This Week’s Focus
Staunch voucher supporter nominated as education secretary
Critics warned that Betsy DeVos, the Republican fundraiser and billionaire activist whom President-elect Donald Trump nominated for education secretary on Nov. 23, is no run-of-the-mill charter advocate. AFT President Randi Weingarten called DeVos “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee” in the 40-year history of the cabinet secretary position. Betsy DeVos and her husband Dick, the former president of Amway, have been prodigious fundraisers for Republican candidates who support their vision of small government, anti-union right-to work laws and the end of public education. In Michigan, where DeVos has been an ardent supporter of the unlimited, unregulated growth of charter schools, the school system is in freefall. “Public schools are starved as charter schools are promoted,” said Lonnie Scott from Progress Michigan. “The laws allow the state to shut down public schools that are failing, while charters can reconstitute themselves. That’s the DeVos influence.” Of DeVos, one economics professor who is an expert on the charter school sector wrote, “As one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system, she is partly responsible for what even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country.” Read the full story on the UFT website.
UFT members to receive $33 million in back pay for SESIS work
The Department of Education on Nov. 18 agreed to provide $33 million in back pay to thousands of UFT members who have spent many hours outside their regular workday since Jan. 1, 2013 logging student data onto the Department of Education’s Special Education Student Information System. The DOE and the UFT will meet to determine exactly how the money will be divided. Once that decision is made, the DOE has 60 days to begin divvying up the $33 million lump sum that it agreed to allocate among SESIS users in compensation for time spent outside their regular work hours, excluding lunch. UFT members in all titles will be eligible for back pay based on the SESIS system’s own tracking of members’ time logged in to the system. The money will not be pensionable. “This system created by the Bloomberg administration has been a huge burden on our members,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Finally, after five years, we are close to a final resolution.” The SESIS settlement, which was part of a wider agreement on SESIS issues, puts an end to SESIS litigation that has dragged on for five years. Read the full story on the UFT website.
Thanks to you, Day of Action was a success
We would like to thank all the chapter leaders who led their school communities in the Nov. 21 Day of Action to assure our school communities that every child, regardless of ethnic background, gender identity, faith or immigration status, has the right to feel safe in our public schools. On this day, UFT members took various actions to demonstrate their commitment to their students and families. Many took photos and shared them on social media, including Twitter. The UFT Facebook album featured photos submitted by 71 schools. The UFT Instagram account (@uftny) also features many photos from the day. As we move forward, we will continue to affirm that our schools are safe havens for learning. We will work with those who share our values — including parent and community groups and civil rights and immigrant rights associations — because we know we are more powerful when we stand together.
Last chance to donate toys for the UFT toy drive for homeless children
This Monday, Dec. 5 is the last day to participate in the UFT Elementary School Division’s toy drive to help bring the joy of the season to children who currently do not have a permanent home. The Elementary School Division is asking UFT members to donate an unwrapped, brand-new children’s toy (newborn to 16 years of age). Donations can be dropped off at all UFT borough offices. For details, including borough office contact information, see the flier.
Salary & Personnel
Further guidance on new state certification requirements: Many members have inquired about whether the 80 minutes allocated for professional development on Mondays qualifies as Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) hours in the new state certification requirements. For the time being, this PD will only qualify as CTLE hours if it is facilitated by the UFT Teacher Center or the UFT because they are state-approved providers and will supply members with a certificate for the approved hours. See the state Education Department’s list of approved CTLE providers. During the five-year period starting on July 1, 2016, professionally certified teachers and Level III certified paraprofessionals are required to collect a total of 100 CTLE hours by a state-approved provider. Members now have to keep their own records. Encourage members to put documentation of workshops they have attended in a CTLE folder.
DOE aligns city teaching licenses with state certification: Chapter leaders should be aware that the Department of Education has expanded the grade-level boundaries for a number of teaching licenses in order to ensure that city licenses align with state certificates. It’s important that our members understand that these changes will have no impact on seniority or completion of probation status for teachers serving in the affected licenses nor will there be any effect on excessing or other personnel decisions made prior to the date of the change. Effective Nov. 1, separate junior and senior high school licenses will be replaced by a single secondary license, similar to the grades 7-12 state certificates. This means that mathematics, English, and social studies teachers will have a single secondary license. ESL and physical education teachers will now each have a single license for all grades K-12. (Elementary school teachers who do not have a physical education license or certificate but who are currently teaching physical education, such as teachers with common-branch certification, may continue to teach physical education in accordance with state regulations.) This change will make transferring to a new school easier in a number of circumstances. For example, a high school ELA teacher will now be able to teach ELA in a middle school without having to serve a new probationary period. The DOE is sending emails directly to all active teachers in these license areas notifying them of the changes. If you have any questions, please contact Amy Arundell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schools are receiving funding to hire teachers in ATR pool: The DOE is giving school leaders an incentive to hire teachers in the ATR pool. Schools that hire centrally funded excessed teachers on a regular, permanent (not provisional) basis during the 2016–17 school year are eligible for a three-year allocation to subsidize the cost of the teacher to the school. The subsidy will cover the teacher’s entire salary for the first year, 50 percent the following year and 25 percent the third year. Beginning in the fourth year, the school will be responsible for the teacher’s full salary.
