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Newer Teachers Unite!

If you have joined the New York City public school system in the last five years, you should know that you are now part of an extremely important and influential part of the UFT’s membership. Teachers hired since 2000 now constitute a solid majority of the union’s members, almost 55 percent.

(The 22 percent increase in starting salaries negotiated in the 2000-2003 contract — while the increase at most other levels was about 17 percent — can take most of the credit for that. And in the new agreement, not yet ratified, the UFT was the only municipal union, except for the much-smaller Doctor’s Council, to refuse to lower starting salaries for future members to finance raises for current members.)

And while this post-2000 group is of course younger, at an average age of 33, than the membership as a whole, many come in with years of experience, both in life and as teachers. Almost 20 percent are over age 40. Of the teachers hired just this year, 20 percent came in with prior teaching experience.

These last statistics popped into my mind just the other day when a group of brand-new Teaching Fellows from across the city were expressing their dismay about the way their supervisors treat them.

“I’m a grown-up,” one of them blurted out, a fact confirmed by the glint of a few silver strands among her curls. “But I’m not treated that way,” she continued. “They talk down to us as if we were the children.”

The stories these Fellows told could have been told by most of the other 6,000 new teachers in our schools, in every region and at every level. In addition to condescension and micro-management, many new members also face fear and intimidation. Placed in some of the most challenging teaching situations with some of the neediest students, they struggle to maintain order and meet the children’s needs, often without support and afraid to ask for it.

Many know that their insecurity and inexperience are being taken advantage of, when they are told, for example, to meet with their mentors and coaches after school, or to “help out” during their prep period by “watching” another teacher’s class for 20 or 30 minutes while she meets with the A.P. But they are loath to protest, not knowing the consequences of resistance.

Even worse, some new teachers know that their students are being cheated of conditions and services to which they are entitled, but the message they’ve received from both colleagues and supervisors is, “Don’t make waves.” (The union is pressing the City Council for whistle-blower protection for city workers who “make waves.”) And the mentors promised to every new teacher — and mandated by the state — have at least 16 other new teachers to get to, so the help they can offer is often too little, too late.

No wonder new teachers leave at such high rates. What had been a recruitment problem in the school system before the current contract is now a retention crisis. If you have five years in the system almost half the colleagues you started with have already left. More than a third left by the end of their second year.

The cost of replacing teachers who leave and training their replacements is more than $360 million statewide. In New York City, the cost of first-year teacher attrition alone exceeds $21 million. And that doesn’t count the personal devastation when a teacher gives up her dream, or the harm to the kids, who may have to adjust to two, three or more teachers in a single year.

The UFT offers loads of specialized services for new teachers, including advice on licensing and certification, a telephone helpline, and many courses and workshops through the Teacher Centers.

But as UFT President Randi Weingarten told some new teachers recently, the strength of a union is in its ability, not just to help members, but to empower them to help themselves. If we can use our union to create among newer teachers a community of mutual support, and eventually, of collective action, we can take more effective action against the disrespect and even tyranny that cause so many new people to flee.

Maybe we can create that community on line; maybe we need more traditional organizational structures. If you have any ideas about how the union can build a support network for newer teachers, please respond on this blog. Let’s see if we can get something going — of, by and for newer teachers.

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46 Comments:

  • 1 Bklynteacher
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:32 pm

    CitySue

    No offense intended, but I find it really ironic that you are writing this post. While you clearly recognize the problems newer teachers are experiencing in the schools, you still pushed (in your prior posts) for members to vote YES to a contract that further undermines their (our) Union rights.

    My guess is you just don’t see the contradiction.

  • 2 NYC Educator
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:37 pm

    You’re wrong, BT.

    Studies show poorer working conditions, fewer options, longer hours, extra classes, three extra days listening to Klein’s flunkies pontificate, and effectively earning less money have been positively identified as the things new teachers want most.

  • 3 Kombiz
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:43 pm

    I appreciate that everyone has strong opinions about the contract, but please keep your comments on the topic of this thread, and other threads.

  • 4 Bklynteacher
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    Of course, NYC Educator.

    I see everyday how classrooms teachers are being stretched to the limit. The experienced teachers are handling it but the newer teachers aren’t do so well.

    If they think there was a retention problem before, just wait to see what’ll happen if this contract passes!

