Sunday, February 27, 2022
Saturday, February 26, 2022
The COVID-19 vaccination rate for each NYC school is at Chalkbeat.
Just over half of New York City public school students are fully vaccinated, according to data the education department released Friday.
In total, 59% of the city’s public school students have received at least one vaccine dose and nearly 52% are considered fully vaccinated.
The lowest vaccinated districts:
The data show that there are wide disparities by school and neighborhood. Schools in Brooklyn’s District 23, which includes Ocean Hill, Brownsville and parts of East New York, had the lowest rates of vaccination, with just 38% of students receiving at least one dose. Districts 16, which includes a significant chunk of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and 18, which includes Flatbush and Canarsie, both had vaccination rates of 43%. On Staten Island, the rate is 47%.
The highest vaccinated districts:
Manhattan’s District 2 has the highest vaccination rate, with 80% of students receiving at least one dose. That district spans much of Lower Manhattan, some of Chinatown, and the Upper East Side. Not far behind: District 3 in Manhattan, which includes the Upper West Side and part of Harlem, at 77%. Next is District 26 in Bayside, Queens, where 74% of students have at least one dose.
Update: The Borough breakdown
Chalkbeat had a recent piece on declining enrollments in NYC public schools. They cite state data showing that 75% of schools have had a decline in their student population this year.
Chalkbeat says the bulk of the decline is coming from low-income families.
Although some schools with more affluent students have seen significant enrollment declines during the pandemic, with families decamping to the Hamptons or enrolling in private schools, drops among low-income students were far more significant. Enrollment among low-income students fell nearly 7% this year, more than twice the decline of students who are not classified as living in poverty.
For the actual numbers:
The state figures show that overall enrollment in the city’s traditional public schools dropped 5.6% this year among students in grades K-12 to roughly 821,000 students, according to a Chalkbeat analysis. Since the pandemic hit in the 2019-2020 school year, K-12 enrollment has dropped by 9%. City officials noted the state data does not include a slew of nontraditional programs, so the figures are lower compared with the city’s own enrollment tallies.
The city counts pre-k and probably 3-k too so its student enrollment numbers are higher.
Including pre-K, enrollment is down just 1.9% with 938,000 students in the city’s public schools, not including charter schools, according to city figures released in October.
Enrollment declines matter because the majority of a school’s funding is allocated on a per-student basis. And if a school ultimately enrolls fewer students than the city projected, they may be forced to hand funding back, a practice that generated criticism last school year, as some schools owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
City officials wound up allowing schools to keep the funding they owed, and that policy will continue this school year, officials said. Reduced funding based on lower enrollment may also be offset to some degree by a boost to school budgets spurred by federal relief money and a long-term increase in state funding.
That long-term increase in state funding is supposed to be permanent.
Has there ever been a better time to demand lower class sizes when the UFT Contract expires in September? Michael Mulgrew won't because he will claim that the money to reduce class sizes will have to come out of our raises. United for Change rejects that argument and says we can mobilize our members and school communities to make a real push for lower class sizes in our Contract along with raises that keep up with inflation.
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
A recent poll on a Facebook group showed that by a 277-3 margin UFTers want to see presidential candidates Michael Mulgrew and Camille Eterno engage in a debate. This is an unscientific poll but still that 99 to 1 margin means something.
There were two UFT presidential debates, one in 1999 and the other in 2001.
Since Mulgrew became president in 2009, he has ducked all of his opponents including me.
I did debate Unity's Jeff Zahler on WBAI before the Executive Board election back in 2007. In addition, candidate forums were part of the District Representative elections before Randi Weingarten ended these elections in 2003.
As it didn't hurt Mulgrew's vote totals, I see little chance of him changing his mind and debating in this election unless the rank and file demands it.
Unity's worst fear is UFTers en masse demanding real representation.
Calling for change on a grand scale within the UFT is what this blog has done for 17 years. Perhaps the time is right for real change now, for United for Change.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
City&State regularly puts up lists of top labor leaders. Tonight I was reading the latest New York State Labor Power 100. I was surprised to see AFT President Randi Weingarten, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, Council of Supervisors President Mark Cannizzaro, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester teacher union presidents, and UFT lawyer from Strook Alan Klinger on the list.
There is one notable name missing: NYSUT Board of Directors member-AFT Vice President-UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Mulgrew didn't make the top 100. To be fair, I am sure he makes the city top labor list and Mulgrew was number 1 in the state power 100 in 2020 but that makes his omission from this year's list all the more noticable.
If a mainstream media outlet such as City&State can figure out that Mulgrew is not a major labor leader, I hope the members of the UFT can come to the same conclusion and vote United for Change in the upcoming UFT election in April.
Saturday, February 19, 2022
UNITY ATTACKING CAMILLE'S UNION RESUME AS THIN SHOWS THEY CAN'T EVEN DO OPPOSITION RESEARCH HONESTLY
This post is for the Unity Caucus people who have made their line of attack on Camille Eterno that she doesn't have the experience needed to lead the largest union local in the country. They are wrong and most of them know it. If they won't bother to do the opposition research, we will do it for them. Camille has been active in the Union since 1998. She did take some time off to be with our two wonderful kids, Kara and Matthew, who are now 7 and 12 so maybe some of the newer Unity folks don't know her, but she never stopped being an activist fighter within the Union.
Camille was elected Chapter Leader at Queens Gateway when she was only in her second year as a teacher in 1998. Camille won grievances that the UFT said were not winnable. I recall she defended members successfully who were accused of infractions such as theft of services, misconduct in the classroom, lateness issues and so much more. One of her members called her "Chapter Leader Par Excellence".
