UFT News & Updates for September 27, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings everyone!  I had no idea it would take so long to put out the first UFT chapter newsletter for this year. There is a good bit of information to follow.  Some of it should not be completely new. Read what you can and perhaps place this email in a folder for future reference. Please don’t hesitate to call or text me with questions or concerns.

Have a restful and enjoyable break!
Mr. Lawhead

Recall Vote

Please come to Room 445 on Wednesday to cast your vote in the chapter leader recall balloting.  The voting will take place in Room 445 from 10:20 AM to 1:00 PM.  Note that a two-thirds vote is required for the referendum to succeed.  It’s important to know that the two-thirds is reached out of those who actually vote, not all eligible members.  Mr. Stuart Kaplan will be here on Wednesday to supervise the balloting.  Remember to vote!

My Statement on the Recall Referendum

As with the no confidence vote last spring, I welcome the recall vote as a test of my support in the school. Let’s grant that a chapter leader can potentially make a principal’s already difficult job more difficult. I am mindful of this.  Let’s also add that with the authority of school leadership should come accountability and a willingness to explain decisions and policy in a respectful manner. 

I believe I have been diligent in responding to work issues and conflicts that school staff have been confronted, even when it was a single person affected.  The education of ENYFA’s young people is well supported when teachers, paras and other school staff have jobs that are manageable and as free as possible from unnecessary stress.  I’m committed to helping in that regard and I’ve enjoyed doing so.  Please remember the vote next Wednesday.

UFT Consultation

There was considerable acrimony generated last year by several of the five meetings that the UFT Consultation Committee held with principal.  This month I began bringing up staff concerns with Mr. Yard in a less formal way. 

I met with him on September 8 and we discussed among other things the electronic hall pass program.  Mr. Yard agreed that this is being introduced on a trial basis.  As part of a trial, he said that teachers should not be worried about being called out and shamed for not keeping up with the issuance of electronic passes during their lessons.  At a later date there may be a full discussion of the advantages and drawbacks of it.

Another issue we discussed was oversized classes.  At the time the 9th grade sections were as high as 36 students. Mr. Yard informed me that there were already plans to create a new 9th grade section.  In a few days that was accomplished with the consolidation of the 8th grade sections into two and the assignment of 8th grade teachers to the new 9th grade section. 

On September 23 I spoke again with Mr. Yard and discussed the 8th grade subject classes which as a result of the combining were above the middle school Title I cap of 30 students.  I told him I understood that there are severe constraints, including a lack of classrooms and available staff standing in the way of creating three sections again. 

Mr. Yard told me that although the situation was unlikely to change the school will do everything it could to address the increased burden on 8th grade teachers, including finding more desks and chairs and insuring that ICT teachers are present and not giving other assignments.  I told Mr. Yard that I would include information about the specific difficulties our school is facing to the UFT district rep at the time he was to forward his list of oversized classes to the superintendent for expedited arbitration.

October Lump Sum Payment

For members who were employed by the Department of Education from 2009 to 2015, October will bring the fourth of five lump sum payments on the two retroactive pay increases for 2009 and 2010 (each for 4 percent).  What you receive should be an amount similar to the payment in October 2018.  The last three of these payments reflect 25 percent of the amount that would have accrued from the 2009-2010 increases.  For teachers and paraprofessionals this money will show up in our October 15 paycheck. 


The lump sum payments were granted in the 2014 UFT contract.  The next pay increase which is provided by the current contract that we voted on last year is scheduled for May 14, 2020 and will amount to 2.5 percent.  This will be followed in May 2021 with a 3 percent increase.

Changes in the Advance Rating System

This is something that all teachers have heard about, some in more depth than others.  Here’s a summary of what is new for the Advance Teacher Evaluation system under the new UFT contract. 

The main changes are to the minimum number of observations and time constraints on the principal’s feedback.  Note that there are no maximum numbers of observations.  It is the principal’s prerogative to observe you as often as he sees fit.

StatusPrior Years RatingMinimum FormalMinimum Informal
TenuredE/HE, then E  2
TenuredU/D/I then E  3
TenuredD 1 3
TenuredU/I 1 4
TenuredU or I 1 4
TenuredOther than above (e.g.,“No rating”) 1 3
UntenuredAny rating other than I 1 3
UntenuredI 1 4

With regard to the shortening of deadlines for the principal to give feedback and evaluator forms to teachers, a new feature is the introduction of evaluation time windows.  In the school year there are two.  The first is the fall window which begins with the initial planning conference and ends on the last day of the fall term.  The second is the spring window which extends from the first day of the spring term until the first Friday in June.  Half of the minimum observations must be done is each window.  If the minimum number is odd the extra one may occur in either window.