  • 5 northbrooklyn
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    CitySue-we have a structure, but it doesn’t work. How many teachers, new or old know who their DR is, have sat and talked to them during a casual lunch period, or in a meeting? Unless ‘they have gotten themselves into trouble’ the commonly spoken phrase of those who run the boro offices the answer to that question is zero. How many of them know and have had a relaxed conversation with their boro president? Again the answer is zero. Would you like me to give you anymore examples? Of course not. You are an intelliagent woman with a lively imagination. You can figure it out from there.
    We have a structure that doesn’t work. It’s a mess. To be concerned about the situation the new teachers are in is admirable, but frankly our union management does not work effectively for the day to day needs of the rank and file regardless of their start date.
    Your suggestion that the creation of another department in this disaster of an organization is just not a good idea. You know better. Think deeper and have a good wkend.

  • 6 Bklynteacher
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:51 pm

    Edwize Admin

    I don’t see how my comments were off topic. The new contract terms will clearly impact further on the newer teachers.

    Sorry if you don’t see it that way but I do.

    That said, I won’t be commenting further.

  • 7 Kombiz
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    So many comments so fast, I didn’t get the chance to change my name from Edwize Admin to Kombiz. I have no qualms with you commenting, but the purpose of this blog is to foster a discussion on specific issues. One could tie any two issues together, and some are more connected than others. I’d like to move the discussion forward, but I don’t want every thread to be a rehash of the discussions we had on the contract. Those threads are still up and will be open for another two weeks.

  • 8 institutional memory
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 9:23 pm

    Obviously, emotions are running quite high. Considering what’s at stake, this is no surprise. This is not the first time that contract negotiations have culminated in a rancorous debate, nor do I expect that it’s the last time, either.

    That said, professionalism will be served by separating our contract discussions from the rest of our business, regardless of whether we’re voting yes or no.

    In my opinion, nasty and sarcastic commentary, in particular, is counterproductive. Let’s try to keep this discussion civil, folks!

    This, of course, is just one old hand’s opinion. I’m sure I’ll hear the other side of the issue from some of my angrier colleagues. So it goes.

  • 9 NYC Educator
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 9:46 pm

    In your opinion, IM, inflation was only 2.5%. When I peoduced evidence to the contrary, at your direct request, you suggested it was off topic.

    There are unfortunate flaws with your opinion, particularly the aspect of it that has the audacity to suggest working teachers who disagree with it should remain silent.

    New teachers are directly affected by this contract, and the assertion that it does not relate to them is patently absurd.

  • 10 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 9:57 pm

    Smart new teachers should do the following:

    ! Buy LSAT books and practice for law school like Randi and Joes

    2 You may also buy MCAT books and study for med school.

    Sorry but the DOE will neither treat you nor pay you right.

  • 11 Edwize Admin
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 10:09 pm

    The point of this entry was:

    If you have any ideas about how the union can build a support network for newer teachers, please respond on this blog. Let’s see if we can get something going — of, by and for newer teachers.

  • 12 Dfreecity
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 10:37 pm

    The Union can build a support network for newer teachers by creating solidarity amongst the rank and file. To separate the needs of newer teachers vs. that of the more experienced is exactly what Gloomberg wants. At this present time, the contract is the most important issue facing all us…there will be very little discussion about something else for a very long while, I predict.

  • 13 TeachMePlease
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 10:44 pm

    Every member of this union, every year, should get a contract. Not just a printed out booklet, like we occasionally get, a detailed contract with footnotes explaining where each part can be applied. Members, ALL should be given a detailed Q&A booklet regarding the contract. Not 20-questions and 20-answers, try 5000.

    I have studied the contract, like studying literature. It isn’t easy. I have taken the contract and researched the laws around it, it is far from easy to understand. We should also be told of all the other laws that pertain to labor. Letters in your file can be grieved locally, but there are a lot of other ways to legally appeal them. Teachers, ALL of them should have a much better education by the union. We have a lot of benefits and protections that many people aren’t aware of.

  • 14 TeachMePlease
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 10:45 pm

    One last message and this one I take from Judge Judy’s book, keep a “Hover File.” Record everything in your school that you hear and see that is illegal or not right. If you sign an IEP and don’t go to a meeting, record that, the child’s name, date etc. Your school sends out an unusual memo, keep it! Your principal says unusual things…write them down and the date, and the people who were there. Keep records just in case you need them one day!

