Wednesday, April 16, 2008

UFT Weekly Update -- April 16, 2008

Weingarten announces run for AFT president
UFT President Randi Weingarten announced her candidacy for president of the national union during the NYSUT Representative Assembly today. If she is elected in July, she said that she will continue in her present position as UFT president, just as her predecessors, Al Shanker and Sandy Feldman, did before her. “Public schools and labor have always been the catalysts that have created economic and educational opportunity, lifting working families and creating an upwardly mobile middle class,” she said. “That has changed in America, much because of the global economy and the failed policies and hostility toward the labor movement of the Bush administration. Because of all of this, I feel an urgency — indeed , a duty — to act. And that is why I made the decision to run for the presidency of the AFT.” Her full statement is on the UFT Web site.

Open market transfer period has begun
The Open Market Transfer Plan period has begun! Members may begin viewing vacancies and submitting online applications via the DOE Web site. As budgets have not yet been released, members should be prepared for the fact that there may not be many vacancies posted yet. Usually things start to pick up in May.

The plan offers all pedagogues access to job openings throughout the city. The Open Market Q & A on the UFT Web site offers more information about the process. In addition, members looking to move may be checking out your school. Have your members shared their views on the UFT’s Grapevine, our online school review database? Encourage members who haven’t participated before to add their views, so potential colleagues can make informed decisions before transferring.

Arbitrator backs union in secretarial duties dispute
In a huge victory for the union, an arbitrator ordered the Department of Education to cease and desist assigning secretarial duties to anyone other than licensed school secretaries. If school aides, family assistants, business managers or workers in other titles are doing secretarial work in your school right now, have your secretary notify School Secretaries Chapter Leader Jackie Ervolina at If the DOE is found to be skirting the decision, we will return to the arbitrator to force compliance. As a result of the arbitration decision, some administrators may try to assign a workload far too heavy for secretaries to tackle. If this happens, make sure your secretary files a workload dispute immediately.

Join psychologists this Monday to tell the ed panel: “Lighten our load!”
April 14 is the date school psychologists will turn out – along with members who want to support them – at the Queens meeting of the mayorally-controlled Panel for Educational Policy to let the panel know how unreasonable workloads have been overburdening them since last July’s reorganization of special education. We need a good turnout to drive home the point. The panel will meet at Frank Sinatra School for the Arts, 30-20 Thomson Avenue in Long Island City, from 6 to 8 p.m. Sign up to speak by 5:45 p.m. Check out the flyer. Please let Ann Englesbe at know how many members from your school plan to attend the PEP meeting.

Please also urge any school psychologist who hasn’t already done so to file a workload dispute form if they want relief. Here are the guidelines for filing workload disputes.

Time to discuss professional activity menus and SBOs
By April 15, your principal, in consultation with you, must finalize your school’s menu of professional activities for next year. This consultation, mandated by Article 7U of the contract, should also include the number of positions for each activity and the qualifications for each one.

In addition, spring is the time for you and your chapter to consider School-Based Options — any modifications to the contract they might want to adopt (by a vote of 55% of those members voting), with the agreement of the principal, that better meet your school’s needs. In accordance with Article 8B of our contract, SBOs may include changing the configuration of the extended time, changing the times or day of faculty conferences, or moving Parent Teacher Conferences. Article 7 SBOs allow your school to create or recreate many comp time positions or administrative duties. Putting an SBO up to a vote is at the sole discretion of the chapter leader. A new School-Based Options Manual has been posted on the union’s Web site.

