UFT News & Updates for January 10, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year!  I hope 2020 has started well for you.  A good bit of information follows.  Hopefully some of it will be useful.  I appreciated hearing from ENYFA colleagues about items they would like to see included.  Thank you! I can be reached by text or voice at 347-217-2219 with questions and concerns.

UFT Consultation

We are awaiting a decision in the formal process for a complaint over a school policy that leaves ICT teachers with a disproportionate amount of assignments for emergency class coverages instead of having a general rotation.  I urge ICT teachers who are given  other assignments with your ICT position left uncovered that you email an administrator for confirmation of this. It’s regrettable that teachers’ complaints must go into a drawn out formal grievance process but we can’t abide a situation in which those raising such basic issues are told they might not be a good fit for the school.  School-level UFT consultation is a process that works if we can manage to have the patience and respect it requires.

Teacher Observations

The last day for fall teacher observations (called a “window” in the current rating system) is January 27.  By this time half of the required minimum number of teacher observations should be completed.  If your situation requires a minimum number of three or five, an additional observation may occur in either window.  Please note that there is no maximum number of times a teacher can be observed.

Note that there is 10-day deadline for feedback (oral or written) and 30 days for observation reports.

CTLE Courses

For a schedule of upcoming CTLE courses offered on Saturdays by the UFT check out:

The following courses are free, but take place on school days.

There will be a one-day institute on Project-Based Learning presented by NYC Outward Bound Schools. In this approach students learn by investigating an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.  The institute takes place on Thursday, January 23 from 8:30am-3pm, and will include samples of high-quality STEM, humanities, and interdisciplinary project tasks with student work.  CTLE credit will be awarded but you must register by January 10.

NYC Outward Bound Schools
 29-46 Northern Blvd, Long Island City

Lunch & light breakfast provided.  For more information, contact Jessica Bardy, Director of Select Strategies, (929) 233-7830 / jbardy@nycoutwardbound.org

For teachers of Social Studies and ELA there will a workshop given by museum staff to examine multiple perspectives relating to different aspects of Holocaust history. Through an exploration of artifacts, photographs, diaries, memoirs, testimony, and other primary sources, teachers will learn how to help students deepen their understanding of the content by comparing, contrasting, and evaluating their findings.

Friday, January 31, 2020, 9 AM – 2:30 PM.
Museum of Jewish Heritage,
36 Battery Place, New York, New York 10280

Register by January 29.

School Secretaries Seminar

Saturday, January 11, 2020, 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, Manhattan

This free seminar is an opportunity to receive useful information on important topics, including paid parental leave benefits and the rollout of the new version of Cybershift. 

Register here.

Paraprofessionals Rights and Responsibilities

This updated summary from the New York Teacher describes some benefits paraprofessionals obtained from the 2019 collective bargaining agreement.  It has sections on cafeteria duty and due process rights.

UFT Initiative on the 2020 Census

The federal government will collect data for the 2020 Census from March through the end of July. This effort is meant to help the city get its fair share of federal funding. New Yorkers have been undercounted in past censuses.  Ten years ago, New York City had a 61% response rate for the Census, below the national average of 74%.

The UFT is making a push to help maximize New York City’s participation rate.  During the spring months there will be a need for volunteers to canvas and distribute information.  For now you can read a Census Q&A that appeared in the New York Teacher to learn more.

Since the last census was taken in 2010 New York has lost 1.4 million residents to other states.  During the last two years the Empire State has been leading the country in net population decline (first in numbers, and fourth by percentage).  Observers attribute this trend to the high cost of living.

Because of this trend the state is in danger of losing congressional seats (at least one and perhaps two).

New Court Hearing on School Overcrowding

On Monday, January 13 a New York appeals court will be hearing arguments in a lawsuit brought by New York City parents demanding that the state comply with previous court rulings on equitable funding the city and to correct the distorted spending priorities that leave schools overcrowded.  The Commissioner of Education argued that the previous ruling had expired, a lower court agreed and hence the need for an appeal.

The underfunding of New York City public schools has been the subject of litigation for 27 years.  The struggle continues now to implement the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State decision of 2003 which agreed that there has been a systemic deprivation of city students’ right to a sound basic education.

