Monday, June 03, 2019

UFT Executive Board June 3,2019--Norm Holds Court, MaryEllen Elia Is Public Education Enemy #1, and Adios to Smilin' Ben from Forest Hills High School

6 PM—Secretary Howard Schoor calls us to order and welcomes us.


Kamala Redd—adult educator, 26 year teacher—Speaks of how senior teachers want to contribute to success of students—Says commitment to teaching is lifelong, always teaching. Says when an adult learns, a family succeeds. Teaches in her own community, sees her students every day. Says she’s being forced into retirement, is not ready. Connects it to age and increase in salary. Says new admin took over and closed her class. In placement center, her job, which was closed, was open. In September it was closed again.

Says it’s a pattern, and that adult ed. needs our support. Says she got no support moving her class and 15 years of materials to another floor. Was suddenly rated U, after 15 years. Got an email, by accident, where AP said she was getting an S, but principal questioned it. She emailed back.

Says she’s just one of 30 senior teachers who’ve been targeted. Says it’s traumatic and unhealthy, form bad to worse. They’ve now closed both her classes, Senior teachers being u-rated, it’s a pattern, and union needs to support its members. Senior teachers being given split schedules. Students are placed in classes of newer teachers as older teachers lose students and classes.

Remembers when teachers were respected and their importance was obvious, input valuable. Was quality PD, and adult ed. was invigorated. Students were happy, teachers were creative and challenged to experiment. Was understood that not every lesson was successful, but improvements could be made.  That’s not reality anymore, but I have seen schools where that’s the case. Inaction toward bullies condones their behavior.

Schoor—13% appeal will now include U ratings and if anyone has been harassed into it will bring it to impartial hearing. We have retaliation complaint in new contract. You can file a grievance. All members should avail themselves of it.

Norm Scott—Have been speaking about this same situation. Adult ed. people have been here for seven years. Always you have to file a grievance, they will observe you to death. We need an intervention. DOE legal doesn’t worry about contract. Says they can do whatever they want. We need more than that.

We have to congratulate union on FH principal. Union finally did intervene. Does CSA have pictures of you guys doing stuff? Why do you say they’re another union? They’re practically criminals. The people Carranza got rid of are swine Good riddance.

LaGuardia—Parents had a rally there today. They’re trying to make it all about college. They wiped out vocational ed. in NYC. Insult to kids who want to work with hands. They killed auto shops. Union must be more proactive.

Been attending 3020a hearing for math teacher. It’s a Twilight Zone. These are middle school math classes, seems to be doing a decent job. Saw video with kids raising hands and she got unsatisfactory. It’s a horror story. Hoping she will survive. Have been ten hearing dates to try and fire a teacher who appears to be competent and decent? Isn’t that a waste of resources?

CPE 1 went to 14 consecutive meetings before UFT involved. If you make 120K there’s a target on your back. I’d rather make less. Get rid of FSF.


Mulgrew is in Albany.

LeRoy Barr
—Mulgrew is fighting on behalf of patient bills, against high hospital rates. Past weekend UFT Pride scholarship brunch. Rashad Brown did great job. First book event in Queens district 28. June 15, school secretary luncheon, June 12 DA June. Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday.


Arthur Goldstein
—MaryEllen Elia seems to think classroom time is so precious that we need to come in on December 23rd, despite the enormous and wasteful expense of opening school for one day, a day on which a whole lot of students will not bother coming, and a day on which teachers are going to be prohibited from doing anything new, or at least anything that they won’t have to repeat on a day when students are in attendance. Yet this same MaryEllen Elia has no issue taking an entire day away from a whole lot of high school students today so they can take a new exam. Meanwhile, we have a state English exam that tests neither reading nor writing.

She’s further done absolutely nothing to ameliorate the wretched revision of Part 154, which takes 33-100% of English instruction from our most vulnerable and needy students. Both UFT and NYSUT have resolved that ELLs need more, not less instruction. That’s not to mention the fact that ESL teachers are run ragged all over the state with dozens of co-teachers, little to no common planning, and various other roles that preclude us from doing our jobs.

In case that’s not enough, I just read this week that it was MaryEllen Elia herself who blocked implementation of the Contract for Excellence law, a law that would reduce class size in all grades. From my perspective, teaching classes of over 30 in a miserable half room in the most overcrowded school in the city, that’s criminal, and I don’t mean merely in the literal sense. I don’t know a teacher or parent who doesn’t want smaller class sizes.

My question is why aren’t we up in Albany with torches and pitchforks, and if we’re not getting torches and pitchforks, what are we gonna do about the State Education Department’s outright indifference to NY State’s students, parents and teachers?

Schoor—President in Albany working on these very things. Working on 23rd. First problem is hours. After that, 23rd comes to forefront.

Kate Martin Bridge—Looking for clarification on teachers as first reporters. We had an incident where police were looking for ID. We knew seeing picture in paper, were told no you can’t report that. What is teacher’s responsibility if police are looking?

Schoor—in contract negotiations, school safety reporting requirements have changed. No one on committee here. Coming to resolution. Will be recourses.

Martin Bridge
—Happened outside of school. Am I responsible if I see young man on TV? Principal says his name confidential to you.

