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New York Teacher

New York Teacher, Jan. 19, 2012Highlights from the Jan. 19 issue of New York Teacher:

Mulgrew: Mayor lost in fantasy world
“The mayor seems to be lost in his own fantasy world of education, the one where reality doesn’t apply,” declared UFT President Michael Mulgrew in response to the mayor’s State of the City speech on Jan. 12, in which, among other proposals, he threatened to fire half the staffs in 33 schools receiving federal School Improvement Grant support.

UFT asks PERB to help restart evaluation talks
The UFT on Jan. 13 asked the state’s Public Employment Relations Board to order mediation to bring negotiations on a teacher evaluation system for 33 restart and transformation schools back on track, after the city walked out of the talks during the Christmas break week.

Tweed OKs unwanted Eva in Cobble Hill
When charter school impresario Eva Moskowitz comes knocking at your school’s door, the Department of Education lays out the welcome mat. That’s what parents and educators in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood discovered when the city’s Panel for Educational Policy on Dec. 14 gave the green light to the co-location of Moskowitz’s newest Success Academy in a local school building already housing three schools. More »

GothamSchools’ 2011 Year in Review

In case you missed it, GothamSchools posted on New Year’s Eve an encyclopedic, month-by-month recap of the year in NYC school news.

They also compiled a roundup of 2011 roundups and 2012 predictions.

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, Dec. 22, 2011Highlights from the Dec. 22 issue of New York Teacher:

Hard work for economic fairness pays off
UFT members, allies lead successful fight for first education funding increase from state in three years
Capping a yearlong political battle by the UFT and its labor and community allies for economic equity, the New York State Legislature on Dec. 6 passed legislation that brought a measure of fairness to the state tax code while providing a much-needed boost in education funding for next year.

Delegates thanked for role in long budget fight
“I can’t thank you all enough,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told delegates at the Dec. 7 Delegate Assembly, of their role leading up to the state Legislature’s Dec. 6 agreement that will make the state tax system more progressive and earmark $800 million of the new revenue for schools statewide.

This is what democracy looks like
Thank you, UFT members, for all that you did to help win a more equitable tax structure in New York State and secure an additional $2 billion in revenue for next year’s budget. There is no way it would have happened without the incredibly hard work that the members of this great union did to fight for the children of our city.

Special deliveries
Harlem school’s librarian brings role models to students through speaker series
“There is a sweet spirit in this place,” Dr. Cornel West, dressed in his trademark three-piece suit, pocket watch and scarf, told the packed audience of faculty, staff and students from Harlem’s Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing Arts and Frederick Douglass Academy II on Dec. 5. The Princeton University professor urged students to lead an examined life and to “love learning.”

Thousands take giant steps for working people
In a show of labor-union strength in New York City, 20,000 unionized workers, including thousands of UFT members, marched from Herald Square to Union Square on Dec. 1 to demand jobs and a fairer tax system for working Americans. Watching the teeming crowd, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the march was yet another example of “labor standing up for their families, neighbors and communities.” More »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, Nov. 24, 2011Highlights from the Nov. 24 issue of New York Teacher:

An idea whose time has come can’t be evicted
30,000 rally in Foley Square as Occupy movement continues to focus attention on critical issues

Two days after being evicted from its home base in Zuccotti Park, the Occupy Wall Street movement roared its response on Nov. 17 as more than 30,000 workers, students and community members gathered in Foley Square to mark the movement’s two-month anniversary and call for jobs and economic justice.

‘Landslide’ victory in Ohio lauded
UFTers helped swing vote in favor of public-sector workers, Mulgrew says

UFT President Michael Mulgrew opened the Nov. 9 Delegate Assembly with some good news: in Ohio the previous day, voters turned back by a 61-39 percent margin an attempt to prevent public-sector workers from being able to bargain collectively.
He noted that 25 UFT retirees and staffers had been on the ground in Ohio, knocking on doors and making phone calls to talk about the issue and get out the vote.

Donovan re-elected Staten Island district attorney
UFT-endorsed candidate Dan Donovan was re-elected as district attorney for Staten Island on Election Day. Donovan, a Republican who became the borough’s DA in 2004, was re-elected for the second time with 70 percent of the vote. “Dan has a great record and educators did a great job backing him,” UFT Staten Island Representative Emil Pietromonaco said.

School secretaries feel the squeeze
School secretaries throughout the city are feeling overworked and under pressure as their ranks have thinned as secretaries leave and retire and are not replaced, according to UFT representatives. The number of school secretaries has dropped nearly 15 percent between October 2008, when there were 3,537, and this October, when there were only 3,047. More »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, Nov. 10, 2011Highlights from the Nov. 10 issue of New York Teacher:

Plan in works to improve pension fund returns
UFT President Michael Mulgrew, City Comptroller John Liu, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other municipal union leaders announced an agreement in principle on Oct. 27 to create a new investment advisory board that will oversee the investment process for all five New York City pension funds.

