Chapter Leader Update, December 1st 2017

This Week’s Focus

Unions defend tenure rights in appeals court hearing

Tenure rights of New York teachers were the focus of heated arguments in a Brooklyn courtroom on Nov. 30 as lawyers for the UFT and other unions pressed a state appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit attacking those fundamental safeguards. The Partnership for Educational Justice, an organization fronted at the time by former TV personality Campbell Brown, and the New York City Parents Union filed lawsuits in 2014 seeking to overturn teacher seniority and tenure rights in New York. The UFT and its state affiliate, NYSUT, argued that the state Legislature, not the court, is the place for any changes to tenure rights, and have called the lawsuit “lobbying under the guise of litigation.” A decision is expected before the end of the school year.

Chapter leader stipend checks will be mailed in December

As a small thank-you for the work you’ve done and the work you will do, we will be mailing you your stipend check in December, as compensation for out-of-pocket expenses you incur while performing your duties as chapter leader during the school year. The stipend is calculated at a rate of $6 per member. Each chapter leader receives a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $1,350. The IRS is very clear that for tax purposes, any excess you receive must be included in your gross income. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you keep any and all receipts. Clearly, this is just a small acknowledgment of the work you have done and the work you will do this school year.

Organize a school “baby shower” for members to share parental leave stories

Take action  To raise awareness about the need for paid parental leave for UFT members, we’re asking you, as chapter leader, to organize a “baby shower” at your school in December. Make a special outreach to members in your school who are pregnant, who adopted a child, or who gave birth to a child while working in New York City public schools and ask them to share with fellow members their personal experiences with the DOE’s current parental leave policy. Here is a fact sheet about the current policy that you can share with your members. Give members who attend the baby shower the opportunity to fill out a card saying why paid parental leave matters to them. You may download and print copies of this card or pick up cards at your UFT borough office. Then, post these cards on your UFT bulletin board. Take photos of the most compelling individual cards — and of your bulletin board display — and send them (large size) to so we can share them. Sign up to let us know you are organizing a baby shower.

Teacher’s Choice spending deadline is approaching

Alert your members that Jan. 14 is the deadline for spending Teacher’s Choice funds. Eligible UFT members should have received their Teacher’s Choice allotments ($250 for teachers and other amounts for other eligible titles) in their Nov. 30 paychecks. Members should submit their receipts, along with the Teacher’s Choice Accountability Form detailing their purchases, by Jan. 14 to their principal or to their payroll secretary. If a member received Teacher’s Choice funds and does not file an accountability form with the required receipts by the Jan. 14 deadline, that member will be obligated to pay back the money to the DOE. Educators in the ATR pool should submit their receipts to the administration of the school to which they are assigned on Jan. 19, 2018. For more detailed information about the Teacher’s Choice program, go to the Teacher’s Choice section of the UFT website.

Bring toys for homeless students to the Delegate Assembly

This is the last call for you to help bring the joy of the holiday season to our most vulnerable students. Please join us by donating an unwrapped, brand-new toy for children — newborn to 16 years of age. The toys you and your members donate will be distributed at the union’s annual holiday luncheon for homeless students, which we organize in collaboration with the Coalition for the Homeless. Please bring your donations to the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, Dec. 6. You can also drop off donations at a UFT borough office anytime until Wednesday, Dec. 6. For details, including the contact in each borough office, see the Share in the Season of Joy flier.

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Your Chapter Leader Checklist

