November 2014 UFT Delegate Assembly Report

A resolution calling for the UFT to support the cause of students in Mexico who have “disappeared” and one calling for Time Magazine to apologize for their teacher bashing cover were passed at the November Delegate Assembly yesterday. The Mexican students had disappeared and were probably tortured and murdered.  Abe Levine of the ruling Unity Caucus asked for an amendment calling for the AFT to do research on the nature of the organization we were supporting before we fully support them and the body agreed to his change before passing the resolution.

Two different resolutions failed.  One was introduced by Megan Moskop who wanted the UFT to support a teacher hiring diversity petition.  She wanted it placed on this month’s agenda which is not debatable and requires a 2/3 vote to be added in.  Before she raised the motion, Unity’s Leroy Barr during his Staff Director’s Report commented that the UFT was doing much already through its Social and Economic Justice Committee to increase diversity in hiring.  Megan did get to make a few points even though her motion was for this month’s agenda so she is just supposed to make a motion.  She did not get the 2/3 vote necessary to put it on the agenda.

Another motion was raised by Marjorie Stamberg to support First Amendment rights in Ferguson Missouri.  This also failed to carry. Mulgrew noted that AFT may take a position on this.

President’s Report

 

What do we say about the elections that just passed?

Low voter turnout- 28% in NY State, lowest number ever. That’s what the people who don’t like us are always pushing for. If we vote and get our people out to vote, we’re in a good place.

You all have TVs, so Mulgrew didn’t get into details.
Governor’s races are a problem.

 

Tons of mailers. We need to spend some time and money organzing people to actually get out to vote. Fewer mailers.

 

Tech bond act passed- millions of dollars to technology in NYC.

 

94 struggling schools in NYC

 

1. We want to o set up meetings jointly w/ DOE and UFT folks in schools. Farina keeps saying, and keeps getting beaten up over collaboration. When she says trust she means trust for the whole school community. Integrity. Shared responsibility. Must move from being an individual profession to a team profession. The job is too hard; we can do it better together. Successful schools should be sharing ideas. She’s been clear that the hunger games are over.

 

2- Automotive & Boys and Girls: special cases

UFT Submitted a plan a while ago, but it was rejected. It is clear that SED was going to close the schools. Long hours to come to agreement. We feel this is a good plan for how to move forward without closing the schools. (Will not close until we first try to help them.) These two schools have never been treated fairly. They have huge numbers of of high need kids. Now we have a planning committee. Change in conditions of work environment now. Plan will include more work time including at least one week during the summer. Teachers from these schools must reapply for their positions before a personnel committee, 50% will be chosen by UFT. (if dispute, it is taken to Mulgrew and Farina). We want to show people that this is how it should  work.

Note: During Question period Mulgrew added “teachers that are not hired at these two schools will be placed at another school for one year, for five successive years.”

(Editorial- Mulgrew says people displaced from these two schools won’t become ATRS but annual placement for ATRs is precisely how ATRs were used before the infamous 2011 rotation agreement when the UFT inexplicably agreed to weekly movements from school to school.  Then again, it is indefensible that the UFT agreed to give up preferred placement when schools close in the infamous 2005 contract.  No real gain here, just easing the loss a bit.)

Please see more on how this is similar to the original ATR plan by Randi Weingarten here

Aris and Amplify
Contracts have been cancelled for both.

Tenure Lawsuit
Motion to dismiss California copycat case to end tenure in NYS filed by us in late October.  Should hear an answer by November 28.

Consultation and Paperwork Committees
Every school needs a Consultation Committee.  Must bring up school-wide issues during the contractually mandated monthly consultation meetings with the principal.  The newly empowered Superintendents can help resolve problems if we have raised them at the school level first.  The same applies to paperwork.  We need to bring the issues up at the school level first.

Arbitration on Arrears for Retirees
Last night the arbitrator ruled that there would be arrears paid to those UFT members who retired between 2009 and June 2014.  Intent was for everyone to get the money up front (Editorial: That’s already not happening).  We will work with arbitrator to make everyone whole.  $60 million in a $5 billion contract should not be difficult to fix. Lucky we had a clause to reopen this if there was a problem.

Leroy Barr Staff Director’s Report.

The next DA is December 17; he also announced other upcoming events with special emphasis placed on the UFT committee that helps the homeless.

Question Period

Question: What is being done about principals who make our members’ jobs more difficult?

Answer: Superintendents are now in place who will oversee like the law says they should.  Since Superintendents serve at the pleasure of the Chancellor, none would dare do much under Bloomberg but now they are empowered under Farina.  Superintendents are now educators.  15 have been replaced. Farina says there needs to be trust.  Principals must respect staff.  Fixing accountability system is next.

 

Question: Can administration dictate binders that call for everything including what colors they should have be submitted?

Answer: No, this is an example of something that should be worked out in consultation and if it can’t be resolved, then take it up with the District Representative.

 

Question: Aren’t we creating new ATRS in Automotive and Boys and Girls?

Answer: People have to reapply for their jobs because we changed the working conditions by adding a mandatory week of work in the summer.  Persons not rehired will be placed in schools for a year if they cannot find a new position.

 

Question: A principal says there is no money in the budget for supplies.  Is this a proper excuse for not having supplies?

Answer: File a grievance under Article 7R.  The School Leadership Team is required to discuss the budget.  Schools have to decide how to use their money.  Administrator per session has been abused in recent years.

 

Question: There is a leaky roof at Clara Barton High School that is leaking into an electrical box.  Isn’t this a dangerous situation where we should walk out?

Answer: We are informing the School Construction Authority immediately.  This is a dangerous situation and we will do what it takes to ensure safety of the school.

 

Writers: James Eterno, Megan Moskop, Mike Schirtzer

Commentary may or may not represent the official positions of the MORE caucus

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Did you know that although more than 67.5% of our NYC students are Black and Latino/a, only 37% of teachers share their background? Did you know that since 2002 that number (based on new hires) has fallen by over half (57.4%), while the number of white teachers hired in the city has increased by 23%?

It’s true. BUT, our educational leaders have a clear path towards remedying this problem, and we’re helping the Teacher Diversity Committee of NYC push for those changes with the Petition to Increase Teacher Diversity in New York City.  The clock is ticking though- you have just 10 more days to get involved, and we need everyone!

On Tuesday, November 25, we will go to the PEP (Panel for Educational Policy) meeting to support the Teacher Diversity Committee as they present the Petition to Increase Teacher Diversity in New York City!

Now, join us in the push to get as many signatures as possible before then. If you’ve been gathering  signatures since August from your co-workers and community members, thank you! It’s time to finish up and turn in your petitions.

We’ve already gathered several hundred signatures, but if we want Chancellor Fariña and the PEP to prioritize this important work, we still need your help! If you haven’t already begun, sign on, and share the petition online.  Then print a hard copy and collect signatures around your school/community so that you can have conversations about this important work.

Finally, bring hard copies of the petition to the UFT Delegate Assembly on Tuesday, November 18th, and join us in formally asking our union to sign on in support of a more diverse teaching corps. If you can’t make it to the meeting, mail your completed petitions ASAP to: Teacher Diversity Committee of NYC, c/o Ahern, P.O. Box 1025, New York, NY 10002.

To read the petition in it’s entirety, download a hard copy here, or read our August blog post.

If you’re sharing the petition online here are some sample Tweets or messages that you can use:

Charter schools continue to receive a windfall to the tune of tens of millions of potential dollars in free space, either in a public school or in a city-subsidized private space, more per pupil funding than public schools, and an essentially unfettered ability to expand at the expense of existing public schools. The charter school giveaways are nothing short of a death sentence for the sustainability of New York City’s public school system

The financial burden of providing and paying for charter school space and services for co-locations will be crippling. This will be especially difficult once the cap of 200 charter schools is reached. As of now there are currently 3 charter schools left on the cap in NYC, but there will be “more” because existing charters can expand grades without being included in the cap. The city is required to find the resources to pay. Only after $40 million is spent on private charter rent, will the state contribute to an undetermined amount of assistance. We need funding policies that will support the facilities and space needed for the approximately 93.4%of public school children learning in overcrowded and substandard facilities.

Charters schools receive MORE per pupil funding than public schools. This creates even greater inequity in our school system favoring the approximately 7.6% of NYC’s school children who currently attend charter schools. Combine that with the millions in private funding charters receive from millionaire and billionaire donors who have an interest in privatizing our education system and the goal becomes clear: undermine and dismantle every child’s right to go to the school of his or her choice. The new policy will force students to fill out an application, win a lottery, and adhere to undemocratic governance and a set of rules that leave families vulnerable to discrimination and push-out, not to mention increased segregation in an already segregated school system. We need policies that seek to create equity and increase the integration of our school system, not make it worse

The new law requiring charter space puts the expansion of public schools in New York City at risk because it encourages charter school expansion over the expansion of public schools. New York City schools have some of the highest class sizes and most overcrowding in the state. We need support to help end this crisis, not make it worse.

The financial sustainability of our school system is at risk. As more public dollars are funneled into education corporations and charter schools, fewer public dollars are available for our public schools. At a certain point, and we have heard the “tipping point” is 10% enrollment in charter schools in NYC, we will reach a financial crisis that will make it impossible to balance the funding needs for both charters and public schools, thus allowing the kind of wholesale transfer of public schools to charter operators as we have seen in New Orleans, Philadelphia, now encroaching on Camden, and state-wide in Tennessee.

Governor Cuomo not only allowed the charter school windfall to be central to this year’s budget, he was one of, if not the, architect(s). The self-proclaimed “student lobbyist” is truly a charter-hedge-funder lobbyist beholden to campaign dollars in an election year and further influenced by his national political aspirations.

Legislators from around the state, save a brave few such as state Senator Montgomery and Harlem’s Senator Perkins whose constituents have experienced the horrors and inequity of charter co-locations and expansion first hand, said precious little and took no stand in rejecting this budget.

Our Mayor, who ran on putting an end to the favor of charters at the expense of our public schools and received a clear mandate to do so by the voters in our city, was at the very least powerless to stop the giveaway and at worst raised no vocal objection, perhaps considering funding for universal Pre-K a worthy enough win, even though charters will also have the right to open Pre-K.

The true student-lobbyists, parents, students, rank-and-file educators and community members, must stand together to demand full funding and support for our public schools. We must make it clear that an investment in a system that serves ALL children that is governed by the people, not private unaccountable and non-transparent interests, is vital to the health and success of our children.

We have learned from our personal experiences that charter space support and expansion in communities results in a negative impact on the community itself, causing unnecessary strain and tension, as well as on the existing schools. But equally important, because these issues were at our doorstep, we also understand the deep systemic issues surrounding charters: the drive to privatize our public education system, the impact of charter push-out, the impact of a two-tiered system where one school is privileged over another, and the bigger picture of the undermining of public education and all that entails from worker protections, to funding, to the way children are treated.

MORE stands in solidarity with the approximately 93.4% of families who want high quality neighborhood schools for their children. We stand by our teachers involved in this fight. We cannot achieve the promise of public education if the funding, facilities and services we need to provide are at-risk. Cuomo does not stand for our children. He stands for his own political interests fueled by charter school dollars and we WILL hold him accountable!

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According to www.nyccharterschools.org, this is what we are looking at; past, present, and THEIR expected future…

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The future of our schools, our children, and our livelihoods are at stake! We need to fight!


