We comment on this all the time and now we will post a replay of a piece we did in 2019 on this topic. 

We'll follow that up with one from 2020 at the height of the pandemic so you know that it is extreme right-wingers who are trying to convince us to leave our Union. I'm staying and hoping we get a united front against Mulgew-Unity in the 2022 election.

The May 2019 piece:


On just about every topic we write about recently concerning the schools in New York City, one or two or sometimes more comments are written saying that routine extensions of probation, the broken testing system, school on Monday, December 23, etc. are just more reasons why we should stop paying union dues and drop out of the UFT. I disagree with these commenters but not because you don't have a point that UFT advocacy leaves much to be desired. 

I agree wholeheartedly on this point and nobody has been a more robust critic of the UFT in public than me, including while serving on the UFT Executive Board and at the Delegate Assembly. However, the commenters who want to drop out provide no viable alternative to the union we have. You say the UFT doesn't support us so to protest we should stop paying union dues. Short term, you will keep more money but long term you are dooming all of us to much more and deeper misery. Quitting the UFT is not the answer unless you are organizing something better which I see no sign of anywhere in the New York City teaching force.

Understanding all of the UFT's faults, including a lack of a real democratic structure, let us still acknowledge that NYC teachers during the current contract will eventually start out earning $61,000 per year and max out after 22 years making over $128,00 per annum with good benefits and, except for Tier VI, a very good pension. Do you think our salaries, benefits and pensions are in any way, shape or form possible without a union? Be truthful, please if there are comments.

Beyond the wages and benefits, you say the UFT doesn't defend us very strongly and in many cases, they merely go through the motions by pretending to advocate for members. I agree there is some truth here. UFT's advocacy is not full force like say the way PBA President Patrick Lynch defends his members or TWU's John Samuelson supports his.  Let's accept it here as a given that the UFT is not always behind teachers 100% although I am sure many who work for the Union would disagree with that assertion.

The question then becomes this: What are you going to do about the sorry state of the UFT in many schools? If the answer is you are going to drop out and keep some more of your money, well how does that help our cause?

The argument I have heard is that if we all starve the UFT beast, then the Union leadership will be forced to work harder to support us to win back our dues money. There is a giant flaw in this argument as I see it. Many in the UFT leadership are basically incapable of changing and dues money or no dues money, they aren't becoming a militant union on behalf of their members. It is not in President Michael Mulgrew's DNA. Any show of activism is purely for show. The only game he and many of his Unity Caucus followers will play is the political game to try to convince the politicians to support us. They do play this game well at times.

These are not great political times for unions but we have kept a core of  a decent salary and benefits. The UFT will still play the political game whether they have $100 million in the Union treasury or 100 pennies. If they only have 100 pennies, they will just be even weaker advocates for the members than now. If thousands of UFT members drop out and are not organized into anything, do you think the city is going to say we better listen to the teachers? No, we will all be that much weaker.

Do you truly feel that Michael Mulgrew is going to become Eugene Debs if half of us leave in order to convince the other half to stay? It won't happen. The militancy has to come from the rank and file. It will have a much greater impact if those militants are UFT members.

Potential defectors need to face reality. There is absolutely no evidence or historical precedent that anyone can find showing that weakening unions by dropping out and leaving the union with fewer paying members and thus fewer resources leads to improved wages, benefits or better working conditions. Find me an example, just one, where this has worked and I will listen.

There is plenty of evidence, however, that working people in states that have right to work laws  (unions can't force workers to join a union or pay a fair share fee if a non-union member) do worse economically. 

From the Economic Policy Institute 2018 study comparing right to work with non-right to work states:

  • Wages in RTW states are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-RTW states, after controlling for a full complement of individual demographic and socioeconomic factors as well as state macroeconomic indicators. This translates into RTW being associated with $1,558 lower annual wages for a typical full-time, full-year worker.
  • The relationship between RTW status and wages remains economically and statistically significant under alternative specifications of our econometric model.

Now that we are right to work in the public sector nationally after the Supreme Court ruled last June that government employees cannot be forced to join a union or pay fair share fees for what the unions do, those of us who are union dissidents are left with four choices:

1-We can shut up rather than be critical and ask to join the in-crowd (become Unity UFT cheerleaders).