  • New Attend a PROSE informational session on Thursday, Dec. 7: If you work in a school that is highly collaborative and has innovative practices, you may be interested in becoming a PROSE school. PROSE offers schools the ability to make changes to the UFT contract and DOE regulations to allow out-of-the-box ideas and teacher-led innovations. If you are interested in becoming a PROSE school, register online to attend our informational session on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Your principal, a school team or even the entire school is welcome to attend. Even if you cannot attend the informational session, you may still apply to PROSE by submitting an application to the PROSE panel. The deadline to apply is March 2, 2018. This year, PROSE also is accepting early-decision applications, which are due by Dec. 20, for possible implementation starting in February. The early-decision process is for schools that have been engaged in innovative practices. For more information and a link to the application, see the PROSE page on the UFT website or contact the PROSE panel at
  • Use Twitter to fight for education and labor rights: In the face of a federal administration that is hostile to public education and the labor movement, Twitter is the new face of advocacy, where you and your members can help educate policymakers and elected officials about the most important issues in education and the challenges you face as a public school educator. Encourage your members to follow the UFT on Twitter at @UFT, join the conversation and participate in the union’s campaigns on Twitter using our hashtags.
  • Check out the member obituary section on the UFT website: Has a UFT member from your school recently passed away? Please consider submitting an obituary to the obituary section for UFT members on the UFT website. This feature honors the memory and service of colleagues. The name, age and date of passing of in-service and retired UFT members are listed. Clicking the link to the name will direct you to a brief bio of the individual and a photo, when available. Please email the obituary to To read obituaries of recently deceased members, see the obituary section of the UFT website.
  • Stop lesson-plan abuse: The union has fought hard to maintain teachers’ professional autonomy concerning lesson plans in the UFT-DOE contract. The joint letter from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, which reaffirms language in the contract, states lesson plans are a teacher’s professional responsibility and are by and for the use of the teacher. Teachers have the discretion to decide whether to write their lesson plans on paper or in digital form. They cannot be required to keep their lesson plans in a particular place or maintain a readily accessible second copy for the convenience of administrators. If your principal makes these demands, we advise you to give the principal a copy of the joint letter. If your principal continues to insist, let your principal know that you have been told to notify UFT President Michael Mulgrew directly. Chapter leaders should send that email to We suggest you discuss the joint letter on lesson plans at your next chapter meeting so all teachers are aware of their rights and responsibilities. Members should not refuse a direct order from a supervisor, but as a chapter-building activity, while the UFT works to resolve the issue, we suggest teachers place a copy of the joint letter alongside the lesson plan in the designated location.
  • Logging in to the UFT website: We know it’s sometimes frustrating to hit a login barrier when you are trying to access content promoted in the Chapter Leader Update. You must log in because the content is housed in the chapter-leader-only section of the UFT website. We recommend that you log in when visiting the UFT website so you don’t encounter these roadblocks.

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Share With Your Members

Campaign fact sheet on UFT’s current parental leave benefits

Teacher’s Choice Accountability Form

10 reasons to be #PublicSchoolProud flier

Share in the Season of Joy flier

FAQ on the new promotion guidelines for students with disabilities

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You Should Know

Community Service

Take action  Create a school team to raise money for water purifiers for Puerto Rican families: Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September, most of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico still have no reliable source of safe drinking water. As we head into the holiday season, you can help by making a donation to Operation Agua, which brings water purification systems to Puerto Rican families. A single $30 donation provides an in-home purifier that requires no electricity and provides up to 24 liters of safe water per day to a family. If you wish to fundraise as a team at your school or workplace, you can make a collective donation by check. Each school that participates will receive an Operation Agua certificate. To make a donation by check or online, see the Operation Agua page on the UFT website.

Latino Caucus awards dinner to help Puerto Rico: The AFT Latino Caucus is encouraging UFT members to attend its annual awards gala to support residents of Puerto Rico who have been struggling with the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria. Proceeds from the gala will be used to provide families in Puerto Rico with in-home purifiers that provide up to 24 liters of safe water per day. This event will take place on Monday, Dec. 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Acri Café, 1315 Commerce Ave., in the Bronx. The $85 ticket price includes a buffet dinner, wine, beer and soda. Register online.

English Language Learners

New Workshop on protecting immigrants: All educators are invited to “Protecting our Students and their Families from the Threat of Deportation.” Participants in this training session will learn how to educate members about the rights of immigrants and the threat of deportation; help members create a safe environment for all students; and help educators develop school-specific plans for how to handle immigration raids and concerns in their school communities. This workshop will be held on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Space is limited. Register online.