  • 15 southbxda
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 11:00 pm

    I think something like this blog, but written jointly by Newer Teachers who’ve recently been teaching, staff from the UFT who are there to help new teachers, and maybe some teacher/bloggers. If you could hook that into the website with all the little benefits and to do lists for teachers coming to New York may be a good start.

  • 16 NYC Educator
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 8:30 am

    The entire second paragraph consists of favorable references to the contract.

    It is disingenuous of Edwize to pretend otherwise. While the editors and writers may wish there were no alternative to such hip-hooray nonsense, it’s disgraceful they actively stifle UFT members asserting otherwise.

    You may as well take down this page and insert a pointer to Fox News.

  • 17 Frank48
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 10:10 am

    So in THIS tough environment – the UFT gives away ( for no real money ) much of the protections these new teachers had under the old contract. Great job UFT! Why weren’t you posting this reality last week when it could have made a difference in the vote ?

    This duplicity is at the core of what fuels the outrage against Unity. Gentleman and ladies – you are frauds.

  • 18 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    At the very least give all new teachers free LSAT and MCAT coaching!!!!! It worked for Randi!!!! It worked for Joel!!!!

  • 19 Schoolgal
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 12:33 pm

    Dear Blog Master,
    (Admin means something entirely different to me.)

    When our DR came to our school to discuss the fact-finding–and left us with the impression Randi would not go for those givebacks–very few new teachers came to that meeting.

    DR’s need to come to schools and meet solely with new teachers during their lunchbreak. They should even buy the lunch!

    Solidarity is going to be something of the past because many new teachers do not understand their rights and some do not care.

    Then again, if the new teachers voted for this contract, are they really interested in the future of this union?

    Another point: If they were hand-picked by the principal instead of a committee, who do you think they owe allegiance too?

    BTW, my school voted overwhemlingly NO.

  • 20 SOC ST TEACHER
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    The debate over the contract is over. All of the votes have been cast. It is to move on. If the same few people are want to remain stuck on their broken record message, as if the keyboard can’t pound out anything else, than it is time for them to find another place to do it.

  • 21 Peter Goodman
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 1:16 pm

    Last school year Randi appointed a Small High School Task Force. About twenty members, small school, host school, union staff, new and older teachers meet for many months and produced a Report that was on the Agenda of the June Delegate Assembly. The contract dominated everything in the ensuing months and the DA never got a chance to discuss the Report. Hopefully the DA will accept the Report in the near future and perhaps the Blog Admin can post the recommendations: one of which calls for creating networks of small school teachers.

    150 Small High Schools have been created in the last three years and most of the staffs are new to the system. Is the “climate” in the small high schools more favorable than in the large schools?
    How about the fifty schools in the Autonomy Zone – are they really freer of the restrictions faced by the rest of the system?

    The contract vote is over … we’ll know the results on the 3rd … the Blog can serve as a platform for an exchange of ideas and attitudes … and the newer teachers, “the future of the union,” must play a vital role in this forum. After all folks, they’re the ones who have to make the decisions that will protect the retiree pensions and health plans!!

  • 22 NYC Educator
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 1:43 pm

    That’s right, the vote is over, and it’s blasphemy to discuss that contract any further. I mean, when the Unity writer praised it, that was OK. But if people have nothing good to say about it, they should keep their mouths shut. What’s done is done, I say, whether it’s done or not.

    It’s just like those goshdarn liberals who keep hounding poor President Bush even though the election is over.

    Why can’t they just abandon their values and shut the heck up already?

  • 23 jd2718
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 2:21 pm

    When I started teaching (last millenium, but less than 10 years ago) senior teachers in my department, including UFT consultative committee members, convinced newer teachers that they would need to wait before teaching reasonable classes. I was teaching a few years before I understood that a they had cut an informal deal with the administrators, against the contract, not to rotate plum assignments.

    If I had known that this was wrong, would I have said something? I can’t honestly say. But I did not know what rotation was, or how it worked.

    Ok, so I’ll get to the point. The NY Teacher has that little “For New Teachers” box? Well, nearly half of us have fewer than 5 years. We need half of the paper to be devoted to new teachers (I know that is not reasonable).

    But as a compromise, we need meat and potatoes articles, two or three, every issue, about basic rights. Every issue.

    Preference sheet.

    Duty Free Lunch.