2-We can quit our union, go home and hope for the best.

3-We can try to form a better union.

4-We can attempt to bring about change from within the union while still being critical of its flaws. 

I still believe, until someone can convince me otherwise, that choice 4 is the way forward. We are better off staying in the UFT, even if we despise much of what our Union's leadership does, or rather often doesn't do, to defend us. Change happens in schools when we persuade our colleagues that it is in our collective interest to be active and force the UFT to support us. Dropping out to save some money each check is the wrong answer; it is pure "me only" selfishness.

The May 2020 piece:


Nobody that I know of has expressed complete rage in public (using their own name) except for me about the UFT's lack of action in March when the Union was not willing to pull members out of schools that had COVID-19 cases. The UFT cares more about protecting their dues than the lives of their members. But what to do about it?

There is a group of individuals that say we should cease paying dues to such a morally bankrupt organization. They then provide a compelling list of other UFT failures including but not limited to: the 2005, 2014, 2018 Contracts with paltry raises and huge givebacks, the 2009 agreement to reduce the interest on the fixed TDA from 8.25% to 7% that CSA (principals and assistant principals) and PSC (CUNY teachers) have not had reduced, Danielson observations, Tier VI pensions, four years to get tenure and routine extensions of probation, etc. These arguments are all valid.

Even some of my colleagues who are very pro-union want us to consider encouraging our readers to drop out of the union. I thought about it. I called it a potential "dues strike" and did some research on how those who went on a "dues strike" could still be protected in case they were in trouble at work. Every avenue on the internet I went to would lead me to anti-union websites that want to finish unions off and use our anger with the union leadership as a justification. There is one group that will even take your money and support you as long as you are against union action.

From a critic of this organization:

The organization focused on the bottom line, literally, because it barely raises enough money to sustain itself, and as a result, does not provide its employees with decent wages and benefits. This was always troubling to me especially since we represented teachers who are underpaid.

The structure is decentralized with so-called hubs in Orange County, CA and Alexandria, VA although there is no management actually in the Virginia office.

I thought this was an organization focused on advancing the teaching profession but saw little evidence of that. In fact, there are no teachers in senior leadership at AAE. They'll say that the board is made up of teachers but they hardly have any say in day to day work and the founders have zero K-12 experience. I found it's a front organization created to sell teacher liability insurance. In fact, the founder was an insurance salesman, which now all makes sense. I kinda feel duped and so should teachers if they think this is more than an organization that tried to sell liability insurance.

Advice to Management

If you are anti-union, say so. If you are pro-teacher, act like it more than selling a product. If you are trying to improve the teaching profession, prove it. Otherwise, be who you really are, an insurance company (but currently in disguise).

These people are not our friends. A separate right-wing organization that is Koch funded is backing a lawsuit by two Chicago teachers who crossed the picket line during last year's successful strike and now want their union dues back. The Chicago Teachers Union only lets members stop dues in September of each year. Here is the reaction to the suit from a CTU lawyer in the Chicago Tribune:

In response, CTU attorney Robert Bloch said the suit was part of a national effort to hurt unions and workers’ rights.

“This is another anti-worker lawsuit from a reactionary, Koch-funded law project, filed as part of a coordinated, national right-wing effort aimed at undermining the rights of workers and their unions," Bloch said in a written statement. “We operate stringently within the letter of the law” governing dues collection, he said.

I believe those right-wing funded or at least inspired individuals might be two or three of the regular commenters on the ICEUFTblog. The two Chicago teachers who are suing for their union dues back are Ifeoma Nkemdi and Joanne Troesch. They sued the CTU, the Chicago Public Schools, and the AFT to get their dues money back. These two scabs from last year's strike were tried by the union.

Someone who crosses a picket line could face “appropriate charges” by the CTU executive board and then go through a judicial process akin to a trial, according to the union’s bylaws. If found guilty, they could be fined, or even expelled.

In March, the CTU informed Troesch and Nkemdi that they had been found guilty of violating the union’s internal strike policy and would be kicked out of the union unless they paid a fine equal to the amount of money they made during the strike, according to copies of the notices.