Health and Safety
ZocDoc lets members manage medical appointments online: Tell your members that they can now use the online service ZocDoc to find doctors and make appointments. The service allows users to quickly find nearby doctors in their network by name, city, specialty, insurance, practice, procedure, hospital or language. It also lets users browse patient reviews for each doctor. Members can sign up on the ZocDoc website or use the Zocdoc app for iPhone and Android devices. For more information, see the article on the UFT website.
Privacy breach at EmblemHealth: EmblemHealth has experienced a privacy breach which has affected only Medicare Part D subscribers’ accounts. The company is still investigating the details of the privacy breach and official notification will take place once the investigation has been completed. EmblemHealth will be notifying approximately 81,000 members of the privacy breach and, as a precaution, will be providing the affected members with a credit-monitoring service and a dedicated helpline for the next two years as well as $1 million of identity-theft insurance. Once the investigation has been completed, EmblemHealth will provide an official response with more details.
Sepsis is a hidden killer: Sepsis is an often fatal, toxic response to infection by the body’s own normal immune system. It kills 4,400 American children every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early treatment saves lives. UFT Vice President Anne Goldman, the head of the Federation of Nurses/UFT and herself a nurse, is leading the union’s effort to alert UFT members and parents about the dangers of sepsis. Sepsis is triggered by an infection from a simple cut, scrape, burn or bug bite that can quickly spiral out of control. Sepsis develops when the body mounts an overwhelming attack against this infection that can cause inflammation in the entire body and eventually leads to plummeting blood pressure and organ failure. It is called a “hidden killer” because people are not aware of the symptoms and it is often misdiagnosed even in hospitals. Time matters in treating it. When recognized in its early stages, sepsis is easily treated with an inexpensive antibiotic. For more information, see the article on the UFT website.
Use the special education complaint form to notify the union: The union’s special education complaint form is s an important tool for UFT members to advocate for their students with special needs. If there are students in their classes who are not being served in accordance with their IEPs, if class-size limits for self-contained classes are being violated, if ICT teachers are being pulled to do coverages, or if ratios in ICT classes are not being equalized, please notify the union using this confidential complaint form.
FAQ spells out special ed and ICT requirements: Special education teachers and related-service providers see firsthand that many students with disabilities are not getting the services they need. This special education FAQ, created jointly by the DOE and the UFT, spells out the requirements of IEPs, integrated co-teaching and Chapter 408. Please make sure these programs are being implemented properly to support students with disabilities in your school. If the procedures outlined in this FAQ are not being followed in your school, please make it part of the agenda for the next consultation committee meeting with your principal. If you are unable to resolve the issue through consultation, use this online form to ask your UFT district representative for assistance or file a special education complaint. The Know Your Rights column in the current New York Teacher also focuses on special education issues.
Encourage newly appointed pedagogues to appoint a pension beneficiary: Newly appointed pedagogues should have received a “Welcome to TRS” kit from the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) by the middle of October. Although membership in the retirement system is mandatory and automatic for pedagogues, several forms in the kit must be filled out. These forms include the TRS enrollment application and the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) designation of beneficiary. These members may also want to consider joining TRS’ voluntary savings program called the Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA). Applicants must send TRS a copy of their proof of birth. A list of accepted forms of proof of birth is provided in the kit.
Review DOE records with care: Teachers should carefully review and save the email they received from the DOE’s Department of Human Resources, which records all their current information concerning their New York City license/appointment and New York State certification. Most importantly, check that it is accurate. If not, be sure to follow the DOE’s instructions right away to correct any errors in the record.
Professional Learning Opportunities
2016 DOE P-credit courses: The DOE After School Professional Development Program (ASPDP) offers teachers the opportunity to take high-quality, low-cost P-credit courses that can be applied to their salary differential as well as the New York State requirement of 100 hours of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE). All courses are aligned with the Common Core standards and the Danielson Framework for Teaching. The courses are offered online and in-person. Choose from over 130 courses covering a variety of content and pedagogy. These courses are taught by DOE instructors as well as nonprofit organizations and cultural institutions including the Brooklyn Museum, Berklee College of Music and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. For course information and to register, see the ASPDP website. For more information, email the DOE’s After School Professional Development Program at ASPDP@schools.nyc.gov. To receive regular updates, join the ASPDP email list.