Camille was at most UFT functions including awards ceremonies, the Labor Day Parade, the Delegate Assembly, District and Citywide Chapter Leader meetings as well as High School Committee meetings. When the UFT had rallies (yes we actually had citywide rallies in the early 2000s), Camille was there with a healthy contingent from Queens Gateway to Health Sciences. Ask the people who worked with her at Queens Gateway if Camille has a thin union resume. They might disagree.
Did she catch the eye of the Unity leadership? She was invited to join Unity Caucus so many times one would think they were almost stalking her. Ask Randi Weingarten if she invited Camille to come to brunches in Brooklyn. Ask former Queens Borough Rep Rona Freiser if Camille was a good trade unionist. Camille was one of the first people Rona called to be on her District Consultation Committee when Rona was elected District Representative. (Yes, chapter leaders voted for district reps in those days.) Why did the leader of Unity Caucus at the time, Tom Pappas, call Camille personally to ask her to join Unity? Camille was even invited to go to a Unity meeting. Camille went and was repulsed by the top-down way they operated. The people who tried to recruit Camille into Unity were a who's who of the Unity hierarchy.
Long time UFT Secretary Michael Mendel would usually come and say hi and chat with us at DAs that Camille and I both regularly attended together before we had our two amazing kids. Did I mention Camille and I met at a Chapter Leaders meeting when I was Chapter Leader at Jamaica? If she wasn't an active unionist, we would have never met.
Now some of you might say that was a long time ago but what has she done in the Michael Mulgrew years? Camille moved on from Gateway and settled in at Humanities and the Arts High School where she helped get the school off the State's School Under Registration Review list. A collaborative principal, Mercedes Qualls, listened to her staff, including Camille. Within a year Camille was elected UFT Delegate.
Camille never stopped helping UFTers. She was a presence at many school closing hearings during the Bloomberg years. You can see both of us in action here. She is defending public education here; here she is part of the defense of yet another school.
When a new principal came in at Humanities and the Arts and brought in some anti-UFT assistant principals, Camille was ready for a fight but the UFT had changed under Michael Mulgrew and no longer put up much of a resistance against abusive administrators.
Vice President Janella Hinds knows Camille was actively involved in the Union. They sat together at the 2016 UFT vote count when Camille told Janella about the fight Camille was leading at Humanities and the Arts where Camille was the Delegate. Camille was risking her job to help others. State Senator Leroy Comrie is aware she was active on behalf of her school. By the way, Janella told Camille she was going to be in touch so she could help her school against the abusive administration. Camille is still waiting for that call.
The UFT Grievance Department is fully aware that Camille knows the Contract. The Principal at Humanities and the Arts told Camille she was so busy defending other people so who would defend her. Camille soon thereafter was attacked viciously.
Camille defended herself and the Chapter quite well. She was at the Grievance Department so often that then Director Ellen Proceda-Gatlin talked about offering her a job. Ellen said she wished she was on her team. Camille's record was totally cleared but she agreed to be an Absent Teacher Reserve rather than go back to her former school. You can check with Carl Cambria if you want to hear from someone who worked at the Grievance Department, now a borough rep, if Camille knows the Contract.
Camille spent three years as an ATR in part due to UFT indifference to what was going on at Humanities and the Arts. She worked for a year at the High School for American Studies at Lehman College where the Principal, Alessandro Weiss, thought Camille was a highly effective, amazing teacher. They still keep in touch. The next year she was sent to Queens Tech where the administration worked hard to keep her for the year. She was then sent to Veritas Academy where Principal Cheryl Quatrano, her assistant principals, and teachers saw Camille's teaching talents and picked her up permanently within a month. That was in October of 2019. The first chapter election after that was in 2022. Camille didn't want to take over anyone's job but as soon as there was a Delegate opening, she was recommended by multiple people and easily was elected. That was well before the first DA this school year.
Please ask Yasmin Colon why Camille was not credentialed for 5 months. Mike Sill's personal attack on Camille on Wednesday for not attending DAs was absurd. The UFT District Rep was aware of Camille's election in October as the Election Chair at Veritas entered the information multiple times but the UFT never processed it. The Queens Borough Rep, to be fair, did intervene and thought the situation was resolved. The lame excuse used this month was that she was somehow unsubscibed from the Delegate list. The UFT didn't officially credential Camille to attend live until 4:15 pm on Wednesday, February 16 after she emailed Leroy Barr. Barr saying it was suspicious that she just showed up was comical. Ask Leroy too if Camille hasn't been active. She was in his office in 2017 advocating for her UFT Chapter and against abusive principals.
Camille and I help any UFter who asks. For years, Unity supporter Arthur Goldstein would call us, sometimes multiple times a day, to ask for help with union issues. Arthur called on the cell and the house phone at all times night and day. If I wasn't around, Camille would help him out. It's kind of ironic that some of the advice she gave was that he should attend the DA when he used to think it was a waste of time.
Unity's attack on Camille was totally unwarranted and untrue. We've split the union and parenting duties. She is always there when called on.
Back to basics: Can any of our Unity friends make a substantive argument on why Camille's point of order wasn't valid on Wednesday? A deliberative body actually needs time to deliberate and not hear the President pontificate for the majority of its meetings. Camille backed her point of order up by citing Robert's Rules to substantiate how Mulgrew abuses the power of the chair regularly. I used to call him on it repeatedly. We sparred often and I was never called unhinged for arguing with him. Is it because Camille is a woman that Unity is using this line of attack?