It's not dues first at the CTU. They don't want teachers who are scabs in their union.

Nkemdi said she was paid for the days during the strike when she worked, helping out with child care alongside nonunion staff, since schools remained open for students who needed care. When she walked by the picketing teachers, they called her names.

“They called me a scab. They said, ‘You turned your back,’” she said. “They were just saying how dumb and stupid I was. ... It was very traumatic, and I knew right then and there that I had to take a stand. I wasn’t going to be bullied out of my decision, and I wanted to make sure other teachers, if they felt the same way that I did, that they had opportunities without harassment and without bullying to go ahead and do so.”

There is no defense for crossing a picket line and making your brothers and sisters face the risk from the strike while you get paid.

These are the types of teachers and groups that are backing pedagogues who want to quit their unions. I looked around if there were non-right wing alternatives and I couldn't find any.

Quite frankly, I am in a terrible bind now. I despise what the UFT did in not telling people to leave unsafe buildings in March and letting those three days of staff development occur on March 17-19 at the height of when COVID-19 was spreading in this area. UFT inaction played a role in getting people sick. I know full well the Union will probably have no good answers in the fall if there is a second wave of COVID-19. Michael Mulgrew, in my opinion, will not tell members to leave unsafe situations as he did not in March and has been silent on the question since then.

In addition, it is virtually impossible to change the UFT electorally since Mulgrew controls very tightly the flow of information. I have said on many occasions that it is unfeasible to get to the huge number of UFT retirees scattered all over the country to get them to answer yes to the three questions Politics 101 says must be answered yes before voters will vote for you:

1. Do they know you?

2. Do they like you?

3. Do they trust you?

I still keep praying that something will happen to wake up teachers so that they demand a real say in their union representation. I even did the research in 2017 to find out what it would take to pull one of the three teaching divisions (high schools, middle schools, elementary schools) out of the UFT and start a separate union. Just to be clear, if a group broke off and started their own bargaining unit, they would keep all current salary and benefits, including the welfare fund. The Taylor Law taketh away double pay in a strike but it also giveth the right to keep a contract until you negotiate a new one.

For high schools, it would take about 100 activists to get about 60 signatures each from high school teachers exclusively to get a decertification referendum to start a separate union. At the time this was being pondered, the daughter of High School Teacher's Association and early UFT leader Roger Parente got in touch with Norm Scott to defend her father's honor. Doctor Matilda Parente and I soon thereafter became email friends. I think she saw me as a spiritual heir to her father. Chaz was also notified and did not discourage this push for divisional unions. We asked for 100 activists. So how many volunteered to help? Ten. Maybe COVID-19 has changed things and teachers are no longer willing to accept a union that would send them into unsafe buildings. I don't know.

Electoral or structural change is tough but the alternative right now to the UFT is right-wing and neo-liberal groups who want to destroy public education and make working conditions and salaries much worse (see Moskowitz, Eva for a possible future for education). They could do real damage in this economic climate. I don't support Mulgrew and I don't endorse Koch. The UFT  might react if a bunch of school Chapters go on a "dues strike" with demands for union reforms.  Scattered individuals opting out mean nothing even if it is a thousand lone wolves. You will only weaken the UFT more than it already is.

I thought about if there is anything of value in the UFT. There is. The school Chapter level is where there is still real democracy (Chapter Leader, Delegates, School Leadership Team, School Based Options, PROSE, Chapter Committee, School Safety Committee). A majority can still have a great deal of say in school-based decisions if they are organized. If you leave the union as an individual, you lose a chance to serve, vote, or have any influence at the school level. Some schools still do it right. Make sure yours is one of them.

My best hope now is that more schools will become organized and we will stand by them if they take action as we did in March when UFTers asked me if they could stay out if it was unsafe. It is still worth the price of paying dues to have a say in how your school is run. If everyone in your school is on the take or you are an Absent Teacher Reserve, then I totally understand your frustration but rather than quitting, expose the corruption out loud like we bloggers do. You'll feel better and the world is listening.

