Monday, October 30, 2017

Exec. Board Oct. 30--Observations Now, Observations Forever, the More the Merrier. If You Have a Question for Leadership, Look Up the Answer in Chalkbeat.

Thanks to Mike Schirtzer for taking notes during debate. Apologies to speakers I missed while waiting to speak.

6:00 Howard Schoor welcomes us.


Penny Tuzio, retired, Tottenville HS—intolerable situation by principal. Have written multiple letters. Principal is vindictive. Used to be desirable school. Many teachers left, bullied persecuted. AP SS took mysterious leave for nervous breakdown. At least 5 lawsuits against him. People hired as personal favors do nothing. AP science out of building three days a week, has fake class as do others. Forces new teachers to email him messages of support. Forbids AP s to be friends with teachers. Most senior AP forbidden to observe without henchman of principal. Gives orders to teachers via email at all times. Abuses students. Parents afraid but can’t complain for vindictive nature. Impossible to fail students because test scores count only 25%. Said he admires Hitler for organization. Everyone scared to death. Made staff cry. I implore you investigate.

John McCabe, Tottenville HS—SS teacher, 19 years, never had to deal with principal so abusive. Wanted to change Tottenville. Has five year plan. Now year 4. Goes after teachers w 15 years or more. Observations done in pairs, w discussion. Discrepancies resolved by principal, even if not in class. Colleague observed, three days later went on Advance, all Effective. Four days later, official copy was completely different, replaced by Developing. Principal asked AP to do it. Teacher well respected. Many of us are outspoken and we are targeted. We are hit with trumped up 3020a charges. Numerous individuals retire or transfer, we think targeted at behest of principal. No HE ratings, even if teachers are. Recently in paper for plagiarism. He has to go, one way or another. How can union help us? Some of us have taken major brunt.

Jessica Peterson, Chapter Leader, Tottenville HS—Reassigned. Quotes Shakespeare about retaliation. Says prior to principal, few grievances were filed. Now, principal steadily declines in reviews. DOE refuses to hold him accountable. He slut shamed females, was in paper. Now targets seasoned vets over 40, mostly women. Has targeted other delegates and CL. I have been targeted and abused. I am wrongfully reassigned Paying for multiple lawyers. Filed PERB complaint. Waiting for right to sue letter.

Our school has been reported multiple times for failure to follow, have complained to various agencies, have not received assistance. My offense is being excellent CL and winning often. Principal was removed from last school and was rewarded. Plagiarism is academic dishonesty, a misdemeanor. Improper LIFs. Many arbitrations and settlements. Paperwork complaints, improper evaluations, many TIPS. Over 60 people have left. Teachers usually don’t leave. School used to be mirthful, now us v them, a war zone. Asks UFT helps get rid of disease.

Gladys Sotomayer, five year ATR—has bad and good days and years. Best year was assigned where she taught within license she held, but was not tenured. Regs of NYC don’t allow you to go from middle to high school. Someone took a chance on me and taught middle and high school Spanish with common branch license. Leadership let me teach ESL. One of best years in my experience. Bad news was I was tossed back into ATR.

UFT needs to work on allowing people to use other licenses without going back to probation. My tenure would not allow be to teach high school without going back on probation. Rest of state would allow it.

I was a delegate and ghost writer for my CL. Principal targeted my CL. At his retirement party was served with 3020a. Field supervisors—we need people to understand people are targeted for salary scale. Advantage for principals to hire youngest. This is why many of us are in ATR.


Ellen Procida—Took Tottenville, used IS 72 to say enough was enough for action plans. Arbitrator said habitual class size overages must cease. Gave till end of term for solution. This is how we fixed IS 72. We have been to Tottenville. Arbitrators

Michael Mulgrew

Thanks Jeff Povalitus and Anthony Harmon for testifying. New initiatives from city, but city has done nothing. Initiatives will not make difference. Paul Egan and officers went to CL training, thanks them. Says politics in no. 1 issue now.

Was in Chicago for AFT training. Dealing with deficits here in NY. Mayor talking about other deficits at state and fed. level. We laugh because we don’t know what else to do, but feds look like they will massively cut states. Huge problem. People at table are being told there are no raises, only cuts, based on feds. Craziness at fed level directly impacts all we do. We are no. 1 in ed. funding, would like to sustain.

In other states, there are further cuts, from enemies of public ed. As this rolls out, this will be more and more important. If state already looking at 4 billion deficit, and medicare will be cut, money can come from education to mitigate. This will become more and more our focus. We are only large union who got through recession without layoff.

