Please join us for rally and press conference to demand Not One More Year Lost – Our Children are More than a Test Score!


WHEN:
    Thursday, April 24th @ 4 PM

WHERE:  NYC Department of Education, 52 Chambers Street
WHO:      All families, educators, and supporters of educational justice
HOW:      More info here and please accept and share the Facebook invite
WHY: We will be uniting to demand policies that support our children and our schools.
What do we want?
- We want real learning every day NOT test prep
- We want transparent, developmentally appropriate and valid assessments
- We want child-centered, rich curriculum
- We want standards that truly support child learning

- We want funding for schools not for private testing companies

Make your own signs!!  Some of the themes for the action are:
- We demand REAL accountability from the top, not on the backs of our children
- Listen to the parents
- Release the test
- Our children and our jobs as teachers are NOT FOR SALE
- Keep the money in the classroom

Change the Stakes
www.changethestakes.org

Follow us on Twitter or on our Facebook page

Please sign our petition to demand that NYS give parents the right to opt out http://signon.org/sign/give-new-york-state-parents.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=322644

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Visit us on line: https://www.changethestakes.org
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/changethestakes, https://www.facebook.com/BoycottHighStakesTests

 

 

The NY United Teachers union is comprised of more than 1,200 local unions across NY State. This year the Movement of Rank-and-file Educators (MORE) ran six candidates for the Board of Directors. NYSUT Elections have been uncontested since 1979. The six candidates pooled their speaking time at the NYSUT Representative Assembly convention and were represented by Lauren Cohen and Mike Schirtzer. Behind them were James Eterno, Julie Cavanaugh, Francesco Portelos, Jia Lee from MORE and our union sister from Port Jefferson Teachers Association Beth Dimino.

"Diane Ravitch and Brian Jones Taking Back OUR schools march and Rally"

Keynote speeches from two beacons of public education

http://tiny.cc/NYCmarch

 

4.8.14 Eng-flyer

Join parents, students, educators and community members at this important rally on Thursday at 4:00. Meet in front of the steps of the New York City Public Library @5th Ave. and 41st Street with a march to Governor Cuomo’s office to follow. On Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/savenycpubliceducation

By Julie Cavanagh

Teacher/Chapter-Leader P.S.15k

Last week charter schools received 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 in last week’s budget were 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. There are 52 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. So, for example, if a charter opened as an elementary, it can expand to include middle school and/or high school grades without a cap deduction. In addition, the Cuomo-led legislation to provide space to charters — only in NYC — is an unfunded mandate. 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 94%[i] 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 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 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 language in the budget seems to suggest that an existing charter in a public school cannot be prevented from expanding, which it will do at the expense of the existing public school. We need policies that seek to expand our existing public schools. There are many more public schools serving ALL of NYC’s children well and those schools and their best practices should be held up as models. Charters, by contrast, serve far fewer of our neediest children while boasting achievement numbers similar to public schools. The overwhelming majority of New York City families choose public schools and their rights should be respected and protected. They should not be forced into charters.
  • 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 I 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 and Philadelphia.

 

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 my own 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.

 

Our own United Federation of Teachers did not mount a fight back against this. In fact, their poor policy choices have made it difficult for UFT leaders to do since they have co-located two union-run charter schools themselves. New York Communities for Change has withdrawn its participation in the parent-led co-location lawsuit, a lawsuit that seeks to charge charters rent for use of public space — a policy that will now be illegal in New York City if the provision in the state budget is not changed.

 

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 (however flawed in a system with mayoral control), not private unaccountable and non-transparent interests, is vital to the health and success of our children.

 

We must stand together and demand the schools our children deserve: facilities deserving of the wealthiest nation in the world, rich and well-rounded curriculum and services, experienced and supported educators, smaller class sizes, and the right to attend a neighborhood public school that is excellent AND open to all.

 

My school community experienced co-location first hand. We were fortunate to mount a fight back that ended our co-location. However, that win was bitter sweet, because the charter, PAVE Academy, was awarded more than 20 million dollars in precious capital funds to build its own building in our neighborhood. We also engaged in a less-known fight back for another charter expansion in our neighborhood, a charter that sought to further segregate the neighborhood by creating a “boutique” charter targeted at the gentrifying population of Red Hook. Thankfully that charter was not approved. We have learned from both of these 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, and in our case, a school that was and is a high quality option. 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 94% of families who want high quality neighborhood schools for their children. We cannot achieve the promise of public education if the funding, facilities and services we need to provide are at-risk. Please join us and families across the city and send Governor Cuomo a message this Thursday: you are not our student’s lobbyist. You do not stand for children. You stand for your own political interests fueled by charter school dollars and we will hold you accountable!

 

[i] Charter school enrollment in 2011-2012 was 47,780 (according to www.nycsca.org’s report for capital fund projections) out of approximately 1.1 million school children in New York City., yielding an approximate 4% enrollment in charter schools at that time. Cited numbers currently range from 3%-6%. The New York City Charter school Center states approximately 70,000 children attend charter schools in NYC . Based on this information this post estimates current charter enrollment at 6% and public school enrollment at 94%.

Please help support MORE’s amendment to the resolution at the UFT Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, April 9th, by copying and distributing our flyer, and raising and speaking for the amendment.

The resolution to join the immigrants’ rights and labor protest on May Day at City Hall is an opportunity to begin a mobilization campaign to win the demands for a just settlement to our expired contract.

Such a campaign needs to be part of a united fight of all working people in the city for decent working and living conditions. And it has to involve the rank and file members of our union. May Day can be the beginning of a mobilization, not the end

AMENDMENT TO THE MAY DAY RESOLUTION Continue Reading…

4.8.14 Eng-flyer

https://www.facebook.com/events/550266075093719/

4.8.14 Sp flyer

Today, our six MORE candidates for NYSUT Board of Directors will contend for votes at the the NYSUT Representative Assembly.  They are Julie CavanaghLauren CohenJames EternoJia LeeFrancesco Portelos, and Mike Schirtzer

We are also supporting Arthur Goldstein for Executive Vice President and Beth Dimino for At Large Director.

New, Positive & Independent Leadership for NYSUT

  • A Strong Rank & File Member Driven Union That Will Take Action in Defense of Our Educators and Students
  • Repeal The Common Core Standards
  • Teacher Autonomy Without High-Stakes Testing
  • Evaluation Based on Collaboration, Not Measured by Test Scores and Cookie-Cutter Rubrics

Continue Reading…

Arthur Goldstein is a UFT Chapter Leader of Francis Lewis High School in Queens and is running for Executive Vice President of NYSUT, with MORE’s support.

Beth Dimino is the president of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association and is running for NYSUT Board of Directors, also endorsed by MORE.

 

Jia Lee, MORE candidate and teacher at the Earth School is one of the conscientious objectors who refuses to administer the NY State Test this year.

Jia Lee, MORE candidate and teacher at the Earth School, is one of the conscientious objectors who refuses to administer the NY State Test this year.

New York City public school students in grades 3-8 are currently taking the controversial New York State (NYS) Common Core tests.  

MORE opposes the administration of these corporate-created high-stakes exams, and we stand in support of parents who are refusing to have their child(ren) take the test, and in support of those teachers who are refusing to administer them.

Jia Lee, one of the MORE candidates running for NYSUT (state union) office this weekend, is one of these brave teachers. Jia and two other teachers at the Manhattan’s Earth School, as an act of conscience, are declining the role of test administrators for the 2014 NYS Common Core tests. In a letter to Chancellor Fariña, they write “we are acting in solidarity with countless public school teachers who have paved their own paths of resistance and spoken truthfully about the decay of their profession under market-based reforms. These acts of conscience have been necessary because we are accountable to the children we teach and our pedagogy, both of which are dishonored daily by current policies.”  Please read their thoroughly researched position paper on the Teachers of Conscience blog.**  Continue Reading…

TestingTomorrow, April 1st, students across NY State will take the second year of Common Core aligned tests.  Last year’s test administration was a disaster, but continue rollout this year of the standards revealed what a deeply flawed project they are. The resistance, however, is growing: parents are opting their children out of the tests in large numbers, and some teachers are refusing to administer them.*

MORE adds its voice with the following statement about why we oppose the common core:

MORE is opposed to the Common Core standards because they are inextricably linked to a reform package that includes punitive high-stakes testing, unproven and unreliable measurements of student and teacher performance and scripted curriculum produced not by teachers, but by corporations. After 30 years of manufactured crises and failed solutions, the elements of this package, including the standards, are being used as ideological battering rams to attack the very concept of public education, replacing it with a profit-making privatization scheme.

The Common Core standards are undemocratic. They were written without meaningful teacher input, and educators do not have the freedom to use them as they see fit.   Continue Reading…

Change the Stakes
Changethestakes.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2014

CONTACT:
Janine Sopp, 917-541-6062, janinesopp@gmail.com
Nancy Cauthen, 646-438-1233, nkcauthen@earthlink.net

Number of NYC Parents Refusing State Tests Expected to Triple in 2014

New York City –What began two years ago as a small pocket of resistance has burgeoned into a full-blown protest movement: public school parents are demanding an end to the excessive use of standardized tests and top-down, corporate-backed reforms.  Change the Stakes estimates that three times as many NYC school children as last year – perhaps exceeding 1,000 – will refuse to take the annual English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams that begin next week.

At the Brooklyn New School, well over 200 students – nearly 80% of students in testing grades – will not take this year’s exams; last year only 4 BNS students opted out of the tests. The estimated test refusal rate at the Earth School in Manhattan is 50%, compared with 30% last year. At P.S. 446 in Brownsville, as many as 25 3rd grade parents have submitted refusal letters. At the Academy of Arts and Letters in Fort Greene, the number is 40, representing 75% of the 3rd grade. Principals say they expect the numbers to continue to rise until the exams begin April 1st.

Although children not taking the tests span the full range from 3rd to 8th grade, parents of younger children often refuse the tests because of changes in their child’s attitude toward school as a result of the testing.

Roseanne Cuffy-Scott, parent of a 3rd grader in the East Village said, “My son used to love going to school until his evenings were filled with homework assignments that confused him with complicated and poorly written math and reading questions. His assignments are stressful for both him and myself. I have to spend hours explaining concepts that he’s not ready for developmentally.” As for the tests, she said her son is nervous and “is fearful he will have to attend summer school or repeat third grade.”

Many parents refusing to have their children tested encounter supportive principals and teachers, while others are not so fortunate. Samantha De Los Santos, parent of a 3rd grader with special needs in Queens’ District 25, wants to opt her son out but says administrators and staff are pressuring her to allow her son to be tested. “They’re telling me he’ll be scored as failing if he doesn’t take the test and that he might not be promoted. They’re really scaring me.”

The lack of direction from the NYC Department of Education has led to uncertainty among administrators about how to respond to families refusing the tests; parents are still seeking guidance from the DOE. Although the new Chancellor, Carmen Fariña, has made clear her intent to be more responsive to parents, her department’s efforts have been hampered by the transition falling in the middle of the school year and pressure to tackle a multitude of issues at once.

The information vacuum has fostered misinformation, with students being threatened with various punishments – being forced to attend summer school or denied promotion as well as being excluded from graduation ceremonies and other school celebrations – for opting out of the tests.

