On June 28, the UFT held a press conference concerning Chancellor Klein’s letter to parents on the issue of the school calendar and the opening day of schools in September.
Read Mulgrew’s statement after the jump.
I’d like to point out a disturbing pattern.
When things go wrong in the schools, it’s never the administration’s fault.
Class sizes skyrocket — we’re told that principals have to make their own decisions about class size.
Kindergartens have waiting lists — people live in the wrong neighborhoods.
NAEP scores are flat — the state tests are the ones that count.
The court finds the DOE violated the law in closing schools — the judge is mistaken.
The school calendar is wrong — the UFT made us do it.
We need to set the record straight about the starting day of school next fall.
Parents should be outraged that Chancellor Klein has refused to exert the authority he has to properly manage the school calendar.
The Chancellor today blamed the union for his decision not to make Wednesday, Sept. 8 a professional development day. That decision means that, despite requests from some parents to delay the first school day for children until Monday, Sept. 13, the first school day for children will be Wednesday, Sept. 8.
The first day for teachers remains Tuesday, Sept. 7, and teachers will be in school on Wednesday whether students are present or not.
As you might have expected, Chancellor Klein’s letter to parents ignores the fact that the Chancellor does not need to get the union’s agreement to make Sept. 8 a professional development day. It also ignores the fact that a number of schools earlier this year sought to change their individual schedules to start school for children on Monday, Sept. 13 — and were denied by the Klein administration. If this was not a good idea then, how has it become one now?
The union has suggested calendar changes in recent months, involving both the last day of school this year and the first day of school for students next year. Most recently we suggested this in a meeting with the administration on May 12. As in previous such meetings, we were told that the calendar was unchangeable.
Our conversations with teachers and parents in the schools indicate that communities feel very differently about the possibility of changing the first day for students next fall. We have suggested to the Chancellor that he let each school make its own decision about whether or not to start on Monday, Sept. 13, as permitted under the school-based option in our contract.
The Chancellor’s letter claims that letting each school make its own decision would be “chaotic.” But for years the system operated with different school schedules for different boroughs, and schools across the system have been permitted to create professional development days at other points in the calendar. Previous managements have been up to the challenge of managing the logistics of transportation and food service. I’m sorry to hear that Chancellor Klein feels that his managers lack this competence in this instance.
The UFT has tried to ensure that the school calendar works for families and teachers, but the responsibility for that calendar is the administration’s alone.