I have some terrific news to share with you. We have blocked the Department of Education’s attempt to circumvent our contract and members’ rights in the 24 “turnaround” schools. The city’s political maneuver was doing untold harm to our students and school communities.
The DOE has tried to “close” these schools and immediately re-open them under new names. We never believed these were new schools and never believed this “closure” process was a viable way to improve these schools. It was clear to us that the mayor was advancing his political interests at the expense of the students, staff and parents of these schools.
The principals’ union, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, was our partner in this fight. After months of difficult litigation, an independent arbitrator ruled today that the DOE violated the UFT and CSA contracts, validating our belief that the “new” schools the DOE claims it was creating were in reality not new schools. The DOE was attempting to remove half the staff in each of these schools. The arbitrator, Scott Buchheit, ruled that all members working in these schools in June have the right to stay or return to their schools in September.
This hard-won victory is a testament to our strength and unity. Parents, students, teachers and supervisors all came together in this battle. We beat back the mayor’s best efforts to rip these schools apart and vilify their teachers. These 24 school communities will now have the opportunity to continue the hard work of helping their students reach their potential.
The arbitrator’s decision is focused on the question of whether or not the city’s actions violated our contracts. The larger issue, though, is that the centerpiece of the DOE’s school improvement strategy — closing struggling schools — does not work.
Parents, students and teachers need the DOE to fix struggling schools, rather than giving up on them. The UFT will continue to support these schools in every way possible.
Thank you again for everything you do for your students — and enjoy your summer.