This Week’s Focus
Send a message to Betsy DeVos about what an education secretary should stand for
We who work inside New York City public schools know firsthand the power and promise of public education. We have devoted our lives to a vision of schooling that uplifts all children, regardless of the color of their skin, their family’s income, their ability to speak English, or other barriers to learning they must surmount. In the face of the deep inequities that have fractured our nation, education is one of the few equalizers. This vision is under grave attack. Republican fundraiser and conservative activist Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. education secretary, believes that education should be a private marketplace. And she has used her family’s vast fortune to advance her radical privatization agenda. The AFT and the National Education Association are gathering signatures on an open letter to Betsy DeVos calling on her to stand up for all children. Sign the open letter now and ask your members to sign it.
Urge eligible seniors to apply for an Albert Shanker student scholarship
Each year the UFT awards $1 million in scholarships to academically excellent and financially eligible New York City public high school seniors through the Albert Shanker College Scholarship Fund. To receive a $5,000 scholarship from the fund, those selected must be accepted in a full-time, matriculated, degree-granting program at an accredited college or university. Please reach out to your school’s college advisors and guidance counselors to make sure that high school seniors take advantage of this great opportunity by applying for a scholarship. You can get more information on the scholarship and application materials on the UFT Scholarship Fund page. The application deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.
Chapter leader stipend checks will be mailed this month
As a small thank-you for the work you’ve done and the work you will do, we will mailing you your stipend check this month, 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.
Teacher’s Choice spending deadline is approaching
Alert your members that Jan. 15 is the deadline for spending Teacher’s Choice funds. Eligible UFT members should have received their Teacher’s Choice allotments ($148 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. 20 to their principal or payroll secretary. If a member received Teacher’s Choice funds in their paycheck and does not file an accountability form with the required receipts by the Jan. 20 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. 20, 2017. For more detailed information about the Teacher’s Choice program, go to the Teacher’s Choice section of the UFT website.
Take advantage of educator discounts
Many stores and companies offer special discounts to educators. These discount opportunities, while available year-round, are especially helpful during the holiday season. The UFT has compiled the discounts offered by stores, companies, NYSUT and the AFT in the discounts and promotions section of its website. Members should check with the individual companies if they have questions about the identity verification requirements to receive the discount. Some of these discounts require you to verify your DOE email address; others require a valid school or teacher ID. Some of these discounts are available in stores only, not online. If you are aware of other discounts for UFT members that we should add to our list, please let Rachel Nobel know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Customize the Chapter Leader Update for your members: You can convert this weekly Chapter Leader Update into a substantial, personalized newsletter for your members in just a few steps: Click “Forward” at the top of the email. When the forwarded email opens, type in above the Update your own paragraph or two (meeting reminders, notes on consultation committee meetings, special event announcements, etc.). Delete any items that are just for chapter leaders, such as the items in Your Chapter Leader Checklist, or are not relevant for your members. Give your newsletter a name, like “The PS 100 UFT Bulletin.” Delete the text in the email subject line and type in the title of your newsletter instead. Copy and paste your members’ non-DOE email addresses into the “Bcc” box for member email addresses (for privacy) and put only your own email address in the “To” box. If you have any questions about customizing the Chapter Leader Update for your chapter, please call Ebony Martin in UFT Digital Communications at 212-598-9286 during office hours.
- Urge all members of your chapter to sign up for the UFT website: Since we now rely on email blasts as the principal way to convey important information quickly to our members, it is essential that you encourage all your members who have not yet signed up on the UFT website to do so. Once they sign up, they will be added to the union’s email distribution list for news updates and action alerts and they will also be able to search their contracts, use online health benefits forms and enroll online for UFT courses and workshops. To sign up on the website, members should go to the UFT website and click the sign up link at the top of the page.
- The PROSE application process has begun: The PROSE Panel is now accepting applications from schools interested in becoming PROSE schools beginning in the 2017–18 school year. PROSE is driven by collaboration and innovation, and the schools that become PROSE schools have opportunities to implement new ideas, share their work with other schools and develop sustainable cultures that respect teachers and all members as professionals. Interested chapter leaders can request an application via the online form. The deadline for applications is March 3, 2017. For more information about the program, drop a note to PROSE@uft.org and the team will follow up.