Fall UFT elementary workshops: Elementary school teachers who wish to upgrade their teaching skills are invited to attend workshops in the UFT’s fall elementary workshop series. Each two-hour workshop is limited to 35 participants. These workshops are not for college credit. The $10 registration fee for each workshop is refundable only if a workshop is canceled. For payment information, download the mail-in coupon or review the online UFT course catalog.
Fall UFT high school workshops: High school educators are invited to attend workshops throughout the fall to expand their knowledge of instruction, assessment and technology. The $10 registration fee for each workshop is refundable only if a workshop is canceled. See the Events Calendar below for workshops that will be held this week. Participants can register online on the UFT website. For full course descriptions and to print out the mail-in registration coupon, see the high school workshops fall 2016 brochure.
Apply for IDNYC at UFT pop-up site: All UFT members who live in New York City and who have not yet secured their IDNYC, the free identification card for all New York City residents, are encouraged to visit a four-day pop-up site at UFT headquarters and apply. The pop-up site will be in the lobby café at 52 Broadway from Monday, Dec. 12 through Thursday, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Cardholders enjoy a wide range of benefits including discount tickets to sporting events and Broadway shows and a free one-year membership to top museums. Walk-ins are accepted, or members can make an appointment online. Current and valid proof of identity and New York City residency must be presented. For a review of acceptable documents, view the document calculator. For more information or to download an application, see the IDNYC website.
Celebrate Kwanzaa: All members are invited to learn about Kwanzaa and experience its joy at the African Heritage Committee’s annual Kwanzaa celebration on Thursday, Dec. 15 at UFT headquarters, 3rd floor from 5 to 7 p.m. This event will feature door prizes and a light dinner. The registration fee is $30. For more information and to register, see the event listing. The registration deadline is
Dec. 9 deadline to nominate a teacher for a Big Apple Award: Do you know a teacher whom you admire, who goes above and beyond contributing to your school community, or who inspires students in the classroom? The Big Apple Awards are New York City’s opportunity to recognize and celebrate some of the city’s finest teachers. This year 200-plus teachers will be named district finalists, have the opportunity to interview and/or open their classrooms to their superintendent teams, and be invited to join the citywide Teacher Excellence Network. Big Apple recipients are celebrated as examples of teaching excellence and will spend the 2017–18 school year representing teachers citywide as members of the Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Group. Use this form to nominate a teacher. The nomination deadline is Friday, Dec. 9.
Scholarships for labor studies: Members who are interested in pursuing labor studies at the Murphy Institute at the City University of New York are invited to apply for a Diversity Scholarship to promote diversity and excellence in union leadership and in labor studies. Recipients of this scholarship will receive up to $30,000. See the CUNY website for details about the Murphy Institute. Applicants must attend an open house and scholarship-review session. For information about the scholarship, including the application deadline, and to RSVP for an open house and scholarship-review session, contact Laurie Kellogg at 212-642-2055 or at Laurie.Kellogg@cuny.edu.
Teaching and Learning
Lessons about the holidays: December is a month of holidays for many cultures and traditions. The Share My Lesson website has lessons and resources to teach students about how winter holidays are celebrated across the world. The treasure-hunt activity prompts elementary students to solve Christmas-related clues to work out a mystery. A Colorín Colorado article offers suggestions for creating a culturally responsive classroom that teachers can use throughout the school year, as well as when observing cultural and religious holidays and celebrations. You can find many more lessons and webinars on the AFT’s Share My Lesson website.
Our Functional Chapters
Encourage paras to join the pension system: Paraprofessionals are eligible to join the pension system; however, membership in TRS for paraprofessionals is not mandatory. Paras must contact TRS at 888-869-2877 and ask for an enrollment application. Substitute paraprofessionals may join the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) by calling 718-935-5400.
Overtime pay halted for millions: In a stunning blow to the Obama administration’s economic legacy, a federal judge in Texas on Nov. 22 blocked the start of a new rule that would have made 4.2 million U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay, reports Politico. The overtime rule doubled (to $47,476) the salary threshold under which workers receive time-and-a-half pay whenever they work more than 40 hours in a given week. The ruling puts in serious jeopardy the most significant wage intervention by President Barack Obama, who has been unable to persuade Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour.
New accommodations for special-needs students taking the SAT: The College Board announced on Dec. 1 that it would make it easier for students with disabilities to request test accommodations, reports the Washington Post. The College Board said that starting Jan. 1, “the vast majority” of students who have special education plans that already include accommodations for testing — such as extra time, sitting in a separate room, and/or having the test read to the student — will receive automatic approval for the same accommodations when taking the SAT, PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, SAT subject tests and AP exams. The board also promised that it would provide, for the first time, testing supports to some English-language learners who take the SAT.