Enough is enough!
UFT survey finds great damage done to schools

Standing with teachers and families in front of PS 1 in Manhattan’s Chinatown on Nov. 1, UFT President Michael Mulgrew revealed the results of a new UFT survey that confirms the devastating effects of three years of budget cuts on the city’s schools.

Gym dandies
Mighty Miler program helps teachers fill schools’ physical education voids

Teachers are launching their own initiatives to step into the breach created by the Department of Education’s failure to comply with state requirements for physical activity in city schools. With 40 percent of city schoolchildren overweight or obese, teachers have started Mighty Miler walking, jogging and running clubs that take place before, after and during school.

Bad-times budgets cut to the bone
Budget cuts reported in percentages are troubling enough, but budget cuts reported in the words of teachers in the schools convey the flesh-and-blood wounds that cuts can cause. A new UFT survey of chapter leaders showed teachers fear for their students’ futures as class sizes ballooned over three years and schools lost tutoring, academic intervention services, enrichment classes and support staff. More »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, Oct. 27, 2011Highlights from the Oct. 27 issue of New York Teacher:

Be BRAVE against bullying
UFT announces a new campaign
With many political supporters and plenty of press, the UFT launched a new campaign, called Be BRAVE Against Bullying, on Oct. 19. The multifaceted campaign aims at changing school culture so that bullying is recognized for what it is — and not tolerated.

UFT launches anti-bullying hotline
“Every single child has a right to go to school without being intimidated or harassed, and every parent has the right to know that their child can go to school safely,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said at a press conference at City Hall on Oct. 19 to announce a new anti-bullying hotline. The confidential hotline, staffed by licensed counselors, operates weekdays from 2:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

UFT joins D.C. event to reaffirm King’s commitment
Three-thousand UFT members joined tens of thousands of other trade unions, civil rights and community activists on Oct. 15 for a march and rally reaffirming Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to jobs and justice and inaugurating the imposing carved stone memorial commemorating his life and legacy.

Walking tall
Making Strides against Breast Cancer
UFTers did it again and in style. Under blue skies and bright sunshine, thousands proudly walked in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Oct. 16 carrying the blue-and-white UFT banner in all five boroughs plus Jones Beach. The participation of 1,000 UFT members in the Bronx was a special tribute to Annette Carlucci, teacher, chapter leader and high school representative who died from breast cancer during the summer. More »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, Oct. 13, 2011Highlights from the Oct. 13 issue of New York Teacher:

‘Enough is enough!’: UFT, other unions join protest, march against Wall Street greed
Teachers, transit workers, health care workers and other working New Yorkers joined forces with the young people from Occupy Wall Street, an anti-Wall Street protest encampment that has occupied Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park since mid-September, for a spirited rally and march of tens of thousands on Oct. 5.

Young protesters showed the way
“I want to thank Occupy Wall Street and all the people who have shown up to fight for our kids,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the young protesters as thousands of labor and community marchers flowed into Zuccotti Park from their march down Broadway.

Class sizes highest in a decade
A UFT survey indicates that by mid-September there were approximately 7,000 oversize classes in city public schools, a situation UFT President Michael Mulgrew termed “horrendous.” Based on school registers for the sixth day of school, the latest figures top last year’s by nearly 1,000 and are the highest in a decade.

We’ve got kids’ back(pack)s
“It’s beautiful,” Brianna said, as she examined her new backpack. . The 5th-grader was among a group of kids who were treated to a studio tour at Channel 11 on Sept. 22 and received backpacks filled with school items for a good start to the school year. It was part of “Project Back to School,” organized by the Coalition for the Homeless and sponsored by the UFT, Channel 11 and other groups.

Students talk about what makes a teacher great
Let’s set aside the hieroglyphics — the wacky value-added models no one understands. How can you identify an effective teacher? Maybe ask the students they teach. In a new booklet filled with moving stories, New York City teen writers recall teachers who helped them learn to navigate the confusing world around them. More »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, Sept. 22, 2011Highlights from the Sept. 22 issue of New York Teacher:

DOE discontinues controversial Teacher Data Reports
New York City’s Teacher Data Reports will be going the way of the dodo bird, following a Department of Education announcement on Sept. 15. The DOE said it would no longer produce the reports and instead turn that part of the teacher evaluation process over to the state.

Building a peaceful school and students with emotional intelligence
At PS 80 in Jamaica, Queens, there were fights breaking out throughout the day — in the cafeteria, the schoolyard, the hallways and even during class. With skirmishes on so many fronts, longtime guidance counselor Max Nass couldn’t be in all the trouble spots at all times. He knew something had to be done — and fast.

