This Week’s Focus
Send a letter to DeVos protesting her cruel education budget
The Trump-DeVos budget unveiled on May 23 is cruel to children and catastrophic to public schools. The Trump-DeVos budget slashes federal spending for teacher development, after-school enrichment, class-size reduction and career and technical education, while ramping up investments in school choice. In her testimony to a House subcommittee, DeVos refused to rule out giving federal funds for vouchers to private schools that discriminate. New York State alone stands to lose $433 million in education funding. The budget cuts one-quarter of the Medicaid funding that now pays for essential school-based services for students with disabilities. And it guts programs that alleviate student debt or make college affordable. Please send a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos telling her that our children deserve better.
UFT asks City Council to support the union’s budget priorities
The UFT is asking the City Council to fund the union’s education programs and initiatives in the city budget that is due by July 1. We are appealing for the Council’s support for Teacher’s Choice, Community Learning Schools, the Positive Learning Collaborative, the BRAVE anti-bullying program, the Dial-A-Teacher homework helpline and free school lunches. These programs have contributed to the success of New York City public schools, creating a powerful bulwark against the privatization schemes of the federal government. “Their whole strategy is based on the lie that public education is failing,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew at a recent legislative breakfast at union headquarters. “Our school system is at its highest point ever in achievement.” Read more about the union’s city budget priorities. Read the budget testimony the union submitted this week to the Council Committees on Education and Finance.
Stay connected with the UFT on social media
In the face of Betsy DeVos’ serious attacks on public education, it’s more important than ever that UFT members stay informed and use social media to get out the word about the dangers we face and the great things happening in New York City public schools. Sign up for UFT text messages. Like the UFT on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Follow us on Instagram. And if you are on Snapchat, add UFTnyc.
Salary & Personnel
Update on new school-employee parking permits: Every school employee who has a car and whose school has DOE-designated parking will receive a Department of Education-issued parking permit. Delivery of the permits to schools began on May 18 and the permits are effective immediately. Each permit indicates the school and the specific on-street parking locations the school employee may use. The permit is not valid outside any other school. The number of on-street parking slots available at school sites has not increased and the times they are reserved for school employees has not changed. Parking spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no special on-street parking permit for the principal, the custodian or any other employee. (Off-street parking is not affected.) If you have members who already have a current Department of Transportation-issued permit, let them know that this permit is valid until November 2017. If you have any questions, contact your district rep. Chapter leaders can also direct questions and requests for additional DOE permits to DOEParkingPermits@schools.nyc.gov. However, please copy Amy Arundell at Aarundell@uft.org on these emails and do not share this contact information with your members. For more information, read the article on the UFT website.
Members can earn CAR time for per session work: Tell your members who coach or do other per session activities that they can earn Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) time for this work. If you work in the same per session activity between September and June, you can accrue per session sick leave hours after every 20 consecutive sessions worked. For per session athletic coaches with verifying schedules, the hours at the end of 20 consecutive sessions, regardless of the number of hours in each session, adds up to the total hours worked in the 20-session period. The total is then divided by 20 to arrive at the average length of a session for sick leave to be transferred. All other teachers earn one session of sick leave for each 20 sessions worked after 20 consecutive sessions. At the end of the activity, the payroll secretary fills out the Per Session Unused Sick Time Transfer Form documenting the accrued per session sick time to be transferred to the member’s regular sick bank. This form is signed by the payroll secretary, the head of the activity and the member to certify the time is accurate. The member should receive a copy. More detailed information on per session rights and CAR time is found on the UFT website.
Members should give notice before they resign: According to Chancellor’s Regulations, pedagogical employees who are resigning must give 30 calendar days’ notice. Therefore, if a teacher wants to resign (not retire) effective Sept. 5, the first day of school in the 2017-18 school year, he or she has to submit a letter of resignation by Aug. 5. According to the DOE, those employees who resign without providing 30 calendars days’ notice will be given a problem code in their personnel file that will flag them for review should they wish to return to teaching in the future. While there is no requirement to give notice for retirement, members who are interested in taking terminal leave prior to retirement must also give 30 days’ notice. Giving plenty of notice also helps members in the Absent Teacher Reserve find positions. Although it is not mandatory and there will be no penalties if you do not do so, the UFT encourages all staff who plan to either retire or resign before the beginning of the next school year to inform their school administration as soon as possible.
