Sunday, November 15, 2009

Email No 8 from JW

Hello, good day.

While the UFT is sending around messages to the the chapter leaders to get people to fax Albany on the projected $223 million cuts to schools, and that vaccination clinics are open now to kids 4-24 and some other categories of adults, and how to pressure the city for more parking spaces, we've collected some other business below that actually affects your job.

But here's one topic they mention that I do feel is important, though their solution is as always gutless and anemic:

"Some principals are still requiring teachers to regularly create individual, written goals for each student. The new rubric for the quality review makes it clear this is not required. If this is occurring in your school, please e-mail
I'd follow this instruction anyway, just in case the UFT has the intention to actually do something about it. But don't hold your breath. How long ago was it that they started asking for exorbitant paperwork? They're still asking.


PS: Please forgive typos, I can't look at this anymore.



I've mentioned before that schools keep more than one educator "file." At a recent meeting, the dist. rep said that principals are printing out emails they've sent you and placed them in your files. That is a definite no-no, since you need to know what is in your file. Make sure to cull this stuff out every year.

The DR also said that files on your observations, LIFs, counselling memos, etc., and the file the Personnel Secty keeps for her financial records should be separate - since one's work history should not be accessed by anyone except the principal. The DR said that these two files are legal in the contract, but I do not see a clear picture of how many files are actually allowed in the contact.

In most of the articles, the implication is a single file (see Art. 2, for ex.). Many of the references in Art. 21.A. are to a single file, but see no.3 below: it's plural. To me it seems more of a grammatical mistake than a permission for the school to set up more than one file. Here are some examples from Art. 21.A., but there are way more references to this kind of teacher file.

3. Upon appropriate request by the teacher, he/she shall be permitted to examine his/her files.
4. The teacher shall be permitted to reproduce any material in his/her file.
5. Members may not grieve material in file, except that if accusations of corporal punishment or verbal abuse against a UFT-represented employee are found to be
unsubstantiated, all references to the allegations will be removed from the employee’s personnel file.
However, the teacher shall have the right to append a response to any letter. If disciplinary charges do not follow, the letter and response shall be removed from the file three years from the date the original material is placed in the file.

B.2.b. Counseling memos may not be referred to in, or attached to, any other letter sent to an employee for their official school file.

Other stipulated files:
Under Art. 15.C.7. there's an implied file for "per session" work.
Under Art. 18.A there's an implied file where they keep your job applications at schools you're trying to transfer to.
There's a "medical" file at the Medical Office downtown (Art. 21.K.4)

There is a sneaky little item later down in Art. 21. It clearly indicates they keep MULTIPLE files on you and that there are things called "departmental" files. I will write the UFT on this as I am pretty furious at the inconsistency.

H. False Accusations
. . . . If an accusation of sexual misconduct or physical abuse against an employee is found by the Board or Special Commissioner of Investigation to have been knowingly false when made, the Board will take the following actions to restore the falsely accused employee’s reputation: removing all references to the charges from the employee’s personnel file(s) and adding evidence of the unfounded nature of the charge to departmental files that may have to be maintained to satisfy other legal requirements, if any; . . .

Also: There are probably lots of AP files on you — they should never keep any in hard copy, but probably all do — as well as computer files (which the DR says you can't do anything about).



I heard at a district UFT meeting that some schools are not letting kids take the regents. The principal announced at one of them that certain kids should not be allowed to take the test because it "would cause them too much stress."

Or it might also show how that school, like many others, can't service kids properly under this chancellorship.



I just heard at the same meeting that when they brought over the International Teachers some years ago (at least six or seven, but still going in 2007 according to this UFT article), they made them waive their due-process rights.
PS: The UFT website still talks about Fulbrights for international teachers - not the same thing, obviously, but beware of the small print all the same.



Chanc. Reg C-601 says that for teaching staff -- if school starts at 8:40 and you arrive 8:43, you are "3 minutes absent."

Fractional absences are deducted like this:
"Other than fractional absence which has been approved at the discretion of the principal as non-attendance (e.g., transportation delay), personal business (e.g., the illness of a teacher’s child), or the personal illness of the employee, all fractional absences occasioned by late arrival must be recorded for possible payroll deduction. Fractional absence totaling 30 minutes or less during a school year will not result in an actual deduction from salary but will be recorded as a lateness. When the total is greater than 30 minutes within a school year, a salary deduction will result."

Note that you can have personal illness lateness accrue to 3 hrs and 20 min. before you're cut one day (3.g)

For non-teaching staff, the rule is somewhat different (see 4. in that same reg).



