Chapter Leader Weekly Update, November 3rd 2017

This Week’s Focus

Flip your ballot and vote NO on Prop #1 on Election Day

Because there are no hotly contested races at the top of the ticket this year, we anticipate that overall voter turnout will be low on Election Day. That’s why it’s essential that every UFT member turns out to vote NO on Proposal #1. Also, take a moment this weekend to remind your friends and family in New York State to go to the polls on Nov. 7. The New York Timeseditorial board on Oct. 31 came out against a state constitutional convention, saying the risks are greater than the possible benefits. Read The New York Times editorial. In New York City, the following offices are also on Tuesday’s ballot: mayor, city comptroller, public advocate, the five borough presidents, all City Council seats and two district attorneys (Manhattan and Brooklyn). Check the full list of the union’s 2017 endorsed candidates on the UFT website to see whom the union is supporting in each race.

Donate a new toy for a deserving child

The UFT, in collaboration with the Coalition for the Homeless, is seeking your support to bring the joy of the holiday season to girls and boys who do not have a permanent home. Please join us by donating an unwrapped, brand-new toy for children — newborn to 16 years of age. Donations can be dropped off at a UFT borough office. We will accept donations until Wednesday, Dec. 6. For details, including who to contact in each borough office, see the Share in the Season of Joy flier.

Use our event hashtags when posting on social media during Teacher Union Day

We look forward this Sunday to celebrating the members and chapters that make the UFT a powerful voice for public education and working people. Please use the hashtags #TeacherUnionDay and #UnionProud when posting on Twitter and Instagram during the event. One of the highlights of this year’s celebration will be the presentation of the Charles Cogen Award, the highest honor the union gives to a member, to recently retired UFT Welfare Fund Executive Director Arthur Pepper. Pepper has held fast against any diminishment of members’ health care benefits in a challenging environment. This year’s event will also honor chapters, members and a school district that embraced the union’s #PublicSchoolProud campaign and made it their own by sharing photos and videos on social media, hosting events and engaging in activities that showcase the work of New York City public school students and educators. See the full list of honorees.

Your prescription drug benefits and the Express Scripts app

All eligible in-service UFT members and their dependents have prescription drug coverage through the UFT Welfare Fund. Read this Know Your Benefits column to learn more about the types of prescription drugs covered by the plan, the three-tier co-pay structure and specialty drugs. UFT members who use a smartphone can download the Express Scripts Mobile app at the app store. This application provides a host of services including refills and renewals and a section called Medicine Cabinet (to check interactions, claims and history, which is great for reviewing a past drug you have taken). Best of all, if you have forgotten your drug card, the app has a copy available by just tapping the Prescription ID Card.


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Your Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Take action Leaflet outside your school on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7: We thank all the chapter leaders who signed up to leaflet outside their schools, before or after the school day, on Monday, Nov. 6, and/or Tuesday, Nov. 7, to educate parents and passersby about the dangers of a constitutional convention. The UFT has joined with the state AFL-CIO as part of the coalition, New Yorkers against Corruption, to make a forceful, final-hour push to get out the NO vote on the constitutional convention. Please reach out to your borough’s political action coordinator if you need fliers. If you will be attending a professional development session at a different location on Election Day, you can pass out leaflets at any school you are near that day.
  • New Principals should allow members to attend Election Day SESIS webinar: All members who use SESIS to enter or who work with SESIS Encounter Attendance are invited to attend a one-hour webinar on Election Day to learn about the system enhancements that will go into effect on Nov. 13 (see SESIS item in Special Education below for details). Chapter leaders, please make sure your principal prioritizes the Encounter Attendance webinar for members who use this function.
  • New Drop off new winter coats for deserving kids at the DA: If you organized a coat drive at your school, you may drop off your chapter’s donations of new winter apparel for homeless students at the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, Nov. 8. Remember that we are only collecting NEW coats, hats, scarves, mittens, gloves and other winter accessories. The apparel that you and your members donate will be distributed at the union’s 4th annual Thanksgiving Holiday Feast for homeless students or delivered to homeless shelters throughout the city for those students in need of winter clothing. If you cannot bring your school’s donations to the Delegate Assembly, you can drop them off at your UFT borough office or at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 14th floor. The deadline to drop off donations is Thursday, Nov. 16. For questions, contact Mika Charles at For more information, see the How About Some Giving on Thanksgiving? flier.
  • 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 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 Welfare Fund, to discuss supplemental health benefits and more; the Pension Department to discuss pensions and tax-deferred annuities; a UFT certification specialist, to answer teachers’ certification questions; 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.
  •  Join a PROSE symposium on community building and civics: PROSE schools are invited to attend a half-day symposium on the crucial questions of community affecting every New York City public school. How do we educate students in action civics? How do we bridge the cultural gaps between students? What tools will foster creativity and make collaboration real? Three organizations — the Human Root, Generation Citizen and the Design Gym — will be present on Monday, Nov. 13, from 8 a.m. to noon, at UFT headquarters to help PROSE schools tackle these questions and offer solutions for building better schools for a better world. PROSE chapter leaders and principals can register online with their teams if they would like to attend.
  • New promotion process for some students with disabilities: New York City is transitioning to a new process for making promotion decisions for students with disabilities in grades 3 to 8 who participate in standard assessments. Going forward, the expectation is that most students with disabilities, when assessed using multiple measures, will be able to meet standard promotion criteria based on grade-level promotional benchmarks developed at the school level. Modified promotion criteria will still be available, but only for students whose rate of progress is very slow and who require significant modifications to participate in the general curriculum. For these students, progress toward meeting appropriately rigorous annual goals in literacy and math will replace the standards checklist as the method for making promotion decisions. No changes in promotional criteria should be made until all relevant school staff have been trained and provided a copy of the new policy and implementation calendar. Changes to promotion criteria under the new policy will be made at students’ next regularly scheduled IEP meeting (i.e., annual review, initial or re-evaluation). The only students for whom changes in promotion criteria should be considered prior to their next regularly scheduled IEP team meeting are those who currently have modified criteria but are actually meeting standard promotional benchmarks.
  • Make sure all new educators have joined the UFT: Some of your newest school staffers may not yet be enrolled as members of the UFT. With the looming threat of the anti-union Janus case, we need to sign up all new teachers and other employees in the UFT bargaining unit as quickly as possible; some new hires may not even be aware that they are not UFT members. To make the task easier, we have created a new agency-fee payer report for you as chapter leader to find out at a glance who is and who is not a union member in your school. Please encourage these staffers, known as “agency-fee payers,” to join. They can enroll online on the UFT website.
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