Thursday, October 22, 2020

Bringing Stupid to New Heights


The center of the New York City MAGA universe is somewhere in Staten Island, and it's therefore not surprising at all to see this story coming from there.  That's a public demonstration to fully open city public schools right there. 

You can see that City Councilman Joe Borelli is out there riling up his half-dozen supporters. Of course there are good arguments for full time schooling. It's better for kids than what we're doing. I'd be 100% for it if it were, you know, safe. But those aren't the only arguments they're trotting out:

“Remote education, watching a YouTube video, is not meeting the constitutional requirement for a sound, basic education,” Borelli said. “Watching videos all day is not the same as being in school and socializing and interacting with your teachers and interacting with your peers and having the services in many cases that your child’s education plan guarantees.”

All due respect, Councilman, but you don't know what you're talking about. If I were so irresponsible that I just showed YouTube videos all the time there'd be nothing stopping me from doing it when I was face to face with full classes in the buildin. In fact you can't really run a class without the cooperation of the 34 kids in front of you, and if you're the kind of lazy slob the Councilman paints teachers as, you will be spectacularly unsuccessful.

He then argues that we don't need class size regulations for online instruction, which is beyond typical ignorance. It's late October and I'm still struggling to learn the names of my students. It has never taken me this long before. I'm trying to encourage student participation but it's very tough at this point. It's disappointing to see a public official with so little respect for educators, especially when he stands around trashing us baselessly. 

And if the councilman's ignorance hasn't yet astounded you, take a gander at this:

Other large districts – including Dallas and Miami – are already moving towards a full reopening, he noted.

Dallas is moving toward its highest rate of COVID hospitalizations since August.  Ask yourself whether that's a model you wish to emulate. Miami happens to be over the NY State threshold of 5%. Is that where most New Yorkers want to be, in terms of COVID? One of the reasons we're able to open schools to the small extent we have is that we are careful. I'm not sure why anyone would want to move backward.

I don't imagine this movement of idiots is going anywhere in NYC, but the fact is the Presidential election will be a referendum on whether or not we collectively believe in science. President Trump and the MAGA crowd clearly think science is for wimps.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather be a live wimp than a dead flat earther any day. It's embarrassing that Borelli found even the half-dozen New Yorkers he did to stand up and protest sanity. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Lingering Stench of Mike Bloomberg


 The other day I asked a question at UFT Executive Board:

The DOE is full of Bloomberg leftovers hired from TFA refugees, cocktail parties, hopeless relatives and who knows where else. What are we going to do to get the next mayor to sweep clean, get rid of the incompetence and indifference, and sweep the stench of Bloomberg from Tweed forever?

Why, exactly, would I ask a thing like that? For one thing, it's years of dealing with DOE "legal." Ostensibly, this group exists to advise principals, but in reality, its prime directive is to impede union activity in any way possible. It will offer the most outlandish advice, and a chapter leader might repeatedly spend months grieving as a result. 

One of the reasons is that, at Step Two of grievances, the DOE generally doesn't even bother listening to UFT. Like "legal," the people repping the DOE can't be bothered with rules, evidence, or any such frivolity. They just do any damn thing they like and make you wait months again to see an arbitrator. I was once told to stand outside a door, and actually heard the rather loud hearing officer essentially say the principal had no case. Months later, I lost the Step Two hearing anyway.

For one very long year, I took the job of LAB BESIS coordinator. This job had to do with testing ELLs. I had to deal with a whole lot of records. It was good in one way, because I finally had an office to conduct union business, but I wasn't particularly fond of the actual job. It was a lot of tedious computer work, and the DOE system I had to use was twenty years out of date. It was tedious and not especially rewarding.

The thing that pushed me over the edge, though, was when I tried to help a kid. I don't remember exactly what happened, but there was a missing record or something, and a kid was misplaced as a result. I spent months asking about it, and no one would say anything to me. When I finally sent an email with a tone a little less than neutral, I got a threatening letter back that there would be consequences if I kept pushing the issue, though none of said consequences involved helping the student in question. The student was beside the point.
 

I walked into the APO's office and said, "I quit." She thought I was quitting my job as a teacher and was kind of shocked. I told her no, I was going back to being a teacher and giving up all the glory and perks of being LAB BESIS coordinator. I disliked the job, but really hated the people who were supposed to support me. They did not remotely support me, and bristled at the thought of having to do anything but sit in their offices and do Whatever It Was they did there.