Teacher Observation Report explained: After you have been observed, your supervisor must provide you with a completed Teacher Observation Report within 45 school days. The report must contain a score on any component observed, and each component must contain lesson-specific, Danielson-aligned evidence. Evidence related to components 1a, 1e, and/or 4e that was observed by the evaluator during the observation or during the 15 school days immediately preceding the observation may also be included in the report. From the time an observation is conducted until the time the teacher receives the Teacher Observation Report for that observation, only one additional observation (formal or informal) may be conducted for the teacher. If you find flaws in the Teacher Observation Report and/or other aspects of the evaluation process, you may be able to file an APPR complaint. For more information, see the APPR Complaint page of the UFT website and the UFT’s Guide to the Teacher Development and Evaluation System.

Functional Chapters

New Attend a UFT Meet the President event: Paraprofessionals, audiologists, physical therapists/occupational therapists, supervisors of nurses and therapists, and supervisors of school security are invited to a Meet the President event with UFT President Michael Mulgrew on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Participants will get important updates on education and labor issues in the city, state and nation. This year, with so much at stake as the Supreme Court prepares to hear Janus v. AFSME, it is vital that we come together in solidarity to prepare for what lies ahead. Other officers and staff members also will  be present to address individual concerns. We will hold a second event in January for other functional chapters. Register online.

Present a workshop at the UFT’s School Counselors Conference: The UFT School Counselors Chapter will hold its 14th annual School Counselors Conference on Saturday, March 10. We consider your professional growth an important element that contributes to student success in school so we want to offer relevant workshops for and by school counselors. We are encouraging school counselors to submit proposals to present workshops on social/emotional support topics that they have successfully facilitated with students or parents. If you are a school counselor interested in presenting a workshop at our conference, please complete the call for proposal form by Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. The conference committee will review all proposals and contact you. Conference registration will open soon.


Celebrate Kwanzaa: Members are invited to learn about Kwanzaa and experience its joy at the African Heritage Committee’s annual Kwanzaa celebration on Thursday, Dec. 14, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. This event will feature door prizes and a light dinner. The registration fee is $30. For more information and to download the mail-in registration form, see the Kwanzaa flier. The registration deadline is Friday, Dec. 8.

Political Action

Take action  Rally on Saturday morning against Trump and his donors: On Saturday, Dec. 2, at 9 a.m., New Yorkers will rally at Cipriani 42nd Street against the harmful policies pushed by President Trump and his wealthy allies. President Trump and Republicans in Washington have targeted New York’s values with their attacks on our healthcare system; their proposal for a tax plan that gives millions of dollars to corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the middle class; and policies that threaten DREAMers, women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, workers and more. New Yorkers will rally directly in front of the restaurant where Trump will be meeting with his big donors. Enter the rally at Vanderbilt Avenue and 42nd Street or exit Grand Central Terminal on the west side.

Take action  March on Saturday afternoon to protest the GOP tax plan: President Trump and the GOP are pushing a tax plan built to benefit Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers. The changes in this bill will hurt public school educators and the middle class. On Saturday, Dec. 2, protesters will convene at noon at Foley Square, 111 Worth St. in Manhattan, and will march to the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street for a rally at 1:30 p.m. Register on the Stop the #GOPTaxScam Facebook page.

Take action  Janus is the next challenge — can we count on you? Working together, we helped convince New York voters to reject the constitutional convention by an overwhelming margin on Election Day. That victory at the ballot box demonstrated what we can achieve when we stick together. Now we need you again to join the Union Proud campaign to stay informed and keep our union strong. The same forces we defeated in the Vote NO campaign are coming right back at us in the Janus v. AFSCME lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is paid for and brought to us by the Koch brothers and other right-wing billionaires out to destroy unions. The UFT is a strong union because of our membership. It’s why you have job security, teacher tenure, preparation periods, maximum teaching loads, premium-free healthcare and much more. Our enemies want to take all of this away from us. Now more than ever, we must stand together and take care of each other. Can we count on you? No matter how tough — and well-funded — our opponents are, we can stay strong if we stay united. Together we make it possible.

