Monday, March 10, 2008

UFT Weekly Update -- March 7, 2008

55/25 Q & A online; informational sessions scheduled
Now that 55/25 is the law and members have a one-time 180-day period to decide whether to opt in, the union has hit the ground running to provide guidance to members. Already posted at is our 55/25 Q & A, which can be accessed on by clicking the fuchsia “55/25 Update” button on the home page. The Q & A, which will be a special insert in the next issue of the New York Teacher, is arriving in schools next week as a special edition of PensioNews, allowing chapter leaders to put a copy of the Q & A directly in members’ mailboxes. Beginning later this month, informational meetings are scheduled in all boroughs to ensure that members can get their questions answered by UFT pension experts.

Chancellor to principals: reduce paperwork
Our 2006 contract provided that the city would join us in forming a paperwork reduction committee. Our efforts have borne fruit in a directive from Chancellor Klein to principals in this week’s Principal’s Weekly. In it he says, “I urge you and your school community to take a look at the paperwork tasks you and your teachers complete and ask yourself which are necessary and which might be discontinued or replaced with new, more efficient tools.”

If excessive paperwork is a problem in your school, click on the link above, print out the Principal’s Weekly excerpt, and bring it to your next Consultation Committee meeting. Cite pertinent specific examples that the chancellor gives, such as “voluminous portfolios built for the sole purpose of Promotion in Doubt.” If the issue remains unresolved, contact your DR.

Grievance win entitles members to take off Holy Thursday
If members wish to observe Holy Thursday on March 20, they should request an OP-201 form from their school secretary and fill it out to get partial pay. If they wish to request the day as a personal day, they should ask for an OP-198 form. And if your principal gives them any grief regarding the request, they should mention the Joseph Griffin grievance decision, which allows members to take off Holy Thursday. They should make the request as soon as possible.

Student removal & evacuation plans as key as fire drills
The student removal process, fire drills and an evacuation plan are all mandated by the state SAVE legislation. Fire drills, however, are the only standard exercise that staff in all schools practice on a regular basis and know well. It’s unacceptable that front-line educators in many schools don’t know how to have a disruptive student removed from class or where to send that student. Likewise, it’s unacceptable that front-line educators in many schools aren’t told the site to send students in the event that the school needs to be evacuated in an emergency. Every school should emphasize, practice and offer training in all three mandated activities. If your school is not in compliance and you need assistance, please contact your UFT district representative or borough safety person.


And on don’t miss: Ask Albany to keep its promises to kids

Union survey shows midyear budget cuts hurt kids

55/25 borough informational meetings set


To Do:
We need a big turnout when we gather with educators, parents, community groups and elected officials outside City Hall for the Wednesday, March 19, 4 p.m. “Keep the Promises” rally, 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.
Please remind teachers in your school to go to the UFT Web site and fill out our important survey on assessment-related paperwork, ARIS and testing. An email was sent out to 50,000 teachers yesterday, but we need to reach those teachers for whom we don’t have a non-DOE email address and urge them to go to the Action Alert! section of the UFT Web site and complete our short online survey.
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 begins in April, and now is 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.


For your information:
Contracts coming: The print versions of our current contract are now completed. The para contract is already in the mail, and the teacher contract will follow shortly. Contract booklets for four other titles will follow thereafter.

Sabbatical applications due soon: Applications for a full-year sabbatical for the 2008-2009 school year are due to principals by March 24. If your application is denied, your principal is supposed to inform you by April 18 to allow you to look for new courses or rewrite the project. Spring 2009 sabbatical applications are due to principals by October 15, 2008.

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.

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.

Educators’ Tax Guide: The AFT’s low-cost 2008 Educators’ Tax Guide is now available. This national top-selling tax guide is the most current, accurate and easy-to-read tax preparation and planning guide available for educators. All recent changes in the tax laws have been integrated into this edition. To order your tax guide, call 1-314-692-9861 or go to and click on the illustration on the right.

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.”

File grievances online: Remember that chapter leaders must now go to the UFT Web site to file all Step 1 grievances on behalf of members in their chapter. You must be logged in to the UFT Web site to have access to the private chapter leader section, where the grievance form will be housed under the heading “Grievance Briefcase.” If you have not already done so, you must also register for an account at and verify your union membership on the profile page of your account. If you have any questions about the new online grievance process, contact the grievance liaison/contract coordinator in your borough office.


In the News:
Spellings pessimistic on NCLB: Visiting Texas, where she was an education adviser to then Governor George Bush, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings admitted to doubts that Congress would renew the No Child Left Behind law, according to the Houston Chronicle. Texas American Federation of Teachers President Linda Bridges called “testing monomania,” inadequate funding and lackluster educational gains major reasons for opposition. And when a state senator quizzed Spellings on what she would do to lower a 50 percent dropout rate for minority students, she had no answers.

