Archives For December 2016

Looking through the UFT’s guide to the new NYC teacher evaluation system, I find myself wondering how it’s being read by educators coming from schools that vary widely in terms of educator autonomy, pedagogical philosophy and levels of trust between administration and staff. We are being told that our evaluation system will require our full comprehension and maintenance of: measures of teacher practice observation option selection forms, evaluator forms, consistent update of class lists/rosters, observation options A, B, C, D, the Matrix, and MOSL options (project based learning assessments, student learning inventories, performance based assessments, and progress monitoring assessments), not to mention how this plays out for what people teach (elementary/middle/high school, alternative assessment, English as a New Language, content areas, etc).

It is easily overwhelming. We are still figuring out the last evaluation system and living through the most rapidly changing succession of teacher evaluations in history. The truth is, we are being led by our tails. There are only two things to know:

1)  We should be upset, very upset. These were closed negotiations that, yet again, involved very little, if any, teacher input in the discussion of a system that is purporting to improve student achievement. It should not be considered normal for dues paying members to be handed a deal without having any democratic process for input. Any active teacher working with students could explain the complexities of the work we do, including factors that are not in our control and which cannot be measured and quantified. This lack of teacher voice leads to the continual and misguided reliance on the use of invalid metrics we know as the value added model.

2) Teacher evaluations based on metrics with any high stakes involvement is all about perpetuating a lean production model that narrows our teaching and students’ learning. The corporate education reform agenda initiated its systematic attack on public schools by casting its teachers as the source of the problem. Our union leadership, in an effort to placate this aggressive attack on our profession, used the only strategy it knows: attempting to throw its weight around the proverbial table. Pandering  to the notion of teacher evaluation based on unfounded formulas of value added models, and doing this without acknowledging the casualties of the systemic attack thus far, is unacceptable.

The 240,000 opt outs across New York State triggered a move towards the current moratorium on the use of state standardized tests, not the negotiating of the UFT leadership as they often like to credit themselves with. The reason ENL teachers are still evaluated using the Common Core aligned NYSESLAT and teachers of students who get alternative assessments are evaluated by that is because there has not been a high percentage of opt outs for those tests.

In regard to the MoTP portion of our evaluation, please read James Eterno’s ICE Blog piece on the matter. We now have two more required observations in our agreement for tenured teachers beyond the two required by state law and practiced in most districts. In a climate of high stakes where many, if not most, of New York City’s teachers experience observations as “gotcha” opportunities for administrators to intimidate and demoralize, the increase does not promote space for continual growth in teaching practice.

It does not matter what MOSL option we choose- it becomes distorted when stakes are attached. Using performance based assessments or any tools we use to drive instruction for our students a huge problem! What kind of metric for teacher value will be attached to our authentic forms of assessment? How will they- those designated to make up the arbitrary percentages- determine the scores and how much value will be added?

As we already know, this evaluation deal has nothing to do with improving outcomes for our students but everything to do with creating a system that breaks us and our union to further the privatization agenda. It is political. This is not just a criticism of our leadership’s practices; this is a proposal to engage rank and file members in the process before it is truly too late.

UFT Executive Board–Class Size Matters BUT….

As reported by Arthur Goldstein

 Note–I spoke in support of the Class Size resolution  and defended it when it was misrepresented from the dais with a ridiculous strawman argument. I did not take notes while I myself was speaking, and they are absent from this report. I will have much more to say about it very soon.

Secretary Howard Schoor—welcomes us, said there are no speakers.

Approval of minutes—accepted.

President’s Report—Mulgrew is not here

Staff director’s report—also not here

Question—in response to my question last week. Ellen Procida, grievance dept.—Gives background on class size—When we first negotiated there was a list of exceptions. In 1996 board was continually relying on exceptions. Argued they were becoming the rule, and now cannot be relied on for more than two terms.

Now schools can rely on them for two years, and they then have five days to come into compliance or propose an action plan. Arbitrator may find it reasonable or not.