Take action  Join the campaign for paid parental leave for UFT members: UFT members spend their days nurturing and supporting children, yet the city’s current parental leave policy forces members to choose between their own children and their profession. It’s time for the city to grant UFT members the paid parental leave they deserve. Join the UFT campaign for paid parental leave. But we need your help to get it done. Studies have shown time and again that babies benefit from being home with their parents in their first and most vulnerable weeks. Yet our current system forces new parents to choose between caring for their own children and earning a paycheck that may be crucial to their families. The UFT has continued to try to negotiate a fair and reasonable paid parental leave policy with the city ever since Mayor Bill de Blasio in December 2015 imposed a paid parental leave program on the city’s nonunion, managerial employees. That program included givebacks from the managerial employees that we won’t accept for our members. We also want any new parental leave policy to cover adoption and foster care. It’s time for a public campaign.


New Chapter leader shoutout for Joseph Valentin:  Chapter leaders are on the front line defending members’ rights, ensuring members have a voice in school decision-making and mobilizing members in political action to benefit public schools. We are giving kudos to an exemplary chapter leader each month so you can get to know the school-based leaders who make our union strong. We are giving a shoutout to Joseph Valentin, the chapter leader at MS 51 in Brooklyn. Joseph’s relentless drive to increase COPE contributions at his Park Slope school is paying off — the total amount members contribute annually to COPE is up 30 percent from September 2016 and climbing. Read more about Joseph Valentin’s accomplishments as a chapter leader on the UFT website.

Salary and Personnel

Don’t miss the deadline for Catastrophe Major Medical insurance bill payment: If you enrolled in the Catastrophe Major Medical Plan sponsored by the NYSUT Member Benefits Trust during the limited-time open-enrollment period in spring 2017, you should have received your first bill from the plan’s administrator, Mercer Consumer. It is imperative that you pay your bill by the Dec. 31, 2017, deadline. If you do not pay your bill by this date, your coverage will not go into effect and you will not be able to enroll again until the plan offers another open-enrollment period in the future. If you are eligible for payroll or pension deduction of your CMM Plan premium, your bill will provide this option. Deduction-authorization cards submitted with enrollment forms were unable to be processed; therefore, any request for payroll or pension deduction will require the submission of another authorization form.

Special Education

New promotion policy for students with disabilities who participate in standard assessments: Under the DOE’s new Promotion Policy for Students with Disabilities in Grades 3 to 8, promotion decisions for most students with disabilities will be based on grade-level promotional benchmarks. Student progress toward meeting those benchmarks will be based on multiple measures. Modified promotion criteria will still be available, but only for students whose rate of progress is very slow and who require significant modifications to participate in the general curriculum. For these students, promotion decisions will be based on progress toward meeting rigorous annual goals in ELA and math, rather than the standards checklist. A timeline document explains how the new promotion policy will be implemented over the course of the school year. Information about the new policy will be shared with relevant school staff by the special education liaison in their building. The expectation is that changes in promotion criteria will be considered at each student’s next regularly scheduled IEP team meeting. An FAQ on the new promotion guidelines for students with disabilities addresses many of the questions that are expected to come up about this policy shift.

Teaching and Learning

New UFT Teacher Center’s fall arts conference on Dec. 3: All K-12 educators are invited to theFall Arts Citywide Conference, “Making a Home: Connecting with the Immigration Experience Through the Arts,”presented by the UFT Teacher Center. The conference will be held at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor, on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants will engage in a live performance to learn about the immigration experience; learn to connect the various art forms to the New York State Learning Standards for the Arts; explore digital platforms such as Joy2Learn, virtual field trips and online resources to engage students in learning; and collaborate with cultural partners to expand and strengthen community relationships. The conference cost is $40 for teachers who require CTLE hours; $15 for paraprofessionals who require CLTE hours; and $10 for non-CTLE. Register online.

Puppetry workshop for elementary teachers on Dec. 7: Elementary school educators are invited to a hands-on training in using puppetry as an interactive tool for learning. This event, which is presented by the CUNY Creative Arts Team, will take place on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 101 W. 31st St., 6th floor. Participants will learn how puppets can be used to develop language skills and address emotional and social challenges; develop basic skills needed to be an effective puppeteer; and learn the unique needs and demands of different puppet forms. The workshop also will address the benefits of using puppets with English language learners. Participants will receive four CTLE hours and a CUNY Certificate of Attendance. Register online. For more information, see the We Have Puppets! Now What? flier.