A guide with more information is available from the UFT.

Climate Strike

Greta Thunborg is the Swedish teenager who crossed the Atlantic in a sailboat to bring more attention to global warming in the U.S.

For educators, there is an interesting aspect to her story which relates to abnormal psychology in children.  News reporters have noted that Greta has her own way of seeing the world partly as a result of her being on the autism spectrum. 

In an extended interview on Democracy Now she also described her bouts with depression and selective mutism as part of the story of her weeks and months of solitary efforts to bring attention to the climate crisis.

The author Naomi Klein described Greta’s condition and commitment this way:  “Therapists talk about how kids on the spectrum don’t do something which most kids do, which is called mirroring. If you play a game of Simon Says, kids get it right away. You move, I move, and we mirror. That’s something that humans do. We’re constantly mirroring each other. We’re looking to one another for social cues to tell us how to act. That’s how we build relationships and cohesive communities. A lot of kids on the spectrum just don’t have that instinct. They don’t have that impulse. They just do their own thing, right? Which is why they get bullied, because they’re following their own path.

“So, what’s interesting to me, as it relates to the climate crisis, is this — the fact that we do mirror each other has become a huge problem, because we live in a culture, in an economy, that, on the one hand, is telling us we’re in the middle of this existential emergency.  We see footage of Arctic sea ice loss, and we hear about an insect apocalypse, we hear about a million species facing extinction — but then, the next minute, it’s like, well, go shopping, you know, watch a makeup tutorial on YouTube, imitate celebrities, so — and politicians talking about pretty much everything except for this, as Greta has said. So, if your impulse is to mirror, you’re getting very conflicting messages. You’re like, “Is this a crisis or not? Because, you know, I’m hearing a message that it’s a crisis, but everywhere I look, I’m getting the opposite message: ‘Everything is fine. Continue as usual. Keep the system going.’”

“I think what’s so interesting about Greta — and she’s not the only young person on the spectrum who is playing a leadership role in this movement — is that it’s precisely because they lack that impulse to look to other people to tell them the right way to feel about this, that they trust their initial instinct. I don’t know a kid in the world who doesn’t have their first response to the climate crisis being “Oh my god! Why isn’t everybody acting on this? Why isn’t everybody understanding this is an emergency?” The problem is then that the next wave of messages they get is a message of “be reassured,” when we shouldn’t be reassured. So I think that’s part of why Greta is playing this prophetic role, because she trusted her first instinct, and she’s not mirroring this insane society.”

The ENYFA students who went to the Climate Strike on September 20 were thrilled to take part in an event so colorful, spirited and massive and to share their own messages.

Mr. Yard gave his gallant and gracious support for the trip.  Mr. Augustine provided art materials and assisted with the sign-making for several periods in the Art Room.  It was a memorable day!

Further Reading:  Labor Solidarity

General Motor was bailed out by taxpayers in 2008 and its workers in the UAW gave up huge concessions.   In recent years GM has making hefty profits while closing U.S. auto plants.

On Monday of this week the UFT Executive Board passed a resolution to send support to the GM workers who went on strike on September 14.  .

Various news outlets are saying a settlement could be reached by this weekend.

Some articles:

The Autoworkers Strike is Bigger than GM

On the Pickets Lines of the General Motors Strike

In more late-breaking news the Chicago Teachers Union voted overwhelming to authorize a strike.

Chicago Teachers Union – Bargaining Updates

Chicago Teachers Vote to Authorize a Potential Strike

Even more Reading:  Student Loan Debt

Students of color are bombarded with the message that they should go to college.  Much less is said about college financing and its often devastating consequences.  Everyone involved in advising students about their future should be aware of the grim situation of college financing in the U.S.

This article is worth reading.

All the ways student debt exacerbates racial inequality — ‘it’s like landing in quick sand’

Reading on the Light Side

If you have time, check out NYC Educator’s perspective on classrooms with co-teaching.   Do you agree with anything he says?

Useful Phone Numbers

UFT Brooklyn Borough office

Mandatory Reporters Registry

Teachers Retirement System

UFT Certification Services

Office of Personnel Investigations (if you are arrested)
fax     1-718-935-4366
e-mail  OPIARRESTNOTIFICATION@schools.nyc.gov

Good & Welfare

Hopefully everyone has signed the card wishing Ms. Devore an easy time in the delivery room and some joyful weeks of paid parental leave as a new mother!  If not, see Ms. Fortune.

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