- Report Other Professional Work complaints to the UFT: In the 2014 contract, the work week was reconfigured in single-session schools to include a 35-minute block of time for Other Professional Work (OPW). The contract delineates a menu of activities that can take place during this time. The contract states the following: “Teachers can choose from the activities listed in the contract over the course of the year. Principals can direct the teachers to an activity on the list ‘on an as-needed basis’ to improve class instruction and meet the needs of the school as outlined in its Comprehensive Education Plan.” Teachers can only be asked to work on activities that are on the list, not other things that the principal deems necessary. According to the new paperwork standards agreed to in 2015, the Other Professional Work time “shall not generate excessive or redundant paperwork or electronic work.” The DOE and the UFT have an agreement that states that “teacher’s assignments during Other Professional Work shall not cause duplicative, unreasonable or unnecessary work.” Chapter leaders can report violations of these rules using the online OPW reporting form. Chapter leaders should file the form at the same time that they are bringing the issue to the attention of the principal during the consultation process. The filing of the reporting form is the first step toward establishing a resolution. A copy of this form will automatically be sent to the chapter leader’s district representative. The form resides in the chapter leader section of the website (you must be logged in) under the Paperwork tab.
- Report excessive paperwork to the union: The UFT has established an online reporting system than enables chapter leaders to report paperwork issues immediately. One significant source of unnecessary paperwork is the lack of curriculum in many schools. Chapter leaders who believe their members have been assigned unnecessary paperwork should fill out the online paperwork reduction reporting form (you must be logged in to access it) so we can track the number of complaints as they simultaneously reach out to the principal to resolve the issue. Only chapter leaders may use the reporting form. After filing a report, first try to resolve the issue at the school level. Consider making it an agenda item at your next UFT consultation committee meeting with the principal. The UFT and the DOE negotiated a set of five paperwork standards in May 2015 intended to reduce unnecessary paperwork. These standards stipulate that, among other concerns, educators should not be required to perform “redundant, duplicative, unnecessary or unreasonable amounts of record-keeping.” Read UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s New York Teacher column on curbing excessive paperwork.
- Review new paperwork and Other Professional Work manual: This fall, the UFT set up new reporting procedures for chapter leaders to alert the union to issues related to paperwork and the assignment of duties during the 35 minutes allotted each week for Other Professional Work. We have now issued a Resolving Paperwork and Other Professional Work Issues Guide that details the contractual provisions being enforced and spells out the reporting process for chapter leaders. The manual is permanently housed under the Paperwork tab in the chapter leader section of the website.
- Request a visit to your school from a UFT representative: Various UFT officers and representatives from UFT departments are available to visit your school and speak with members of your chapter. You may request a visit from the following UFT offices and officers: the Office of Personnel, Payroll and Special Projects, to discuss the evaluation system, school budgets, SBOs and more; the Grievance Department, to discuss contract empowerment, APPR complaints, grievances and more; the Safety and Health Department, to discuss environmental issues, school safety, incident reporting and more; the Pension Department to discuss pensions and Tax Deferred Annuities; the Welfare Fund, to discuss supplemental health benefits and more; Vice President for Education Evelyn De Jesus, to discuss support for English language learners, professional development, mentoring and more; the Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds, to discuss issues involving high schools; Vice President for Middle Schools Richard Mantell, to discuss issues involving middle schools; Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford, to discuss issues involving elementary schools; and Vice President for Career and Technical Education High Schools Sterling Roberson, to discuss issues involving CTE schools.
