Wednesday, August 31, 2022


This Alex Zimmerman piece in Chalkbeat is rather interesting.

Five years ago, former Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed that every New York City public school classroom would be air conditioned by 2022.

Now, after early setbacks and changing deadlines, city officials say they have followed through on that goal, with roughly 19,000 instructional spaces out of nearly 60,000 total receiving air conditioning since 2017.

Did the Department of Education Division of School Facilities people actually get this right?

“This initiative has since completed, and our Division of School Facilities continues to work on upkeep of units to ensure safe and comfortable learning environments for our students and staff,” education department spokesperson Jenna Lyle said in a statement.

Further down:

Still, some educators said they are unsure of how reliable the cooling will be, as some have experienced outages or temperatures that vary wildly with little control. The initiative also does not cover every school space where students spend time or even receive instruction. Gyms and other public assembly spaces were not required to be air conditioned under the expansion. About 40% of spaces used for physical education don’t have air conditioning, Lyle said.

And some rooms used for academic instruction will continue to lack air conditioning. Officials said spaces that were not initially designed to be classrooms — but have been “repurposed” as instructional spaces — were not included in the expansion. Lyle did not provide additional details about which specific rooms are not covered by the program. She also did not respond to a question about why 19,000 rooms were outfitted with air conditioning when the city originally claimed that 11,500 classrooms needed it.

Let's be fair: I don't think the former mayor said working air conditioning if you want to be technical.

He also didn't say all of the buildings would be fully air-conditioned. Fully air-conditioned buildings would make sense as it is 2022. There I go nitpicking again.

Please take the Chalkbeat survey for yourself to report on the state of air conditioning in your NYC school. Sorry, it isn't anonymous so the cowards here can crawl right back under their rocks. 


In a not so wonderful development last week, the appeal for the lawsuit from parents and teachers trying to get a do-over vote from the City Council on the New York City public school budgets to restore funding to schools will not be heard until September 29. School begins September 8. This is from Gothamist:

“The mayor is completely responsible for this case dragging on through the courts rather than heeding the demand by City Council to negotiate a budget modification,” said Laura Barbieri, the attorney representing the teachers and parents who sued the city over the cuts. “There is more than enough money in the budget to provide for the children of this city. The mayor’s refusal speaks volumes about how little he cares.”

It looks like the city is running out the clock with the court which is what a City Council source told Gothamist. This looks like a big victory for the DOE bureaucracy that the UFT should be exposing at every opportunity. Even if the teachers-parents win on September 29, it is doubtful that the DOE would reprogram schools in October. If the plaintiffs win, there will probably be enough per session for many of you to need waivers for going over the maximum hours limits. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022


I salute the Columbus, Ohio teachers for going on strike. 94% of the teachers voted to go on strike but only 71% voted to accept the agreement negotiated to end it so not everyone was happy with the settlement. I like how they fought for and won better ventilation in their schools and much more.

Here are some of the details of the settlement as reported by WBNS10:

  • A contractual guarantee that all student learning areas will be climate controlled no later than the start of the 2025-2026 school year, including installation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in buildings currently without HVAC, and in buildings that currently only have partial HVAC
  • Reductions in class size caps in all grade bands, lowering the number of students in every classroom by two over the course of the contract;
  • The first-ever limitations on the number of buildings assigned to each elementary art, music and P.E. teacher, with scheduling intended for one specialist per subject area per building;
  • The first-ever contractual limitation on the number of CEA positions that can be outsourced to out-of-town corporations, thereby ensuring that our students are educated by experienced professionals from our local community; and
  • A ground-breaking paid parental leave program for our teachers, as well as salary increases for each of the next three years which will help attract and retain the high-quality educators that our students deserve.

You can read the full agreement here.

Thanks to whoever put it out. It is informative. I saw in the Agreement, in addition to what is mentioned above, they won an improved disciplinary process for teachers that includes the ability for teachers to grieve any formal reprimand, some pretty decent wording on academic freedom, not only reduced class size but also a reduction in the number of classes teachers can teach as a maximum load in middle and high schools.

As for salary increases, this is from NBC 4:

The contract gives CEA members a 4% annual raise for the duration of the three-year deal. Reports state that the union was initially seeking an 8% annual raise.

Maybe we should use some of the language from Columbus to give some ideas on gains New York City UFTers can make that won't cost the city much money but are absolutely essential if we are going to get our schools back to some kind of sanity.

The Columbus disciplinary process (see below) won't be totally applicable to us because terminations of tenured pedagogues are covered under NYS law here but what is below certainly would apply to us as a model for bringing back grievances for letters in the file like we had up until 2005 and for a fair disciplinary process for non-tenured people. Take a look. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022


Sue Edelman got various kinds of reactions in her article on Bryant High School's not so teacher friendly Principal Namita Dwarka's promotion to Queens High School South Deputy Superindendent.

For example, Councilmember Robert Holden:

“It’s a new low for the DOE,” said City Councilman Robert Holden (DO-Queens), who has urged Chancellor David Banks to crack down on school culture that turns a blind eye to academic fraud in schemes to boost graduation rates. “She shouldn’t be working in the DOE, much less in a leadership role."

Also, our friend Sam Lazarus:

"She was the one willing to do the dirty work,” said Sam Lazarus, a former teacher and UFT chapter leader. “It was not a happy place.”

