The UFT’s new TV ad began airing Saturday, May 22. The ad asks parents, teachers and community members to call, write and e-mail their legislators to urge them to protect after-school programs, save schools from teacher layoffs and urges the “blame the teacher crowd and the Wall Street Hedge Funds behind them,” to stop playing politics with New York’s children.
It’s early May, and things in Albany are really tough right now. Our state is facing yawning budget gaps, while political stalemate stymies any effort to raise significant new revenues.
In this environment, the UFT’s message to our elected representatives in the Assembly and Senate has been clear: they must oppose the governor’s drastic proposed cuts to the education budget. Lawmakers are considering a $600 million cut to state funding for our city’s public schools. If we lose that much state funding, class sizes will skyrocket, tutoring and after-school programs will be eliminated, and great teachers will be laid off.
Kids don’t get a second chance at an education. If we allow our school system to be decimated like it was in the ‘70s, another generation of young New Yorkers will lose their opportunity for a better life. More »
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich proposes a bailout for public education. “After all, the government bailed out Wall Street. What our kids learn — America’s human capital — is more important to our economy than Wall Street’s financial capital.”
Right now, the New York State Senate proposed budget is a disaster in the making for the children in New York’s public schools.
If the cuts go through, we can expect class sizes of 28 in the first grade; the loss of most after-school programs; elimination of what’s left of music, art and other enrichment programs; no summer school; and a return to conditions after the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, as schools put off necessary maintenance and buildings get dirtier and more dilapidated.
We can’t ask kids to pay the price for the mistakes that adults have made with our economy. The kids deserve better than this.
We need you to call your state senator TODAY to voice your opposition to devastating cuts in this budget proposal.
With last week’s announcement that New York was a Race to the Top Finalist, shocked charter management bosses were attempting to explain away weeks of argumentation that a failure to capitulate to their agenda would keep New York from achieving that goal. Spinning faster than the magic teacup ride at Disney World, Peter Murphy of the New York Charter School Association absurdly postulated that New York’s initial success will have a negative impact on education funding. This insight came from the same crystal ball which had Murphy prophesying that New York’s RttT proposal was too weak to become a finalist not two weeks ago. Joining Murphy on the magic teacup ride was Thomas Carroll, the proprietor of the Brighter Choice charter schools recently exposed for denying admissions to students with special needs; Carroll had been madly promoting his list of RttT finalists — sans New York — a few days before the announcement. Charter management’s hours organs — the pueriletabloid and Wall Street press — were called in. Fresh from its visit to Disney World, the Daily News decided that it would take a “magic spell” to win funding. And the usualcoterie of anti-unionbloggers were brought in for reinforcements. All in all, it’s a sight that would leave any teacher with her feet on the ground quite dizzy. More »
A million dollar opportunity is a terrible thing to waste.
This year’s deadline, Jan. 31, is fast approaching for the UFT’s annual awarding of $1 million in total scholarships to academically excellent and financially eligible New York City public high school seniors through the Albert Shanker College Scholarship Fund.
To receive a $5,000 scholarship from the fund, those selected must be accepted in a full-time, matriculated, degree-granting program at an accredited college or university.
In the heat of the Albany battle over the extension of the cap on the number of charter schools in New York State, the core agenda of the New York Charter School Association [NYCSA] has been stripped of all pretense. Faced with a set of reform proposals put forward by the UFT and elected officials to fix the broken charter school funding formula, NYCSA did not join in calls for reducing the funding lag, for having funding follow high needs students living in poverty, English Language Learners and Special Education students and for moving the cost of TRS pensions off the books of charter schools. Fair funding for charter schools is simply not important to the right-wing ideologues at NYCSA.
No, rather than take on such vital issues for charter schools, NYCSA has been waging an all-out campaign on behalf of for profit charter management firms Victory Schools and National Heritage Academies and on behalf of NYC D0E Chancellor Joel Klein. Legislation proposed by State Senate leader John Sampson and State Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver would combine an increase on the cap with a prohibition of for profit involvement in charter schools and limits on the NYC DoE policy of capriciously siting charter schools in district buildings to the detriment of the public schools already using the space. NYCSA is so opposed to these measures that it has its publicists at the New York Postcall for the defeat of a bill which would extend the charter cap to 400 schools.
Victory Schools is the outfit that is sucking up 25¢ of every public funding dollar that should go to the students of Merrick Academy. In an article published in this past Sunday’s Daily News, New Yorkers learned of the involvement of Victory in a scheme which had Victory owner Steven Klinsky sending thousands of campaign dollars to State Senator Malcolm Smith; in turn, Smith directed over $100,000 of public dollars to a Victory School which had paid over three-quarters of a million dollars in management fees to Victory. National Heritage Academies is the corporation which challenged the right of its New York employees to organize into a union and bargain collectively. These are the “good” corporate citizens for whom NYCSA is going to the wall.