Marjorie Stamberg wrote on Oct. 30th:

"Today's New York Times has news, or at least informed speculation, on the UFT teachers contract which expires tomorrow. It reports what everyone's been saying — that the 4 percent increases were already negotiated last spring by Randi Weingarten in exchange for support on mayoral control. The DOE is complaining they couldn't get anywhere on what they see as three "roadblocks": seniority, tenure and uniform pay scales.
A key issue that we have to watch like a hawk is what happens to the ATRs. The Times quotes the head of the union-bashing "New Teacher Project" complaining that there appears to be "no savings on how much we spend on these teachers without jobs and no flexibility."
We need to make clear that any attempt to put a time limit on ATRs, such as they have in Chicago with disastrous results, is completely unacceptable.
Last year's demonstration at Tweed is a key reason why the DOE was forced to step back on its constant teacher-bashing and vilification of ATRs. Action by the ranks was important in getting UFT officialdom to try to deal with the problem they helped created in the first place by giving up seniority transfers and agreeing to principal control of hiring and the phony "open market" -- key elements of the corporate agenda for "education reform."

I wrote her some thoughts on this, which I'll put in here as well:

I have heard nothing different from the people at the UFT than what they've been saying all along. They are still defending ATRs and claim that it is the DoE mismanagement that has created the ATR situation and doesn't work towards resolution.
I do not think it's mismanagement at all. I think it's pure design to bust the unions and pave the way for corporate education.
I do not get the feeling the UFT will back off on their ATR position or settle on anything less than what they've agreed to already — which has been and continues to be weak and passive. They "allow" the DoE to stick it to the ATRs for sure. But I don't think they will allow them to can ATRs, because every teacher in the system is a potential ATR. All the DoE has to do is close down any school they want and reduce 50% of the teacher force to ATR. That would be the demise of the profession, incrementally of course.
The present contract has the wording for the voluntary buyout. The DoE is not offered such a buyout yet, maybe it will. I get the feeling it is in their interest to allow this fester with no voluntary buyout so that the numbers of ATRs stays high and unresolved until the new contract is negotiated. Why would they do anything to fix this situation, when it works so well for them in trying to get rid of senior salaries.
People I talk to think this contract will not be the problem, but the next one. As I understand it, the DoE will have to do some political work in Albany to kill tenure before they can force ATRs out of the system. (The buyout is in this contract voluntary, as you know. If they ever offered one, the ATR wouldn't have to take it.) I've been told that in places where they put time limits on ATRs (like Chicago), there are no state tenure laws. That seems to me a big difference in how fast they can make their change happen.
Another small point: I am also hearing of chapter leaders and delegates being ATRs. I can't see the UFT taking a position that forces their own infrastructure out of the system.

I know people have different opinions on this, but until it all plays out, conjecture is all there is. Of course, my legal buddies might find some errors in the above thinking, and if they do, I'll circulate their comments in the next email.



A Gotham Schools post that Bd of Regents Chancelllor Merryl Tisch has been saying things like "charter schools need to branch out to serve more struggling high school students, English-language learners and special education students."
Why charters? Why not BloomKlein giving the rest of us the means to help these kids?

Honestly, none of them can be trusted with children.



Dan Brown asks Why does the NY Times attack teachers? (from the Huffington Post)

"If you don't know students personally and know nothing about classroom life, it's a lot easier to advocate the Times simplistic strategy: cut all teachers out and let self-proclaimed "reformers" impose testing regimes designed to churn out stats, not to support children's diverse needs. We need the New York Times to be better than this. "

À propos, see also the Public Editor's apologist remarks (sort of, anyway) for the disgraceful way the paper covered the Bloomberg win. For those who can't access it online, this excerpt:
"On the morning after the election, while reporting that New York’s political establishment was startled by Michael Bloomberg’s victory margin of less than five points, the paper published a revealing insiders’ account of his campaign that told a more complicated story.

"The article described how Bloomberg operatives sold “inevitability” while secretly fretting over private polls showing “alarmingly low” numbers. It included accounts of how the campaign strong-armed one potentially difficult foe out of the race and pressured the White House to keep President Obama from helping Thompson, the Democratic nominee.

"Some readers were incensed that they did not get such details before the election. Scott Kolber of Brooklyn said the information “might have made a difference to voters.” Abby Levine of Manhattan said he suspected an ulterior motive, given how unflattering the article was to Bloomberg, whom The Times endorsed.

"Did The Times withhold crucial information? Did it swallow what its own day-after-election article described as the Bloomberg campaign’s “charade”? Did it pay too much attention to polls showing a huge gap between a well-known incumbent and a little-known opponent? Did it fail to pay enough attention to signs within the same polls that many voters were weary of Bloomberg, offended by his campaign spending and his effort to change the law so he could seek a third term?



In their recent posts, we learn that people are paying fines to get out of the rubber room (nothing new) and that checks our being made out to District 65 (new and weird). Seems like another frightening aspect of BloomKlein will now start to unravel.


Ednotes on the kind of twisted stuff that can get you into the rubber room in the first place



The New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYPLI) group FOILed the DoE for what info they have on how much caulk there is in NYC school buildings containing dangerous levels of PCBs. More than 50 parts/million means a danger of risk of injury or health, and removal of contaminated caulk is required by law. The NYPLI has joined with Bronx parents to form the Coalition for PCB-Free Schools, whose goal it is to push for PCB-free learning schools city wide. Contact info: Sr. Staff Attny Amiranda Massie at

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