Met with DOE on CTLE issues. They now understand why it is important. Wants consultations up to date, including principal discussed tonight, and superintendents. We need documentation to prove offenses. This Sunday Teacher Union Day. Asks we have some fun on Sunday. Major award for Artie Pepper. Thanks us and leaves, 6:31.

Schoor—Asks Jessica to speak with him after meeting. Welcomes new members. Offers condolences for them.

LeRoy Barr—Saturday, Brooklyn Parent Conference, Sunday Teacher Union Day, Nov. 7, election day. Turn ballot over vote NO. Resolution on anniversary of first strike, Phone banks open all borough offices from now through Election Day. Next week EB and DA.

Jonathan HalabiNew Action—One of adult ed. terminated, lost lump sum payment, hope we are fighting to help her. Agreement says she wasn’t entitled, but she was victim of abuse.

Barr—We are aware and if case is overturned she will get it.

Halabi—Are the union and the DOE looking into this apparent increase in violent incidents in and around Bronx schools this year (in addition to the incident at Wildlife)? Is a connection seen between schools that have suffered high teacher turnover and upticks in violent incidents?

Schoor—Jeff Povalitus will report.

Mike SchirtzerMORE—What will our union’s public response be to Tottenville.

Schoor—Not public, we will bring issue to DOE. Need info. Will use some of what Jessica gave us. We will tell them of numbers. This is what we have to give to them.

Schirtzer—Why don’t we hear these things in Reports from Districts. Why aren’t they hearing about this. There needs to be communication.

Barr—You presuppose that DRs are not aware or doing work because it doesn’t come to this body. DRs are on top of many or all of these situations. It’s a heavy lift every day. Not all satisfied. They are engaged. Goes to borough rep. Issue resides with DR and borough. May come to us. Many up here have been to Tottenville. Work is being done.

Schirtzer—I never said DRs aren’t doing jobs. We elected members have spoken to members. They don’t hear about it or read it in the union paper. We should hear in district reports that people go to schools.

Donna Pola—DR for HS in SI—in every district consultation. Have visited 25 times. Brought Janella, Mulgrew, borough rep. Had special reps in, C. Alvarez in. Mike Sill, others, long list. (Schirtzer whispers, “What’s the outcome?”) Says has communicated and addressed it all, has won grievances. Supe notified.

Arthur GoldsteinMORE—In our last meeting, you repeatedly cited a figure of 3,000 teachers receiving U ratings. We would like to know exactly what year that was. We would also like to know how many of those teachers were tenured, and how many were dismissed. Finally, we would like to know exactly how many of these teachers had the burden of proof on them during 3020a.  I’d also like to point out that so far, none of my questions have received an answer. Thank you.

Schoor—We’re not entitled to that info. Check Chalkbeat.

Ashraya GuptaMORE—Asks about immigrant liaison, now asks what is UFT doing to support immigrants. I know of ELL conference, but what else are we doing?

Schoor—We had meetings in Bronx and other boroughs, met with lawyers.

Evelyn de Jesus—We are working w AFT and NEA on DACA. We have a workshop here December 7th. If you’re interested please let me know. Trained CTLE ELL trainers, looking to work with parents, looking at Part 154. Looking at ELL focus group. Anything you would like addressed come and see me.

Serbia Silva—In District 4 we work with DOE, AFT in DACA. We had a DACA forum in our district. We’ve given AFT documents. Every principal, teacher, supe is aware.

Reports from districts

Mike Schirtzer—Great event at Murrow HS.

Janella Hinds—We are hosting student poster contest to commemorate World Aids Day. Deadline Nov. 6.

Paul Egan—legislative report—talks football—no idea what he’s talking about—doing phone banks, walks, all boroughs doing great jobs with phone banks. 10K calls in Queens. We need no vote out, and everybody out to vote.

Donna Capola—PAC SI—so many unions, we met together and had collaborative event. Over 30 people, 700 calls. This week doing it again. Did door knocking event w 70 people. Join another.

Special order of business—

Resolution on 57 Anniversary of 1960 strike.

Vince Gaglione—comes before us every year. Every generation of organized workers faces issues. 57 years ago there was no collective bargaining. There was collective begging. You took what boss gave you, and that’s what you lived with. You could whine, but it got you nowhere. 5,000 teachers in NYC decided we weren’t having collective begging anymore.