A recent winner in what takes the cake, though, is this--All paraprofessionals are now entitled to work the same hours as teachers, and leave buildings after six hours and twenty minutes. This is an agreement between UFT and DOE. It's pretty clear to me, and to anyone not hard of reading, what that means. In Bloomberg's DOE, though, creative interpretation is a big plus

For example, there are also sub paraprofessionals. Sub paras are not quite like substitute teachers. Substitute teachers may get called day to day, teach this or that, and go here or there. Every sub para I know has a regular assignment. They have to work at least thirty days in a row somewhere, but they also have to wait until the DOE magically opens its hiring window. Sometimes they get hired faster in D75, but regardless, they work for a daily salary with no benefits until and unless they procure full time positions.

The DOE, in its wisdom, has now decreed that these paraprofessionals cannot leave thirty minutes early as per the UFT agreement, or they'll be docked. We are fighting it, but it's absolutely disgraceful that the DOE would seek to take advantage of these people. And for what? To keep them around for an extra thirty minutes? Doe that really make a pivotal difference somewhere?

It's not enough for the DOE that these paraprofessionals are working without health benefits in public school buildings in the midst of a pandemic, the likes of which none of us have seen in our lifetimes. No, the DOE needs to nickel and dime them and squeeze every last drop of blood they can.

Honestly, I don't know how people so soulless and vicious got into education. I knew one DOE hack who got the gig because her mother was a more prestigious DOE hack. I hear Bloomberg hired a lot of TFA two-year wonders. We all know the kind of people Bloomberg and Klein wanted, and we all know the kind of behavior they encouraged.

Mayor de Blasio sat on his ass and did nothing about these people. The chancellor, who talks a big game about his love and respect for educators, has followed and sustained the do nothing policy. Now I can understand how a bunch of people hired for their sociopathic qualities might be good with this sort of thing. 

But honestly, I have no idea how the chancellor sleeps at night.

It is of paramount importance that we support a mayoral candidate willing to clean house at the DOE.

Monday, October 19, 2020

UFT Executive Board October 19, 2020 --The Fun Never Stops

 

Roll Call 5:50

 UFT Secretary LeRoy Barr--Welcomes us.

Minutes--approved

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--6:08--Moving heavily on operational issues. Will meet with chancellor this week. Will try and figure where we need more staff. Have stopped cooperating until these things get resolved. Disappeared last year, and summer, and now want to do whatever they feel like. Will follow up on that. May send something to CLs. More people are coming forward now with other issues. 

Retirees and volunteers working hard, Max Rose and Nicole M. very expensive race. Andrew Benardis in Brooklyn too. Retirees working in multiple states. Cassie Pruett can help if you want to volunteer.

We're focused on getting schools open. Data shows it's relatively safe right now, but we can't be too sure. We will likely be in this setting for rest of school year.

Questions about equity between last year and this year. Remote instruction improved, but not the same as what we usually do. Lots of adults having conversations rather than playing politics. 

Monitoring stimulus conversation. Spoke with AFT. Comes down to whether they have enough to push Senate to do a package. We have to be careful with language. Education part looks good so far. Support city and state funding. 

Questions--

Why did union agree to split lump sum? Union did not agree. Arbitrator made the decision, and we agreed to no layoffs and guaranteed raise. That's agreement.

Mandatory testing unethical? We use original safety guidance from CDC. Feds don't want to bother with testing now. Every doctor we worked with said this is important. All fed agencies politically manipulated.

The DOE is full of Bloomberg leftovers hired from TFA refugees, cocktail parties, hopeless relatives and who knows where else. What are we going to do to get the next mayor to sweep clean, get rid of the incompetence and indifference, and sweep the stench of Bloomberg from Tweed forever?--This is our frustration. Same people causing all these problems. Middle management useless, harmful. Had to testify at City Council, said operational side is great. People on instructional side horrendous, only cause problems. They have to go. Mayor's race coming up, changes everything.

No lump sum payments carry interest. If they do anything with raise we can go back to arbitrator. Just because we have an agreement, and city is following, we still prepare in case anything goes wrong.

SBO process is ours. We will get pressure from principals. Our job to hold the line. Sometimes you have to say too bad, you're not getting it. We will go after principals if necessary.

Retro for per session should follow same path as other retro. 

Sent chancellor's email specifically saying Election Day is remote learning day and no UFT should be in building. 

Thanks us.  Will need committees to look at things discussed at DA, and we'll meet next week.

D75 admin following guidance as per DOE with masks--What happens if one of our children gets sick? They didn't send a sick kid home because he didn't have a fever.

If a kid has symptoms, he can be sent home whether or not he has fever. Working with city for clearer guidance. Asking for medical documentation for kids who don't wear masks. Will work on that this week. Another reason to get rid of all the Bloomberg leftovers.

