This Week’s Focus
Organize a #PublicSchoolProud school-based project or event
Our public schools are in extreme danger. We cannot allow Betsy DeVos to disparage and defund our public schools. UFT members received an email asking them to sign up for our new #PublicSchoolProud campaign. If you have a school email list, please send an email to members of your chapter underscoring the importance of everyone signing up for the campaign at www.uft.org/public-school-proud. We are asking every chapter leader to spearhead a project or event that showcases the great things that are happening in public schools every day. We are leaving the precise nature of the project up to each school because you know best what works within your school culture. Read our Show Your Love for Public Schools webpage and then schedule a meeting with colleagues and/or parents to organize your project or event. Here’s a slide presentation that you can show at your kickoff meeting. If you are on social media, please use the hashtag #PublicSchoolProud in posts related to this campaign and our fight.
DeVos flunks first test in Senate confirmation hearing
In a contentious confirmation hearing, Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. education secretary, made clear that she would use her position to promote private and charter schools at the expense of public schools. During the three hours of questioning, DeVos appeared not to know some basics facts about public education or the organization she hoped to lead. DeVos, who lobbied Michigan lawmakers a year ago to kill a bill that would have prevented failing Michigan charter schools from expanding, disputed Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s contention that Michigan lacks school accountability. “The notion that there hasn’t been accountability is just wrong,” she said. “It’s false news.” When Minnesota Sen. Al Franken asked DeVos to weigh in on whether schools should be judged on “proficiency” or “growth,” DeVos appeared unfamiliar with the distinction, confusing the two in her answer. “I asked Betsy DeVos a very simple Q about student growth & proficiency,” Sen. Franken later tweeted. “Her lack of basic knowledge astounded me.” Read the full story on the UFT website.
Paras should not be assigned lunch duty
Paraprofessionals cannot be assigned lunch duty. All paraprofessionals also are entitled to a duty-free lunch period. If a student’s IEP requires paraprofessional support during the student’s lunch period, the principal must schedule coverage to ensure that the student is appropriately served at all times and that each paraprofessional in the school has a duty-free lunch period. The DOE has agreed to include an item in next week’s Principal’s Weekly that clarifies these contractual rights for members in the para chapter. Please work with your principal to ensure that these rules are being followed in your school.
Share your photos from the women’s marches on Saturday
If you are participating in the Women’s March on New York or the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 21, please make your presence known on social media. When posting photos on Twitter, please tag the UFT (@UFT) to notify us. Send one or two of your best photos with caption information (names, titles, school and borough) to firstname.lastname@example.org. For the New York City march, please use the hashtags #NYCWomensMarch and #WhyIMarchNYC. In Washington, D.C., marchers are using #WhyIMarch and #WomensMarch. Labor unions in both marches will also be using the hashtag #1uwomen. In New York City, remember the UFT contingent will be assembling on 47th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues at 10 a.m. The crowd is expected to be huge that day. Look for the UFT banner. The event will start at 10:45 a.m. with a one-hour rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in front of the United Nations headquarters, followed by a march south on 2nd Avenue, then west on 42nd Street and up Fifth Avenue to Trump Tower. See you tomorrow!
Salary & Personnel
Excused leave for breast or prostate cancer screening and blood donation: UFT members can receive up to four hours of paid leave to get a mammography, up to four hours of paid leave for prostate screening, and up to three hours of unpaid leave to give blood. The state Legislature passed the laws granting our members these benefits at the urging of the UFT and our state affiliate NYSUT. A personnel memo issued by the DOE outlines the procedures for UFT members to follow when requesting these leaves.
Read the new Teacher Evaluation Guide: Be sure to consult the eight-page Guide to the Teacher Evaluation System that we developed to help you answer member questions on the new teacher evaluation system.