Apply now for summer school jobs
The Department of Education’s Division of Human Resources began accepting online applications for summer session openings on April 2. To apply for a position, go here and click on the hyperlink in the “Time Sensitive Information” section. Only online applications will be processed; the DOE is not accepting paper applications. Applications must be submitted by May 7 to preserve applicants’ retention rights and for applications to be considered timely. After applying online, members should print out a hard copy of their application and write down their application confirmation number. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Special Representative Amy Arundell at


And on don’t miss:
State keeps its funding promises and reaches fair compromise on tenure criteria

UFT adopts ‘better safe than sorry’ approach on PCBs in caulk

List of city schools “in need of improvement” grows slightly smaller


To Do:
• The crucial primary in the delegate-rich state of Pennsylvania is April 22, and UFTers will be on the ground Saturday, April 19 to support the AFT-endorsed Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. We expect the day to include member-to-member door-knocking and possibly a rally, preparations for Election Day, or other efforts to make the union’s support for Hillary visible. Buses leave 52 Broadway, the Brooklyn UFT Office and the Bronx UFT Office at 7 a.m. and return at about 7 p.m. A breakfast snack and a boxed lunch will be provided. To sign up, contact Jason Goldman in the Political Action Department at 212-598-7742.

• Remind any teachers or paras who have not already done so that they have only one more week to complete the DOE’s Learning Environment survey. Teacher surveys count for a portion of the School Progress Report grade. All surveys must be filed by April 18.

• We need as many concrete examples as possible from school-based members of how budget cuts are hurting our kids. Click on Please give your name, grade level and school in these emails so we can follow up if need be, but rest assured that we will protect your confidentiality in any discussions with the DOE.

• 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 the Principal’s Weekly urging a that unnecessary paperwork 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.


For your information:
Sabbatical denial notices due soon: If your application for a sabbatical for the 2008-2009 school year is denied, your superintendent is supposed to inform you by April 18, to allow you to look for new courses or rewrite the project. The coursework must be resubmitted by May 2.

Summer P courses: Online registration for summer P courses begins May 5. The Web address ( is new and will not be available until then. P in-service courses offer pedagogues high-quality, convenient, low-cost alternatives to college courses that may be applied to salary differential requirements. For further information, email or call 718-935-5753.

Speakout: Got something on your mind that you’d like to share with your colleagues? Is there an issue in your school, an educational priority, or a cause for celebration other educators should know about? Send an idea for the “Speakout” column of the New York Teacher or write it up in about 800 words and email it to Include some brief information about where and what you teach (or taught) and how you can be contacted. Please let members in your school know about this writing opportunity, too.

Online, low-cost tax prep: With the AFT's Union Plus Online Tax Preparation Services, members can file their federal and state returns for as low as $34.90. Even better, your federal tax return is free if your adjusted gross income is $54,000 or less. You are not charged until you either file your income tax return online or print your tax return. The FAQ has details.

PCBs in caulk: In order to address any concerns by members about the dangers of exterior caulk in their schools, following the news stories in this week’s Daily News, we have posted a UFT PCBs in Caulk fact sheet on the UFT Web site. Contact your district representative or borough health and safety representative if you have questions or concerns about your school.

New school, small school openings: The DOE has posted openings for new schools and recently-opened smalls schools on its Web site. The site includes instructions for applying for the various positions and a list of the schools opening in September, 2008.

AFT ads bring money for your chapter: Running an ad from the AFT+ Newsletter Reimbursement Program in your monthly chapter newsletter can bring your chapter $20 (or more for bigger schools) each month. First you will have to register with AFT LeaderNet (say that you are a chapter leader) so that you can get a username and password. Then you’re on your way to setting up an account and earning money for your chapter.

Camp scholarships: The 2008 UFT Summer Camp Program, conducted in cooperation with the NYC Central Labor Council, is offering children of UFT members a $100 scholarship to summer camps. The scholarships will be paid directly to the camps; members must separately register their children at a camp. Applications and more information are available at the Central Labor Council Web site. Completed applications should be mailed by May 30 to Briget Anne Rein, Special Representative Legislation/ Political Action, UFT, 52 Broadway, New York, NY 10004.