Wishes us good night and good week.

This Week in Apocalypse Video--David Byrne's American Utopia

I don't know about you, but I really miss Broadway. I know I won't be seeing it until at least sometime next summer. If you miss theater, this is the closest you'll get for quite some time If you love music, you will love this. If you love people, you will love this. It's filmed by Spike Lee, and he does a remarkable job of catching things you'd miss even from a front row orchestra seat.

Byrne starts out simply. He intersperses the songs with bits of dialogue. He tells us the things that most attracts our eyes are other people. We certainly see people on the largely bare stage. He's got a hugely talented band, collected from all over America, North and South. Byrne's interest in Latin American music is longstanding, and the half-dozen percussionists he's gathered on the stage reflect it.

You'll be drawn to this band, obviously enjoying every moment on this stage. You won't be able to take your eyes off of the joyous female backup singer, and director Spike Lee turns to her repeatedly just in case. In fact, you see a whole lot more here than you'd see if you were in the theater. (The keyboard player looks suspiciously like Mike Mulgrew, but I doubt he's moonlighting as a musician these days.)

You see the play from multiple angles, and quote often you're shown the performers' perspective of the audience. It's remarkable to see all three levels of the theater from the stage, and it's even more remarkable to see a Broadway audience so obviously involved with the show. One advantage that audience might have on home viewers is they're constantly on their feet. Aside from when I've been to performances almost entirely populated by NYC students, I've not seen audiences so physically enthralled by a performance. 

While I wasn't a follower of Talking Heads, I'm familiar with their big hits. They alternate with newer and different songs, but there's palpable excitement when Byrne plays hits. This band does everything well, including a nonsense lyric from Dada. The choreography is really impressive. At 68, Byrne has more energy than most people half his age.

Here's a memorable lyric:

Every day is a miracle. Every day is an unpaid bill.

You owe it to yourself to be happy. Byrne's Utopia is all about showing you how to do that. But Byrne's Utopia is in his mind and on his stage. He knows how far we are from it. He takes a moment to tell of how he was out trying to get people to pledge to vote. He has some organization in the theater ready to register audience members to vote, no matter which state they're from.

And when Byrne decides to give a direct message about BLM, he does it in a way that's unforgettable aurally and visually. Byrne heard Janelle Monae sing a song at the Women's March in 2017, and asked for her permission to perform it. How would she feel about a white man singing this song? She was thrilled and you will be too when you see it. Why are people of color being murdered on American streets? If you still aren't sure what Black Lives Matter is about, Byrne and have not only chapter and verse, but also photos. In stark contrast with the nominal leader of our country, Byrne says he himself can get better.

He follows that with a song of hope, calling America a work in progress. We won't know much about American progress until at least November 4th. But if you need something hopeful to hang your hat on for a little while, this is it. You'll be right there as Byrne marches the band out into the audience, and out into the New York streets on bicycles. 

You deserve a diversion. If you haven't got HBO, Try a free trial.  If you don't like it, I'll refund your money.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Making the Best of the Impossible

 There's no magic bullet to ease our anxiety. There's no certain answer to solve our dilemmas. And no matter how bad things get, they can always get worse.

We just had a positive case in our building. Of course our building doesn't look the way it usually does. More than half of our students are all remote, and most of those who aren't come in once or twice a week. 

It's freaky, and it's scary. But everyone who came into contact with that person is out of the building for two weeks. Is it perfect? Of course it's not. Nothing ever will be.

We have fewer students this year, I'm told, because some parents are pulling their kids from public schools. They're finding private ones that will see them in person five days a week. I'm mystified as to what would make parents find that an acceptable risk. I don't even allow my dog to socialize the way he used to, and my dog adores attention anywhere he can find it.

I'm teaching online, and so far I've only seen two of my students studying from the building. I was surprised to see them there, but I'm glad they managed to catch their classes one way or another. I have a feeling after this week there hapwill be fewer of them choosing to go in. It doesn't really take much. Since they're only going in a few days a week anyway, I'll bet a lot of parents will choose to keep their kids home, and a lot of students, more than before, will simply make that choice for themselves.

That's a net positive, because the fewer people there are in buildings, the less chance there will be to spread the virus. After they send your kid home for two weeks, are you gonna say, what the hell, let's roll the dice again and hope for the best? Will you feel confident in the process, knowing that it appeared toy have worked in this case? Or will you wonder, now that they've tested 20% at random, what the hell is going on with the other 80%?