* VERY IMPORTANT NOTE- Information obtained by the Teachers Diversity Committee (TDC) of NYC from Success Academy charter schools, showed that for the 2013-2014 school year, 13 out of 15 locations have a significantly higher percentage of white teachers than was the city wide average for public schools in NYC which in 2012, was 58.6%. The mandate to expand charters is increasing racial segregation of students and decreasing teacher diversity in NYC schools overall.

How you can help-

Charter-school co-location hearings: Join us as we stand together with parents, students, and fellow UFT’ers against the privatization of our schools and defend public schools that serve the local community. MORE stands against the proliferation of charter schools crowding out district schools for teachers, rooms and other resources in favor of charters that do not serve all our children. Charters are are often run by corporations as for-profits.

Contact: You can contact Lauren about upcoming hearings and PEPs. You can also contact Julie, Patrick, and Mindy to mobilize your school’s efforts to fight back.

Email: MORE@morecaucusnyc.org

Twitter: @MOREcaucusNYC

The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE-UFT) voted unanimously at our last General Body meeting to propose that the United Federation of Teachers, instead of sitting out this gubernatorial race, endorse the pro-public education platform presented by Howie Hawkins for Governor and Brian Jones for Lieutenant Governor.

MORE prepared to present a resolution at Wednesday’s Delegate Assembly. The UFT leadership, however, did not allow this discussion. Despite being informed in advance that MORE chapter leaders and delegates intended to raise this resolution for debate and voting, UFT leadership called time on the ten-minute new motion period, thus prohibiting this conversation. In fact, though Michael Mulgrew’s President’s Report was longer than 45 minutes, there was no mention of this Governor’s race.

Though UFT and NYSUT leadership remain silent regarding the upcoming Gubernatorial race, we pledge go to the polls and vote for the only public school positive, teacher-and-student friendly candidates in this race.  We encourage fellow friends of public education to join us in voting Hawkins/Jones!

Why? Here are just a few of the many reasons:

  • Both Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino vocally support the privatization of education through the expansion of charter schools. In contrast, the Green Party ticket of Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones opposes charter schools.
  • Andrew Cuomo has pushed through an expansion of testing statewide and the punitive linking of test scores to teacher evaluations. The Hawkins/Jones ticket opposes an emphasis on high stakes testing.
  • Andrew Cuomo implemented a destructive tax cap that has forced massive layoffs of teachers in upstate districts.
  • New York State AFL-CIO and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) have declined to endorse Cuomo because of his anti-education policies.
  • Astorino and Cuomo are both millionaires while Hawkins and Jones are both union activists, Hawkins in Teamsters, Jones in the UFT and PSC.
  • The Hawkins/Jones platform of a Green New Deal calls for
    • equitable funding for all of our schools,
    • reduced class sizes across the state,
    • support for programs that promote desegregation in our schools,
    • an end to zero-tolerance discipline policies driving the school-to-prison pipeline,
    • and allowing schools to develop methods of assessment organic to the learning process. 
  • To learn more, Read their letter to teachers here, and spread the word using the voter guide below. 
MORE/UFT Caucus Pro-Education Positions Hawkins/ Jones (Green) Cuomo(Dem.) Astorino(Rep.)
Against the Expansion of Charter Schools
Against High Stakes Testing, Against APPR (New teacher evals) / Supports Parents & Students’ Right to Opt Out of High Stakes Tests
Against Common Core?
Union member or Millionaire Candidates? Union Millionaire Millionaire
Fight corporate ed deform by rescinding NY’s Race to the Top application and replacing NYSED commissioner John King
Tax Top 5% and Eliminate State Property Tax Cap to Fund Schools
Supports unionism, social movements and a $15/hr minimum wage

Don’t sit this election out, vote for a real change in Education Policy!  Vote Hawkins/Jones!

Paraprofessionals:

For those of you who have paraprofessionals in the classroom, we must recognize that they are the backbone support in our schools. They help with lesson implementation, classroom management, follow agreed upon roles with the classroom and more. It is important for us educators to foster and improve our relationships with paraprofessionals. We need to listen to them as well. Hear what they have to say to help our classrooms run more efficiently. Finally, we need to respect paraprofessionals for what they do for our students and for us everyday. They are so much more than simply crisis management. This is a team effort and we need our classrooms to be run this way.

How We Can Help:

-Do you have a Para Leader in your school?

If not, you can encourage an exemplary

paraprofessional to take on this role. A Para

Leader can help with staff relationships

and offer support in your school. You can

contact the UFT to help with this position.

-Within MORE

We would love for paraprofessionals to

become members and attend our meetings.

They too have a voice and they should use it. I

am sure they could offer plenty of suggestions

to help build better relationships amongst staff,

and offer helpful techniques to aid with

classroom management.

-Help paraprofessional voices to be heard-

We would also love to have paraprofessionals

write for our blogs and to be active within our

committees.

We can also start up a Paraprofessional committee for support

and open dialog as to how to build better relationships in our

classrooms.

RESOLUTION  FOR  THE  UFT  TO  ENDORSE  HOWIE  HAWKINS  FOR  GOVERNOR     &  BRIAN  JONES  FOR  LIEUTENANT  GOVERNOR  -­  Please  raise  for  THIS  MONTH’S  AGENDA  

 

Whereas,  both  New  York  State  gubernatorial  candidates  Andrew  Cuomo  and  Rob  Astorino  vocally   support  the  privatization  of  education  through  the  expansion  of  charter  schools,  and  the  Green  Party   ticket  of  Howie  Hawkins  and  Brian  Jones  oppose  charter  schools,  and

Whereas,  Andrew  Cuomo  has  pushed  through  an  expansion  of  testing  statewide  and  the  punitive  linking   of  test  scores  to  teacher  evaluations,  while  the  Hawkins/Jones  ticket  opposes  an  emphasis  on   testing,  and

Whereas,  Andrew  Cuomo  implemented  a  destructive  tax  cap  that  has  forced  massive  layoffs  of  teachers   in  upstate  districts,  and

Whereas,  the  New  York  State  AFL-­CIO  and  the  New  York  State  United  Teachers  have  declined  to  endorse   Cuomo  because  of  his  anti-­education  policies,  and

Whereas  the  Buffalo  Teachers  Federation,  Port  Jefferson  Station  Teachers  Association,  East  Williston   Teachers  Association,  Lakeland  Federation  of  Teachers,  Diane  Ravitch,  the  Coalition  for  Public  Education,   the  Independent  Commission  on  Public  Education  and  three  local  NYC  Democratic  clubs  have  all   endorsed  the  Hawkins/Jones  ticket,  and

Whereas,  the  Hawkins/Jones  platform  of  a  Green  New  Deal  calls  for  equitable  funding  for  all  of  our   schools,  reduced  class  sizes  across  the  state,  support  for  programs  that  promote  desegregation  in   our  schools,  an  end  to  zero-­tolerance  discipline  policies  driving  the  school-­to-­prison  pipeline,   and  allowing  schools  to  develop  methods  of  assessment  organic  to  the  learning  process,  and

Whereas,  Astorino  and  Cuomo  are  both  millionaires  while  Hawkins  and  Jones  are  both  union  activists,   Hawkins  in  Teamsters,  Jones  in  the  UFT  and  PSC,  therefore  be  it,

Resolved,  the  United  Federation  of  Teachers  endorses  Howie  Hawkins  for  Governor  of  New  York  State   and  Brian  Jones  for  Lieutenant  Governor.  Be  it  further

Resolved,  the  UFT,  through  COPE,  inform  its  members  of  this  endorsement,  the  contrasts  between  the   candidates  on  key  education  issues,  and  mobilize  its  members  to  support  the  Hawkins/Jones  campaign.

Resolution  for  Full  Union  Representation  for  ATRs   Please  raise  for  NEXT  MONTH’S  AGENDA  

 Whereas,  the  Delegate  Assembly  is  the  highest  policy  making  body  in  the  United  Federation  of   Teachers,  and

  Whereas,  federal  labor  law  requires  that  policy  making  bodies  within  a  union  be  democratically   elected  with  each  member  entitled  to  a  vote,  and

 
Whereas,  Absent  Teacher  Reserves  (ATRs)  are  not  entitled  to  vote  in  Chapter  Elections  unless  they   happen  to  be  working  in  a  school  that  has  a  Chapter  Election  during  a  particular  week  that  the  ATR  is   working  in  a  school,  and

 
Whereas,  unions  can  set  up  reasonable  rules  as  to  who  can  run  for  office,  but  it  is  not  reasonable  that   ATRs  including  Leave  Replacement  Teachers  and  Provisional  Teachers  cannot  run  or  serve  as   Delegates  or  Chapter  Leaders  simply  because  they  belong  to  no  Chapter,  and

Whereas,  the  ATR  position  has  now  been  embedded  in  the  UFT  contract  in  Section  16  of  the  2014   Memorandum  of  Agreement,  therefore  be  it

Resolved,  that  the  UFT  will  immediately  create  a  Functional  Chapter  to  represent  the  interests  of   ATRs,  Leave  Replacement  Teachers  and  Provisional  Teachers.

MORE member John Giambalvo writes with School Network Leader Nathan Dudley about the implications for teachers and students to policy changes regarding school Quality Reviews. To say Quality Reviews need to change may be a bit of an understatement and we credit John for finding common ground with Mr. Dudley so that a conversation about those changes can begin. 

“Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s recalibration of New York City’s school grading system was met with much fanfare last week. While the changes to school Progress Reports received most of the attention, the chancellor also announced changes to Quality Reviews—the intensive process by which schools are evaluated every year or two.

Fariña probably knew these changes wouldn’t grab as many headlines as the shift from A-F grades. But she may know, and we believe, that those changes could be a real game-changer for city schools.

Why? No two words cause as much anxiety for city school leaders and teachers as “Quality Review.” The influential reviews are the closest things to a standardized assessment that a school gets. The evaluators comb through classrooms; talk to teachers, students, and parents; examine data over two days; and then evaluate the school using a strict rubric.

In some schools, the preparation for the review and the review itself have been disruptive to teaching and learning. And in many cases, reviewers provided little …” (Read more at Chalkbeat.org)

MORE is moving forward on our priorities and campaigns for the fall.  We need YOU to get involved and help us campaign around tenure, charter schools, high-stakes testing, chapter leader elections, local UFT member support, diversity petition and MORE!

Ways to get involved – email us at MORE@morecaucusnyc.org or call at (347) 766-7319 to join any of these campaigns.

Please check out our events calendar at more.nationbuilder.com/calendar

  • Distribute Our Newsletter! - This is the most essential thing every member should do to build our caucus.  The newsletter is how we raise our collective voice and recruit new activists. MORE members should distribute MORE newsletters to all UFT members in their school mailboxes and try to make contacts at nearby schools as well. Download our recent copy here

Continue Reading…

The Tenure Debate:  A New York City Public Educator Perspective

by Marcus Brandon McArthur

This is a personal statement by a member of MORE. It may or may not represent the official view of the MORE caucus.

Introduction

The state of policy debate around improving public schools in the U.S. continues to disappoint.  Discussions on how to improve the system continue to be dominated by monied interests purporting to be the bearers of the 21st century “Civil Rights” torch.  Much of their analysis on the state of public education is simply political noise and a carefully crafted public relations campaign that blankets public education in a cloak of comprehensive failure.  In particular, the tenure protection for teachers, has been squarely in the crosshairs of their policy agenda.  The debate on tenure has been nefariously framed by focusing exclusively on the caricatured imaginary “bad teacher” that looms large for many Americans.  The phrase “bad teachers” is mentioned so often we are led to believe that 98% of teachers are deemed ineffective each year, not the 2% that actually are.  The ruling in the recent Vergara v. California case, which effectively eliminates tenure for public school teachers in California, has spurned a wave of copycat lawsuits seeking the same fate in other states, most prominently, New York.  These lawsuits are carefully marketed as being initiated on behalf of poor black and brown children and all those “good teachers” whose profession is debased because of the proliferation of “bad teachers” that have an irrevocable “job for life”.

