Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chapter Leader Meeting Notes

Mulgrew welcomes new chapter leaders. Much noise ensues, most, seemingly, from person sitting directly behind me. Mulgrew says CL job can be tougher than teaching job. Explains his mom asked him to stop cursing since Pope is here, thanks them for taking role. Says they have to be crazy, welcome to nut world, and proclaims himself biggest nut of all. Says he will ask if he can curse again when Pope leaves.

Mulgrew says DA is in October and will be run by Robert’s Rules. Asks we wear pink as we are single largest fund-raiser for Strides.

School Year

Mulgrew says we have more holidays than any other school system but we will still do 180 days. Says we always have at least two days for snow, but this year we have only one. More than one snow day would entail adding day to end of school year. Mulgrew says Lunar New Year is Monday after Super Bowl, to great applause. Says that day is highest absence day in US.

Class sizes

Mulgrew asks us to report classes, but says oversize classes are down. Mulgrew says there is more money in system and principals who cry poverty are lying. Says things may move more quickly as DOE legal is no longer in charge of class sizes. Says chancellor also wants to achieve this. Stresses documentation is key to everything.

Future of UFT

States governor suddenly wants to be friend of teachers.

Mayor Bloomberg—Mulgrew discusses 5-year plan. Says we decided we could not work with former mayor. Says there was no way to work with Bloomberg, and that he wanted to make UFT members at will employees. Says we went to war in streets of NYC. Says we fought back layoffs every year.

Mulgrew says at will employment is holy grail of reformers. Says Bloomberg would have settled contract if we’d have agreed to at will employment. Says legal bills went up over 4,000%, says we stopped school closings, and that Bloomberg’s numbers were never what he wanted. Cites Chicago and Philadelphia, and suggests major initiative to turn LA into 50% charter.

Mulgrew says defined benefit pension fully intact. Says other unions do not have that.

Mulgrew says we were hit, but their plan was to destroy us and privatize public school system.

Perpetual War

After Bloomberg left, hedge funders found new friend in Albany. Shows us pictures of Rhee, Koch Bros., Bloomberg and Moskowitz. Moskowitz is booed loudly. Caption: New Battle Same War. Mulgrew says we know all of their tricks and agenda items. Cites Broad’s academy for superintendents. Says they’ve placed people all over country. Says they’ve taken over legislation, and Dem. or GOP labels mean nothing.

Mulgrew says we effectively went after Senators who opposed us. Says they now plan to fight us through law and we will work with elected officials. Cites Bloomberg approval rating of 21% when he left office as evidence of our success.

Mulgrew says at UFT mayoral debate, all candidates agreed with us. Says it was because city agreed with us and not mayor. Says Albany was our next battleground. Cites Eva’s latest commercial as mistake in media air wars.
Mulgrew reminds us of Race to the Top. Says all of this will be changed if we get ESEA authorized. Calls it pivotal piece for what happens in our classrooms and schools every day. States he wishes to take testing out of teacher evaluation.  Says Senate and Congress now agree federal government should not mandate test scores in evaluation. Applause ensues, but Mulgrew says not to get too happy. Speaks of vouchers, then jumps back to optimistic message about eval.


Talks of new evaluation system this year. Says it is not in effect and we don’t know where they’re going. Says Board of Regents made a change in regs. Says they told commissioner there were problems, and that there is another 30 day public review period. Says union is now pressing for further changes and there will be another review process. Says we are not trying to delay process, but rather make it as fair as possible under terms of law.

Mulgrew cites outliers. Says those who teach at top or bottom will have great difficulty showing growth, and that is why there is a review process. Says it will keep changing, it is not good, but we must do this if we are not happy with it. Says teachers ask him not to change it again.

Mulgrew says union is a democracy and that he listens to different opinions. Mulgrew says we had lowest number ever of low-rated teachers. Says problem is fear that it has caused. Says union job is to make sure people doing job well are not harmed, but that formula is too complex. Says he wants simplicity, getting back to teaching from commissioner. Cites moving back from numerical scores as a victory.

Mulgrew says we have right to apply for a waiver. Says he will not reveal whether or not he supports it, but will negotiate.

School Funding

NYS owes us 4 billion for CFE. They refuse and ignore court ruling. Mulgrew summarizes history of CFE lawsuit and says wealthy districts are funded higher than needy districts. Says this will be huge fight in Albany. Says we want to be best major school system in country. Says we want smaller class sizes. Says we want proper equipment for all members.

Mulgrew says last year Cuomo hated teachers and unions. He says we beat him back on almost everything. Says there are pluses and minuses to new evaluation system. Doesn’t understand why he wants to fight us. Cites his poor polling numbers in education. Says his fight with us hurts him, and hopes for sanity in Albany.

Mulgrew says other people said he met the Pope, and it worked.

Mulgrew says he doesn’t use his personal opinions, but says he expresses what’s best for teachers. Says de Blasio best mayor in decades. Says Cuomo had epiphany yesterday.

Friedrichs and SCOTUS

Mulgrew cites Friedrichs as most dangerous case we are facing. Says he will talk about it in October. Says union may lose agency fee. Abood said that was acceptable, but SCOTUS is making different decisions, like making corporations people until you sue them. Says CA people agreed to lose it in CA so it would go to SCOTUS. Says decision will be between January and June, and that if we lose, NY would be Right to Work state. Says it revolves around one justice.

Mulgrew says if we become RTW state, some legislators will support us, but we may lose others. Says it will change everything for UFT and all unions. Says all we can do is lobby so that we can quickly change NY law. He says we will have to prepare for this scenario. Says we hope to fix at state level but may have to be at national level.