COPE is the best tool against a state constitutional convention: Make the case for your members about the importance of using our collective voice to strengthen our schools and communities and to improve our working lives. As we roll out our campaign to vote NO to a constitutional convention, remind members that when the stakes are high, UFT COPE is there to fight back against policy proposals that would hurt educators and their families. By contributing to COPE each month, we ensure that our voices are heard by lawmakers and decision-makers on the issues and policies that matter to us. Be sure to explain to members that COPE is funded entirely by voluntary contributions; we do not use any union dues for political action. Let’s get the message out that thanks to UFT COPE, we get results.
A new labor-management committee can help resolve class-size violations: Through a recent arbitration ruling, the UFT gained a new process to help schools with chronically oversized classes find solutions. A joint labor-management committee consisting of three UFT representatives and three DOE representatives will now meet to discuss solutions for schools with an extensive history of oversize classes. For the first time, the UFT and the DOE are required to review issues at schools with a long history of oversize classes before going to arbitration. Schools give up no rights when the committee reviews their cases. If no resolution is reached for a particular school, the UFT can proceed to arbitration. Read the news story on the UFT website.
Health and Safety
Need to make a safety complaint? We’ve made it easier to let us know of a safety problem in your school. Just go to this web address: www.uft.org/safety-complaint and follow the instructions. Remember: If you believe the situation you are reporting constitutes an emergency, please call the union’s safety hotline at 212-701-9407 for immediate assistance.
FAQ spells out special education and ICT requirements: Special education teachers and related-service providers see firsthand that many students with disabilities are not receiving 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, 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 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 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.
Workshops for new teachers: The UFT Teacher Center and the Member Assistance Program are offering a series of workshops to help teachers in years 1 to 3 navigate challenges such as classroom management, student engagement and professional collaboration. Each workshop will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Teachers can receive two CTLE hours for selected workshops. For workshop descriptions and online registration, see the flier.
Financial wellness workshops for new members: Bronx-based members in their first three years on the job are encouraged to attend the financial wellness workshop on Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Bronx UFT borough office, 2500 Halsey Street. Participants will learn about budgeting, staying out of debt, saving for the future and more. RSVP using the online registration form.
Professional Learning Opportunities
Free digital technology conference for teachers: All pre-K to 12 educators are invited to “Digital Communities for a Dynamic Classroom,” a free technology conference presented by the UFT Teacher Center. This event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor. Participants will explore Google Apps for Education to collaborate with colleagues, organize your classroom and reach students in exciting new ways; discover how to use Google Forms to efficiently communicate with students, assess understanding and provide direct feedback; and extend learning across all subject areas as students use coding to create their own content-rich interactive stories and video games. Registration by grade level is required.
Register now for our Middle School Conference on Feb. 4: Middle school members are invited to attend the UFT’s fourth annual Middle School Conference on Saturday, Feb. 4 at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Last year, some 450 educators deepened their skills and knowledge while networking with colleagues at the conference. This year’s event promises to be just as memorable. Participants can earn at least three CTLE hours for attending two workshops of their choice on topics including the roles of the teacher and paraprofessional in the IEP process; engaging the disengaged middle school male; coding in math; and using Google’s “G Suite” for educators. You must pre-register. The registration fee of $30 includes breakfast and lunch. See the brochure for a description of all the workshops and to download the mail-in registration coupon. The deadline to register is Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Register for our Early Childhood Education Conference on March 11: Early childhood educators are invited to register for the UFT’s 10th annual Early Childhood Education Conference, which will be held at UFT headquarters on Saturday, March 11 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year’s theme is “Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead.” The conference will feature a plenary greeting from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and a choice of exciting workshops. Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) hours will be provided. Breakfast and a box lunch will be served. There is a fee of $30. The registration and payment deadline is Friday, Feb. 24. For details, including online and mail-in registration information, see the event listing on the UFT website.
Free workshops for interactive storytelling: Early childhood educators are encouraged to speak with their principals about attending a full-day professional development workshop presented by the CUNY Creative Arts Team. During this workshop, facilitators will guide participants through a step-by-step process to will help them build an experiential and intellectual understanding of the power of oral storytelling in developing children’s listening, speaking and language skills. Participants can choose to attend a Thursday, Jan. 26 session at the Brooklyn UFT office, 335 Adams St., 25th floor, or a Thursday, March 16 session at the Queens UFT office, 97-77 Queens Blvd., Rego Park. Both sessions will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants can register online for either the Brooklyn or Queens session. For more information, see the flier.