In District 6, Washington Heights, elementary school teacher, Helen Thompson—when everyone else walked into work, she stood outside the door by herself, picketing for right of teachers to have collective bargaining. I said her eulogy and made note of that. She was very special, not only as person. but also as union activist. I would ask you to not just say yay and forget it, but to give it some meaning by thinking about people like ourselves who did it. Asks for unanimous support. Asks we continue their struggle, for our rights.

Mel Aaronson—1960 was before manmade climate warming. Nov. 7 was one of the coldest days of the year. 5,000 NYC school teachers, under threat of being fired, went out on strike and brought us UFT, as opposed to hundreds of little groups that got us nowhere. This United Fed. of Teachers, defeated call for Con Con in past years. Was these people who turned out with families and got no vote. Still some of us around. Person responsible for this resolution, Abe Levine, still at every DA, one of our greatest leaders. Proud to participate in this event. I’ve continued to make sure UFT remains strong. Those of us that were there will be there fighting to get as many of our members to continue when we are faced with Janus. Wants all here involved to keep members as members. Urges unanimous yes.

Schoor—many founders on Sunday.

Pat Filomina—Worked with George Altomare—He would say they were crazy to go out. Only regret I have is I was in college. Remembers talk about it. Hoped I would do that, and I did.

Passes unanimously

Resolution for reasonable number of observations (text below)

Jonathan HalabiNew Action—NYS law calls for minimum of two observations. System we have allows for 6, 4, or sometimes 3. Amount of work in many schools is tough to come up with. Teachers wonder why they come in so often. Quality of life issue. There is no timeline, indefinite goal, speaks to what members want.

LeRoy Barr—Against. Correctly stated law hasn’t changed. What we negotiate will happen at next contract negotiation. People may speak both sides. We can’t hamstring negotiating committee. 300 member group will be formed. Suggest you vote this down and anything else that goes to negotiating committee. Are people on both sides. Should not happen in absence of people who negotiate.

Mike SchirtzerMORE—Incumbent upon us that negotiating committee knows what teachers want. We know teachers want this. We know long tenured teachers are good at their jobs.

Evelyn de Jesus—300 member committee has met.

Arthur GoldsteinMORE—Advance was negotiated without 300 member committee. Original APPR for NYC was decided by John King. And since you are so interested in Chalkbeat, I remember reading that neither UFT nor DOE wanted this many observations, and that King decided it unilaterally. 

Amy Arundell- couple of things-when we negotiated this with bloomberg and klein, teachers were being observed for 10 minutes and being U rated then intimidated-this is something we called the “drive-by ohs” no feed-back, U rated with no feedback, we already heard about these stories. We went to negotiations in this anti-teacher sphere, every principal was king of the building it was that context that we negotiated this. Research says more observations equal better ratings, thats research. we had to argue this with bloomberg, we wanted this, more observations. People got S and were happy, no one needed evidence, S/U system, there was no evidence. Resolution asks to unburden principals from their job, get in the classroom and tell us what to do better. new rules on evidence, feedback, time limits. these rules protect vulnerable teachers. Strong teachers are not under threat in this system. we win 13% of appeals, we win APPR complaints, I understand there are many people in the system who went from zero to one now have four observations thats a change. When I go into schools talking about practice. This system protects teachers.

Goldstein- Our reso is being misrepresented. Mulgrew said at the DA he tried for this and there is nothing about removing evidence. We advocate only for two observations for those that need no more. Drive-by’s happen more often now. i watched an observation that was videotaped, I saw lies by the observer. We did get it over-turned because he failed to observe something observable. We were not allowed to dispute simply because the observer was a liar.

Fails on party lines.

Resolution for reasonable number of observations

Whereas, NY State calls for a minimum of two observations; and

Whereas, in New York City teachers are observed 4 or 6 times per year, with certain limited exceptions; and

Whereas, the endless evaluation cycle can have a negative effect on teacher morale; and

Whereas, many administrators are overwhelmed by the number of observations they have to perform; and

Whereas, there are many teachers for whom two observations should be sufficient; and

Whereas, unnecessary observations cause our members stress, eat up administrators’ time, cause both teachers and administrators to spend time in unnecessary meetings, and force administrators to file unnecessary paperwork;

Therefore be it resolved, that UFT will endeavor to negotiate a minimum of two annual observations for teachers; and be it further,

Resolved, that UFT will encourage further observation only for teachers in need of additional support; and be it further,

Resolved, that UFT will work to make classroom observations a tool that supports both teacher and student performance.

My takeaway from this meeting is posted here.
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