But many parents refuse to be dissuaded from protecting their children from a public education system gone wrong. Dawn Babbush, a 3rd grade parent in Brooklyn’s District 13, asks “What has happened to our schools? How did it get this bad? The voices of trusted educators and caring parents have been completely disregarded.  Our children are being subjected to a curriculum that lacks joy and life – it’s scripted and standardized and full of test prep. Test scores are used to sort students and rank teachers, creating a climate of competition and fear. It’s no wonder teachers feel pressure to teach to the test.”

Ms. Babbush added, “This is not the education we want for our children and we will not stand for it any longer. Parents have a voice, and our elected officials need to recognize us. We’ll be paying attention come November.”

###

Change the Stakes (changethestakes.org) is a group of New York City parents and educators promoting alternatives to high stakes-testing.

Taking Back OUR Schools

March 26, 2014 — 1 Comment

Click HERE for more information
Don’t Forget to RSVP

"Taking back OUR schools NYC metro march and rally"

Parent, Student, and Educator groups united to fight corporate education “reform”

IANNUZZI ANSWERS MORE-GOLDSTEIN-DIMINO CALL FOR NYSUT DEBATE; MULGEW IS SILENT

Commentary by James Eterno

Jamaica High School Chapter Leader/

2010 ICE/TJC UFT Presidential Candidate

 

The email below was sent to NYSUT President and Stronger Together leader Dick Iannuzzi, UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Revive NYSUT from several of the candidates running for office in the first ever contested NYSUT election. We are asking for a debate or some kind of open forum in New York City before the April 5 election. As you can see, President Iannuzzi has responded. We are still waiting to hear back from President Mulgrew.

I never received an answer when I asked for a presidential candidate forum before the UFT election in 2010. MORE caucus didn’t get a reply when we requested a debate between Mulgrew and MORE’s Julie Cavanagh before the 2013 UFT election. Would anyone be surprised if we don’t hear back from our UFT President now?

Yes, we understand President Mulgrew is a very busy person but when something as important as the leadership of our city or state union is at stake, don’t you think we at least deserve a response?

The lack of a reply now is especially baffling since there have been numerous candidate forums all over NYS the last few weeks ahead of the NYSUT election. I reported on one such forum that took place on Long Island a couple of weeks back.

Why is Mulgrew, and the NYC Unity Caucus he leads, so afraid of open discussion? Perhaps the fact that members of his caucus are obligated to support caucus positions in public and union forums means the leadership does not feel the need to discuss anything. I have reported repeatedly on President Mulgrew stifling dissent at UFT Delegate Assemblies.

We can only hope reports are right and some of the NYC Unity people are willing to open up their minds and vote their conscience.

Our letter to Iannuzzi, President Mulgrew, Stronger Together and Revive NYSUT:

Dear Brothers Iannuzzi and Mulgrew,

We are NYSUT members, teachers, UFT Chapter Leaders and Delegates, and many of us are members of the MORE caucus (Movement of Rank and File Educators) in the UFT which received over 5,000 votes in our first run for local office in 2013. Our caucus received over 40% from high school teachers. We are running to represent New York City educators from the UFT as NYSUT Board of Directors and Executive VP.

We write to you today concerned that districts all over our state are holding forums with candidates from their respective districts and those running for officer positions.

In the spirit of democracy and transparency we are requesting a forum at a neutral Manhattan location open to all UFT and NYSUT members, including NYSUT delegates from the UFT and the media. We believe the members of Stronger Together, Revive, and our independent slate of eight members ought to be able to express our vision for state union leadership to our members.

We look forward to hearing your response as soon as possible and working together to plan this event!

Best regards,
Julie Cavanagh

Teacher/UFT Chapter Leader P.S.15

Lauren Cohen
Teacher/UFT Delegate P.S. 321

Beth Dimino

Teacher/President of Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association

James Eterno

Teacher/UFT Chapter Leader Jamaica High School

Arthur Goldstein

Teacher/ UFT Chapter Leader Francis Lewis High School

Jia Lee
Teacher/UFT Chapter Leader The Earth School

Francesco Portelos

Teacher/UFT Chapter Leader I.S. 49

 

Mike Schirtzer

Teacher/UFT Chapter Leader Leon M. Goldstein High School

 

The response from President Iannuzzi:

Dear MORE Caucus Candidates and others:

Thank you for reaching out with your concerns and proposal.

NYSUT is committed to running a transparent and open election in accordance with the law and is willing to collaborate in any way that would provide opportunity for the voices of all statewide candidates to be heard consistent with not violating the law. As the head of the Stronger Together slate, I can assure you that this is our position as well.

I am forwarding your email to NYSUT’s General Counsel and Elections Committee for their input. I am asking Counsel to communicate directly with you and to copy me with their response.

In solidarity,

Dick Iannuzzi

President Mulgrew’s Response:

?

Faces of MORE

UNITY TURNS DOWN MORE DA RESOLUTION CALLING FOR ESCALATION OF DEFENSE OF CHAPTER LEADERS & RANK AND FILE

By James Eterno

Chapter Leader Jamaica High School

MORE”s monthly UFT Delegate Assembly Report

The March 19 Delegate Assembly was highlighted by MORE’s Kit Wainer speaking in favor of a MORE sponsored resolution for the UFT to escalate their defense of  Chapter Leaders and others who speak out against abusive administrators.  Although the motion failed, it received strong support from the Delegates
The resolution is printed here in its link

http://morecaucusnyc.org/2014/03/19/resolution-to-unite-in-defense-of-teachers-under-attack/


In motivating this resolution for placement on next month’s agenda, Kit told the Delegates there are many abusive principals and assistant principals out there and some have real personality defects. He added how some are outright anti-union and are using the disciplinary process as an intimidation tactic.

Kit then pointed out how our union provides good legal representation but this is for individuals.  We now need to raise the stakes against these supervisors by taking collective action in picketing or engaging in other public actions as a union!

UFT Secretary Emil Pietromonaco spoke against MORE’s motion.  His main argument was to say he understands the intent of the resolution but we already rigorously defend our chapter leaders and take action so there is no need for a further resolution.

The vote followed and although MORE did not win a majority, the minority is growing.  I would say close to 40% of the vote was in favor of the motion.

President Michael Mulgrew then tried to comment but was stopped dead in his tracks by MORE’s Megan Moskop who shouted for a Point of Order and didn’t wait for a microphone to tell Mulgrew he was speaking out against a resolution that had already been voted on.  Mulgrew tried to continue but Megan wouldn’t have it so Mulgrew moved on and closed the new motion period.

President’s Report
I missed the start as I was a little late but when I arrived President Michael Mulgrew was talking about Albany.
State Senate Budget
Senate introduced a bill for public scholarships for private schools.  Much of the Senate budget plan is not good, particularly with charter schools.  We expect to be at war with Eva Moskowitz.  The $4.4 million she spent on ads the last few weeks could have been used to buy a building for her schools.  There are also some good things in the Senate budget.
Where we really have friends is in the State Assembly where Speaker Sheldon Silver is speaking out for public school kids who are going to school in trailers and buildings that are falling apart.
NYC Campaign
UFT is highlighting teacher retention crisis.  It has traditionally been a problem for teachers with 0-6 years to quit but teachers with 6-15 years of experience are leaving at a rate that is up 28% in just the last two years.  These are the teachers who stabilize schools.  Abusive administrators, paperwork and large class sizes are cited as reasons for leaving as well as the salary disparity between NYC compared to the suburban districts.
Evaluations
Evaluation system with observations and artifacts is a mess.  We must simplify the evaluation system. We are now sitting with people across the table on the Department of Education side who understand the need for teacher voice in the schools.
We need to be treated as professionals but we also have to act as responsible professionals.
Contract
Negotiating Committee met last week.  We have many enemies out there who want to sabotage a contract so it’s best to keep things private and not negotiate in public.
Para-fest
It was a great success.  We have 24,000 UFT paras.
Specialized High School Admissions
Lowest number of black and brown students admitted ever this year.  UFT Task Force led by Janella Hinds made seven recommendations which basically say that there should be more than just a test to base specialized admissions on.
Staff Director’s Report
Leroy Barr reported on the aforementioned para conference and guidance conference and he gave some dates for upcoming activities.
Mulgrew came back and reported on how Chancellor Carmen Fariña wants to talk to teachers and will be at many events in the near future. He also told Delegates how the Disaster Relief Fund needs to raise funds to assist victims of the East Harlem building explosion. (By the end of the meeting well over $2,000 was collected.)
Question Period
Question: What is our relationship like with governor Cuomo?
Mulgrew Answer: Mulgrew has a good relationship with the governor but they have had some difficult conversations with him lately because of his standing with Eva Moskowitz.
Question: What does the appeals process look like for next year?
Answer: Each side will now have four hours, instead of two, to present cases.  13% of the ineffective ratings, those caused by harassment and not incompetent teaching, will be pulled to go to arbitration.  The rest of those rated ineffective will get an independent validator next year.
Question: Any signs of the hostility of the last twelve years toward us being taken away at DOE?
Answer: Yes
Question: What is the UFT’s position concerning the horse carriage drivers?
Answer: We are working through the Central labor Council.
Question: Is the ATR pool down compared to the past?
Answer: It is down to around 900 with many counselors placed for the remainder of the year.  It should not be increased much as there are no closing schools but some phase outs continue.  We are working with the DOE to come up with a common sense plan on hiring.  Previous administration contracting with Teach for America and the New Teacher Project made no sense.
Question: What should we do about many Public School Athletic League problems?
Answer: Contact Kenny Achiron.
Question: Any plans for a demonstration to counter Eva Moskowitz activities?
Answer: Our focus is on Albany and getting a contract.  She closed her schools for demonstrations and arm-twisted parents into coming.  Imagine what we could do if we took everyone from just one district to Albany.  We are very concerned with the way she uses children for political reasons.
New Motion Period
See above
Special Order of Business
There was a resolution to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the UFT that caused surprising controversy as someone spoke strongly against it, which prompted Leroy Barr to respond by recognizing the founders of the union who are still part of the DA.  The motion carried easily.
There was the Brown v Board of Education resolution that led to my regular battle with Mulgrew concerning him calling on speakers opposed to a motion.  This carried easily.  It was followed by a resolution supporting California teachers as they fight to keep due process protections and one recognizing Chicago teachers who brought national attention to the growing concerns about the overemphasis on standardized testing.  These both passed. I believe time ran out here but if the last two resolutions were acted upon, they were not controversial.  One was on raising the minimum wage and the other was on Avonte’s Law (help autistic children and their parents).

strengthinnumbers

The MORE caucus will present this resolution at today’s UFT Delegate Assembly. Tomorrow we will publish our DA report.

