Wednesday, November 18, 2020

UFT Delegate Assembly November 18, 2020--We Are Remote, BLM Reso Passes and Have a Careful Thanksgiving

UFT President Michael Mulgrew--Welcomes us. Says we've hit 3% threshold and are going remote as of tomorrow. Some think we need to open and some think we need to close, but there's also a correlation to which community you serve

Federal--Economy is in bad shape. Concerned about transition. Remarkable what happened in Michigan. We don't need vitriol. We have serious problems and have to focus on what people are dealing with. We have to move forward. Education transition team for Biden will have NEA and AFT people. Biden and wife have been vocal on education policy. Wants to triple Title One, support raises for educators, add pre-K, 3K, opposes federal funding for charters and vouchers. Says he will appoint teacher as Ed. Secretary. 

Economy--We're fighting for stimulus. Very partisan, but some are trying to bring back momentum. Tens of millions of Americans suffering, but government has let us down. Only thing they're willing to do is keep government open after December. Feeling like no elected official should get paid while millions suffer. This will be the worst winter, given pandemic and unemployment. You see food lines, even here in NYC. They're all running out of food. Families wait in cars for hours. You'd think it would shame elected officials, but it doesn't.

COVID--EUA process--Looks like two companies will met benchmarks. Emergency Use Authorization will allow their use. Clearly COVID is tricky and aggressive. Was developed very quickly. If independent medical experts say it's good to go, we'll agree. When will it be available? This will likely happen during our school year. Pfizer may have 44 million doses before Christmas. Medically fragile people, health care workers first. We hope teachers will have availability in second or third wave.

We are one of the safest states now, as COVID explodes across the country. Treatment improving, but 1700 deaths yesterday. Two or three weeks from today, this can get worse. We have to remain vigilant. We were hit first and hardest and we should have learned. We will keep a close eye on all of this. We hope everything works out. We will follow independent medical review process.

State--Budget's a disaster. NYC doing a little bit better, but not out of the woods. We worked very hard, pushed refinancing, has saved 100 million, but without bailout we are in bad shape. Nothing is good in terms of economy. Mid December millions will lose unemployment insurance. Good thing we aren't a swing state. Our count, still, isn't done. We still have many state races pending, counting paper. Andrew Gounardes is now pulling ahead by over 1,000 votes.  Looks like NY State Senate may have a supermajority. We have to give a lot of credit to poll workers. 

City--political--MLC working with city budget. Millions toward food distribution already gone. We have to help. Many people will have food, rent, heat issues. We've always helped the community. Will call on people and big players to help. We can't solve everything, but it is going to be a horrible winter and we have to help.

Education--NYSED suspended standardized tests in January. They are simply not possible with any validity. Has to be given to all at same time, and proctored by trained teachers. We can't do that. Assuming they will do same thing for all tests. We already have inequities. No substitute for what we usually do

Teacher evaluation--waiving student learning requirement, but have kicked it to districts to come up with something via bargaining. Admin may come in and give feedback. No formal evaluation process for now. We need to reach an agreement. If you have issue, let DR know.

Medical accommodations--We told city anyone with chronic condition should be recognized. If not chronic, we'd like December 1st to be time to resubmit. City doesn't move quickly.

COVID--We said in March and April safety had to be first. We will stick with that. We are happy for those who are active. It's not us closing the schools We submitted and fought for a plan. This 3% number came from city, not us. Our doctors said 3% is fine. Looking at city as a whole is an issue, but that's how city wanted it. We think targeting communities may be smart. We fought for PPE, cleaning, testing. State number was 5% for district. City went with 3. State has now made orange 3%. They close at 3%. Lots of politics around this. 

Many of those who wanted to stop us from opening now want to stop us from closing. We believed we could open and stay safe. BUT if positivity rises we can no longer guarantee that. We literally hit 3.00, and plan kicked in. We haven't moved any numbers.

We will continue to do what we have to. We will go remote now, and it's much better than it was last year. DOE instructional people could have brought us to better place, but left it up to schools to figure out again. Had they provided support, we might be doing better. 

Schools closing daily. State closed more schools than DOE under red and orange program. If there are problems we go remote. We closed 114 schools last week. Some for 1-5 days, and some for quarantine periods. We are constantly following plan.

