Monday, December 08, 2008

UFT Weekly Update -- December 5, 2008


Use UFT budget guide to start conversation with your principal
Article 8C of our union contract gives the chapter chair along with the chapter consultation committee a right to review as well as to provide input into spending decisions. As front-line educators, UFT chapter leaders can bring crucial insights to budget decisions that can help maximize the impact of spending choices, minimize the impact of cuts and keep the focus on the classroom. By now your principal has submitted a revised budget for your school to reflect the 1.3 percent reduction in city funding, but as you know we expect deeper cuts in the coming months. Now is the time to establish an ongoing conversation about budget with your principal. Ask your principal for a copy of your school’s revised budget if you don’t have it. If you have not already done so, consult with your principal about how cuts are being implemented in your school.

The union has put together a “Guide for School Budget Consultation” for you to explain how the budget consultation process works and to provide you and your chapter with tools to understand the various components that make up the school budget. Chapter leaders will be receiving the guide by mail. You can also access the guide online in the chapter leader section of the UFT Web site. (You need to complete the Web site’s sign-up process to have access to this special section.)

Teacher’s Choice allocations to be made on Dec. 4 or 15
Members who get paid via direct deposit this year will get their Teacher’s Choice allocation on Dec. 4 via direct deposit. Those who don’t have direct deposit will get a debit card with their allocation in their Dec. 15 paycheck. Members who don’t get their Teacher’s Choice allocation by those dates should call their borough office immediately. Members don’t have to use the debit card to purchase classroom supplies. Members need to document their purchases — with original receipts attached — on the accountability form that they must submit to their principal by March 31. This year, all teachers will get $150; guidance counselors, social workers, and school psychologists, $100; lab specialists, $75, and secretaries, $50. Information and links to forms can be found at the DOE’s Teacher’s Choice Web page.

Encourage students to apply for UFT-funded college scholarships
Do you know a special high school senior in need of a college scholarship? Each year, the UFT proudly awards nearly $1 million in college scholarships to academically excellent and financially eligible students from New York City public schools. Please encourage high school seniors to apply and urge your school’s college advisor or guidance counselor to alert students about the scholarships. Students can get an application form from their college advisor. They – or you on their behalf – can also download the application form directly from the UFT Web site. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31, 2009. To receive the $5,000 scholarship, those selected must be accepted in a full-time, matriculated, degree-granting program at an accredited college or university. Thanks for helping spread the word about this wonderful opportunity. Here’s a poster for your UFT bulletin board.


And on don’t miss:
Three schools set to close

UFT fighting to save 88 teachers from termination

Obama sees school modernization as priority in economic recovery

Randi Weingarten’s Dec. 3 City Council testimony on the city’s proposed capital plan

To Do:
Your new members should have received by now 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 checked 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. If these members have questions about their status or how to address the problem, they should call their borough office and ask to speak to an educational liaison.
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:
BEDS surveys and HOUSSE evaluations in schools: The Basic Educational Data System (BEDS) Personnel Data Form for Teachers is currently being completed by designated personnel in every school. Some teachers may be approached by administration to complete the High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE) on the DOE Web site to meet the highly qualified standard for a particular out-of-license assignment. There will be an article in the Dec. 11 issue of New York Teacher with more details. In the meantime, please contact your DR or Ann Rosen at if you have any questions or concerns.

Excused leave for breast or prostate cancer screening and blood donation:
A personnel memo issued by the DOE outlines the procedures for UFT members to be eligible for an excused leave for breast cancer screening, prostate cancer screening and donating of blood. UFT members will have up to four hours of paid leave to get a mammogram, up to four hours of paid leave for prostate screening, and up to three hours of unpaid leave to give blood. Under the procedures outlined in the memo, the member must make the request for time off in advance and in writing. Approval must be granted by the principal (or designee) as long as the request does not “substantially disrupt the normal operation” of the school. The state Legislature passed the laws granting our members these benefits at the urging of the UFT and our state affiliate NYSUT.

