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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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?
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
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).