It's good that we're taking precautions. It's good that we're masked. Everyone wearing a mask is less likely to spread the virus, especially to others who are masked. And distancing helps as well. As freaky as it may be to be in a building now, we were at far worse risk back in February and March, when we were crammed in like sardines. I took an antibody test last spring, and I was absolutely shocked to test negative. 

We had no idea what we were doing back then. I regularly took the subway. I brought a bunch of students to see The Lion King on Broadway. I would never have done that knowing what I know now. Just a few weeks later, Broadway was closed. My students and I were still making the daily trek to the most overcrowded school in New York City. In retropect, it's hard for me to see how the Broadway trip was any more risky than what we were doing day to day.

It's a good time to be kinder than usual to our students. Whatever stress we're feeling, they're surely feeling too. I hope you and your family are well. I hope you can find reserves of happiness somewhere, and I hope you can share them with the kids you serve.

That's about the best we can do right now.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

UFT Town Hall October 15, 2020

by special guest Mindy Rosier

Mulgrew: Thank you for taking the time on such a beautiful day to make it on this call. We are going to be talking about a lot of going ons. Spent a lot of the weekend talking to medical experts. When will this pandemic end? How long will our school system have to stay in this way? Next year we should be in a better place. It is about figuring out how we navigate through everything we need to deal with. The elections is weeks away and then we work on the Mayor's race. We are making sure we are safe, our livelihood is intact, and we are working on issues with the principals and the DOE.


We need to be diligent with everything we are doing. We are the only school system with mandated testing. Now the Gov wants to do more of this. We fought for the testing, the PPE, and we pushed the Mayor for delays twice. 



We cannot take anything for granted. We need to know issues right away. Schools have been getting the supplies. You must report any issues. City Hall found the money to make it work. We can only take care of a problem if we know about it. We will make sure they will do what they are supposed in making sure schools are fully supplied. Everything we have now, we had to fight for. PPE and procedures are the number one piece in stopping the virus. Then comes cleaning and testing. This should keep our schools safe. Everyone needs to do what they supposed to.


There is clearly a second wave hitting the country. We are paying attention. 


Our testing program has started. We get the reports nightly. We are way below the city average. You have to wear a mask. You need to be responsible. It's mandated testing for everyone. You have a responsibility to keep each other safe. The first week, the results weren't coming back fast enough. Solution was put it all in one place called the Situation Room. If there's a problem, we will move quickly. 


We now know we are not teaching children the way we would outside of the pandemic. We change. We adapt. Its what we do. 


There are community spikes and we saw specific zip codes go up. In the deal with the city and state, with rates over 3%, the schools must be tested. Of 118 schools, only 25 schools were being tested. We were preparing to go to court. The city was in violation with the plan that was put in place. We were ready. Call got a call on Sunday night from City Hall. All schools in those zip codes will be put in remote for at least 2 weeks. Gov jumped in with colored zones. We are tracking everything. We went from having to shut down the whole school system down to getting those schools into remote right away when there's a spike. Now the city is responsible to do the testing. If you need any further information on this, you can contact the call center.


Do not take anything for granted. Let us know if there are any issues in your school. We need to know if people don't wear a mask. That is not ok. Everyone must wear a mask.


Profession and livelihood: By next September, hopefully we'll have some normalcy. This has changed all of us forever. The economic wreckage on our economy is going to last years. It's real bad. The only good thing is, we may be able to bounce back quicker because we have so many industries here. 


If the city were able to borrow $3B, it wouldn't last long and we would go back in the red. NYC costs so much to run. There is a job increase in city, but not the state. There's no tourists, no planes, cargo ships. Economy has been very damaged. We fought really hard for the Cares act which ended at the end of September. Since the Cares Act prevented layoffs, as soon as it ended, Disney laid off thousands as did the airlines. Here, the Mayor spoke of layoffs for all agencies including us. We were able to thwart that because our schools couldn't open safely until there was more staff. 


If we get a big stimulus, we can get through 

the next 3 years and the ecoomy hopefully will pick up. If it doesn't, it can take 5-10 years. We had robust calls about retro. We were preparing for a problem with the retro. We asked for confirmation on the retro. We didn't get one. We use an electronic service, they don't understand our system. They thought they had to issue payment to the bank and they thought they had until the 13th. I said again, are you processing the retro payments. They did not confirm. They were not putting the money in the system and it was on hold. We put the legal papers together . That money is directly under the control of a mediator. Because of this, we could go straight to arbitration if there were any issues. Last Thursday, we got the  notification that there will be no retro. Told them we are going to arbitration and they weren't happy. Friday we went into arbitration and it was long and ugly. They kept arguing fiscal emergency. If they say this now, they can claim this anytime when they don't want to pay for something.  The arbitrator thought they were nuts. Plus on top of this, they were threatening to lay us off? The city was not happy with what was agreed to, the raise, the split payment, and no layoffs this school year.