Camille is an experienced unionist who will be every bit as tough on anyone who attacks the UFT as she was on Mulgrew. Unlike Mulgrew, she won't be afraid to hear from multiple points of view. I am honored to be her husband and am excited that she is carrying the Union torch now.
Thursday, February 17, 2022
I did not do a report for the February Delegate Assembly because Camille went to the DA live so I was with our two kids and of course, their needs come first. I was not able to listen to the DA but Camille told me what happened.*
After Michael Mulgrew was blabbering for almost an hour in his monthly misuse of the chair, where he basically speaks on most issues that could come before the DA (mayoral control, retiree healthcare, etc.), Camille raised a point of order noting that strictly speaking there are no officer reports in Robert's Rules so what gives him the right to filibuster every month and not allow a minority report? She cited Robert's Rules (page 476) but Mulgrew didn't fully listen and cut her off. Mulgrew responded that Camille was out of order because the Delegates make up the agenda. What? That answer was a huge head-scratcher. I was an Executive Board member, Delegate and Chapter Leader for 23 years and we didn't get to look over the agenda and approve it. When Camille and someone appealed, Mulgrew let only his cronies speak in the ensuing debate, including Staff Director Leroy Barr and Assistant Secretary Mike Sill. Camille had her microphone shut off even though she was demanding her right to speak. A man and a woman surrounded her to take the mic away. That's a real fair debate! Maybe not.
For Robert's Rules experts out there, let us go back to the 16th Century when the parliamentary principle was established of a speaker in favor of something followed by a speaker opposed. It is on page xxxiv of Robert's Rules: "Alternation of the floor between opposite points of view when assigning the floor: 1592. It was made a rule, That the Chairman shall ask the Parties that would speak... and the Party that speaketh against the last Speaker is to be heard first." It's on page 29 of Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised for modern times on how to alternate when assigning the floor.
For those who are not familiar with how the UFT operates at its monthly Delegate meetings, Camille was prepared to tell them how unfair it is but she didn't get the chance. In fact, nobody on her side ever got the opportunity to speak in the debate. Camille wanted to bring it to the DA and let the Delegates decide if the monthly meetings adhere to basic parliamentary principles of fairness. This is most of what she would have said.
Robert’s Rules states in the Introduction that Henry Robert based his rules of order on the United States House of Representatives and they were then adapted to other bodies such as labor unions, corporations, church groups, co-op boards, etc. because some congressional rules could not be applied to different kinds of democratic assemblies. The congressional principle of fairness for both the majority and minority was a main priority of Henry Robert.
Let’s compare the DA to the U.S. House of Representatives: Imagine a Congress where there was an hour and 45 minute session and Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke from the speaker’s chair for an hour on virtually every major issue that could come before the House, and then had her assistant Steny Hoyer speak for a few minutes, and next up Speaker Pelosi took questions mostly from members of her own party for 15 minutes and then in the very short time when House Resolutions were up for debate, Pelosi called on members of her own staff who were on the Speaker's payroll as well as being Congressmen and women. Would you call that a fair system? That’s what we have at the DA basically. It's much closer to a one-party state that glorifies its leader than a democratic assembly.
It is called parliamentary law because it is based on the British House of Commons. We have been to the House of Commons and you can watch it in the USA on television. Every time someone from the government speaks, the opposition is then allowed to give their view. Even though the Conservatives have a huge 95 seat majority, questions are asked in rotating order between the majority party and the opposition parties. All reports, debates, and question periods follow this format. Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson cannot speak for an hour without opposition Labour leader Kier Starmer getting equal time. The speaker is completely impartial in the House of Commons (and in the US when she is presiding from the speaker's chair).
Robert’s Rules specifically says that the chair must be impartial but at the DA, the president gives a marathon report where he is obviously partisan on virtually all of the issues that the union faces and then he answers questions often from members of his own caucus so he pontificates some more. This deliberative body which had a great history in the 1960s under Charles Cogen and Al Shanker, when there were real debates, has been reduced to listening to a chair abuse his authority by endlessly filibustering and relegating debate to often symbolic resolutions for a few short minutes at the end of each session and then usually with the president calling on members of his own caucus. The UFT needs basic fairness of equal time for the majority and the opposition. Robert's Rules says the president should say the least, not the most. The UFT runs its business in a way that Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un could recognize as opposed to Jeffersonian democracy.
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
This is from the NY Daily News:
More than 45,000 retired municipal workers have opted to keep their current Medicare coverage for a price instead of enrolling in a free, controversial new plan offered by Mayor Adams’ administration — a situation one ex-city employee described as “a f-----g outrage” on Monday.
The new Medicare Advantage plan, which was first rolled out by former Mayor Bill de Blasio last September, has for months been a source of anxiety for many of the city’s 250,000 retired workers who fear it could dilute their benefits. While retirees are automatically enrolled in the new plan, the city allows those who want to opt-out from it to keep their current Medicare coverage — but at a new $191 monthly fee.
Despite the financial penalty, 45,646 retirees have declined the Advantage plan in order to maintain their current benefits, according to data provided to the Daily News by City Hall.
The data shows that the rate of opt-out filings picked up significantly after Feb. 6, the day Adams announced he would move ahead with implementing de Blasio’s Advantage plan despite growing concern from retirees.
In the five days after Adams’ announcement, 3,165 retirees submitted opt-out requests, with 925 filings on Feb. 9 alone, the data shows.