Whereas, educators are fearful of reporting detrimental working and learnings conditions established by principals who work in a dictatorial

Whereas, our contract provides due process for all UFT members; and

Whereas, whistleblowers such as Francesco Portelos have been removed from schools and now falsely arrested and imprisoned for reporting abusive conditions and expressing their free speech rights; be it therefore

Resolved, that after careful consideration, the UFT will publish a list of DOE’s most abusive administrators in its newspaper, website, social media, and in a press release; and be it further

Resolved, that the UFT will escalate its defense of educators who speak out on behalf of their colleagues and students; and be it further

Resolved, that the defense of UFT members, particularly chapter leaders, who speak truth to power will include, but not be limited to, a full mobilization of our membership for protests and rallies with educators, parents, students, and concerned community members to expose despicable administrators; and be it further

Resolved, that UFT will demand the immediate removal of all administrators that are found as being abusive

“When UFT members are under attack, we must stand up and fight back!”

nysut-logo

MORE CAUCUS OF UFT TO CHALLENGE CURRENT UFT LEADERSHIP IN STATEWIDE UNION ELECTIONS

RANK AND FILE EDUCATORS WILL BRING REAL CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE TO UNION POSITIONS

New York – The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), best known for opposing UFT’s President Michael Mulgrew and his Unity caucus in the 2013 UFT elections will now offer a positive alternative for leadership in the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) officer elections. This is unprecedented- never before has the Unity caucus or a sitting UFT president been challenged in NYSUT elections.

MORE is running in this election against the Unity Caucus because, according to candidate special education elementary teacher Julie Cavanagh,

 
“…Rather than collaborating with those who seek to destroy us, we must harness our collective power and stand with parents and youth to end destructive education policies and fight for the economic, racial, and social justice our teachers, students, and society need and deserve.”

In a break from his union’s leadership, MORE candidate and high school teacher Mike Schirtzer calls for an immediate repeal of the Common Core State Standards,

“Teachers did not develop it, nor does it have the best interests of our students at heart.”

The standards have been supported by the current union leadership despite they way they force classroom teachers to do ever-increasing amounts of test preparation at the expense of real instruction. Students are bored with the the constant “drilling”, which deprives them of an authentic, engaging education.

MORE is challenging for statewide union office in order to initiate a change in direction, towards standards developed by pedagogical experts and field tested before implementation. MORE candidate and elementary school teacher Lauren Cohen adds,

“The Common Core is fundamentally undemocratic – not only in its implementation but in its conception. Handing teachers rigid, scripted curricula benefits corporate interests while neglecting students’ need for a developmentally-appropriate and well-rounded education.”

Public school parent, teacher, and MORE candidate Jia Lee explains that she is running for this position because,

“Our union leadership has allowed for the high-stakes use of invalid standardized tests, putting an entire generation of youth, educators, and schools at risk, and has promoted a culture of fear. It is time for democratic policies that respect the diverse needs of New York’s public schools.”

Our union leadership has done precious little to stop the over-reliance on testing, even though a plethora of research proves that measuring students only on test scores does not provide a complete picture of what a child has learned. Mike Schirtzer reiterated,

“The Unity caucus strategy has been political lobbying; they have not mobilized the UFT membership, even as schools are closed, high stakes tests proliferate, and student data is sold to the highest bidder. “

MORE believes our union must stand up in defense of our students. Reducing class size, funding the arts, offering a wide array of after-school programs, and providing full social-emotional and medical services for families would be the type of reform that would truly move our schools forward. Addressing poverty, racism, sexism, and other issues that our children face every day is what real union leadership is about.

Unfortunately, Unity caucus is stubbornly clinging to obsolete tactics that have resulted in the nearly unopposed corporate takeover of our schools. NYSUT and UFT must fight to allow working educators, students, and their parents, to determine educational policy. Policy should no longer be determined by those who seek to profit financially from our public education.MORE is challenging Unity in order to offer a slate of candidates that truly represents classroom teachers. Any policies the MORE candidates negotiate will affect them directly, because they are in the classroom each school day. That is not the case for the small clique of high-ranking Unity grandees currently dictating UFT policy.

Each new bureaucratic diktat, from Common Core to the cookie-cutter Danielson rubric to High Stakes testing, has resulted in less time for grading, lesson planning, and collaboration with administrators, parents, and colleagues. These failed policies have buried teachers under mounds of useless paperwork that do not positively impact our students. A new NYSUT leadership that includes the MORE slate will mobilize rank and file educators in the five boroughs and locals from around the state to take back our schools. Education policy should never be dictated in corporate boardrooms or political back rooms. It should be created with the input of the real experts- working teachers and parents.

The elections will take place April 5th, 2014 at the NYSUT representative assembly held at the New York Midtown Hilton. Local union presidents and delegates from around New York state will converge at this convention to cast their ballots and determine the statewide union’s direction. MORE is running an independent slate of six candidates for Board of Directors At-Large representing UFT members; Julie Cavanagh, James Eterno, Jia Lee, Mike Schirtzer, Lauren Cohen, and Francesco Portelos. They have also endorsed the candidacy of Arthur Goldstein for NYSUT Executive Vice President and Beth Dimino, President of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, for a Director At-Large for Suffolk. Only elected delegates from last year’s UFT election may vote in the NYSUT election, not rank and file members. MORE represents thousands of UFT members (including over 40% of the high school teachers who voted in the 2013 elections). UFT’s undemocratic rules do not allow for proportional representation, therefore all the NYC delegates at NYSUT convention are from the Unity caucus. These are at-large positions, meaning that any NYSUT delegate may vote for us, including those not from the UFT.

Calling all NYC Metro community activists (“voices of resistance”), families, students, civil rights advocates, voters, immigrant families, policymakers and legislators, union members, teachers, and faith leaders…

This rally and march is part of the national Testing Resistance & Reform Spring campaign. We aim to support the efforts of parents, teachers and community members to have public schools that work for the community.

Join us on May 17, 2014 in NYC!
City Hall Park (permit pending)

2:00 p.m.
Click here to RSVP Today! Continue Reading…

Stop and Reverse the Disappearing of Black and Latino Educators in NYC

Public Meeting Notice

 Join us to move NYC teacher diversity on to the Public Agenda

this spring through Diversity committee presentations to the new

Chancellor and Mayor.

Speak out at Panel for Educational Policy.

Outreach to educators, parents and students.

Information table at teacher certification exam sites.

Testimonials for Teachers Unite’s upcoming report.

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Time:    4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

The Church of St. Luke and

St. Matthew’s Parish Hall

520 Clinton Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(C train to Clinton/Washington stop.

Church is between Fulton St & Atlantic Ave).

A 42% decline in the number of new Black and Latino teachers hired to teach in NYC public schools since 2002 is movement in the wrong direction.

The DOE hires graduates from private universities over those from CUNY and SUNY.

A NYS teacher certification exam is not validated yet disproportionately excludes Black and Latino applicants.

Over 100 public schools have been closed in NYC’s Black and Latino communities.

Mayoral control over the DOE with its $25 billion yearly budget shuts out the voices and accountability to parents – over 80% of whom are Black, Latino and Asian.

Privately run charter schools are given a free ride to crowd existing public schools and to divide parents against parents.

The absence of DOE or mayoral oversight or direction to monitor and promote diversity in the teaching staff provides a cover for growing indifference and hostility to demands for equity.  “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

The undermining of teacher tenure, seniority and due process disproportionately impacts Black and Latino teachers, denigrates the teaching profession, inhibits student advocacy and contributes to chaos and demoralization in our public schools.

The disappearing of Black and Latino educators removes the most consistent advocates for a historically accurate, culturally relevant and inclusive curriculum.

Calling all “drum majors” for diversity now.  Join with educator, parent, student and community leaders to stop and reverse the disappearing of Black and Latino educators.

Endorsed by

  • Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence.
  • Coalition for Public Education.
  • Movement of Rank and File Educators.
  • National Black Education Agenda.
  • New York Collective of Radical Educators.
  • People Power.
  • Progressive Action Caucus.
  • Teachers Unite

Organized by:

The Teacher Diversity Committee (TDC) of NYC

 Email: TeacherDiversity@gmail.com

 

moreunion-This list of the main improvements we would like to see in the 2014 NYC teachers’ contract was developed based on democratic discussion and a vote at the 1/18/2014 meeting of the Movement of Rank and File Educators. Join us to continue the discussion!

1. Improved Learning and Working Conditions: Our schools should have lower class sizes, and they should be fully funded and staffed with sufficient support services. Therapists, Guidance Counselors, and Special Educators should have reduced caseloads so our high-needs students get what they need to grow, and educators have enough time during the school day to complete necessary recordkeeping and planning.

2. A Better Evaluation System: Teachers should be part of the team that builds our new evaluation system. It should not be tied to high-stakes standardized test scores. Instead, each school’s staff should play an active role in choosing meaningful, student-friendly assessments that can be used to inform instruction and measure growth. Extra paperwork and quantitative data creation should be eliminated.

3. Competitive Salaries: We deserve full retroactivity and fair raises based on the rising cost-of-living, and to retain teachers. To demonstrate respect for all of our work, there should be a move toward salary equity for all UFT members.

4. Restoration of Due Process and Fairness: All teachers deserve to be treated fairly, thus our contract should restore the right to transfer and to grieve material in our files. Teachers should be considered innocent until proven guilty at 3020a hearings, and the “fair student funding” budget system (that penalizes hiring of experienced teachers) should be reversed. If enacted, these changes will effectively end the ATR crisis.

Please download a flyer-version of these ideas to spark discussion within your UFT chapter or community here! MORE Top 4 Contract Flyer. And, if you’re interested in thinking about an ideal contract in more detail, check out “The Contract NYC’s Educators Deserve” that we shared in an earlier blog post. You can also find more resources under the “Contract” tab above.

Panelists Anthony Lackhan, Marcus McArthur, Sean Petty, and moderator Kit Wainer sparked an insightful discussion about unity and fair contracts during the forum.

Panelists Anthony Lackhan, Marcus McArthur, Sean Petty, and moderator Kit Wainer sparked an insightful discussion about unity and fair contracts during the forum.

NEW YORK: Over 75 rank and file union members gathered on Thursday (3/7/2014) night to mobilize against

Those rank and file workers have already garnered over 1,000 signatures on a letter demanding that union leaders prioritize retroactive pay.  Furthermore, they urge Mayor de Blasio to stay true to his campaign promise of “ending the tale of two cities,” and ask him to demonstrate his commitment to ending income inequality, starting at the bargaining table.

The forum was organized by the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the ACS Coalition of Union Members, 99 Pickets and rank and file activists from NYSNA, District Council 37, and the Professional Staff Congress.  Members of TWU Local 100, Organization of Staff Analysts, Teamsters Local 237, 1199 SIEU and other city unions were represented in a lively discussion.

“It’s clear that the anger that city workers feel about losing ground for the past five years is starting to find expression,” said Sean Petty, a nurse at the HHC. “The fact is that we’ve given up our free time, we’ve come in during snowstorms, we’ve stayed overnight in hospitals, and we’ve worked overtime to cleanup the city after Superstorm Sandy. That is being repaid with a new mayor who is saying there is not enough money for the raises we deserve. What tonight showed,” he continued, “is that there is a growing unrest among city workers and that we are not going to accept the status quo excuses from the administration.  It’s clear to all of us there is enough money to pay for the things that we all need, whether you are a city worker or depend on city services.”

Anthony Lackhan, a member of Local 1549, DC37 said,“Tonight I learned that there are a lot more of us willing to fight for what we’ve earned. I’m excited that I’m not alone and reinvigorated to find brothers and sisters of like mind.”

“Its okay for us to ask for more right now.  It’s OK for us to demand a strong middle class.  It’s our duty as public sector unions to demand it,” said Marcus McArthur, a city teacher and member of the MORE caucus of the UFT.

