Wednesday, March 05, 2008

UFT Weekly Update -- February 29, 2008

Governor signs 55/25 into law
The 55/25 retirement option long sought by the UFT took effect on Feb. 27 when Governor Eliot Spitzer signed the legislation needed for it to become law.

“This is a great day for educators who want to make teaching New York City’s school children not just a calling but a career,” said UFT President Randi Weingarten. “After 14 years of work – and much frustration and false starts – New York City teachers can thank both the collective bargaining and the political process, specifically Governor Spitzer and the leadership in the state Legislature, for approving this measure and Mayor Bloomberg and his team for jointly supporting it.

“The legislation will allow teachers hired after 1973 with 25 years or more of service to retire at age 55 without a reduction in benefits. Teaching is really hard work, and 25 years constitutes a teaching career. Our members deserve to be able to retire with their full pension, and now they know they have the opportunity in the next six months to elect it.

“This program, negotiated by the UFT and the city, arises from the 2005 collective-bargaining agreement where the parties jointly agreed to support legislation of this kind if it was cost-neutral to the city. That is exactly what the parties did on terms comparable to what other unions negotiated over the past 15 years. The prospective 55/27 plan will help the city’s efforts to retain good teachers because it will give young educators an incentive to join and stay in the city school system.”

Please read the full story on the UFT Web site.

Now that 55/25 is the law, you’ll want to know the dates and locations of all the informational sessions on 55/25 that the union will conduct around the city. We soon will also have an updated Q&A and a link to the opt-in form. You can access it all on the home page of the UFT Web site by clicking on the fuchsia “55/25 Update” button.

Sign up members for the March 19 City Hall rally to protest budget cuts
By now you should have received a signup sheet from your DR for the March 19 “Keep the Promises” rally. We need a big turnout when we gather with educators, parents, community groups and elected officials outside City Hall on Wednesday, March 19, at 4 p.m., to call on the state and the city to keep their commitments to New York City public school children. So please sign up as many of your members as you can and return the completed sign-up sheet to your district representative.

If you have a compelling story about how budget cuts are hurting kids in your school and would feel comfortable talking about it with the media, please contact your DR.

New UFT TV ad emphasizes teaching over testing
A new television commercial to air for four weeks on local broadcast stations and satellite and cable networks makes the case for “a well-rounded curriculum including science, civics, language, arts and sports to help young imaginations thrive,” rather than narrowly focusing on the math and English standardized tests. “Seeds of Knowledge”, which began airing on Feb. 25, reminds viewers what’s most important for students: “A dedicated teacher can inspire a love of learning, encourage intellectual curiosity and prepare them for the world of tomorrow.”

UFT welcomes NYPD School Safety as a partner in Safe, Secure Schools campaign
This week the UFT held two meetings with the NYPD School Safety Division. The first meeting, on Feb. 26, included Deputy Chief Commanding Officer James Secreto, his leadership team and UFT staff. On Feb. 28, more than 300 paraprofessionals attended a speak-out on the student removal process and the issue of restraint before the Deputy Chief and his leadership staff.

An effective student removal process is crucial to a safe, secure school environment. We resolved the following at those two meetings:

Every school must have a student removal process
Every school must document all safety issues because in order to address school safety problems, we have to know the scope of the problem
The school safety agent should not be the first person called to remove a disruptive student from the classroom – unless it is an emergency
Chapter leaders are encouraged to reach out to their school’s school safety agents and work in close partnership with them to maintain a safe secure school. For example, the NYPD School Safety Division suggested that some schools may want to assign other school personnel to the front desk and instead use the school safety agent to walk through the school.

We will continue to work on enhancing the student removal process. Contact your district representative or borough safety person if you need any assistance.

Meet your legislators in Albany on Lobby Day
March 11 is the UFT’s annual Lobby Day trip to Albany. It is a time when chapter leaders, members and parents travel together to Albany to meet with their local Assembly Members and Senators to explain firsthand what New York City educators and parents need to be successful in their schools. If you are interested in attending this all-day event that starts with an early departure by bus from each borough, let your district rep know. Travel with us to meet Randi Weingarten, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, and the state lawmakers who represent your school’s neighborhood. That’s what real political action is about. Let your voice be heard in Albany on March 11!