This is not your average Department of Education reassignment of a principal. The DOE is sending a strong message by promoting to a nearly $200,000 a year job someone who has been so open about giving teachers low ratings on observations and pressuring teachers to pass virtually everyone whether they do course work or not. They are telling teachers we are basically in the fourth Bloomberg term in education. Teachers are the villains. It feels a bit like 2009.

Promoting Dwarka following the made up budget crisis to expand the Absent Teacher Reserve pool, opposition to the lower class size bill in Albany that has overwhelming legislative support and no contract negotiations despite the fact that the UFT Contract expires in mid September and inflation is running high tells us we are not valued by this administration.

It is not just teachers who are being ignored as Michael Mulgrew reported on Monday that most municipal unions in NYC are working under expired contracts but there are no negotiations ongoing.

The unions are so weak in NYC that they can't even bring Mayor Adams to the bargaining table with expred contracts.We have no strike threat or even a major bad publicity threat so we are in for collective begging when Adams agrees to let us grovel.

Sue Edelman called me for a comment on the Dwarka story on Friday and I told her that Sam and Chapter Leader Georgia Lignou know more than me about Dwarka. I also stated for the record that in advancing Dwarka, Chancellor David Banks is sending a powerful anti-teacher, anti-labor message that the Mayor and Chancellor are so thoroughly opposed to the teachers they will promote someone who rated so many teacher observations so poorly and made so many lives miserable. Not surprisingly, my comment didn't make it into the Post piece. 

Expect the UFT excuses on why we can't do anything to get a decent on-time contract to be commencing soon.

Friday, August 26, 2022


 Feedspot, where we are on the list of top 25 NYC Education blogs and websites (readers, your tons of comments, even with me insisting you stay close to the topic, should move us higher than 15 on the list), sent me to a very good Chalkbeat article covering Governor Kathy Hochul's appearance on the Brian Lehrer show. Hochul now is inclined to sign the lower class size bill for NYC, but...

Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Thursday that she supports sweeping legislation that would establish more aggressive class size limits in New York City’s public schools, the strongest comments she’s made since the bill was overwhelmingly passed by the legislature last month. 

“I’m looking closely at it. I’m inclined to be supportive,” Hochul said on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, adding she spoke yesterday with Mayor Eric Adams and expected a resolution in the coming days. “I just have to work out a few more details with the mayor.”

The Adams administration has opposed the bill, warning that the legislation would cost hundreds of millions of dollars a year to implement and could detract from other funding priorities. Hochul suggested that funding was a sticking point and is considering “chapter amendments” that would allow the legislation to go into effect now but with changes that would be taken up by the legislature next year. 

“There might be something about a funding source or a responsibility that’s, you know, on the shoulders of the state right now — and I have to make sure I’m protecting the state taxpayers as well,” Hochul said. “So there are some loose ends, but philosophically it’s something I’m supporting.”

The bill would cap NYC public school class sizes at 20 for grades K-3, 23 for grades 4-8, 25 for most high school classes, and 40 for performing arts and phys ed. There are some exceptions and it would phase in through 2027. Only four state senators and two assembly members voted no so it has overwhelming support in the State Legislature but Hochul hasn't acted yet mainly we believe because of opposition from Mayor Eric Adams.

However, perhaps Tuesday's Senate primary election results in New York City are helping to persuade the Governor that she should sign the bill. Ross Barkan reports that progressives may not have done too well in congressional primaries (see conservacrats Dan Goldman and Sean Patrick Maloney winning and leading progressive Alessandra Biaggi losing badly) but in the State Senate, progressives did just fine. We reported on Robert Jackson's win on Wednesday over a conservacrat candidate who had a six-figure salary at the UFT. That is just one of the many left victories in the Senate.

From Barkan:

But down the ballot, in the State Senate primaries held across New York City, there was plenty of good news for progressives and socialists. The left possesses much more clout in Albany than at the national level, and after some impressive electoral performances Tuesday, there will be three members of the Democratic Socialists of America in the New York State Senate come 2023.

Kristen Gonzalez, a tech worker from Queens, beat back Elizabeth Crowley, a former city councilwoman and the first cousin of Joe Crowley, whom Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vanquished in 2018. AOC joined DSA in backing Gonzalez, who had to contend with Crowley’s heavy spending and outside PAC support. The real-estate industry, traditionally a powerful force in Albany, also invested in Crowley to little avail: Gonzalez won easily, 58 percent to Crowley’s 33 percent, in a newly carved Queens-Manhattan district.

One socialist incumbent, Jabari Brisport, obliterated a primary challenger, Conrad Tillard, who was endorsed by Mayor Eric Adams and funded in part by major players in the real-estate industry. Tillard’s history of antisemitic and homophobic remarks surfaced in the primary, probably contributing to his decisive defeat. Brisport broke 70 percent, a huge number that illustrates DSA’s growing popularity in the central Brooklyn district. Julia Salazar, another socialist Brooklyn senator, ran unopposed. Just south of Salazar and Brisport’s districts in Brooklyn, DSA came tantalizingly close to electing another socialist to the State Senate. In a three-way contest, David Alexis took 38 percent of the vote against Kevin Parker, a moderate state senator with a history of controversy; Parker finished with only 46 percent. Had another relative progressive, Kaegan Mays-Williams, chosen not to run, Alexis may have been heading to Albany next year.

