Tuesday, August 07, 2018

UFT Contract--What's Worth Paying For?

I'm going to speak strictly for myself here. There are a lot of things we've called "givebacks." These usually entail giving up rights or privileges for money. Leadership will sometimes say things are better this way, but I'm not generally in agreement. It's never popular to accept less money, but there are some things I think would be worth it.

Number one on my list is class size. I realize this has played part in no giveback. But jeez, it's been 50 years with no change whatsoever. Not only that, but the exceptions are so broad you could drive a fleet of Mac trucks through them, side by side, and still have room for Trump's military parade. It's common sense that the fewer students you have, the more time you can spend helping each and every one. If that's not enough, there is rigorous research that will tell you (duh) that reasonable class sizes help students to learn.

Let's also note that we have the highest class sizes in the state. How do DOE hacks claim to put "children first, always," and stand by that? In some cases, our class sizes are 60% higher than those of other districts. Parents consistently tell the DOE that class sizes are their number one priority. The DOE ignores this and places its collective head in the sand.

We, UFT,  really ought not to be paying for this. As a result of the C4E lawsuit, the city submitted a plan in 2007 to reduce class sizes across the board. It was approved by the state, but the city just ignored it. It's kind of amazing they come to us with Danielson, sit around and tell us just how much we suck, but won't bother spending a dime to make things better. I would forgo part of a raise to push class sizes back.

If the DOE cares about children, it must then care about class sizes. If it doesn't, it's on us to work something out, or beat them into submission. I don't care which. 

It's ridiculous we cannot grieve letters to file for being (a.) inaccurate, (b.) stupid, or (c.) all of the above. If the principal accuses you of throwing a cheeseburger at a student, and you did not, in fact, throw said cheeseburger, that is not grounds to have the letter removed. You have to wait until 3020a to contest it. Meanwhile, all you can do is write a response. If the principal doesn't like it, he can put another letter in your file, because why not?

I used to read a book called Go Dog Go to my daughter when she was very young. In it, there is a pair of dogs that keep meeting. One dog repeatedly asks the other, "Do you like my hat?" The other replies, "No, I do not." If you told a dog you did not like her hat, your principal could place a letter in your file. How could you respond? Could you write an impassioned response explaining what you didn't like about the hat? Could you write how stupid you feel the letter is? Guess what? If the principal doesn't like that letter, you could get yet another letter in your file, because why not?

In fact, there are things you can grieve. You can grieve if the occurrence happened over three months ago. You can grieve if the administrator failed to meet with you before issuing the letter. Here's what happens then--the principal calls "legal," and some DOE employee who likely as not has never bothered to read the Contract will say, "Sure you can do that. You're the principal. You can do whatever you want."

You will then go to Step Two, where another DOE employee will say the thing that happened was not, in fact, an occurrence, and therefore it doesn't matter that three months have passed. Or they may say that the thing that happened did not actually become an occurrence until the principal found out about it. Because guess what? They haven't read the contract either so they do Any Damn Thing They Feel Like.

I'd pay to open further grievance for letters in file. I'd pay to stock legal with people who knew ass from elbow, and hearing officers who knew the same. I'd also pay to place each and every ATR. It's a crime we have even one while a single class is oversized. I understand we can't place ATR members just anywhere, but I'd reach out and offer for every opening.

I know, the city has a surplus, and we shouldn't pay for anything. I think some things are worth paying for. Whatever we got for givebacks is blood money and I'd just as soon give it back.

What do you think?
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