This Week’s Focus
City sets policy to protect immigrant students
With a federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants spreading fear among New York City’s immigrant communities, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on March 21 that schools will bar entry to immigration agents unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. De Blasio announced the policy as part of an expansion of immigrant guidance and supports for public schools and families. “The urgency we all feel is because the policies emanating from Washington violate our values,” he said at a press conference. “Our school system has a particular responsibility not only to educate our children, but to protect them.” While stressing that no immigration agent has tried to enter a city school to date, De Blasio detailed the new DOE protocol for handling such an incident. Read the full story on the UFT website. Read the DOE’s guidance for principals.
Tell state Senators Golden, Lanza and Felder our public schools need their support
Senate Republicans voted on March 15 in support of a one-house budget resolution that would eliminate the cap on charter schools and send millions of taxpayer dollars to charter coffers at the expense of public schools. Their budget resolution did not include a single measure to hold charter schools accountable or require them to accept and keep all children. We are fighting to make sure these Senate budget proposals do not become part of the final state budget, which is due on April 1. Chapter leaders who have members who live or work on Staten Island or in the Brooklyn Senate districts of Marty Golden and Simcha Felder are encouraged to ask these members to call their state senators next week and tell them public schools — not wealthy charter chains — need their support. To learn more and to find the phone numbers to call, go to the union’s campaign page.
UFT makes case for Teacher’s Choice and other key initiatives at city budget hearing
The UFT urged Council members at a March 21 hearing on the city’s preliminary budget to put additional money in the budget to support the programs that help teachers help students: Community Learning Schools, the Positive Learning Collaborative, BRAVE, Dial-a-Teacher and Teacher’s Choice. Placing the union’s requests in context, UFT Vice President for Special Education Carmen Alvarez broke down how the federal education budget cuts and the New York State Senate’s harmful budget proposals made the City Council’s budget allocations critical. A $20 million increase in Teacher’s Choice, which the Council has supported for more than 25 years, topped the union’s list of requests. “When I was a teacher, a week didn’t go by without having to buy something for my students,” Alvarez testified. “On average, our members spend upwards of $500 a year on supplies; some tell us they spend $1,000 or more.” Alvarez also appealed for $1.5 million in additional funding for the union’s 28 Community Learning Schools and $750,000 for the Positive Learning Collaborative, a joint DOE-UFT initiative which provides schoolwide training in strategies that avert or defuse behavioral crises in the classroom. Read the full testimony on the UFT website.
Guidance for departmentalization in elementary schools
Many elementary school chapter leaders have reached out with questions and concerns about the procedures for departmentalization in their schools. In response, the UFT filed a union-initiated grievance to ensure that all schools were following the contract. To settle the arbitration case, the Department of Education has agreed to specific terms and conditions for departmentalization. Effective immediately, grades K-3 are not to be departmentalized unless a school properly ratifies and approves a school-based option (SBO). Schools that wish to departmentalize English Language Arts and/or math only in grades 4, 5 and/or 6 may do so only by posting an ELA and/or math position to teach these subjects for a particular grade or grades. All postings must be done in accordance with the contract. Any other departmentalization in these grades requires a properly ratified and approved SBO. Decisions about departmentalization must be made prior to teachers filling out preference sheets so that teachers are aware of the options to be chosen from. Like all other SBOs, an SBO on departmentalization must have the support of both the principal and the chapter leader, and an SBO cannot be adopted unless 55 percent of the UFT members who actually vote — not 55 percent of all members at the school — vote to support it. See the SBO manual for details. The DOE has sent the same information to principals in this week’s Principals’ Weekly. If you have any questions, please contact your UFT district representative.
Salary & Personnel
Apply for summer school positions now: Let members know that the summer school application is available on the DOE website. Before beginning the application, everyone must register as a new user, even if they have previously registered as an applicant for the Summer School Instructional Program. Members should claim retention rights if they are entitled to them. If someone believes they are being improperly denied retention rights, use the “Contact Us” form on the left column of the Summer School Instructional Program website and email Michael Sill at Msill@uft.org. The deadline for applying for summer school is Tuesday, April 25. Please remind members that if they edit their application after they have submitted it, the date of the application is reset. So, if members edit their application after the April 25 deadline, the application will be marked late.
Direct Deposit for per diems and for per-session work: Be sure per-diem employees know they are eligible to enroll in direct deposit. In addition, all Q-bank employees who participate in direct deposit must enroll separately for their per-session payroll. All DOE payroll memoranda can be found on the DOE’s Payroll Portal.