Two progressive non-DSA state senators also thwarted challengers to their right. Although he’s not a self-identified socialist, the Bronx’s Gustavo Rivera has usually aligned with leftists in the State Senate, carrying a bill to create a single-payer health-care system in New York and loudly opposing centrists such as Andrew Cuomo, the disgraced former governor. Running in a redrawn district, Rivera appeared doomed when the Bronx Democratic Party and the growing political machine cultivated by Adriano Espaillat, a more moderate representative, endorsed an attorney named Miguelina Camilo. Ritchie Torres, a young Bronx congressman who has clashed with New York progressives over the past few years, also endorsed Camilo, as did Adams. Most significantly, perhaps, major real-estate and charter-school super-PACs spent furiously to try to undercut Rivera, a pro-tenant and pro-labor lawmaker, as much as possible. But Rivera had Ocasio-Cortez in his corner as well as WFP and SEIU 1199, the powerful health-care-workers union. In the end, despite the daunting coalition aligned against him, he won 52 percent to Camilo’s 47 percent. Rivera will probably draw only closer to the left after surviving such an onslaught.

Barkan then covers Jackson's victory and his final sentence of that paragraph says it all: 

Insiders predicted Jackson would lose; instead, he crushed Vasquez 58 to 33. Given his margin of victory, Jackson will be further incentivized to work with progressives in Albany. Real-estate and charter lobbyists may not get their phone calls returned.

After Tuesday's victories for the left, progressives may not be in the mood to have their class size bill altered by Hochul. Senator John Liu who is the main sponsor of the bill to lower class size in NYC reacted to Hochul in the Chalkbeat piece:

“The governor should sign the bill now since the school year is about to start, and as is since the bill was passed nearly unanimously by both chambers of the legislature,” state Sen. John Liu, the legislation’s main sponsor, said in a statement. Asked about the governor’s suggestion that the bill be tweaked, a spokesperson for Liu wrote in an email that “the legislature can easily override a veto and therefore would not be inclined to accept the governor’s request for a chapter amendment.”

Elections do have consequences, ladies and gentlemen. Sometimes they are actually positive.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022


I was really only watching one primary election closely last evening. State Senator Robert Jackson, one of the best supporters public schools in New York has ever had going back to the  nineties when he was involved in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, handily won  his Democratic primary.  Jackson was supposed to be in trouble because redistricting put him in a Manhattan-Bronx district. 

The main challenger had worked for the UFT as one of Michael Mulgrew's many underlings but the Union did endorse Jackson.

I think this election shows that if you come through for people, identity politics will only go so far.

From twitter:

Other results were a mixed bag yesterday with some conservacrats and some progressives winning.

Monday, August 22, 2022


 I was on at the beginning. 

Michael Mulgrew came on and wished everybody a restful few weeks, particularly those who worked summer school/683. This is a contract year.

Mulgrew started with school cuts. Thanks advocates including parents who have been phenomenal. Mayor has more money in reserve than any mayor in history. Fair Student Funding designed by Mayor Bloomberg and Bloomberg people are back. de Blasio put in base costs including per-pupil allotment. Principals are being squeezed under FSF. We were on a committee under de Blasio to change FSF. It wasn't changed because of the Department of Ed and COVID. DOE tells us things are impossible. The current Chancellor's FSF doesn't work. We are on another committee. We don't know where this will end up. Federal and State politicians have provided more money than ever. They can't understand cuts. Comptroller confirmed that $4.3 billion in federal funds not spent. Mayor said he would blow up the DOE bureaucracy. We haven't seen any of that. 

Class size-Thanks advocates and pressure that is being put on the Governor. Mayor doesn't support it when he is cutting schools when we have billions in reserves. DOE in bill needs a plan to lower class sizes if schools are overcrowded. John Liu has been strong throughout the summer. We will keep pressure on.

Contract-Most unions have expired contracts. We are working with other Municipal Labor Committee unions that the city is not broke. Mayor says city is about to go over a financial cliff. Seeing teacher shortage which is nationwide coming to NYC. It is expensive to live in NYC. Many around the country only make $45,000. We need housing for workers in NYC. Contract will get louder and louder as we move forward. 500 person negotiating committee will meet as soon as we get back to school. See some career and tech things we support. Dyslexia training is going to be small. Nothing really happening besides that in terms of education from the DOE. 

Country has decided to learn to live with COVID. We still work with our doctors. We should have been talking about making the schools the center of the city. Sadly, no willingness to move it forward. 600-700 best estimate of those in excess. Nobody is losing their job. They are without jobs in buildings. You have done heroic work. Dealing with other states as AFT VP. Working in Florida. Big attacks on public education. Mayor not moving except to convince people NYC is broke. People outside of NY think we have it good. Privatization with vouchers and some states pushing online learning. Horrendous legislation in Florida for talking about certain issues. Insanity that we can't believe is happening in the USA. Mayors and chancellors come and go. We will be there. 1,100 newcomers. Help them out if you get new people in the building; welcome them. 

