Wednesday, April 02, 2008

UFT Weekly Update -- March 28, 2008


Urge your school psychologist to file a workload dispute
Due to the unreasonable workloads that have been overburdening school psychologists since last July’s reorganization of special education, Randi sent a letter to every school psychologist, along with a workload dispute form, urging them to file a workload dispute. She declared, “Let’s show the DOE what it feels like to be inundated with paper.” Please follow up to ask your school’s psychologist to join in the action if they want relief. If we don’t get enough workload disputes filed, the window of opportunity to resolve this issue will close. Here are the guidelines for filing workload disputes.

Urge the psychologists in your school – and any member who wants to support them – also to turn out for the April 14 meeting in Queens of the city's Panel for Educational Policy, where the psychologists can state their case directly to the panel and to the chancellor. We need a good turnout to drive home the point. (See the Calendar, below, for details.)

PCBs found in caulk in 7 city schools
We understand the Daily News is doing some investigative reporting of PCBs in schools. Samples of caulking in seven public schools in the city tested positive for the presence of PCBs. While this is not uncommon, we will act swiftly and aggressively if we have any reason to believe there is any risk for our members or for students. No study has demonstrated health effects to the occupants in buildings with PCB in the caulk. Please read this fact sheet for more detailed information on PCB caulk.

Nevertheless, we take any presence of PCBs very seriously. As soon as we found out that the seven schools contained PCB in the caulking, we immediately contacted the DOE to have an independent consultant conduct environmental sampling at each school this weekend, March 29 and 30. We also promptly notified the chapter leader of each school. Please contact your borough office or district representative if you have questions or concerns.

Urge teachers to fill out the annual DOE survey
The union is urging teachers to fill out and return the annual Learning Environment Survey that the DOE handed out to every teacher in the city. The survey is our chance to provide input to the DOE and will count for a portion of the school's Progress Report grade. As the joint letter from Randi and Chancellor Klein accompanying the survey points out, “Teachers are experts on our schools.” Extra efforts have been made this year to insure that all responses are totally anonymous. Questions in last year’s survey that in small schools might have revealed a teacher’s identity, such as grade and subject taught, have been eliminated. Please encourage all teachers in your school to complete and return their survey by April 18 so their voices and concerns are heard.

Help make the para pilot survey a success
The DOE, in partnership with the UFT, is piloting a Learning Environment Survey for paraprofessionals this year. As the recent email to you from Randi noted, this online survey is also anonymous and voluntary. We want to encourage as many paras as possible to fill it out. Because the survey is a pilot, the results will not be factored into your school’s Progress Report grade, but the aggregate survey responses for each school will provide valuable information to principals and school leadership teams. We have created a process to protect the confidentiality of every para who fills out the survey. Your school’s principal and survey coordinator are responsible for printing your school’s batch of unique IDs onto stickers and printing enough copies of the form letter to paras about the survey. Working with your school’s survey coordinator, you and the para rep need to attach one unique ID sticker label on each form letter, fold the letter and stuff it into an envelope, and then randomly place one envelope in each para’s mailbox. All paras have until April 18 to fill the survey out.

Summer school vacancies to be posted by April 2
Members need to apply for summer session openings online, but the postings they will see online will be “placeholder” postings not specific to your school. By April 2, your principal should have posted your school’s specific per session openings. These notices, according to this week’s Principals’ Weekly, should be “conspicuously” displayed “for a minimum of 20 school days.” Members should print out a hard copy of their application and write down their application confirmation number.

Teacher’s Choice forms dueThe purchasing period for Teacher’s Choice supplies ended March 15, and completed forms for the program were due to principals by March 28. Any tardy members in your school should submit their accountability forms immediately. More information, and forms, is available at the DOE’s Web site.

Your chance to “Speakout” in the New York Teacher
Got something on your mind that you’d like to share with your colleagues? Is there an issue in your school, an educational priority, a cause for celebration or a source of constant aggravation that you just know other educators would enjoy, sympathize with, or want to 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 Michael Spielman at 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.


And on don’t miss:
UFT on state Legislature’s clarification on tenure

10,000 flood City Hall to demand restoring ed budget cuts


To Do:
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.