- Follow UFT divisions and departments on Twitter: Did you know various UFT divisions and departments are on Twitter? To get the latest news and information, you can follow the UFT elementary schools division @UFT_Elementary; the UFT middle schools division @UFTMS_Division; the UFT high schools division @UFTTeamHS; the UFT Bronx borough office @BBOUFT; the UFT Brooklyn borough office @UFT_BKOffice; the UFT Manhattan borough office @UFT_MBO; the Special Education department at @UFTSPEDVP; the UFT Safety & Health department at @UFTSafety; the UFT Paraprofessionals Chapter at @UFTParas; representatives from UFT District 75 @D75uft; and the UFT Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff @UFTACTS.
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 email@example.com.
Schools have received 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
Privacy breach at EmblemHealth: EmblemHealth has experienced a privacy breach that 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.
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.
English Language Learners
Free science workshop for teachers of ELLs: Grades 1-8 educators of English language learners are invited to the NYS/NYC Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network’s all-day workshop “Content Literacy Instruction: Pairing Fiction and Nonfiction Texts to Promote Language and Literacy while Teaching Science to ELLs.” The keynote speaker will be Dr. Nancy Cloud. This workshop will take place on Thursday, Dec. 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. This event is free, but online registration is required. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Free workshop on collaboration and co-teaching: English as a New Language teachers working with content-area teachers on the co-teaching model are invited to the NYS Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages teacher institute on collaboration and co-teaching. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld. The institute will take place on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. Participants will have the opportunity to work alongside their co-teachers to learn how to plan and deliver content instruction as a team. The institute is free, but ENL teachers for this institute must attend with one or more content-area co-teachers. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Financial wellness workshops for new members: Members in years 1-3 are encouraged to attend one of the remaining financial wellness workshops in January at the UFT borough offices in the Bronx and Staten Island and at UFT headquarters for Manhattan members. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about budgeting, keeping out of debt, saving for the future and more. Each workshop will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. For workshop dates and locations, see the online registration form for your borough: Bronx; Staten Island; or Manhattan.
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.
Professional Learning Opportunities
Free UFT Teacher Center workshop for math teachers: All pre-K to grade 12 math educators are invited to the citywide conference “Algebraic Thinking + Conjecturing = Math Power” organized by the UFT Teacher Center.This conference will be held at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, on Saturday, Dec. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants will learn the importance of making conjectures as a way to deepen understanding; practice strategies to help students articulate, refine and edit conjectures; and identify important mathematical ideas so students can make conjectures. The conference is free, but online registration by grade level is required.
Team High School Award nominations 2017: The UFT Academic High School Awards honor the unsung heroes who deserve to be recognized for going above and beyond to connect with students, communities and the union. Please nominate a colleague, community member or school whose work you appreciate and whose contributions to our union and commitment to our school communities may be hidden from your colleagues. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Read the award descriptions and use the online form to submit a nomination. The 2017 Academic High Schools Celebration will take place on Friday, April 28, 2017. If you have questions, contact the Vice President for Academic High Schools at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IDNYC pop-up site in UFT lobby – CANCELLED: The IDNYC pop-up site at UFT headquarters that was scheduled for next week has been canceled.
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 promoting tolerance and respect for difference: The AFT Share My Lesson website has many lessons, webinars and other resources to help teachers advocate for tolerance and social justice while teaching history and civics. The Lemon Exercise in Stereotyping can be used to teach middle and high school students about the civil rights movement in the United States, apartheid in South Africa, and the Holocaust in Europe. Educate and Empower: Build an Inclusive Community is a one-week community outreach project to educate middle school students about the experiences of the immigrant population, welcome immigrant students and empower all students to implement social justice. You can find many more lessons and webinars, including many about this month’s winter holidays, 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.
Final revisions drawn on standardized-testing legislation: The Obama administration on Dec. 7 released final rules to help states and school districts take a new approach to standardized testing, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The regulations allow states flexibility to eliminate redundant testing and promote innovative assessments. U.S. Education Secretary John King announced nearly $8 million in grants to Maryland and Nebraska to develop new ways to measure science achievement. School districts will also be able to use a nationally recognized high school assessment, such as the SAT or ACT, instead of state tests in high school.
