Monday, February 22, 2010

We are DROWNING in paperwork, UFT Reacts With DUH!!! Ed Notes Says, "BOYCOTT!!"

There are endless examples of how the UFT leadership talks out of twelve sides of its mouth at the same time. If you go to them with a complaint they often refer to some law suit (remember the senior teachers, class size, and now the closing schools law suits along with numerous others I can't remember). Here some mid-level functionary used the same tactic in regards to paperwork. The screams of anguish coming from many teachers, in particular, elementary school teachers, needs to reach a crescendo before there will be action.

Here is an illustration of how the UFT operates on so many planes. The frustration grows. ICE and Ed Notes only have the power to expose. We could try to bring up another paperwork reduction reso at the DA - if you can even get into the Mulgrew locked meeting and get the floor during the new motion period. But what would be the point? Can you embarrass them into actually doing something - like a boycott of useless paperwork, something that if every teacher were told to refuse might actually have an impact?

Why not try a boycott, even in one district? But the UFT would have to stand firm for each and every teacher who might come under attack. On second thought.....

Not long ago, I received this email from a Chapter Leader in District 24:

Norm, The staff is totally demoralized here. The principal has decreed that everyone should have detailed lesson plans, strategy lessons, and guided reading lessons for every single lesson(as a suggestion but you can get a U if you don't have it). Who can I go to with this? The [UFT] District Rep is of no help. Changes her story on what is acceptable, what is not. I have nothing to stand on. She was here with the borough rep, who had the audacity to say to an entire grade that she doesn't see fear on their faces, therefore things can't be bad.

The principal said that block plan books with just the teaching point are not acceptable. The Dist rep said contract doesn't allow this one day, next day said "You can't just write the teaching point." When I asked for specifics she fumbled, said to write what the activity is. I said the teaching point is the activity. We cannot teach anymore there's no time left if you're going to do every bit of paperwork that they want. And you had better do it, because that's what they look at: DATA They are DATA crazy. DATA that you "collect" to get the paperwork done. DATA drives instruction, yes, out the door. What to do? Can you get someone to bring it up at the DA?

Here is another email sent to ICE a year ago:

We are DROWNING in paperwork. "Data collection" to be specific.

It's special ed : Ieps, report cards, assessment rubrics, project logs, homework logs, log logs , BFAs and the mother lode of all paperwork sinkholes: Alternative Assessment porfolios. I'd conservatively estimate that the job is, at this point, 10% pedagogy and 90% clerical.

The contract says this: "Committees composed equally of representatives of the Board ( sic) and the Union shall be established at the central, district and division levels to review and reduce unnecessary paperwork required of employees." (P.52)

Here's my question: where are said committees? Do they even exist? Can I participate in one?

UFT phone person says it should be addressed via chapter consultation committee. Is this true?

Bad news for us if it is 'cause we don't have one, far as I know and we don't even have chapter meetings.

ICE members responded with JW doing some research:
From JW's Email #15

The Paperwork Overload campaign. The union built a "paperwork committee" into the 2006 contract, in Art. VIII on Educational Reform:

I. Reduction of Paperwork
1. Committees composed equally of representatives of the Board and the Union shall be established at the central, district and division levels to review and reduce unnecessary paperwork required of employees. Any proposed additional paperwork shall be reviewed by the appropriate level committee and such committee may make recommendations to the Chancellor, community superintendent or division head as appropriate. The Board shall not act unreasonably on the committee’s recommendations.

then made a big deal about it in the spring of 2007 with a survey, and pushed it again in a DA resolution a year later (Jan 08). Nothing has come of any of this that I can see. In fact, at my school they're trying to turn some of the teachers into scribes, demanding that they to transfer attendance data into a separate file, probably for Quality Review purposes and for zero added value in the teaching of our kids. We are already taking student attendance probably twice: on the bubble sheets and for our own personal records. If we have HS homerooms, we do it a third time. If I were asked for this third (in some cases fourth) version, I would just turn over xeroxes of my attendance records and ask them to find someone else to extract the data — or pay me per session.