Mulgrew says first months under de Blasio and Fariña we’ve had to work toward cleansing DOE of Bloomberg. Says Bloomberg made that very difficult via longterm contracts. Mulgrew says they’ve been taking some of these things out, but lots of other things haven’t changed. Says there are fewer lawyers at DOE

Mulgrew says superintendents are now in charge. Networks are out. Mulgrew says if your principal doesn’t get mad at you, you shouldn’t be CL .

Mulgrew says we have shot at making NYC best school system, because we aren’t fighting.

Supporting New Teachers

Mulgrew says he wants new teachers to stay, and that they need to feel support. Mulgrew says he wants new teachers to be excited and remain so. Says by September 30th first wave of exits hits. Says he’s trying to reassure and help new teachers.

Mulgrew says there are a lot more resources in our new teacher program. Mulgrew tells a woman to announce we will take care of new teachers. Woman stands up and says it. Cites borough-based events, says he had over 1,000 in August, has collected contact info, and has met with them in chancellor. Says we can’t move forward if 40% keep walking through he door.

Mulgrew cites promoting literacy in early grades. Says you move education by getting all children at literacy level by end of third grade.

Building Chapters

Mulgrew says he got teacher voice in new contract, and that national leaders suggest it’s best contract in country. Says we are moving chapter advocacy division into all schools, but that we have 1800 schools. Cites importance of consultation committee. Cites PD committee. Says other locals would love to have them.

Celebrate Our Schools

Mulgrew cites commercial, to moderate applause. Says for 20 years, nothing good was said about our schools. Says those who hate us say, because we teach most challenging students, that we are terrible. Says those who do well cite themselves as best, but that implies those with more challenging kids are not good. Says we must talk about it.

NYC largest and most diverse system in school, with largest number of challenging students. Says we do a great job, but want to do better. Says chapters must take responsibility to consider all opinions. Says we do the hardest job of any school system in the country. Says we can’t wait for others to praise us, and we must speak up for ourselves. Says we put out commercials to celebrate schools.

Mulgrew says he wants to bring bus in commercial to all schools to celebrate what we do well, and that we will have a yearlong celebration of things we do well. Gets applause. Mulgrew says there are a million miracles a day in our schools, cites individual victories with individual children. Says we’re in a war, but should think about celebration. Says it’s right and smart thing.

Mulgrew says UFT does media buy in beginning of every year. Says Eva rushed bad commercial in response to UFT commercial. Mulgrew says retro payment one will be on 15th. Says CLs should not answer specific questions about retro. Says CLs should tell members to go online for inquiry form.


CL Aviation HS—Mulgrew declines to predict what will happen with Friedrichs. Says Right to Work contradicts Taylor Law.

CL asks what we can do about Friedrichs. Mulgrew says most members do not follow or want to know. Says that’s why meetings are important. Says if you read papers, blogs or social media you wouldn’t know what to think about anything. Cites lies and misinformation. Says union will provide info. 

CL asks—if you get two ineffective or developing, does tenure go out window. Mulgrew says people are probably recording him. Says developing not problem. Says we used to average over 600 double Us over year. Says we are at less than 10% of that number. Says independent validators overturned 30% of principal ratings. Says you must go to UFT office and speak of options if you have two I ratings.

CL from Renewal School—Wants to know how and when they are getting paid for extended hours. Amy Arundell says we know this is an issue and we are working on it. Hopes for news in next few weeks. CL says staff wants to leave, anxious for pay. 

Mulgrew says he told Governor biggest problem with struggling schools was teacher turnover. CL cites 12.5% increase in test scores.

New CL—says her school has high turnover—one third in three years as result of new principal. Asks what chancellor is doing. Mulgrew says he will get list of turnover rates from chancellor. Says it is clearest sign something is wrong. Says DOE legal liked when admin was mean to teachers. Says it is improvement that new principals have taught for at least 7 years.

CL—principal always wants new curriculum, maps, etc. Mulgrew says teachers are not supposed to write curriculum. Teachers may do so if they are being compensated. Says CL should talk to leadership.

CL—at Renewal school, says half of teachers left. When do they become hard to staff school and earn more? Mulgrew says Fariña has right to grant extra pay now. Says media must stop saying struggling schools have bad teachers. Says it’s important to state schools are struggling rather than citing bad teachers.

CL—What is our position on opt-out and is there effort to bring back local diplomas. Mulgrew says lot of conversation in Albany, we don’t want to be accused of dumbing down transfer schools. Mulgrew says opt-out is parent’s choice. Mulgrew cites Cuomo saying teachers should be respected and that eval ought not to be a gotcha system. Cites Cuomo saying we have to be realigned, and tests have to be changed. Mulgrew says he wants to see how this plays out. Says Cuomo says he’s trying to understand what we do. Mulgrew says he sent Cuomo a teacher to work on committee. Says she will be only expert on committee.

Mulgrew says it’s easy to always scream no, but we have to move forward. If we can’t kill something, we work around it. Says evaluation is moving along, but it’s taking a long time.

Mulgrew says reason we were able to be so successful against Bloomberg is because we were smart about it. Mulgrew says it’s a fallacy we only care about members, and that we also care about education.

CL—Complains of alternate certification as many traditionally certified are left out in the cold. Mulgrew says one area we’re looking for alternate cert. is ESL. Says this is where we hire people from CUNY and SUNY. Cites TFA and Teaching Fellows. Mulgrew complains of hiring non-locals when there are so many local schools. Says he is encouraging local hiring.

Mulgrew says our biggest challenge is ELL population. Says it is problem when SIFEs sit for exams, calls it child abuse. Says it is same for those with learning disabilities. Says he’s happy we organized 40 dual language schools. Says it’s due to chancellor. Says it does not solve ELL population issue, but it is after 6, and he’s finished.
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