Monday, March 23, 2020

UFT Executive Board March 23, 2020 (via conference call)--Virus and its Discontents

6:02: Secretary LeRoy Barr calls us to order.

Minutes approved via email

Barr—Today was first day of this new process. Trying to make this as good an experience for members as possible. Thanks members for work they did today.

Cassie Prugh--Legislative Report—Been busy monitoring activity over virus. Trying to share w union. Beyond that, state budget should move beginning Thursday. Assembly looking at electronic voting. Budged could be combo of bills. Medicaid cuts given to legislature for review. May avoid across board cut. Good news, no premium or cut getting passed along to members. May avoid direct cost shift to NYC, but many cuts are on the table.

City—All schedules and meeting postponed, Nothing on budget process. Stay tuned. Deadline July 1. AFT endorsed Biden. March 24 special election for Queensborough Pres. postponed.

Census underway. Mayor asked for a deadline extension to September so we may do better.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew
—Thanks Cassie. Says we are leery that something bad could happen in budget because no one paying attention. Now city looking at 1.8 billion deficit, next year 3 billion. We have to look at this and longterm problems. There is a lot of hurt coming for years to come.

State focused more on virus and not on budget, which is appropriate.

Wishes everyone well, sends best wishes to those not feeling well.

Two weeks ago, mayor wouldn’t close schools. Thanks everyone for efforts. Were trying days before to close schools. Was clear what would happen. Thanks everyone for the push we made to get city to do what they had to. Thanks unions, 1199.

How do you take largest school system in America and make it remote learning in a week? Ignorance astounding. People think because we use Google classroom we can do whatever. Students are no longer there. Many challenges. Last week frustrating, caused anger, but we had to keep moving as fast as possible. Had to launch today.

We had to make sure first responders and health care workers had child care.

Principals had locks broken because they locked up Purell and supplies. Thanks Jeff Povalitus, health and safety for visiting 24 sites today.

Virtual learning means you set up classroom in real time. At times that won’t work. Many superintendents and principals ignored instructions NOT to recreate regular school schedule.

We wil set up focus group about how to do this properly. DOE failed to consider, initially, is there are parents, our partners, involved on other side. Only cared about accountability, paperwork, not serving children.

Met yesterday with chancellor and leadership. Will continue to push and advocate for what we need. People who work with children will figure this out. Lots of issues with DOE policies. We will advocate and fix.

If HS teacher set up virtual classroom at specific time, many don’t log on. DOE doesn’t know that. We need to also talk to parents. Concerned with young children, Many parents laid off. DOE thinks everyone just waiting to log on is absurd. DOE has heard us.

We will figure different ways to do this. No one has the answer. Can’t just be what we don’t like. We have to engage our students.

Questions—Mulgrew’s answers below:

Says we will be putting up webinars to support members. We will offer examples of how to help. We will hopefully have them by Friday. Working on attendance policies, but DOE sent out something we have not agreed upon. NO official attendance policy yet. We may have them Friday or Monday. You must do all you can to engage students under your care. Biggest challenge is students haven’t got tech or ability to engage.

Say chapter leaders backbone of union.

Schools ought not to demand people check in online. Let’s wait a week and come up with something that will work. Ridiculous admin wants to keep school day. Will not work. We are making that point.

We haven’t agreed to anything on responsibilities of paras, secretaries, counselors. With pay is expectation of work. Teachers need to move learning forward. If we’d planned it five months ago, it would work better. Teachers need to set up plans to engage students in learning. Different strategies depending on who you teach.

Google platform crashed numerous times today.

We are not trying to recreate school day. Ought not to be doing regular observations.

Paraprofessionals were invited into Google classrooms as students. That’s degrading. This is why we need focus group.

Payroll secretaries need to have ability to get into systems from home. We need to have that conversation before we survey payroll secretaries.

Janella Hinds—DOE has granted access to necessary applications to secretaries. We sent a letter reminding them of that.

Mulgrew—Need to make sure when they access systems it’s working. Many granted access but couldn’t get in.

Upset about unofficial email on student attendance. You can’t guarantee won’t be used against them in college. Need to fix.

Tenure—we don’t know where we’re going with it. Assuming DOE and mayor will get lawsuits over COVID 19 crisis. We were going to sue because we knew of confirmed cases with no cleaning, closing or investigations. They decided it didn’t matter until they used a triple process. Clearly, that’s why we called BS and said if they didn’t close we’d sue. There will be suits.

State tests canceled.

We are working on tenure. They shouldn’t have put out extensions. We are working on that.

We have in writing no one can be disciplined for days off during these times.

Mulgrew requests Exec. Board every Monday during crisis.


Mulgrew—Our front-line nurses angry frustrated. our private nurses inundated, not following safety protocol, lack supplies, same at Northwell. visiting nurses running from house to house. No one should forget what they’re going through. Trying to get meals for their families, child care.

We have to figure this out. We know DOE will not. If we leave it to them, kids are screwed. Entire system based on bureaucracy, ego, and protocol. We have to push toward the good. What works for members works for kids.

Thanks for leadership where you work, in union and everyplace else.

6:40 roll call

Barr—Thanks us for calling in. 6:50 We are adjourned.
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