Hundreds of angry retirees gathered outside City Hall on Monday morning to protest Adams’ embrace of the Advantage plan and urged him to shift course before April 1, when the program officially takes effect.
Many retirees at the demonstration who spoke with The News said they had already opted out or would do so in coming weeks if Adams doesn’t have a change of heart.
“I‘m probably going to end up having to bite the bullet and eat that money, which is a f-----g outrage, because I’m not going on that plan,” said Susan Metz, 78, a retired Brooklyn public school teacher.
In honor of Monday’s holiday, protesters also signed a life-size Valentine’s Day card addressed to Adams in which they pleaded with him to “not break our hearts” by pushing through the Advantage program.
“Mr. Mayor, if you have a heart, don’t let Medicare Advantage start,” they chanted.
I would wager that many more will opt out before the April 1 switch to the Advantage plan with its multiple gatekeepers but one never knows.
Monday, February 14, 2022
We have have been made aware of how how new teachers are being cheated out of full pay and benefits. We have also documented how principals are not paying proper money for teachers who agree to teach a sixth class in a non-shortage area. Now up on the web we can see that it isn't only teachers.
This blog post from OTs &PTs for a Fair Contract shows many of these UFTers are being stiffed too and the UFT response does not seem strong enough to rectify the situation. They had put out a survey on pay.
The point of the survey was to prove that the failure to pay therapists in a timely manner for overtime, return from maternity leave, and per session work is not the exception but the rule. The survey results were used to pressure the UFT to file a mass grievance against the DOE to resolve this ongoing issue once and for all. This problem naturally impacts service delivery for children in Special Education. Our chapter leader reached out to legal counsel at Advocates For Children to alert them to the problem. AFC took action by raising concerns with leadership at DOE Central. The systemic nature of the DOE’s inability to implement a process that is simple, effective and respectful of workers rights is nothing new. What is new however, is that the OT/PT chapter isn’t shying away from holding them accountable.
We can learn from the OT/PT Chapter. By the way, their Chapter Leader as of this term is not Unity Caucus in case you were wondering.
Saturday, February 12, 2022
This is from the NY Post:
The Supreme Court on Friday shot down an appeal from a group of New York City school teachers who sought to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, arguing it violated their religious freedom.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected the emergency appeal on Friday, the same day as the deadline for city employees to comply with the mandate or face losing their jobs.
The city is not backing down from their plan to terminate city employees who won't get vaccinated against COVID. This is from a different Post story:
The city has said that nearly 4,000 of the Big Apple’s approximately 400,000 civil servants could lose their jobs.
Adams — who spoke as about 100 people protested outside City Hall — vowed to not rescind the vaccination order imposed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying he feared sending the wrong message “to all of the New Yorkers who understood we were at a very dangerous place and they complied.”
A different federal judge ruled in favor of the city on Friday. Once again, from yet another NY Post article:
A federal judge on Friday gave New York City the green light to fire as many as 4,000 municipal workers for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as Mayor Eric Adams said officials would be working over the weekend to determine who gets the ax.
During an evening teleconference, Brooklyn federal Judge Diane Gujurati rejected a last-ditch, emergency motion for a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the vaccine mandate imposed last year by former Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The legal basis for the vaccine mandate is strong as the Post article shows:
It followed about a dozen similar rulings in other cases involving vaccine mandates on city workers since September, including one handed down by a different Brooklyn federal judge on Friday afternoon, according to court papers.
We also learn from the Post that UFTers make up a good chunk of the employees facing termination:
Those expected to be fired include about 700 teachers, paraprofessionals and social workers, according to the United Teachers Federation.
The NYPD’s Police Benevolent Association and Detectives’ Endowment Association put their total at around 50 and the Uniformed Firefighters Association said 12 of its members could lose their jobs.
Friday, February 11, 2022
United for Change presidential candidate Camille Eterno will be on Talk out of School on WBAI (99.5) on Saturday at 1:00 PM. You can also listen at WBAI.org.
Thursday, February 10, 2022
PRINCIPAL TELLS UFT CHAPTER HE WILL BE FORCED TO CUT SPECIAL PROGRAM IF TEACHERS WIN GRIEVANCE TO GET SPECIAL PER SESSION PAY THEY ARE ENTITILED TO
Teachers who exert their rights in NYC risk all kinds of retaliation including losing cherished school programs. In one high school in Queens, administration for years has underpaid teachers who took on an extra teaching class, and now that a new Chapter Leader is fighting for them to be compensated as per the UFT Contract, the school is saying they will lose a popular program.
Teachers in secondary schools are contractually permitted to volunteer to teach an extra class for a special per session rate of $7,278 per term. The administration at this particular school, however, has argued that since the subject area where they have many openings is not a shortage area, they have the option to pay teachers at a reduced coverage rate of $45.38 per class.
This school has about five full teacher vacancies in one non-shortage area department so it means over 20 classes have to be covered. Traditionally, the administration has lowballed the teachers by offering the $45 coverage rate which if a teacher covers the class for the entire term, would amount to $3,857 for the term. Teachers are shortchanged around $3,400 per semester. That is called cheating the teachers. It is outrageous. Remember, coverages are supposed to be paid for an absent teacher. They are not for filling vacancies for a semester. What's even more depressing is the UFT has not been able to stop this practice.
For years, teachers at this school, and I gather many others, have been losing grievances because there is an annual Department of Education memo that says schools "may" pay special per session pay for non-shortage area classes that are covered for the term. To the DOE it is up to the goodwill of the principal to pay the proper rate. We, unfortunately, have too many principals who if given the choice will cheat the teachers and spend the extra money elsewhere. The UFT has taken the DOE to arbitration but we have been told they have neglected to introduce a different DOE document that makes our case very strong.