Continue Reading…

MOREIssuesv3FinalCheck out this year’s first edition of our newsletter, MORE Issues!

This issue focuses on the attack on teacher tenure, the launching of the teacher diversity petition, and plight of discontinued teachers. 

Contributions from chapter leaders Jia Lee and Patrick Walsh, student Primi Akhtar, and parent Karen Sprowal.

MORE Issues – Vol 2, Issue 1 – Fall 2014

Please help us distribute at the Chapter Leader meeting (Wednesday, 9/10, 4-6pm at 52 Broadway) – email more@morecaucusnyc.org if you can help out.  

Extra copies will be available for pickup there, and at MORE’s first general meeting of the year Saturday, September 13th, Noon-3pm  (NationBuilder training starts at 11) @ The Ya-Ya Network 224 W 29th St, 14th Floor 

Local Educator Support

September 8, 2014 — 4 Comments

 

moreunion

 

UFT members in need of assistance please email: more@morecaucusnyc.org

Phone: (347) 766-7319

Contact us if you need support to:

-          mobilize your union chapter

-          run in the 2015 UFT Chapter Leader elections

-          challenge tenure denial

-          report contract violations

-          deal with an abusive administration

-          fight against infringements of members’ and/or students’ rights

-          file grievances

-          fight back against forced charter co-locations

 

You will be able to consult with one of our experienced chapter leaders. MORE can also help set up a meeting near your school. In the past, we have organized one-to-one phone calls, local happy hours, lunch meetings, study groups, and after-school diner meetings.

Contact MORE Local Educator Support in full confidentiality.

Black and Latino educators in New York who took the LAST exam and were denied employment, dismissed or demoted as a consequence between 1995 -2004 are eligible for back pay and benefits. The notice below was sent out to all those currently identified as eligible. It is estimated that between 8,000 -15,000 are eligible. The Gulino v BOE case was dragged out for 20 years by the BOE/DOE. Continue Reading…

peace-unity-justice

This is MORE’s statement on the march with the Eric Garner’s family sponsored by the UFT

Last week the UFT announced sponsorship and support for A March for Unity and Justice.  The march, with Eric Garner’s family at the helm, is billed as a coming together and a call for transparency and accountability in the wake of several prominent cases of alleged police brutality.  A firestorm of criticism of the UFT’s sponsorship of this march has played out on the pages of newspapers, social media, and countless emails between educators, politicians, and community leaders.

Continue Reading…

For Deion

August 20, 2014 — 11 Comments

candles

This is a personal statement by a member of MORE. It may or may not represent the official view of the MORE caucus.

By Julie Cavanagh

Teacher/Chapter Leader P.S.15k

One year ago I received a phone call from a former student. After a few exchanged pleasantries he interrupted me to say, “Deion is dead”.  My heart sank, a lump formed in my throat, and I listened to what is an increasingly all too familiar story of a young black man dying during a low-level police interaction.

Continue Reading…

"A say in the priorites of our Union? (UFT) Sure, we'd like MORE."

A plea for union democracy

Our last summer series event of 2014 is Wednesday 8/20/14

Dark Horse Pub

17 Murray St NYC

Facebook invite here

 

UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers’ Union Matter?

Are you entering the teaching profession or new to NYC schools? Are you wondering what the teacher union is all about and what it means to you and your students? Is it something you should be active in? Do educators, parents and students share common interests? Can unions be vehicles for social justice? Meet with new and veteran teachers to discuss these questions and more in this introduction to teacher unionism.

This promises to be a fun, interactive meeting where you can meet educators that are just coming into the school system, some going into their second year, and experienced educators too!

Save the date, our first general meeting of the new school year will be Saturday Sept. 13th in Manhattan. Check back here for more information on this and meetings/happy hours in neighborhoods across NYC.

by Julie Cavanagh, special education teacher and ChapterLeader at Public School 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and MORE candidate for President of the UFT. Originally printed in The New York Daily News on August 15, 2014.

Four years ago, a group tied to testing and publishing companies, and bankrolled with Bill and Melinda Gates’ money, brought us the Common Core Learning Standards.

Cash-strapped states that wanted to win federal Race to the Top dollars had to adopt the standards, and more than 40 states, including New York, did so.

Julie Cavanagh speaks out at a MORE press conference

Last year, our students were assessed for the first time according to the new standards. State Education Department officials predicted a steep drop, and scores plummeted. This year, small gains were predicted, and that’s what happened, to the astonishment of no one.

Predictions are easy to make when you define what constitutes proficiency.

There will be an attempt from all factions to spin the results: The state will say the reform agenda is working, the city will argue the scores show the need for pre-K, and charter schools will claim they show their importance as high-quality alternatives.

Let’s get off the hamster wheel.

The truth is, these tests were designed to create a narrative of failure, and the trends are not so different from those we saw on the old tests: we are failing our children with special needs, our English language learners, our children who live in poverty, and a disproportionate number of black and Latino pupils.

It is no surprise that the results mirror the struggles and deep flaws in our society. Of course, the goal was never to actually fix our schools — there are no profits in doing that. There are no profits in providing small class sizes, experienced educators and services like counseling, tutoring and family support — proven reforms that would benefit all students.

Instead, the focus is on unproven standards and the tests that supposedly measure our student’s competency — written by the very people who profit from their use.

 

To be delivered to Carmen Fariña and The New York City Panel for Educational Policy

Since the 2001-2002 academic year, there has been a 57.4% decrease in the number of Black teachers hired by the New York City Department of Education, and a 22.9% increase for white teachers hired during this same period of time.

We ask Chancellor Fariña and the Panel for Education Policy to:

• Make a policy statement that acknowledges the value of teacher diversity and the lack of such diversity in New York City public schools.

• Centrally monitor the racial demographic of hiring and firing in NYC public and charter schools. In public school data reports include the racial profile for the teachers and administrators in each school as is currently done for the students.

• Raise the percentage of Black and Latino teachers hired in the system overall, with a special focus on raising the percentage of male teachers in those groups.

• Raise the percentage of persons of color in the NYC Teaching Fellows program to more closely match the NYC student body demographic. Make public the number and racial demographic of NYC Teaching Fellows hired.

• Settle Gulino vs. Board of Education, in which a recent court ruling found that the NY State LAST certification exam was not validated yet was used in 2002 to dismiss thousands of NYC teachers who were disproportionately Black and Latino.

• Invest in a clear and distinct paraprofessional-to-teacher career path that offers qualified applicants provisional teaching licenses while completing graduate degree requirements and subsidizes both undergraduate and graduate tuition at CUNY and SUNY

PETITION BACKGROUND

In a school system that is 67.5% Black and Latino (as of 2012 – 13), the 34% combined percentage of Black and Latino teachers in the system is disappointing at best.

This lack of diversity reinforces already existing practices of segregation and leaves out diverse cultural perspectives that inform curriculum, pedagogy and practice. It also shortchanges our students by replicating and reinforcing false societal structures that devalue the contribution and perspectives of non-dominant racial and cultural groups.

teacher-tenure-large

So it’s June 20th (“Regents’ Week” in New York high schools) and I’m having coffee with the most wonderfully kind teacher of my school. We’re in his classroom, talking about our wives, when he starts giving me some awesome advice about marriage. He has this beautiful baritone voice and speaks in this fabulously slow, deliberate manner so, as is my habit when I listen to his wisdom, I lean my head into my right hand and just take it all in.

At that moment -I mean at that very moment- I feel some type of bump thing under my ear. My colleague’s voice fades just a bit as I begin to concentrate my attention on this area just under my ear. I pick up my head up and touch  it with the tips of my two fingers and quickly conclude that I have a lump.

My colleague’s voice fades almost completely away now as I feel all around this lump. It’s about 3/4 inch in diameter, comes up about 1/2 an inch off of the side of my face and is planted right there under my ear. There is nothing on the other side, nothing under my neck and nothing anywhere else. I can no longer hear a word coming from my colleague. I see a face and a moving mouth but no sound comes out. All I can think about it is ‘wtf is this lump?’. It doesn’t hurt, doesn’t feel sore and isn’t accompanied by any fever or discomfort. The skin around it is not brown or discolored. It doesn’t feel like a huge zit and doesn’t hurt when I press on it. Yet there it is.

One month, five doctor appointments, an X-Ray and an MRI later and I am informed that I have a tumor in my right salivary gland. I didn’t even know I had one of those.  I’m also told that there is no certainty as to whether it is cancerous or benign (although, I’m told, it’s probably benign). Finally, I’m informed that I’ll need surgery to fix this broken gland of mine.

And just like that, I am tossed into the merry Go ‘Round that is our American Healthcare System.

I dont suppose my ride will be a long one. I have recently seen this happen to someone close and  the full cycle of death by cancer is a vicious one. There are endless appointments, countless doctors who you see but don’t know, as well as more trips for procedures, surgeries and/or scary tests than you can, or care to, count. And then there are the drugs -endless amounts of drugs. They have drugs to drain your fluids and drugs to fill you with them. They have drugs to poison you and drugs to make you feel better after having been poisoned. There are drugs to make you sleep, drugs to wake you up, drugs to make you eat and drugs to make you stop vomiting when you’ve eaten too much after injecting the poison.  Witnessing these things was one thing. But by mid-July, after just 20 minutes with my head shoved into an MRI machine, I came to realize the full scope of what I suddenly hoped I was not in store for. If it’s bad -I mean if it’s really really bad- I’ll begin this slow process where I’ll first stop being myself, then stop being able to work and finally stop being anything at all. If it’s more than what it probably it is (because it probably is just a benign tumor), I will have to consider how to navigate the terrain through these lenses.

I don’t mention this because I think it matters much for an Edu blog. Nor do I mention it because I think this extreme possibility will happen to me (again, odds are that it won’t). I certainly don’t mention it for attention or sympathy. I only bring it up because I’d like you to see the landscape from my perspective as I begin talking about my job protections.

You see, at this point in the summer, it looks as though the surgery will take place sometime after the start of the coming school year. This means that I will probably have to miss at least a few days of work. My license is not in a shortage area. ‘High School Social Studies Teacher’ is a dream job, you see. The fact of the matter is that there are ten guys who are just as smart (and five who are just as handsome) who could quickly move in and do what I do for literally half of what it costs to pay my salary and the healthcare benefits that will probably save me.

I also need to say that I have seen school leaders move to get rid of teachers for something like missing work in order to address needed health issues before. I haven’t seen this once or twice mind you (although I haven’t seen it “a lot” or “often” either), but I have seen it enough over my thirteen years in the classroom to have clear recollections of being thankful for my good health on more than one occasion. And I’ve seen it enough to count myself grateful that I do not currently work under such school leaders. Those observations make me feel grateful for having the job protection of tenure.

I know what the process for a ruthless principal is to get rid of someone with sudden health issues. A principal I worked for between 2001 and 2005, and another I worked for for one semester in 2008 both followed it well. Before the health issues, the teacher is a fine and productive teacher. Suddenly, the health issues arrive and the teacher is not able to wait until the summer to take care of it. Soon after, the administrators share concerns about the teaching practices of this teacher. Before you know it, administrators and their lackies, label this person as a ‘bad teacher’. From there, it’s a quick ride out. I’ve witnessed three teachers be forced into an early retirement, one forced into a resignation from the system altogether and just this year, heard that another was forced into a medical pension that she did not wish to take.