We will get half of the retro this month and the other half in July.


Something else came out this day. We were able to get legislation crafted and was introduced to the senate and assembly.  We have been working on this for months. The city has given us written support for an  Early Retirement Incentive. They introduce this all the time in Albany, the electeds say they support it but then it goes nowhere. We will negotiate, we will get the legislation in place, and the city will be in agreement. 


Moving forward we need to get all of these operational complaints taken care of. Some principals say there's nothing we can do which is full of crap. Every CL is getting a phone call from the union. In late August principals were asked if they were ready. Staffing becomes an issue once open. Since they said they were good originally, staffing requests are being denied. An SBO is our tool not the principals. There are teachers who only want to teach their students both remote and in person. Do an SBO and we will work it out. There are so many ridiculous things going on in schools. Now get the schools staffed. We must remedy these things quickly. Enough is enough. The schools system is open. There will be schools that get a call at 4am letting them know that you're closed for a day or two or longer. This is the world we are living in. The craziness. 


So many of us are fried already. Working in a pandemic is a tough thing. These are extremely challenging times. Be there for each other. We are a political organization.  We have extremes on both side. Union comes first. Right now the union’s job is to protect our safety, our profession, and our livelihood.  


We are in a highly charged political society right now. Talking politics is crazy right now. All the yelling and disrupting. Our job right now has to be taking care of our safety, profession, and livelihood.  I need people to really be there for each other in the schools. What I've seen so far has been amazing. People saying how they are proud to be on the building response team. Beautiful stuff in schools during such a terrible time. These are our schools and our kids. We are going to do our jobs and we are going to take care of each other. We still have plenty of enemies. There are so many fights right now. We need to look at all of the issues and how they affect us. This is the world we are in. 


Thank you to all who have been reaching out to me. The beautiful part and the tough part of the union is trying to figure all of these things out. We keep moving forward. 


This is our profession. We adapt. We move forward in dealing with everything. We will hold more Town Hall coming up soon.


I've never seen so much stuff go out from the DOE with so much wrong information for example the testing. They said it isn't mandated, when it is mandated. 


Election day is a remote learning day. Teach from home. Not up to the principal. Kids are home. Read the calendar. We don't want you in the buildings because they will be used as polling sites. Drives me nuts. If they could just be clear with the communication it would make everything easier but they don't. 


Its phenomenal with what we all have done. 


Questions: 


Q: I qualify for a medical accommodation. I applied 3 weeks ago and no updates. I've also made calls to the call center. 


M: Sill will contact you after the Town Hall. 


Q: In D26 there are plenty of operational issues. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel?


M: Yes, we informed the DOE. The Mayor hired staff. Your CL will be getting a call. Our goal is to resolve these issues in a week or two. Its moving, and hopefully you will get the resolution you looking for



Q: Early retirement; Are there any specifics? If it gets passed when will we get it? 


M: It would be at the beginning of the fiscal year, if we get it done and that would be July 1st or so. People could then apply over the summer. Last one was 2002, we are looking at that. Let me be clear. It is not done yet. We do not have the Early Retirement Incentive yet. 


Q: What about medical accommodations after December 31st and any updates on Spring Break?


M: When arbitration is back up, we will move forward on Spring Break. Medical accommodations are based on a medical condition. We would have to do another one in Jan. Same documentation and everything.


Q: Speech therapist; Concerned about excessive paperwork with all of the changes including the back and forth with remote.


M: Are you saying parents are switching back and forth? 


: Yes


M: Give me some time to work out the rad. Sped folks at the DOE have nothing better to do than make us work harder while they do nothing. Mary Jo and I will be taking care of this. 


Q: Clarification on testing D75 


M: D75 is not exempt. Those doing testing are not DOE folks. D75 was never exempt. They don't seem to understand that the majority of D75 kids are in buildings with other schools. It doesn't matter how many schools in the building,  they are tested. K is still in question. We will probably be testing for the rest of the school year.


Q: In D75, it is my understanding that if students and teachers can't wear masks, they can't remain in school.  


M: Do they have a medical accommodation to not wear a mask? Can they wear a shield? I've been in many D75 schools. I see masks and shields. D75 is now getting whatever they need. The child might have to go remote. This is a health emergency. Please send info to Mary Jo. 


Q: How would the Early Retirement Incentive affect 25/55 ?