Notice it says non-shortage area licenses can use the professional period for teaching a sixth class. It doesn't say the principal then has a choice to pay the shortage area pay rate. The language is: "They shall be compensated in accordance with Article 7-O (Shortage License Areas)." I checked to make sure Article 7A10j (for high schools) and Article 7B11j (for middle schools) were still in the current Contract. I am happy to report that Randi Weingarten did not give those two provisions away in 2005 when she gave away so much else. I was astonished that the UFT was not prepared to use this non-shortage area provision of Circular 6R in their arbitration grievance presentation on the sixth class. However, the new Chapter Leader at this school asked us for help and we easily found the document. It was given to a UFT rep and the UFT is now prepared to make this a precedent-setting arbitration.
Approximately 20 teachers at this school have climbed on board and filed grievances saying they want to be paid at the proper special per session rate of $7,278 per term for teaching an extra class, not at the cut-rate coverage pay.
How has the Principal responded?
You guessed it if you said that he would threaten to kill the school's most popular program because he will have to pay the teachers what they are contractually entitled to so he would have to cut funding somewhere else. He claims he won't have enough money left to run the popular program. The Principal is out there blaming the UFT for attempting to kill a program that nobody wants to see die. In reality, it is the Department of Education that won't properly fund their top programs so teachers can be paid properly for their work.
My guess is that the sixth-period provision is being abused by principals all over the place to cheat teachers out of their rightful pay for teaching an extra class. We recommend that this Principal work with the UFT to secure adequate funding to pay teachers what they are entitled to by the Contract and also to have funds left to run all of the school's special programs. Teachers wanting to be fairly compensated for their work is not the problem and they should not be guilted into accepting less money.
Elect Camille Eterno and United for Change and all kinds of garbage like this will be publicly exposed as soon as we are made aware of what's going on. No more coddling the DOE.
Wednesday, February 09, 2022
This is in the NY Daily News:
Roughly 700 city educators got pink slips last week from the Education Department over their refusal to comply with the vaccine mandate — and the teachers union is arguing they shouldn’t be canned without disciplinary hearings.
The hundreds of classroom teachers and paraprofessionals who received termination notices are unvaccinated, failed to win an exemption from the mandate on medical or religious grounds and declined to go on unpaid leave until September, according to the United Federation of Teachers.
But the union is arguing that the staffers still have the right to undergo a disciplinary hearing before they’re officially let go.
“While the [ Education Department] appears to believe that such people can be summarily terminated, the UFT believes that these individuals cannot be terminated without due process,” a union spokeswoman said.
The union says the unvaxxed teachers should get a hearing known as a “3020a,” which allows tenured educators to make their case to an arbitrator before getting fired. It’s unclear if such a hearing would result in the educators keeping their jobs.
We have been asked by two of the impacted teachers to help out. Some of you may be surprised to hear that we have assisted. In one case we have spoken at length to one of the lawyers involved to try to help someone keep a job. While we favor the mandate, we believe exemptions were unreasonably narrow. In addition, tenured teacher discipline falls under State Education Law 3020-a and that is how it needs to be carried out here too. Paras can only be terminated if there is just cause.
I personally would prefer that everyone get vaccinated as with a vaccine and booster the chances of dying from Covid are roughly one in a million in a week according to the NY Times. I am also very disappointed that public health has become so political. Having said that, if a doctor says it is not medically advisable to get the jabs, then that needs to be seriously considered. Deeply held religious views should be respected as well.
Tuesday, February 08, 2022
The latest on masking from the NY Times:
Gov. Kathy Hochul will drop New York’s stringent indoor mask mandate on Wednesday, ending a requirement that businesses ask customers for proof of full vaccination or require mask wearing at all times, and marking a turning point in the state’s coronavirus response, according to three people briefed on her decision.
The decision will eliminate a rule that prompted legal and interpersonal clashes over mask wearing, especially in conservative parts of New York. It was set to expire on Thursday and would have required renewing.
Ms. Hochul’s decision will let the mask mandate lapse just as a crushing winter surge in coronavirus cases is finally receding. But it was not yet clear whether the governor would renew or drop a separate mask mandate in New York schools that is set to expire in two weeks.
The easing of New York’s pandemic restrictions on businesses comes as Democratic-led states from New Jersey to California have announced similar moves this week, in a loosely coordinated effort that is the result of months of public-health planning, back-channel discussions and political focus groups that began in the weeks after the November election.
It was Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey who began the effort last fall, weeks after he was stunned by the energy of right-wing voters in his blue state, who nearly ousted him from office in what was widely expected to be an easy re-election campaign. Arranging a series of focus groups across the state to see what they had missed, Mr. Murphy’s advisers were struck by the findings: Across the board, voters shared frustrations over public health measures, a sense of pessimism about the future and a deep desire to return to some sense of normalcy.
Public health decisions based on focus groups. It looks like the country has reached the denial stage of the pandemic. COVID-19 is still here with over 2,000 Americans a day dying. The total death count is now over 900,00 in the United States and the excess deaths in the United States and globally are so high that they are difficult to even contemplate.
Back to Hochul, she is not ending the mask mandate in schools for now. This is from LoHud:
Gov. Kathy Hochul told education leaders Tuesday that she's not ready to lift the indoor mask mandate for schools, but hoped that a change could come after February break, according to observers of the meeting.
