Sunday, October 18, 2009

Email no.6

Hello, good afternoon,

I have let too many things accumulate, so I'll start with the easy stuff, and put the wordy stuff at the end.
Best regards,


It's always a problem you take on an administrative task and then have to chase teachers around to get them to do what you need to complete it. You might be getting per session or comp time to do this, but we ain't, and you're not our "boss."

No union member should be telling a fellow member to hand something in, get something done, or do something about anything. That's admin's job. If you run up against some delay, let admin do your dirty work and sort it out.



By accident or not, file both incident reports, with the DoE and the UFT.
This can especially happen at the elem. school level, where tantrums are a little more common than with older kids (though I did once watch a kid nearly ice himself when he put his hand through a glass door in anger and a stream of blood gushed out of his arm in an 8-ft arc.)
A good chart of forms, deadlines, and types of incidents can be found here on the UFT main site.



1. THE WAYS PRINCIPALS GET POINTS. Mulgrew told us that if 90% of the staff is logged onto ARIS, the principals get a bunch of points. They also get points if teachers participate on Inquiry Teams and for collaborating on the SLT. So, if principals are running around asking teachers to do things like this, you'll know why. Someone has said that their school is paying per sessin for being on this team, and if so, wonders if there should be a posting for these jobs. Yes.

2. Quality Reviews. The union wants to push back on Quality Reviews on the grounds that it has nothing to do with our jobs or our students. The only person affected by Quality Review is the principal, who wants to "chase the points." If you feel you have been pressured to participate in the QRs, the union wants you to send in your name, tel. no. and your school to Ross is setting up a task force on this.

3. SLTs. The UFT is pushing for fully functional School Leadership Teams, which are mostly . . . how can I say this nicely? . . . not.
In the old law, principals had final say on the budget, but the SLT had a final say on the CEP (Comprehensive Educational Plan).
That didn't work out well. In the new school governance law that took effect last August (and the DoE didn't tell anyone about), the CEP must be written first and the budget aligned to IT. The CEPs have to be done before the end of April, when the next budget comes in. The UFT is encouraging members to sign up for training sessions on SLTs and to bring the parents as well. (UFT website link on new law.)

There is also a blog I've just noticed, run by teacher Jim Calantjis. You can read his bio in the sidebar, but this caught my eye:

"I became an advocate for SLT empowerment in early 2004 as I saw that
the NYCDOE was not supporting the collaborative role of SLT's as
mandated by State law and Chancellor's Regulations. As a result,
SLT's were shut out of the budget process and Principals began to
dominate teams. Due to lack of training and lack of DOE committment,
most teams are not functioning today. My purpose is to support parents
and teachers on SLT's through this web site." Other than his stated
goal, I don't know anything more about this.

4. Political activity. The union wants to have a point person for every district who will be able to take the load of chapter leaders rounding up people for political action. It would be someone who can bring members in to the district office, talk to them about issues, and create software to sign people up. They say they want to create a "small army" - but I'm not sure of what. On the outside it might look like a political action structure, but on the inside a strategy for pulling people into UNITY caucus, which runs the union (to many of us undemocratically) and has to win the spring elections.

5. Losts of people are still saying they've ben asked to do individual student goals. This is wrong. The union wants to know about it.

6. The low NAEP scores indicate, according NYS Ed Commissioner of David Steiner: "Our tests aren't working." We knew that.
Merryl Tisch (head of the NYS Bd of Regents) is apparently adamant that what we're doing to kids is wrong. Nevertheless, we are the teachers of these kids and the union's position on the low scores is that DoE has not been allowing us to teach them the way we have to.

Also important: NAEP Math Results Hold Bad News for NCLB and NY's Testing Mess, by Diane Ravitch

7. The union is holding firm on ATRs: The DoE has to manage hiring better, it's not our fault. (See below what TJC has to say on ATRs.)

See more on the DA in the ICE blog.



We heard at one of the meetings this week that the governor is asking for midyear cuts to education of $239,000,000 ($170,000 per school). Actually the website says $223 million, so I don't know which figure is correct. We'll have another bad state budget next April and a bad one from the city in June. From the UFT website:
to tell them how these cuts would hurt our students.
In addition, you should have received a chapter leader alert e-mail
yesterday asking you to complete our online budget cut survey.
If you work in an elementary or middle school, take this survey.
If you work in a high school, take this version of the survey."

Also heard is that that principals are asking teachers to spend monies allocated for something else to help fund things unrelated to their programs. One teacher writes: "My principal has asked to use some of our pre-k funds to buy supplies for the art teacher. At another school the principal wants to use pre-k funds for kindergaten classrooms. Supplies are nill everywhere."
We should be aware of these kinds of requests and disorders and send them to the UFT (I don't know if that will do any good) or to the activists you know will follow up on or otherwise expose DoE irregularities.

DUES CHANGES: I can't find this onlin, but in the NY Teacher hardcopy, the dues were changed Sept 1, 09.
Per paycheck, to cite some categories:

Teachers $48.05
Guid. Couns 48.99
Psychologists/Soc. Workers 49.74
Ed. administrators 49.21
Secs 36.41
Lab spec. 40.79
Lab techs 35.13
Paras 24.03
Sign language interps 22.18



From the website of (a statewide coalition of parent, educator, business, community, and civil rights orgs in NYS opposed to excessive and high stakes exams) is concerned about the DoE's plans for instituting standardized testing K-grade 2. :

"The good news is that nothing was implemented at the start of this school year.
However, we remain quite worried about the future.
The DOE has indicated that it wants some kind of test in the early grades so
that it can use the scores to make evaluations about teachers and schools. If that
happens, there will likely be LOTS of test prep (at the expense of meaningful
learning) in our youngest children's classrooms as teachers and principals feel
pressure to raise test scores. Additionally, our children could be branded with
a score that in no way reflects their true talents and achievements." [You can
sign an online petition and pass on the link.]