    You don’t have to buy paper. (I was talking with a 3rd year middle school teacher last night whose school requires them to display charts, 2 new ones every week, but doesn’t supply chart paper. The teachers use their teachers choice)

    (or, What are basic supplies? and who supplies them? The definition should, btw, be broadened to include access to copiers as a “basic supply”)

    What is an observation? How often do they happen? What if mine is unsatisfactory? etc

    Letter in the file, including what to do if you get one.

    Reorganization grievances.

    Class size (contractual limits vs mandates, among other things.

    6r. Dollars to donuts in some schools they will try to “rotate” in ways that spare senior teachers and have junior teachers swap assignments.

    Transfers (hey, if the contract vote goes against the teachers, we will all need a primer on that one)

    The articles can be repeated once a year.

    Jonathan

  • 24 Schoolgal
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 2:40 pm

    Social Studies???

    Isn’t that where I learned about Freedom of Speech?

  • 25 Persam1197
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    I think the idea of a support system for new teachers is a good one. I’m a 13 year veteran of the NY BOE/DOE and when I started teaching I had tons of seasoned veterans to lean on. I learned about the intricacies of being a NYC teacher. PD for me was sitting down at lunch to listen to those great teachers talk shop. Institutional memories were poured into my cranium and I’m a better teacher now for it.

    Newer teachers have a much smaller pool of experienced pedagogues to draw information and experience from. The new smaller schools tend not to attract veterans for a myriad of reasons and these newbies are usually taken advantage of by management.

    My coworkers made some interesting observations about the shift from experienced teachers to neophytes:

    1. Newbies tend not to understand their rights. I became a chapter leader at my last school by default because no one knew that teachers get paid for coverages. The principal insisted that teachers had to ask colleagues to cover for them gratis! Teachers at that small school had to do PD every week after school beyond what the contract stipulated. It was also common for teachers to get 4-5 periods in a row programmed into their schedule. The principal tried to put bogus letters in the file to intimidate the faculty. This and other forms of nonsense ended with my accepting the chapter leader’s position. Without my exposure to seasoned pros, I don’t want to even think about what I could have been doing.

    2. AP’s and Principals are “managers.” Anyone in the system long enough will remember that supervisors had to have substantial teaching experience before becoming supervisors. They were (with small exceptions) “master teachers.” Those folks could walk into a room and know that good instruction was taking place because they knew their respective disciplines and they still had to teach at least one period a day. Today, we have an administrative corps that needs visuals (bulletin boards, word walls, black board configuration, group seating, etc.) to check off their list of real “learning.” It’s all about image instead of substance now. I would hate to be a newer teacher in a school without seasoned teachers to lean on because I surely wouldn’t find any “experts” in the office.

    3. One of my coworkers spelled it out like this: “We’re not the sage on stage; we’re the guide on the side.” We’re no longer teachers; we’re instructors. Follow the workshop model and all of our kids will be headed for Princeton and Yale. Forget about Socratic Seminars, lectures (that’s an expletive now), etc. One size fits all. Newer teachers need to know how to acquire bigger shovels for the crap they’re being pummeled with at PD. Go for the teachable moment!

    At any rate, we need to provide a larger circle of influence to our newer brethren.

  • 26 firefly
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    I’m currently in my 6th year of teaching after having had run my own business for 17 years and think this is a great idea for a blog subject. As we know, the really seasoned teachers are all retiring (sad to say)…in fact, there is only one left at my current school who will be retiring this year. That will leave me and roughly 8 other teachers who have 3-6 years experience in the system. The other 25 teachers at my school are all first or second year teachers, and, according to what they’ve told me, have no intention of sticking around for more than another year or two. Most of them see it as a way to get a free MA (they are fresh out of a BA program at 22) and then go back to their hometown to teach, or they see it as a sort of cool job (with summers off) that you can do for a year or two before getting a “real” job.

    Teachers who have been in the system for 5 years or more seem much more likely to stay around for a while and I agree that they seem to be the real backbone of this union.

    Howverer I’m not sure that this is a great time for this subject on this blog as it seems most people are still discussing or arguing about the contract. Maybe we can launch this again next weekend when the vote has been tallied?

    Also, I think that the outcome of the vote might influence some of what the teachers in this roughly 5 years of teaching group might have to say. For instance, as I came into teaching at 42, after another career, I never had an intention of being a 20 year teaching veteran. In fact, I only ever intended to teach at the high school level in this city for 10 years, 12 years tops,(my own personal reasons only.) If this contract is ratified I might see my way through 8 or 10 at this point (as I am highly disatified with some of the changes that have occurred in my subject area over the past year or two). If the contract is not ratified however, I will certainly leave the NYDOE this June as I can no longer sacrifice so much for this salary.