COVID-Surveillance testing following the CDC guidelines will not be there. Four test kits given to everyone on a monthly basis. Five days not takn out of CAR if positive. If after five days if you are not ready, you have to get medical documentation. Can come back after five days with a mask. Daily health screening not in place. DOE will approve last year's exemptions. Accommodations are all reasonable and not separate for COVID. In terms of people on leave because of vaccination, Department of Health has not rescinded the vaccination mandate. We are in conversations with the DOE to deal with issues around this. One vaccination before September 5, treated as if on regular leave. No access to school or position you had before if vaccinated after September 5.

Retirements within the regular range. It is new that they are coming in every month throughout the year as people become eligible. Last year we introduced Chapter Leader Hub for CL's. It was very   successful; majority has taken advantage of it. We are trying to do the same for every member. It is hard to get inforation. Trying to get this set up by Thanksgiving. Last year everyone was paid to set up a digital classroom. There probably won't be closed classrooms or partially closed because of CDC guidelines. DOE will have to still pay people to set up digigal classrooms for people who are out for COVID. Working that out with the city. It will be like last year. It isn't in our contract the responsibility to set up digital classrooms. We would like this inforation to be in member hubs. Majority who contact the union it is for personal things like a form they need like eyeglasses or dental. Looking forward to that. Thanks people at UFT for this. Close contacts are not guaranteed. 

Labor Day parade is Saturday, September 10. We are going last this year with CSA. We will have food and rides before the parade this year. It is only us and CSA on entire block this year.

This is a tough job and a great profession. Loud voices on both sides of the political debate saying we have to raise teacher pay. Teachers are put in a better light now because of pandemic. Union fighting for class size legislation for forty years. Superintendents have been given greater authority. Superintendents in charge. We don't know how they will hold principals accountable. DOE doesn't talk to people doing the work. It is our school system. This school year should be somewhat like we had in the past but we are never going to completely go back to what we had in the past. College Board people had biggest jump in the people passing Advanced Placement exams. Only change was more project-based learning. Sometimes, we are not allowed to do this. We know bells and timers don't work. Teachers will tell you projects work. Greatest jump ever included black and brown students. Empower us. Make sure training is relevant to what goes on in classrooms. We will work really hard but we want to make sure faculty meetings aren't a waste of time; they have to be relevant. We are the professionals. Teachers, counselors, clinicians, etc. figured out what to do when COVID hit. Enjoy the rest of the summer. 


Question: D 75 teacher soon retiring. With teacher shortages, can we get a data base of available teachers?

Mulgrew answer: DOE doesn't know. Schools treated like a franchise. We are not cooking french fries like a McDonalds. It's insane that the DOE doesn't know how many teachers are needed. Chapter Leaders and District Reps keep a record so we will know.

Question: Are we getting Teacher's Choice?

Answer: Same as last year. We should be getting $250 for teachers; different for different titles. Mike sill conforms that it is the same as last year for every title.

Question: Long term subs for 8 years still not put on for a full-time position. Why aren't long term subs getting positions?

Answer: Princpals in charge of hiring for schools (franchising). We've had long term subs in positions for two year. We ask DOE why they aren't hiring these people. We disagree with DOE. We are putting it in contract negotiations. 

Question: Dyslexia training not adequate. Where is that going?

Answer: We thought that we would use literacy coaches to be official city experts. It is in their wheelhouse. We need to screen and then have our 600 experts work with teachers. DOE said they can't do it that way because they can't manage it. DOE wants schools to figure it out. We want DOE to be completely changed or to go away. 

Question: Teachers who get COVID on sick bank days?

Answer: Five days don't come out of CAR and beyond five days, you need medical documentation.

Question: Para wants to wear mask. Can I wear it?

Answer: Yes, it is optional like last year.

Question: Can't get through to a person on HR Connect. Will this be part of contract negotiations?

Answer: Get in touch with Mike Sill We recognize the problem. We do not tell DOE what are our contract priorities.

Question: Parent Teacher Conferences: Are they remote this year and can they be remote forever?

Answer: We have been in contact with more parents since we have gone remote. We got to the agreement for this year and talking about it forever. It is one of our goals.

Question: Booster shots, will they be mandated?

Answer: No, I have not heard anything about a booster mandate but DOH kept vaccine mandate.

Question: People on COVID or religious exemption for this year, where do they report this year?

Answer: Some will go to buildings; some will work from home. We got accommodations recognized and we believe it will run like last year. Mike Sill: DOE reserves right for them not to be in buildings. Mulgrew back to talk about Staten Island office having children in it.

Question: Thanks Mulgrew: Works on W 50 Street, what is the situation with congestion pricing?

Answer: MLC position is we are city employees and we should be exempt. Governor of NJ ready to sue that they have to pay toll to pay a toll. Our position is if you are required to be there for work, you should be exempt.

Question: Contract up September 13, is to be a situation with retro again?

Answer: Most unions have expired contracts. PBA in arbitration from last round. No negotiations for current round. We passed a resolution not to negotiate time. That stands.

Question: Migrant children. What resources are they getting?

Answer: We are waiting for that answer. DOE is going to put together a support program. We are short ESL teachers. We have another city announcement without a plan. We will get info out when we find it from the DOE.

Question: Monkey pox, what will we do if it breaks out in schools?

