This is Part 1 in our series of UFT Unity watering down member support initiatives.
UFT Solidarity and it’s sister organization, Don’t Tread on Educators (DTOE) have always placed the needs and concerns of employed probationary teachers and terminated probationary teachers (those who are discontinued from probationary service) at the forefront of policy and our bread-and-butter member support initiatives. Our members have spoken up at Panel for Education Policy meetings and eighteen months ago, approximately 20 discontinued teachers met with top UFT leadership to find out their fate.
After radio silence on the UFT’s position on what it can do to help discontinued members, on April 4th, a member of the Executive Board (Solidarity currently does not have members on the Executive Board) raised the following resolution. Please view the photo for the resolution proposed in from of the leadership:
Whereas, over 2000 Probationary Teachers have been discontinued over the last number of years, and
Whereas, many of these teachers were in schools with abusive, incompetent and in some cases corrupt principals and
Whereas, many of these teacher were discontinued receiving no support or mentoring, a clear violation of City and State Education Law, and
Whereas, some of these corrupt principals discontinued these teachers and hired friends or friends of relatives and
Whereas, New York State Law states that discontinued teachers should have the right to work in another NYC district or work under another license they may have, and
Whereas, the last administration under Mayor Bloomberg purposely prevented this from happening, and
Whereas, the present city administration, including Chancellor Farina, except in a few isolated case, has allowed this injustice to continue; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the UFT explore all legal avenues including a PERB complaint and any pertinent lawsuits to allow all teachers to be immediately cleared to work in other districts and not be prevented from working as per diem substitutes; and be it further
RESOLVED, that where the LIFT determines that corruption/incompetence existed that we demand the teachers be reinstated immediately and that the UFT seek to claim lost income for the time that the teachers were prevented from working.
Now, at the Ad Com meeting, Mulgrew’s followers had the opportunity to debate and discuss the proposal. Take a look at the modified proposal: Mulgrew’s caucus, Unity, has once again dropped the ball on having a chance to supporting a policy to defend and support the discontinued.
Filing a Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) has been notably removed from the modified proposal. UFT Unity has the power and right to file a class action style PERB suit on behalf of the thousands of discontinued against the DOE. Also noticeably missing is the connection of Carmen Farina to the continuing troubling trend of discontinuances. The UFT Leadership is far too eager to play fast and easy (on teachers’ expenses) with the Chancellor and Mayor; removing them from any accusations of wrong-doing or malfeasance.
Yet despite the watered down resolution, we are still surprised that Unity would carry a resolution regarding a group of educators who no longer pay union dues. This is the first time Unity has publicly recognized that there is a problem with administrators. This move is unprecedented but has invigorated this head of Solidarity’s Member Support Department, herself a formerly discontinued teacher.
The author of this blog post spoke to a member of the Board and demanded to know: “Well, that’s all?” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “This is the best we can do, Lydia.”
We refused to settle and be pessimistic; we will not “go along to get along.”
UFT Solidarity will hold Unity to it’s word of exploring “all avenues for these teachers.” From Solidarity, you can expect more rallies, more protests, more resolutions passed in support of probationary teachers. UFT Solidarity’s Member Support is inundated with cries for help from teachers threatened with a discontinuance or those who have already been terminated. While the reasons these teachers are arbitrary terminated differ slightly, all of their stories have common elements. They wanted to educate. They loved their jobs. Most importantly, they came across an administrator, who instead of fostering an environment of support, harassed and bullied them for various reasons. Many reasons relate to retaliation for whistleblowing on school based violations. For this reason we need tenure. We will not tolerate a school system void of “dignity and respect” (to use Chancellor Fariña’s words) and inundated with bullying and harassment. Clearly there are violations of the DOE’s “Respect for All” policy. We will not stand for workplace bullying.
In the meantime, here’s what you can do:
- Vote for UFT Solidarity (www.UFT2016.org) or encourage colleagues to vote for our caucus.
- Register for our Educators Empowerment Forum
- Email us your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Continue documenting the communication with DOE and UFT
- FOIL your principal and superintendent.
- Email names above and copy email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, GJaenicke@schools.nyc.gov, ESchlenoff@schools.nyc.gov, Krodi@schools.nyc.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org