“De Blasio campaigned on a tale of two cities.  Well, here’s the other city coming forward,” said Lucy Herschel, a member of 1199 SEIU. “I don’t think I’ve ever been at a meeting of this many rank and file union members from different unions before,” she added.

“The thing we all have in common as teachers, as city workers, as nurses, is that we all care about the people we serve, and the people in our community care about our services, so we need to work together and really build locally.” said Rosie Frascella, a teacher and member of the MORE caucus of the UFT.

###

The Movement of Rank and File Educators is the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers.  For MORE information: http://morecaucusnyc.org/about/

 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMORE is running a slate of six candidates in the upcoming NYSUT elections for the Board of Directors. NYSUT is our state union that all UFT members belong to. The following statement is part of a series that will feature all six nominee’s election statements.
Only delegates elected in local union elections may vote in the NYSUT elections, not rank and file members. In the UFT’s case, all 800 NYSUT delegates are from the Unity caucus, even though MORE represents over 15% of working educators and over 40% of high school teachers based on the 2013 UFT elections results. The Unity caucus votes as a block, because each delegate must sign an oath to vote in UFT, NYSUT, and AFT assemblies as the caucus tells them to. We are running for “at-large” positions which means although we represent the UFT members of NYC, any NYSUT delegate from around the state may vote for these positions. The election is held at the April 5th NYSUT convention.
Please join us on March 8th at our general meeting to discuss and April 5th at the Midtown NY Hilton to distribute fliers for our campaign- more information will follow.

I am with the Movement of Rank and File Educators.  We’re running to uncage the sleeping tiger—the 600,000 strong NYSUT membership—to save our union and public education, a daunting task.

One side, backed by the UFT leadership’s Unity Caucus, pledges to “engage the Governor to address your concerns . . . hopefully to win him over.”  They want a seat at the table. We don’t need a seat at Cuomo’s table when our members and our students are being served up for dinner!

Instead, we must rebuild NYSUT for real grassroots union action. Vote James Eterno to help uncage the NYSUT tiger.

 
COHENMORE is running a slate of six candidates in the upcoming NYSUT elections for the Board of Directors. NYSUT is our state union that all UFT members belong to. The following statement is part of a series that will feature all six nominee’s election statements.
Only delegates elected in local union elections may vote in the NYSUT elections, not rank and file members. In the UFT’s case, all 800 NYSUT delegates are from the Unity caucus, even though MORE represents over 15% of working educators and over 40% of high school teachers based on the 2013 UFT elections results. The Unity caucus votes as a block, because each delegate must sign an oath to vote in UFT, NYSUT, and AFT assemblies as the caucus tells them to. We are running for “at-large” positions which means although we represent the UFT members of NYC, any NYSUT delegate from around the state may vote for these positions. The election is held at the April 5th NYSUT convention.
Please join us on March 8th at our general meeting to discuss and April 5th at the Midtown NY Hilton to distribute fliers for our campaign- more information will follow.

As a member of the MORE Caucus in NYC, I’ve noticed a stark disconnect between the rhetoric of our union leadership and the interests of working teachers. The Common Core is fundamentally undemocratic – not only in its implementation but in its conception. Handing teachers rigid, scripted curricula benefits corporate interests while neglecting students’ need for a developmentally-appropriate and well-rounded education. Teachers’ hands have been tied as the emphasis on testing and labeling harms the most vulnerable children. I am running for an At-Large Director position to advocate for teachers’ professional autonomy. Allow us to teach students, not standards.

 Francesco Portelos
MORE is running a slate of six candidates in the upcoming NYSUT elections for the Board of Directors. NYSUT is our state union that all UFT members belong to. The following statement is part of a series that will feature all six nominee’s election statements.
Only delegates elected in local union elections may vote in the NYSUT elections, not rank and file members. In the UFT’s case, all 800 NYSUT delegates are from the Unity caucus, even though MORE represents over 15% of working educators and over 40% of high school teachers based on the 2013 UFT elections results. The Unity caucus votes as a block, because each delegate must sign an oath to vote in UFT, NYSUT, and AFT assemblies as the caucus tells them to. We are running for “at-large” positions which means although we represent the UFT members of NYC, any NYSUT delegate from around the state may vote for these positions. The election is held at the April 5th NYSUT convention.
Please join us on March 8th at our general meeting to discuss and April 5th at the Midtown NY Hilton to distribute fliers for our campaign- more information will follow.

During my first years of teaching I missed almost every union meeting. “I’m a good teacher, why do I need the union?” I naively thought. After I raised concerns, I was targeted, removed from my teaching position, and exiled. I realized the importance of unions, and I ran and won the school chapter leader position from exile. As a member of the MORE Caucus in NYC, I have been mobilizing and supporting my school and other educators who read about my fight. My goal is to use my knowledge, leadership skills, and out-of-the-box thinking at the state level now.

 Jia Lee
MORE is running a slate of six candidates in the upcoming NYSUT elections for the Board of Directors. NYSUT is our state union that all UFT members belong to. The following statement is part of a series that will feature all six nominee’s election statements.
Only delegates elected in local union elections may vote in the NYSUT elections, not rank and file members. In the UFT’s case, all 800 NYSUT delegates are from the Unity caucus, even though MORE represents over 15% of working educators and over 40% of high school teachers based on the 2013 UFT elections results. The Unity caucus votes as a block, because each delegate must sign an oath to vote in UFT, NYSUT, and AFT assemblies as the caucus tells them to. We are running for “at-large” positions which means although we represent the UFT members of NYC, any NYSUT delegate from around the state may vote for these positions. The election is held at the April 5th NYSUT convention.
Please join us on March 8th at our general meeting to discuss and April 5th at the Midtown NY Hilton to distribute fliers for our campaign- more information will follow.

As a member of UFT’s MORE caucus, I am running for an At-Large Director position based on my firm belief that democratic engagement of our membership must be a top priority. Our leadership has been complicit with unresearched Race to the Top policies, diminishing our work to scripted curricula and directing incalculable resources away from enriching programs our schools need. The use of invalid standardized tests has put an entire generation of youth, educators, and schools at risk and has promoted a culture of fear. It is time for democratic policies that respect the diverse needs of New York’s public schools.

Mike Schirtzer - MORE Tshirt
MORE is running a slate of six candidates in the upcoming NYSUT elections for the Board of Directors. NYSUT is our state union that all UFT members belong to. The following statement is part of a series that will feature all six nominee’s election statements.
Julie CavanaghMORE is running a slate of six candidates in the upcoming NYSUT elections for the Board of Directors. NYSUT is our state union that all UFT members belong to. The following statement is part of a series that will feature all six nominee’s election statements. Continue Reading…

Support the Opt-Out Movement & Learn How to Organize Your Chapter

THURSDAY 2/27: ORGANIZING WORKSHOP

A LABOR NOTES TROUBLEMAKERS SCHOOL

strengthinnumbersOverwhelmed by the challenges of organizing in your school? Want to share ideas with other dedicated, creative chapter leaders and activists?

Come to a workshop on organizing your members to create a more active, involved union chapter. Discuss organizing challenges with other chapter leaders and strategize creative solutions to build teacher and para power in your school!

What challenges are you facing in your school? - Take our Chapter Leader Survey

Thursday, February 27, 5:00pm

TWU Local 100 Offices

195 Montague St., 3rd Fl., Rm C, Brooklyn

FRIDAY 2/28: MEET WITH PARENTS WHO ARE SAYING NO!

Sponsored by Change the Stakes    

 

(Please Share Widely with your friends, PTAs, SLTs, Parent Lists, teachers)

 
As children and teachers enter the spring “testing season,” parents must decide if we will continue to allow our children to support high-stakes testing. There are many ways to resist the tests and demand social justice for all public school students.

Meet with others who choose to refuse and are organizing others to do the same.  
•    Learn what is at stake, ways you can resist and how.  
•    Help educate your school community, organize, mobilize and possibly opt out. 
•    Even if you feel like a lone voice, you are not alone! 
•    It is time for parents to protect their children and resist by saying NO!

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28
5:30 to 7:30pm
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Ave, Rm 5409
[corner of 5th Ave & 34th St; entrance on 5th]
Bring photo ID to enter

 
 
For more info, visit www.changethestakes.org or email changethestakes@gmail.com

Flyer1-1

THIS Is Our Moment!

February 24, 2014 — 4 Comments

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

MORE is the bellwether, the authentic voice of working educators in NYC.

This is Our Moment!

We are on the right side of history, several steps ahead, waiting for politicians and union leadership to catch up.

Current events bear this out; after the excesses of corporate reform reached their apex in 12 years of Bloomberg, the pendulum has begun, slowly, to return to center. Parents, students, and teachers are mobilizing en mass, and Movement of Rank and File Educators is at the forefront of the resistance. It used to be a lonely place, but it has started to become crowded lately. Positions long held by MORE, like strenuous opposition to high stakes testing and the use of VAM growth scores to evaluate teachers, were until very recently considered by the power structure to be extreme. Now, they are core tenets of UNITY* doctrine, and have the potential to be heard with a more sympathetic ear under DeBlasio and Fariña.
Continue Reading…

Teachers in St. Paul, MN are preparing for a strike authorization vote on February 24th.

The union is holding informational meetings in the lead up to the vote. If the strike is authorized, the union is required to give 10 days notice before calling a strike.

The strength and unity of the membership was evident on January 30th when “walk-ins” were organized at 55 of 62 sites with over 2500 of the city’s 3200 members participating along with parents, on one of the snowiest mornings of the year.

The St. Paul Federation of Teachers has done extensive outreach to parents and other community members for months, holding open meetings, and even open negotiation sessions, to discuss contract demands and involve teachers, parents and community members in shaping their demands. As in Chicago, the union has put forth its own blueprint for “The Schools St. Paul’s Children Deserve.” As a result, the SPFT has gained immense support. Parents recently helped to start a Facebook page called “I Stand with SPFT” that quickly grew to 900 members. On February 18th, hundreds of teachers and community members rallied at a school board meeting and many parents provided testimony in support of the teachers’ demands. 

The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers is fighting for reduced class size, increased staffing (more nurses, librarians, social workers and counselors), access to pre-k for ALL students, and less standardized testing to allow for more genuine teaching.

MORE calls on all UFT members to stand in solidarity with the St.Paul teachers and students by following their struggle and taking action.

For more information, visit the St. Paul Federation of Teacher’s website at: http://www.spft.org/

You can also follow the St. Paul Federation of Teachers on Facebook,  join the “I Stand with SPFT” page and post messages of solidarity to show your support.

In addition,  you can call the  Superintendent and school board members of St. Paul and urge them to come to an agreement with the St. Paul Federation of Teachers to lower class sizes, increase staffing and provide universal access to Pre-K.