"She said that right now the state’s intent is to wait and see how circumstances change through the school break," said Bob Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.
"[Hochul] indicated that her preference would be to do what the other states have done and end the mask mandate," Worona said. "But she doesn't want to do that if it imperils safety."
As for the CDC, they are sticking to their guidelines on masking indoors. This is from News 22 in Springfield Massachusetts:
CDC officials say that we are not close to the finish line when it comes to getting rid of masks.
“And all of us should wear high quality masks when in public indoor settings. This is how we can continue to create a wall of protection around our children under five as we look to safeguard their health,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy of the U.S. Surgeon General.
Last year, the CDC recommended indoor mask mandates in cities and towns recording more than 50 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people per day. Today, 99.9% of U.S. counties are above that threshold even with cases new case numbers dropping by 33-percent from last week.
There’s a few factors keeping masks. There’s concerns of a future variant, the BA.2 variant could raise cases again world-wide.
“What we know about BA.2 so far is that it does have a modest transmission advantage over BA.1. However, it’s not nearly the transmission advantage that we’ve seen between omicron and delta,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Unless this poll is off by 38 points, the public in general is fine with mask mandates.
Note to Democrats: If you actually get COVID-19 under control, you will have a much greater chance of the voters rewarding you at the ballot box.
Monday, February 07, 2022
There is a story on the UFT main webpage about a win in a case against the principal of PS 186 in Queens who was retaliating against members for exercising their union rights. This is what the UFT says:
Grievance victory at PS 186 in Queens
A four-year-long battle against a retaliatory principal who created terrible working conditions has ended in triumph for the UFT chapter at PS 186 in Queens. An arbitrator has ruled that the principal must "cease and desist" her anti-union behavior after the members filed a grievance.
There is a video showing the District Rep, the Borough Rep, and a Grievance Department Rep talking to the teachers. Below are a couple of screenshots from the UFT video:
Sunday, February 06, 2022
February 6, 2022
Friday, February 04, 2022
UFT ELECTION COMMITTEE REPORT FROM NORM SCOTT: UNITY ADMITS THEY VIOLATE RULES; CTU PRESIDENT JESSE SHARKEY NOT RUNNING AND WILL GO BACK TO CLASSROOM
Norm Scott wrote an interesting report today on the UFT Election Committee meeting that took place yesterday. Norm also covered the state of petitioning for the upcoming UFT election.
The UFT Constitution requires candidates for officer positions to get 900 signatures from UFT members to get on the ballot. Executive Board and AFT Convention Delegates need 100 signatures. United for Change requested that petitioning should be done electronically because of the Omicron wave. The Unity dominated Election Committee said no. Note that the Unity people are all being paid to sit on the Election Committee while UFC members are volunteering their time.
We can confirm that one of the key people in UFC who was going around his school blames the UFT petitioning process for his coming down with COVID this week. Those of you who don't get involved with the Union should know that it takes major work and coordination to get hundreds of people on the ballot for the UFT election. Norm is in his seventies and lives in the Rockaways. Yesterday, he spent the day meeting up with friends at 52 Broadway in Manhattan for petition signing and then he went to the Election Committee meeting. Today, Norm is traveling to the Bronx to get more signatures at a signing party.
The entire process favors Unity but they still cheat as Norm's report explains:
Well, here's my report on the election committee meeting - the highlights of which were the chips and plastic wrapped cookies and a diet coke.
Coin Flip for ad position in NY Teacher
We were there to fundamentally flip a coin to decide the order the Unity and UFC ads will appear in the NY Teacher. Chair, Manhattan Borough UFT Pres Carl Cambria, announced that the winner would get to choose to go first in the Februrary NY Teacher edition or the March edition. Carl, who tries to be eminently fair - considering - and also seems like a decent guy -- decided Unity would be tales and UFC heads - and Unity. They didn't seem to have a strategy so he invited them to go outside and caucus and they came back with what would have been my decision: Let the other caucus go first in February and take the first position in the later edition. So UFC will have the pole position this month. I hear our ad is beautiful so keep an eye out -- and note the ICE logo was designed by Kara Eterno.
District 1 and 9 Unity officials used official UFT sites to promote Unity and disparage UFC. They offer a remedy for UFC - equal time
This was an interesting one. And let me say that a UFT lawyer is on all these meetings remotely. A Unity member, Dist 4 rep Servia Silva made a reso to tve UFC equal time on those sites for the same amount of time Unity had and for similar ads. We quickly checked out pockets. Not thinking through all the implications the three of us voted in favor.
Later when we reported to UFC we were told we probably should have abstained. They are discussing whether to turn down the offer because allowing us to post for the same time and same type of ad allows them to control what we do. Unity will use our vote against us but that is trivial.
Shulman and access to mail boxes blocked not by principals but Unity Chapter leaders
Mike told the story of a New Action member telling his chapter leader he would be putting materials in the boxes and was told that only the chapter leader has that right. Bullshit, of course. Mike asked for the union to put out a statement to chapter leaders. I added an amendment that Mulgrew should make the announcement at the Feb and March DA. Unity unanimously opposed it, showing that underneath they will turn the other way when their rabid CLs deny us access. They voted to send it out in the chapter leader update. We will hold any Unity CL who tries to stop us accountable -- and use it in any court case.
I told a story of how I went to a school a few years ago where the Unity CL was known as a hack who had removed oppo lit from mailboxes. I went at 5 PM when I figured she was gone and stuffed the boxes. I had no problems getting in. I went back the next day with another leaflet and was told by security I could not go to the boxes. I said who said I couldn't since you let me do it yesterday -- he fingered the CL. Now that CL is a full-time union official and is in fact on the election committee --- I made sure to look in her direction while speaking.