We need as many teachers as possible to take the UFT’s “Survey on Assessment-Related Paperwork and Test Prep.” This brief online survey is about assessment-related paperwork, test prep and ARIS. Please encourage teachers to go to and click on the link to the survey in the Action Alert section. It only takes a few minutes. The more teachers who fill it out, the more ammunition we have in our fight against excessive testing.

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.
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.

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 April 15, 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.


Open Market transfer period: The Open Market Transfer Plan period begins April 15. A way to “vote with your feet” if you are unhappy with your school, 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.

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. To access this material, copy and paste the following link to your search engine: Completed applications should be mailed by May 30 to Briget Anne Rein, Special Representative Legislation/ Political Action, UFT, 52 Broadway, New York, NY 10004.

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 NYC 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. You may contact Rachael at 212-422-3520, ext. 118, or by email at

Carfare reimbursement: Members in various chapters have been reimbursed for use of their cars, per regulations set by the Comptroller’s Office, with a daily minimum guaranteed. However, the DOE tried to unilaterally change the regulations, offering a new higher mileage but no guaranteed minimum, so the union grieved. At the hearing, the chancellor’s representative agreed with the union and said the decision would reflect that. While we are waiting for the official decision to be issued, members should continue to submit their timesheets in a timely manner to be sure they are paid. After the chancellor’s decision is released, any members who were paid incorrectly during this period will have their reimbursements adjusted.

718-KIDSAFE: As a mandated reporter of child abuse or neglect, you must contact the New York Statewide Central Register at 1-800-635-1522. This hotline is available on a 24-hour basis. If you are concerned about the progress of a child protective investigation or have additional information related to a case that you have already filed, you may contact a Safety Liaison at 718-KID-SAFE Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by email at

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.

55/25 Q & A online; 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. Also, informational meetings are scheduled in all boroughs to ensure that members can get their questions answered by UFT pension experts.

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.

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.”


In the News:
Small classes help struggling students: Bolstering the claims of British teachers who are threatening a strike over class size, says the Guardian, a group of British academics claimed at a New York conference that large classes hurt struggling students, according to a second Guardian story. A class of 30 will have up to twice the off-task behavior as a class of 15, the academics assert. The National Union of Teachers is calling for a legally enforceable limit of 20 children in state school classes.

makemypaybetter@$.duh: The Arizona State Superintendent of Instruction, in an attempt to recruit and retain teachers, set up to hear what the teachers had to say, reports the Arizona Republic. Prominent among the responses: “It is a disgrace that a teacher with eight years' experience with a master’s degree . . . barely makes $40,000 a year. It would also be cheaper for me not to work than to work and have to pay day care.” Another said, “It breaks my heart to discourage [my sons] from what used to be a respected career.” A third ticked off all the second jobs his colleagues had, and a fourth announced plans to leave for law school. No word yet on the superintendent’s reaction.

Sing along with “Not on the Test”: In a chuckle-inducing sendup of the rationale behind high-stakes testing, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Tom Chapin, in an online video, sings a lullaby called “Not on the Test” to a third-grader on the day before the big exam. With lines like, “It’s reading and math, so forget all the rest,” Chapin skewers NCLB’s unfunded mandate as the video shows musical instruments and artwork being yanked from young hands. Appropriately enough, Chapin uses art to educate.


Monday, March 31 deadline: 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 by email at or call 212-998-5140.

Tuesday, April 1: A book talk on Richard Kahlenberg’s Albert Shanker: Tough Liberal will be held on Tuesday, April 1, 6 to 8 p.m., at NYU’s Bobst Library, 10th floor, 70 Washington Square South. The talk is co-sponsored by the New York Labor History Association and the UFT’s Association of Teachers of Social Studies.

Tuesday, April 1 deadline: Secondary school educators can apply for a three-week seminar July 6 to 21 on the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance. The program is co-sponsored by the AFT. Participants pay $2,300, which covers round-trip airfare from New York City, trips to historic sites in Poland and Israel, hotels (double occupancy) and two meals a day. Presenters will include prominent scholars from Poland’s Jewish Historical Institute, Israel’s Yad Vashem Center and the Study Center of Ghetto Fighters’ House. The deadline is Tuesday, April 1. Contact the Holocaust Study Summer Seminar, Jewish Labor Committee, 25 East 21 Street, New York, NY 10010; 212-477-0707.