Uber drivers join nationwide protest for $15 minimum wage: Uber drivers, fast food workers, health aides and airport employees went on strike or demonstrated in cities across the nation on Nov. 28 in what organizers are describing as a “day of disruption” calling for a higher minimum wage, reports National Public Radio. In New York, about two dozen chanting protesters, including three City Council Members and a local Assemblyman, were detained after linking arms and sitting on a street in Manhattan in an act of civil disobedience.
Wednesday, Dec. 14: The December Delegate Assembly will be held from 4:15 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor.
Thursday, Dec. 15: All members are invited to celebrate Kwanzaa with the UFT. This event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 3rd floor. For more information and to register, see the item in Opportunities or see the event listing.
Saturday, Dec. 3: The UFT Teacher Center invites all pre-K–5 educators to the Response to Intervention (RTI) citywide conference “Why RTI? Instructional Practices That Move Students.” This event will take place at the Manhattan UFT office, 52 Broadway, 10th floor, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Conference participants will understand the components of a systematic Response to Intervention process; engage in class-wide intervention strategies to support all learners; examine data to align instruction with students’ learning needs; and explore how students monitor their goals and celebrate progress. The conference is free, but registration by grade level is required.
Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4: Chapter Leader Training Part Two will be held at the Westchester Hilton for new chapter leaders and chapter leaders who have not attended in ten years. Registration for this event is closed. For more information, see the item in Your Chapter Leader Checklist.
Monday, Dec. 5: The UFT’s Asian American Committee invites all members to an origami workshop at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 10th floor from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Materials will be supplied. Light refreshments will be served. This is a free event, but registration by mail is required. Participants should clip the coupon in the Nov. 3 issue of the New York Teacher and mail to: Marion Thom, Asian American Heritage Committee, 52 Broadway, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10004.
Wednesday, Dec. 7: Staten Island members are invited to a maternity workshop at the Staten Island UFT office, 4456 Amboy Road, from 4 to 6 p.m. Participants will learn their rights concerning maternity, childcare and FMLA leaves. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Wednesday, Dec. 7: The UFT Member Assistance Program and the UFT Teacher Center invite new teachers to Workplace Safety, part of a series of workshops and informational groups. Participants will learn about workplace safety and meet with professional peers. This event will take place from 4 to 6 pm. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor, room F. Refreshments will be served. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Wednesday, Dec. 7: The monthly speech chapter executive board and general membership meeting will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor, room G. To register, see the event listing.
Wednesday, Dec. 7: Brooklyn members are invited to learn their rights concerning maternity, childcare and FMLA leaves at a maternity and child care leave workshop at the Brooklyn UFT office, 335 Adams Street, 25th floor from 4:15 to 5:45 p.m. For more information and to register online, see the event listing.
Wednesday, Dec. 7: The occupational/physical therapists chapter membership meeting will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 50 Broadway, 2nd floor. Light refreshments will be served. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Wednesday, Dec. 7: Staten Island-based new members are invited to attend a new member meet-and-greet. This event will be held at the Staten Island UFT office, 4456 Amboy Road from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Participants will learn about the rights and benefits of union membership and the people who serve you at the Staten Island UFT office. All new members are welcome, but registration is required, as space is limited. To register online, see the event listing.
Thursday, Dec. 8: The Bronx UFT office invites Bronx-based members with five years of service or less to a new member meet-and-greet with UFT President Michael Mulgrew. This event will take place at the Bronx UFT office, 2500 Halsey Street from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Thursday, Dec. 8: The high school workshop, “Using Google Apps for Educators,” will be held at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway from 4 to 6 p.m. For more information about the high school workshops, including how to register, see the item in Professional Learning Opportunities or see the event listing.
Thursday, Dec. 8: Queens members are invited to a maternity workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Queens UFT office, 97-77 Queens Blvd., Rego Park. This event is specifically for planning steps for the third trimester and beyond. Walk-ins are not allowed. To register online, see the event listing.
Save the Date
Wednesday, Jan. 18: The January Delegate Assembly will be held from 4:15 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor. This is a change from the previously scheduled date of Jan. 11.
For more events, go to uft.org/calendar .
UFT Professional Committees offer a wide range of workshops, presentations and exchanges, enabling all members to take an active part in their professional growth. Unless indicated, meetings are at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway. Check the lobby for exact locations. For further information contact us at 1-212-598-7772 or visit us online.
ATSS/UFT (Assn. of Teachers of Social Studies)
ELAC/UFT (English Language Arts Council)
NYC Music Teachers Association/UFT
NYC Art Teachers Association