Green Dot union charter school positions: The Green Dot New York Charter School in District 8, founded in partnership with the UFT, is hiring. Positions open are English, mathematics, science, social studies, Spanish, special education, art, physical education, and ELL teachers; guidance counselors; school aides; school secretary; and assistant principal. Email resume, cover letter, and evidence of certification to Please indicate the position for which you are applying in the email “subject” line. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

UFT charter school positions: The UFT Elementary Charter School and the UFT Secondary Charter School are new schools which are adding staff as they grow. Our union-sponsored schools are located in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Their mission is to educate all young people into lives of personal excellence and democratic citizenship. Our schools operate on the principles of shared decision-making and educator voice and empowerment. We are seeking dynamic, energetic individuals, with a solid foundation in pedagogy and subject material, who are New York State certified in their area. Openings exist in the following areas: Elementary School —Teachers for Kindergarten through Grade 4 [Early Childhood or Common Branches License] and Secondary School — Teachers of Math, Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Spanish, Special Education and Music; Guidance Counselor [Middle School, High School or Secondary School License]. There are also openings for paraprofessionals and school aides. Applicants to the Elementary School should send their resumes to Shep Brown at Applicants to the Secondary School should send their resumes to Byron Major at

WTC Visitor Center volunteers: The Tribute WTC Visitor Center is looking for volunteers to conduct walking tours near the World Trade Center site. It is seeking teachers that worked in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001 and can share how they experienced and discussed the event with their students. Volunteers will be trained to provide an hour-long tour to visitors, adults and students from around the world. Training consists of one weekend session, followed by individually scheduled training sessions. Volunteers work a minimum of 6 to 8 hours a month. Contact Rachael at 212-422-3520, ext. 118, or

55/25 Q & A online and second round of informational sessions scheduled: Need guidance on the new 55/25 retirement plan? Check out our 55/25 Q & A, which can be accessed on by clicking the fuchsia “55/25 Update” button on the home page. A new round of informational meetings has been scheduled next month where members can get their questions answered by UFT pension experts.


In the News:
Higher pay helps hire teachers: Compared to other developed countries surveyed, the United States pays teachers the lowest salary compared to its GDP, a situation which can only hinder efforts at recruiting, reports the Economic Policy Institute. Moreover, in all the other countries surveyed, students did as well or better in tests in science and mathematics. U.S. teachers have also seen their pay decrease as a percentage of other professions, the report notes.

Higher ed, higher voting: Those with more than a high school education were more than three times as likely to have voted on Super Tuesday, according to a study by a nonpartisan research group called CIRCLE. Moreover, the study found that schools, instead of helping narrow that gap, apparently exacerbate political inequality by teaching more about politics to higher income students, white students, and those who are academically successful.

Superintendents at super pay: No Child Left Behind has put so much stress on school district superintendents around the country that there are far fewer applicants for each job and districts are offering mammoth salaries to get them, says the Christian Science Monitor. Districts are desperate for a “person on a white horse,” complained one former superintendent. And a resident in a county with failing schools suggested, “Instead of giving perks to big-shots from the national stage to come here, they should be thinking about giving more perks to our students.”


Saturday, April 12: The 31st annual all-day conference and luncheon of the Science Council of New York will take place from 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Stuyvesant High School. Teachers who attend will receive a certificate of participation so that they can receive professional development credit.

Thursday, April 17: The DOE’s Office of Social Studies invites middle and high school educators to a free workshop based on the Facing History and Ourselves teaching guide, “Choices in Little Rock,” from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the New-York Historical Society (77th Street and Central Park West, Manhattan). This resource focuses on the events surrounding the 1957 desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, explores the decisions we make as citizens in a democracy, and offers methods and resources to help teachers encourage adolescents to look at events from multiple perspectives. Breakfast and lunch will be served. Please RSVP.