Last year, we decided that action plans were becoming the norm. We chose a school in SI to try to get them to say action plans cannot be the rule. Arbitrator told union and board to come up with resolution. Part of resolution was that we have no created class size labor management committee. Between day 13 and 20 Board and UFT will meet. We are meeting Wednesday, with list of 19 schools. Language requires people with authority attend. Will try to come up with long and short term solutions.

If we come up with something it’s good, if not we can still go to arbitration. This school year 478 schools, 220 scheduled for arbitration, but # of classes down.

Mulgrew arrives, 6:10

Staff director’s report

LeRoyBarr—Chapter leader stipends go out this week, will get before new year. Albert Shanker scholarships applications due by first of year. Exec Board January 9th.

Michael Mulgrew—permit approved for march on Washington, we had already reserved buses, 150 slots ready to go. Evaluation deadline this week. Trying to get it done, Very close. Important to us that if we measure student learning it must be measured on what we are already teaching. Based on existing curriculum. We have groups of schools that have done this work and believe we can pass in terms of rigor, with portfolios and self-generated tests. Thinks we will be done this week, and will get info out. Will be borough meetings before next DA.

Wishes us happy holidays. Says we will need a rest. Thank you all.

6:16 Mulgrew leaves

Schoor—mayoral endorsement committee meeting tomorrow.

Marcus McArthur
MORE—abusive administrators—We have had several good meetings. First, what movement have we made on individual cases. Second, one thing we didn’t come to consensus on was whether we would publish names of chronically abusive admin. Can we let members know we are fighting for them?

LeRoy Barr—We did meet and out of five or 6 schools that came up, I am aware of every situation. We are continuing to fight back. I went to troubled school, CSA and DOE and superintendent showed up. I can tell you all stakeholders were at table, and people are trying to do a reset, mostly about relationships. Potential is for things to be better. We will continue.

About putting names in paper, we’ve done it before, but every situation is different. If we have to get to that point, we will, but first we’re trying to work with people to resolve issues. Nothing off the table.

Evelyn de Jesus—I work with Ls, just want to add I will be visiting 391. They have a lot of Ls and we will look at language acquisition policy and try to help and support.

Jay Futterman
—Para rep, last two weeks members ask about PD hours.

De Jesus—My department can do PD, DOE not approved, we will do modules with AFT and build team. List online at Teach NY. If they bring someone in from outside you have to check. IN UFT my dept. and the Teacher Center. We can go to your school if you need it. Building capacity. Contact my office. Law says 5 years from July 2016.

Kuljit AhluwaliaNew Action—Teacher’s choice—shorter window this year. Why?

Schoor—Doesn’t know, will find out.

DeJesus—started in August and it’s about the same time. They have to get everything in.

Jonathan HalabiNew Action—We’ve spoken about abusive admin, but in news last week was another serious issue—incompetent admin at superintendent level. Knew fully well AP in Bronx was abusive, appointed Jahoda to be IA Principal of Townsend Harris. Predictably, alienated faculty, chapter, students and parents. Elaine Lindsey showed incompetence and gross disregard for those in her care. When deputy came in students organized sit in. well behaved. Deputy superintendent belittled, berated, argued. When people at that level are that incompetent we need to say something—

Schoor—Brought it to deputy chancellors, said they never heard of it, in interim forwarded press releases. They are now aware. We are on record in opposition.

Rona Freiser—At Queens UFT we have been involved since it began. When she was brought in bells and whistles went off. We were there and talking with superintendent. We were appalled. Alerted central. Great school, alumni irate, some politicians. 100 parents at PTA unanimously voted for removal of both principal and Elaine Lindsey. We are working with CL. Has article 2 grievance tomorrow. We won’t leave that school w/o satisfaction.

Janella Hinds—James Vasquez, Anthony Klug and I visited. Watched students do homework while they protested. We support them, their parents and alumni. We will stay with them until the end.