Answer: Our doctors tell us schools are not a highly likely high risk settings for transmission but we would respond if it did break out.

Question:  Will we be paid to set up electronic classroom, what about snow days?

Answer: We will be paid to set up electronic classrooms and we will go remote if there is a snowstorm. We can't call them snowadays any longer.

Question: DOE staff nurse retiring Sept 1 Why can't retired nurses work part-time? We would not have to be trained. 

Answer: It is because of pension. We still don't have nurses in every building. We need a nurse in every building. This could be one of the ways we resolve this. 

Question: Vacation days, she only got three days, what about the other four?

Answer: that was resolved. Did you make sure it was done corrrectly? Make sure it is correct. Email

Question: School psychologist, IEP conferences remotely again?

Answer: It worked better remotely so we are discussing it keeping it that way.

Question: What more can excess teachers do to find a placement since open market is now closed?

Answer: We have already extende open market once. We could do that again. Mike Sill adds that open market is now excess staff selection and you should still be able to see vacancies. Mulgrew adds to let us know if not successful getting placed.

Question: Parents not allowed in building without a Covid vaccine last year. We want parents in. Do parents still need to be vaccinated to enter buildings?

Answer: We believe that has been lifted because there is no longer health screening. Ellie Engler says parents have to show proof of vaccination. Mulgrew adds that people are willing to live with COVID now. Mulgrew complains that this is being thrown back at the school to enforce. Ellie agrees and the situation is not finalized.

Question: Judge said budget cuts are out but appeal judge said it's out. What is situation?

Answer: There is a stay so Apellate Division has to rule on whether they can cut the schools.

Question: Mandated negative test without a vaccine. Members in collection to get bills paid?

Answer: Premium free healthcare we continue to fight for. We are being charged for COVID testing when city required it. City gets money for this from federal government. We were charged $.5 billion. Either the city reimburses us or we will have to go to court. Mayor told city workers to get tested.

Question: Tell members to wait and stay in collection?

Answer: Yes

Question: Paperwork on children in crisis?

Answer: DOE said we signed a contract so they have to do this.

Question: Last year on accommodation, developed an autoimmune disease because of COVID. Do we have to reapply?

Answer Accommodations are for a year or six months. It is now under all accommodations. Need updated accommodation. Apply and get documentation.

Question: Potential buyout?

Answer: I don't see anything happening at the state level. Big teacher shortages upstate and it is just starting in NYC. Districts want to keep the teachers they have.

Question: But there is excessing?

Answer: These are false excesses created by the silliness of the budget cuts.

Question: Salary schedule ended May 14, 2021, can it be updated?

Answer: It will be updatd when the contract is in place but we are probably going to have to have a good old fight to get one.

Question: Front doors are unlocked, can they get buzzers?

Answer: 50 schools getting them but what about the rest. We don't want this school safety expense charged as an educational expense which should not come out of any potential raise.

Question: thanks Michael who thanks questioner. News says budget cuts are because there are fewer students in the system. If numbers increase, can we get money back?

Answer: City went to strict interpretation of Fair Student Funding as it was when Bloomberg was mayor. de Blasio didn't do this. State does not fund per pupil. State gave us an additional billion dollars. DOE probably sold someone at city hall a bill of goods. Less money to schools leads to more money in central bureaucracy. Lower class size had overwhelming bipartisan support in the Legislature. If the legislation goes into law, money will get to schools. 

Mulgrew thanks all again and says to be there for new ones. Meeting in Brooklyn with a thousand new teachers next week. We have to help them. Show humanity toward each other. Don't know what new normal is. Thank you again. Another town hall in late October. 

Friday, August 19, 2022


Camille and I attended the John Liu education town hall at the Flushing Public Library on Wednesday evening. Camille signed up to speak but we spent the beginning of the meeting looking for a parking space and then catching up with our friend Sam Lazarus so since we were late, she didn't get a chance even though she signed up. No big deal as there were United for Change activists who did speak including Norm Scott, Jia Lee, and Christina Gavin.

The topics of the town hall were the class size bill that overwhelmingly passed the State Assembly and Senate but still has not been signed by Governor Kathy Hochul and the budget cuts to New York City schools. Liu explained how the state is not cutting the money that was sent to the city schools. A couple of speakers did question the Senator on the renewal of mayoral control of the schools and the high school admission process that shuts so many students out of any of their choices. Students with disabilities not receiving mandated services was also raised.

The real news made at the meeting was when Liu said that he believed the Governor would soon sign the class size reduction bill. He noted how it passed the Senate by a vote of  59-4 and 147-2 in the State Assembly. Liu emphasized that courts had mandated lower class sizes so students in New York City could receive their sound basic education as required by the New York State Constitution.

Ever the skeptic, I will believe the law is going through when Hochul actually signs it (or the Legislature has the guts to override a pocket veto with their veto-proof margins). Even if lower class sizes in NYC become law, I won't be convinced this is real until class sizes are finally reduced to 20 (K-3), 23 (4-8), and 25 (HS) in every classroom in New York City except for phys ed and performing arts. (Many classs with students with disabilities should be even lower under current law.) I will concede that Hochul's signature would be a big step forward. 