And on don’t miss:
Thanks, Teach

Union’s SLT conference provides training, hope


To Do:
You and your teachers may be eligible for $3,400 grants each year for four years under the Teachers of Tomorrow program if you teach in a high needs school. Encourage your members to visit the Web site, click on “Teachers of Tomorrow Program,” check that your school is on the eligible list, and follow instructions carefully. Candidates with transitional or internship certificates are ineligible, as are those who have benefited from other incentive programs. The deadline to apply is March 30.
The next round of school quality reviews has begun and we know that the chapter leaders can provide important information to the reviewer. Many of you are already part of your school’s quality review team planning committee and you will have the opportunity to talk to the reviewer. For those chapter leaders who are not on this team, you still have the right to speak to a reviewer and offer your opinions and insights about the school. Chapter leaders should ask the reviewer(s) for an opportunity to speak about the school. If your principal or the reviewer denies your right to do so, contact your district representative immediately. It is important that you alert your DR during the time the review is being conducted so the union can take appropriate action.
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.
Is your school part of the DOE’s quixotic “value added” pilot project to try and find a direct cause-and-effect link between individual student standardized exam performance and individual teacher performance? In most cases, the teachers involved don’t know they are being analyzed, and the DOE won’t release to the union a list of the 140 participating schools. If you know that your school is involved in this study, let your DR know, if you have not already done so.
Don’t forget to encourage your members to contribute to COPE. Remind them that 55/25 is an example of their COPE contributions at work. 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:
Child care providers begin negotiations: Now that New York City’s 28,000 home-based child care providers have joined the UFT, capping a two-year drive, the effort to negotiate their first-ever contract begins. The providers began talks with New York State this Friday, Feb. 29. Stay tuned.

Claim your educator’s deduction: K-12 teachers and other educators who have worked in a school for at least 900 hours in 2007 are able to claim a tax deduction of up to $250 on their federal tax returns for unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses. This includes books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials you use in the classroom. The deduction does not need to be itemized and can be made on the 1040 E-Z form. If you qualify, put your deduction on line 23 of Form 1040. Consult your tax adviser for individual questions about your eligibility.

DVD on Iraq for teachers: Delegates looking for a good classroom aid on the war in Iraq will be able to receive a free copy of the 27-minute “Meeting Face to Face: the Iraq-U.S. Labor Solidarity Tour,” on DVD with an accompanying teacher guide at the March 5 Delegate Assembly. The DVD and teacher guide meet National Council standards for social studies and civics and government. The film brings the voices of Iraqi labor leaders into discussions about the war in Iraq. To learn more about this film, visit

Web Site highlights Cesar Chavez: Celebrating the 40th anniversary of his historic fast, the United Farm Workers has updated its Web site to create an Internet resource on legendary labor leader Cesar Chavez. The site includes audio, video, photos, and extensive information about Chavez and his work with the UFW. It also offers a chance to sign a petition to make Chavez’s birthday a national holiday.

Military recruiters: Federal law requires the Department of Education to provide military recruiters with the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of secondary school students, unless a parent or the student opts by letter to remove the student’s name from that list. The DOE has publicized that opt-out letter, reminded principals that every student must receive it, and discussed limits to the access and privileges of recruiters. If these guidelines are not being followed in your school, please email

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.

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.”


In the News:
Quantifying the loss: Studying the impact of No Child Left Behind, the Center on Educational Policy had already found that nearly 62 percent of school districts increased time spent in elementary schools on math and/or ELA at the expense of other subjects. In the CEP’s February, 2008 report, it has quantified that change. In schools that have made such changes, decreases range from 5 percent in time for lunch to 36 percent for social studies. That comes to up to 76 minutes less a week in subjects like social studies, science, and art and music.

Teacher training boosts education ranking of countries: The countries that top international rankings in education train their teachers the best, says Time magazine. They also pay them well relative to competing occupations and give them adequate time to prepare. Those countries recruit top candidates and pay them while they receive extensive training. The article concludes, “Such a goal is critical for the U.S. if it is indeed to leave no child behind.”

“Mild” NCLB sanctions in CA: Though the state could remove school boards, close schools, or even dissolve entire school districts, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes to simply send “assistance teams” to districts considered failing under No Child Left Behind, reports the Los Angeles Times. With the teams will come $45 million in one-time aid. Federal law requires that the 97 failing school districts face some sort of sanction. The California Board of Education is expected to approve the proposed action in March.


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.

Tuesday, March 4: The Department of Education will hold three more “Town Hall meetings” in different boroughs March 4, 6 and 11 where members of the community can weigh in on the DOE’s proposed, more stringent eighth-grade promotion policy. Speakers can sign up for a three-minute comment or ask a question. The DOE’s Web site lists the dates and locations for each meeting.

Tuesday, March 4: New Developments in the Medical Treatment of Breast Cancer is the name of a conference on Tuesday, March 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., 52 Broadway, in the second floor auditorium. The presenter will be Dr. Clifford Hudis, Chief of the Breast Cancer Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. To register, call 1-212-719-2943 ext. 338.

Thursday, March 6: A home-buying seminar in the Bronx for those looking to buy or rent a house, co-op or condo. Jointly sponsored by the UFT, ACORN and the city, the seminars, held in every borough, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., 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.