M: It might mean you may be able to retire early. But until it's negotiated, I don't want to say too much. It shouldn't affect things. They wanted us to pick specific titles. They don't want math, science and special ed to retire. It doesn't work that way. We will fight over this. Amount of credits and we'd like to settle on is 36 months. 


Q: I have a principal who thinks his interpretation is correct, how does this get resolved? Classes are doubled instead of hiring more staff.


M: Every time you hear a principal say that, you know the interpretation is crazy. This is moving forward. We started the process yesterday at the DA. What's going on with you is happening in other places. They want it done, they need to hire. 


Q: Observations?


M: We do not have an agreed upon observation process. They need to fix all of the operational issues before evaluations can even start. We have not negotiated this yet.  We believe at this time, the number is around 65% for remote. 


Q: Paras, roles, and responsibilities.  It seems that those who are remote are going 8 hours straight. There's no official schedule, no break, calling parents, and doing Sesis. It's am overwhelming amount of work. Its too much.


M: There is stuff there that should not be happening. Did you file an operational complaint? 


Same Q: No. Don't want anything escalated. Admin gave some information, but it is open for interpretation. 


M: What I'll do is, I will work with our folks with paras and get these things in place. You paras, the work you guys did was phenomenal.  For you guys to be treated this way now? Not acceptable. Paras were there to help out and went above and beyond. We will deal with this  and I will deal with the Chancellor directly. 


Q: I'm in a room without students and see students on Google meets. My lessons are all online. Can I do this from home? 


M: Yes. If all you are doing is teaching children from a room, you would qualify to work from home. 


Q: We found out that someone tested positive. How do I know proper procedures are being followed?


M: If you were informed that someone was positive, contact tracing is already happening. We taught them what questions to ask in school communities. We will get a report. Some people may be told that certain people need to quarantine.  Over the last 2 to 3 weeks, we have more confidence in them as they stepped it up. They are not DOE personnel.  They were very receptive to us. Our positivity rate right now is very low and we are doing lots of testing. 


Q: Are there any updates to Learning Bridges? 


M: Updates by the end of the week. It will be moving forward so that it is doing the job it was intended to do. They have to change the parameters of their programs.



Look, we will have another Town Hall in 2-3 weeks. There's still more issues to deal with. The program stuff, its a mess. There will be fights as these issues have to be dealt with. Thank you again for coming on this call and for everything you do. Nobody told us we'd  be doing this during a pandemic. It's about us. Doing what needs to be done. We will continue to take care of each other. It's about the passion and dedication of the work we do. It's been recognized now with our school system open. Everyone sees it. We have a lot to do. We will get through it. Find sometime to relax whenever you can. Goodnight. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

UFT Delegate Assembly October 14, 2020--We Will Survive (at least until June)

UFT President Michael Mulgrew.-- began listening at 4:32--talking about what happened with testing in September. Governor came out with a color coded plan which begins next week. We have already begun testing and get results daily. Our monitoring program tests a certain percentage monthly. Happening same day now, but will be spread out in future. Will hopefully keep virus at bay.

Country now at beginning of second wave and our challenge is to keep city safe. If there's a problem with PPE, cleaning, procedures, let us know. Only way we can fix is if we know. 

Profession and livelihood during bad economy--Fought to get CARES act passed. UFT coordinated different education unions. Gave us a lifeline, helped small businesses and family, but ended September 30th. Hundreds of thousands of layoffs now happening across country. Teachers, teacher aides, paraprofessionals being laid off around state. 

City prepared notices in July for 9,000 UFT members, but were not sent out. City actually needed more teachers. Some with remote settings have been hit harder. Budget cuts are going to get worse. 

We're in mid-election, looking at SCOTUS, and even with stimulus package next few years will be tough. Between city and state no one has seen this sort of number. If state could borrow 30 billion right now, it would still be in red. Every day we go further and further. Our economy doesn't cover expenses on day to day basis. This is longterm challenge.

We are hearing better news on virus. We'll probably go through this entire school year dealing with this, but hopefully next year we can have a vaccine in sufficient quantity. If we can get to that, then it's only the economy.

Lump sum payment--Many of you have written me about it. We always anticipate bad things. We plan for bad days as teachers. Didn't talk to city about it at all, and then on October 2 I asked for confirmation they were processing payment. Asked again. I then called, knowing members would check paychecks. City Hall didn't realize payroll system gave us info a week before. Wasn't processed. We had prepped legal papers, and on Thursday they said they would not process payment. We immediately filed papers.

We signed an agreement in 2014 for deferred wages. Said any issue would go straight to arbitration with mediator for that contract. We went immediately. I was quite angry city just took our money. Knew they owed us. 