Reports from Districts

Janella Hinds—On Saturday HS Division hosted bowling party with students in temp housing with WIN program. Many never bowled before. Was great for those of us who attended. Had great time. Delegates generosity made us able to give them gift cards and movie tickets. Look forward to academic work with them.

Schoor—Told deputy chancellors I didn’t understand how this could happen to one of very best schools. No answer.

Legislative Report
Paul Egan—Reports on football. Politics—In Senate District 5 Marcellino won by 1500 votes. Going into senate with 31 GOP 24 democratic, 7 IDC, one Simka Felder available to highest bidder. IDC could put Dems in charge, don’t hold your breath. COPE numbers increased, must keep on pushing, fewer than half contribute.

Constitutional convention could be dire. Better not to trust folks in Albany. PowerPoint available for use in schools. Over 70% of NYers have no idea what it is about.

Teacher’s choice—please spend money or it goes back. Hurts lobbying.


Creation of teacher cafes at every NYC Public School

Janella Hinds—We have seen in many schools elimination of UFT cafes. Perfectly beautiful spaces and during Bloomberg admi were told they weren’t viable. People need space. This speaks to need for that space for duty free lunch. Ask for your support.

Schoor—Anyone want to speak against? No. Question called.

Passes unanimously.

Resolution in support of undocumented—

Evelyn de Jesus—Many look like me, or are related to me. Mayor promised NYC would be sanctuary city. We will advocate on behalf of our 345K children. Please approve this.

No one against.

Passes unanimously

Class size resolution
Speaker against—Ellen Procedo—Not because class size isn’t important. We have people working on this. What we do not understand is—We are aware of school that is raised. Compliance call scheduled for Thursday. To correct is not the arbitrator’s action plan. It’s the board’s plan.

LeRoy Barr—Rises against. Not us saying class size is not important. We look at something saying that if an arbitrator rules against us we should have the arbitrator removed. That arbitrator may have ruled in our favor. We have very strong language in our contract. We are one of very few unions that has bargained for and has language in our contract. We bargained for it, gave up raises, gave up benefits. You see this in terms of hundreds of grievances we file. We are not standing in support of class sizes

?—Worked in grievance dept. Wants to address one whereas—describes plans of action—not one type of action plan. In some cases a teacher may be relieved of a C6. Paras may be assigned to support teachers. ATRs may be assigned. Based on what DOE can do, if school can’t open a new class, too bad. Labor management committee selected 19 schools. We have opportunity to discuss these 19 schools. All stakeholders involved. Doesn’t make sense to dismiss arbitrators due to bad decisions. This arbitrator brought us lesson plan decision.

Janathan HalabiNew Action—Resolution seems to have two big parts, one is class size. Look at question of class size in general. First resolved talks about vigorously enforcing existing contract. Other resolved discuss research over years and we have CFE decision that Bloomberg subverted. Getting us back on right horse trying to make class sizes smaller is the more important thing. This is main thrust and worthwhile.

Sean Rockowitz—Says process works. My school is in compliance. Joint Labor Committee designed to oppose.

Resolution fails.

Resolution on Joint Labor Contingent— see below

Ashraya GuptaMORE—We’re already doing this. Important we name the things we believe in.  Glad we are reserving 150 seats, but we should build on a chapter level. In addition to sending folks to DC we want to advocate against bigotry and for our students. Important to think about members who can’t go, but want to be active. This resolution does that so I hope you will support it.

Paul Egan—To avoid an argument that has taken a lot of time, would like to amend, get rid of 1, 3, 4, 5, and last line in 6. Gets us into quagmire we don’t need. Let’s keep it simple clean, and not get distracted.

LeRoy Barr—Wants to strike word all, also strike everything in its power to defend. We have to be careful when we say “all.” We can’t send all of our members and families. Have to be careful with language. We support going down, but need to make technical changes.

Ellen Driesen—Wants to strike whole thing. (I laugh out loud.) Thinks it needs to be reworked, and not on the fly.