Finally, I have trouble making the stop paying dues argument in my own home. My wife (a great union activist) told me it was not up to me to lead anyone who wants to quit the UFT. She correctly pointed out that as a retiree, I switched over to her health plan and face absolutely no risk if I leave the Union. I pay dues basically for symbolic reasons as I get no substantial material benefit from being a UFT member.

I have nothing much to add in 2021 although I think it may be possible to see people being more receptive to a different type of union now. 

This is my last piece for a while on this issue and also the last time we will be accepting comments on this topic. Cue the cursing out James for censoring your comments.

The last word goes to TJL, no leftist:

TJL said...

To the opt outers: I get it. $1500ish in dues and terrible service. This is what happens in a monopoly. However with no Union at all there is no contract, no grievance. The boss tells you if you don't like it, there's the door, don't let it hit you on the ass on the way out.

The answer is to get rid of exclusive collective bargaining and allow competition. I may not agree on national politics but I'd certainly rather be represented by James, Camille, Jeff Kaufman, Norm Scott, Jon Halabi, and some others I'm leaving out rather than the likes of Randi and Mulgrew.

Friday, May 14, 2021


Life is supposed to be a two-way street, particularly when you are a worker in a union. However, when you have Michael Mulgrew and the Unity Caucus in charge of the UFT, you have very weak negotiators working on your behalf. While the UFT-DOE grievance process has been mostly suspended since March of 2020, the UFT and Department of Education quietly agreed last November to open processes for disciplining UFT represented employees. They even made up remote rules. Why didn't the UFT simultaneously demand a fully remote grievance process? (Yeah, we could have had that spring break pay arbitration and many others.)

We don't hear about this agreement on UFT member discipline from Mulgrew in his town halls but Jeff Kaufman put in a Freedom of Information request with the DOE for all UFT-DOE agreements made during the pandemic. While it took a long time for the DOE to respond to Jeff, below is a DOE-UFT agreement concerning disciplining employees and links to other agreements. As part of this discipline agreement, the Union agreed to "toll" time limits so we basically waived our right to timely hearings.

Before we get the comments that individuals should use this as yet another reason to opt-out of paying UFT dues, I think it would be a better idea to organize with your colleagues for a real union rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We need a properly functioning union now in these perilous times as much as ever. Tell your colleagues, please, that we can improve things if we organize and finally get Unity out. 

Below the November 18 discipline process agreement letter that we copied in full are links to all of the UFT-DOE agreements that were sent in response to Jeff's Freedom of Information request. Happy reading.

November 18, 2020 

Howard Friedman                                                                                                                              \

General Counsel

New York City Department of Education

52 Chamber Street

New York, NY 10007

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I write to confirm certain mutual understandings and agreements between the United Federation of Teachers, Local 2, AFT, AFL-CIO (“UFT”) and the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York (“DOE”), effective November 18, 2020, with respect to the process for conducting investigations by the Office of Special Investigations or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management during the current COVID-19 pandemic. This Letter Agreement will sunset on June 30, 2021, unless both parties agree to extend, in writing, this agreement no later than May 1, 2021, or upon such time as schools resume full in-person instruction, whichever is earlier. 

In the interest of moving investigations forward, interviews of UFT-represented employees shall take place remotely via video conference through Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Such remote interviews are intended to replicate in-person interviews to the maximum extent possible and all parties shall make good faith efforts to participate in such interviews. These interviews may not be recorded by any party. All notifications shall be sent via email to the employee’s official DOE email address and shall include a request for a read receipt.

Investigators will initiate the meeting on one of the approved platforms (Microsoft Teams or DOE-approved Zoom). Investigators must conduct the interview in a private setting that ensures confidentiality. Before commencing an interview, investigators should first ask the participant(s) and his or her union representative, if any, to confirm that they each also have the privacy necessary to discuss the incident. Should there not be sufficient privacy, the interview may not proceed until the privacy issue is resolved. 

The DOE’s right to pursue disciplinary action, either pursuant to 3020a or by placing a letter in the subject’s file, has been tolled until such time as the parties commence interviews of UFT-represented employees under this agreement. The DOE’s time to impose discipline shall be further tolled as detailed in the section titled Subject Interviews. 

Nothing contained herein is intended to alter any existing right that UFT-represented employees are not mandated to appear for an interview during non-work hours.