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.

Wednesday, April 2: The UFT Library Media Committee will hold a special membership meeting on April 2 from 4 to 6 p.m. at The Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway (at 12th St.). This special event will begin with a tour of the building, including the Rare Book Room, the Art Department, the Children’s Department, the Main Floor and the Review section. RSVP to Christine Hatami at or June Schwarz at or call 718-830-5679.

Thursday, April 3: Touro College’s Lander Center for Educational Research and the Office of English Language Learners (ELLs) will host two free half-day seminars on Thursday, April 3 for ELL teachers and administrators. Both seminars, to be held at Touro College (50 West 23rd Street, Room 610, Manhattan), will be led by WestEd’s Dr. Aida Walqui. The first seminar, “What Works for ELLs in Schools? Strategies for School Leaders,” presents key components to help any school promote the academic achievement of ELLs. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The second seminar, “What Do My ELLs Need?” Pedagogical Strategies for Disciplinary Literacy Development,” presents practical guidelines necessary to ensure that all teachers help ELLs participate in deep and rigorous academic activities. Video segments of accomplished teaching practices and student work will be presented. The workshop will be held from 12:30 to 3 p.m. To register, contact Rebecca Sharman at 212-463-0400, ext.387 or

Saturday, April 5, 1-4 p.m., Marking the 30th anniversary of the murder of civil rights and nonviolent antiwar activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the NYC chapter of U.S. Labor Against the War is sponsoring a forum on The Cost of the War in Iraq to U.S. Workers. It’s at SEIU Local 32 B-J, 101 Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue, 1 block north of Canal Street. Take A, E, C & #1 trains.) Topics include the cost of the war on domestic programs, union contracts and labor rights. Open mike for participants to tell their own stories.

Friday, April 11: The Professional Staff Congress’s series Labor Goes to the Movies continues its theme Cinema and War with “In the Year of the Pig” on Friday, April, 11. All films are at 6 p.m. at the PSC Union Hall, 61 Broadway, 16th floor. There is a $2 suggested donation. Light refreshments will be served. Coming up on May 9: “Paths of Glory.”

Saturday, April 12: The 31st annual all-day conference and luncheon of the Science Council of New York will take place on Saturday April 12, 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.

Monday, April 14: Are you a school psychologist overburdened with excessive paperwork and an endless list of duties? Come bolster our turnout and tell your story at the monthly meeting of the city’s Panel for Educational Policy at Frank Sinatra School for the Arts, 30-20 Thomson Avenue in Long Island City, Monday, April 14, 6 to 8 p.m. (The nearest subway stop is 33 Street (Rawson Street) on the No. 7 line.) Sign up to speak by 5:45 p.m. Check out the flyer.

Wednesday, April 16: The next Delegate Assembly will be Wednesday, April 16 at union headquarters.

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.

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

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)

Tuesday, April 1, 6 to 8 p.m., Tamiment Library Book Talk at Bobst Library, NYC.
Thursday, April 10, 8:30 a.m., Media Literacy Workshop.
Friday, April 11, 4:30 p.m., Women: A Global Force.
Friday, April 18, 4 p.m., Executive Board Meeting.
ELAC/UFT (English Language Arts Council)

Wednesday, April 30, 4:30 pm, Poetry of Love.
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.
NYC Music Teachers Association/UFT

Wednesday, April 9, 4 p.m., Classroom Music and the Special Learner…
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.

Thursday, April 3 & Friday, April 4, 4:30 p.m., Auditions for Signature Performances.
Friday, April 11, 4 p.m., Open Mike Poetry.

Friday, April 11, 7:15 p.m., Demo Derby at NYU.
Editor: Paul Schickler

Contributors include: Amy Arundell, LeRoy Barr, Ellie Engler, Richard Farkas, Mike Hirsch, Nyree McCray, Deidre McFadyen, Michael Mulgrew, Susan Picicci, Chris Procter, Ann Rosen, Howard Solomon and Michael Spielman.


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