Schools sharing a building must cooperate to select a recycling coordinator: All schools in New York City are required by law to recycle. Chancellor’s Regulation A-850 currently prescribes how schools should implement recycling plans. If a school is located on a campus (i.e., a building containing more than one school or program), the principals for the various schools must mutually select a Lead Recycling and Waste Reduction Coordinator. This coordinator must coordinate the efforts of all the schools on the campus to develop and implement their School Recycling and Waste Reduction Plans. See Chancellor’s Regulation A-850 for more details.

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. Call Milagros Rivera at 718-246-8080, ext. 207 to register. All seminars are from 6 to 8 p.m. at the borough offices. The remaining dates are: Staten Island and the Bronx, Dec. 17; and Brooklyn, Dec. 18.

AFT 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.

Bring the zoo to school: You can bring the zoo to your elementary school with a visit from Wildlife Theater from the Central Park Zoo. This program will highlight actions that students can use to make a positive impact on wildlife conservation. These interactive 30-45 minute programs that can take place in auditoriums or classrooms are designed for students in grades pre-K-5. Wildlife Theater covers environmental science using puppets, theater and music for a fun and unique educational experience. All Title I Schools receive a 10 percent discount on the program. For additional information, call 212-439-6540, e-mail, or visit the zoo’s Web site.

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.

Safety upfront and center at Your safety and that of your students is paramount. Recognizing this, the union has compiled facts, forms, regulations and procedures you need to know on one Web page, reached by a school safety link on the home page of Support programs, workshops, and contact phone numbers are included, as are step-by-step instructions for reporting incidents, and links to the appropriate forms. Inform your members that this link is now available.

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 e-mail

AFT Advantage: AFT Advantage is a new online benefit available to members. Use your UFT membership card to get members-only discounts from online retailers on electronics, jewelry, women’s clothes and accessories, children’s clothes, wine, travel, and more. When asked for your member number, type in the NYSUT ID# on your card. The local is “0002.”

Early grades financial literacy program: The American Credit Alliance is offering a pilot of free financial literacy education resources for Grades K-2. The “Money and Me: Becoming a Smart Money Kid” program is designed to teach students in grades K-2 the basic concepts of money, saving, spending, sharing and investing for the future. The program includes teacher resources and student activity books. A limited number of spaces for the pilot are still available. For more information or to sign-up, contact Alan Franklin at or 215-295-7195 ext. 1129.

In the News:
Union “Brightons” outlook for charter school teachers: Raising hackles for some and hope for others, Massachusetts now has its first unionized charter school, says the Boston Globe. With a 95 percent affirmative vote, teachers at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Brighton, Mass., voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers. The vote took school trustees by surprise, although the trustees’ chairwoman admitted, “That’s not to say we were not aware that teachers had issues.”

Suit claims algebra mandate funding is the unknown: A judge temporarily factored out a new California 8th-grade algebra test after a suit challenged the state mandate in court, reported the San Jose Mercury News. Last week, the Mercury News reported that the California Teachers Association joined state administrators in calling the new test “imprudent” and an unfunded mandate. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lauded the test and said funds would be found to implement it, but doubts were raised due to present economic concerns.

Magnet schools shine, but lose their pull: Magnet schools do a better job educating students – and integrating them – than charter schools, but are losing support, a UCLA project reported, according to the Los Angeles Times. Although magnets are more likely than charters to successfully serve students of poverty from all ethnicities, the study found, funding prospects for magnets are dimming even as President-elect Obama has pledged to double funding for charters. At the same time, a University of Minnesota study has found that charters in Minneapolis-St. Paul underperformed compared to district schools, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Events Calendar:
Tuesday, Dec. 9: Tired of wasting time surfing the net for resources to use in your classroom? In the workshop Using The Internet To Enhance Your Teaching, 4:45 p.m., learn three or four valuable Web sites that provide the tools to enhance teaching, motivate, and challenge students. The fee is $10. To register or for more information, please contact Anthony Harmon at 212-510-6338.