    I know that the “no” voters are willing to wait 4 years for a raise with no retroactive pay, but I will not. They can fight Bloomberg, they can pass out flyers on the subway, they can be happy they have no giveback and no raise. In fact, they can have my job.

    So…can we try this blog again next week?

  • 27 jd2718
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 2:26 am

    firefly,

    you wrote: However I’m not sure that this is a great time for this subject on this blog as it seems most people are still discussing or arguing about the contract. Maybe we can launch this again next weekend when the vote has been tallied?

    This contract proposal is sufficiently divisive that it will continue to be discussed for quite a while. Obviously this will be true if it is rejected. But even if the teachers lose and it is accepted, we can expect considerable discussion of implementation problems for the foreseeable future. Does anyone have bells that can ring at the half minute?

    This is an overdue discussion, and it should continue. The attachment of newer teachers to the UFT, and not just through checkoff, is an issue of concern to all of us.

    Jonathan

  • 28 Educat
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 12:11 pm

    Listen up newbies! your mayor refers to principals as ” line managers”(whose job is to keep YOU in line). this infers that you are assembly line workers and that your students are widgets. the tentative contract, which many of you voted for, just reinforces this paradigm.

  • 29 Persam1197
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 2:39 pm

    I sincerely believe that the DOE purposely made teaching for experienced teachers and adminstrators untenable. The UFT is is harping about the retention crisis and the DOE is actually counting on it. If we allow so many people to go through this revolving door, our union will become increasingly useless. We have to nurture our newer teachers and provide the stability needed for our children and ourselves.

    Most of the teachers at my school are adamantly against this contract, however, there are new teachers who actually think the trade-offs are worth the money. I won’t belabor the reasons why this contract is awful, however, the newbies actually believe that a strike is unavoidable if we do not ratify it. There just are so few of us from as recent as 1995 to remember that we have turned down bad contracts before and achieved better deals.

    Ten years ago, this contract would have been DOA without a doubt. Today, it seems as if it is a fait accompli that is will pass.

    Perhaps one way of dealing with newer teachers at a more intimate level is to establish more UFT Teacher Centers in more schools. It is making somewhat of a difference in my school and with the right people guiding our newbies, we can retain more of these folks and stabilize the system.

  • 30 NYC Educator
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 5:13 pm

    “…the newbies actually believe that a strike is unavoidable if we do not ratify it.”

    I still can’t get over my own union threatening US, rather than management, with a strike.

    A strike would be idiotic, and anyone who believes otherwise is highly uninformed. I’m certain people who toss this threat around are well aware of this.

  • 31 firefly
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 8:16 pm

    Yes, NYC educator, so in lieu of a strike, how do you propose we proceed after voting down this contract?

  • 32 jd2718
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 10:07 pm

    firefly asked:
    “so in lieu of a strike, how do you propose we proceed after voting down this contract?”

    The votes have been cast, so we can put politicking aside. If it goes down, and I’d say that, based on lots of conversations, that is the less likely outcome, what would those who favored it want to do next?

    As for me, I’d like to go back to scratch and try for a no-give-back contract.

    It is more likely that the leadership/negotiating team would send out questionaires, either directly or through the chapter leaders, to the entire membership, trying to ascertain what were the major 1 or 2 reasons for the no vote.

    Then I’d expect them to go back to Bloomberg, looking for some minimal movement on whatever those top two issues are. They might shift some cash to cover what they are asking for, and he might agree, or, p#$%k that he is, he might refuse to negotiate at all. I tend to think the former is more likely.

    Now, if he told us to drop dead, I’d expect to take a little less than a year to prepare whatever we will do next. I don’t think anyone wants to wait 4 years. I don’t think anyone wants to strike November 4. But there is space in between.

    And I think it more likely that we would end up voting in December or January on a marginally improved contract.

    If the vote is no, is there a different scenario that you would prefer?

    Jonathan

  • 33 firefly
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 10:44 pm

    Jonathan,

    I don’t really have an answer for that one because I think that Bloomberg will put us off for a year or two before even beginning to talk seriously about an amended contract. I also don’t believe he will ever settle for a contract without givebacks since he’s been adamant about that from the beginning. I honestly think that we’ll wait an awfully long time and then end up having to settle for what he just offered, except thet the retro pay will be cut back.