Schoor—If you have motions and give them at last moment it needs very careful attention.

Janella Hinds
—In favor of both amendments. Builds on Respect for All Resolution. Important that we do that work. Important we do that work in DC and here. We can cut to chase and eliminate polarizing statements.

Marcus McArthurMORE—Obviously the elephant in room is there is polarization in our union and country. We debated including Trump’s name. Same issue we’re dealing with tonight. We can’t sweep it under rug. We don’t need to demonize anyone, everyone is complex in political decision, but facts of who Trump will nominate say he will undermine interests of all UFT members. For us to engage our members is something that we need to commit to. They need to understand implications of his presidency.

Leroy Barr—Believes Marcus is correct and we will have to go after Trump. Being so close to cycle, to emotional reaction, we need to use this as education process. When Obama was elected I was proud to take my son to vote. Obama did things not in best interests of education. Still proud he was President but we called him out. Let’s understand what really happened and why people did what they did so we can connect with them again instead of pushing them away.

I believe over next four years you will have ample opportunity to say Trump’s name. We will engage him the same way we engaged Obama.

Unity’s version passes- not this version that was raised by MORE

Draft Resolution to Join Labor Contingent at Inauguration Protests

WHEREAS, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States presents a grave threat to working people in general and our unions and public education in particular; and
WHEREAS, UFT members, as per the NYC Department of Education’s Respect For All Memo, are committed to “maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment that is free from harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying and from discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, immigration status, religion, creed, national origin, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and weight;” and

WHEREAS, President-elect Donald Trump has campaigned against the values espoused by the Respect for All memo, by marginalizing and insulting women, making sexual assault an electable and forgivable offense, and promising to enact discriminatory policies against immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and many others; and  
WHEREAS, the labor movement in the US must prepare for a hostile climate overseen by an administration of the most extreme far-right elements in the corporate and government elite, including President-elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Pudzer, who opposes increasing the minimum wage for workers; and
WHEREAS, President-elect Trump has indicated that he will implement policies attacking public education, as evidenced by his selection of Betsy DeVos, a billionaire advocate for school privatization and school vouchers, as Secretary of Education, and
WHEREAS, organizing labor contingents at the upcoming Inauguration Weekend protests in Washington, D.C., in New York City, and around the country will be a first step towards reinvigorating our unions and joining the hundreds of thousands of people who will protest his presidency;
BE IT RESOLVED, that the UFT stands in solidarity with the demonstrations on Inauguration Weekend in New York and Washington D.C., and will send all members and their families who are interested in participating in the marches, and be it further
RESOLVED, that the UFT encourage chapter leaders and district representatives to use participation in these protests, and related school-site based actions, as a way of building and strengthening our chapters, and be it further
RESOLVED, that the UFT do everything in its power to defend members’ actions to enforce the Respect for All norms against bigotry and hatred at schools, as well as the right to free speech in their non-working time to advocate for the defense of our students and our public schools.

Educator Letter to Support Immigrant New Yorkers

more-new sju-2

Hello all!

In the coming months we will potentially face a myriad of threats to our students, communities and public schools under a President Trump administration.  Immigrants in particular have been the targets and subjects of some of Trump’s most vile and vicious campaign rhetoric.  We must stand prepared and ready to act should he follow through.


Last May a resolution was brought to the UFT Delegate Assembly by TeachDream that called for an Immigrant Liaison in every school (similar to the sustainability coordinator).  That resolution passed, nothing has been done however.  MORE HS Exec Board members have raised this issue and we still have not been given any assurance this resolution is being moved forward with the DOE.


Please find  here: (and pasted below) a letter for folks to use at their schools, with their chapters, to sign on and support a call for the UFT and DOE to work together to ensure there is an Immigration Liaison in every school  with immigrant students by September 2017.  The letter further calls on the UFT to work with other groups to create a toolkit for school communities to educate our members and families about immigrant rights and law as well as calling to work together to plan actions to support immigrant students and families.  A more specific resolution is already drafted to push for NYC DOE schools to be sanctuary schools (among other points).