UFT-Represented Subject/Respondent Interviews: 

1. UFT-represented employees who are the subjects of investigations retain the right to have union representation during the interview. 

2. Nothing prevents subjects of investigations or respondents to complaints from being in the same room with their union representative during remote interviews. 

3. The UFT will provide sufficient space so that the subject/respondent and the union representative can be socially distanced in the same room. The UFT will also provide the appropriate hardware for the UFT-represented employee and union representative to connect with the investigator. 

4. Should the DOE deem it necessary for the investigator to be in the same room as the subject/respondent and union representative, the DOE will provide an appropriate space. 

5. In keeping with current practice, should a subject/respondent not be able to join his or her union representative because the subject/respondent is on an approved leave, the interview will be postponed until the subject/respondent returns from the leave. There will be no prejudice to subjects/respondents who are not able to appear because they are on an approved leave. The time for the DOE to bring a disciplinary action pursuant to Education Law 3020a in matters where there has been a delay in scheduling interviews due to the subject’s/ respondent’s approved leave shall be tolled. Similarly, the time for the DOE to place a letter in the subject’s file shall also be tolled.

6. Any documents about which the subject/respondent might be asked to comment will be provided to the subject/respondent during the remote interview and adequate time shall be provided to allow for the subject/respondent to review any such documentation and take notes, including those needed for conferral with the UFT-represented employee’s UFT representative. 

7. The UFT-represented employee and his or her representative will be provided opportunities, as necessary, to remove themselves from the video-conference to confer privately.

UFT-Represented Witness Interviews

1. Witness interviews may proceed via video-conference.

2. Should a witness have reason to believe that the witness may become a subject of investigation/ respondent to complaint, consistent with current practice, the non-subject witness will be interviewed in accordance with the subject/respondent protocols listed above, upon request. 

3. In keeping with current practice, if, during the course of an interview, it becomes apparent to the non-subject witness or UFT representative, if one is present, that the witness may become a subject of investigation/ respondent to complaint, the witness shall have the right to stop the interview immediately. In keeping with existing protocols, such employees will be provided with notice consistent with current practice. 

4. Witness statements will be collected in a manner consistent with current practice and regulations. 

5. Any documents about which the witness might be asked to comment will be provided to the witness during the remote interview and adequate time shall be provided to allow for the witness to review any such documentation. 

UFT-Represented Complainant and/or Victim Interviews: 

1. Complainant and/or victim interviews may be conducted via video-conference and shall follow the same protocol as set forth in the Witness Interviews section, above. 

2. In keeping with current practice, if the UFT-represented employee has representation, the UFT represented employee and his or her representative will be provided opportunities, as necessary, to remove themselves from the video-conference to confer privately. 


Beth A. Norton 

 General Counsel United Federation of Teachers 

Accepted and Agreed:

Howard Friedman 

General Counsel New York City Department of Education

UFT/DOE Agreement on 3020-a

UFT/DOE Pre-K Agreement

UFT/DOE Agreement-Parent Teacher Conferences, Teacher Programs and others

UFT/DOE Agreement on Resolution of Grievances During Covid

UFT/DOE Agreement on Types of Teachers for Blended and Remote Teaching

UFT/DOE Agreement on Remote Interviews for Teacher Discipline


I am somewhat puzzled by the new CDC guidelines that say we can ditch the masks in most indoor situations. I am excited that these science folks believe we are safe indoors without masks but CDC does not enforce its guidelines so who is going to make sure that everyone in every building is vaccinated or if not, that they are wearing a mask? 

Are we headed for a national honor system? 

In addition, children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. Should they stay outside and/or at home? Mom and dad don't need a mask in the mall but the kids do. That seems a bit awkward. 

Schools are opening for sure in the fall but as usual there are plenty of unanswere questions.

From NPR:

Whether a child wears a mask in school is a decision that should be left only to a student's parents," said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster earlier this week as he issued an executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school-based mask requirements.

The move was excoriated by the Palmetto State Teachers Association. In a statement, the group said, "many families and staff no longer have a choice for in-person learning if those individuals desire to follow the clear instructions of our public health authorities."