Valeria Silva – Superintendent supt.silva@spps.org 651-767-8152

Mary Doran – Chair mary.doran@spps.org 651-387-2361

Keith Hardy - keith.hardy@spps.org 651-200-5032
John Brodrick - john.brodrick@spps.org 651-645-7500

Anne Carroll - anne.carroll@spps.org 651-690-9156

Jean O’Connell - jean.oconnell@spps.org 651-295-1623

Louise Seeba - louise.seeba@spps.org 651-335-4263

Chue Vue - chue.vue@spps.org 651-291-8569

Finally, you can sign a petition in support of the St. Paul teachers here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/st-paul-public-schools?source=s.fwd&r_by=4379504

nysut-logoIn April, the New York State Teachers Union (NYSUT-the state association of teachers unions that the UFT is part of) will be having elections. Since UFT/Unity has a great deal of power in NYSUT, MORE was asked by statewide activists in the Port Jefferson Teachers Association to get involved.

We are excited to announce that we will be running for the 6 At Large positions on the Board of Directors that represents the NYC schools’ district (UFT) at the state union level. Our candidates are Julie Cavanagh, Lauren Cohen, Michael Schirtzer, James Eterno, Francesco Portelos, and Jia Lee.

We will be campaigning for our statewide union to take a stronger stand against test-based teacher evaluations, for more union democracy, and for building an active rank-and-file membership that works in solidarity for improved working and learning conditions.

photo 2by Harry Lirtzman, former high school special education math teacher.

As teacher and union activists working inside the framework of a deeply undemocratic union and against the formidable resources available to the implacable “corporate school reform” movement it is inevitable that we momentarily lose heart, even hear a cynical “voice” from inside ourselves about protecting public schools and the welfare of students we care about so much.  Then something happens, something wonderful. We find again that we have remarkable allies and that over time, perhaps more time than any of us would like to think, we will prevail in the work we do to teach our students well, preserve professional autonomy within our classrooms and join forces with parents and students to give voice to concerns that resonate in the communities that support our schools.

One of those moments occurred at Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School on W. 102nd St. on February 1 at a forum, “More Than a Score: Talking Back to Testing,” sponsored jointly by MORE, Teachers Unite, Change the Stakes and the NYC Student Union. More than 150 parents, teachers, administrators and students came together to demonstrate what we all “know” but sometimes doubt.  We found that there really is in New York City a coalition of informed, energetic and motivated activists who can work together to take advantage of the cracks now opening up in the political and social environment to push through a “people’s school reform” movement that will restore sanity, balance and intelligence to the day-to-day operation of the schools where we work and where our students learn.

Continue Reading…

MORE Member Brian Jones speaks out on behalf of parents and students, echoing MORE’s call for a socially just system in which all students have “the kind of humane, relaxed, resource-rich, joyful learning environments that wealthy children already enjoy.” Brian has taught in New York City public schools for nine years and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in urban education at the CUNY Graduate Center.  He is also a parent.

Check it out here: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/02/09/blaming-parents-for-poor-schools/parents-value-schools-but-society-doesnt

You can enjoy more of Brian’s work by watching the film “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” (co-narrated and produced with other MOREistas!)” and by reading his blog.

UFT DA Report 2/5/14

February 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

By James Eterno

Teacher/Chapter leader: Jamaica High School

Our monthly report from the UFT Delegate Assembly

BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT HIGHLIGHTS FEBRUARY DA

There were only two resolutions at the February UFT Delegate Assembly meeting and they both passed unanimously.  The first was to endorse Tom Brown for election as a Teacher-Member of the Teachers’ Retirment Board of the City of New York for a three year term.  The second was raised from the floor by MORE’s Kevin Prossen calling for the UFT to support the Portland Oregon teachers who just took a strike vote.Someone attending their first DA meeting on Wednesday at UFT Headquarters would never have known there are two caucuses that often disagree on major union policy questions as everybody was basically aligned.  Partisanship for the most part was put aside for February.

President’s Report
President Michael Mulgrew opened the meeting by thanking Delegates for getting through the snow to attend the meeting.  He said that getting in is the work of the Union.

This resolution was raised by MORE and passed without opposition by the UFT Delegate Assembly on 2/5/14.

We stand in SOLIDARITY with our brother and sister educators in Portland, Oregon!

"The UFT supports the Portland Association of Teachers in their right for 'The Schools Portland Students Deserve'""

Solidarity Forever!

This is our list of demands that the UFT ought to be mobilizing the rank and file to fight for:

Please find the flier for distribution here and an explanation of the process for ratifying a new contract here

  • Improve Our Students’ Learning Conditions: Funding must be made available for Creative Arts (Music, Art, Drama, Digital Arts), Physical Education, Technology, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Science, Math, and electives. Every school shall be equipped with working computers, interactive boards, internet, heat, air conditioning, and have a fully staffed library and media center. Class size limits should be reduced by at least 10%, with no exceptions. Research has proven that students learn better with individualized attention.

  • Pay Raises: They reflect the importance of the work teachers do, & include full retroactive pay consistent with pattern bargaining. We shall receive 4% retroactive back-pay for the 2008/09 and 2009/10 rounds as other NYC municipal workers did, as well as a 3% raise in each subsequent year to adjust for inflation and cost of living. The money IS in the DOE budget!

  • Teacher Evaluation: With its unscientific use of test scores, increased testing, and additional paperwork, the new evaluation system is a disaster. This contract shall eliminate the use of test scores for teacher evaluations and reduce the amount of evaluation paperwork.

  • Due Process: Restore the principle of innocent until proven guilty in all reassignments with faster and fairer investigations in 3020-a hearings.  An independent arbitrator jointly selected and paid for by the DOE and UFT shall  judge all grievances and removals.

  • Equity for All Students: All schools and students should receive the same amount of services and resources regardless of the socio-economic class of the neighborhood. Public schools should not be funded by outside sources such as corporations. We must support schools in high poverty neighborhoods in order to equalize some of the advantages enjoyed by students with more financial resources. Every school shall be fully staffed with a nurse, a social worker, services available to parents, as well as afterschool and weekend programs. Each child, regardless of economic status, must be offered free breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  • Fair Student Assessment: Standardized tests should be only one tool used for assessing student learning and growth. Portfolios, written assignments, verbal presentations, digital presentations, and projects shall all be available options.

  • Salary Equity: Teachers at the bottom of the pay scale are being paid substantially less than veteran teachers. This gap is being used against senior teachers. There shall be additional pay increases for new teachers to close this tremendous difference, without an effect on the raises of veteran teachers.

  • Right to Grieve Letters in the File and Ratings: All employees shall have the right to respond to accusations and demonstrate that they are inaccurate or unfair. Disciplinary red flags in files of active teachers who were not terminated in 3020-a hearings must be eliminated.

  • Initiatives: Too many new mandates flood our schools each year.  When any new, significant education policy is agreed upon for implementation in classrooms, it shall be limited to one per academic year, be administered with a minimum of two years professional development, and be continuously reviewed by a jointly agreed upon panel of experts for effectiveness.

  • Revise the “Fair Student Funding” Formula: The DOE shall return to the system in which each school’s budget was charged the same, fixed amount per teacher. The current system incentivizes principals to hire inexperienced teachers. We must restore the right of an educator to transfer on the basis of seniority or to further integration.

  • Changes in Hiring/ATRs: Due to the lack of educators of color, students of color are implicitly taught not to identify members of their community with intellectual growth. We must stop and reverse the disproportionate disappearance of Black and Latino/a educators from the City school system. NO new hires shall be made, including Teach for America, Teaching Fellows, or any other exceptions, until all excessed staff from the ATR pool are permanently assigned to any available position they choose.

  • Workload for Special Educators: Assign professional educators working with special education students reasonable caseloads that will allow for all mandated services and paperwork, including work in SESIS, to be completed during the work day. Educators working with special education students shall be able to safely report any inconsistencies between the mandated services included in a student IEP and the services that the student is actually receiving.

  • C-6 Assignments: These shall be restored to the system prior to 2005 in which the use of that time was decided on collaboratively between the UFT Chapter and the Principal, not unilaterally imposed by the administration.

  • Better Pay for PT’s, OT’s, and Paraprofessionals: Experienced OT’s and PT’s are paid 38 percent less than teachers and speech therapists with the same levels of education. Paraprofessionals, some of our most important members, are not paid enough to live in the same city as the children they care for. All their salaries shall be dramatically increased and they shall be offered the same job protections as teachers.

  • Academic Freedom: Educators shall be responsible for decisions regarding the methods and materials used for the instruction of students. Administrators and the DOE are not in classrooms on a daily basis, and so do not understand our students’ individual needs, yet they currently have nearly unchecked power to determine how we teach.

  • Caseload for Guidance Counselors: These professionals are increasingly being forced to take on an overwhelming number of additional responsibilities, which often means that students who need psychological counseling are not receiving it. Our schools need to be fully staffed with the professionals who provide direct college and career guidance as well as emotional support. 250:1 is the state recommended ratio, but as NYC needs are greater than average for the state, 200 students per counselor with at least one in every school is appropriate.

  • Education Leadership and Iron-Clad Contract Enforcement: The C-30 panel should have the final determination of any administrative hiring. We must demand that administrators’ behaviors are consistent with promoting a respectful working/learning environment. Any administrator that is found to be routinely violating the contract at their school shall be automatically removed and face charges for permanent removal.

  • Tenure: There shall be a clear, explicit path to tenure negotiated between UFT and DOE, stating what is expected from new faculty in order to receive it. All denials must include a written explanation and be eligible for appeal before an independent arbitrator.

Consistent with the democratic process, this platform is a living document. This is in no particular order, all demands are of equal importance to our members, UFT educators and the communities we serve.

 

By Kit Wainer
Chapter Leader, Leon M. Goldstein High School

In part 1 we explored the ways in which UFT contracts have riveted the attention of union members toward their union and toward their contract. In 1995, for the first time in the union’s history, the membership voted down a contract package that UFT leaders had negotiated. Although the union was able to get a new version of the contract approved in the spring with a few minor improvements, I argued that the Unity Caucus leaders recognized that they would have to be much more active in selling any future contract, especially one with concessions. In this segment we examine the lessons of the 2005 contract – a deal which devastated members’ working conditions and rights on the job like no contract before or since. I hope that activists interested in defending our contractual rights will join MORE and help us build a movement for democratic, rank and file unionism. That way, in the future, we’ll be able to learn from past union victories rather than defeats.

I probably knew the 2005 contract would pass from the beginning but the
struggle against it seemed very promising. In the spring of 2005 we had been without a contract for 1.5 years. UFT President Randi Weingarten seemed to feel some heat to launch something resembling a fight. Teachers for a Just contract and the Independent Community of Educators, the two main opposition caucuses within the union, had won the high school seats on the UFT Executive Board the previous year and both groups were calling on the union to fight the Bloomberg administration to win us a good contract. One of TJC’s members on the UFT Executive Board proposed that the UFT should set a strike deadline for November 2005 which would have coincided with election day when Mayor Michael Bloomberg was seeking a second term. Rejecting what UFT Secretary Michael Mendel called the “worst proposal ever made to the Executive Board” the UFT nevertheless began to mobilize that spring. It encouraged chapter leaders to hold rallies outside of schools, and even highlighted those chapters that held “honor pickets”
(pickets before school at which all members walk into school as a group just one minute before the beginning of the work day), even though the honor pickets were organized by opposition chapter leaders. Every district and borough held rallies and there was a city- wide rally at Madison Square Garden in June. At one DA Randi boasted that in all the UFT organized more than 6000 actions, and her number may have been correct.