There now seems to be a finish line, but we have to get through this winter. Doctors are petrified of Thanksgiving, assuming spike next week. Certain states won't follow rules because they don't follow them now. Many people are paying the price. Let's continue to do what we have to and put safety first.

Remote is not permanent. Hoping when we open we are even more aggressive toward virus. We see a finish line. We need to double down as we go forward. Will push city to be even more aggressive with testing, get through next few months. We can't stumble and fall. We started in last place and should finish in first. Then we can get back to what we love to do.

If city wants schools open, we have to do this together. We have to wear masks, social distance, keep students safe. That's our message. I know it's hard for Thanksgiving, but hopefully we rejoice in July 2021.

LeRoy Barr--Winter coat drive, go to in campaigns to support students. Training workshops now through Jan. SRP day yesterday, do something special for them. CTE HS fairs Nov. 19-Dec. 5. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Stay safe and well.

Mulgrew--Thanks to all for coat drive. We will continue to help community, 


Q--Testing--In my school it's not random. Is this all over city?

A--We have to really make sure agreement is adhered to. That's not acceptable. Mayor says testing mandated for all students, but somehow people turn blind eye. Positivity rate rising, and this has to be done right. As soon as schools get back in, I will insist people not come in without consent form. I understand no one wants to send kids home. But we have to be diligent. There is an end in sight and I don't want people seriously ill. We have to say you can't come to school without consent. We have to check our instincts. We don't want to embarrass or send kids home, but we need this change.

Q--Medical accommodations?

A--Not yet finalized. We're saying after December 1st, but asking why anyone needs to go through process with chronic conditions. Not even sure they can process all this. As soon as this is done, we will get it out. We know it's important.

Q--In HS, in person attendance very low. Any plan to give principal opportunity to change cohort model to allow less staff?

A--Sometimes people don't want change. There's no book on how to program a pandemic. We'll probably be remote at least to Thanksgiving. Now we know what does and does not work. Creating a period of time to do adjustments would be good idea. HS has low attendance. We get reports of more students showing up around the building, which could be problem. I would open discussion. Some blended things could be altered. We have operational complaints and menu to solve major issues. Should be resolved quickly. Hopefully we never have to do this again. We knew nothing would be perfect.

Q--Are school nurses remote tomorrow? Some being told to report.

A--I will have an answer. Have a meeting later tonight to deal with these issues. Frustrating. School nurses have been phenomenal throughout this ordeal. Thank them whenever you can.

Q--Budget--Our school had budget based on Dec. enrollment. We've lost over 100 students. Do we have to give back money?

A--We've asked them and they haven't yet responded. Haven't yet taken money from schools. I have consultation with chancellor. Will get answer. Traditionally you'd lose money. Did your school request more staff? 

Yes. Have hired extra staff.

That might offset givebacks. 

Q--Parents and students can't access third party software on DOE devices. Many short of devices. What can DOE do about that?

A--I was told there was new support structure. Has anyone called?


I will reach out to your DR and he will get you info. Tech support has been horrible. They put together something, and said things were better. Would like to see if we could get that fixed.  

Q--CTLE hours--Members are checking status--There was discussion of suspending this requirement. What is status?

A--I want answer as well. 

Mary Vaccarro--Right now must be done by end of year. Teacher Center has courses and workshops if you need help.

Q--Learning Bridges...

A--Last year we had to open rec centers for childcare. It was heavily utilized. They won't shut down. It's for all essential frontline workers as child care service. It will continue to run as we go remote, just as rec centers remained open all last year. It will continue.

Q--Tenure process--Any changes?

A--No. State was clear they might have to deal again. Last year people were granted tenure. No one should be harmed because of COVID related issues. As we wait for standardized tests on elementary, we hope for same resolution as last year.

Karen Alford--Email just came in, DOE will temporarily close down all buildings. Includes all pre-K centers including Learning Bridges. Will get further clarification on other non pre-K sites. 

Q--Union should mobilize on GA runoffs.

A--We have AFT working very hard. We have great relationship with GA AFT President. We offered our retiree chapter for support. Concerned we don't go down there as carpetbaggers. Could be counterproductive. We'll be doing a lot. We will follow lead of GA teachers. Will be most expensive Senate runoffs in history of US. 

