Monday, November 17, 2008

UFT Weekly Update -- November 14, 2008

News of the Week

Talk to your principal about midyear school budget cuts
With the Department of Education making a $103 million cut to city schools, a 1.3 percent reduction, this year, and planning a further 3.5 percent cut to schools next year, serious and painful decisions will have to be made. You should be discussing with your principal how your school will implement midyear cuts so classrooms are protected. If you have not had such a discussion, please ask your principal to meet with you. Please tell your DR the names and titles of any members who are being told that they are in excess. Governor Paterson's proposal this week to cut $800 million statewide – $250 million from New York City schools – in state education operating aid would come on top of the city's own previously announced school budget cuts. Read Randi's statement about the governor's proposed education budget cut.

Sign up your members for Nov. 24 rally to support ATRs
Here's a chance for you and your members to voice your support for your ATR colleagues. Our contract guarantees their employment and salaries, but when these experienced and competent teachers lost their regular positions, through no fault of their own, they ended up frequently being used only as substitutes or teaching out of license. At the same time, the Department of Education, in the face of a gathering fiscal crisis, continued hiring brand-new teachers while ignoring these excessed veterans. On Monday, Nov. 24 at 4:30 p.m., we will gather outside the DOE headquarters at the Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers Street in Manhattan, to voice our outrage. Please sign up and bring as many members as you can. Our strength is in our numbers.

Home-Buying Opportunities Seminars for members in all boroughs
The UFT, in partnership with the community group ACORN, is sponsoring a program to offer affordable housing opportunities in the city to UFT members, whether they are looking to rent an apartment or buy a house, co-op or condo. This Home-Buying Opportunities Seminar introduces people to the spectrum of offerings and covers all aspects of how to buy a home and get a mortgage. After attending the two-hour information session, each member is assigned a loan counselor who gives one-on-one support. Both the seminars and the counseling sessions are free and open to all UFT members. Pre-registration is required. to register, call Milagros Rivera at 718-246-8080 ext. 207. All seminars are from 6 to 8 p.m. at the borough offices. The dates are: Manhattan, Dec. 2; Queens, Dec. 4; Staten Island and the Bronx, Dec. 17; and Brooklyn, Dec. 18.

Teacher's Choice allocations will be direct deposit or debit cards
Moving into the twenty-first century, the Department of Education will be distributing its Teacher's Choice allocation via direct deposit for those who have direct deposit. Those who don't will receive debit cards. Direct deposit participants will receive a separate deposit of the funds the first week of December. Those receiving debit cards will get them with their Dec. 15 check. This year, all teachers will get $150; guidance counselors, social workers, and school psychologists, $100; lab specialists, $75, and secretaries, $50. All other rules and regulations regarding Teacher's Choice remain unchanged. Information and links to forms can be found at the DOE Teacher's Choice Web page. Remind members to save receipts for classroom purchases.

And on don't miss:
Most high schools show improvement in latest School Progress Reports

Striding for a cure

Ask the mayor for “A Better Capital Plan”

To Do:
Your new members will receive, as early as Friday, Nov. 14, an e-mail from the DOE containing their city license/appointment information, as well as important information regarding their New York State certification requirements. Make sure they check for this important e-mail, and suggest that they might want to print it out for their personal files. If they have any questions, they should speak to their principals. If you as the chapter leader have any questions, call your borough office.
Approximately 4,800 teachers have received warning letters from the DOE that they will lose their job at the end of June if they do not take care of their certification status. Please remind your members that it is important that they follow the instructions in the letter as soon as possible. They will be receiving a follow-up letter from Randi Weingarten this month offering workshops in each borough if they have questions about their status or how to address the problem.
With grand larceny thefts up 173 percent over last year, pass on these tips from the NYPD to your members: Leave valuables at home; don't leave your keys or a property unattended; don't flash your cash; and have a strong lock and don't share or give out the combination or key. Here's a small poster of Larceny Prevention Tips for your UFT bulletin board.
We need you to enroll more members in COPE and urge those enrolled at low levels to increase their contribution rates. The packets you received in September include a list of who in your school contributes to COPE and who doesn't, COPE enrollment forms, and voter registration forms. Send in all the completed COPE cards in the self-addressed stamped envelope in your packet.


For your information:A
FT highlights teachable moments from election: The American Federation of Teachers recognizes a teachable moment when it sees one, and it has wasted no time in creating a Web site for teachers based on lessons to be learned from the presidential election. With adaptable lesson plans featuring grade-appropriate resource materials, the site explores both historical and current events contributing to Nov. 4's historic outcome. The site will be updated through Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and beyond.

Express Scripts warns of possible data breach: The UFT Welfare Fund was alerted of a potential breach of the personal data of Express Scripts members and of an extortion letter threatening the release of personal data. While no UFT member's information has been compromised at this time, Express Scripts and the Welfare Fund advise all members to take steps to protect themselves against identity theft. Read the Express Scripts press release. Also visit the Express Scripts Supports site for information and resources to help safeguard your personal information.

