Wednesday, March 11, 2009

UFT Weekly Update -- March 9, 2009


Rally for New York makes history, launches next phase of budget battle
Tens of thousands of UFT members flooded the streets and joined tens of thousands of others in a crowd that stretched from the tip of City Hall Park all the way back to Canal Street at Thursday's Rally for New York. The unprecedented turnout — estimated at 70,000 to 75,000 — gave notice that New York labor will not let this economic crisis be solved on the backs of our children and our most vulnerable citizens. The UFT played a pivotal role in the broad coalition that pulled the rally together. UFT members were mobilized at every level and chapter leaders were a key to the successful mobilization. But the rally was really only the beginning of the work of getting the State Legislature to pass a fair budget. We need to follow it up immediately with personal outreach to each and every state legislator. Begin by sending a letter to your Assembly member and state senator through the union's Web site, and then urge every member of your chapter to do the same.

Tell members salary differential applications soon to be online only
Inform your members that the DOE has gone electronic for teachers and secretaries applying for salary differentials, and starting May 15 the process will be online only. The Web site of the Office of Salary Services has application instructions and forms. You can go here first for instructions on how to navigate the DOE site. You will need a DOE e-mail address, and original transcripts must still be submitted to 65 Court St., Room 102, Brooklyn, NY 11201. It is strongly suggested that if members cannot hand deliver their applications, they should send them return receipt requested.

Open Market Transfer period begins April 15
The annual Open Market Transfer Plan period is scheduled to begin 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 through an online registration process. During this period, which ends August 7, you do not need a release from your principal to change schools. You may even apply to schools without current openings, and your application will be kept on file until an opening occurs. The Open Market Q & A on the UFT Web site offers more information about the process.

What will they hear on the Grapevine?
Did your staff members share 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 next month, so now is the time to review those comments and update them if necessary. Is your administration supportive? How's the parking? Is your school safe? Encourage members who haven't participated before to add their views, so potential colleagues can make informed decisions before transferring.

Second round of Teacher's Choice allocations
A second round of Teacher's Choice allocations is scheduled for March. This round will cover any members who did not receive Teacher's Choice in December. Direct deposit will occur on March 6 and debit cards will be distributed to those without direct deposit on March 16. Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch with this second allocation, there are 95 people who are either regular subs filling vacancies or ROTC instructors who will not receive it on March 6 or March 16. The DOE is working on getting their allocations to them by mid-March. Because this second allocation is occurring later this year than in years past, the spending deadline has been extended to March 20. The deadline for turning in accountability reports and receipts is still March 31. Contact Amy Arundell if you have questions.


And on don't miss:
State Education Department removes 13 city schools from failing list

Urge state legislators to work for a fair budget

Comptroller joins child care providers demanding overdue raises


To Do:
School governance hearings March 13 and 20: State Assembly hearings on school governance are continuing, with the last two scheduled for the Bronx (March 13) and Brooklyn (March 20). Let your members know and encourage them to attend. The central issue, of course, is mayoral control, and the UFT weighed in with its report on the issue, approved by the Delegate Assembly on Feb. 4. Go here for details on the hearings.
Seniority lists are available: Please request your school's seniority list from your district representative. Post it in a place to which all chapter members have access.
Ensure the confidentiality of Learning Environment Surveys: The Learning Environment Surveys for teachers, parents and students have been released to the schools by the DOE. The Principal's Weekly issued strict instructions to principals to be sure that all participants complete their survey in a totally confidential manner without any influence over their answers from anyone. Principals were warned to avoid any breach, or even the appearance of a breach, in survey confidentiality. Please be sure your PTA and, of course, your members are aware of this.
Schools face hefty budget cuts this year. 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. Now is the time to establish an ongoing conversation about budget with your principal. The union has put together and mailed to chapter leaders a Guide for School Budget Consultation 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. Go here to read an online version of the Guide for School Budget Consultation.
Please reach out to the school psychologists and social workers at your school and encourage them to register on the UFT home page (see the “sign up” link in the top left portion of the site) or on the chapter's Web page, so they can get the latest news, newsletters and more, directly from the chapter, as well as union-wide news. Let them know to sign up with their personal—not DOE—e-mail addresses.
Please inform your School Leadership Teams that they may use funds allocated to the team to pay conference registration fees ($30 per participant) for the UFT Spring Education Conference that will be held on Saturday, May 9 at the New York Hilton Hotel. The UFT will accept DOE purchase orders for conference registration. Procedures are in UFT chapter leader mailings for February and March. The deadline to submit purchase orders is Friday, April 3. Coupons for individual registration will be in the New York Teacher, beginning with the March 5 issue. If you have any questions, please contact Samantha Mark or call 212-598-9429.