    I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just being realistic since I think it’s pretty clear that Bloomberg & Co. want to bust all of the city’s unions. I would prefer the scenario where he turns around on the 4th and gives us a 20% raise with no givebacks, but that’s just a pipedream.

    My personal scenario is that if the contract is voted down and we don’t have another, better contract in place by the Spring and that if I don’t have a larger paycheck and retroactive pay in my pocket by the summer that I’m looking for another job over the summer…or, returning to my old business.

  • 34 HS_ teacher
    · Oct 31, 2005 at 12:53 am

    NYC Educator, I’m glad you are admitting again that this your main gripe is about “presidential politics”. Your interest and many others who rant about the contract proposal really have little interest in the “rights of . . . “ anyone really. Your concerns are completely political and focused on the 2007 UFT presidential elections. Obviously as you eluded, politicking is what it’s all about. Although you claim you are not ICE, many people who were equally destructive on behalf of Bush or Delay didn’t necessarily have to claim to be “Republicans” either. Even people who might agree with you such as jd2718, admits that if this voted down there maybe a strike, perhaps not right away but at some point. Why aren’t you jumping down his throat about “scaring” our members? You have no answers for the question of “what next?” if this is voted down so lets stay focused on this thread about working with new members. Even jd2718 admits that working with our new members is the key to our future regardless of the outcome of the vote.

    PS – Thanks for those who gave created suggestions and comments about the topic. Isn’t that what this is all about?

  • 35 jd2718
    · Oct 31, 2005 at 1:32 am

    “Even people who might agree with you such as jd2718, admits that if this voted down there maybe a strike, perhaps not right away but at some point. Why aren’t you jumping down his throat about “scaring” our members?”

    Because I didn’t say “vote yes or else we will have to go on strike”

    “Even jd2718 admits that working with our new members is the key to our future regardless of the outcome of the vote.”

    Even? I work with new members on a regular basis. They work in schools with practically defunct chapters, or with chapter leaders who live in their principal’s laps.

    I am an active member of the United Federation of Teachers. That makes me more likely to know that there is a crying need to reach out to newer members, and it makes more likely to have voted no.

    Jonathan

  • 36 NYC Educator
    · Oct 31, 2005 at 4:38 pm

    HS Teacher,

    You infer many things from many sources, but I’m not altogether clear what your point is, other than general resentment of those who fail to share your point of view.

    Drawing parallels to national politics does not support your conclusion.

    The contract, unfortunately, is unacceptable. While Unity reps can claim the sixth class is not a sixth class, the “lead teacher” scheme is not merit pay, and that NYC teachers need to give up the farm in order to earn an increase that, unlike other municipal unions, fails even to beat inflation, I say they’re wrong on all counts.

    Unity can claim otherwise, but I don’t think you should have to be “lead teacher” to be paid fairly. Diane Ravitch called merit pay a “band-aid” that would be ineffectual until and unless teachers were paid competitively.

    I don’t know whether any of you understand just what we gave up to get out of the lunchroom, or how many years we went without raises to earn the rights we now enjoy, but giving them away for a pittance is extremely short-sighted. The Unity rep who came to my school claimed we’d win them back in the next round of contract talks.

    I find that absurd. Based on the previous two contracts, negotiators are far more likely to determine that teachers will pretty much settle for anything thrown at them. That’s pathetic and unacceptable.

    I strongly supported the UFT and had nothing negative to say about the leadership before this agreement appeared.

    The fact is, I now understand, the fact finders declared during the LAST round of negotiations that pattern bargaining was absolutely acceptable. Knowing that, I wonder why Unity decided to apply to PERB. We couldn’t have negotiated such a poor contract without their help and approval. And the patterns we’re establishing now are far more dangerous than the idiotic pattern DC37 set–4% for 3 years.

    As for new teachers, the way to retain them is not to give them a sixth class and dump them in lunchrooms. The way to retain them is not to make the job more difficult with, effectively, less pay.

    I’ve seen Randi speak, and I’ve been quite impressed with her. I’ve voted for her based on seeing her speak. I’ve read her columns and she makes, by far, the very best arguments in support of this contract. She does not indulge in threatening members, as do the writers on Edwize.

    Nonetheless, she endorses a deal full of givebacks that fails even to keep up with the cost of living. That’s simply not right.