New York City health benefits program transfer period: All UFT members, both in-service and retirees, will be able to change their health insurance coverage and add or drop optional riders during the transfer period, which this year runs from Nov. 3 through Nov. 28. The changes are effective January, 2009.

New special ed manual: The DOE's new Special Education Standard Operating Procedures Manual is now available at the DOE Web site on the Special Educator Resources page. The nearly 300-page manual contains a comprehensive explanation of special education policies and procedures from referral through placement. A companion practitioner's guide with best practices for special education evaluations is also available at the same Web site.

Know your rights: The UFT's “Know Your Rights” manual, an abbreviated, A-Z ready reference, is online. Please share the link with your members.

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.

Dial-A-Teacher: Make sure your members, especially new teachers, know about Dial-A-Teacher, free teacher help with homework to students – and parents – over the telephone. And for parents who need help helping their kids, the program also offers sympathetic advice. Callers can get help in 15 languages. Students need only call 212-777-3380 any school day, Monday through Thursday, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

In the News:
Obama victory a plus for labor organizing: The AFL-CIO went full blast in support of Barack Obama, and the labor federation looks forward now to the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, reports the Washington Post. The president-elect was a firm backer of the legislation, which allows workers to join a union simply by filling out a union card, thus bypassing management union-busting tactics including intimidation and firing of suspected union sympathizers. The business community is expected to try and use the troubled economy as an excuse to kill the bill.

Supporting schools despite the economy: By large margins, San Diego vicinity voters in two school districts decided to raise property taxes in order to build and repair their schools, says the San Diego Union-Tribune. The campaign chairman supporting the measures in one of the districts declared, “I think they (voters) looked at the bigger picture and said, ‘OK, the economy is tough right now, but this is an investment in our future.'” Meanwhile, in Ohio, about 58 percent of school district budgets passed voter muster, according to the Akron Beacon Journal matching almost precisely the percentage which passed over the last decade.

Colorado unions win two of three ballot measures: Colorado voters turned aside two anti-union measures last week, one to forbid mandatory union fees and the other to outlaw automatic deduction of union fees from paychecks, says the Denver Post. The Colorado Education Association admitted defeat on the third measure, which will prohibit political contributions from government workers' unions.

Events Calendar:
Saturday, Nov. 15: CANCELLED A flea market at the UFT's Bronx Borough office, noon to 4 p.m., will benefit the AFT/NYS Latino Caucus Scholarship Fund. Sponsored by District 12, the flea market will feature jewelry, houseware, clothing, books, pet supplies, food, teacher supplies, candles and much more.

Monday, Nov. 17: Come to a book talk and signing by Dominic Carter, author of No Momma's Boy: A Memoir, 4:30 to 6 p.m. at 52 Broadway, 5th floor. Refreshments will be served. To RSVP call Adelina Cintron at 212-598-9534. For details, see the flyer.

Monday, Nov. 17: A discussion called “The End of Retirement with Dignity? What Workers Need to Know,” 6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m., 52 Broadway, will be led by Teresa Ghilarducci, author of “When I'm Sixty-Four: The Plot Against Pensions & the Plan to Save Them” and Professor of Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research. Joining her will be UFT Treasurer Mel Aaronson and Stuart Leibowitz, Chair of Alliance for Retired Americans, AFL-CIO. There will be refreshments and a light meal, followed by a book signing by Ms. Ghilarducci. The event is sponsored by the Metropolitan New York Labor Communications Council.

Tuesday, Nov. 18: The Bronx UFT office will recognize paraprofessionals and secretaries at the SRP Dinner and Award Celebration, 6 to 9:30 p.m. To RSVP call Nanette at 718-862-6087 or fax your name, school, and telephone number to 718-379-1115.

Wednesday, Nov. 19: In There's More to Google Than Search, 4:15 to 6:15 p.m., at 52 Broadway, participants will explore the premier search engine on the Web – Google which has more power than you can imagine! Learn how to harness Google to make you a better teacher as you search for Web content, images, news, maps, United States government agencies and blogs. Learn to use Froogle and Google Earth and learn how to translate Web content from other languages. We promise that you will leave this workshop amazed at everything Google can do for you. This workshop is open to all teachers at all levels. To register or to get more information, call Sue Picicci at 212-598-9282 or e-mail There is a $10 fee. Refreshments will be provided.

Wednesday, Nov. 19 deadline: Middle schools interested in developing performing arts programs are invited to apply for the Shubert Foundation/MTI Broadway Junior Program, supporting the arts in underserved middle schools through musical theater. Selected schools will produce a Broadway Junior musical with support from an on-site production advisor who will assist teachers in working with students during preparation, planning, and rehearsal of the production. These school teams will also participate in professional development covering all areas of musical theater production. Schools must be willing to commit to a full semester of rehearsal and production and to integrate the musical theater program into their curriculum. The cost of the program is substantially subsidized. For more information and an application, go here. The application deadline is Wednesday, Nov. 19. Contact Paul King at with any questions.