Encourage members to apply for teacher leadership positions for the 2016–17 school year: Tell your members that the application for teacher leadership positions is now available online. Tenured, full-time teachers are eligible to apply if they were rated Effective or Highly Effective last year. The available positions are Model Teacher, Peer Collaborative Teacher and Master Teacher. These are great opportunities, even if your school does not currently have teacher leadership roles. Read more about Teacher Career Pathways on the DOE website. Successful applicants can be screened and placed in an eligible pool, which allows them to potentially transfer into a teacher leadership position in another school, either this summer or in the future. The UFT believes in teacher leadership. We believe that teachers have the knowledge and expertise to positively shape our profession. Please encourage your members to apply for these positions.
Members on leave must contact the DOE: Reach out to your members who are currently on leave and let them know that starting the first week of April, they must use the Self-Service Online Leave Application System (SOLAS) for the annual intention-notification process to inform the DOE of their intention to return to work, retire, resign, extend current leave or apply for a new leave for the 2017–18 school year. The DOE notified all members who are currently on leave of this process, which was instituted two years ago. They should receive an additional email from the DOE in April instructing them to log into SOLAS and notify the DOE of their annual leave intention for the 2017–18 school year. The deadline to use SOLAS to complete the annual intention-notification process is May 15. Members who fail to notify the DOE by May 15 will be deemed to have voluntarily resigned.
Members should keep track of observations: At this point in the school year, teachers should have had approximately half of the observations indicated on their Measures of Teacher Practice (MOTP) Observation Option Selection Form. Encourage members to speak with their supervisor if they believe they are behind.
Trump’s budget guts public school funding: On March 16, Donald Trump took the first step to gut funding for our public schools and divert it to charter schools and private and religious schools. In the budget blueprint he released, he proposes deep cuts to education programs that help disadvantaged students, including reducing or eliminating funding for teacher training, after-school and summer-enrichment programs and aid to low-income college students. The president’s plan calls for the “cancellation” of $3.9 billion in reserves for Pell grants, which help low-income students pay for college. New York City’s public schools could lose as much as $140 million in federal funding under Trump’s budget proposal. While punishing our neighborhood public schools, the president found $1.4 billion to fulfill his education campaign promise: Expanding charter schools, private-school vouchers and other alternatives to traditional public schools. The president’s blueprint is the opening salvo in what will be a lengthy process as the U.S. Congress hashes out a final budget. Urge your members to join the #PublicSchoolProud campaign and be part of the fight for our public schools in the weeks and months ahead.
Learn the facts about private school vouchers: President Donald Trump is intent on shifting funding from public schools to private, parochial and charter schools through vouchers or backdoor vouchers in the form of tax credits. Learn the facts about vouchers and talk to your members about the issue. Read this Q&A on Vouchers from the New York Teacher and this AFT fact sheet called “Private School Vouchers Don’t Help Kids.” And watch the two-minute video “The ugly racial history of private school vouchers” on the UFT website.
Health and Safety
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.
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 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 can’t resolve the issue through consultation, use this online form to ask your UFT district representative for assistance or file a special education complaint. This Know Your Rights column in the New York Teacher focuses on special education issues.
New Member Handbook available online: New members should be aware that the New Member Handbook is available on the UFT website to help them navigate the beginning years of their careers. This guide provides important information about salary, benefits, professional growth and the ways the union is available to assist them.
Help with funding classroom projects: Encourage new teachers to explore innovative ideas for classroom projects and let them know about the many funding options available to them. The UFT has scoured the internet and other sources for grants, awards and free things available to New York City public school educators. Teachers looking for resources for classroom projects can find them in the funding classroom projects section of the UFT website.
English Language Leaners
Guidance for 2017 NYSESLAT accommodations: Make sure that educators of English language learners in your school know that the state Education Department has released guidance that changes the allowable accommodations for students with IEPs or 504s taking the NYSESLAT. Effective immediately, if a student is permitted to have tests read to him or her on other standardized tests, that student will also be permitted to have the reading section of the NYSESLAT read aloud. For more information, read the NYSED memo.