Schoor—Jeff Povalitus will reach out to you. We spent months and years negotiating. Just because it’s in there doesn’t mean members abide by it. Union can’t implement unless members take ownership. Want to make sure it’s followed. Every school that came here—we have followed through. Biggest change maker is members and parents involved. Action in schools is what works.

Jonathan Halabi—Risen with similar question—In LaGuardia HS are issues with students and parents and admissions. They are talking about admissions that squeeze out talented students, but they are not saying, they are squeezing out talented students of color. This winter the School Diversity Advisory Group made recommendations on HS admissions. We need to organize discussion on issue. I’m CL of a specialized HS. Members in my school discuss this and organize. Members do indeed need to act.

I’ve been coming to this Exec Board for ten years. I criticize when things are wrong and praise things that are good, like recent contract. When members are fighting we support them. I told this story a few years ago. In A Few Good Men, two soldiers, enlisted men, marines get dishonorably discharged. One soldier said “we didn’t do anything wrong”. The Black soldier, the leader, says “yes we did, we didn’t stand up for someone who couldn’t stand up for himself.” I’m being critical here. We must assist, we must help, not only when members are organized, but also where they cannot stand up for themselves.

My term is over. I know that there is an open mike, but I think this will be my last comment at this board. I thank you and wish you luck going forward.

Janella Hinds
—Needs to be larger conversation. Will convene discussion in Fall. Will get together before end of school year on specialized HS.

Report from Districts

Rashad Brown—pride committee—June 20 will commemorate Stonewall Rebellion, 3rd floor. Saturday 8th, Brooklyn Pride March. Yesterday was Queens Pride. Please ask members to come. Pride flag raising ceremony at Bronx Borough Hall today. Saturday this room had over 200 people for Daniel Drumm scholarship lunch. Thanks all for support.

Eliu Lara
—June 20 will be Bronx Pathway to Graduation Awards. Will recognize 30 students, will receive laptop and printer, calculator, backpack, and certificate. Please come

Debra Penny
—When in service you can contribute to TDA. This year 3280 members turned 70, 800 showed today. Had great workshop.

Anthony Harmon—Firstbook event Saturday, thanks Queens UFT. Truck was four hours late, unpacked 8PM to 11:30, and came back 7 AM to finish work. Gave 40K books. Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday. 45 between 5 and 6 asking they get there 8:30. Expect to finish at 2. Please join us.

Richard Mantel—Last Wednesday Let’s Talk About It—Anti drug event. Was very good. Many helped us. SS learned a great deal.

Mary Atkinson--In Bronx Friday, first career and college pathways. 1300 kids from D75 met with people who offered jobs, corporations, work fair for kids who are often overlooked.

Arthur Goldstein
--I just want to report that Forest Hills HS at long last has gotten free of Ben Sherman, the much unloved principal.

We’ve been talking about member action  This was  a member initiated action. It got a lot of help from a lot of quarters including UFT, parents, and community. I’d like to thank all the members at FHHS who got together and stood against this principal.  I’d like to especially acknowledge the chapter leader Adam Bergstein who spoke out, who freely spoke to the press using his own name. He was fearless in the face of harassing letters in file. He was relentless and never gave up.

I’d also like to thank Amy Arundell. She doesn’t like when you talk about her, but she's not here.  Nonetheless she was really supportive, followed developments carefully and advised everyone. I thank everybody in Queens UFT who spoke out.

This is a great victory and long overdue.

Legislative report—Schoor
—Mulgrew in Albany fighting for hospital bill. Every dollar we spend in medical coverage is one less that can be given in salary. That’s the fight. Some hospitals are trying to charge too much. NYC pays 7% of budget toward med. coverage. 4 charter bills introduced by Michael Bennedetto. One talks of schools having no more than 5% in charter unless CEC votes to have more. 

Paperwork and operational
—As of today, 262 complaints. Took five issues out of grievance process. Most popular still paperwork. 126 paperwork, 88% resolved. Next most popular has been safety. 34 safety complaints, all resolved. Next is workload, for functional chapters. 96% of 25 cases resolved. PD complaints, 23, all resolved. Curriculum—11, all resolved. Space, 10, all resolved. Up to members to bring these to CL who makes complaint. Have had successes in this committee, where CL didn’t have science supplies. CL sent picture with kids and supplies.

SBO—As of today, we’ve had requests for 763. Most popular to change parent teacher conferences, 344, session time, 188, programs, 122. comp time, 65, professional activities 51.

Consultation—80% of schools have reported. Many schools have achieved 100%.

We want to know what’s happening in schools. If they happen in many, we bring up with chancellor.

Motion to Agenda—Janella Hinds—Rescind resolution to oppose Alabama’s illegal law—Resolution has gotten attention from AFT. AFT asks that we stand down so they can lead way on this statement. I ask we rescind resolution passed by this board so AFT can move their resolution forward.

—Motion seconded, is debatable, can be amended. If it hasn’t been given to body before, requires two-thirds vote.

Anthony Harmon
—supports motion. Serves on AFT council, debated it. It applies in other states as well. Want nationwide response. Asks body support motion.

Kate Martin Bridge
—Is another resolution from AFT being worked on?

Schoor—Yes. will bring it to AFT.


We are adjourned. 6:56
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