Wednesday, Nov. 19: A Baby on the Way Workshop will take place 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Bronx UFT office. Get answers to your maternity and leave questions. Not for women only. To register, print the flyer.

Thursday, Nov. 20: Join our UFT Providers Contract Rally with UFT President Randi Weingarten, elected officials, ACORN, and other UFT members to fight for respect, higher wages, and health benefits for New York City's 28,000 home daycare providers. The rally begins at 7 p.m., at the historic Alhambra Ballroom, 2116 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (corner of 126th Street). Take the 2/3 train to 125th Street or the 6 train to 125th/Lexington Avenue.

Thursday, Nov. 20: At a meeting for the Capably Disabled, 4:15 p.m. at 50 Broadway, 2nd Floor, Room C, Gianna Ruddock, program director of the UFT Welfare Fund Health & Cancer Helpline, will discuss the helpline under the topic heading A Versatile Unit to Meet Your Needs. Contact Eugene Rubin at 212-598-7711 for more information.

Friday, Nov. 21: A Heritage Celebration and Awards Gala will benefit the AFT Latino Caucus NYS Chapter Scholarship Fund. Held at the Bronx UFT office, 6 to 11:30 p.m., the gala will honor Martin Plotkin, District 6 Representative; Michelle Bodden, UFT Elementary Charter School Leader; and Rita Danis, UFT Teacher Center. The cost is $75. Make checks payable to and mail to AFT/NYS Latino Caucus Scholarship Fund, 2500 Halsey Street, Bronx, NY 10461. For more information, call Lorrieann Sanchez at 718-862-6020. To view the flyer go here.

Tuesday, Nov. 25: In Around the World, 4:45 to 6:45 p.m., at 52 Broadway, explore the web of relationships between people, places, their products and the environment. Employing both visual and tactile activities, participants experience a world that is much closer than one ever thought. To register or to get more information, call Anthony Harmon at 212-598-6338 or e-mail at

Tuesday, Dec. 2: A Maternity/Childcare Workshop will be held at the Brooklyn UFT Office, 4 to 6 p.m. Call 718-852-4900 to register. There will be light refreshments. Limited reduced parking is available at the Edison Parking Systems lot in the Renaissance Plaza Marriott Hotel with UFT validation only.

Tuesday, Dec. 2: Learn Origami for the Holidays with the Asian-American Heritage Committee so you can teach it to your students, 4 to 6 p.m., at the UFT Manhattan Borough office, 10th floor. Materials will be supplied. There will be light refreshments. The workshop is free, but registration is required. See the coupon in the New York Teacher.

Wednesday, Dec. 3: There will be a meeting of Lab Specialists, 4 to 5:30 p.m., 50 Broadway, second floor, Classroom G.

Wednesday, Dec. 3: Lesbian & Gay Teachers will meet 6 to 8 p.m. at the LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St. E-mail or phone 212-933-4544 or 646-660-3303.

Tuesday, Dec. 9: The African Heritage Committee will celebrate Kwanzaa, 4:30 pm., at UFT headquarters.

Friday, Dec. 12: The Science Committee will discuss Bio Related Polymers, 7:15 p.m., at NYU, Silver Center, Room 207, 32 Waverly Place, Manhattan.

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, 52 Broadway. Check lobby for location. For further information, contact us at 212-598-7772 or visit us online.

ATSS/UFT (Assn. of Teachers of SS)

Wednesday, Nov.19, 4 p.m., Celebrate Geography Awareness Workshop @ The Academy of Urban Planning.
Friday, Nov. 21, 4:30 p.m., Personalized Portfolios: Celebrating Our Uniqueness.
Friday, Dec. 5, 4 p.m., Holiday Party @ Tony's, 1606 Second Ave @ 83rd St.
Green Committee

Thursday, Nov. 20, 4:30 p.m., General Meeting.
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 4:30 p.m., General Meeting.
Humane Education

Sunday, Nov. 16, 9:45 a.m., Healthy Foods for Better Living.
Irish-American Heritage

Monday, Nov. 17, 4:30 p.m., Samhain/November The Celtic New Year Month, Featuring Maura Mulligan.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, Monday & Tuesday, Nov. 24 & 25, 4 p.m., Rehearsals.
Wednesday, Dec. 3 & Monday, Dec. 8, 4 p.m., Rehearsals.
Friday, Dec. 5, 4 p.m., Piano Bar & Party.
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 4 p.m., Dress Rehearsal & Thursday, Dec. 11, 4 p.m., Performance.
Monday, Dec. 15, 4 p.m., Rehearsal.

Friday, Dec. 12, 7:15 p.m., Bio Related Polymers @ NYU.


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