Learn how to use the ELL Data Analysis Tool: Teachers of English language learners are invited to the workshop “Making the Most of EDAT.” This workshop will take place on Thursday, March 30 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, Shanker Hall. Participants will learn to use the English Language Learner Data Analysis Tool (EDAT) to analyze student characteristics, performance and progress, attendance and credit accumulation. Light refreshments will be provided. Register online as soon as possible as space is limited. For more information, see the flier.
Professional Learning Opportunities
Register now for the Spring Education Conference: The UFT Spring Education Conference celebrates, supports and inspires our work as public school educators. This year’s conference will be held on Saturday, May 13 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the New York Hilton Hotel, 1335 Avenue of the Americas at 53rd Street. There will be a morning town hall, breakfast, exhibits and a gala luncheon. The Rev. William Barber, the president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Mondays civil rights protest, will receive the John Dewey Award. We hope you’ll join us this year for great workshops on topics such as creating safe spaces at schools and building restorative practices. Participants will earn CTLE hours for attending the workshops. See the full list of workshop choices. The registration fee is $50. Register online to reserve your seat and follow up by mailing a copy of your registration form along with a check. If you are part of a school leadership team, funds allocated to your team may cover conference fees. To apply for these funds, fill in this special mail-in coupon for school leadership team members and fax it along with a DOE purchase order.
Registration is open for spring high school workshops: High school educators can take advantage of spring workshops to develop professionally and earn CTLE hours. All workshops will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Some of these workshops are open to middle school teachers. Here is a list of workshops from which to choose. Participants can register online or download the mail-in coupon.
Teaching and Learning
Lessons about César Chávez Day : The AFT’s Share My Lesson website has curated lesson plans and class activities to celebrate the life and legacy of the civil rights and labor activist César Chávez. K-12 educators can use the César Chávez toolkit for step-by-step guidance from the National Park Service to enable them to design, implement, and deliver interesting and informative lessons about the life and work of César Chávez. Middle and high school teachers can use the Anti-Defamation League’s Who Was César Chávez? to discuss strategies he used to create change for the migrant farm workers in the 1960s and 1970s and to analyze and reflect on modern-day civil rights and labor struggles. You can find many more lessons and webinars on the Share My Lesson website.
District 75 annual scholarship dinner: The District 75 annual scholarship dinner will be held on Thursday, May 18 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Vanderbilt at South Beach, 300 Father Capodanno Blvd. on Staten Island. Tickets cost $90 and include a cocktail hour, dinner, dancing and open bar. The deadline to purchase tickets is Thursday, May 4. For a list of award recipients and to download the mail-in ticket coupon, see the flier.
BRAVE student video contest: Do you know a school that is doing something awesome to promote acceptance, tolerance and respect for all students? Tell students from the school to enter the BRAVE video contest! As part of its campaign to Build Respect, Acceptance and Voice through Education, the UFT’s BRAVE program is holding a video contest to highlight the efforts made by schools to create environments free of discrimination and harassment. The contest is open to all students, who are invited to submit a 3-5 minute video that conveys the contest theme. For contest requirements and submission information, see the flier. All video submissions must be received by Tuesday, April 4.
Passover Labor Seder on March 28: The Jewish Labor Committee, Educators’ Chapter and the UFT Jewish Heritage Committee, in collaboration with the Workmen’s Circle, invite all members to celebrate Passover through the eyes of the labor movement at their annual Labor Seder on Tuesday, March 28. A traditional kosher Passover dinner will be served at this event, which will be held at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $36 for adults and $15 for children. For more information, see the flier. Registration is closed.
1 in 4 workers have virtually nothing saved for retirement: A new study reveals almost one-quarter of families have less than $1,000 saved for retirement and nearly half have less than $25,000, according to CNN Money. Most workers who reported less than $1,000 in savings don’t have access to a retirement account like a 401(k) at work. To reverse the trend, some states are looking to offer retirement accounts that automatically deduct money from workers’ paychecks, but these programs could be held up if Congress rolls back an Obama-era rule that paved the way for these state-sponsored programs.
Democratic senator queries DeVos on appointees: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is asking U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to explain her hiring of two officials with ties to the for-profit college industry, reports the Boston Globe. The hiring of Robert Eitel and Taylor Hansen, both executives at for-profit colleges, comes as the Trump administration and congressional Republicans have promised to roll back an Obama-era regulation withholding federal financial aid from institutions whose graduates are unable to earn enough to repay their student loans. Shares of for-profit colleges have soared as Wall Street anticipates the weakening of federal rules and oversight of the for-profit education industry.