Curb dropouts, save billions: If California wants to save billions of dollars in costs to society from its 120,000 yearly dropouts, an independent research project reports, it has much work to do, says the San Francisco Chronicle . The report pronounces the state’s present efforts “insufficient” and calls for a number of changes, among them, better tracking of who is dropping out and involving other government agencies such as foster care, juvenile justice and welfare.

Graduating high school but not college: While the high school dropout rate among Latinos has been dropping, Latinos fail to graduate from colleges at the same rate as Anglos, states the San Antonio Express-News. A report from the Pew Hispanic Center reported that Anglos graduate college at twice the rate as Latinos. One reason, according to the report, is insufficient access by Latino students to rigorous Advanced Placement courses that will prepare them to succeed once in college.


Tuesday, March 11: The Department of Education will hold one more “Town Hall meeting” in the Bronx on March 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 location and schedule for the meeting.

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 UFT 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 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.

Tuesday, March 11: High school social studies and English teachers are invited to a free, one-day seminar on Nazi perpetrators during the Holocaust from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Union for Reform Judaism, 633 Third Avenue. The program is sponsored by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous and the DOE. The program includes talks by renowned Holocaust scholars from Germany and Canada, suggestions for using primary source material in the classroom, and pedagogical discussions. Lunch will be served. To register, visit the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Web site. For more information, contact Christine Schmidt of JFR at 212-727-9955 or

Wednesday, March 12: Acclaimed author and education historian Diane Ravitch will deliver a lecture on “School Reform in New York City: A Critical Evaluation” at 6 p.m., at Schimmel Center, Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza (near City Hall), as part of Pace University’s School of Education’s 6th Annual Distinguished Educators Lecture Series.

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, including “The Value of Play,” “Social Graces,” and “Inquiry and Exploration.” The registration fee of $25 includes work session materials, resources, breakfast and lunch. Registration forms and fees must be postmarked by March 17, 2008.

Tuesday, March 18: The UFT Committee for Members Who Are Capably Disabled will celebrate its 17th anniversary from 4:15 to 6 p.m., at 50 Broadway, 2nd floor, Classroom D, with Hannah Rudstam of Cornell University speaking on issues relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The meeting is wheelchair accessible, and refreshments will be served. The UFT will reimburse cab fare or parking fees for people who cannot take public transportation.

Wednesday, March 19: Keep the Promises Coalition’s rally starts at 4 p.m. near City Hall to protest state and city budget cuts.

Saturday, March 22: “Stand Up for Peace” 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 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. UFT Vice President Michael Mulgrew will be a panelist on Friday evening from 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday’s session begins with a continental breakfast and includes a panel discussion, teaching workshops, and action planning.

Monday, March 31: Students can enter Three Contests Celebrating Chinese and Korean Cultures, all with a deadline of Monday, March 31. The Asian Languages Bilingual/ESL Technical Assistance Center, in collaboration with the DOE and the State Department of Education, is sponsoring three statewide contests this year to promote the appreciation of Chinese and Korean culture. The first annual Chinese Heritage Language Essay Contest asks students in grades 6-12 to write an essay in Chinese regarding Chinese literature, Chinese people, and a proverb. The 15th annual Statewide Chinese Lunar New Year Painting Contest asks students in grades K-12 to submit artwork based on the theme “Celebrate the Learning of the Chinese Culture.” The 13th Annual Korean Heritage Essay Contest calls for students in grades 6-12 to write an essay in Korean regarding Korean literature or literature about Korean people based on a proverb. You can download contest guidelines. For more information, contact Pat Lo at or 212-998-5140.

Tuesday, April 1: A Maternity/Childcare Workshop will be held Tuesday, April 1, 4 to 6 p.m., at the Brooklyn Borough Office, 335 Adams Street. Light refreshments will be served. Call the office at 718-852-4900 to register.

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

Wednesday, March 26, 4 pm, Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day w/ 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.
Humane Education

Sunday, March 30, 10:30 a.m., Work Session.
NYCAFLT/UFT (NYC Assn. of Foreign Language Teachers)

Saturday, April 5, 9:30 a.m., Spring 2008 Professional Development Workshops.
Per Diems

Thursday, March 20, 4:30 p.m., General Meeting.

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

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

Wednesday, March 26, 4 p.m., General Meeting.
Editor: Paul Schickler

Contributors include: Amy Arundell, LeRoy Barr, Joseph Colletti, Ellie Engler, Richard Farkas, Michael Hirsch, Junior Linton, Nyree McCray, Michael Mendel, Deidre McFadyen, Anne Millman, Michael Mulgrew, Susan Picicci and Ann Rosen


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