4.5 percent pay increase took effect Monday, May 1: The salaries of UFT members employed by the Department of Education increased 4.5 percent effective May 1 as part of the 2014 contract, which set the framework for moving our schools forward and securing the retroactive pay members were owed. All teachers and other pedagogues including paraprofessionals on the Q Bank payroll should have received the 4.5 percent increase in their May 15 paycheck. Members received a regular wage increase of 2.5 percent coupled with a 2 percent wage increase that is the third step of the phase-in of the 8 percent retroactive rate increase arising from the 2009-11 period. Nurses, therapists, education officers, education analysts and other employees who are on the H Bank payroll saw the 4.5 percent increase in their May 19 paycheck (for 13 days, May 1 to May 13). The June 2 check will be the first to reflect the 4.5 percent for the entire pay period. All teachers and other pedagogues who work per diem or per session will first see the new pay rate in the June 1 paycheck for any days worked from May 1 to May 15. Paras working per session and para substitutes will see their increase based on the new salary rate in their regular semimonthly paycheck dated May 31. If you have any questions, please contact a salary rep in your UFT borough office.
Remind your members about key deadlines for teacher evaluations: Make sure your members are aware that teachers’ summative end-of-year conferences must take place between April 28 and June 23. The end-of-year Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) assessment window is April 24 through June 9, and all classroom observations must be completed by June 2, absent extraordinary circumstances. For more in-depth information, see the Advance Guide for Educators or speak with your district representative.
Professional conciliation to resolve professional differences: What teacher, guidance counselor, social worker or school psychologist hasn’t had to confront a professional disagreement with a supervisor? Professional conciliation provides a mechanism — a professional space — for attaining a win-win solution that might otherwise remain out of reach. Professional conciliation allows the voice of educators to be heard. The DOE-UFT contracts outline the process available to teachers, guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists when a professional disagreement arises. For teachers, professional conciliation can occur when there is a difference in professional judgment concerning curriculum mandates, program offerings and scheduling. For guidance counselors, professional conciliation can be sought when there is a difference in professional judgment concerning the procedures for evaluating individual students. For school social workers and psychologists, professional conciliation can be sought when there is a professional difference concerning a policy or procedure related to locally devised student testing procedures and the appraisal methodology of a Committee on Special Education, a Clinical Service Unit or a superintendent. You can find more information about professional conciliation and the new online forms to request a conciliator in the chapter leader section of the UFT website. You can also read the new professional conciliation manual for chapter leaders.
Circular 6 arbitration settlement a win for teachers: A recent arbitration settlement confirms that no teacher can be assigned credit recovery, targeted credit recovery or iLearnNYC as a Circular 6 professional activity. The settlement creates a new position; teachers can apply to work in credit recovery programs with a maximum of eight students per school year in lieu of their professional activity period. As part of the settlement, the position must be posted and the teacher must be licensed in the subject area of the credit recovery course. Here is a posting template for credit recovery programs. Please note that there are no specific seat-time requirements for targeted credit recovery. The teacher will meet with the student(s) on an as-needed basis as determined by the teacher. For more information on the arbitration settlement, see the news story on the UFT website and the addendum to the stipulation. If you have questions, please email Teamhighschool@uft.org or call 1-212-598-9217.
Reorganization grievance? File it now!: If your members wish to grieve their programs or assignments, they must act quickly. Within two school days of knowledge of his or her new program, the member must ask you as the chapter leader to submit a Step 1 grievance using the online grievance procedure located in the chapter leader section of the UFT website. Be sure to also print out a copy of this grievance and submit it, or have your member submit it, to your principal. The principal has two days from the date that he/she was notified to meet with the member and render a decision. If the grievance is unresolved, you have two days from the date of the grievance conference to file a Step 2 grievance with the superintendent, so contact your district representative immediately. The superintendent then has three days to schedule and meet and four days to write a decision.
Health and Safety
Health and safety training for science teachers on June 8: This year, the UFT and the DOE are jointly hosting a full day of health and safety training especially for science teachers on Chancellor’s Day, Thursday, June 8. Please encourage science teachers in your school to attend what promises to be a day of useful professional development. This event will be held at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Topics include hazardous waste management and emergency response; laboratory chemical disposal procedures; and other issues concerning the handling of chemicals. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Register online. For more information, see the flier.