    So we need to negotiate, and perhaps we need someone different to do it for us.

    Interestingly enough, another of the things the Unity guy at my school bragged about was a provision that would add penalties to the Taylor Law for employers who failed to bargain in good faith. My colleague had to ask him several times before he admitted the governor had not actually signed it.

    It’s kind of like the 55/25 thing–it hasn’t happened yet, and I’m told Bloomberg’s support is predicated on NYC’s taking no financial part in its support. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    But even if the contract passes, we’ve got neither of those things yet. Pardon me if I sit while I wait.

    I’ll be teaching one more class for effectively less than I made a few years back. While that may be fine with you, I don’t much care for it. I’ve still got to work two other jobs just to get by.

    And for those of you talking about hard times, I’d like to remind you that during the nineties, when the stock market and the economy was exploding, we took zeroes.

    Under Unity, we get bad contracts through good times and bad. While it may inspire some to jump up and salute, that’s a consistently awful record. “It was the best we could do.”

    Well, if that’s true, it’s time to find someone who can do better. Who? I don’t know offhand, but frankly, it’s very tough to imagine anyone doing worse.

  • 37 northbrooklyn
    · Oct 31, 2005 at 9:08 pm

    Jonathan is correct there is a crying need to reach out to new teachers and the old dudes as well. I would love to lay out a plan if I could figure out how to ‘start a thread?’ if that is what it is called.

  • 38 R. Skibins
    · Nov 1, 2005 at 2:30 pm

    I hope that the new teachers are ready for lunch duty and potty patrol, as that is what they will get if this contract passes. And, when you are laid off, as it doesn’t seem that there is a no-layoff clause, don’t come crying to me. Most new teachers don’t have a clue how our UFT forefathers struggled to gain rights for us all. Do you want to go back to the forced transfer days? Or days when we had no preps? Or when you were terminated for being pregnant? Or when your assignment was changed arbitrarily by the supervisor? Or no health benifits? Keep voting for sellout contracts and those who negotiate them, and that is what you will get!

    It is time for groups like TJC and ICE to unite and field one viable candidate to challenge Weingarten in the next UFT presidential election. There was a reason why the proposed contract runs out after the next election: Weingarten knows that she would lose, as we would not want a new contract with more givebacks. But unlike the general population, our memories are long.

  • 39 233288193
    · Nov 1, 2005 at 9:32 pm

    Regardless of the outcome of the contract vote, a UNITED opposition against Unity must be formed with a platform which calls for term limits and mimimum RECENT in-class teaching experience. If the membership REALLY knew what Weingarten’s “teaching” experience was, perhaps they’d would think twice when she feigns empathy for the working stiff. At a district meeting for UFT reps she once boasted that prior to his election, Bloomberg had asked her to serve as a Deputy Mayor in his administation-why take a pay cut!

  • 40 R. Skibins
    · Nov 1, 2005 at 10:44 pm

    Wasn’t she on his transition team? Didn’t Pataki appoint her to some statewide taskforce or committe of some sort?

  • 41 HS_ teacher
    · Nov 3, 2005 at 12:23 am

    Thank you again “NYC Educator” for proving my point. You have nothing constructive to say about the topic but you have to politicize it. It isn’t about agreeing with me or anyone else for that matter, but rather you just feel that you need to make a political issue about every comment you make. What is sad is that you arguments about the proposed contract, which can be yours to make about it, is not really about the rights of members that you seem to want to protect. Rather at every opportunity, regardless of the thread, you want pontificate about your gripes. But it seems that those gripes are focused on UFT presidential elections of 2007 (not this particular contract proposal in 2005). The fact that you say “It’s just like those goshdarn liberals who keep hounding poor President Bush even though the election is over” tells me that you are about being in political opposition to who is currently elected and looking for the next election. For you it seems that the contract is not the issue but rather politics “even though the election (last UFT presidential elections) is over”. “R. Skibins” and “233288193” seem to be in line with you.
    But again this thread is NOT about the particular contract proposal nor was my previous comment but of course you choose to ignore it by dismissing it and then rant about the contract proposal . . . again. But that’s right political caucuses aren’t your thing, right?

    Hey guys, I got an idea! Why don’t we try to come up with some constructive suggetions to “about how the union can build a support network for newer teachers”?