Student Shakespeare Festival program: Teachers of grades 2-12 are invited to participate in the New York City Student Shakespeare Festival, a program that prepares educators to lead students to create an original work of theater using Shakespeare’s text and perform it at a citywide festival. The festival uses an arts approach to strengthen ELA skills. Teachers will receive 12 hours of hands-on, CTLE-credited professional development on Friday, Jan. 12; Friday, Feb. 2; and Friday, March 2. The cost of the program is $2,000 per class. Register online. For more information, see the New York City Student Shakespeare Festival brochure.

New Lessons on winter and winter holidays: The AFT’s Share My Lesson website has winter-themed lessons for teachers. Elementary teachers, including those who teach students with special needs, can use a winter PowerPoint to show students images of snow, frost, fog and bare trees. Middle school students can compare near-surface temperature at the time of the solstices in two different hemispheres. High school students can learn respect for Chinese New Year celebrations and those who seek a spiritual ideal in Buddhism.You can find more lessons and webinars on the Share My Lesson website.

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This Week in Education and Labor News

Wisconsin voucher schools have no edge: The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on Nov. 21 announced the vast majority of the state’s nearly 2,000 public schools met or exceeded state expectations in the 2016–17 school year, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Meanwhile, private schools that accept low- and middle-income students on taxpayer-funded vouchers as part of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program accounted for almost 25 percent of the 108 schools in the state that failed to meet the standard.

New Jersey public schools increasingly segregated: A recent study finds New Jersey public schools to be among the most segregated in the nation, according to The Star-Ledger. The analysis, conducted by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, determined New Jersey ranks as the sixth most segregated state in the nation for black students and the seventh most segregated for Latino students, with 8.3 percent of students attending a school where less than 1 percent of pupils are white. Research shows that children who attend racially diverse schools live and work in more racially diverse areas as adults.

Walmart expansion threatens access to health care plans: As Walmart buys up e-commerce retailers, the workers in those companies are now shouldering higher out-of-pocket health care costs, reports The New York TimesIn October, thousands of workers at companies bought by Walmart learned that their potential 2018 medical expenses would increase at a rate far exceeding the overall rise in health care costs. Some economists warn that as Walmart buys up online retailers, its practices could erode worker benefits throughout the e-commerce sector, which had been a relative bright spot for low-wage workers.

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Events Calendar

This Week

Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3: Chapter Leader Training, Part 2, will be held at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, N.Y. Registration is closed.

Monday, Dec. 4: All members are invited to an origami workshop, presented by the UFT’s Asian American Heritage Committee, from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Materials will be supplied. Light refreshments will be served. Registration is closed. For more information, see the Origami Workshop flier.

Wednesday, Dec. 6: The Delegate Assembly will be held from 4:15 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor.

Thursday, Dec. 7: Manhattan-based members are attending a maternity workshop  to learn about their rights concerning maternity and leaves of absence. This workshop will be held from 4 to 6 the UFT’s Manhattan borough office, 52 Broadway, 10th floor. School nurses and occupational and physical therapists are not eligible to attend this workshop. If you are a school nurse or an occupational or physical therapist, contact Myra Entenberg at 212-598-6800. Light refreshments will be served . Registration is closed.

Thursday, Dec. 7: Queens-based members are invited to a maternity workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. at the UFT’s Queens borough office, 97-77 Queens Blvd., Rego Park. Participants will learn about leaves of absence and their rights during their child’s early years. Register online. For more information, see the Maternity Workshop flier. If you have questions, email Karla Jordan at

Thursday, Dec. 7: All educators are invited to “Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques (Component 3B),” a workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. This workshop will focus on ways educators can refine their questioning techniques to create a more student-centered classroom. Register online.

Friday, Dec. 8: All Manhattan-based paraprofessionals, school nurses, guidance counselors, therapists, school secretaries, school psychologists, social workers and other school-related professionals are invited to attend the UFT’s Manhattan borough office SRP Recognition Event from 4 to 9 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor. Register online. For more information, see the SRP Recognition Day flier.

Save the date

Saturday, March 3: Middle school members are invited to the fifth annual Middle School Conference. For more information, see the Middle School Conference flier.

Sunday, March 18: Elementary school educators are invited to the 11th annual Early Childhood Education Conference. Details to come.

For more events, go to

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