U.S. students in holding pattern on international test: The latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests show U.S. teens are performing mid-pack relative to their peers around the world, according to the L.A. Times. The 2015 test results revealed U.S. scores have stagnated in reading and science, but dipped slightly in math from the previous 2012 results. U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr. expressed disappointment. “We’re losing ground,” he said. The United States did, however, receive high marks for decreasing the connection between socioeconomic status and school performance.
California union avoids strike: A day after halting plans for a one-day strike, the California government’s largest employee union announced that it had reached a tentative agreement for a new contract, according to the Sacramento Bee. Some 95,000 workers including nurses, custodians, office workers and information technology specialists represented by SEIU Local 100 will receive their first raise next summer, but will get a $2,500 signing bonus. The contract includes a new retiree health care contribution that will come out of employee paychecks in coming years.
Monday, Dec. 12: Brooklyn parents, grandparents and education activists are invited to a workshop about culturally responsive education. This workshop, which will be held at the Brooklyn UFT office, 335 Adams St., 24th floor, will discuss how schools can teach children of color to be proud of their heritage in the face of bullying and teach all students to value respect and tolerance. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m., and the meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Children are welcome. RSVP by emailing email@example.com. For more details and to register, see the event listing.
Tuesday, Dec. 13: District 75 probationary teachers are invited to a tenure workshop at the Brooklyn UFT office, 335 Adams St. from 4 to 6 p.m. UFT District Representative Analia Gerard and the District 75 team will be on hand to help prepare participants for the tenure process. District 75 Superintendent Ketler Louissaint will join to discuss the best evidence of teacher practice and student learning and to answer questions. Online registration is required.
Tuesday, Dec. 13: The social workers and psychologists’ chapter executive board meeting will take place at UFT headquarters, 50 Broadway, 2nd floor, room B from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 14: The UFT Member Assistance Program and UFT Teacher Center invite new teachers to a support and informational group on time management. This event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor, room G. Refreshments will be served. Preregistration is required.
Wednesday, Dec. 14: Manhattan parents are invited to bring their daughters to “Beautiful Me!” a workshop for participants to learn how to build lifelong courage and confidence. This event will take place at UFT headquarters, 50 Broadway, 10th floor at 6 p.m. Snacks will be provided. RSVP to Fran Streich at 212-701-9464 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, see the event listing.
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: District 15 probationary teachers are invited to a tenure workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Brooklyn UFT office, 335 Adams St. District 15 District Representative Pat Atia will be on hand to help prepare participants for the tenure process. Superintendent Anita Skop will discuss the best evidence of teacher practice and student learning and to answer questions. Light refreshments will be served. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Thursday, Dec. 15: The high school workshop, “Engaging Students in Learning – Using 21st Century Tech” will be held at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, from 4 to 6 p.m. For more information, see the item in Professional Learning or see the event listing.
Thursday, Dec. 15: Bronx-based members are invited to a maternity workshop to get answers to maternity and leave questions. Dads are welcome. This event will be held at the Bronx UFT office, 2500 Halsey St., from 4 to 6 p.m. To register, see the event listing.
Thursday, Dec. 15: The UFT Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series presents “Breast Cancer Update 2016” with Dr. Elizabeth Comen. This event will take place from 6:30 to 8 pm. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor, rooms D and E. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, treats 400 women with breast cancer each year. Dr. Comen will share her expertise on the current state of breast cancer research and treatment. A question-and-answer period will follow. Light refreshments will be served. Call Christine Jittan at 212-539-0667 to register.
Thursday, Dec. 15: The UFT African Heritage Committee’s annual Kwanzaa celebration will take place 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. For more details, see the event listing. Registration is closed.
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.
Saturday, Feb. 4: The 4th annual Middle School Conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 pm. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. More details to come.
Saturday, March 11: The 10th annual Early Childhood Conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. See the event listing on the UFT calendar for details and registration deadlines.
Saturday, March 18: The 36th annual Paraprofessional Festival and Luncheon will take place from 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the New York Hilton. See the event listing on the UFT calendar.
Friday, April 28: The 2017 Academic High Schools Celebration will take place at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. More details to come.
For more events, go to uft.org/calendar.