For your information:
BEDS information for NCLB does not threaten members' jobs: The annual BEDS surveys help identify which members are considered “highly qualified” in their current positions under the No Child Left Behind law. We've heard that a principal or two may be suggesting that members not meeting this criterion could be in jeopardy. Nothing of the sort. No one can be excessed or terminated due to their NCLB status. If any member hears differently from your principal, contact your district representative immediately and the misinformation will be corrected.

Excessed Staff Selection System:
As a result of the ATR agreement negotiated by the union in November, the DOE has made a number of enhancements to the Excessed Staff Selection System, a Web site where those in excess can register and apply to posted vacancies. Principals will now be able to see who is in excess, who has applied to specific schools or vacancies and whether or not the subsidy applies to a particular candidate. It is important to note that by registering, staff will be able to give schools their most up-to-date contact information. Please encourage all ATRs – teachers, guidance counselors, secretaries, psychologists and social workers – to log on, register and utilize this site. Let ATRs know that if they have difficulties using the site, they may contact Amy Arundell at the UFT.

W-2 corrections and duplications: The city is now processing 2008 W-2 correction/duplication forms. In the past forms were sent to schools to be copied and distributed to members. In an attempt to cut down on paper this is no longer being done. If a duplicate/corrected W-2 is required the form must be downloaded from the DOE website. The form should be completed and faxed to the DOE's W-2 unit at 718-935-3262. W-2 duplicates/corrections will be mailed to the address on file with the DOE. Please be aware that if a member has moved and not updated their address with the DOE, the W-2 will be sent to an incorrect address. Address corrections must be made with HR Connect at 718-935-4000. Forms can be printed from the DOE's Payroll Portal.

Tax deductions for teachers: This is straight from the Web site of the Internal Revenue Service: “If you are an eligible educator, you can deduct up to $250 of your unreimbursed expenses [otherwise deductible trade or business expenses] you paid or incurred for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom. For courses in health and physical education, expenses for supplies are qualified expenses only if they are related to athletics. You can deduct these expenses even if you do not itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A.” For more, visit their Web site here.

Teachers of Tomorrow: Newer teachers who work in identified high-need New York City schools can receive up to $3,400 in tuition reimbursement or loan forgiveness for each year of satisfactory service for up to four years through the Teachers of Tomorrow Program, a New York State program backed by the UFT. The DOE has notified current participants and newly-hired teachers in the eligible schools. The application deadline is March 20. If you have any questions, call the DOE at 718-935-2449. You can check the list of eligible schools here. If you are in a listed school but have not received notification about how to apply, call your UFT borough office and speak to an educational liaison.

Low-cost PD: Online registration for spring 2009 in-class and online courses in the After School Professional Development Program began Jan. 13. Go to the program's Web site to check out the course offerings, register and enroll. These courses are designed to have a positive impact on student achievement through the professional development of teachers, secretaries and other school personnel. The courses are high-quality, low-cost alternatives to traditionally offered college courses across all content areas that may be applied toward salary differential requirements and that meet New York State's 175-hour professional development requirement.

Forms at your fingertips: We have added to our Web site a wealth of useful forms that you and your members might need, including not only union forms, but DOE forms and applications, and even New York State forms. See and print dozens of forms and memorandums relating to leaves, salary, Teacher's Choice, Workers' Comp, special education and many other issues.

Student essay competition: “BODIES…The Exhibition” has announced its 2009 essay competition for two categories: middle school and high school students. This year, BODIES NYC asks students to choose a body system and compare it to a mechanical system. One winning essay will be selected in each category. Writers of the winning essays will be awarded a field trip to BODIES NYC for their classes. The deadline for entries is March 30. More details are available here.

Writing Contest: The Jewish Community Relations Council of NY, in cooperation with the New York City Department of Education, is sponsoring a writing contest for New York City Public School students on this year's theme, Acts of Loving Kindness. Prizes of up to $500 will be awarded in grades 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The contest deadline is April 27. For contest rules and information, visit the Web site or contact Marcy Fishman by e-mail or by calling 212-983-4800, x142.