When we returned to school in September 2005, however, the only action asked of us was that we sign a postcard to Bloomberg demanding that he bargain in good faith. The UFT had asked the Public Employees Relations Board for a declaration of impasse more than a year earlier. Impasse triggered the creation of a fact-finding panel whose report came out in September 2005. The Fact-finders recommended a further extension of the work day, the creation of the 37.5 minute tutoring block, the elimination of the right to grieve letters in the file, the elimination of the right to transfer between schools based on seniority, the right of principals to decide which excessed teachers they will hire (from which the ATR crisis was born) and on and on. That month, against the objections of

ICE and TJC delegates, the Delegate Assembly accepted Unity’s proposal to accept the Fact-finders’ report as the basis for contract negotiations. By October the city and the UFT had agreed to a deal along the lines of the Fact-finders’ report. Unlike the 1995 deal, the 2005 agreement included raises, pro-rata pay increases to compensate for the

longer work day, and full retroactive pay. Members were being offered substantial pay hikes and retroactive checks that, for some, would approach $10,000.

But there was great anger. Roughly 200 protesters showed up outside the Delegate Assembly, even though no group had prioritized building the protest. Weingarten moved the Delegate Assembly to the Brooklyn Marriott so that it could pack the room with retirees and union staff. Nearly 2000 delegates attended. Randi spoke for an hour to provide “context” for the contract. Then Elementary School VP Michelle Bodden spoke for ten minutes to argue for ratification. Weingarten asked speakers in favor of the deal to line up on one side and those against to line up on the other side.
The first speaker “against” was actually a speaker in favor of the contract. She said she had a bad knee and couldn’t walk over to the “for” line. Randi let her speak nonetheless and then called on another speaker “for.” I was the fourth speaker and the first one to oppose the contract. I spoke for 7-8 minutes. My strategy was to ignore most of the justifications Randi and Bodden had just made and address the issues I knew members were talking about. After me, only two others were allowed to speak “against” before District Representative Marty Plotkin called the question. On the first vote the delegates overwhelmingly approved the deal. Then Randi, responding to shouts from the audience, asked for a vote of only active members (non-retirees). This time the vote was roughly 60-40 in favor, not a good showing for the leadership at a meeting it controlled.

Dozens of people approached me at the DA, took “vote no” leaflets to distribute to their schools, and filled out TJC coupons to get on our mailing list. We held an open meeting about a week later at which several ICE members, one New Action/UFT member, and a few dozen independents showed up. The meeting decided to organize a picket outside UFT headquarters before the membership ratification vote. I believed at the time, and still believe, that was a mistake. The priority should have been literature distribution in the schools, doing everything possible to reach out to new people who were angry about the proposed contract but had not been involved in union issues before. Those kinds of people were not the types who would show up at a rally. But the rally idea prevailed and we held one in November. About 175 people came out.

Meanwhile Unity stuffed mailboxes around the city with literature claiming the proposed contract didn’t actually mean what it said. They said that by giving up the right to transfer more teachers would have the right to transfer. They said giving up the right to grieve letters in the file was insignificant because we never won those grievances anyway. They said the new C6 assignments would always be professional activities controlled by members. At a high school chapter leaders’ meeting one District Representative said that no students would actually show up for 37.5 minutes, that this was something that would only hurt elementary school teachers.

My sense (and I admit that I can’t prove it) was that in schools where there were oppositionists (TJC, ICE, or unaffiliated) who distributed “vote no” leaflets we convinced the membership. But in the majority of schools only Unity’s deceptive literature was seen.

In late 2005 the membership ratified the contract by a 63-37 margin. Among teachers the vote was 60-40. However, the anger over the deal was significant, even among those who voted “yes.” Both TJC and ICE gained many new contacts around the city and the momentum pushed us a little closer together. We ran a join slate in the 2007 UFT elections.

Unfortunately, I think the lesson Unity learned from this was that the mobilizations it authorized in spring 2005 raised membership expectations and made the contract a tougher sell. After that the UFT called for far fewer rallies. The union, for example, has done nothing comparable in recent years even though we have been without a contract for more than four years.

My take-­‐away is that there are opportunities that come and go and are somewhat beyond our control. No one has yet shown a way to manufacture the kind of activism and engagement that the 1995 and 2005 contracts stirred up. Nor has anyone come up with a strategy to prevent that enthusiasm from fading after the contract is settled. I believe our task is to figure out how to be ready to seize opportunities when they arise and hold on to as many new activists as possible after the opportunities recede. There is no clear road map for doing this. The best we can do is learn from past experiences and try to apply those lessons to future opportunities, recognizing that the specifics of each case will be different. Activists who want to see a stronger union, one that will mobilize a larger struggle for a good contract, should join MORE so we can continue this struggle together.

By Kit Wainer

Chapter Leader, Leon M. Goldstein H.S.

In the 25 years I’ve been a UFT activist I’ve lived through many. I’ve learned some lessons from these struggles that I thought might be useful to share as we head into another contract period. From 1993-2012 I was a member of Teachers for a Just Contract. From 2012 to the present I have been a member of MORE.

1. Every contract announcement focuses members’ attention on the contract and on the UFT. Continue Reading…

MORE Member Harry Lirtzman, former high school special education math teacher and former deputy state comptroller, speaks out about the bloated and wasteful DOE budget on Schoolbook.org, in a followup to his piece for MORE on the UFT contract negotiations.

Check it out here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/opinion-cut-waste-coming-table-over-teachers-contract/

imagesMembers of MORE stand in solidarity with the UFT nurses of Visiting Nurse Service of NY.

The VNSNY nurses’ contract expires on January 31st, and they are amidst negotiations.  Visiting Nurse Service of NY is a private, non-profit organization that provides home healthcare to New Yorkers.  The organization is demanding that their nurses begin to pay into their healthcare, and puts an end to the current pension system for new hires, while not even offering a cost of living adjustment.  VNSNY  already laid off over 550 workers in October.  According to VNSNY nurses, the UFT is taking a strong and necessary stance against the givebacks that VNSNY demands, and have stated that UFT VNSNY workers will not work a day without a new contract.

Attacks on the working conditions of nurses have a direct and harmful impact on the care that patients receive. As teachers, whose working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, we know that attacks on our union and our working conditions do not only affect us. Like the attacks on teachers and public schools, assaults on the working conditions of healthcare provides are assaults on our communities and our right to good quality public services.

This is why MORE supports our VNSNY Union brothers and sisters and stands with them to demand they receive a fair contract for the honorable work they do day in and day out.

In the event of the strike, picket lines will be set up at the VNS offices located in each borough – please come to show support to our fellow UFTers.

by Patrick Walsh, Chapter Leader, PS/ MS 149, Harlem

For the second time in weeks the American public has been presented with an ad attacking The United Federation of Teachers, OUR union. The first attack appeared in a full page ad in the New York Times and, the second on nothing less than a billboard in Times Square.  Both ads were created by the same ersatz organization — The Center For Union Facts which is, in fact, a public relations firm — and both traffic the same lies and distortions: that AFT president Randi Weingarten “protects bad teachers “ and “ opposes reforms that would improve our kids’ education.”

Continue Reading…

Sign the Petition!

Occupational and physical therapists are an unseen part of New York City’s education community. But without OTs and PTs, thousands of the city’s promising – yet disabled – students would fall through the cracks.

That’s why we’re alarmed that these therapists continue to be valued less than their equally critical peers: the teachers, social workers, school psychologists and others – who along with OTs and PTs provide immeasurable support for the city’s youths.  Surprisingly, experienced OTs and PTs are paid 38 percent less than teachers and speech therapists with the same levels of education.

New York City’s OTs and PTs are quietly turning around the lives of physically and emotionally challenged students, helping them overcome profound disabilities to reach their potential in the classroom. That’s not just good for families – it saves taxpayers money and generates revenues for the school system.

All we ask for is fairness. Without equity, students with disabilities are in danger of losing a critical support network, a lifeline that will help them graduate and become productive New Yorkers.

The best OTs and PTs often choose other jobs where they’re paid according to their value. Those who stay – because of their commitment to the kids they’ve helped for years – often work second jobs to support their families.

We can all agree that our school children are our most precious resource. They represent the future of our wonderful city. Helping OTs and PTs remain in the New York City School System is another tool to help vulnerable students overcome obstacles and thrive.

Let’s work together in support of our children. Let’s work together to support our OTs and PTs.

Sign the Petition!

Please come to this important event and distribute the flyer below: 
  • Testimonials from those pushed out and shut out
  • An update on Gulino vs BOE (lawsuit against the NYS LAST exam)
  • What we can do now
Saturday, January 25, 2014
3-5 PM
The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew’s Parish Hall
520 Clinton Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (C train to Clinton/Washington)
A 42% decline in the number of new Black and Latino teachers hired to teach in NYC public schools since 2002 is movement in the wrong direction.
The DOE hires graduates from private universities over those from CUNY and SUNY.
A NYS teacher certification exam is not validated yet disproportionately excludes Black and Latino applicants.
Over 100 public schools have been closed in NYC’s Black and Latino communities.
Mayoral control over the DOE with its $25 billion yearly budget shuts out the voices and accountability to parents – over 80% of whom are Black, Latino and Asian.
Privately run charter schools are given a free ride to crowd existing public schools and to divide parents against parents.
The absence of DOE or mayoral oversight or direction to monitor and promote diversity in the teaching staff provides a cover for growing indifference and hostility to demands for equity.  “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”
The undermining of teacher tenure, seniority and due process disproportionately impacts Black and Latino teachers, denigrates the teaching profession, inhibits student advocacy and contributes to chaos and demoralization in our public schools.
The disappearing of Black and Latino educators removes the most consistent advocates for a historically accurate, culturally relevant and inclusive curriculum.
Join with educators, parents and community leaders to stop and reverse the disappearing of Black and Latino educators.  Let’s organize for a real change at Tweed and City Hall.
Organized by the Ad Hoc committee for Teacher Diversity
Contact information: Peter Bronson (917) 453-3666, (718) 805-6341 Email:TeacherDiversity@gmail.com
Endorsers (list in formation) Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence, Coalition for Public Education, Movement of Rank and File Educators, National Black Education Agenda, New York Collective of Radical Educators, People Power, Progressive Action Caucus, Teacher’s Unite.