Wednesday, April 23: The Hunter School of Social Work will hold a Civic Conversation titled “Grading NYC Public Schools: Do New Accountability Measures Help Our Kids?” from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Moderated by New York Times education reporter Jennifer Medina, the panelists include NYU professor and educational historian Diane Ravitch and Pedro Noguera, Co-Chair of the City Council’s Middle School Task Force. Please RSVP to 212-227-0342 ext. 22 or send an email to

Wednesday, April 30: With the open market transfer plan enrollment period beginning April 15, the High School Workshops are offering “Making the Open Market Work for You” on April 30, 4:15 to 6:15 p.m., at 50 Broadway. There is a $5 registration fee. Call Gregg Lundahl at 212-598-9281 for registration.

Thursday, May 1: Want to make sense and keep track of all the news sources found online from newspapers to magazines to blogs? In the workshop Go Paperless! The Internet as a News Source, teachers will find out how to use the Internet for accurate news and explore live broadcasts and the radio world online. We promise that your use of the Internet will change immediately! 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.

Thursday, May 1: Educators are invited to a free preview of the Sportsmuseum of America at 26 Broadway. It’s an open house starting at 4 p.m., with the last entry at 8 p.m. RSVP for your free ticket.

Friday, May 9: The Professional Staff Congress’s series Labor Goes to the Movies ends its theme Cinema and War with Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory,” starring Kirk Douglas at 6 p.m. at the PSC Union Hall, 61 Broadway, 16th floor. There is a $2 suggested donation. Light refreshments will be served.

Saturday, May 10: The UFT Spring Education Conference will be at the New York Hilton Hotel. The deadline for registration is Friday, April 18. Registration coupons are in the New York Teacher and the cost is $30 per person. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an exciting day of exhibits and workshops. The day wraps up with our Gala Luncheon and presentation of the John Dewey Award. If you need further information please email Samantha Mark at

Saturday, May 17: The AFT Black Caucus will present its second annual “Kids Who Cook” Scholarship Fundraiser from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Bronx UFT office. Children under five are free; otherwise, tickets, at $20 each, are available at all UFT borough offices. Kids ages 5 to 18 are needed to serve dishes prepared by them, parents, grandparents and any family member willing to assist. For more information, call Zina Burton-Myrick at 347-351-2592 or Lisa Wilson at 347-821-7090.

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, April 18, 4 p.m., Executive Board Meeting & 6 p.m., GMNY Planning Meeting.
• Friday, May 8, 4 p.m., Executive Board Meeting.

ELAC/UFT (English Language Arts Council)

• Wednesday, April 30, 4:30 pm, Poetry of Love.

Humane Education

• Sunday, May 4, 11:15 a.m., A Field Trip to Animal Care & Control’s Adoption Center.

Math Teachers

• Tuesday, May 6, 4 p.m., ArtMath Workshop.

NYCATA/UFT (NYC Art Teachers Assn.)

• Tuesday, May 6, 4 p.m., ArtMath Workshop.
• Thursday, May 8, 4:30 p.m., Artworks ’08 Planning Meeting.

NYC Dance Educators/UFT

• Wednesday, April 16, 4:30 p.m., Membership Meeting.

Outdoor-Environmental Education

• Saturday, April 12, 8 a.m., 31st Annual SCONYC Conference at Stuyvesant HS.
• Saturday, May, 10, 10 a.m., Sail on the Hudson…Meet at the Boat Basin Marina.


• Thursday, May 8 & Monday, May 12, 4 p.m., Rehearsals.


• Saturday May 3, 10 a.m., 30th Annual Hall of Fame Run at Bronx Community College.


• Wednesday, April 30, 4:30 p.m., General Meeting.

Editor: Paul Schickler

Contributors include: Amy Arundell, LeRoy Barr, Ellie Engler, Jackie Ervolina, Richard Farkas, Jason Goldman, Mike Hirsch, Nyree McCray, Deidre McFadyen, Michael Mulgrew, Susan Picicci, Chris Proctor, Marvin Reiskin, Howard Solomon and Michael Spielman.


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