The principals didn’t force these teachers into these positions on the grounds that they were sick. Of course, that would be reprehensible. Rather, they forced my colleagues into these positions because they were ‘bad’ at what they did. Of course, the rub is that they were only labelled ‘bad’after they became sick. Any dimwit can tell you that that’s how things work in the real world.

I make this point because just yesterday, Whoopi Goldberg jumped on the bandwagon of ‘fire the bad teachers’. I have to admit that, at face value, it is an honorable bandwagon to jump on. No one, and that includes me, wants a bad teacher teaching. A slightly closer look will reveal that Ms. Goldberg is embracing a specific form of commentary -one that happens to be called the “Bad Teacher Narrative”. That’s the commentary that chooses to discuss only the bad apples that populate our classrooms and no others. It’s a useful narrative, in that focusing on the bad apples allows people to take hard earned privileges away from all of us.  Julie Cavanaugh, the lady who ran for president of my union last time around  once mentioned that “The ‘bad teacher’ narrative as a way of explaining what’s wrong with our school system gets really old,”. Looks like she was wrong. It’s not old for Ms. Goldberg. On her show yesterday, Whoopi seemed to imply that tenure for all teachers should be removed simply because a few of us (anywhere between 1% – 3% according to testimony during the Vergara Case) may be bad. Of course, she doesn’t consider how any one of us can arrive at the label of being bad. Some of us, like my colleagues under a ruthless principal, can be fine, but then become bad suspiciously after becoming sick. Others can befall this label for other reasons that are nothing short of dishonest and corrupt. Whoopi didn’t seem to address this. No one who embraces the ‘Bad Teacher Narrative” ever seems to address this.

At this point, I would like to point out that, should Campbell Brown’s lawsuit designed to repeal teacher tenure in New York State be successful, I, along with the ‘bad teachers’, will be an ‘at-will’ employee until the New York State Legislature acts. This may stand in opposition to some things you have read in the past. The fact, however, is that New York’s Civil Service laws do not apply to teachers and will not kick in as some sort of magical backstop should Brown’s suit be successful. If she wins, teachers throughout the state will be “at-will” until some type of new laws are passed in the legislature. That is a fact.

And it leads me to an important point.  That without tenure, I’d have a lot more to worry about this year than just this damn tumor.

This post was written by a New York City High School teacher who wishes to remain anonymous.

Reposted from http://nycurbaned.blogspot.com/2014/08/on-being-sick-without-tenure.html

MORE’s 3rd Annual Summer Series: Discuss, Debate, Educate!  Session III

Join us for a discussion with Annie Tan, CORE Activist, Marilena Marchetti, former CORE member during the CTU strike, and Lauren Cohen of MORE (bios below).

Wednesday, August 13th, 4pm-7pm

The Dark Horse, 17 Murray St. NYC

Near City Hall, Chambers St, WTC, $5 Drafts & Well Drinks

RSVP on FB! Invite your friends and colleagues

READINGS:

How to Jump-Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers, a Labor Notes book, available from MORE $15 solidarity price,

 Strike for America, by Micah Utrecht available in hard copy or ebook from:  versobooks.com/books/1569-strike-for-america

For a short introductions, please check out “Uncommon Core,” by Micah Utrecht at jacobinmag.com/2014/03/uncommon-core-chicago-teachers-union/ or “Creating a New Model of a Social Union: CORE and the Chicago Teachers Union” by Robert Barlett at monthlyreview.org/2013/06/01/creating-a-new-model-of-a-social-union/

Also, take a look at: http://monthlyreview.org/2013/06/01/the-chicago-teachers-strike-and-beyond/

and http://monthlyreview.org/2013/06/01/creating-a-new-model-of-a-social-union/ for some additional interesting strategic questions.

Continue Reading…

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 30, 2014

Press Contacts:

Jia Lee, Elementary School teacher and Public School parent

Mike Schirtzer, Social Studies High School teacher

Media@morecaucusnyc.org

Teachers, Parents and Students Stand Strong for Tenure

Due Process Protects Teachers who Protect their Students

 

Tenure gives teachers the right to stand up for their students’ best interests, even in the face of poor leadership or poor policy. It accords those who spend the most time with students the respect and responsibility of making best decisions on their students’ behalf. Thus, recent attacks on tenure have nothing to do with improving teaching and learning. They are designed to undermine teacher’s unions and silence educators’ voices.

  Continue Reading…

"MORE UFT pin"

The Social Justice Caucus of the UFT

Our 2nd event of the 2014 Summer Series on Wednesday 7/30 features a discussion on the new contract. More information below and here.

A preview of the contract and our discussion by John Elfrank-Dana, Chapter Leader of Murray Bergtraum High School:

 

After alerting the UFT that my principal failed to invite me to this Advance training in July, finally there was traction and I got a belated registration request (they had to reopen it as it was closed already).
I found at least a few quite disturbing changes to Advance.

Continue Reading…

In Support of Tenure

July 23, 2014 — 6 Comments

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The attacks on tenure today have nothing to do with improving teaching and learning. They are designed to undermine teachers’ unions with the goal of silencing educators’ voices.  We firmly believe that in order for public education to succeed, teachers must have tenure, a protection that allows educators to stand with parents, for children.

 

Tenure is nothing more than due process, fair hearings with an independent arbitrator where evidence can be presented in order to protect oneself from false accusations. This ensures experienced educators have job security and encourages academic freedom. These are protections all workers should have. Tenure not only empowers teachers to advocate for children and public education, but also prevents educators from becoming “at will” employees and therefore positively impacts retention of experienced educators, which research shows is a significant factor for improving student achievement and adult outcomes. Tenure also unapologetically protects teachers not only from arbitrary firing, but from being replaced by less experienced and therefore less expensive teachers as well as potential cronyism. 

Continue Reading…

Business Unionsim

By Mike Schirtzer

Teacher and UFT Delegate: Leon M. Goldstein High School

 

Like most classroom teachers, I didn’t attend last weekend’s AFT convention. In fact, few working teachers knew it was going on, or had reason to care. Our delegates represented none of what we believe in and nothing that happened there will make any difference in our classroom. There was no call for Arne Duncan’s resignation, no resolution for a repeal of the Common Core Standards, and no new strategies for increasing union mobilization or supporting our students. Actually nothing of consequence was achieved. Members will go back to their respective locals and continue the same methods: Chicago Teachers Unions (CTU) will the lead the fight against so called reform that hurts our children and profession, while the AFT/UFT leadership will go back to a style of unionism that ensures that none of my friends become any more engaged in union activities. Continue Reading…

Congratulations for those who have accepted nominations for the new MORE Steering Committee which takes office for a 6 month term starting on August 1. 
 
The current steering committee has proposed, that rather than having an election to choose 9 out of these 11 (or 10?) qualified candidates, that we simply accept all of them as new member of the steering committee.  This decision will be ratified at the MORE Retreat this coming week on Thursday, July 17 (11am-5pm, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 5th Ave. @ 34th st., 6 to 33rd, D,F,M,N,R to Herald Square).


Megan Behrent
has taught English at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn for 15 years. She has been a UFT delegate for FDR since 2007. In the Delegate Assembly, she has raised resolutions to support the rights of ATRs, to fight school closings/turnarounds, and to show solidarity with other unions. She is a founding member of MORE and active in the National Network of Social Justice Educators. As an education activist, she has appeared on the Melissa Harris Parry show on MSNBC and written for diverse publications including Socialist Worker, New Politics, Labor Notes and the Harvard Education Review.
Lauren Cohen entered teaching through the NYC Teaching Fellows in 2005 as a mid-year replacement for a K-2 self-contained special education teacher at a high-needs school in Harlem. She taught there for two more full school years. She spent the next 5 years at a Title 1 school in the East Village where she gained a reputation among her colleagues for speaking out against administrative mandates that were detrimental to student learning (such as canceling extended day enrichment programs in favor of test prep aligned to faulty and inaccurate Acuity results). She currently teaches at P.S. 321 in Park Slope, where the privileges available to her current students have only strengthened her resolve to fight for a more equitable system on behalf of the students she left behind. For the past two years, Lauren has worked with parents, teachers, and others in Change the Stakes, fighting against the use of standardized tests to punish schools, teachers, and students. She attended her first MORE meeting in the spring of 2012 and was thrilled to meet so many like-minded educators. She ran on the MORE slate for Elementary Executive Board in the UFT election, and she now serves as the chapter delegate for P.S. 321.
Francesca Gomes is an 8th Grade Humanities (ELA and Social Studies) Teacher at New Voices MS 443 in District 15.  She has been a member of the UFT for 13 years, and the only UFT Delegate for her school for the last five years.  She led the “Vote No” campaign at her school beginning on the first day after the 2014 contract proposal was announced.  Originally a member of Teachers for a Just Contract, she then became a member of the Independent Caucus of Educators, and is proud to have been a member of MORE since its early days.

Janice Manning is currently a fifth grade Special Education Teacher in an Integrated Co-Teaching Classroom at P.S. 503 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  This is her 10th year teaching in New York City Public Schools.  She started her teaching career as a fourth grade teacher in Fort Worth, Texas.  After teaching in Fort Worth for a year, she taught English as a foreign language in Znamenka, Ukraine as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  She began attending MORE meetings in January of this year and is passionate about working with other educators to organize ways to improve education for ALL students.
Megan Moskop is a current member of the steering committee. She is a Special Education teacher and UFT delegate at M.S. 324 in Washington Heights, where she began teaching in 2009 through Teach for America. Megan was raised by educators in North Carolina, and her first “real” teaching job was in Malta as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.  In addition to her work MORE, she serves as Learning Labs Director for the Manhattan Young Democrats, and she is a member of Teachers Unite. Deeply thankful for and inspired by her own teachers and students, Megan is committed to the improvement of learning and working conditions in schools everywhere, starting here.
Francesco Portelos is an engineer turned middle school STEM teacher. Over the last two years he has become a very strong advocate for educators and students. His advocacy did not come without sacrifice. After speaking up, he became a target and was removed from his teaching position. This did not stop Francesco. He ran and won the UFT Chapter Leader position in his school even though he is forbidden from entering the building. He has been successfully mobilizing and supporting his chapter and many other educators who read about his fight and seek his guidance from around the city and around the country. His objective is use his knowledge, leadership skills and out-of-the-box thinking to bring MORE to a point where they are successfully filling the great void left by our UFT Leaders. Read more at www.educatorfightsback.org  Follow on Twitter: @MrPortelos
Kevin Prosen is chapter leader at I.S. 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens.  He campaigned as part of MORE’s slate for the executive board in last year’s elections, and has organized mass grievance campaigns at his school involving up to 35 members of his chapter.  He has been active in the MORE chapter organizing committee this year and has been organizing outreach to other chapter leaders in the city. His writings on UFT issues have appeared inJacobin andSocialist Worker.
Mindy Rosier is a native New Yorker who graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education and Fordham University with an M.S. Ed in Early Childhood Special Education. She has been a teacher for 17 years, including 3 years at the NY Foundling Hospital and currently 8 years with the Department of Education in a District 75 school.After seeing the hardships that her school has endured and after researching the education system itself, she became active to promote an improvement in the quality of education for all children.
Mike Schirtzer is a lifelong Brooklynite, graduate of the NYC public schools and CUNY, teacher and UFT Delegate. Teaching has always been and still is his lifelong dream and his work here in MORE is just a continuation of fulfilling the goal of being the best teacher he can be! He has planned and mobilized several events, forums, and ran for UFT & NYSUT office as MORE. He was on the original planning committee, first steering committee, and organized MORE’s social media, press, contract campaign, and South Brooklyn groups.
Patrick Walsh a three-time elected UFT chapter who believes that the only force  that can  save our profession from the predators is our union and the only force that can save our union from itself is us.