Use of personal equipment in classrooms: Chapter leaders should be aware of Chancellor’s Regulation A-850 regarding sustainability initiatives. Part of this regulation requires that schools remove nonessential personal equipment such as refrigerators, microwaves and personal fans from the classrooms. Custodians have been told to provide at least one location in the school where this equipment is available for use by the staff, with the leeway to decide what works best for their school building. Fans may be used to keep staff and students cool in classrooms where there is no air-conditioning. However, small desk fans for individual, personal use may face removal under the regulation.
Don’t miss open enrollment for Catastrophe Major Medical Plan: The Catastrophe Major Medical Plan, which is sponsored by our state affiliate, NYSUT, is coverage that supplements a basic health plan and prevents members from having to shoulder extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses during an emergency. While the plan has been closed to new participants since July 2011, NYSUT has announced a limited-time open-enrollment period from May 1 to June 15, with the coverage taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Coverage includes supplemental medical insurance coverage designed to help with the expenses not fully covered by your basic major medical, prescription drug or hospitalization insurance, including Medicare; limited nursing/convalescent home benefits; home health care benefits up to 25 hours per week; and other benefits. For more information and to enroll online, see the NYSUT Member Benefits website.
Information about World Trade Center Health Program: The UFT has important news for those who lived or worked below Canal Street at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center or for students who attended school there. The U.S. Department of Justice has revised the registration rules for victims of cancer and certain pulmonary illnesses to receive money from the Zadroga Victim Compensation Fund. The revisions open up an opportunity for those precluded under the original rules. You are eligible for compensation if you worked below Canal Street between Sept. 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, and have or in the future develop cancer or specific respiratory illnesses linked to the World Trade Center toxic dust. The UFT will help members attain proof of their work location, which is needed to file a claim. For more information, please download this flier. If you have any questions, please email the UFT at email@example.com.
Make your voice heard on the school-planning process: Each year with the help of chapter leaders, our grievance department proactively works to reduce oversize classes to contractual limits and pressures the Department of Education to address overcrowded schools. Our union has long advocated for a capital planning process for school construction based on the needs of neighborhoods. The City Council has announced the formation of a working group to address school planning, siting and overcrowding. This group, consisting of Council staff from the Land Use, Legislative, and Finance divisions, will document school planning and siting processes, identify challenges and develop a set of recommendations to address new school capacity. Most importantly, there’s an opportunity for chapter leaders and members to give input. The working group is soliciting feedback from educators on the school planning and siting process. This can include problems you see in the current projection of seat need, challenges in the siting process or recommendations for improving the planning and siting process in general. The working group is also interested in hearing about your experience with school planning, siting and/or overcrowding in your neighborhood. You can use this online comment form to offer feedback and recommendations to the Council working group.
Comment on state’s draft school-accountability plan: The state Board of Regents has released its draft plan for implementing in New York State the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal school accountability law that has replaced No Child Left Behind. New York officials say the draft plan puts a spotlight on equity by asking schools to report on access to resources, qualified teachers and advanced coursework — rather than just student outcomes. Public hearings will take place in Brooklyn on Tuesday, June 6 and in Queens on Saturday, June 10. You can also submit written comments to ESSAcomments@nysed.gov. See the news story in Chalkbeat for more details.
Comment on state’s revised state ELA and math standards: State officials have unveiled a revised set of ELA and math learning standards that will be voted on in June. These revisions build on a draft set of standards released in September. Educators have an opportunity to comment on the revised standards. You can find links to the standards and the online forms to submit comments on the New York State Education Department’s AimHighNY website.
New members should maintain careful records: Encourage new members in your school to carefully review and save the emails they receive from the DOE’s Department of Human Resources, which record all current information concerning an employee’s New York City license/appointment and New York State certification. Most important, members should check that the information is accurate. If not, they should follow the DOE’s instructions right away to correct any errors in the record.
Professional Learning Opportunities
Attend a National Board Certification information session: All educators are invited to attend an information session presented by the UFT Teacher Center and the New York City National Board for Professional Teaching Stanards support program to learn about the requirements for the advanced national teaching certificate; participation in rigorous professional development; supports and resources to assist candidates; and qualifications for a second salary differential. The meetings will be held on Wednesday, May 31, at the Queens UFT office, 97-77 Queens Blvd., Rego Park from 5 to 7 p.m. and Thursday, June 1, at the Bronx UFT office, 2500 Halsey St., from 4 to 6 p.m. For more information, see the flier.