Whole premise of city's argument is they're in a difficult fiscal time so they can't make payment. That would mean anytime they claimed a difficult fiscal time they wouldn't have to make a payment. We could not let that stand. We went to arbitration. Was very simple. If they denied us then, they'd deny raise in May and they could keep making this argument. Arbitrator started mediating. I'd prefer just lump sum, but other half was moved into next fiscal year. While that was good for city, we were made whole, and there was a no layoff clause. Possibility of second no layoff year if federal stimulus gets done. Very possible. Could be Title One allotment. 

Even with that package, city and state are in bad shape. Working with MLC on early retirement, got legislation introduced on Friday. City has given us letter of support. First big step in getting to incentive. We've taken steps, but there are many others that have to be taken before we get there. 

We have to look at safety and stay focused on it at all times, If city goes all remote will mean city is overrun with COVID. Meanwhile some geographic areas will be going temporarily remote. 

While we have raise and no layoff clause we're good this year at least.

We have to settle on working conditions. We can't have principal saying you are both remote and in person teacher. We have a system in place. When we needed money for PPE, staffing, we got that done. Issue is DOE says some schools can't get teachers. Some principals say that just so DOE will leave them alone. They don't help. They're only problems. They may have said they were ready before, but now they need staff for all these positions.

That is our fight right now. Every single CL with operational complaint will be getting phone call this week or early next. Many elementary schools have in person teachers also blended remote. We need to know how many teachers we need and go after it. If we have to fight DOE, we will do it. We are gettng it done. All safety work was us. We made sure mandated testing was in place. 

Entire time we were in remote, we talked to only half a dozen people at DOE. Now everyone wants to put their hand in things and we aren't having it. We gave the city time to hire people and get things done but the city isn't doing that. 

SBOs are great but they are not for principals. It's your tool, your power. Not in CSA contract. Principals cannot jam them through. If you don't want SBO you aren't getting one. Principals are being told they can't hire, and that's not what our agreement is based upon. We will put big push on this for two weeks to get this resolved.

What you're doing is amazing. We are moving kids around the city, getting tested, and fighting for our livelihood and profession at the same time. All the central level management are inept and I'm just talking to chancellor. Election Day is a remote learning day, and was made so because we needed to meet our state obligation. We worked with DOE to get this through SED. We're being told now it's up to principal whether teachers have to come in. They say they aren't sure. Why do we have all these people at DOE if all they do is create more problems?

First think we will ask mayoral candidates is how they will dismantle DOE and start system to support schools. November 3rd is remote learning day, and you work remotely. It's a presidential election year. Why would we want you in schools when they are major polling places? At every level we have this frustration. But you get it done. Teachers figure it out. If you're waiting for DOE support, you will wait a long time.

We will stay focused on safety protocols. If there's a problem, let us know. If you have supply issues we can help you quickly. Instructional side can't get it done. 

We wish we could've got whole lump sum, but we'll get half later, no layoffs, and guaranteed raise. 

We're doing a lot of elections, phone banking with NYSUT. We're concerned with SI Max Rose race and Andrew Benardis. We push not for party, but for whether they help teachers. So hard now to ask any of our members to do anything extra because of amount of stress we're under. Thanks those doing the work, and retirees in five different states right now working on national, Senate and Congressional races. Most unions don't have an active retiree chapter. They know what you're going through. 

LeRoy Barr--Make sure you fill out census. Directs billions to schools, public services. Deadline Oct. 16 6 AM. Most of us have done it, but remind friends, neighbors. Hispanic Heritage Month, and we are celebrating around the world. Most important election Nov. 3. Encourage people to vote. Breast cancer awareness month. Consider making donation to American Cancer Society.

Questions--

Q--Our principal not releasing people working remotely. Says even though she got guidance, wants it in writing what people do when they work remotely.

A--She's received it. Just playing games. Speak to DR. File operational complaint or DR will work it out. If not resolved in one day, file complaint. Ridiculous.

Q--SBO last spring for parent conferences same day--Staff doesn't want it anymore. Wasn't calendared. Principal in agreement.

A--Contact Debbie Poulos. We will support your reservation, given calendar came out so late. 

Q--CL tried to coerce me and other teachers into teaching in person and remotely so other person could do less work. 

A--You don't have to do that. Say no thank you. Sounds like there are operational issues. Contact DR.

Q--With NYS in fiscal crisis, how are our pensions?

A--Pensions are fine. Stability tied more to stock market, which has rebounded. 

Q--School not doing SBO. Principal asked for it. Problem now back in her lap. She said now I have a problem. Principal says operational complaint is black mark against school and she will be livid. I can't do it. She says she will take money and hire staff, but it hasn't happened.