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

Thursday, Dec. 11: The workshop Using the Internet to Enhance Your Teaching will be held 4:15 to 6:15 p.m. at 52 Broadway. Tired of spending time surfing the web for resources to use in your classroom? Learn valuable sites that provide the tools to enhance your teaching while motivating and challenging students. This workshop is designed for both middle and high school teachers. 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.

Thursday, Dec. 11: The UFT Committee on Social and Economic Justice will meet at 50 Broadway, Classroom C, 2nd floor, 4:30 to 6 p.m. The agenda includes resolutions against torture, on privatization of Medicare, and on hiring inequities.

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.

Tuesday, Dec. 16: The workshop Reading And Writing For The Special Needs Learner, 4:45 to 6:45 p.m., at 52 Broadway, provides an opportunity to examine student work and engage in a collegial discussion concerning both the work and the process. Participants will view a brief DVD presentation made by the students who did the work. There is a $10 fee. To register, or for additional information, please contact Anthony Harmon at 212-510-6338.

Wednesday, Dec. 17: The next Delegate Assembly will start at 4:15 p.m., at 52 Broadway.

Thursday, Dec. 18: Register (deadline Dec. 8) for a Free Lecture on the Revolutionary War by Edwin G. Burrows, Distinguished Professor of History at Brooklyn College, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at the CUNY Graduate Center, Fifth Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets. Prof. Burrows will present a unique perspective on the Revolutionary War as well as a sobering commentary on how Americans have remembered our struggle for independence—and how much we have forgotten. Registered participants will receive a copy of Dr. Burrows’ new book, “Forgotten Patriots,” a packet of primary sources, and a light dinner. Go here to register, type “Historian Lecture: Forgotten Patriots” in the title field and “Social Studies” in the subject field, and use activity code 051-09-013-047. For more information, contact Elise Abegg at

Wednesday, Jan. 7: High school teachers and librarians, register by Dec. 12 for a free, full-day Picture Book Workshop on Wednesday, Jan. 7 at a New York City art institution to learn about the art of the picture book. Both art making and career opportunities will be addressed. Each participant will receive materials that include a large selection of picture books and resources related to the art of bookmaking. To send a participant, your school must commit to entering a student-created picture book in the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition in Spring 2009. This workshop is limited to 50 participants. Registration is required. You can register at For additional information, contact Karen Rosner at

Thursday, Jan. 8: The African Heritage Committee will meet 4:30 p.m. at 52 Broadway.

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 or visit us online.

ELAC/UFT (English Language Arts Council)

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 4 p.m., Vic’s Picks.
Green Committee

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 4:30 p.m., General Meeting.
HAEA/UFT (Hellenic-American Educators Assn.)

Sunday, Dec. 7, 3 p.m., Kellari’s Parea Bistro, NYC
Math Teachers

Saturday, Dec. 20, 8 a.m., TI-Nspire Workshop.

Monday, Dec. 8, 4 p.m., Rehearsals.
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 4 p.m., Dress Rehearsal & Thursday, Dec. 11, 4 p.m., Performance.
Monday, Dec. 15 & Tuesday, Dec. 16, 4 p.m., Rehearsal.
Wednesday, Dec. 17, 4 p.m., Dress Rehearsal.
Thursday, Dec. 18 & Friday, Dec. 19, 4 p.m., A Playwright for All Seasons.
Friday, Dec. 19, 4 p.m., Board Meeting.

Friday, Dec. 12, 7:15 p.m., Bio Related Polymers at NYU.
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Editor: Paul Schickler

Contributors include: Karen Alford, Amy Arundell, LeRoy Barr, Jackie Bennett, Robert Burwick, Leo Casey, Jessica Cepeda, Joseph Colletti, Ellie Engler, Aminda Gentile, Anthony Harmon, Ron Isaac, William Levay, Joe McAnanama, Joe LoVerde, Gregg Lundahl, Nyree McCray, Deidre McFadyen, Arthur Pepper, Sue Picicci, Chris Proctor, Marvin Reiskin, Ann Rosen, and Elizabeth Truly.


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