Stop and Reverse the Disappearing of Black and Latino Educators in NYC

By James Eterno

Chapter Leader Jamaica High School

Our monthly UFT Delegate Assembly Report

 

DA REPORT: UNITY DECLINES TO RULE OUT A CUOMO ENDORSEMENT

Michael Bloomberg, the anti-public education mayor, has left office after twelve years where he almost destroyed our public schools.  An anti-public education, anti-worker governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, is up for reelection later this year.  On Wednesday at the UFT Delegate Assembly, I introduced a resolution for the UFT to outright reject any possible Cuomo endorsement or campaign contributions.  Although I received significant applause and votes, the Unity  dominated Delegate Assembly voted against  a blanket repudiation of Cuomo.  Here is the language of the motion:

Whereas, Governor Andrew Cuomo by supporting an unfair teacher evaluation system, an inferior Tier 6 pension and untested Common Core Standards has shown he is no friend to public education or workers; be it

Resolved, that the UFT not endorse Cuomo’s reelection nor provide him with any COPE money.
The bulk of the votes against this motion came from the center of the room where the Unity officers and many of the retirees usually are seated.  The sides of the room where the rank and file is better represented seemed to show much more enthusiasm for our proposal.
The Unity people clearly were not in a very positive mood as they also voted down a motion to have a rally in support of Randi Weingarten at Times Square.  The AFT President has been the recipient of some vicious attacks by the so called Center on Union Facts.  One of the attacks is on a Times Square billboard.  Delegate Patrick Walsh proposed the rally during the new motion period and although it was voted down, UFT President Michael Mulgrew did say Patrick should meet with Secretary Leroy Barr after the meeting and work on something so Patrick did make his point and there will probably be some kind of action.
Patrick noted to me how the attack on Randi is an attack on all AFT members. For the record I voted for the rally as did many Delegates but not enough to get a 2/3 super majority needed to put it on the agenda.
President’s Report
UFT President Michael Mulgrew opened by saying this is the first DA under a new mayoral administration which prompted applause.
The President then called for a moment of silence for Joseph Shannon, a UFT activist who recently passed away.
The President noted a change in the relationship between the UFT and the people at the DOE.  Many of them have been apologizing to us for what they said they had to do during the Bloomberg years.
Albany
We are not under attack in Albany this year.  Governor Cuomo is calling for tax breaks for banks and others but on education he is calling for a 5% increase in state education funding.  The governor is also requesting a vote for $2 billion in bonds that will be used to fund technology in the schools and he wants all day Pre Kindergarten to be universally available statewide.
There is the right political climate for universal Pre-K to get passed in Albany.  The problem is how to fund it.  UFT stood with the unions from the NYC Central Labor Council behind Mayor Bill de Blasio to endorse de Blasio’s proposal to tax NYC residents making over $500,000 a year to pay for Pre-K.  (That tax must be approved in Albany.) 72,000 young people are in grade 1 in NYC but only 30,000 slots are available for Pre-K.  Besides funding, there are space questions that need to be resolved.
The Governor made a proposal for $20,000 teacher bonuses.  If this turns into individual merit pay, the UFT will not support it but if it will fund the UFT’s career ladder, then we are open to it. Since the mayor rejected individual merit pay, this is a good sign.
A state task force thinks charter schools should be able to have Pre-K but we don’t want any more access for charter schools until they educate the same percentage of English Language Learners and Special Education pupils as the public schools do.  They are required by law to have the same percentage of these students as the public schools have.
National Scene
The UFT is watching the Detroit bankruptcy situation closely.
AFT President Randi Weingarten is under attack from the “Center on Union Facts” which has a billboard in Times Square and radio ads out against our national president.  Randi has come out against Value Added Testing to judge teachers because it doesn’t work.  Mulgrew prefers the growth model.
City Council
Mellissa Maark Viverito was elected as the new City Council Speaker.  She went with the UFT to Cincinnati years before she was looking for the speaker’s position to learn about how community schools worked. We think she will be more favorable to us than the last Council Speaker.  There are now six UFT members on the City Council.  We hope to get a UFT person to chair the Education Committee.
Chancellor
Carmen Farina (sorry but could someone show me how to put a ~ over a letter) is the new Chancellor.  She has 22 years of teaching experience.  We asked for an educator to be Chancellor after thirteen years of non-educators running the system and we are happy to have her in the position to clean up the mess at Tweed.  DOE needs changes and requires a take charge person which Carmen is.
Mulgrew acknowledged that she moved out 80% of the teachers in her school when she was the Principal but he defended that by saying she had a vision for the school and she helped people who were not happy with direction she was taking the school in to find other positions.
Carmen was the best person on the list of people who were up for the job.  She will analyze the DOE to figure out changes that need to be made.  She didn’t have to do this as she was happily retired. She is the right person at the right time.
For the new administration’s first act concerning the schools, they made the right decision on the snow day.  Mayor de Blasio called Mulgrew (unlike Bloomberg) before closing schools.  We have 183 school days this year on the calendar; we need 180 so we can have two more snow days without having to get our shovels out to keep schools open or lose days off.
Lawsuits
Many lawsuits are out there including co-location cases.  Hopefully, we will sit down and have a civil conversation with the new administration about settling the cases.
Contract
We intend to make changes in the evaluation system through contract negotiations.  In order for them to be implemented in September, we need to have a contract ratified by the end of this school year in June.
Accountability
State and Federal school accountability measures are recognized by statute but city measures are not.  Bloomberg hired over 700 lawyers and accountability people.  These jobs can be eliminated and it would free up some money for our contract.  $460 million state aid increase this year is not going to the NYC schools but going to the central DOE.  The Principal evaluations are tied to the city accountability system so they will have to fix that in their contract.
Staff Director’s Report
Staff Director Leroy Barr gave dates for various meetings and events including the next DA which will be on February 5.
Question Period
Question: Randi said she would give up Absent Teacher Reserves over her dead body and Mulgrew declared he would not let them be fired.  Is that still the position?
Mulgrew Answer: We are not selling out the ATRs.  We could have had a contract a couple of years back if we were willing to do that.  Bloomberg wanted to make us at will employees.  We didn’t go through all of what we went through the last few years to give up on this issue now.
Question: Some teachers are not being observed at all.  Should we push administration to observe them?
Answer: If administration is not doing the observations, they are not interested in it and they might be waiting for the system to change.
Question: Teachers are getting one less observation if they do a literacy bundle.  Is that ok?
Answer: It violates the law but if you can work something like that out with the Principal, well some people like to do paperwork.  Teachers have to get over their fear of having administrators in their rooms.
Question: Governor Christie wants to extend the school year and school day and reduce pensions in NJ.  Will that be a problem
Answer: Christie is having a tough time lately.  When someone says they want to extend the day and year, ask them point blank why they want to do it?  If they just don’t want to have their kids around, tell them we will take $2 an hour for 32 kids and we will all make $150,000 a year.
Question: What is the new administration’s position on data collection?
Answer: That is a state issue.  It is dangerous to give student information to Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch. InBloom (data collection company) said they would be careful.  There are problems in Albany. State Education Commissioner John King has been in the news lately.  UFT supports standards but is not happy with rollout of Common Core. UFT reps in NYSUT will soon be voting on a no confidence vote on John King.  Bloomberg is gone so we have to move onto other issues.
Question: Retroactive pay in new contract?
Answer: President will not discuss the issue in public.
New Motions
See the top of the report..
Special Order of Business
There was a resolution calling for the Department of Education to have a Lab Specialist in every secondary school.  This passed unanimously I believe but only after there was some back and forth between Joan Heymont and the Chair as Joan was cut off when she was speaking and she answered back that there were many women who do not like the way Mulgrew treats them at DA’s.
The next resolution was to support universal Pre-Kindergarten through increasing taxes on the wealthy in NYC.  This also passed unanimously I believe but not before someone offered an amendment saying the curriculum must be developmentally appropriate.  Another amendment to make Pre-K and Kindergarten mandatory was defeated.  (I voted against this amendment but for the other amendment and the resolution.)
Finally, there was a resolution for a campaign to win a good contract that asks us to receive texts and emails and to educate our members on the importance of receiving a good contract.  Mulgrew reverted to his old form by not calling on a speaker opposed (I am not sure if there were people who wanted to oppose this so I didn’t object.  In retrospect, I probably should have called a point of order.) but someone called the question to end debate before anyone had a chance to amend the resolution to call for possible actions to achieve a contract.
After the meeting, I went back to Queens to attend the Community Board 8 meeting where a resolution passed unanimously to try to save Jamaica High School. I arrived home very late but I will put up more on this cause later.

Randi-VAM

by Jia Lee for MORE

UFT Chapter Leader of The Earth school

Recently, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, surprised many a disillusioned public school teacher with her new mantra: “Vam is a Sham”. This is a major shift from her previous agreement and collaboration with Race to the Top policy enforcers. She admits that she has always been leery of value-added “but we rolled up our sleeves, acted in good faith and tried to make it work.” Now, she’s disillusioned. Welcome to the world we have been living in since this all started. We now wait for a public statement by UFT leaders.

Whatever the reason, educators, parents and students welcome this realization and acknowledgement that the use of faulty metrics to measure the value of students, teachers and schools has dangerous consequences. One of the very reasons why the grassroots union caucus, Movement of Rank and File Educators, formed last year is due to the acknowledgement by educators in the ranks who already read the warning signs.

With this welcomed change of heart and, now, staunch campaign against the use of value added measures, we are aware that this could affect contract negotiations in local districts, and the union also plans to lobby the Education Department. We are also rightfully cautious, yet hopeful, that we will not be faced with the patterns of our past. With an entire generation of new teachers, many of whom were not a part of the previous contract negotiations, will we be facing concessions to our working conditions? Will we be told to continue waiting for the curriculum or improved standardized state tests that align undemocratically set Common Core Standards?

We are certain that the grassroots efforts of groups such as MORE, as well as with the movement of parents in New York City who have risen against the over reliance on test scores, have contributed to Randi’s public change of heart. We will be here to provide our experiences and support in efforts to ensure that our teaching conditions positively impact our students’ learning conditions. MORE has generated alliances with parents and students who have felt the consequences of a leadership that had, for far too long, ignored the truth about high stakes testing and the faulty metrics of value added measures.

Last year, MORE published as part of its election platform;

“Testing has narrowed the curriculum our students are being offered. Quality teaching and education is developmentally appropriate and responsive to diverse student needs and abilities. A systemic obsession with quantitative data has increased teachers’ paperwork and stripped them of their professional discretion”.

Our leadership took longer to come to this realization:

Here’s a brief glimpse of AFT leadership attitudes and alliances past and present.

In November of 2009, Randi issued this statement of support in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s press release, “Foundation Commits $335 Million to Promote Effective Teaching and Raise Student Achievement” : “This process has been a thoughtful, deliberative, collaborative way to understand—and then design and implement—systems that improve teaching and learning. These districts, working with their unions and parents, were willing to think out of the box, and were awarded millions of dollars to create transparent, fair, and sustainable teacher effectiveness models.”

The National Education Association president, Dennis Van Roekel, also issued a statement, “Collaboration and multilevel integration are important when it comes to transforming the teaching profession…These grants will go far in providing resources to help raise student achievement and improve teacher effectiveness. Our local NEA affiliates are working daily to help improve the practice of teaching.”

Our national teacher union leaders taking funds to collaborate with problematic policies that have no reliable evidence for raising student achievement and improving teacher effectiveness, back in 2009, is what started the most vocal of educators, researchers, policy analysts and even psychometricians grumbling. By August 27, 2010, the Economic Policy Institute published an open letter, Problems with Using Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers.

Just a little less than a year ago, Randi collaborated with Vicki Philips of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to author this article Six Steps to Effective Teacher Development and Evaluation (March 25, 2013) (Note that the article states: “Sponsored content by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and American Federation of Teachers.”) Under the subsection: “Include evidence of teaching and student learning from multiple sources”, they write:

“The Gates Foundation’s MET project (much but not all of which the AFT agrees with) has found that combining a range of measures—not placing inordinate weight on standardized test scores—yields the greatest reliability and predictive power of a teacher’s gains with other students. And the AFT and its affiliates are exploring ways to accurately determine what measures best serve as a proxy for our work.” Still showing outward public collaboration with the Gates Foundation, funder of ill-conceived high stakes testing and teacher evaluation policies, continued to prompt parents to opt their children out of standardized tests and by this time, the punitive practices imbued by these policies have sent invaluable educators leaving the profession or fighting for MORE.