Teaching and Learning
Lessons and resources for teachers: The AFT Share My Lesson website has lessons and resources valuable to teachers of all grade levels. Teachers of elementary-level English language learners can teach students to write and sound out “qu” phonograms. High school teachers can help students grasp the cost of living after graduation in a real-world budget lesson. You can find many more lessons and webinars on the Share My Lesson website.
Free AFT workshops about managing student debt: The UFT and the American Federation of Teachers, our national union, are teaming up to help UFT members get relief from crushing student debt. Members are invited to attend a free workshop about managing student debt in one of the UFT’s five borough offices. This workshop, which is open to all UFT members, will alert you to federal programs that can help you lower your monthly student loan payments or even get your debt forgiven. All workshops will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Registration is required. Next week, there will be free workshops at the UFT Bronx borough office on Tuesday, Jan. 24, and in the Staten Island borough office on Thursday, Jan. 26. To see the dates and locations of all upcoming workshops and to register, go to the online sign-up form.
UFT film series celebrating Black History Month kicks off on Feb. 1: Invite your members and friends to join us as we celebrate Black History Month with a series of three films starting on Wednesday, Feb. 1, with Chisholm ’72, the 2005 documentary about the life of Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 became the first black woman to run for president. The film series continues on Monday, Feb. 13, with 13th, a 2016 documentary by Ava DuVernay that explores the nation’s history of racial inequality through the lens of the criminal justice system. The film’s title refers to the 13th Amendment of the constitution. The final film in the series, Rising from the Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter will be shown on Tuesday, Feb. 28 and chronicles the legacy of Pullman porters, the African-American men who served as caretakers to wealthy, white rail passengers, and how A. Philip Randolph led the porters in their 12-year battle to create the first all-black union. Chapter leaders, please post the film series poster on your UFT bulletin board and advise your members to register for the series online. All three events, which are free, will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway.
UFT’s Black History Month dinner dance: Members are invited to attend the UFT African Heritage Committee’s 14th annual Black History Month dinner dance on Friday, Feb. 3 from 7 p.m. to midnight at Antun’s, 96-43 Springfield Boulevard in Queens Village. This year’s theme is “And Miles to Go.” UFT Vice President Evelyn DeJesus will receive the Trailblazer Award and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will receive the Frederick Douglass Award for Civil and Human Rights. The Mary McLeod Bethune Award for Teacher Excellence will be presented to teachers Una Camaronlee (District 16) and Allen Kinard (District 14). The cost of this event is $90 per person. Participants should fill out the mail-in coupon to RSVP for this event. The RSVP deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Team High School Award 2017 nominations due by Jan. 31: The UFT Academic High School Awards honor the unsung heroes who deserve recognition 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 has been extended to Tuesday, Jan. 31. 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. If you have questions, contact the Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds at email@example.com.
Students can learn geography while taking a virtual class trip: The UFT and EmblemHealth have teamed up to bring members Emblem’s Big Apple Adventure, an interactive online game for 3rd- to 5th-graders to test their knowledge of New York City geography. The game features Emblem, the Wellness Dog, who guides students through local parks, landmarks, monuments and more. Audio narration is available for English language learners. Teachers participating in Emblem’s Big Apple Adventure could win a classroom set of New York City geography books. The contest deadline is March 31. The game does not require registration or log-in. More information is available on the UFT website. Post this flier on your UFT bulletin board if you work in an elementary school.
Scholarships for labor studies: Members who are interested in pursuing labor studies at the Murphy Institute of 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 or read about the Diversity Scholarship. For more information about the scholarship, including the Feb. 28 application deadline, contact Laurie Kellogg at 212-642-2055 or at Laurie.Kellogg@cuny.edu.