Home-buying seminars: The UFT, in partnership with the community group ACORN, is sponsoring a free 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. After attending the two-hour information session, each member is assigned a loan counselor who gives one-on-one support. Pre-registration is required. Call Milagros Rivera at 718-246-8080 ext. 207 to register. All seminars are from 6 to 9 p.m. at the borough offices. Upcoming dates are: Manhattan, March 10; Brooklyn, March 11; Bronx, March 12; Queens, March 16; and Staten Island, March 18.
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In the News:
Mainstreaming fails in Maryland: The Montgomery County, Maryland schools found to their chagrin that a program to integrate students with significant learning disabilities into the mainstream population resulted in 100 percent of them scoring at the lowest level in the state's math exam, reports the Examiner of Washington, D.C. Moreover, 81 percent scored similarly poorly on the reading test. Officials maintain that special ed classes had primarily been a dumping ground for minority children, and that the mainstreaming could have worked with proper support.

"Zero tolerance" effectiveness found to be less than zero: Far from decreasing behavior problems in schools, zero-tolerance policies may actually increase them, says a report by the American Psychological Association, according to Education News. The report also concluded that a one-size-fits-all approach does not increase consistency of disciplinary approach, nor has it lowered racial bias in discipline, and such an approach does not take into account students' level of emotional maturity.

Teens vs. PhDs: In this tight job market, with out-of-work adults applying for jobs usually given to teens, the recent grads are losing out, states the Denver Post. "If I had a light labor job, I'd have a PhD do it," said the owner of a Denver staffing agency. It isn't helping the teens that few people are leaving the jobs they have.

Events Calendar:
Saturday, March 7: At Classroom Management: Mid-Year Strategies, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., learn strategies for immediate implementation in the adolescent classroom to address mid-year management issues. This workshop is designed specifically for middle school teachers. There is a $20 registration fee. For further information, e-mail Sue Picicci or call her at 212-598-9282.

Sunday, March 8: The UFT Jewish Heritage Committee will host the second annual Purim celebration 1 to 4 p.m. at the UFT Bronx Borough Office. This free event is for families of all faiths and religions. The afternoon will be filled with fun activities like mask-making, carnival games, storytelling and karaoke. Children can come in costumes and win prizes.

Tuesday, March 10: The workshop Proactive Classroom Management, 4 to 6 p.m., 52 Broadway, is designed to enable teachers to be proactive in dealing with problematic student behavior. The emphasis is on creating strategies for prevention as well as intervention. Practical tips and materials are offered. The fee is $10. For registration or for further information, please contact Anthony Harmon at 212-510- 6338.

Thursday, March 12: In Teaching U.S. History Through the Lens of Teacher Unionism, 4:15 to 6:15 p.m., 52 Broadway, participants learn about the important history of the UFT. This workshop is designed to give members an understanding of the history of unions, using teacher unions as an example. Special attention will be given to how history repeats itself and how we have continually sought to maintain our professionalism. Materials will be provided for teachers to enrich their U.S. history curriculum. This workshop is open to both middle and high school teachers at all levels. There is a $10 registration fee. For further information or to register, e-mail Sue Picicci or call her at 212-598-9282.

Thursday, March 12: The African Heritage Committee meets at 4:30 p.m., 50 Broadway, second floor, Classroom C.

Friday, March 13 registration deadline: The UFT Paraprofessional Chapter Annual Festival and Awards Luncheon will be held Saturday, March 28, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan. The cost is $25. For a list of workshops and other details, see the conference registration form and register by March 13.

Monday, March 16 deadline: The second early childhood conference, titled “Educating the Whole Child,” March 28, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 52 Broadway, includes breakfast, plenary sessions, workshops, lunch and resource materials. Early childhood teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, child-care providers, social workers, and paraprofessionals in early childhood grades are all invited to attend. The registration fee is $25. Make checks payable to UFT Elementary Workshops. Registration forms are available online. For more information, send an e-mail to The deadline to register is March 16.

Thursday, March 19: The Committee for Social and Economic Justice will meet 4:30 to 6 p.m., 52 Broadway.

Tuesday, March 24: In Everything You Wanted to Know About Special Education – and Lots More!, 4:15 to 6:15 p.m., 52 Broadway, participants get answers to questions on a variety of special education issues, including IEPs, evaluations, placements and program referrals. Explore the changing roles of both the general and special education teacher. Learn about the responsibilities of the IEP team. This workshop is open to both middle and high school teachers. There is a $10 registration fee. For further information or to register, e-mail Sue Picicci or call her at 212-598-9282.