 

Continue Reading…

On Wednesday July 16th 2014 we are hosting a summer series panel and open discussion on the history of groups that have competed for power and influence within the UFT. We will also examine the implications for MORE. More event Information here

Below are readings and video lectures from union/UFT historians on the background of the founding of UFT and Unity caucus, the ruling party of our union.

Suggested Readings

Democracy & Politics in the UFT, 1976 Edition

Democracy and Politics in the UFT is being reprinted in its original with no changes in order to provide a snapshot of the state of the UFT and education circa 1976 and how one opposition group approached these issues.Thanks to Vera Pavone, Ira Goldfine and Norm Scott for creating an online version of the pamphlet they produced almost 40 years ago.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/233191682/Democracy-Politics-in-the-UFT-1976-Ed

UFT/Unity Caucus Early History from “City Unions”

This chapter on the founding of the UFT and how Shanker consolidated power from the book “City Unions”. There is a lot of insight into how Unity has controlled the UFT since its inception.

 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/158371024/City-Unions-chapter-8

 

 

Here we have a series of videos about the history of our union, it’s founding, some discussions on past caucuses and dissident groups, and the relationship between non-Unity activists and the union leadership.

Historical roots of the UFT presented by Michael Fiorillo and Peter Lamphere at the State of the Union conference (Feb. 4. 2012).

Michael: Teacher unions up to 1968 (22 minutes): https://vimeo.com/45094559

Peter: Post 1968 (15 minutes):  https://vimeo.com/45094560

Both videos plus the Q&A (1 hour):  https://vimeo.com/45094713

UFT Friend or Foe- from 2013 Summer Series- How non-Unity Chapter leaders and activists relate to UFT leadership

Norm Scott: http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/07/27/uft-friend-or-foe-event/

Vera Pavone http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/08/14/uftaft-leadership-friend-or-foe-series-vera-pavone/

Ira Goldfine http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/08/14/uftaft-leadership-friend-or-foe-series-ira-goldfine/

Peter Lamphere http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/08/14/uftaft-leadership-friend-or-foe-series-peter-lamphere/

MORE Summer Series 2012- UFT Caucus History Since 1968 

Norm Scott http://vimeo.com/45705700

Michael Fiorillo http://vimeo.com/45698849

 

Join the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) for Summer Series 2014. Discussions exploring the past, present and future of teacher unionism. All are welcome!

Wednesdays 4:00pm-7:00pm
The Dark Horse
17 Murray St. NYC
Near City Hall, Chambers St, WTC

July 16th
Who Runs the UFT? Why Are There Alternatives? A Historical Perspective 1960-2014

The UFT formed in 1960 as a merger of several organizations. By 1964 the Unity caucus emerged as the ruling party of the UFT, which they remain to this day. Throughout the union’s history various dissident groups and caucuses have contested this dominance. At different times these groups merged, ran joint slates, or disbanded. We will discuss why these groups formed and their differing visions and strategies. How is MORE related to this history? What can we learn from it?

Other Summer Series Events

July 30th
Life Under the New UFT Contract

August 13th
Lessons from the Chicago Teachers’ Union- Featuring Guest Speakers from Chicago

August 20th
UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers’ Union Matter?

twitter.com/morecaucusnyc
morecaucusnyc.org
more@morecaucusnyc.org
press inquiries media@morecaucusnyc.org

 

 

MORE’s 3rd Annual Summer Series: Discuss, Debate, Educate!

Join the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) for discussions exploring the past, present and future of teacher unionism.  All are welcome!

Wednesdays 4:00pm-7:00pm

The Dark Horse
17 Murray St. NYC
Near City Hall, Chambers St, WTC

$5 Drafts & Well Drinks

July 16th

Who Runs the UFT?  Why Are There Alternatives? A Historical Perspective 1960-2014

RSVP Here and Share our Facebook event
The UFT formed in 1960 as a merger of several organizations. By 1964 the Unity caucus emerged as the ruling party of the UFT, which they remain to this day. Throughout the union’s history various dissident groups and caucuses have contested this dominance.  At different times these groups merged, ran joint slates, or disbanded. We will discuss why these groups formed and their differing visions and strategies. How is MORE related to this history? What can we learn from it?

July 30th

Life Under the New Contract
RSVP Here and Share our Facebook event

This fall we will be returning to a radically changed work environment, which educators are approaching with a mix of hope and anxiety.  How can school workers use the new contract to advocate for themselves and their students?  How can we activate new people, strengthen our union chapters, and empower ourselves at work?  Which members are more vulnerable under the new contract, and how can we support them?  MORE wants to campaign this year around tenure, paperwork reduction, ATR rights and chapter leader elections, and we need your ideas and energy!

 

August 13th

Lessons from the Chicago Teachers’ Union Featuring Guest Speakers from Chicago

RSVP Here and Share our Facebook event
In 2010, activists in the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) took over their union – successful displacing a conservative leadership with a team of organizers headed by dynamo Karen Lewis. This group would lead the CTU on its strike against Rahm Emmanuel that mobilized teachers and school communities. The strike electrified the labor movement, however Chicago is very different than New York City.  What lessons can we learn from Chicago?  Can we adapt the model of CORE to the conditions of New York City?

 

August 20th
UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers’ Union Matter?

RSVP Here and Share our Facebook event

Are you entering the teaching profession or new to NYC schools?  Are you wondering what the teacher union is all about and what it means to you and your students? Is it something you should be active in?  Do educators, parents and students share common interests? Can unions be vehicles for social justice?  Meet with new and veteran teachers to discuss these questions and more in this introduction to teacher unionism

Here is the flyer for distribution MORE summer 14 Announce-1

 

by John Giambalvo

 

Judge Rolf M. Treu’s decision in the case of Vergara vs. California is, by most accounts, the decision that shocked the education world. This week, the judge rendered illegal three sections of California education law.

Taken together, those sections afforded some public school teachers of that state the courtesy of due process before being terminated. Each of the sections, the one governing the procedures for granting tenure (here), dismissing tenured teachers and laying them off from their jobs (both here), had exempted teachers with tenure from California’s law of firing employees “at-will”. With regard to teacher tenure, the judge ruled that the two year time frame the law gave for teachers to earn tenure was much too short. The judge went on to say that California’s “Dismissal Sections” were “tortuous” and granted “uber due process” procedures to teachers -protections that other state employees did not enjoy. “LIFO”, decided the judge, prevented the “junior gifted [teacher]” from keeping his job during times of layoffs while the “grossly ineffective one” remained in the classroom. That, said the judge, violated the state constitution’s “Equal Protection” clause as well and it had to go.

If allowed to stand, the results from this lawsuit, which is sure to be replicated in states across the nation, will expose any teacher in California to be fired in much the same way as “at-will” employees are: With no chance for an impartial hearing (unless the teacher decides to sue in court) and with little to no notice at all (here).

Treu’s conclusion, that teachers have too many workplace protections, is ironic. This is because he is not exactly an “at-will” employee himself. Judges in California enjoy some of the most stringent job protections of any employee in the nation. Superior Court Judges are elected to six year terms. Treu was elected in 2001 (here) and has been reelected twice since. Unless faced with an actual opponent, he will be automatically reelected at the end of every term without his name even appearing on a ballot (here and here). Given that the judge’s wife is a donor and former staffer of Republican Congressman Gary Miller (read his “Thank You” to her on the official Congressional Record here), I doubt that anyone will be challenging him anytime soon. And, being as only three judges in the entire state have lost reelection since the Great Depression (here),  I doubt that his chances of losing that election would ever be a concern.

You will be happy to know the judge’s job is also well protected if he ever finds himself in hot water. In the state of California, judges can only be removed through their own “tortuous” process called a recall vote (see here). If someone ever wants him fired, they must first collect vast amount of signatures from concerned citizens all across his district. They must then win a general vote.  As of 2008, no California judge had ever been recalled (here again). These protections are in full force whether the judge is highly effective or ‘grossly ineffective’.

Talk about uber due process!

Of course, anywhere from 1%-3% of any professional from any profession may be ‘grossly ineffective’ at what they do. This is true for my profession as it is for his. In his decision, the judge briefly examined the damage that ‘grossly ineffective’ teachers may cause if left in the classroom. Let’s briefly examine the damage that ‘grossly ineffective’ justices from his state may cause if allowed to stay on the bench.  There are 2,287 judges in California (here), the extrapolated number of ‘grossly ineffective’ judges may range from 23 to 68. Now there are 38 million people who live in California. That’s one judge for approximately every 16,615 people. You may be surprised to learn that just 23 bad judges from California have the potential of adversely effecting the lives of 382,145 people. 68 bad judges can negatively effect the lives of 1,129,820!   If we’re only considering how bad judges may adversely effect the lives of school children, (California has 9,240,219 school aged children (here) or one judge for every 4,040 children), then  23 ‘grossly ineffective’ judges can hurt 92,920 students in that state and 68 ‘grossly ineffective’ judges can hurt a whopping 274,720! I don’t think too many people could refute an assertion that this large amount of bad judges may have, to paraphrase judge Treu, “a direct, real, appreciable, and negative impact on a significant number of California students, now and well into the future for as long as said [judges] hold their positions…”. And yet the judge continues to enjoy stringent workplace protections.

In fact, everyone who was involved in the presentation and decision of the Vergara case had some type of job protection above and beyond the “at-will” status that the rest of Californians have.

The Lawyers who argued the case have their protections. They are only prevented from practicing their craft if they are disbarred. California has it’s own special court, called the State Bar Court of California, just for making these decisions (here). That court boasts that attorneys who practice in California do so in “the only state in the nation with independent professional judges dedicated to ruling on attorney discipline cases”. That’s a nice protection!

The court reporter and clerk, as well as the officers who ensured the safety and security for all involved in the Vergara case, have special job protections too. They are considered “court employees” and their due process includes “a system of progressive discipline and termination “for cause” rather than “at will” employment” (here).

A progressive discipline process is something that tenured teachers in California do not have. Neither do they have their own ‘special court’ to determine whether or not they should be removed.

The fact that anywhere between 1% and 3% of any of these professionals may be ‘grossly ineffective’ at what they do has not stopped the entire state judicial system from insulating its employees from an “at will” termination process. They offer these protections knowing full well that the ‘grossly ineffective’ professional may adversely effect a large number of the many people who come in contact their profession each day.  I am not sure why this is the case, but I suspect the reasoning has something to do with protecting the other 97%-99% of these dedicated public servants from unfair dismissals. One thing is for sure. They do not feel that their state’s “at will” termination process for employees is fair to them.

I actually feel the same way! Not only is the work they do important to our society, but it is also important to them, as people. Those job protections allow the men and women in that system to provide for themselves and for their families with security as they pursue their own version of the American Dream. That, in itself, is an important right. FDR felt exactly the same way. “We have come to a clear realization” he said way back 1944, “that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence” (see here and read carefully!).

One way to ensure the economic security and independence of Americans is to afford them the simple workplace protection of due process.

Due process itself is as American as Apple Pie. It is enshrined in the US Constitution as a basic political right.  FDR made the observation that “As our nation has grown in size and stature … political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness”. In other words, he said political rights were no longer enough.

