UFT News & Updates November 11, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings from downtown Brooklyn!  It is breaking my heart to have been away from ENYFA for over two weeks.  Please know that I’m busy working on ways to obtain relatively quick relief from my reassignment, and I have an excellent attorney who is doing likewise.  He often seems more interested in the specifics of my case than I am!

In any event I will continue to keep you informed about UFT-related matters, upcoming events and topics of interest to educators.  Some of the information that follows may not be relevant to everyone at the moment, so consider saving it in an email folder for future reference.  For other concerns and questions you can reach me by voice or text at 347-217-2219.

UFT Consultation

This week I restarted a dialogue with the principal on the topic of teacher coverages.  Our school has some excellent regular substitutes who cover the classes of teachers who are absent.  When they aren’t available our school often relies on ICT teachers to cover classes for absent content teachers.  This policy is inequitable for the teachers most often called upon and it hurts our ICT classes.  There are resources available that could be used to improve this situation. 

The current UFT contract provides that every teacher in the school can be called upon to give one period for covering the class of an absent colleague during his or her prep time without compensation.  A wider rotation of coverage assignments among teachers could be sustained through better budget planning which would allow for a fairer distribution of assignments through voluntary, paid coverages.  It may take time to implement but it will relieve the burden of ICT teacher always having to fill in on days when we have staffing shortages.  Trust me that I much prefer resolving teachers’ concerns at the school level, using the formal complaint process (which is every members’ right) only as a last resort and I look forward to resolving this matter through continuing consultation. 

UFT Consultation

The DOE discourages the use of students to translate for their parents.  It puts the children in an awkward position, whether the conversations concern the students themselves or a brother or sister.

However, attempting to not do this by using the available phone services comes with another caveat.  A recent article in the Daily News points out that this option may prove more frustrating than useful.

Teachers should think ahead about who they can contact to translate with family members who don’t speak fluent English.  We have fluent speakers of Spanish and Haitian Creole among the staff.  Our Arabic and Bengali-speaking families often bring grown siblings and other relatives. 

The new phone service is Linguistica International, 800-889-5921.  If you are requesting assistance using your phone be aware that translating a conversation is called interpreting.  The DOE reserves the term translation for the translation of documents.

Mental Health Resources for Teachers

The UFT has been expanding its Member Assistance Program (MAP) which involves professional counselors who can give you support with problems that might affect your mental health and perhaps put your job in jeopardy. The services are cost-free and confidential.

Any UFT member can request short-term counseling with a licensed mental health professional through MAP.  The staff includes a psychiatrist who assesses and provides support with the counseling.  You can set up an appointment with a counselor, receive a referral for outside mental health resources or learn how MAP can support you, by phone at 212-701-9620 or via email mapinfo@uft.org.

Map also offers focused support for members and their families for gambling addiction and substance abuse.  From time to time schedule sessions are offered for group counseling for other kinds of problems.  Here are a couple announcements I recently received.

Currently scheduled sessions for managing grief and loss.  Have you experienced a difficult loss in the last year? The UFT’s Member Assistance Program offers counseling groups on managing grief. Sessions are on Thursdays, from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 50 Broadway. For more information, email the Member Assistance Program at mapinfo@uft.org or call 212-701-9620. Enrollment is limited so register ASAP. For a list of support group dates and to register online, see the How to Manage Grief and Loss flier.

The Member’s Assistance Program also offers art therapy for teachers in their 1-3 years.

Also, self-treated sick days are crucial to restoring and maintaining physical as well as mental health.  Pedagogues may take up to 10 self-treated days a year without a doctor’s note. This is true whether the days are taken separately or some, or even all, are taken consecutively. You are limited to 10 self-treated days a year, even if you have more sick days in your CAR.

Note that paraprofessionals and some service provided are governed by a different policy. They are required to provide a note if they are absent three or more consecutive days.

For more information about absences, see the Your Rights section of the UFT website.

Further Reading:  What Will Follow the Common Core?

You may be aware of the shifts away from the Common Core standards with new trends emerging in its wake.  One likely trend may be a return to more emphasis on reading fiction.  Recent studies have shown advantages to fiction reading.  Here a recent piece on the need to restore literature to the ELA curriculum.

Settlement of the Chicago Teachers Strike

I have previously posted news articles and updates on the 11-day Chicago Teachers Strike.  A new agreement has been ratified by the CTU membership with the inclusion of make-up school days for the days lost during the walkout.

Here’s an aspect of the continuing actions related to Chicago’s real estate developer, which has been enjoying similar benefits from New York City.

“The teachers union also shone a light on an opaque financing tool known as Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, that’s intended to funnel additional property tax dollars to “blighted” areas, but that critics say is akin to a “corporate slush fund.” On Tuesday, nine CTU members were arrested at the headquarters of Sterling Bay to protest the city’s decision to award the Wall-Street backed developer more than $1 billion of TIF subsidies earlier this year.”


Upcoming Events

English Language Arts Committee:  Deepen Reading and Analysis Through Art and Design.  Join Petra Pankow, Associate Director of Education Programs at the Museum of Art and Design, for an interactive workshop. Learn how to integrate art and design into your curriculum to deepen engagement and advance equity. Leave with tools that will enrich the thinking of all your students. Prepare to have fun too.  Thursday, January 16th, 4:15pm-6:15 p.m. at UFT Headquarters, 50 Broadway, Manhattan.  “Bring Ideas or Just yourself. Your contribution is your humanity.”  Email Adam Kinory at Akinory@nycenglishcommittee.org

Good & Welfare

Let me wish everyone a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving Break.  If you use the time for holiday shopping, don’t forget our transplanted artist-colleague Ms. Pigford who is about to offer a new line of decorated outlet and light switch covers at her Etsy online marketplace.

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