Tuesday, March 24: In Poetry as a Genre, 4 to 6 p.m., 52 Broadway, through a study of poets and some practical poetry-writing experiences, teachers will enter a comfort zone for teaching poetry. The fee is $10. For registration or for further information, please contact Anthony Harmon at 212-510-6338.

Tuesday, March 24: The Capably Disabled Committee will discuss how to obtain a traveling accommodation for the passenger with disabilities, 4:15p.m., 50 Broadway, second floor, Classroom E. Daisy DeJesus, the UFT social services coordinator in the Paraprofessional Department, will be the presenter. For more information, call Eugene Rubin at 212-598-7711.

Wednesday, March 25: The next Delegate Assembly will be 4:15 p.m., 52 Broadway.

Saturday, March 28: In Differentiated Instruction in the Middle School Classroom, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 52 Broadway, participants will explore what it means to have a differentiated classroom, including how to differentiate assessment. Learn ways to differentiate instruction, such as tiering and flexible grouping, while maintaining classroom management. Methods of teaching, geared to different learning styles and multiple intelligences, will also be discussed. This workshop is designed specifically for middle school teachers. There is a $20 registration fee. For further information, e-mail Sue Picicci or call her at 212-598-9282.

Monday, March 30: Celebrate Passover through the eyes of the labor movement as the UFT Jewish Heritage Committee/JLC Educators' Chapter conduct their annual Labor Seder 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Brooklyn UFT office, 25th floor. Cost of $36 includes a traditional kosher Passover dinner. Seating is limited. Make checks payable to Educators' Chapter JLC and mail to Joel Shiller, Staten Island UFT, 4456 Amboy Road, Staten Island, NY 10312. For information, call 718-605-1400.

Tuesday, March 31: In celebration of Women's History Month, the Women's Rights Committee presents a workshop on Women in the Labor Movement, 4 to 6 p.m., at UFT headquarters. The speaker will be May Chen, International Vice President of Unite Here Local 23–25. A film, “Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl,” will be introduced by Regina Olff. To register, send your name, address, phone number, school, file number and e-mail to: Women's Rights Committee, Attn: Rovenia McGowan, 52 Broadway, New York, NY 10004. Co-sponsored by the Asian Heritage Committee and the Jewish Heritage Committee.

Tuesday, March 31: Tired of wasting time surfing the net for resources to use in your classroom? Using the Internet to Enhance Your Teaching, 4 to 6 p.m., 52 Broadway, will teach you three or four valuable sites that provide the tools to enhance teaching and motivate and challenge students. The fee is $10. For registration or for further information, please contact Anthony Harmon at 212-510-6338.


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 the lobby for exact locations. For further information contact us at 212-598-7772 or visit us online.

ATSS/UFT (Assn. of Teachers of SS)

Sunday March 22, Stories of the Holocaust: Children, Resistance, Perpetrators, at Pratt Mansion/Marymount School.
Friday, March 27, 4:30 p.m. Women's History Month workshop - Celebrating our Uniqueness.
ELAC/UFT (English Language Arts Council)

Wednesday, March 25, 4:30 p.m., Celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
ESL/Bilingual Committee

Tuesday, March 10, 4:30 p.m., Responding to Students' Learning-Style Preferences.
Green Schools Committee

Tuesday, March 17, 4 p.m., General Meeting.
HAEA/UFT (Hellenic-American Educators Assn.)

Thursday, March 12, 4 p.m., Annual Heritage Event.

Tuesday, March 10, 6 p.m., La Festa di San Giuseppe at Trattoria Lucia , Bellerose.
Math Teachers

Saturday, March 14, 8 a.m., TBA.
NYCAFLT/UFT (NYC Assn. of Foreign Language Teachers)
Saturday, April 4, 9 a.m., Spring 2009 Professional Development Workshops.
NYC Music Teachers Association/UFT

Thursday, April 2, 4:30 p.m., Robin Hood, Prince of Music Cues.
Thursday, April 2, 4:30 p.m., Strategies for Working with Middle School Voices.
Per Diems

Thursday, March 31, 4:30 p.m., General Meeting.

Thursday, March 12, 4 p.m., Board Meeting.
Thursday, March 26, 4 p.m., Women's Words Performance.
Friday, March 27, 4 p.m., Women's Words Performance.

Friday, March 13, 7:15 p.m., Integrated Planning for Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability, at NYU.
Friday, April 3, 7:15 p.m., Demo Derby at NYU.

Thursday, March 26, 4:30 p.m., General Meeting.


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