In case you are wondering, the official UFT did have a small presence at the town hall Wednesday evening. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022


The New York City Department of Education announced Tuesday this coming school year's COVID guidelines for the schools. For those who want to jump to the highlights, The vaccine mandate stays but the daily health screening is gone and masks are only required after one is .

Some details from the DOE:


Vaccination is the best way to reduce COVID-19 risk. Encourage up to date COVID-19 vaccination for everyone six months or older.

Vaccination Requirements:

  • Vaccination is still required for all visitors entering school buildings
  • Vaccination is still required for all DOE employees
  • Vaccination is still required for other individuals who work in DOE buildings
  • Vaccinations is still required to participate in high-risk extracurricular activities including high-risk PSAL sports 

Daily Health Screener:

  • No longer required to enter school buildings 
  • Stay home if sick: Students and staff should stay home if they show any symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses and get tested for COVID-19. 
  • Isolate if COVID-19 positive: Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 5 days and can return to school on day 6 if they have no symptoms or symptoms are improving. They must wear mask until day 10 after symptom onset or date of positive test, whichever is earlier.

These cases should be reported to their school so they can be reported into the situation room for exposure notifications.

  • Get tested if exposed to COVID-19: Students and staff who are exposed to COVID-19 should get tested.
These individuals should receive home tests from their school and take two tests, at least 24 hours apart on day 4 and day 5 of their exposure. All exposed individuals should monitor for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms for 10 days after their exposure. If symptoms begin, they should not attend school and should isolate and get tested for COVID-19 again right away.

  • Starting the first day of school, schools will offer home test kits to those with a potential in-school exposure and those with symptoms
  • In addition, each staff and student will receive 4 tests per month to take home. These tests can be used by school families for testing due to symptoms, exposures, high-risk activity (such as travel and large gatherings) and can give staff and students immediate results.
In-school PCR surveillance testing will not be a part of the 2022-23 school year.
Situation Room:

  • Schools will be required to report positive cases of COVID-19 to the situation room.
The Situation Room will provide schools with standardized communications for their communities and will notify school communities of cases in their schools through daily email and the Daily COVID map. 

  • Face coverings are strongly recommended to be worn when indoors. Masks will be made available at the school for all those who need/want them.
  • Students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask when:
Returning to school on the sixth day after testing positive for COVID-19, through day 10 after symptom onset or date of positive test, whichever is earlier, including when traveling on a school bus.
Entering the school medical room, nurse’s office, or school-based health center.
Exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at school.

Students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, are strongly recommended to wear a mask:
  • When they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, whether the exposure occurred in school or outside of school. The person should wear a mask for 10 days after their last day of exposure and get tested at least 24 hours apart on day 4 and day 5 of their exposure.
  • When they are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised, and masking is recommended by their healthcare provider.
  • In crowded indoor settings 
There is much more including when schools will be closed because of COVID (limited because of everything the DOE is doing according to them).

Tuesday, August 16, 2022


This information came today from Class Size Matters leader Leonie Haimson.

1. Just a quick message to let you know that according to sources, the City Council is back at the negotiating table with the Mayor, pushing him to restore the school budget cuts. Let's hope they make a deal and soon!  

2. Sen. John Liu is having an Education Town hall this Wed. August 17 at 6 PM at the Flushing Library. Sen. Liu was the main sponsor of the class size bill in the State Senate and it's important that as many parents show up as possible to support smaller classes, as there is a small but vocal contingent of Queens parents who have been harassing him on the issue. Sign up at

Where: Flushing Library at 41-17 Main St

When: 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Leonie will be there. Norm Scott will be there as should Camille and me and many others.

Saturday, August 13, 2022


The latest on COVID-19 absences from the Department of Education. Please read, follow and get documentation if required. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2022


The basics from Twitter on the city's victory in court today:

Statement from Plaintiff's attorney:

Sunday, August 07, 2022


A UFT endorsement needs to mean something. A (D) after a candidate's name should not be sufficient to win an automatic UFT endorsement in any election big or small.

As strong evidence, the UFT is getting badly burned by the current Mayor and Governor who we both endorsed.

This is from Educators of NYC on Twitter:

Educators of NYC are calling for the UFT endorsement process to be revisited. We would go further and use the word overhauled in describing the change the process needs. 

Republicans and many Democrats are not our friends. There is no downside to staying neutral in campaign races where both candidates take anti-public education/anti-labor positions. The upside of staying away from politicians who oppose us is the Union keeps some integrity with the politicians and more importantly the members. The UFT badly needs to restore basic trust.

Friday, August 05, 2022


We have a summary of the latest on the parent-teacher lawsuit to try to get the City Council to take a second vote to hopefully eliminate school budget cuts.

This is from from City & State:

In a setback to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ ongoing defense of his school budget, a Manhattan judge on Friday vacated the city’s spending plan for the Department of Education, ordering the City Council and Adams’ office to pass a new, amended budget.

Judge Lyle Frank’s decision in Manhattan Supreme Court sided with the educators and parents who sued the city, arguing that state law was violated when the council voted on the overall city budget without having the education budget first approved by the Panel for Education Policy. The suit comes on the heels of a long, bitter fight and casts further uncertainty on how much money individual schools will have to spend with students set to return to classrooms in September.