GOP helps employers hide workplace injuries: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has had a long-standing policy ensuring the accurate reporting and recordkeeping for workplace injuries that the Obama administration fortified by ruling that large employers in dangerous industries be required to keep injury records for five years. Following a House repeal of this regulation, the Republicans in the Senate voted on March 22 to do away with the Obama rule, reports the Huffington Post. The vote effectively chops the length of time that employers in dangerous industries are required to keep injury records to just six months. Former OSHA officials voiced concerns that the truncated timeframe doesn’t provide sufficient time for the agency to identify hazardous workplace conditions with particular employers or industries.
Saturday, May 6: The UFT Middle School Division’s 4th annual 5K Run/Walk will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at MCU Park in Coney Island. For more information and to download a mail-in registration form, see the event listing.
Saturday, May 13: The UFT Spring Education Conference will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the New York Hilton Hotel, 1335 Avenue of the Americas at 53rd Street. For more information, see the item in Professional Learning.
Saturday, March 25: The 2nd annual Men in Education symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. For more information, see the event listing.
Tuesday, March 28: The UFT Labor Seder will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor. See the item in Opportunities for more information.
Tuesday, March 28: All members are invited to “The Aging Eye: Understanding Changes in Vision,” a lecture hosted by the UFT Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series and presented by Douglas Lazzaro, M.D. Participants will learn the signs, symptoms and treatments for common age-related eye diseases and conditions. This event will take place at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor, room G from 5:30 to 7 p.m. For more information, see the event listing.
Wednesday, March 29: The lab specialist chapter meeting will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway.
Wednesday, March 29: The UFT Member Assistance Program and the UFT Teacher Center invite members with 1 to 3 years of experience to “New Teacher Support and Information Group: End of Term Procedures,” a professional learning opportunity to gain knowledge about the union, benefits and profession. Refreshments will be served. This event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Wednesday, March 29: Paraprofessionals are invited to “Paraprofessionals Maximizing Success of Students with IEPs,” a workshop to discuss and provide examples of what paraprofessionals should know and do to help maximize the success of students with IEPs. The workshop will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. A $10 fee is required to participate. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Wednesday, March 29: The speech chapter executive board and general membership monthly meeting will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, room 19G. We will discuss important updates and other pertinent information concerning our chapter. To register, see the event listing.
Wednesday, March 29: The school nurse general membership meeting will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 50 Broadway, 2nd floor, rooms E and F. Light refreshments will be served. To register online, see the event listing.
Wednesday, March 29: The education officers and analyst chapter meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Brooklyn UFT office, 335 Adams Street. Refreshments will be served. RSVP by emailing Emma Mendez at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, see the event listing.
Thursday, March 30: Manhattan-based members are invited to Public Advocate Letitia James and Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer’s “Bystander Intervention Training” from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Manhattan UFT office, 52 Broadway, 10th floor, conference rooms A and B. If you have any questions, call Briget Rein at 212-598-6800. Light refreshments will be served. For more information and to register online, see the event listing.
Thursday, March 30: All teachers are invited to attend the workshop “Using Assessment in Instruction (Component 3D),” from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Workshop participants will become familiar with innovative and engaging student-centered assessment strategies. They will explore methods of checking for understanding designed to both challenge students as well as meet their learning targets. Additional topics to be discussed include: student-friendly rubrics, providing quality feedback and developing methods of student self-assessment. A $10 fee is required to participate. For more information and to register online, see the event listing.
Friday, March 31: Bronx-based guidance counselors are invited to a borough-wide UFT college fair for high school students, parents and counselors. This event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bronx UFT office, 2500 Halsey Street. Admissions recruiters from more than 100 colleges and universities will be on hand to meet with students applying to post-secondary institutions in the fall of the 2018–19 school year. Workshop topics include the admissions process, applying for scholarships, financial aid and resources for undocumented students. For more information and to register, see the event listing.
Save the date
Friday, April 28: The 2017 Academic High Schools Celebration will take place at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Join the Academic High School division as it honors the heroes of our school communities for their commitment to our students, our profession and our union. Doors open at 4 p.m. and the awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. There will be a dessert reception after the ceremony. Register online on the UFT website. More details to come.
For more events, go to uft.org/calendar.
The 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.
English Language Arts
Hellenic-American Educators Association
NYC Association of Foreign Language Teachers
NYC Music Teachers Association/UFT
NYC Art Teachers Association