Q--Timeline for reopening...

A--No matter what we do, there will be a problem. Decisions aren't easy, and they all have problems. We would make it smooth for all if we could. We have to look at numbers. Hopefully they come back down. We'll look to make things easier. We have to do the best we can, but there will be bumps in road.


1. Reimburse teachers with excessive case loads--for next month. Teachers fully remote have excessively high classes. Keep adding students every day. Have classes of 83, Add 3-5 students a day. Teachers have over 200 students on caseloads. Can we get these teachers retroactively paid for overages? Maybe this will encourage admin to fix our programs in IS 24. 

Mulgrew--In template now, we have agreed upon resolution process, and one of the things you're asking for is already on list. We will check with legal, and make sure it doesn't interfere with collective bargaining. 

Mordel Minor--In person teachers don't receive hazard pay. Already enough division between in person and remote teachers. Don't think this is an option union should support. 

Parliamentarian--Voting on whether or not this should be placed on agenda. 

68% yes

Mulgrew--I understand point of speaker against--Division because some are working from home and some from school--we need to own this. Should be no animosity toward one another. These are unprecedented times. Major issue we had to fight for was medical accommodations. Second was Learning Bridges. Let's all remember, we're all frustrated, under pressure, but we can talk about things. Not easy for anyone. Let's avoid animosity. News is all nasty and negative, but we need to be better than that.


BLM resolution--Three different groups came together on a resolution.

LeRoy Barr--Passed by Executive Board. CLs across political spectrums agreed to support BLM, culturally responsive practices, and support teachers and students of color. We wanted to add 13 principals at end of resolution. We believe this is comprehensive. Urges support. 

DeShanna Barker--Rises in strong support. As CL, Unity Caucus member, believes it's time for us to reaffirm support for BLM in schools. Educators foundation of society, supporting this movement opportunity of lifetime for members, will help lead nation. Urges you read 13 principles and reaffirm cognizance of racial inequity. For our ancestors and future generations, please support.

Dermot Myrie--History is our witness. Thank you President Mulgrew, UFT body for having us at table. 

Question called.

90% yes

Endorsement of Julie Menin for City Council--

Dwayne Clark--Speaks in support for Menin in primary. Manhattan office interviewed candidates, Menin supported millionaire tax, opposed Cathie Black, partnered with us in Census efforts, and other reasons. Asks for unanimous support.

Gloria ?--Rises in favor. Lives and works in district 5, was part of interview committee. Important land use in D5. She has experience, and every inch counts. Is great advocate. She was far and above other candidates. Asks all to support. 

93% yes

Resolution on police killing of George Floyd--Janella Hinds--May 25 2020, George Floyd was killed. Next day people took to the streets in honor of Floyd and others, calling for humane treatment. Asks for your support in resolution calling for unity in communities and fair treatment. 

Speaker--Violence against people of color happening for hundreds of years. Stand against all forms of racism. 

Adam Stevens-- Rises in support. Opportunity to reaffirm this. In some schools, students have to come through only one door, process of criminalization and racism. We as a union can make our principles real by calling on DOE to remove metal detectors from all our high schools, where Black and Latin youth gets message, we don't trust you, we need tech to watch us and keep us safe.

87% yes

Karen Alford--Support of school librarians--My summer youth job as student in Brooklyn Public Library. Public school librarians have varied responsibilities,  We want our students and teachers to have access to librarians and make sure they are in all schools. 

Roy Whitford--Rises in support. Aren't many librarians out there. State regs not strong enough, We help improve literacy, help provide resources. Students need a place for books, virtual or physical. Librarians can aid in other ways, and are front and center getting parents and students what they need during COVID. Many being pulled from our programs, waiting on operational complaints. 

After vote--Mulgrew--Librarians can be some of the most important people in our schools, especially now. They can be the pulsing heart of a school building helping people coordinate services.

96% yes. 

Mulgrew--Wishes Happy Thanksgiving. Warns fear is very high. If you're going to gather, please get tested, wear mask, be safe. It's tough, but we can do this. Wants everyone to enjoy Thanksgiving. Please take precautions, avoid large gatherings. We will knock down challenges.

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