“At will” employment laws create the potential for Americans to have that equality taken from them simply because another person feels like doing it. The laws expose people to capricious, even ‘grossly ineffective’ supervisors and place employees on a less even playing field with employers than they already are. The US is the only wealthy nation on Earth that still subscribes to the “Employment At Will Doctrine (here)” (here) and many nations, like Germany (cited only because it is the richest nation in Europe (here)), have laws that specifically spell out the type of due process every employee should have when faced with possible termination (here).

That’s why, instead of taking due process rights away from teachers, the better thing to do is to just give them to everyone else. Let’s not make judge Treu and his colleagues, nor me and my colleagues, the exception. Instead, let’s work to make that standard -that no person can have their job taken from him or her simply because another person “wills” it- the rule. Let’s not make this a rule just for teachers or just for judges, but for every person in California and beyond.

Our job as teachers, however, is incredibly important.  No less than the future of an entire generation of Americans depends on the work we do in our classrooms each and every day. So let’s resolve to not leave ourselves in a position where we have to win an entire election just to remove one person who isn’t very good at what he does. By all means, let’s go after the 1% to 3% of ‘grossly ineffective’ workers -everywhere. But let’s allow a person who has been accused of not being effective the simple courtesy, the dignity, of defending him or herself before someone else decides he or she should be terminated.

And, once that standard has been established, let’s start with Judge Rolf M. Treu

by James Eterno, Chapter Leader, Jamaica High School

[The following is a compilation of two different reports, originally posted at the ICE blog, about Wednesday’s DA]

President’s Report

California

President Michael Mulgrew opened the June Delegate Assembly by talking about California.  He said the decision of the judge to get rid of tenure and seniority rights because they violate the California Constitution is very troubling but we are confident about the appeal.  We knew once the case was assigned to this particular judge that it would be difficult to win.
The premise of school reform is that public education is failing but this isn’t true.  Judge said students were having their civil rights violated because of bad teachers.  The judge is wrong because the problem is poverty and teacher retention and not subpar teachers.  We expect copycat lawsuits in New York State from front groups like Students’ First.

Continue Reading…

Disappointment

June 3, 2014 — 25 Comments

For the first time in almost five years, UFT members finally have a contract. But almost one quarter of the membership (23%) voted against the deal. Most of the members with whom we spoke who approved this contract only did so because they felt it was the best our union could do. We disagree, this contract does not provide the same pay raises that other municipal labor unions received in 2009 and some of those unions are already stating they will reject these terms if offered. We believe our union can and should do much better than this.

Continue Reading…

by Megan Behrent – Delegate, FDR High School, Brooklyn

As ballots wait to be counted at the American Arbitration Association, much of the media as well as the union leadership anticipate the vast majority of UFT members will vote “yes” to ratify the contract proposal. If that is the case, Mulgrew and the Unity caucus will be quick to declare victory for their “historic” contract.

But regardless of the final count, we need to look beneath the surface of the vote to understand what it reveals about the state of our union. Over the past few weeks, MORE has been part of a groundswell “Vote No” campaign, but rank and file anger was much broader and deeper than those active in any caucus.

Continue Reading…

When MORE members reached out to the union leadership about observing the count of the contract ratification ballots, Leroy Barr the UFT assistant secretary and chair of Unity Caucus (the caucus of Michael Mulgrew), offered one observer per caucus of the UFT contract vote.

You should not have to be in a caucus to observe the count. We demanded the vote be open to all UFT members. Members of MORE are not special, we are all UFT. Although the Unity and New Action caucuses both support Michael Mulgrew we see no reason why they should receive special treatment either. MORE refused to send a special representative. Anyone who attends from MORE does so a a UFT member, not a caucus member, Every UFT member must be allowed to observe this critical vote.

In response to our efforts, the UFT leadership has offered to allow as many members who wish to observe the count. See the details below.  We hope that they will advertise this information at UFT.org and in their weekly email to chapter leaders, as we requested. Continue Reading…

New York’s branch of the movement has been led by the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE), a rank-and-file reform caucus in the United Federation of Teachers, together with other education advocates and community and labor organizations…. The Nation

See Videos of all speakers at the rally.

Video of Rosie Frascella from MORE/NYCORE – featured in the article.

http://youtu.be/FUxQ83X2Xso

Brian Jones: http://youtu.be/idKinnd042c

How Teachers Are Fighting to Change One of the Most Segregated School Districts in the Country

Michelle Chen on May 21, 2014 – 1:36PM ET

Occupy Education is challenging school policies
Occupy Education is challenging the policies that systematically leave disadvantaged kids behind (Credit: ChealkbeatNY/Flickr)

http://m.thenation.com/blog/179957-how-teachers-are-fighting-change-one-most-segregated-school-districts-country

 

Vote No

By Kevin Prosen

Chapter Leader I.S.30

This letter first appeared here in Jacobin

A Letter to New York City’s School Teachers

Continue Reading…

votenogeneral1As balloting on the tentative contract proposal begins in schools across the city, please make sure that you distribute the Vote No flyer to your colleagues. Encourage your colleagues to spread the word to as many schools as possible.

Download and print the flyer here.

 

Vote No Ballot

By Kit Wainer

Chapter Leader- Leon M. Goldstein H.S

UFT members from around the city have contacted MORE, saying that they and their entire chapters are planning to vote no. They believe our union can do better. They are right. To win the kinds of changes we all really want, however, our union will have to lead a much bigger fight.

Peter Lamphere’s must read piece demonstrates that the money is there for a better deal and that if we reject the current offer, both UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Mayor Bill DeBlasio will be under political pressure to resolve this quickly and try to come up with an agreement the members are more likely to ratify. Furthermore, when members rejected a proposed contract in 1995, we wound up with a better deal in 1996. Voting down this contract proposal may be enough to get us some small improvements over what the UFT leadership just negotiated.

But that is setting our sights too low: we deserve fair raises, an end to test-driven education, and a fairer evaluation system. ATRs deserve full citizenship. To win these, our union will have to mobilize our members with street protests and job actions to put pressure on the city and force them to negotiate better terms.

So far, the Mulgrew leadership has been unwilling to do that. Instead, UFT leaders relied on a single strategy: from 2009 through 2013 they waited for Michael Bloomberg’s mayoralty to end. The hope was that a new mayor would be friendlier to public schools and to the UFT and would be willing to bargain in good faith. After four and one half years of waiting, New York City elected the most liberal, pro-labor mayor since the second world war. Yet the only payoff for us was a wage package that does not keep up with inflation and defers our raises and back pay for several years without interest. The sides could have agreed to lobby Albany to end the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers. They could have chosen to place all ATRs in regular positions. They could have made some progress on class size. They could have guaranteed that all schools would have full support services. But they didn’t. Clearly, the strategy of waiting for a better mayor was a failure.

Admittedly, our union can’t transform itself over night. In many schools, administrative prerogative reigns and many union members either don’t know their rights or are afraid to enforce them. In a climate of fear and disorganization, it would be difficult for any union leadership to launch the kinds of mobilization that would be necessary to win a good contract. Members who are isolated and afraid are less likely have confidence in their union.

But, fortunately, it can be done. In 2012, after months of preparation and membership organizing the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike and successfully fought off some serious attacks on their members. They showed that when a union acts like a union it can win.

After this vote is over, the union needs to change course. Our union should lead us in rallies in each borough to mount a pressure campaign for a good contract. We also need organization at the school and district level. The UFT should help union activists organize each other to defend their rights within their schools. Beyond that we need an action plan that will bring members of different schools together so that we can learn from each other and find ways to help each other organize. That’s what a union does.

We hope the current UFT leaders will learn this. But we in MORE are not waiting. We have been meeting UFT activists in various neighborhoods to help strategize ways of rebuilding their chapter and reviving union solidarity. If you would like to meet with us, please contact us at more@morecaucusnyc.org or through our website morecaucusnyc.org. Together we can build the kind of union that can win the contract we deserve.

votenogeneral1As balloting on the tentative contract proposal begins in schools across the city, please make sure that you distribute the Vote No flyer to your colleagues. Encourage your colleagues to spread the word to as many schools as possible.

Download and print the flyer here.

 

By Norm Scott

Retired Chapter Leader P.S. 147

All polls among parents and teachers show that class size is the number one improvement people feel would have a real impact. It is an issue that unites parents and teachers on common ground. Many teachers have told me they wouldn’t be as upset at the way the new contract was structured financially if at least they got some improvement in such a basic working condition.

The last time the UFT contract improved class sizes was in 1967, my first year of teaching. It took me a few years to realize that even those numbers were somewhat bogus given the loopholes that allowed the DOE to push beyond the boundaries. Continue Reading…

by Peter Lamphere, member of the UFT Negotiating Committee
Vote No[Click here for a one-page PDF version of this article to distribute to your coworkers]
One of the key questions facing rank and file UFT members at this moment is what happens if we decide to reject the contract proposal from Mayor de Blasio and our leadership.  Few educators are jumping up and down happy about the contract, and many are downright upset, but everyone wants to know – What happens if we vote this down? Is it possible to get something better? What about the leadership’s argument that we would have to “go to the back of the line” and wait for all 150 other city unions to settle?

 

First off, the money is clearly there for something better. Continue Reading…

Dan Lupkin
Special Education Teacher/UFT Delegate
PS 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn


Lest we forget, the UFT leadership works for the membership- NOT the other way around.

Our dues pay for their salaries, their perks, and the UFT skyscraper at 52 Broadway. Our COPE money buys the “seat at the table” with the politicians, billionaires, and power brokers they say will save our profession. They push a TINA (There Is No Alternative) mentality on the membership, and when it comes to the 2014 contract, operatives (belonging to the UNITY caucus that has monopolized power within the UFT since its founding in 1960) have been sent out among the membership. Their message is that this proposal is the best we can do, so even if you have lots of problems with it, it’s better than no contract at all, so you might as well vote “yes”.

Most working teachers in NYC have been kept in the dark about how their union works, and how that relates to this contract, so perhaps it’s helpful to reframe the question in terms of dining in a restaurant:

Let’s say you sat down at a table, ordered, and were served a dish that looked, smelled, and tasted awful. Would you choke it down because that’s what you had been brought? Since you are paying the restaurant for the sole purpose of preparing you a tasty meal, most people would send it back and expect the restaurant to replace it with something better.

What if everyone’s meal was unacceptable, and the manager sent around the maitre d’ to explain to each table that the restaurant’s suppliers sold substandard meat and produce, so there was no way they could produce a tastier meal, but that surely, eating what they had brought you was better than no meal at all?
Continue Reading…

faircontractnow_logo

By Julie Cavanagh

Teacher/Chapter-leader P.S. 15k

A shortened version of this was published at WNYC/NPR Schoolbook 

The Wait Isn’t Over

UFT members and the children we serve have suffered over the last several years due to deteriorating learning and working conditions. The proposed new UFT contract highlights this administration’s commitment to the restoration of collaboration and communication between our union and the city. It is a welcome departure from the previous administration.

The proposed contract includes some steps forward in rebuilding respect for educators, voices of parents, and open dialogue between the city and its workers. There are changes in this proposed contract that will improve our students’ learning conditions and our working conditions. I have serious concerns, however, with several aspects of this proposal that undermine the importance of solidarity, that fall short of bringing us closer to the schools our students deserve, and that bring into question our value as workers.

