That's why, apparently, it was vital that we agree to give up February break immediately, with no consultation whatsoever with rank and file. It appears that the State Education Department has the power to waive the 180-day requirement, but can only do so when all vacation days are exhausted. That's true. It's in the UFT Q and A that came out yesterday, and will doubtless be a talking point used against folks like me who wonder why we were so quick to capitulate.
However, there is another way to waive the requirement. This, apparently, escaped the attention of whoever wrote the UFT Q and A. The State Legislature can vote to do so, and have done so as recently as last year. In fact, on November 1st, they were considering just that.
School districts would face a loss of state aid if they were to have fewer than 180 days of classes. Lawmakers said they would look to modify the law to hold school districts downstate harmless because of the extended school closures caused by the devastation from Sandy.
So yes, the law is the law. But why didn't we wait to find out if it would be waived without penalty before agreeing with Walcott? Had the law been changed, I'm certain teachers would have agreed to forgo consultation days and provide kids with more instruction. That, my friends, is what is known as a win-win.
And that is what we should all aspire to. When this chancellor demands we jump, after having denied us the contract almost all other city workers got, we ought not to be asking, "How high?"
We ought to be making our own demands.
OK, we'll do the days. My demand? First, put every ATR teacher to work so as to alleviate outrageous class sizes.
In exchange for our time, we certainly ought to ask for more than nothing whatsoever, which appears to be what UFT leadership requested.
What would you ask this chancellor?