The UFT Contract and Class Size: 50 Years of Stagnation

May 18, 2014 — 4 Comments

By Norm Scott

Retired Chapter Leader P.S. 147

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

The last time the UFT contract improved class sizes was in 1967, my first year of teaching. It took me a few years to realize that even those numbers were somewhat bogus given the loopholes that allowed the DOE to push beyond the boundaries. There was little hope for improvement over the past 20 years of anti-teacher and anti-real reform mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg, who expressed the typical ed deformer attitude that class size didn’t matter. And before them we were still recovering from the mid-70s fiscal crisis that so decimated the schools.

But now, with a so-called progressive mayor and new administration at Tweed, here was the chance to codify things in the new contract that would absolutely make it impossible to jam 30 kids in a kindergarten class and close down, at the very least, some of the loopholes. It didn’t happen. And worst of all, the UFT/Unity Caucus leadership didn’t even try to put the class size issue on the bargaining table. What was put in the contract was the fallacious “professional development” – the dreaded PD that many teachers must undergo. That is Chancellor Carmen Farina’s mantra – her history is one of not feeling smaller classes are as important as the PD. I guess she doesn’t realize that a teacher’s abilities, no matter how good or bad he/she is, can be affected by the number of children in the room. How unfortunate that our union leaders seem to agree with Farina.

Norm blogs continuously at ednotesonline.com

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4 responses to The UFT Contract and Class Size: 50 Years of Stagnation

  1. 

    Thanks for this information Norm.

  2. 
    EDWARD GREENSPAN May 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm

                                  I retired 13 years ago after 33 years in the classroom. I remember the UFT boasting about the expedited grievance prodcedure it had won in a certain contract. Fast forward to today and the same problems regarding class sizes exist.                                I am very concerned with how health savings shall be attained. The media was reporting that everyone would have to obtain their prescriptions via mail-order. I “fondly” remember getting my medications via Express-Scripts. They were excellent at losing physician faxes, etc. They will never be able to keep up with the volume of people if all city retirees have to order from them. My fellow retired colleagues and myself have been unable to obtain any information about this.                                 MORE should seek an injunction in court to stop the voting. Why not, did we not experience that in the 2000 Presidential Election in the state of Florida? Voting should not be permitted until EVERYTHING is spelled out. Isn’t that how democracy works?                            E.M. Greenspan                                      The favor of a reply would be appreciated.                                      email: emgreenspan@optonline.net

    On Sun, May 18, 2014 at 08:01 AM, Movement of Rank and File Educators wrote:

    morecaucusnyc posted: “By Norm Scott

    Retired Chapter Leader P.S. 147

    All polls among parents and teachers show that class size is the number one improvement people feel would have a real impact. It is an issue that unites parents and teachers on common ground. Many teache”

  3. 

    Yes! Class size was always a priority with me.

    As a high-school English teacher, my class size determined how many hours after school I would have to work on essays. It is a shame that our union doesn’t make that a priority. That and hostile working conditions — i.e. getting abusive students who disrupt classes and waste valuable learners’ time, out of the class.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. How To Win a Better Contract? « Movement of Rank and File Educators - May 20, 2014

    […] could have chosen to place all ATRs in regular positions. They could have made some progress on class size. They could have guaranteed that all schools would have full support services. But they didn’t. […]

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