Sunday, July 16, 2023

Murdoch Cynical Right wing Media War on UFT position on Charters

 Here are 3 articles which we will address on Ed Notes - for reference only -- total bullshit.



The UFT’s cynical war on charters

The Teachers Union Chokepoint Against Charter Schools

The UFT sues to stop co-location for non-union charter schools.



The lengths that teachers unions will go to thwart anyone trying to give poor students a decent education continues to astonish. On Friday Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank will deal with the latest effort—the United Federation of Teachers’ lawsuit against New York City’s Department of Education. The UFT and its co-plaintiffs want to stop Success Academy from opening two new charter schools in buildings they would share with traditional public schools.


This arrangement is called co-location. In New York, it takes advantage of unused space and is the fastest way to stand up a charter for children who desperately need it. The UFT regards the co-location approval process as a chokepoint for blocking more charters. 

When Success Academy asked to intervene in the lawsuit, Justice Frank sided with the UFT in ruling that the charter-school network’s interests are irrelevant. The union charge is that, in approving these charters, the Education Department did not properly take into account the law mandating that public schools reduce class sizes. The upshot is the court will hear the UFT’s concerns but not Success Academy’s. It’s a perfect metaphor for New York’s twisted politics of education. 

Add sheer hypocrisy. The UFT opposes the two Success charters on grounds that they could lead to overcrowding. But where was the UFT’s concern for overcrowding when University Prep Middle School—a charter co-founded by the American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten—was given more space at its own co-location? As Success Academy noted in a Monday letter to Justice Frank, University Prep uses up a larger percentage of its building’s space than the proposed Success charters do. 

The greater absurdity is that the alleged concern for overcrowding comes as the total district school enrollment is projected to be under 800,000, reflecting a loss of more than 100,000 over the past 10 years. The other relevant fact is that most co-located public schools are district schools sharing with other district schools, not with charters.

A recent Stanford study confirmed that most charter schools “provide superior student gains despite enrolling a more challenging student population”—and Success Academy’s are among the highest performing. Let’s hope Justice Frank recognizes this suit for what it is: an outrageous effort to prevent mostly poor and minority kids from getting access to two schools that would rescue them from the usual New York failure factories.

NYC charter school parents rap teachers’ union for blocking space deal


Parents from a Queens charter school are urging a judge to hear them out in a lawsuit from a teachers’ union that would block their kids from sharing space in a public school building in Far Rockaway.

In its suit, the United Federation of Teachers cited a class-size law to invalidate the co-location of two Success Academy charters at public school buildings — one in Far Rockaway and the other in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

The teachers’ suit was filed against the city Department of Education and Schools Chancellor David Banks along with the Panel for Educational Policy, which approved the co-locations.

Manhattan state Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank rejected Success Academy and its parents from intervening in the UFT case to support the city’s action. 

Frank ruled the city could adequately represent Success Academy, since it approved the charter network’s co-location — and that Success Academy’s involvement would be “repetitive” and delay a resolution.

 “It’s outrageous, ridiculous. The UFT is working against the parents and the students. The teachers’ union is trying to push us out of Far Rockaway,” claimed Chanee Mitchell, whose daughter, Monay Bradley, is a fifth grader at the Success Academy Far Rockaway Middle School.

That middle school now shares space with its elementary school, and the Brian Piccolo Middle School and Village Academy, both traditional public schools.

Last fall, the Panel for Education approved co-locating the Success Academy middle school in Far Rockaway at the Waterside School For Leadership facility at 190 Beach 110th Street. 

The site houses both Waterside, a zoned district middle school for kids in grades 6-8, and Waterside Children’s Studio, a traditional elementary that won’t be in the building by fall, freeing up space for Success Academy’s Far Rockaway middle school.

SA Far Rockaway Middle School serves grades 5-7 and is expanding to grade 8 next year. But the current location won’t be big enough to accommodate an additional grade, Success Academy said.

“This is heartbreaking. We have a right to be heard. We are parents,” Mitchell said. “Where are our students going to go? There is nowhere else to go in Far Rockaway. They’ll have to travel far away to go to school.”

“I was very surprised by the UFT lawsuit. It’s an obstacle. I thought we were in the clear. We had a big celebration when the co-location was approved. We should all be fighting for our kids and not against each other,” Mitchell added.

The UFT was joined in the lawsuit by the Advocates for Justice Legal Foundation and four parents with children in traditional public schools in the building that would share space with SA Far Rockaway middle school. 

In court papers, UFT lawyer Dina Kolke said Success Academy, which has a “plethora of locations around the city, is more than capable of finding another temporary (or permanent) location” and that the DOE can also help them find alternate space.

Success Academy lawyer Jay Lefkowitz, in his appeal, said the charter school network has the right to defend its interests, noting Mayor Eric Adams has been “ambivalent” about expanding charter schools or finding them space.