A--For me it has to be operational complaint. Many principals ask CLs to file. For principal to say it's black mark is ignorant. You don't get proper support from DOE. Borough rep will follow up.

Q--We have students sent home by nurse, returning next day with no note, no test. Allowed to stay in building, not required to go home. 

A--You need to go to DR and get this done under safety. We can't worry about upsetting parents now. 

Q--What's our position on taxing wealthy in NYS to support communities?

A--We support it. State union campaigning for millionaire's tax. We need a stimulus, or massive borrowing. Can't borrow enough to get out. Will have to be revenue, stimulus, borrowing, or some combination. We don't know when economy will start again. State approaching 36 billion dollar hole. No one knows when economy will come back. Stores boarding up everywhere. Will be rough road. In election, one candidate really wants to hurt NY State.  

We supported last version too.

Q--Spring break pay--Why can't we go to arbitration now, like in lump sum?

A--We had special jurisdiction for lump sum. It's on the radar, and when it's time we'll get to it. Not forgotten.

Q--With remote election day, can we make sure that people are able to vote?

A--Law changed--if you don't have four consecutive hours outside work day, they will give you time. We have time. Wear PPE. You can also do early voting. Hopefully we won't have to stand on line. I want my vote counted on election day. Make sure you stay safe.

Q--Other districts have used remote to make layoffs. If we go fully remote, will it impact no layoffs?

A--No.

Q--Will kids who aren't allowed testing be allowed in buildings?

A--We were upset when they said it wasn't mandated. Caused problems everywhere. This is a health emergency. We owe it to each other that we test if we need to. New guidance says testing is mandated if you want to work or be in a NYC school. We gave some time the first month. Come November, that's it. If safety is first, people have to be tested. Will be done at random. Policy not changed, just confused. Part of state plan.

Q--What's DOE policy on writing up redeployed teachers?

A--No special policy. Some are redeployed, some management, and some are us. If you aren't doing your job correctly you can be written up. If you're written up for no reason, we will utilize due process.

Q--We're a PROSE school, and with everything that's happened, scheduling has gone out window. Should we then just do SBOs under circumstances, just to cover this year?

A--That is a real problem. Whatever you did originally probably doesn't work during crisis. Initially I'd say yes, but I will get back to you. You can perhaps vote to change rules temporarily, as we did here at DA. Will follow up.

Motions-- 

Next month's agenda--Vince Gaglione--In honor of RBG--child of Brooklyn, daughter of Jewish immigrants, NYC public school grad. Part of folklore of community. Represented values of her block--modesty, people living with one another. We need to honor her. 

97% yes. 3% no passes

Hector Ruiz--this month--Hispanic Heritage Month--UFT should continue advocacy for Latino community, especially for teaching staff.

91% yes  8% no passes

Resolutions--

Motion to move #10 to #1 for special election at request of political action committee.

 93% yes, passes

Mary Atkinson--Speaks in support of endorsing Kevin Riley for City Council. Supporter of public ed, public school parent, wants inclusive curriculum at all levels, wants health services in schools, knows public ed. requires funding, supports fully funding foundation aid. UFT members in Bronx think he will be strong ally.

Peter Lamphere--Neutral, but given fiscal crisis, is Riley in favor of raising taxes on rich to create revenue?

Mulgrew--Technically this is out of order. Interviews were done by district members, who make recommendation to exec. board or DA. Debate is for or against. 

Mark Walters--Lifelong resident of district 12, interviewed Riley, believe he's committed to NYC, district 12 and our children. Will support and implement policy to help our children and schools.

Nancy Wigo--For resolution. 

90% yes, passes.

Mulgrew--Asking that three BLM resolutions try to come together into one. We are out of time. Need you to make sure if something is going wrong on safety you let us know. We will push complaints rapidly. 

LeRoy Barr--Asks for extension as resolution relevant to election.

80% yes. Passes.

Mavis Yan--Back in May we asked to support postal service, lifeline for Americans in remote and rural areas. Many false statements from 45. Rushing to put Barret on court. He wants to send election to SCOTUS, and manipulate postal service and use it as scapegoat. Mail in voting important. Any change that negatively impacts postal service puts lives at risk. We are still in middle of pandemic. Lives are at risk and so is right to vote. Trump pefectly willing to sacrifice right to vote and postal service. Please support. 

Cynthia Smith--Supports Mavis and all she said. 

Joanne Genelda--No.

91% yes. Passes.

Mulgrew thanks us. Says keep watching each other's backs. We will take care of these fights. Be well and God bless.