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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

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!

 

 

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.

 

"A historic moment in public education the moskowitz budget"

The “Student Lobbyist” at Work

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…