Saturday, February 02, 2008

UFT Weekly Update -- February 1, 2008

Please pitch in to help Hillary Clinton as Tuesday primary looms

As the primary campaign approaches its “Super Duper Tuesday” climax, there are still opportunities for you to help put AFT/UFT-endorsed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over the top. Please come to the special Saturday Phone Bank for Hillary at 52 Broadway on the 10th Floor, from noon till 6 p.m.; you can join UFT President Randi Weingarten, Geraldine Ferraro, Liz Holtzman and others making phone calls to our members at about 3 p.m. We need volunteers! Or, join the Hillary Clinton Rally in Union Square at 1 p.m. on Saturday. We'll meet at the subway kiosk in the southwest corner of the park. Finally, our borough offices will have their last day of phone banks on Primary Day eve, Monday, Feb. 4. Call them for times and details. If you can help on Feb. 5, please contact Jason Goldman in the Political Action Department at 212-598-7742. And don’t forget to vote!

Need information to convince those fence-straddlers that Hillary’s the right choice for union members and America? This summary of her stands on key issues should help. Here’s a look at what your ballot may look like.

UFT fights midyear budget cut to schools
On Jan. 30, the DOE e-mailed a letter to each of the city’s principals announcing an immediate 1.75% across-the-board midyear reduction citywide in school budgets. The UFT has reached out to labor unions, parents and community groups to coalesce around fighting these cuts and demanding that the DOE find other ways to reduce costs. “The cuts are bad enough on their own, but the timing here only makes things worse,” said Weingarten at a press conference on the City Hall steps on Jan. 31. “We are stepping up to fight these cuts in the absence of an independent board and independent chancellor. The public school children need champions to intervene and protect them.” Read the full story on the UFT Web site.

Help grow our union member by member
All agency fee payers recently received a letter from Randi Weingarten inviting them to join the union. Please follow up those letters by speaking personally with agency fee payers in your building about the benefits of union membership. We are especially eager to make sure that all our newest members enroll in the UFT. Please consult your DR if you have questions about the membership status of a particular person in your building.

Next school governance forum Thursday in the Bronx

This Thursday is the next in a series of forums in each borough to allow stakeholders in the city’s public education system to evaluate the present school governance system and make recommendations for future governance before the 2009 sunset of mayoral control of city schools. The UFT’s nonpartisan task force invites you to sign up to speak and add your voice to the discussion. Find a date and location that fits your schedule at

Safety requires written student removal plans

There are many safety items for which every school needs to have clear plans understandable by all. Two examples are fire drills and student removal. These plans are required by state and local laws as well as Chancellor’s regulations. For example, all schools are aware that they are required to have written fire drill procedures and to practice the drill many times a year. Those procedures must be specific to the school, so that, for instance, every class and staff member has a designated emergency exit, and every staff member knows which one it is and where to go and what to do in the event of a fire. Similarly, if a student needs to be removed from a class, the staff must know specifically how to proceed, including whom to call and where to send the student. Unfortunately, in a survey of our chapter leaders, more than 300 chapter leaders reported that they do not have a student removal process in their school.

As part of our “Safe Secure Schools” Campaign, we are asking you to request from your principal your school’s specific written student removal procedures and when the staff will receive training in those procedures. If your school does not have specific procedures for student removal, request an immediate meeting with the principal and safety committee to develop a plan and train the staff. If the principal refuses, file a Step One grievance (online) under Articles 20 and 22 stating that the school does not have the requisite procedures. Contact your district representative if you have any questions or if you need any assistance. We are asking that you complete this process by Feb. 15.

The DOE gave clear guidance regarding student removals to principals in the Principal’s Weekly. Please reprint this for your meeting with your principal if your school is not following the regulations.

And on don’t miss:
UFT and principals’ union join in opposing $100 million in new school budget cuts

Facing the new challenges

President Bush delivers final State of the Union address

To Do:
Principals are now able to access the new excessing lists through the DOE’s intranet. Chapter leaders should speak with their principals and request copies of the lists so that they can be shared with the staff. Principals are required to provide the excessing lists to the chapter leaders.
National School Counseling Week is Feb. 4 to 8. This year’s theme is “School Counselors: Creating Pathways to Success.” Why not take this opportunity to find a way to publicly thank your guidance counselors for all the work they do to help teachers and students?
Have your members shared their views on the UFT’s Grapevine, letting prospective teachers know the virtues (and/or vices) of your school? The Open Market Transfer period will be coming up before you know it, in April, and now may be the time to review those comments and update them if necessary. Encourage members who haven’t participated before to add their views, so potential colleagues can make informed decisions before transferring.
Don’t forget to encourage your members to contribute to COPE. Your COPE packets included a list of who in your school contributes to COPE and who doesn’t, COPE enrollment forms, a list of registered voters and non-registered voters, and voter registration forms. Make sure you personally reach out to each member in your school, and be sure to send in all the completed COPE cards in the self-addressed stamped envelope enclosed in your packet. If for any reason you need additional COPE brochures, COPE cards or voter registration forms, please call 212-598-7747.
For your information:

UFT Charter School openings: The UFT Secondary Charter School needs teachers, guidance counselors, and a para. Openings include art, music, ELA, social studies, special ed, science, and math. Applications must be received by March 30.