Then, on January 10, 2014, Randi posted in the Huffington Post “Teaching and Learning Over Testing” alone and not associated with the Gates Foundation. She states that the AFT has long known that VAM is unreliable and that they have always questioned the use of test scores to evaluate teachers. The UFT’s own high stakes testing task force in 2007 came to the same conclusion. This is contrary to the earlier co sponsored written articles, but what matters is the shift that has happened.

While MORE stands in solidarity with our union president’s newly discovered position, we can not forget that she has helped negotiate contracts which include the flawed use of test scores to determine a “teacher’s  effectiveness” in districts around the country. This was against the wishes of her own rank and file and the advice of educational experts. She can not undo the damage that has already been done by her support of test based measures. In addition, Randi continues to relentlessly advocate for Common Core, while the standards are unproven, not field tested, were not created by with the input of public school teachers and parents, and have caused even more reliance on high stakes testing.

Will Michael Mulgrew admit to the truth and take back what he said just a year ago at a delegate assembly?- That the growth model (VAM) they were creating for the local measures of student learning component was a fair and excellent way to evaluate teachers because “In any class…you ought to be able to move kids from point A, wherever they began, to point B, someplace that showed some progress.”

At the November UFT Delegate Assembly, a MORE delegate made the argument that the current teacher evaluation system “Advance” is unviable, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew scowled. If Randi can have a change of heart… say it with us, Michael Mulgrew, “VAM IS A SHAM”.

by Harris Lirtzman, former deputy New York State comptroller from 2003 to 2007 and also a New York City special education teacher who was fired for blowing the whistle in 2011.

Few people attempt to explore the intricacies of the City’s budget and the operations of the Department of Education.  Fewer people return to tell the story. But any teacher in the City school system who wants to improve student achievement, push back against corporate education reform and be compensated fairly for the impossible working conditions in most City schools must look bravely at inscrutable rows and columns of numbers in the City’s $72.7 billion projected budget.  A lucky teacher can find someone to do the dirty deed for him or her.  I volunteer.

Last fall, soon-to-be ex-mayor Bloomberg issued his “Financial Plan, FY 2013-2017” as required by State law but also as a parting gift for the new mayor, hoping to lock him or her into a set of budget parameters for upcoming labor negotiations that would continue Bloomberg’s war on teachers.  But his plan may have backfired because when it’s closely reviewed, together with other budget reports issued last month by former City Comptroller John Liu and the City’s Independent Budget Office, it looks like there may be room for mayor-elect de Blasio to negotiate a contract with the UFT in good faith.

Surprised?

Despite Bloomberg’s repeated assertions of doom-and-gloom about the City’s financial situation after he leaves, his own plan indicates that there are likely to be more revenues over the next few years for labor contracts than Bloomberg would like to admit:

  • Wall Street profits were $23.9 billion in FY 2013 and are projected to be $13.4 billion in FY 2014 and stocks are at record levels. Continue Reading…

faircontractnow_logo

Saturday, January 18th 2014

12:00-3:00pm

 Facebook link here

If want to know more about how Movement of Rank and File Educators is mobilizing:
FOR a fair contract and a genuine voice for working educators within the UFT
AGAINST the deliberate undermining of public education and over-testing of our students, then this is your meeting.
Open meeting-all are welcome!

MORE 101 for the curious- find out what Social Justice Unionism is all about! Ask questions, raise your voice, join a committee.
Contract – What do UFTers want, how do we organize and fight against a bad contract proposal, what is the process for voting on a new contract?

Be sure to RSVP before Monday, January 13 to reserve childcare on-location (more@morecaucusnyc.org)

The Commons Brooklyn
388 Atlantic Avenue btw. Hoyt and Bond St
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Directions to The Commons

By train
Hoyt-Schermerhorn; A, C and G
Bergen Street; F
Atlantic-Pacific; B, M, Q, R, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Flatbush Avenue; LIRR
Check MTA.info before you leave, weekend travel changes due to repairs

By bus
B63 and B65

Don’t forget about our forum on High Stakes Testing on Saturday 2/1

More information here

There are 2 parking lots on Schermerhorn st btw. Hoyt and Bond for less than $10
Street and metered parking may be available

DA Report -4/9/14

April 10, 2014 — 1 Comment

MULGREW ASKS TO HEAR BOTH SIDES AT APRIL DA

By James Eterno

Teacher/Chapter-Leader Jamaica HS

Instead of my usual complaints about how one sided debate was at a UFT Delegate Assembly, I have to admit right from the start that UFT President Michael Mulgrew made a real attempt on Wednesday to play by the rules by focusing on having both sides heard during debate.  It didn’t hurt his majority Unity Caucus, who have the votes to pass just about anything at the DA, but it feels good not to have to report about how he spent the entire meeting only calling on one side.  It wasn’t perfect but it was much better than usual.

President’s Report
National
19 people were stabbed by a student at a school in Western Pennsylvania.  We are watching this terrible situation closely.
Los Angeles: There is a lawsuit fighting teacher tenure by saying it is an infringement upon student civil rights.  We are helping to fight this.  It is the same right wing groups: Student’s First, American Legislative Exchange Council and Democrats for Education Reform (our enemies) that are behind so many of the attacks on teacher unions and public schools.  Make no mistake about it, they want to privatize public education.
Philadelphia: There is a “reform” commission that has gone to court.  They are trying to have teacher seniority and due process rights taken away.  90 out of 290 schools in Philly are now charter schools.  Basically they are trying to end the union contract.  Same groups are behind this case as the LA case.
Chicago: Our same enemies are behind legislation that would lower future pensions of in service people by around 30% and force public employees to pay 2.5% more in pension contributions.
Former Mayor Bloomberg worked with the same people to run well financed campaigns against us here in NYC but we have survived.  It’s all about politics.
NY
We are in a state election cycle and our enemies just spent $ 5 million on a campaign for charter schools in NYC.  New mayor wants to work with teachers and parents. Former news reporter Campbell Brown is starting another astro-turf group to lobby locally against our contract.
New campaign by our enemies against the new promotion policy that deemphasizes standardized testing.  They will also try to change the evaluation system to make it more about standardized test scores.
Under Bloomberg’s promotion policies, where only the test results mattered for students in grades 3-8, fewer children were held back.  Bloomberg replaced social promotion with social graduation which is why so many students need remedial classes in college.
Politicians think about the next election.  We think about the long term. Our enemies have been emboldened by their success with the new charter school law.
Albany
A good lobbying effort produced a mostly successful budget agreement.
-There was a 5.2% increase in school aid from the state to NYC.  This is up from what we originally were looking at.
-There is $300 million in additional funding in the budget for pre-kindergarten.
-There is a moratorium for high stakes Common Core testing for students; we don’t yet know about the tests being used for teacher evaluation as the Legislature is still in session.
-In Bloom (the data collection company) is gone.  Commissioner John King could not guarantee privacy of student information.  We are glad to see Rupert Murdoch will not get student information.
-There will be no standardized testing for grades pre-K -2.
-There will be audits of charter schools in NYS including in NYC for the first time.
-On the down side, the charter school lobby took advantage of a political opportunity to guarantee  colocations and force the city to pay their rents.  We think this provision will end up in court for years.
NYSUT: Karen Magee was elected NYSUT president.  There are three other new officers who have been elected.  Our own Andy Pallotta will continue as Executive Vice President.
NYC
the President repeated his remarks about social promotion and reiterated that more students will probably be held back now that teachers have a say in who will be promoted.
There has not been much immediate relief for our members yet under the new regime but Chancellor Carmen Farina at her meetings with teachers has heard from us about bully principals and excess paperwork.
Artifacts in New Evaluation System
1-Teachers decide on whether or not they want to hand in artifacts and the teacher has the option on which artifacts to hand in.
2-Teachers can turn in artifacts up until Friday, April 11 if we want to but we can also bring artifacts in at the summative conference if we want to because so much of John King’s ruling is contradictory.
3-Artifacts were a good idea that John King and the DOE turned into a bad idea.
4-Artifacts only make up a small percentage of our final rating (3 points) so teachers should ask the principal what he/she is going to give on the artifacts score.
5-People need to chill out on artifacts.
During the question period this came up again, so we will put the answer here.
Question: If principal doesn’t rate us on certain domains, is it an automatic ineffective?
Mulgrew Answer: No, the teacher would get a NA in that area. Some schools will have an artifact party on Friday and submit so many artifacts and demand that they be rated.
OT’s and PT’s-We won the arbitration.  They will be getting paid in May.
Staff Director’s Report
Leroy Barr announced the dates for some events including the April 26 Spring Conference at the NY Hilton.
Question Period
Question: The first question concerned Absent Teacher Reserves being evaluated.
Mulgrew Answer: ATR evaluation is still under the satisfactory or unsatisfactory system.  We’re not sure how it will work for someone who was placed in a school in the middle of the year.  We can’t talk about contract negotiations but hopefully this will be our only year under the current system.
Question: As many ATR’s are reading specialists, how can we see that they are placed in schools?
Mulgrew Answer: We know that there is an untapped talent pool that could be utilized better.  We can’t talk about this right now because it is in contract negotiations.
Question: Shouldn’t we be insisting on certified teachers for the new pre-K programs?
Mulgrew Answer: The state will be reimbursing at a rate of $10,000 if certified teachers are used but only $7,000 if a Community Based Organization uses uncertified teachers.  Those teachers will have a maximum of three years to become certified.  UFT will help them get certified and that should help in organizing.
Question: Some UFT members are going into disciplinary conferences without UFT representation.  What are the ramifications?
Mulgrew Answer: They can be dire and no one should go in without UFT representation.
Question: Principals asking for lesson plans and doctor’s notes unlike in the past.  What can we do?
Mulgrew Answer: The administration could always ask to see a lesson plan but they cannot dictate format or collect them ritualistically. We are not publicizing what we are doing behind the scenes but we are working on reigning in onerous administration.  We are also waiting for a decision on the lesson plan arbitration.
New Motion Period
UFT Secretary Emil Pietromanaco introduced a resolution to support the UPS drivers who were fired for supporting a co-worker who was dismissed.  The resolution was added to the agenda and later passed unanimously.  (The drivers were reinstated  yesterday.)
Special Orders of Business
A motion to fix problems of the New York State Alternate Assessments carried unanimously.
A resolution on the May Day rally produced the most controversy. The rally is to support labor rights, immigrant rights and jobs for all. Unity’s Paul Egan put in an amendment to make it a little stronger and MORE’s Megan Moskop introduced an amendment to make it a more massive rally with specific slogans including a $15 an hour minimum wage,  full retroactive pay for city workers and more.  Mulgrew called on people on both sides of this issue and there was a decent debate.  The MORE amendment failed; the Egan amendment passed as did the resolution.
The final resolution was to support President Barack Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.  Mulgrew asked if somebody wanted to speak against this resolution and Joan Heymont did by saying it should be $15 per hour.  The resolution carried.
That’s all for this month. Enjoy Spring Break and may all your artifacts be rated highly effective if you choose to hand them in!