Election reporting by school and districts to counter voting deserts
The turnout in UFT elections by working members illustrates how weak the structure of the UFT is. Maybe 25% at most while retirees turn out is well over 40%.
I called for the UFT to pay the AAA for school and district voting per centages as a way for the union to monitor voting deserts which are a sign of union weakness. I had raised this at the 2016 vote count with then election chair Amy Arundell and other union officials when I asked the AAA guy if that info were available. David Hickey I remember said the union didn't pay for that data. I Said they should in future elections.
Unity spec rep Patti Crispino said she opposes that but before she could give her reasons a motion to table until the next meeting in March was made. We all agreed. I asked Patti for why she wouldn't want a report on school voting patterns and her response was turnout is always low and why embarrass people. In some circles that is known as Unity Think.
The meeting ended and I grabbed a few bags of chips and raced to get the ferry.
My prediction is the UFT will not ask for a school-by-school report from the American Arbitration Association on who votes in the election because in my humble opinion the UFT is quite content with a minuscule turnout as long as the loyal voters are Unity. It's all about staying in power and not supporting the members.
As for making us go out and petition in a pandemic, even Unity should be ashamed of themselves but I don't think they have much, if any, shame.
Union leaders actually do go back to the workplace. This story from Chicago was also on EdNotes:
CTU Pres Jesse Sharkey Not Running for Re-election - Going Back to Classroom
Some teacher unions do not have dynasties. Jesse Sharkey is moving on and seemingly back to teaching. He is not the first prominent CTU member of leadership. A few years ago, Jackson Potter. who was in many ways the architect of the rise of CORE to lead the CTU 12 years ago, left his high position in the union to go back to teaching. And in Los Angeles, Alex Caputo-Pearl left the presidency also but took the VP role in the union. Alex had taught in the classroom for 20 years before becoming union president.
Not so in the UFT where you become president for life. Can you just imagine a similar announcement from Mulgrew? Can you imagine Mulgrew back teaching -- I'm going to punch you in the face if you try to take my prep period away.
All the best to Jesse Sharkey.
Thursday, February 03, 2022
It is no surprise that the Department of Education is not keeping their end of the deal on adding vacation days for all UFTers who were forced to give up their spring break in 2020. This is in this week's UFT COVID update:
Update on 2020 spring break vacation days
Vacation days appeared in UFT members' accounts on Feb. 1 as ordered by the independent arbitrator in our spring break grievance.
As a reminder, UFT members are entitled to a vacation day for every day they worked during the 2020 spring break. If you worked the full seven days (April 9-17) of the spring break, four CAR days in your sick bank should have been converted to four vacation days and three more vacation days should have been added.
We have received reports that members who currently have fewer than four CAR days in their banks only received three vacation days because the DOE claims these members do not have enough CAR days to complete the conversion to vacation days. We disagree with the DOE’s interpretation of the arbitrator’s decision. Our position is that according to the arbitration ruling, members are owed a vacation day for each day they worked during the 2020 spring break and should not be penalized for having a lower CAR day balance due to parental leave or illness.
We are fighting to get those members the full value of the time worked and have asked the arbitrator to intervene in the dispute. We will keep you posted.
Martin Scheinman is the arbitrator that the UFT will have to go back to. He is the same arbitrator who extended the 2014 contract twice (once when it was already expired) to allow the DOE to delay for 12 years to pay teachers back in full for work that was done from 2009-2011. The DOE will get something if this is taken back to arbitration if Sheinman keeps to his pattern.
Wednesday, February 02, 2022
UFC keeps moving ahead with the campaign. We need monetary donations so more UFTers see these ads.
Please help us by contributing what you can.
RETIREES SHOULD NOT HAVE TO RISK THEIR HEALTH TO GET PETITION SIGNATURES; WE NEED YOUR HELP TO CHALLENGE MULGREW-UNITY
The piece below is copied from EdNotes today.
I would like to say how much we appreciate Norm Scott and all the other retirees and active people who are working diligently to get United For Change on the ballot for the April UFT election. This could all be done electronically but the ruling Unity Caucus has made it as difficult as possible for us to get on the ballot during a pandemic.
We hope everyone here donates whatever you can to help us spread the word that Camille Eterno and all of us are a viable alternative to Michael Mulgrew. We've raised over $1,100 in a day. Much of that came from our readers. Thanks to all who have donated. Let's keep this momentum going. More money means a better chance for us to run a proper election campaign.
UFT Election Ground Hog Day - A Repeating nightmare and this is not a movie: As We Warned UFT Leadership - Teachers/Retirees Down With Covid
80 plus Retiree: Norm, I'm still positive with Covid and can't come today to help.UFT Chapter Leader running with UFC: I've been out a week with Covid and haven't been able to petition.HS Teacher: Norm, I'm down with Covid and will be out for a week. I know I promised over 50 signatures from my school but I only reached 30.Elementary school candidate: Can't circulate his petitions because he has pneumonia
If you are pissed off at the Unity gang, donate to United for Change. https://unitedforchange.vote/donate/
Wednesday, Feb. 2 -
Ground Hog Day - A Repeating nightmare and this is not a movie. While UFC people are in their schools on the lunch hours scrounging for signatures to get on the UFT ballot, Unity people don't seem to be much around schools. Camille Eterno is getting signatues. Let me know if anyone sees Mulgrew in their school doing the same.