Environmental Health and Safety link: Now linkable from the home page of under the heading “Resources for UFT Members,” our revamped Environmental Health and Safety Department Web section provides information and contacts for workshops, programs and training to avoid hazards and ensure your right to a safe and healthy workplace. It offers such links as information on Injury in the Line of Duty, Workers’ Compensation, Building and Environmental Health, and Smoking Cessation.

DA resolutions now online: Couldn’t get to the last Delegate Assembly? You can now find online all the resolutions passed at the DAs. On the home page of, click on the “News and Issues” box to find “DA Resolutions.”

Home-buying opportunities: Here’s another opportunity to sign up for a home-buying seminar for those looking to buy or rent a house, co-op or condo. Jointly sponsored by the UFT, ACORN and the city, the seminars, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., held in each borough, introduce members to the spectrum of offerings. After the session, each member is assigned a loan counselor who gives one-on-one support. Seminars and counseling are both free. Pre-registration is required. To register for a seminar, call 718-246-8080 and identify yourself as a UFT member.

New Teacher Handbook: The latest edition of the New Teacher Handbook is now online with a new look. Easy to use and full of information useful not only for new but also veteran teachers, it features clear explanations and handy links to forms, services and further information. It’s accessible on the [] home page, under “Resources for UFT Members.”

When “Donors Choose,” your students win: Have a great idea for a project, but no way to fund it? The nonprofit organization Donors Choose may be able to fund your proposal for materials or experiences your students need to learn, from donors who read about your proposal on the Web. The Donors Choose Web site has the details needed to get started.

New child abuse reporting requirements: There has been a recent change in state law that affects all mandated reporters of suspected child abuse or maltreatment. All pedagogical and non-pedagogical staff in a school who have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or maltreatment are now required to file a report with to the State Central Register personally. Call the SCR at 1-800-635-1522 or 311 to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. Include the name, title and contact information for every staff person in the school who is believed to have direct knowledge of the allegations contained in the report. Afterward, immediately notify the principal or the principal’s designee and provide the “Call I.D.” number provided by the SCR. The principal or designee is then responsible for all subsequent internal action.

In the News:
Union pendulum on the upswing: In a small, but potentially significant event, union membership in the United States has begun to inch upward for the first time in 25 years, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Reporting on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the Center said the increases reflect in part gains by labor in California and among women. The Center also pointed out that the 12.1 percent of Americans in unions does not reflect workers’ preferences. “According to polls of non-managerial workers, about one-half want to be but are not union members.”

Back to court over school funding: Though in 2004 they won a court order mandating a “basic system of free quality” schools, a Montana coalition of school groups vows to sue again, claiming the system is still underfunded, according to a story in the Missoulian. The chairman of the coalition, Tom Cotton, superintendent of Deer Lodge elementary schools, stated that cuts in personnel and programs loomed despite some increases in funding. However, the governor, pleading budget constraints, declined to consider increased allocations this year. The suit will ask the courts to force a special session of the legislature to consider expanding the budget. “The Legislature hasn’t even looked at its definition (of quality education) when they allocate funding,” Cotton said. “It’s supposed to be based upon need, and it isn’t done.”

Teachers in Puerto Rico threaten strike: With salaries starting at $19,700, crumbling, rat-infested schools, and an impasse in negotiations, Puerto Rico’s teachers are contemplating a strike, says the Associated Press. But it won't be easy. When the Teachers’ Federation authorized a walkout last month, the government decertified the union. And strikes are illegal in Puerto Rico. Striking could mean the loss of their jobs, and teachers are undecided what to do. “We are between a sword and a wall,” said one.

Tuesday, Feb. 5: Your school has until Feb. 5 to “Technology in the Middle Grades: Advancing Literacy and Inquiry Through Wikis and Blogs," the name of a free, half-day workshop offered to middle school faculty on Wednesday, March 5, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at St. John’s University (101 Murray St., near Greenwich St., Manhattan). You can view the flyer for more information. Ask your principal to email by Feb. 5 including your school and borough, participants’ names, and e-mail contact information for each participant. For additional information, contact Frances Santiago at (212) 367-4569 or Dr. Esther Klein Friedman at (212) 374-0533.