Here’s an article on the state budget and calls for increased foundation aid.

Federal Case about ‘Explicit Bias’ on the Part of DOE Principals

In February court hearings will begin in Title VII case brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office over the DOE’s failure to protect teachers from racial bias on the part of a principal and her district superintendent.

Members of Black Lives Matter in School attended the DOE Panel for Education Policy meeting on December 18, 2019 to ask the Chancellor why, “despite all the rhetoric about implicit bias, equity and restorative justice, the city refuses to settle on reasonable terms” before the case comes to trial. Arguments are set for February 4.

According to an article in the City, the principal continued to work at the school for two years after the accusations brought by three teachers and an assistant principal.

Black Lives Matter in School is planning a week of events during the week of February 4-8.  One of the issues they hope to raise awareness about is the decline in the numbers of black teachers in New York and other major cities.

The Irishman

I’ve recently become interested in the story of an Irishman.  This is not the one depicted in Martin Scorsese’s last movie who was a criminal associate of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.  While there aren’t any blood-spattered walls in this tale, it has other kinds of drama.  This Irishman grew up in County Tyrone in the north.  His father was a clergyman. He had a good formal education and was a college lecturer before deciding to seek better opportunities abroad.  He came to New York in 1874 at the age of 22 hoping to become a school teacher.

It’s often said when looking for a job that who you know matters more than what you know.  This was never more true than in the gas light era of New York and Brooklyn before the Consolidation of 1898.  Ward bosses controlled all public jobs and strangers didn’t get interviews.  After a fruitless search for a position our new arrival ended up getting hired by the newspapers as a reporter.  He worked for the Evening Mail, the Tribune and the Herald.  Later he worked as an editor on the Brooklyn Times.

In this capacity he got be familiar with important politicians, in particular the boss of Democratic Party machine, Hugh McLaughlin.  This connection proved valuable.  By 1882 he had the political backing to become an evening school instructor and then seek higher appointments. He soon ascended to the level of superintendent for the City of Brooklyn.  He would go on to take charge of the school system for Greater New York from 1898 to 1917.  If you haven’t guess already, the man’s name was William H. Maxwell.  Check your inbox in a couple weeks for more about him in another UFT News & Updates.

Getting Students’ Creative Work Published or Displayed

There are still several magazines that publish students’ creative writing and artwork.

Cricket Magazine is for ages 9-14

Skipping Stones accept submissions from kids of all ages.

Also, check out these local events.

The For-Teens-By-Teens 2020 exhibition will be part of BRIC’s Youth Contemporary Art Program.

What is New York’s perspective on transit? What inspires you about your daily commute, whether it be good or bad?  Submit a work of art that reveals small secrets within the system you see every day.

Submissions are being accepted until January 28, 2020 (11:59 PM)
For-Teens-By-Teens exhibition: May 20 – June 14, 2020

Read the requirements here:

Here’s something that might inspire young graphic artists.

Eighth Annual Black Comic Book Festival
January 17-18, 2020
10 AM to 8 PM
Free and open to the public.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037

Every year creators, illustrators, writers, and independent publishers come together with thousands of collectors for two days of programming and activities. This event includes interactive panel discussions, a vendor marketplace featuring exclusive titles by Black creators, a cosplay show, and more.

Teacher Performances

“I’m happy I didn’t quit that first year. Back then, I felt like everything good that happened was a lucky accident, but now I know there’s not much that happens by accident. Almost everything, like a group of kids coming together for a classmate, happens when you let go and give them room to love.”

Teachable Moments is a live storytelling event for current and former educators in New York City. Each event gives listeners an unadulterated look inside the unparalleled ups and downs of teaching.

Teachable Moments
Newyorican Poets Café
January 15, 2020 6:30 PM

Due date

Teachers Choice form, January 17. More information here.

Calling the UFT

The UFT’s new contact center is open and can provide support with all your union rights and benefits. Call the following numbers with any questions or for assistance.

DOE members, 212-331-6311
DOE functional chapter members, 212-331-6312
UFT Welfare Fund, 212-539-0500 – questions about health benefits
UFT Welfare Fund forms, 212-539-0539 – to obtain forms
Paid Parental Leave, 212-539-0510

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