Solidarity

The proposed contract will divide educators into several tiers. Once we destroy union solidarity, we destroy our union. Career ladders are nothing more than a merit pay scheme with a different name. The only incentive given here is for great teachers to leave the classroom, which is not a plan for long term school progress. Teacher leadership is critical to the success of schools, but dividing teachers by salary is not a way to achieve this goal.

Due process, job security, and fair evaluations for all educators are the foundations of any teacher’s union contract. There cannot be two sets of rules for educators. Those who were excessed through no fault of their own and were placed in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool should not be held to a different standard than their fellow union members.

I also hoped this contract would address pay parity.  Occupational and Physical Therapists, who are essential to the success of the children we serve, make considerably less than their educator colleagues. Paraprofessionals also deserve consideration in this contract, as they are underpaid for the important and challenging work they do.

The Schools Our Children Deserve

This proposal is a missed opportunity to improve the relationships with the communities we serve. I applaud the increased time for parent and teacher collaboration, but this step does not go far enough in advancing the policy issues that parents, educators, and our students are most concerned about.

I hoped this contract would go further in addressing issues of class size, developmentally inappropriate standards, lack of robust curriculum, targeted intervention for students, art instruction, too-large caseloads for counselors, psychologists, and social workers, over emphasis on high stakes testing, the deficit of resources for special needs children, and the continued reliance on flawed test based evaluation.

While I commend the effort to address the needs in hard-to-staff schools, I believe a different path should be taken. Wraparound services, reduced class size, additional nurses, librarians, social workers, counselors, healthy food initiatives, after-school and weekend academic programs, and extracurricular activities are all proven formulas for success, not $5,000 bonus pay. Simply, I feel this money would have been better spent on direct services to children.

I also commend the additional time for educators to work in teacher teams, engage in meaningful professional development, and complete the monumental tasks that we frankly do not currently have the time to complete. However, I am concerned that this time that has been reconfigured to support teachers leaves our children behind, because, with the information I have seen thus far, there will be no efforts to replace targeted intervention for students.

School Leadership Teams (SLTs), which consist of administrators, teachers, parents, and students at the high school level, should be empowered to make authentic decisions for their schools.  While I appreciate what I believe is the good intention behind the PROSE School Initiative, I am concerned about the possibility of “thin contracts” and the inherent acceptance of the assumption that the union contract and Chancellor Regulations have a negative impact on schools.  I would have rather seen these efforts directed at strengthening SLTs in all schools.

Our Value As Workers

UFT members are dedicated professionals, and although we didn’t become educators for the money, we do have families to raise and financial obligations that have become more difficult over the past five years.  I am a teacher, a wife, a mother, and a New Yorker; I want to live where I work and provide my son with every opportunity. I do my part to improve our schools and society for him, for all children, and for their families.

This proposed contract would have members accept raises that are less than two percent each year between 2009 – 2018, less than the rate of inflation. Salaries around the country have fallen behind, which has caused income inequality for many families of the children we serve. Every working man and woman deserves a living wage and annual cost of living increases. If our union does not take this stand, who will?

Our friends in virtually every other municipal labor union received the wage increases they deserved nearly five years ago. Today they continue to have the full 8% as part of their salary scale, even though most now also find themselves with expired contracts. UFT members will not receive these wage increases with retro-pay until 2020. In September, UFT members will walk into a 2% raise and $1,000 rather than the 8% we deserve.

If we accept this deal, other union members may be forced to accept similar bad contracts. This proposed contract sets a dangerous precedent.  Politicians now have the green light to refuse to negotiate in good faith and force pay freezes for workers, 0% pay raises, deferred raises and retro-pay and a contract that is below the rate of inflation.

The Contract Our Schools and Educators Deserve

UFT members have been without a contract for over five years. We, along with the communities we serve, have faced a tidal wave of attacks on our neighborhood schools. A new contract has the power to right these wrongs. I believe the path to real change must be traveled together. Only through the active involvement of our members, parents, and with respect for all students, can we achieve the promise of public education and the schools our children deserve.

Many teachers I know, and my amazing colleagues at PS 15, would have happily conceded some financial compensation in favor of a greater improvement to teaching and learning conditions.  Given that this contract extends beyond the next Mayoral election, we have surrendered vast opportunities for meaningful improvements and progressive “reform”.

I encourage school communities in the coming days and weeks to have collective, open and transparent discussions in their chapters, during lunch, and with their families, the kind of conversations we should be having in our union hall, to reach an informed decision on members’ ratification vote.

Please see our contract tab on this site for fliers and additional articles

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Saturday, May 10
12:00 – 3:00pm
Ya-Ya Network
224 W. 29th St., 14th Fl.

Come to a meeting with UFT Chapter Leaders and Contract Committee members to hear a breakdown of the proposal, ask questions, and organize against the proposed contract in our schools. Join us in fighting for The Contract NYC Educators Deserve!

RSVP on Facebook

Please print and distribute this flyer advertising this meeting and explaining our reasons for opposing the new contract.

 

"MEMO to UFT President Michael Mulgrew from Movement of Rank and FIle Educators MERIT PAY ≠ Solidarity"

By James Eterno

Jamaica High School Chapter Leader

Report from UFT’s 5/7/14 Delegate Assemebly

I am going to dispense with my usual lengthy summary of what President Mulgrew said because you’ve already seen most of it in the UFT propaganda literature or you will hear it when union representatives come to your schools.

“Up until two months ago at the DA, Mulgrew was telling us that the city has money but they always say they are broke.  I keep reading in the papers that the city surplus is growing.”

(Mulgrew in February)
“We look at the city’s fiscal numbers all the time; it is clear to us that there is money out there. We need our teachers to be paid at least at the level of the school districts around us, which we are not.”)

I continued: “The city is not in bad shape financially so why are we settling for so little.  If we take out the 4% + 4% for the first two years that just equals the last pattern (and we won’t see until between 2015 and 2020), the pattern we set for the rest of municipal labor is 10% total over 7 years.”  That is the worst pattern in municipal labor history (at least as long as I have been around).”  Continue Reading…

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? john lydon vote no on the uft contract"

UFT CONTRACT: NOT A DONE DEAL UNTIL THE MEMBERSHIP VOTES

NYC Public School Educators to UFT Leaders: “Go Back to the Bargaining Table!”

 

MORE –  A UFT Caucus — Calls for Educators to Vote No

Launches grassroots campaign for “Contract NYC Educators Deserve”

 WHEN: Wednesday, May 7 2014, approximately 6:15pm (After UFT Delegate Assembly)

WHERE: SW Corner of 6th Ave and 54th St, in front of Hilton (1335 Ave of Americas, NYC)

WHAT: MORE-UFT (Movement of Rank and File Educators) calls for UFT members to vote “no” on the leadership’s contract proposal. The bargain under consideration: Continue Reading…

by Mike Schirtzer, Teacher/Delegate, Leon Goldstein HS

Deferred Raises in the 2014 UFT Contract

 

The UFT and City of New York finally came to an agreement. In fact, the UFT Facebook celebrated by proclaiming “the wait is over” and it’s “the contract for education”. Unfortunately, this is not the contract we deserve, and it is no reason for a victory lap. Simply put, the retroactive pay is delayed until 2020, the raises are deferred until 2018, and New York City educators are left with 5 years of pay freezes and “raises” that don’t even keep up with the cost of living in New York. We have not received a raise in 5 years and now are being told to celebrate because we finally have one! This is not a fair contract and clearly not the raise and back pay we deserve. Our costs from milk to gas to utilities to our children’s colleges, have skyrocketed and all we can celebrate is a 2% pay increase starting in September.  This is a demeaning insult to our profession.

Continue Reading…

International HS at Prospect Hts has children from 35 nations speaking about 25 languages. Making them sit through a MOSL test that has nothing to do with their education but only to do with rating their teachers is obscene. These 30 teachers said NO.

intl

Continue Reading…

NEW UFT CONTRACT: RETRO DELAYED = RETRO DENIED WHILE ABSENT TEACHER RESERVES HAVE TENURE WEAKENED

By James Eterno

Four members of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) sat through a propaganda love fest this afternoon as UFT Chief Financial Officer Dave Hickey, Staff Director Leroy Barr and then President Michael Mulgrew explained our new contract to rousing applause from the Unity/New Action faithful on the negotiating committee. Now that the contract is done there is no need to be confidential.

I asked the President to show us a copy of the Memorandum of Agreement but there was none.  However, the UFT machine is spinning faster than any Wascomat washing machine.

UFT members in the new contract will get the 4 % + 4% salary increases that other city workers unions received back in 2009 and 2010, but we won’t see the money until 2015-2020.

For the seven years from 2011 to 2018, where the UFT will set the pattern for raises that other city unions will now follow, we will be getting a total of 10% in raises for seven years plus a $1,000 signing bonus.  That works out to less than 1.5% per year.

Specifically, this is how the CFO crunched the numbers:

2009-2010 = 4% raise
2010-2011 = 4% raise
2011-2012 = 0% raise but we will get a $1,000 signing bonus if we ratify the contract.
Nov 2012- April 2013 = 0% raise
May 1, 2013 = 1% raise
May 1, 2014 = 1% raise
May 1, 2015 = 1% raise
May 1, 2016 = 1% raise
May 1, 2017 = 2.5% raise
May 1, 2018 = 3.0% raise
Total: 18% (compounded it will be a little more)

For those of you expecting to go back in the fall and at least have the 4%+4% added to your pay, forget it.

The 4 % + 4% that other unions received in 2009-10 will not be added to our salary schedules until the increases kick in one year at a time starting in 2015.  Here is how the 8% will be added in:

May 1, 2015 = 2%
May 1, 2016 = 2%
May 1, 2017 = 2%
May 1, 2018 = 2%

All we get added to our salaries now if we ratify is 1% for 2013 followed by 1% for 2014 and the $1,000 bonus.

The 8% won’t be added to our salary schedule fully until 2018 and the retroactive money the city owes us since 2009 won’t be coming soon either.  Here is the schedule for the retroactive payments:

October 1, 2015- 12.5% lump sum
October 1, 2016 – Nothing
October 1, 2017 – 12.5% lump sum
October 1, 2018 – 25% lump sum
October 1, 2019 – 25% lump sum
October 1, 2020 – 25% lump sum

We will not be made “whole” for Bloomberg denying us the raises that other city unions got 5 years ago until 2020.

Retro delayed is really Retro denied!

Anyone who Retires Before July 1, 2015 Wins Big
The winners in this deal are anyone who retired from 2009 through now and anyone else who retires between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.  They will get all of their retro pay calculated and get it at once.  People who already retired will have their pensions recalculated as well as receiving retro payments for the time they worked.

Anyone who retires July 1, 2015 or after will get the deferred payments the same way as active personnel and will be waiting until 2020 to be made “whole”.

Only people who resigned or were terminated won’t get retro.

Top salary now $100,049 will crawl up to $119,565 by May of 2018.

President Mulgrew arrived at around 5:20 pm after hanging around at the mayor’s press conference and here are some of the other details he let out.

Some union had to settle first and it was us.

Here is a breakdown of some of the non-economic issues.

Evaluations:
We will go down from being rated on 22 Danielson components to 8.  (No word on the number of observations.)  Artifacts are out.

On Measures of Students Learning if we want, we will only be graded based on students we teach.

Paperwork:
The DOE and UFT agreed to set up (yet another) Committee on excessive paperwork.  This one will be half UFT and half DOE with a mediator.  Cases can also be taken to arbitration.

Extended Time
No additional time added to the day. The extended time, faculty, grade/department conferences, open school night time will be reconfigured.  We will work two extra open school evenings which will go from 2.5 to 3 hours.

