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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.

Layoffs of support staff hurt neediest schools
As the Oct. 7 deadline fast approached, educators at almost 350 public schools across New York City prepared themselves and their school communities for the crushing loss of more than 700 school support staff — including school aides, parent coordinators, lunchroom workers, crossing guards and others — who were set to be let go by the city in the largest layoff at a single city agency since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002.

Passage of Obama jobs bill urged
Just over a week after President Barack Obama unveiled his American Jobs Act in a nationally televised address to Congress on Sept. 8, UFT President Michael Mulgrew joined city and national political leaders for a Sept. 16 City Hall press conference in support of immediate passage of the bill.

Change of DOE’s school opening strategy urged
Three days after Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced plans to open some 50 new middle schools in the five boroughs — and close others — in the next two years, Sterling Roberson, the UFT’s vice president for career and technical education high schools, urged City Council members on Sept. 23 to press for fundamental change in the Department of Education’s approach to opening new schools.

UFT hosts community talk on ways to boost education
More than 100 community, faith-based, civil rights and parent leaders gathered at the UFT’s lower Manhattan headquarters for a Sept. 20 “Community Conversation” with the union. UFT President Michael Mulgrew spoke to the group about testing, charter schools, the impending sunset of the state millionaire’s tax and other hot topics.

Second school in leased building is shut down
Just three weeks into the new school year, another city school in a leased building has been forced to shut down because of environmental safety concerns. UFT reports of water leaks, falling ceiling tiles and asbestos-containing insulation shut down the PS 143 Annex in Corona, Queens on Sept. 23 and sent five kindergarten classes to safer quarters at PS 307 down the block.

ATRs jobbed at job fairs without jobs
The new school year may have just begun, but the Department of Education is already up to its old tricks. Take, for example, the job fairs the DOE hosted on Sept. 13 and 20. While Tweed required teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool to attend these fairs, it did not require principals from schools with vacant positions to attend.