Please report the number of signatures you collect in your chapter OR if your chapter votes to support, indicate that here:

Or you can email your numbers/chapter support to:

Please report your chapter’s support to the link or the email by December 21st.


When we have a significant number of signatures/chapters supporting, we will again bring this issue to the leadership and bring forward the additional resolution that is, as of now, drafted by TeachDream.  TeachDream also has the workings of a toolkit up and running that should be ready for distribution in the near future.


Finally, check out John G’s article on teaching and learning with students who are immigrants in a time of fear and uncertainty:

Please share this information, the chapter letter, and the link/email to indicate support far and wide.


In Solidarity.



Chapter support letter:

Dear President Mulgrew and Chancellor Farina,


In May 2016, a resolution, brought by rank and file members who have been working to support immigrant students for years, was passed by the entire UFT Delegate Assembly. This resolution calls for … “the NYC Department of Education to require that each school with immigrant students appoint an ‘Immigration Adviser’ (similar to the ‘sustainability coordinator’ or ‘anti-bullying liaison’) to ensure that school processes are welcoming and safe for immigrant students and families.”


Our chapter (or organization) believes that it is important that this resolution be fiercely advocated for, and we call on the UFT to ensure that, in cooperation with the DOE, each school have immigration advisors by the start of the 2017-2018 school year


In the days since the election, many of NYC’s diverse students and families have been nervous and afraid because of the racist, Islamophobic, sexist and anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric of Donald Trump. Advisers with connections to white nationalist groups have been given positions of extraordinary importance in this nation’s government.


Many rank and filers alongside leaders in the UFT participated in a day of action to defend and reassure our students on November 21st. Groups of teachers, including, NYCoRE, TeachDream, MORE, and Teachers Unite have held forums and created curricula to address the situation. We call on the UFT leadership to bring together as wide a group of educators as possible to create a toolkit for educators and schools to support school communities with education, organization and mobilization around immigrant rights and protections.


Finally, we would also like to see a resolution modeled after the one passed by the Los Angeles Unified School Board.  On Tuesday, November 15th, 2016,  “The Los Angeles Board of Education voted to approve a resolution reaffirming L.A. Unified’s current policy, which directs school staff members not to allow federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents onto school campuses unless their visit has been approved by the superintendent and the district’s lawyers. Board members also seconded a policy that protects the immigration information and identities of students, family members and school staff.  Given the policy changes that are coming from Washington, we believe the safety of our students requires  similar regulations for New York City.


New York City’s public school teachers can and should play a critical role in educating, organizing, and mobilizing its members to fight for those in our communities most at risk during the current political climate. We are eager to begin this work together.


In Solidarity,




Names of members of your chapter and/or take a vote at a chapter meeting that is open to all UFT members.

Name Position



The Movement of Rank and File Educators stand in solidarity with the people’s fight for environmental justice in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico. The Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR), a teachers’ union of Puerto Rico, is decrying the injustice occurring in the Peñuelas community with the unapproved disposal of coal ashes in Peñuelas Valley Landfill. The community has been taking a stand against the dumping through peaceful acts of resistance. So far, sixty three people have been arrested and jailed, including Puerto Rican Senator Maria de Lourdes Santiago.

We stand with the FMPR and affected community who are requesting their governor support and back Bill #340 on the Senate floor, which would prohibit coal ash disposals in their landfills. The coal ash pose dangers to the health and life of the people who reside nearby. The ash, left in mounds, is blown by the wind contaminating the air and water. Deadly and chronic diseases such as cancer have been linked to these disposals.

MORE is the social justice caucus of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City. We believe that our working conditions are inextricably linked to our students’ learning conditions. Clean and healthful communities are a basic human right that must be prioritized over convenience and profit. We stand with FMPR and the Peñuelas community.