Notice the note for Unity Caucus members: They are meeting at Fashion Industries HS at 6PM next Wednesday. I'm tempted to show up with a picket sign accusing them of trying to murder the opposition.
Many of us have to race around the city collecting petitions and running small mass signing events instead of the one shot events for 60 people at a time we used to run.
But the almost criminal Unity Caucus leadership knew all that when they refused to consider changing some rules for this election.
UFT Exec Bd Vote Opposing Electronic Voting: Mike Shirtzer and another are Lone Dissenters, 13 Reasons For Electronic Voting as Unity Echoes Republican Vote Suppression, MULGREW SAYS PRIVATIZED HEALTHCARE ISN'T PRIVATIZED
The above is only a sampling of how the UFT leadership has put so many people in danger by refusing to delay the petition and election campaign by a few weeks.
I'm helping run a number of mass petitioning events, four this week alone. Last week I met a New Action member last Friday to hand him a stack of 500 petitions for his Staten Island signing event. He used to hold a mass event but this time he had to race from one place to another. On Sunday he handed he petitions to a Queens New Action member who had a signing event in his house on Monday and Tuesday morning. A few promised people couldn't come as they had covid. I met up with him in a KFC parking lot yesterday for the transfer of petitions in time for me to run an event for about 14 people. Saturday I'm going to someone's house fora batch more signatures.
All the above are retirees, most in their 70s and even 80s. People are coming out of the woodwork to sign, risking their health and welfare. You know why: Medicare.
A teacher at a major school running with us and petitioning texted: "The biggest reason people give for signing my petitions is the taking away of Medicare for retirees." So, today, I will be holding a signing event for 15 retirees. But instead of taking an hour at amass event I had to stagger their times to keep them safe - and one good friend who is unvaxed was told not to come. I have to track her down at another time. Another signer called last night to say he was still positive. He's 82 years old.
Yes Virginia, Welcome to UFT Elections: Petitioning in the Age of Covid - Unity Caucus Policy Risks Retiree and working member Health
I'm not through with my signing events yet. On Friday I drive to the Bronx to pick up another batch of 500 petitions for a signing event at a diner in the Bronx for 15 people. I haven't eaten in a restuarant yet but for this election I'm forced to to make sure we get on the ballot. I know, I know. My wife says I'm nuts and promises to lock me in the bedroom for a week if I get covid. One signer will take the petitions to someone's house to cover 5 people on Saturday, pick them up later and then off to another signing event Sunday on Long Island.
Meantime, another batch of up to 60 people will gather to sign another pack on Saturday. 60 people? They are doing it outdoors.
You might ask why do we have to do all this? Because every single candidate must get at least 100 signatures. Most schools are much smaller. Retirees are not even in a school. So how does a candidate get all the signatures? Unlike Unity Caucus, which has its own internal mechanism, we have to work to get 100 plus a cushion in dribs and drabs in this Covid election cycle, whereas in the past we just ran two mass events.
And to top this all off, there is a live UFT Election committee meeting today at 4:30 at UFT headquarters with the main purpose to flip a coin on ballot position. I will do a bit of venting. I will also have 500 petitions, each signed by almost 60 people. Shhhhh, don't tell Unity.
Tuesday, February 01, 2022
Funding elections, even union elections, costs a great amount of money. The UFT has close to 200,000 members. We are roughly the size of Yonkers and have more eligible voters. We want to reach them all as many times as it necessary to convince them that the entrenched Unity Caucus needs to be defeated.
United for Change is attempting to run a modern well-funded campaign to challenge Unity. We need every reader here who has commented or read our posts and said that Michael Mulgrew must be defeated to contribute to our effort.
Put your money where your mouths are folks. Please help us out.
This was a story in the Daily News yesterday:
Mayor Adams reaffirmed Monday that he will keep NYPD safety officers at city public schools, pointing to a Manhattan middle-schooler caught with a backpack full of knives and other weapons last week as an example of why the officers are needed.
“When people attacked me for having school safety agents in our schools, they need to see this,” Adams said, holding up a photo of the knives, brass knuckles and other weapons found in the backpack of a 14-year-old student at NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies in Chelsea on Friday.
According to school safety sources, the student showed one of the knives to a friend, who reported it to the principal. When school officials and safety agents searched the student’s bag, they found four knives, a set of brass knuckles, an expandable baton, fireworks and a laser pointer.
School principal Megan Adams told families in an email that the “NYPD was immediately notified and it was later determined that there was no immediate threat to our school building, students or staff members,” according to a copy of the message obtained by the Daily News. The student was not arrested, but was issued a juvenile report and suspended from school, according to school safety sources. The school, which does not normally have metal detectors, had temporary scanning on Monday.
“These are real weapons that can be used on teachers, staff, administrators, and most importantly our children. That this is in a backpack of a child, that sends the wrong message,” Adams said.
During the first month-and-a-half of the school year, the NYPD reported a nearly 30% rise in weapons seizures at city schools compared to the same period in 2019, with the bulk of the increase coming from weapons like pepper spray canisters and tasers. The number of guns turning up at city schools also rose substantially. The NYPD has not reported new school weapons data since Oct. 24.
DOE officials and students say many teens toting weapons bring them for protection on their commutes to and from school.
Adams added that he is considering some changes to school safety to make it feel less “heavy-handed” and ensure students don’t “feel like criminals.” He said he’s considering changing school safety officers’ uniforms to look less like street cops and exploring new technology to replace current metal detectors.
Change the uniforms? Okay, that will end school violence.