The UFT has been accused of hypocrisy in the space wars involving charter schools.

The union didn’t balk when University Prep Middle School — a charter co-founded by Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers and former head of its local affiliate UFT — was granted more space in a city building last month.

The city’s Panel For Educational Policy voted 22–0 to allow the Weingarten charter to expand in a South Bronx building it shares with the Rapport School for Career Development HS serving special needs students, and the Academy Leadership Charter School.

The UFT represents the staff at University Prep.

By comparison, staff at Success Academy’s 49 charter schools are not members of the union.






Monday, July 10, 2023

New York Health Act amended to gain labor union support

New York Health Act amended to gain labor union support

By Kate Lisa New York State
PUBLISHED 7:41 PM ET Jul. 07, 2023 PUBLISHED 7:41 PM EDT Jul. 07, 2023

Lawmakers amended and reintroduced legislation Friday to create a statewide universal health care system after months of negotiations with labor union leaders concerned they would absorb a significant portion of the cost.

The measure, known as the New York Health Act, was changed to clarify state and municipal employees and out-of-state retirees would be entitled to New York Health benefits.

Sponsor Sen. Gustavo Rivera says technical changes were also made to ensure employers do not shoulder the entire cost, with public employers paying a minimum of 80% of the payroll tax breakdown and employees footing a maximum of 20%.

"It is made clear that that can always change, and that can also be negotiated," said Rivera, a Bronx Democrat.

Former Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who retired last year, first introduced the bill more than 30 years ago. It has yet to pass the full Legislature.

Some of the state's largest and most powerful labor unions, including 1199 SEIU, the New York State Nurses Association, Communications Workers of America, the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store union and others have long supported the proposal. New York State United Teachers and DC 37 — New York City's largest public employee union — backed the measure in the past, but have since rescinded it, fearing their members will forego quality of coverage secured in previous contract negotiations. 

"We are working on them," said Rivera, adding the bill should address their concerns. "...We put it out there so that [they] can read it... That it will be stated clearly and in statute that these are things that are going to be protected for you and everybody else."

Lawmakers in favor of the bill say they'll tout the changes to get more union support.

If it becomes law, a New York Health Act board would devise a plan to fuse retiree benefits with the new system within two years. The updated bill permits health care providers and the state health commissioner to declare an impasse in negotiations with the state — prompting the use of a mediator or separate board.

The proposal to establish a single-payer health system would also cover long-term care, which Rivera noted is not covered under any standing union contracts. The senator argues many people have medical debt after paying high health care premiums, co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-network costs, which show the current system is failing.

"And I'm going to ask everybody to take one step back and ask themselves: Does the current system work for you? Does it? Has it?" Rivera said Friday. "Has it worked for your family? Has it worked for your community? Has it worked for you individually? And the answer will be 'No.'"

But many argue the new model would cost the state hundreds of billions of dollars to implement, and limit choices where people access care.

"This would increase the burden on the state of New York by about $250 billion, or about a quarter of a trillion dollars annually, increasing our taxes in the state by at least probably another 100, if not 150% in year one," said Lev Ginsburg, executive director of the state conference of Blue Cross & Blue Shield plans.

In addition to cost concerns, Ginsburg says a state-operated universal health system would outlaw private insurance in the state and put thousands of New Yorkers out of work.

Lawmakers in support of the legislation argue a single-payer system would reduce current administrative and emergency care costs, and insurance companies are against the change because they benefit from the current system.

But Ginsburg formerly represented state business leaders who fear the system would negatively impact jobs and increase taxes. 

About a million New York adults, or about 1 in 6, lack health insurance, according to state health officials. Ginsburg said lawmakers could expand coverage to those New Yorkers through other, more fiscally responsible policy changes.

"There are many things that I think the government is capable of doing," he continued. "Getting involved in my health care is not one of the things that I think most New Yorkers really, really want."

The change stands to reduce property taxes across the state, Rivera said, because counties and localities shoulder significant Medicaid and health care insurance costs for county employees.

"This is less cost for those counties as well as a better system for every single New Yorker, regardless of where they live or who they are," the senator added.

Democrats pushing for the bill said they'll work the rest of the year to gain support of counties and local governments ahead of fighting for its passage next year.

Supporters also argue the U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not have universal health coverage for all citizens, and insurance companies making decisions in the current system do not care about people's health or well-being.

Even the Legislature passes the Health Act, it's doubtful Gov. Kathy Hochul would support transitioning to a single-payer system after she publicly denounced an effort to expand health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immgrants in the state, citing fiscal concerns. A recent state comptroller report showsthe state took in $6 billion less in tax revenue than expected.

"We will engage with the governor when it comes to it on how this bill should be implemented," Rivera said. "None of this stuff is easy. It would be transformational and revolutionary, but I believe it is necessary because again, health care is a human right."