“Students, teachers, and parents need finalized budgets to ensure they are on track for a smooth opening next month,” a City hall spokesperson wrote in a statement provided to City & State. “We are disappointed in the judge’s ruling, and will be taking immediate steps to appeal.” Sure enough, an attorney for the city’s Law Department filed a notice of appeal Friday morning. The City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The City of New York was named as a defendant in the suit, along with the Department of Education and Schools Chancellor David Banks.

Here is great coverage of yesterday's court action and rally from Leonie Haimson.

One never knows how an appeal will go but Adams should lose because the law says the Panel for Educational Policy needs to vote on the education budget before the City Council and tbat didn't happen. A phony emergency is not a very strong argument.

I think this whole drawn out battle by the mayor to cut school funding no matter the costs shows beyond any doubt (not that there was much doubt before) that teachers and the Union are not working with a pro-public education mayoral administration. 

Many including Michael Mulgrew warned about Adams when he was running in the Democratic primary for mayor. Adams was funded by pro charter enemies of public education. Mulgrew then reversed position after Adams won the primary and endorsed Adams for the general election. What exactly did that get us? Adams bringing in Bloomberg era Dan Weisberg as First Deputy Chancellor  just confirmed that this was not going to be a pro-teacher leadership. This drawn out battle to cut school budgets should not be a surprise.

A real union would now urgently be planning to mobilize for what could be a very difficult year ahead with a contract expiring next month. The UFT is up against a mayor who is going to such great lengths to cut school budgets. You think he's going to be negotiating a contract with favorable terms for UFTers in particular or City workers as a whole? I did get news that the UFT did send a few people to the rally yesterday against the cuts. That's about the best we can expect I guess. 

Thursday, August 04, 2022


UFTers now have until August 11, as opposed to the Contractual August 7 deadline, to transfer without approval from the school one is transferring from's principal.

From the First Deputy Chancellor:

Dear Principals, 

As a follow-up to the update you received from me earlier this week regarding additional budget flexibility, please be aware that the Open Market Transfer period for UFT staff has been extended to now close on Thursday, August 11 at 5:00 p.m.  We hope these extra few days will allow schools to create new vacancies, where now applicable, and appropriately consider interested transfers.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Senior Director of School Finance and Senior Director of School Human Resources.

Thank you, as always, for your leadership and work on behalf of all of our students.


Dan Weisberg 

First Deputy Chancellor

Wednesday, August 03, 2022


Whenever the stock market heads down for a period, you can just about guarantee there will be press stories like this one in The City talking about how New York City will have to replenish pension funds because of stock market losses. The ultimate goal from the right (EJ MacMahon is quoted) is to blame city worker pensions for financial costs the city might incur. It is funny how you never see anything in the press in one of the many years when stocks do well and the city makes a killing from excess returns on our retirement investments.

Comptroller Brad Lander does not seem too worried about the current downturn. This is from his statement on investment returns for the city's retirement systems:

During a volatile period for global financial markets, the New York City Retirement System faced losses across public markets, resulting in a preliminary net investment return of -8.65% across all five pension funds for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2022. Overall, the City’s five pension funds performed better than their benchmarks, and each remains well-funded to guarantee retirement security for its members.

The past year has seen the worst stock market decline in decades. In the first half of 2022, the S&P 500 fell 13.8% — its worst performance since the early 1960s. All major public asset classes, except commodities, incurred significant losses. Public equity returns over that period were the worst in fifty years, and U.S. Treasury returns were the worst since 1788. For New York City’s funds, historic losses in public equities and fixed incomes were offset partially by better performance of private market assets.

Despite market declines on a scale that haven’t been seen in decades, the New York City Retirement Systems outperformed our benchmarks and are well-positioned to weather market volatility over the long term. 

If you are in a panic over your TDA returns, my totally non-financial advisor thoughts are that you should try looking at the longer picture and not just the latest quarter.

Monday, August 01, 2022


The money needed to fully fund the schools is there. This is from Comptroller Brad Lander:

Comptroller’s Fiscal Year-End Analysis Shows City Has Funds to Fully Reverse Cuts to School Budgets and Increase Deposits to Rainy Day Fund

Comptroller’s office identifies $800 million in FY22 year-end excess revenues that could be deposited into long-term savings to prepare for economic downturn.

Updated forecast for DOE federal Covid stimulus rollover shows more than enough to cover the $469 million reduction in school budgets.

New York, NY – New York City Comptroller Brad Lander announced today that his office’s FY22 year-end fiscal review continues to identify sufficient resources to fully cover school budget cuts, while also substantially increasing the City’s Rainy Day Fund to prepare for the possibility of an economic downturn.

“Preparing for the future means both fully funding our schools to help our kids recover from the pandemic and getting our fiscal house in order for the possibility of a recession,” said Comptroller Lander. “Our year-end analysis shows we can do both. There’s no fiscal need to shortchange our kids.”

The Comptroller’s office review found that the City will end the year with $800 million in tax revenues above what was included in financial plan at the time the City’s budget was adopted. These additional revenues were not projected in either the FY22 or FY23 budgets.