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.

Saturday, March 8: Talking with others about ideas and work is fundamental to learning, but not all talk sustains learning. In the workshop Generating Accountable Talk, teachers will learn strategies for using accountable talk to promote learning while maintaining and supporting classroom management. This workshop is designed specifically for middle school teachers, and is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 52 Broadway. To register or to get more information, call Sue Picicci at 212-598-9282 or email There is a $10 fee. A light breakfast will be provided.

Tuesday, March. 11: (Part 1 of a three-part Internet series; see also March 27 and May 1) What are the important Web sites you need to know as an educator? In the workshop Web Sites that are a Must to Know, teachers will learn how to navigate both the union’s Web site as well as the DOE’s Web site to gain valuable information, from job postings to career opportunities to ongoing professional updates. This workshop is designed for both middle school and high school teachers, and is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 52 Broadway. To register or to get more information, call Sue Picicci at 212-598-9282 or email There is a $5 fee. Refreshments will be provided.

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.

Friday, March 14: The next in the Labor Goes to the Movies series is “Rome, Open City,” a 1945 Cannes Festival Grand Prix winner by Roberto Rossellini. It examines collaboration and resistance in Italy during the Nazi occupation. It will screen on Friday, March 14, 6 p.m., at the Professional Staff Union Hall, 61 Broadway, 16th floor. There is a $2 suggested donation at the door. Light refreshments will be served.

Saturday, March 15: Interested in pinpointing the learning styles of your students while addressing classroom management concerns? In the workshop Managing the Middle School Classroom through Learning Styles, teachers will be provided with hands-on activities and teaching techniques to meet the educational needs of all their students, while honing their management skills This workshop is designed specifically for middle school teachers, and is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 52 Broadway. To register or to get more information, call Sue Picicci at 212-598-9282 or email There is a $10 fee. A light breakfast will be provided.

Monday, March 17: The first Early Childhood Conference, “Child-Initiated Learning: How Play Works” will be on Saturday, March 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 52 Broadway. For early childhood teachers and paras, administrators, child care providers, and social workers, the conference will include plenary sessions and workshops. The registration fee of $25.00 includes work session materials, resources, breakfast and lunch. Registration forms and fees must be postmarked by March 17, 2008.

Saturday, March 22: “Stand up for Peace.” Saturday, March 22, at noon, NYC United for Peace and Justice will coordinate the formation of a human chain across 14th St. from Ave. A to 11th Ave. to call for an end to the war in Iraq. At 1 p.m., both ends of the chain will march to Union Square for a short rally (permit permitting). Bring friends, signs and banners.

Thursday, March 27: (Part 2 of a three-part Internet series) Tired of wasting time surfing the Net for resources to use in your classroom? In the workshop Using the Internet to Enhance Your Teaching, teachers will learn three or four valuable sites suitable for both middle school and high school teachers that provide the tools to enhance teaching and motivate and challenge students. The workshop is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 52 Broadway. To register or to get more information, call Sue Picicci at 212-598-9282 or email There is a $5 fee. Refreshments will be provided. The final workshop, Go Paperless! The Internet as a News Source, will be on Thursday, May 1.

Friday and Saturday, March 28 & 29: The Education and Labor Collaborative is sponsoring a forum called Organizing the Curriculum on Friday (4 to 8 p.m.) and Saturday (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.), March 28 & 29, 52 Broadway. Topics include preparing teachers for community/union activism and methods for teaching about the labor movement in the classroom.

March through May: Materials for the Arts offers professional development workshops through May 8 on a variety of topics. The workshops include “Introduction to Bookmaking,” “Book Binding,” and “Fabric Journals.” Each workshop costs $10.


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)

Friday, March 7, 4 p.m., Executive Board Meeting.
Friday, March 14, 4:30 p.m., GMNY Planning Meeting.
ELAC/UFT (English Language Arts Council)

Wednesday, March 26, 4 pm, Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Author Bernard Shaw.
ESL/Bilingual Committee

Tuesday, March 25, 4:30 p.m., Round Table Discussion. $10.
HAEA/UFT (Hellenic-American Educators Assn.)

Thursday, March 20, 4 p.m., Annual Greek Cultural Celebration.
NYCATA/UFT (NYC Art Teachers Assn.)

Tuesday, March 4, 4:30 p.m., Open Executive Board Meeting.

Friday, March 28, 4 p.m., Board Meeting.
Thursday, April 3, 4:30 p.m., Auditions for Signature Performances.

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

Friday, March 14, 7:15 p.m., Electromigration @ NYU.
Saturday, March 15, 10 a.m., Cornell Science Sampler Series…@ the Cornell Weill Medical Ctr.

Wednesday, March 26, 4 p.m., General Meeting.


Post a Comment

<< Home