Here's what one elem. school teacher circulated in a list-serv:
"We were "trained" to give this Pre-K test ... which we have to call an assessment ... today. They say 20 minutes per child, but everyone agreed it was going to take longer especially at first, that it was taking away from class teaching/interaction time, that at some point it was going to be used against the children and teachers and any good teacher could assess the same skills without having the official data. Some of the scoring is very subjective despite the guide we should use as our "bible." No regard is taken for the wide variety in children this age. Non-English speakers other than Spanish will be assessed at this time. So the Spanish ELL's and the English speakers will be "labeled" first. I could go on ... It makes me furious that we have come to this. It is the same with K-2."


Do you have a Charter School in your Public School building?

Discuss and strategize how to fight back.
Hear what educators and communities have done to organize.
Find out what is happening around the city.

Tuesday, October, 20 - 4:30 PM CUNY Graduate Center – Room 541
34th St. & 5th Ave. (1 train to 33rdSt. N,Q,R,W,F,V,B,D to 34th St.) - Bring ID

Will a charter school take over your public school's art, music, AIS, library or science rooms? You are not alone.
PRIVATE Charter Schools are pushing into more and more of our PUBLIC Schools.
Help build a grassroots movement of educators to mobilize against this takeover of public school space!




Posted here are 15 questions the Washington Post is asking the infamous chancellor of DC schools Michelle Rhee, who laid off 388 teachers and support staff early this month.

Part of the first question goes: "You terminated 248 teachers in June, while at the same time you hired 934. Then you laid off 229. Can you explain how this adds up?"

As I write this, the union seems to have jumped on board and are asking for a probe into the layoffs. Better late than never, but honestly, what does it need to wake these sleeping giants up?

Here's an extract of a letter that members of the Detroit teachers union sent around telling people to come to the membership meeting 10 days ago. Rob Bobb is the chancellor-type running the public schools, Johnson is the pres. of the teachers union.

AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten is a player, now that she's cut a few (but far from all) of her chains to NYC.
The red highlighting is mine.

. . . .We must fight back now, by taking back our union on October 8th.
For months, Keith Johnson has allowed Bobb’s propaganda offensive to go unopposed day after day. Instead of standing up for the DFT membership, and telling Detroit the truth about Bobb’s attacks, Johnson has acted as Bobb's lieutenant.
"Do it with us, not to us" has been Johnson's pathetic motto since that day last spring when he and [our girl] AFT President Randi Weingarten shared the stage with Bobb at Cobo Hall. In other words, instead of fighting for real improvements in schools, Johnson wants us to become willing participants in our own demise . . .

But DFT members don't have to accept this! . . .
The people of Detroit do not want their public schools turned into charters, or their teachers turned into at-will employees with no rights. They simply want the kind of resources and real school improvements that Detroit teachers have always demanded when we have fought back.
And Bobb is much weaker than he pretends. The truth is that he cannot proceed in his efforts without DFT complicity at the negotiating table, and without the illusion of popular support he hopes to obtain if he can lie and cheat his way to winning passage of Proposal S in November.
First, we must defeat any contract vote that involves either of the two main tactics currently being used against teachers in contract negotiations in other large US cities – (1) weakening of seniority and other related key contractual protections; (2) a divide-and-conquer agreement that destroys protections at some schools (variously called the “Superintendent’s schools,” “Centers of Excellence” or other such nonsense) in order to pave the way for destroying rights at all schools shortly thereafter.
“Reformers” such as Bobb and US Secretary of Education Duncan want to turn the teaching profession into a revolving door, where people work for two or three years and then burn out or get kicked out. Bobb and Duncan’s real priority isn’t educating students; it’s cutting public school budgets and converting education into a for-profit industry. Student success requires a stable workforce of dedicated, experienced, professional educators. Seniority must be defended!
The whole plan behind S is to open new schools that are run under the charter school model -- curriculum stripped of everything but rote learning and no electives, revolving door of teachers who have no rights, etc.. These “Superintendent’s Schools” or “Centers of Excellence” will get all the resources. The other schools will be run into the ground all the faster.


A great report on what's going on in NYC: Did Bloomberg Flunk?
It's by political scientist Brian d'Agostino, former teacher and CL.


How To Survive The Corrupt Investigation Process That The DOE Perpetrates On The Teacher

You can read this in full on Chaz's blog, but let me just quote you something he says about how principals can be "prone to ask leading or misdirected questions that lead to erroneous statements":

Principal: "Did the teacher threaten to hit you"?
Student: "No".
Principal": Did you think the teacher could hit you"?
Student: "Yes"
Principal: So you were scared that the teacher could hit you"?
Student: "I guess so".


TJC and ICE JOINT SLATE in the March UFT elections__,

ICE's full platform on:

For more information on becoming involved with the ICE/TJC slate, write:
This link for a flyer on ICE's main positions.

This is from TJC's latest flyer, which I'm sure you can access on their website later today, but not now as I'm preparing this.


More than 1,500 UFT members are now ATRs: second class union members whose professional rights are being violated every day. The DOE and the Mayor have worked hard to create this crisis. Without any justification, they stigmatized these colleagues as bad teachers, allowed principals to hire new, inexperienced teachers, trained new classes of "Teaching Fellows," and blocked a retirement incentive that would have opened up positions.

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