There will be a default schedule on how to use the extended time each week and preapproved School Based Options.

Multi session, District 75 and 79 schools will keep their current time schedules.

Curriculum
Each core subject will have a curriculum that we must use.  Unit plans will be no longer than a page.

Merit Pay
There will be a career ladder i.e. merit pay.
Ambassador teachers will earn $7,500 more to visit other schools.
Model teachers will earn $7,500 more to be model teachers at their own schools.
Master teachers will earn $20,000 to help other teachers.

PROSE Innovative Schools
Schools can opt in with a 65% vote to cancel major parts of the contract.  This can be up to 200 schools.

ATRs
Absent Teacher Reserves must show up for interviews.  ATRs will sent to vacancies in schools.  There will be no termination for time in the ATR pool but there is an offer of a severance package.

If two principals document unprofessional behavior, the documentation can be used for a special 3020A process just for ATRS.  This will not be for performance and it will be a one day hearing which could lead to termination.

Schools will be forgiven for ATR salaries.

Bonus
$5,000 will go to teachers who go to a hard to staff school.

Healthcare
There is a healthcare cost savings plan from the Municipal Labor Committee that must be approved. (We don’t know how the cost savings will be achieved but we will keep our basic plans for free.)

Validators
For teachers rated ineffective, the validators sent in the second year to validate an ineffective rating will now be educators: teachers and administrators.

Where is the Memorandum of Agreement?
I asked the president when we would be seeing the full Memorandum of Agreement in writing.  He said he didn’t know but Staff Director Leroy Barr said it would be out soon.  Mulgrew asked for a motion to recommend the contract for approval.  I abstained as I would never vote on something I haven’t seen.  The Unity faithful followed their caucus obligatons and all voted in the affirmative while the New Action people went along with Unity too.  The other MORE members abstained silently during the vote but I screamed out for my abstention to be counted.

VERY BRIEF ANALYSIS
I leave it to you to decide what we should do.  I tried to keep the adjectives to a minimum in this piece and just report what was said.

We couldn’t lose on the 4% + 4% because of pattern bargaining (one city union settles on a percentage salary increase and all the unions follow that pattern) but allowing the city stretch it out so that money we were owed since 2009 won’t be fully paid back until 2020 really lets the city off the hook.

As for setting the pattern of 10% over 7 years, this is an abysmally low pattern to establish (we did better monetarily under the anti union Mayors Bloomberg and Guilliani).  I can understand why other labor unions in the city are angry with Mulgrew, particularly when it is considered how much surplus revenue the city has.  We should have been able to achieve non monetary gains for loaning the city our money and setting a very low pattern but instead we surrendered as usual.

The devil will be in the details on the ATR agreement but I see this contract as a real missed opportunity.  Here’s hoping the members will ignore the Unity spin cycle and see through it.

Teachers Boycott Test

May 1, 2014 — 1 Comment

Teachers and Staff at International High School at

Prospect Heights Refuse To Administer the NYC ELA Performance Assessment Test

New York – On Thursday, May 1, 2014, most of the teachers at International High School at Prospect Heights gathered on the steps of their school to announce that they will not give the NYC English Language Arts Performance Assessment Exam. More than 50% of parents have opted their students out of taking the test, and 30 teachers and staff refused to administer the exam citing professional and ethical concerns. Approximately 95% of the students at IHSPH are English Language Learners. Thirty-five percent of students are classified as Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE), meaning they have missed more than one year of school.

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Click to download flyer

MORE will be joining the Public Workers United coalition to march on May Day, Thursday, May 1, to add our voices to those fighting for immigrant rights, worker justice, and good contracts. 

Look for the contingent with banners, signs and stickers for Strong Services, Full Retro Pay, and No Givebacks!

Wear RED and bring copies of this flyer to distribute. 

Noon – Union Square South
4pm – Chambers Street and Broadway

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Make copies of this flyer to distribute…

Over 1000 public workers have signed a petition saying that the money is there to improve public services and also resolved public worker contracts after at least four years without a raise. Let’s take that to the streets and make sure there will no givebacks and we our full retroactive pay raises.

Get involved with the struggle on May 2nd and beyond:

  • like the coalition at PublicWorkersUnited.net
  • come to the next meeting, discuss how to open up bargaining & create “Public dialogue for public services” – Thursday May 8, 6pm, Atrium – NW corner of 56th and Madison
  • join the over 1000 public workers, activists and elected leaders, who have signed a petition for full retro pay – published in the Chief newspaper –  http://chn.ge/1cFeQTo
  • distribute this flyer to co-workers & at other workplaces / transit hubs (download from site)
  • join the campaign to get City Council to pledge to oppose a budget that doesn’t include full retro pay.

Michael Fiorillo is a teacher, MORE member and former Chapter Leader at Newcomers High School in Queens

The Corporate Reformer’s Game Plan

  • Proclaim austerity for the public schools, while continuing to expand charters
  •  Create incentives for non-educators to be in positions of power, from Assistant Principal on up
  • Maintain a climate of scapegoating and witch hunting for “bad teachers,” who are posited as the cause of poverty and student failure, doing everything possible to keep debate from addressing systemic inequities
  • Neutralize and eventually eliminate teacher unions (the first part largely accomplished in the case of the AFT). As part of that process, eliminate tenure, seniority and defined benefit pensions
  • Create and maintain a climate of constant disruption and destabilization, with cascading mandates that are impossible to keep up or comply with

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Watch the video for a sneak peek of the rally and march in front of NYC City Hall to defend public education from destructive, profit-driven corporate “reform”. Endorsed by 30+ parent, teacher, and student groups, including MORE. Featuring some great speakers, including a message from Diane Ravitch!

Get Out The Vote!

November 2, 2014 — Leave a comment

hawkins

MORE’s Election Guide

MORE has endorsed Howie Hawkins for Governor  and Brian Jones for Lieutenant Governor (Green Party-Row F on the NYS ballot). We urge all UFT members get out the vote! Let’s send Albany a message that attacking teachers and privatizing our education is not acceptable.

While UFT/NYSUT leadership under Unity caucus has responded to Cuomo’s anti-teacher comments  in an unconcerned manner and has even expressed gratitude to Rob Astorino for writing an open letter to teachers, they have ignored the candidacy of Howie Hawkins. Hawkins is a fellow union brother and is running with UFT member Brian Jones for Lieutenant Governor on a pro-public education and pro-union platform. We know full well that Hawkins/Jones are not being acknowledged by union leadership because of Jones’ role as a founder of MORE, our dissident caucus that has challenged Unity caucus for leadership of UFT and NYSUT. This is a great disservice to educators, parents, and students across our state. UFT/NYSUT ought to use their vast resources to educate union members and parents of all their choices in this critical election. UFT/NYSUT has allowed Cuomo to run on the Working Families line, instead of a pro-labor Hawkins.

NYSUT Locals throughout the state have endorsed Howie Hawkins/Brian Jones and their pro-education, anti-high stakes testing stance including, Buffalo Teachers Association and Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association.

 Please see Hawkins/Jones letter to teachers here.

 Here is NYSUT’s voter guide.

There are three referendum proposals on this year’s ballot.

These are suggestions from former Deputy Comptroller for New York State and special education teacher Harris Lirtzman:

 

Proposition 1:  Revising State’s Redistricting Process

 

It is a sham piece of “reform” brought to us by Governor Cuomo and the Legislature in the form of a “special commission” that would handle the decennial reapportionment of election districts. When you read the text you think, “Well, can’t be worse than what we’ve now got with ‘Three Men in a Room.'”

 

But it’s much worse and will only make the electoral process and district apportionment more complex and less democratic.

 

http://www.noprop1ny.com/endorsements#.VErweIndNvc.

 

Proposition 2:  Permitting Electronic Distribution of State Legislative Bills

 

I’ve seen the results of paper distribution.  The Legislature has its own printing shop and during the end of session it runs 24/7 because the State Constitution requires a bill to be presented three days before it can be voted upon.  The Governor generally issues a “statement of necessity” that eliminates the three day wait so that all the paper bills can be piled up on a legislator’s desk at the end of session and voted on without the least chance of review.

 

Whether any legislator will actually read an electronically distributed bill v. a paper bill is highly doubtful but vast acres of trees in the Adirondacks will be preserved so we might as well vote to “help a tree.” Seriously, won’t improve the states’ broken legislative process but will make it more green.  Can’t hurt.  And the next tree you see in Central Park, since they all talk to each other, will hug you if you stop long enough to tell it you voted for Prop 2.

 

Proposition 3: The “Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014″

 

Gov. Cuomo, without any consultation with academic leaders or school districts, proposed this $2 billion bond act early this year.  It would allow the following, which might seem hard for educators to oppose:

 

The proposal would allow the State to borrow up to two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000). This money would be expended on capital projects related to the design, planning, site acquisition, demolition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or acquisition or installation of equipment for the following types of projects:

  1. To acquire learning technology equipment or facilities including, but not limited to,
  2. Interactive whiteboards,
  3. Computer servers, and

c.Desktop, laptop, and tablet computers;

  • To install high-speed broadband or wireless internet connectivity for schools and communities;
  • To construct, enhance, and modernize educational facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs and provide instructional space to replace transportable classroom units (otherwise known as “Arthur Goldstein’s trailers”) and
  • To install high-tech security features in school buildings and on school campuses

This one comes down to whether you believe this is a good way for the state to bond $2 billion…..

 

Andrew Cuomo to himself in bed at 3 a.m. some winter night, early 2014:

 

“Andrew, what do you think would be a good way to spend $2 billion in state bonding this year?”

“Gee, I dunno.  I haven’t talked to anyone about this but then I don’t usually talk to anyone about anything.”

“What do most voters really like, come on, Andrew, this is not rocket science.”

“Well, most voters like ‘education” and that damned Astorino actually set up an anti Common Core party.”

“That’s true, but voters usually want to spend more money on schools without having to have their taxes raised.”

“Aha, Andrew, you are so smart, why don’t you put a really big, eye-catching proposal to spend $2 billion on technology in schools and then also put in a whole lot of other things that people might not be so concerned about such as building pre-K schools and stuff like that–nobody understands that the state is near its bonding limit and that all this stuff will be paid for over 30 years.”

 

Seriously, it might be hard for teachers to vote against something like this but $2 billion is a lot of money for something that no one other than Andrew Cuomo seriously seemed to think was necessary.  The interest cost estimates on the $2 billion range from $40-$50 million a year for a total 30 year cost of about $450-$500 million.  Usually, long-term bonds are used to finance long-term infrastructure, such as the building of roads, tunnels, bridges and buildings, not items with short term expected lives like school technology or even school wireless systems.  Think LAUSD where they handed out $1 billion in iPads and the entire thing was a disaster.  There don’t seem to be any particular controls over how the money will be spent but, in true election year fashion, the proceeds of the bonds, have already been apportioned among counties (see the charts in the links, below),

 

Some older school districts without a property tax base to support this sort of expenditure might benefit from the funds provided by Proposition 3.  But much of the stuff funded by the bond act will be obsolete long before the bonds are retired.

 

Albany has an addiction to bonding as away to get around tax increases but we all pay for this one way or another.  I’d say this one is doubtful but a case might be made for it if the right controls were in place to make sure the money was spent wisely.  There is a “Commission” that will review proposals but its findings are not binding.

http://www.nysut.org/~/media/Files/NYSUT/Resources/2014/April/FactSheet_1413_SmartSchoolsBondActof2014.pdf

http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5389-how-bright-smart-schools-bond-act-prop-3