President’s Perspective
Taking back our profession

We face many challenges this school year, starting with the hard realities of more budget cuts and austerity, exploding class sizes and increasing poverty and homelessness among our students. But in the face of challenges, the members of our union always make our schools work, and I cannot thank you enough for all that you do. More »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, June 23, 2011Highlights from the June 23 issue of New York Teacher:

Following their dreams
250 graduating seniors head to college with help from UFT

“I can’t stop smiling, I’m really happy!” said Kimberly Belgrave, of Manhattan’s Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law, talking about the UFT Albert Shanker Scholarship Award she will be taking with her to Wheaton College in Massachusetts next year. Belgrave is one of this year’s 250 UFT scholarship winners.

Victims of co-locations
District schools make educational sacrifices as charters move in

A community dental clinic in a South Bronx school must shut down. An award-winning robotics program in a Harlem school has to give up its room. These are among the sacrifices that district schools are being forced to make to free up room for charter schools in their buildings, say a team of UFT and NAACP representatives that recently visited the schools.

The physics of fun
Brooklyn teacher leads students on “learning expedition” to design best playground

Put together Newtonian physics with clinical psychology, sustainable materials and industry experts — and kids are going to have a blast in Scott Hendstrand’s class.
Witness the teenagers engaged in the science suite at the Brooklyn School of Collaborative Studies, planning, building, experimenting, discussing, laughing, pondering.

UFTers march over Brooklyn Bridge to protest cuts
About 1,000 members of the UFT and 1199 SEIU marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on June 14 to join a thousands-strong labor rally at City Hall, protesting Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget cuts and layoffs. One of several public-sector union leaders to speak at the rally, UFT President Michael Mulgrew condemned the mayor’s plans. More »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, June 9, 2011Highlights from the June 9 issue of New York Teacher:

Can you hear us now?
UFT members began working closely with their local City Council members as the arena for the budget battle shifted to the negotiations between Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council on a final budget, which is due by June 30. In coordinated actions in districts across the city, members asked their Council representatives to make averting teacher layoffs their top priority in budget talks.

Calls for ‘no layoffs’ get louder
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s insistence that he needs to lay off teachers to balance next year’s budget came under mounting challenge from parents, legislators and experts as budget negotiations entered their final month. UFT President Michael Mulgrew joined a heavily attended press conference on June 1 to denounce the layoffs and question the mayor’s spending priorities.

Mulgrew: Layoffs worst way to balance budget
Layoffs are not the way to balance the city’s education budget, UFT President Michael Mulgrew testified at a City Council budget hearing on June 6. In fact, they would be the worst possible solution, he said.

NAACP: Inequality at heart of co-location lawsuit
Defending the NAACP and the UFT against a coordinated attack on their recent lawsuit challenging school closings and charter co-locations, NAACP New York State President Hazel Dukes convened parents, press and politicians at a press conference in front of the offices of the Harlem Success Charter Network on June 3 to set the record straight. More »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, May 26, 2011Highlights from the May 26 issue of New York Teacher:

Thousands rally for a ‘city that works for everyone’
It was a sight to see as tens of thousands of educators, students, parents, community advocates, other unionized workers and New Yorkers of all stripes flooded lower Manhattan on May 12 to protest budget cuts and layoffs and call for a fundamental reordering of the city’s priorities.

UFT, NAACP sue to stop closings, co-locations
For the second time in two years, the UFT and the NAACP have filed suit against the New York City Department of Education to halt threatened school closings. This year’s suit, filed on May 18, also demands that the DOE stop the co-location or expansion of 20 charter schools that would create inequities in the use of shared space and facilities.

DOE neglecting its libraries
While the scramble to raise test scores, graduation rates and literacy continues, school libraries — the bulwark for achieving those goals — are fast becoming an endangered species. At PS 132 in Manhattan, the library has been closed to its 812 students for two years despite more than $200,000 in renovation grants. The reason: the budget.

2011 UFT Spring Education Conference: 2,000 turn out for ‘interesting and exciting’ day
“I can promise you a day both interesting and exciting,” UFT Vice President Aminda Gentile said in welcoming the 2,000 attendees to the union’s annual Spring Education Conference on May 7 at the midtown Hilton. It was a promise kept.

Regents endorse teacher evaluation system with revisions
The New York State Regents in a May 16 vote endorsed the final regulations for a more objective teacher evaluation system that will incorporate multiple measures of judging teacher performance and aims to shift the focus to developing and supporting teachers. More »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, May 12, 2011Highlights from the May 12 issue of New York Teacher:

Mayor uses ‘smoke and mirrors’ to rationalize layoffs
New revenues, strong economy do not shake Bloomberg’s pursuit of pink slips

Despite reporting a multi-billion-dollar city budget surplus that continues to grow, Mayor Bloomberg refused to reconsider his plan to lay off 4,278 teachers — 5 percent of the teaching force — when he presented his executive budget on May 6.  UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the mayor was obscuring the truth that he has, in fact, many other budget choices short of layoffs.