  • 42 NYC Educator
    · Nov 3, 2005 at 2:53 pm

    Sorry, HS teacher, I’m not “ranting” any more than you. Your conclusions, again, are entirely incorrect.

    You’re certainly free to pointedly ignore the pro-contract aspect (the entire second paragraph) of the original post. It’s unfortunate you feel the need to silence dissenting voices.

    I sincerely regret you are unable to construct an affirmative response beyond wishing those with whom you disagree would shut up.

  • 43 Annie
    · Nov 4, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    I’ve been teaching for 8 years and I’ve noticed a huge change in the teaching profession.

    If I were a new teacher, I would never ever stay in a system that treats us so badly. We are treated as if we are children, not trained professionals.

  • 44 HS_ teacher
    · Nov 4, 2005 at 11:26 pm

    No NYC Educator, I am not even suggesting for anyone to “shut up”. But if this thread is about organizing and uniting our membership particularly our new teachers than why must you in your first comment here (along with Bklynteacher) change the topic and in a short time, again start politcizing this topic for internal union politics? It seems like you (and others) are gearing for another election in 2007 (even before this contract was voted on).
    Regardless of what I or anyone says here or anywhere else you and others will say what you want, which you are free to do, but in this particular thread, Why don’t we try to come up with some constructive suggetions “about how the union can build a support network for newer teachers”? It isn’t “shutting you up” it is suggesting to stick to the topic.

  • 45 newteachernyc
    · Nov 5, 2005 at 8:23 am

    I’m a new teacher at a new school. I’m also my school’s union rep. All of the teachers at my school are brand new, and I at least was/am politically active and know/care about unions. And because I did student teaching last year, I have a tiny clue about nyc schools, unlike the rest of the staff who are TFA or international teachers (I’m the only one with a master’s in education and certified in new york).

    So I’m finally starting to peek my head above water and educate myself about union issues, partly out of necessity because of what’s going on at my school, and partly because I’m making it a priority.

    However, I feel totally clueless most of the time and am starting to get the feeling that I don’t know who I can trust. I’ve already gotten in a bit of trouble for “making waves” and questioning our teacher programs, certification issues, PD overload, and lack of supplies, etc. I was told that I “lack perspective” and “don’t know how good we have it” compared to other schools, and that the issues I’ve been questioning are “not union issues” and should be brought up by individual teachers one-on-one with the principal. My feeling is that this is all BS, but then again, I have very little contact with experienced teachers, so I don’t really know.

    My principal is almost dripping with resentment that we have established a union presence and, however fledgling our chapter is at this point, that we intend to fight for our rights as teachers… She tells me not to compare my workload with other teachers’, but in the next sentence, she mentions resentfully that she’s not asking more from us than what other new schools are asking of their teachers, so she’s not sure why she’s having so much “trouble” with her teachers.

    The thing is, I like my principal. I want to believe she’s doing what she thinks is best for our students, and that we could actually achieve all of her idealistic goals. I don’t want to have to pull out the contract, and I am not looking to “make trouble”. But the teachers in my school cannot handle the workload. We have neither the experience nor the resources to do so. I got my MA from a respected private graduate school, did my student teaching, and want to make a difference. I want to teach! I love teaching! But I didn’t know I had to sell my soul to do it, and I WILL fight back when I feel that my concerns are being silenced.

    I know now that I need to actively seek out trusted veteran teachers and ask their advice. The problem is that as a new teacher in a new school, it’s very hard to know who I can go to, and who will give me accurate information, etc. I finally (this week) got on a UFT email list, which got me to this blog. I had to seek out UFT forms and information, which took time that I didn’t have. I finally got my hands on UFT enrollment and welfare fund forms. I spent hours pouring over the contract one weekend. I had to ask around to find out who our district rep is, and arrange a meeting with him. So it was about 1.5 months into school before I realized some of the things that were happening in our school were not legal. I can’t imagine what it’s like in other schools where the brand new staff doesn’t even have someone like me who will take so much time to figure it out and won’t be intimidated enough not to speak out. It’s very easy to just believe and trust your principal when they present themselves as being on your side (until, of course, you ask too many questions).

    Any advice from veteran teachers?

  • 46 NYC Educator
    · Nov 5, 2005 at 10:06 am

    HS Teacher,

    You’re certainly free to pointedly ignore the pro-contract aspect (the entire second paragraph) of the original post.

    It’s unfortunate you feel the need to silence dissenting voices.