Comptroller Lander urges that these excess revenues be placed in the City’s Rainy Day Fund, to prepare to soften the blow of a possible economic downturn. The Mayor and the City Council made significant FY22 deposits of $2.2 billion into the City’s long-term reserves (the Rainy Day Fund, aka the Revenue Stabilization Fund, plus the Retiree Health Benefits Trust fund). This brings the City’s long-term reserves to $6.55 billion, or 9.4% of tax revenues, still well below the 16 percent that the Comptroller’s office projects would be needed to weather the full length of a recession. An additional $800 million would put the City’s long-term reserves above $7 billion for the first time ever. The Comptroller also called for the City to adopt a formal policy for deposits, fund target, and withdrawals.

At the same time, the Comptroller’s office updated its estimate of Federal Covid stimulus dollars allocated to the New York City Department of Education (DOE). As of June 2022, the DOE has spent $2.33 billion of the $3.02 billion in stimulus dollars budgeted. While the DOE can continue to expend through September, the Comptroller’s office estimates that $505.6 million remains yet uncommitted, enough to fully cover the $469 million Fair Student Funding cut from school budgets for FY23. (DOE claims that the amount being cut from individual schools is $215 million, but the Comptroller’s analysis of the actual school budgets shows the gap facing principals is more than double that figure). In total, the City currently has $4.4 billion remaining in federal Covid stimulus aid for education that must be spent by FY25.

There are sufficient funds to have record reserves. There's no need to excess anyone or cut any school's budget.

In other news, UFT Solidarity is fighting the cuts.

Solidarity UFT







Alarmed at what they have concluded is an unlawful and unsustainable City-wide budget for public schools, public school educators affiliated with Solidarity,  the second largest caucus of the United Federation of Teachers, stands in support with the petitioners, PEP members, and legal personnel who filed the suit TUCKER, KOTLER, et al on July 17. Solidarity’s membership has become alarmed by steep budget cuts impacting Title 1 schools and the large numbers of teachers being excessed from school communities where they have worked for years. 

After examining the city’s proposed budget and recalling the track record of city officials to date, the union caucus has concluded that many students, staff, and their family members would suffer unnecessarily if the City does nothing additional to fully fund schools with all their earmarked federal pandemic funding (and not district, borough, or Central DOE offices). 

Under Mayor Eric Adams’s proposed City budget, schools would face $215 million in cuts during the 2022-23 school year and $295 million the following year and would be hit with the full $375 million cut in the 2024-25 school year. While the cuts are tied to K-12 declining enrollment —which has dropped by 9.5% since the beginning of the pandemic — Solidarity members believe this will hurt students as they continue grappling with the academic and social-emotional toll from the pandemic.

Students are not the only victims of the budget cuts. Almost a thousand UFT members have been excessed from their schools and are no longer on their schools’ payroll. If these members cannot find a new school to hire them, they will go into the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool. Michael Bloomberg and then-UFT President Randi Weingarten established the ATR pool when large numbers of public schools were shut down and principals were given control over their budgets and had the ability to eliminate programs and teachers from their budget. Prior to 2022, there are a few hundred ATRs remaining. The only reason that there are ATRs at all is that the Bloomberg policymakers are still in charge and have resisted the Chancellor’s goal to place ATRs in vacancies. If Adams’ proposed budget cuts get pushed through, we will see a larger number of ATRs being shuffled from school to school, because the DOE is unable, or unwilling , to place them in a stable school of their choosing where they can teach and establish roots.

Solidarity Council Member Kathy Perez states, “The Adams administration is once again missing an opportunity to greatly improve the public school experience for children and families. Instead of seeing this decrease in enrollment as an opportunity to lower class sizes, add social workers and counselors to school staff, provide more remedial, extracurricular, and enrichment opportunities for  students, the Adams administration has decided to slash budgets, thereby insuring that schools will continue to have to scramble to find basic resources. They are completely squandering an opportunity to actually show the commitment to public education that they certainly love to talk about, but when given the opportunity to either help or hurt kids, they stick to business as usual and make children and families pay the price.”

Solidarity Council Member Daniel Leopold states, “It is extremely puzzling how the people who vehemently objected to “Defund the Police” which was actually meant reallocate funds to areas that need more funding, are so quiet now that funding for public schools are being drastically cut.  This is a recipe for creating an idiocracy in NYC through the ripple effects in years to come generated by these cuts.  We need transparency in how the cuts were determined for each and every school in NYC.”

Solidarity Council Member Joanne Millar states, “Restoring the budget cuts would drastically increase the amount of individualized attention able to be given to every city student thereby increasing their academic achievement and propelling SEL advances made exponentially further since the SEL initiative was put in place during the pandemic. Cutting the budget so drastically is plain thievery from our city’s youth by the mayor.”

UFT Member Jessica Beck states, “The Adams administration prioritizes political interests over the real families, children, educators, and classrooms impacted by these budget cuts. Public education is vital to our communities, and this barefaced move toward privatization is a boldly shameful gesture when mayoral control is so hotly disputed.”

Solidarity Caucus member and High School Executive Board Delegate Lydia Howrilka informed membership, “We are pleased with the Court’s ruling. This is a tremendous win for UFT members. While we wish the TRO would result in schools being granted their lost funding immediately, we are happy that Judge Frank is ordering that the City is enjoined from making any further cuts to school budgets and the spending must remain at the levels in their FY 22 budgets. We look forward to a positive outcome for the petitioners, community members, and students after next week’s hearing.”