Our Functional Chapters
Encourage guidance counselors to attend the 13th annual Guidance Counselors Conference on March 18: Guidance counselors are encouraged to attend the 13th annual Guidance Counselors Conference on Saturday, March 18, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. This year’s theme is “School Counselors: Help Students Realize Their Potential.” Our keynote speaker is Terence Houlihan, a school counselor and adjunct professor at Lehman College. Participants will have a choice of workshops including special education, college readiness, bullying and LGBT issues. Vendors will also be on hand to provide school counseling materials. Each attendee will receive a certificate of participation at the end of the conference. To register, see the course catalog.
Celebrate National School Counseling Week 2017: Encourage your chapter to recognize and celebrate the important work school counselors do during National School Counseling Week, Feb. 6 to 10. This year’s theme is “School Counseling: Helping Students Realize Their Potential.”
H-Bank members must use SOLAS: Effective Jan. 1, all H-Bank members must use the Self-Service Online Leave Application System (SOLAS) to apply for medical and non-medical leaves. Paper applications will no longer be accepted. Affected UFT titles are staff nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, supervising therapists, supervisors of nurses, senior physical therapists, mental health workers, education analysts, ed officers and sign language interpreters. A number of H-Bank members have already used SOLAS to apply for leaves with great success. The process is straightforward and intuitive. Chapter leaders, please remind secretaries/timekeepers that they must verify timekeeping in SOLAS for H-Bank members as well as for pedagogues and paraprofessionals. We strongly recommend that all members forward their SOLAS confirmation email to their secretaries/timekeepers so they are aware of the pending leave.
Studies reveal the high cost of low prices: A new study has found the low-wages Walmart pays workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing, according to Forbes.com. The report, published by Americans for Tax Fairness, also found that a single Walmart Supercenter cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.75 million per year, or between $3,015 and $5,815 on average for each of 300 workers. Two similar studies showed that the fast food industry passed on $7 billion in annual labor costs to taxpayers, with McDonald’s alone accounting for $1.2 billion of that outlay.
Local right-to-work law voided: A U.S. district judge on Jan. 7 voided a right-to-work law enacted by a Chicago suburb in 2015, ruling the legislation invalid for local jurisdictions, reports Laborpress. The judge said the National Labor Relations Act gives only states and territories — not local subdivisions — the authority to regulate union agreements. The legal challenge, presented by four labor unions, was found to be valid on its merits and did not need a full trial.
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. See the item in Professional Learning Opportunities for details.
Saturday, March 11: The 10th annual Early Childhood Education Conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. See the item in Professional Learning Opportunities for details.
Saturday, Jan. 21: School secretaries are encouraged to attend the school secretaries’ annual seminar from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor. For more information, see the item in Our Functional Chapters.
Tuesday, Jan. 24: Bronx members are invited to a free workshop about managing student debt. This workshop, presented by the UFT and the American Federation of Teachers, will alert participants to federal programs that can help lower your monthly student loan payments or even get your debt forgiven. This event will be held at the Bronx UFT office, 2500 Halsey St., rooms A and B from 4 to 6 p.m. Register online.
Wednesday, Jan. 25: The school nurses’ general membership meeting will take place from 4:30 to 6 pm. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor, rooms E and F. Light refreshments will be served. Register online.
Wed., Jan. 25, speech chapter tenure workshop CANCELED: The speech improvement chapter tenure workshop originally scheduled for next week has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor, room G. We hope speech teachers will take advantage of this great opportunity to prepare for the tenure process.
Thursday, Jan. 26: Staten Island members are invited to a free workshop about managing student debt. This workshop, presented by the UFT and the American Federation of Teachers, will alert participants to federal programs that can help lower your monthly student loan payments or even get your debt forgiven. This event will be held at the Staten Island UFT office, 4456 Amboy Road, 1st floor, room H from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Register online.
Save the Date
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.
Saturday, March 18: The 13th annual Guidance Counselors Conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. For more information, see the event listing and the item in Our Functional Chapters.
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.
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.
Association of Teachers of Social Studies/UFT
English Language Arts
Hellenic American Educators Association/UFT
Irish American Committee
NYC Music Teachers Association/UFT
NYC Art Teachers Association