Mulgrew maps out strategy to fight layoffs
Also proposes new co-location policy during rousing Spring Conference speech

In a rousing speech that had the 2,000 attendees of the UFT’s May 7 Spring Education Conference on their feet clapping and joining in chants of “Enough is enough,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew laid out a plan to bring teachers, parents and community members out on the streets to fight teacher layoffs.

May 5 rallies throughout the boroughs to protest cuts
‘The Education Mayor’? REALLY?

At rallies throughout the city, UFTers donned matching black T-shirts emblazoned with the UFT logo and the slogan, “‘The Education Mayor’? REALLY?” that called into question the mayor’s record in the area considers his greatest legacy. The angry crowds were not buying the Bloomberg budget story.

Queen of green
Staten Island teacher-activist makes children want to join her world of science

It seems that wherever you look in the area around Staten Island’s PS 57, there are landmarks of Patricia Lockhart’s compassion. Behind the school is Eibs Pond Park, where Lockhart, science teacher and head of the park’s education program, can often be found with her students caretaking the wetlands, one of the Going Green Projects she instituted 15 years ago. More »

New York Teacher

New York TeacherHighlights from the April 28 issue of New York Teacher:

The battle against crippling cuts
10,000 union workers turn out to “take our country back”

“Twenty years from now,” thundered UFT President Michael Mulgrew, “teachers will be teaching about how one percent of the country tried to take the country away from the rest of us …You will be part of that story.” Mulgrew delivered these rousing words to more than 10,000 cheering union members during a mid-day rally at Times Square on April 9.

Everyday hero: Mr. Porton’s classroom, where students are ‘safe and the possibilities endless’
“I represent senior teachers, who the Department of Education thinks are mummified and collecting dust rather than educating students,” said Thomas Porton, one of only 10 winners nationwide of the 2011 Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards and the only winner from New York City. Porton has been teaching at Monroe HS in the Soundview section of the South Bronx for 42 years.

Black out, Walcott in as chancellor
Mulgrew hopes change is an opportunity to shelve failed policies

After only three tumultuous months on the job, embattled Schools Chancellor Cathie Black resigned on April 7. She was replaced by Dennis Walcott, a former Board of Education president and now top aide to the mayor on educational issues. At a press conference at City Hall, Bloomberg said that he and Black met that morning and had “mutually agreed” that she should step down. More »

New York Teacher

New York TeacherHighlights from the April 14 issue of New York Teacher:

Harsh state budget sets stage for city funding battles: Mayor still calling for layoffs, while Silver cites other options
City schools will get a total funding cut of $510 million next year under the most austere state budget in more than a decade. The cut is the third to education in as many years, as the recession’s aftermath continues to pressure state budgets around the country. Just what the state budget cuts mean for New York City remains in sharp dispute.

Fight to the finish
With a harsh state budget settled, the city budget battle is now heating up, including the education budget. Members throughout the five boroughs participated in an array of different actions to prevent layoffs and save school funding for the city’s kids.

Solace in a strange land: Arab teens find nurturing figure in amazing paraprofessional
Teenagers who come to the United States with interrupted formal education, different customs and an alphabet and language that have little in common with English are settling in with help from their paraprofessional at Brooklyn’s MS 2. More »

New York Teacher

New York TeacherA bit late, but in case you missed it… highlights from the most recent issue of New York Teacher:

Governor says layoffs aren’t necessary
In an unusually impassioned budget speech, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Feb. 1 called on legislators to get a broken Albany budget process under control this year. But, in contrast to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s threat to cut 21,000 city teachers, the governor said his education cuts could be managed without layoffs.

State of the City ‘another Bloomberg snow job’
Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted public employee pensions, current layoff rules and educators serving in the Absent Teacher Reserve in a State of the City address on Jan. 19 in which he said he would shrink the cost of government by going after public employee benefits rather than raise taxes to meet this year’s budget challenges.

1,000 rally against school closings
Wielding signs reading “instruction, not destruction” and “we fight for our schools,” more than 1,000 parents, teachers and students protested against the mayor’s policy of mass school closures outside the Feb. 3 Panel for Educational Policy meeting at which the panel voted to close 12 more city public schools.

Protesters walk out of ‘sham’ PEP meeting …
Calling the process a sham, some 2,000 parents, students and educators on Feb. 3 stormed out en masse from a meeting of the mayor’s Panel for Educational Policy before it voted to shutter 12 struggling New York City public schools.

… after first vote set the stage
Despite overwhelming opposition from parents, teachers and students, the city’s Panel for Educational Policy early on Feb. 2 in its first of two meetings voted to shutter 10 struggling New York City public schools. More »