AFT National Latino Caucus scholarships for high school seniors: The AFT National Latino Caucus, a strong advocate for our schools and students, is the sponsor of the annual Maria Portalatin National Freedom Scholarship, which awards three Hispanic high school seniors a $1,000 book stipend and a laptop to use in college. High school chapter leaders, please tell your members to encourage your school’s eligible seniors to apply for the scholarship. Applications must be postmarked by Saturday, June 17. All UFT members are invited to join the AFT National Latino Caucus to learn about Latin culture and history.
Teaching and Learning
Summer reading lists: The AFT’s Share My Lesson website has curated lists of summer reading to help students avoid the “summer slide” and re-energize an interest in literacy. Share My Lesson’s Pre-K-12 Guide to Summer Reading Lists is a guide to favorite books for students of all ages, abilities and interests. Kindred Spirits is two high school ELA teachers’ collection of high-interest fiction and non-fiction for adolescents. Teachers and librarians can use a summer reading presentation as a template for how to roll out summer reading to students, parents and educators. You can find many lessons and webinars on the 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 the Teachers’ Retirement System is not mandatory for paraprofessionals. Paras must contact TRS at 1-888-869-2877 and ask for an enrollment application. Substitute paraprofessionals may join the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) by calling 1-718-935-5400.
DeVos deflects query on voucher school quality: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declined to answer while testifying before a May 24 House subcommittee meeting on whether she would send her children to a low-performing Milwaukee voucher school, reports USA Today. Only two percent of the school’s students meet proficiency in English and none are proficient in math.When grilled about voucher school accountability,DeVos said that states would create plans under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Accountability measures governed by ESSA, however, apply only to public schools, not private schools.
CBO skeptical about Trump health care bill: The Congressional Budget Office on May 24 cautioned that President Donald Trump’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) will leave 23 million people uninsured by 2026, according to NPR. The CBO also found the AHCA could make obtaining health care coverage prohibitively expensive for sicker Americans because states could get waivers that allow insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions as well as opt out of basic services like mental health and prescription drugs. Medicaid, which serves low-income Americans, would face $884 billion in cuts under Trump’s plan.
Florida education bill links teacher pay to charter expansion: Florida’s Broward Teachers Union has urged Gov. Rick Scott to veto an education bill that would expand merit pay and charter schools, reports the Sun Sentinel. The $419 million bill would expand a controversial bonus pay program that would reward the “best and brightest” teachers with a $6,000 stipend as well as grant $140 million to charter schools to open in neighborhoods with struggling schools. According to the teachers union, if signed, this bill will relegate Florida to the state with the lowest funding for traditional public schools.
Wednesday, May 31: Teachers with one to three years of service are invited to “Classroom Management: Strategies and Techniques,” a workshop presented by the UFT Member Assistance Program, in collaboration with the UFT Teacher Center. This event will take place at the Staten Island UFT office, 4456 Amboy Road, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. CTLE hours will be given to teachers who hold professional certificates. To register online, see the event listing .
Wednesday, May 31: The Queens social workers and psychologists meeting will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Queens UFT office, 97-77 Queens Blvd., Rego Park. Light refreshments will be served. Register online.
Wednesday, May 31: Paraprofessionals are invited to “Resume Writing: Putting Your Best Foot Forward,” a resume writing workshop that will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Manhattan UFT office, 52 Broadway, 10th floor. Registration is limited. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Dolores Lozupone at 212-598-6800 or email DLozupon@uft.org. For more information and to register online, see the event listing.
Thursday, June 1: Teachers with one to three years of service are invited to “Getting it Done: Mastering the Art of Time Management and Achieving Your Goals,” a workshop presented by the UFT Member Assistance Program in collaboration with the UFT Teacher Center. This event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. CTLE hours will be given to teachers who hold professional certificates. Register online.
Thursday, June 1: Queens-based members are invited to a maternity workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Queens UFT Office, 97-77 Queens Blvd., 5th Floor, Rego Park. To register for the maternity workshop, participants must email Karla Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name, due date, file number, non-DOE email address, school, district and cell phone number. Participants will receive a confirmation email according to their due date. No significant others or guests are allowed into the workshop. The maternity workshops take place on a monthly basis. For more details, see the flier.
Save the date
Wednesday, June 14: The Delegate Assembly will be held from 4:15 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor.
Saturday, Sept. 9: The Labor Day Parade. Details will be available at a later date.
For more events, go to uft.org/calendar.