Truth be told, the presence of for profit corporations and money from right-wing corporations such as Wal-Mart and hedge-fund operators such as Richard Gilder and Carl Icahn has had a corrupting influence on New York charter schools. Last Friday, the Albany Times-Union published an article on how the leading voice in the anti-union jeremiad on the editorial pages of the New York Post and New York Daily News, Thomas Carroll of Brighter Choice Charter Schools, had received tens of millions of dollars from these sources. With that sort of support, no wonder that he has made the promotion of their agenda into a full-time job.
It’s this simple. New York Charter School Association: for profit, not for schools.
A sharp reader points out that Jeff Clark, the President and CEO National Heritage Academies, is on NYCSA’s Board of Trustees, and that Bill Phillips, current NYCSA President, worked for two for-profits, Beacon Education Management and SABIS Educational Systems, prior to leading NYCSA.
With growing appeals for changes in New York’s charter school law, prominent elected officials joined the United Federation of Teachers today in a call for major reforms which would ensure that charter schools become public schools in the fullest meaning of the term — not private schools supported with public funds.
State Senator John Sampson, leader of the Senate’s majority Democratic Conference, and New York City Comptroller John Liu joined UFT President Michael Mulgrew in this call. State Senators Eric Schneiderman and Toby Stavisky and State Assembly members Michael Benedetto, Alan Maisel, Jose Peralta, Adam Clayton Powell, IV and Linda Rosenthal were present and participating in the call.
Both these expressions were worn-out by overuse or misapplication until a UFT arbitration victory last spring fused them with a revived and original relevance. That victory mandates that the UFT chapter committee, including, of course the chapter leader of every school, be provided a view of its Galaxy Table of Organization.
The Consent Award stipulates that this access to their schools’ budget shall be furnished them before the end of each school year and again prior to the re-opening of school in September. The award further directs that the chapter committee be provided with budget modifications that may arise and that there be facilitated discussion by each school’s principal and chapter committee of such modifications. More »
Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend is an odd time for the Dept. of Education to publish the new class size numbers.
But a quick look at them suggests why: class sizes rose virtually across the board, for the second year in a row. This occurred despite $150 million in targeted state funding to reduce class sizes in New York City in each of these two years.
DOE obviously knew since September that class sizes were up. They told the Daily News Sunday that the just couldn’t help it because of budget cuts. That may be true, but then why stay mum and then publish your report over a holiday?
A UFT survey in October found that 70 percent of high schools and 63 percent of elementary and middle schools had larger classes this year. It was no surprise. But DOE has sort of slinked around on this issue, saying principals are in charge of their individual school budgets so Central is not accountable for how this state class size funding is spent. This doesn’t sound like the kind of accountability Central imposes on everyone else. More »
Do you know a special high school senior in need of a scholarship?
Each year, the Albert Shanker College Scholarship Fund of the UFT proudly gives out nearly $1 million in undergraduate and graduate scholarships to academically excellent and financially eligible students from New York City public schools.
The deadline to apply for the 2010 scholarships is Jan. 31. Encourage students to apply today.
It hurts the interests of NYC school children, Moskowitz and the Wall Street Journal opine, when the UFT insists that those who do the work of classroom para-professionals in NYC public schools be paid the contractual salary and benefits of a para-professional and when the Baltimore Teachers’ Union insists that the teachers at a Baltimore KIPP school be paid their contractual salary. When teacher unions demand those contractual rates of pay and benefits, we are taking services away from students. Schools should be able to pay whatever the market will bear, the argument goes, and in tough economic times, the lower, the better. Make up for budget cuts in public schools by paying school employees less.
It’s time to say “enough is enough,” and tell the real story. More »
The UFT and New York City have reached a tentative agreement that will secure pension benefits and end the two days of work before Labor Day, while providing needed savings to the City. The actual agreement, which will be submitted to the Delegate Assembly for its approval, can be read here.
Under this agreement, the pension and health benefits of all UFT members — in service and retiree — remain completely intact. In particular, the agreement preserves the hard-won age 55 retirement pension. After completing ten years of service, future members will pay an additional contribution for these benefits. Effective September 2009, UFT members will no longer have to work the two days before the Labor Day weekend.
“This agreement is a win for everyone,” said UFT President Randi Weingarten. “We are all very concerned about the heavy losses our pension system has incurred during this economic crisis and the looming cuts for schools. No only does this deal help shore up the city budget with new savings, which will hopefully be used for schools, it also maintains the age 55 retirement benefit that we fought many years to achieve and returns us to the tradition of teachers and students starting school after Labor Day, something that our members, particularly those with families, very much wanted.” More »