Tuesday, Feb. 12: Celebrate the Year of the Rat with the UFT Asian American Heritage Committee at a Lunar New Year Banquet on Friday, March 7 at Harmony Palace Restaurant, 98 Mott St. Dinner is $35 per person. Make checks payable to the UFT Asian-American Heritage Committee. RSVP by Feb. 12. Tables seat 10. Include a list of the people you would like to be seated with. You’ll need to clip and send in a coupon you’ll find in the UFT Calendar section of the Jan. 31 issue of the print edition of the New York Teacher.

Friday, Feb. 22: The Labor Goes to the Movies series of the Professional Staff Congress continues on Friday, Feb. 22 with the 1966 film “Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask.” All screenings take place at the PFC Union Hall, 61 Broadway, 16th floor. There is a $2 suggested contribution.

Friday Feb. 29: The next UFT Teacher Center Urban Educators Forum Seminar scheduled will be on Feb. 29 (which replaces the cancelled March 8 seminar), from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The speakers will be the co-authors of the book “Code-Switching: Teaching Standard English in Urban Classrooms.” Register by Feb. 22.

Friday, Feb. 29: The annual Paraprofessional Festival and Awards Luncheon will be held on Saturday, March 15. The all-day affair will include workshops and a health fair. A registration form for the event appears on p. 19 of the Jan. 31 New York Teacher.

Sunday, March 2: Join the UFT Runners Committee in their first race of 2008, the 10th Annual Coogan’s Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5k Run through Fort Tryon Park, on Sunday, March 2, at 9 a.m. For more information on this or future UFT Runners Committee events, contact Kevin Miller at or enroll online.

Monday, March 3: The UFT Jewish Heritage Committee is having a Purim Party on Sunday, March 16, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Bronx Borough Office. Come for the food, drink, karaoke, children’s games, prizes, and more. Click to RSVP (by March 3) and for more information.

Friday and Saturday, March 7 & 8: The third annual Teaching and Learning Celebration will be held in Manhattan on Friday and Saturday, March 7 & 8. Sponsored by Channel 13, the event will contain 140 workshops and 300 exhibits. Featured speakers include Dr. Jane Goodall, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Ann Curry. The Celebration Web site has registration information.

March 11: Save the Date: March 11 is Lobby Day, when UFTers board buses to Albany for a day of meeting with their state legislators and sharing with them our concerns. You and a member of your choice should plan to make it a day. Details to follow.

Friday, March 14: The UFT Spring Education Conference will be Saturday, May 10 at the New York Hilton Hotel. School Leadership Teams can register with DOE purchase orders through Friday, March 14. Detailed information about purchase order registration has been sent to your UFT District Representative. You can also email Samantha Mark at for additional information.

Saturday, March 29: Save the Date: The first Early Childhood Conference will be held at 52 Broadway. For early childhood teachers and paras, administrators, child care providers, and social workers, the conference will include plenary sessions and workshops, plus breakfast and lunch.

Professional Committees

UFT Professional Committees offer a wide range of workshops, presentations, and exchanges enabling all members to take an active part in their professional growth. Unless indicated, meetings are at UFT Headquarters at 52 Broadway. Check lobby for location. For further information contact us at 212-598-7772.

ATSS/UFT (Assn. of Teachers of SS)

Saturday, Feb. 9, 8:30 a.m., 48th Annual Greater Metropolitan NY Social Studies Conference.
ELAC/UFT (English Language Arts Council)

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 4 pm, How to Write Exam Questions That Work.
Math Teachers

Tuesday, Feb. 5, Thursday, Feb. 7 & Friday, Feb. 8, 4:30 p.m., Introduction to TI N-spire.
NYCATA/UFT (NYC Art Teachers Assn.)

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 4:30 p.m., Licensing & Certification & 6:15p.m., Artworks ’08 Planning Meeting.
NYC Dance Educators/UFT

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 4:30 p.m., Membership Meeting.

Friday, Feb. 29, 4 p.m., Board Meeting.

Sunday, March 2, 9 a.m., the 10th annual Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K run.

Friday, Feb. 8, 7:15 p.m., Massive Data Sets…@ NYU

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 4:30 p.m., General Meeting.
Editor: Paul Schickler

Contributors include: Amy Arundell, LeRoy Barr, Natalie Bell, Joe Colletti, Ellie Engler, Aminda Gentile, Jason Goldman, Carol Haupt, Nyree McCray, Michael Mendel, Deidre McFadyen, Angela Reformato and Marvin Reiskin.


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