PS: I know teachers are caving on these demands all over town. The union has stopped making solidarity a priority, and we all suffer for it.

The story continues with this report back the other day from the person who emailed ICE with the steps taken and the UFT response:

I decided to approach the issue as a "special education complaint" and entered the essential info the space reserved for that purpose on

Got good instant feedback from the assistant ("liason"?) to the DR who forwarded it to the the then interim DR who also sent good feedback with promises that there WAS a committee that dealt with the city on paperwork reduction issues, that it DID meet regularly and he'd see to it that my 17 pages of sample redundant paperwork were forwarded to the right people.

DR has left, replaced by an (*appointed*, I understand) permanent replacement.

New DR doesn't respond to emails apparently but in a conversation came back with a quickfire account of how bringing it to a committee really wasn't necessary 'cause the UFT had a suit pending in the courts as we spoke that would deal with this problem.

Searched the net. No mention of any suit, that I could find, anyway. Wrote back to DR. Silence. That was about 1 1/2 mos ago.

So basically the union's had me jumping thru hoops for over a year and have nothing to show for it other than MORE PAPERWORK THAN EVER and a long chain of forwarded email correspondence that establishes that I've been dutifully following this up thru appropriate channels for over a year.

So.... I'm back to square one, asking ICE for advice on my next move.


  1. Mulgrew already started campaigning! Flyer were found in our mail boxes telling us to
    vote for him and the untiy team! Where are the flyers for ICE? I have printed up articles in the ICE blog and put them in mail boxes so that teachers know that there
    is another choice, so that they know what ICE is and what it is about! But James, you have start campaigning! We have done our best to let people know about ICE and you, but you have to start putting out flyers of your own in school mail boxes! Do something!
    Get your campagin team working, or all will be lost! Mulgrew is Vulnerable now, we will never get another chance like this again!!!!!! What are you waiting for! I told you before
    if you want to save Jamaica High School and all the other schools and teachers you must start campaigning now! Only when ICE wins some elections will we be able to stop this!
    If you don't campaigning hard, then all that work that you did to save Jamaica will be for nothing! Mulgrew will chance his tune when he wins and he will be just like Randi! Just read his flyer in your mail box tomorrow!

  2. My principal is on a SMART goal kick. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time frame? These are not the correct expectations. I forget what they are at this moment. We were also given a fat binder to fill up with the SMART goals which each student should have. It is kind of an IEP for each and every student. Then we are expected to have a chart posted on the walls to show how the children are working to meet the goals. Another fun part is to list how you are differentiated the instruction for each and every student depending on their mode of learning. Also , you are expected to tell how you plan on attaining the goals. Needless to say my binder is stuffed with any paper that has the lingo of the day. I have conferencing papers , charts , graphs, my kindergarden photo, Blooms Tax refund, ungraded midterms and the kitchen sink. I intend to dazzle them with bullshit when they ask to see my binder. When I am finished explaining my paperwork they will be so lost and confused they will call me a Master Teacher! I have 200 students. As far as lesson plans are concerned , contract states you can not get LTF based on format. The only way you can have format dictated is if you are in danger of receiving a U! If the staff sticks together then what can they do?

  3. My question is a simple one:


  4. On boycotts:
    I received some email saying a boycott wouldn't work.

    I am not saying do this just anywhere. The UFT should look for the most vulnerable principal who is forcing this down peoples' throats. Hold meetings with the staff to prepare them. Have a strategy in place to respond if people are harassed. Make a big deal of it. Create a confrontation with the DOE in every forum. Press conf etc. By focusing on one school - it is like a magnifying glass. Expand to the district if this is widespread.

    There needs to be some creative thinking at the UFT. But if there is not we have to do it ourselves.

    Ed Notes and maybe ICE might set up a task force to address these issues. Get case studies school by school. Let's target the most abusive principals and expose the lack of UFT action at the district level. Embarrass the Dist rep and borough office.

  5. I agree with the previous post when asking: WHEN WILL ICE START CAMPAIGNING?? Teachers aren't even aware there's another platform!! Equally important, what is ICE doing for UNTENURED teachers?? Will the contract be enforced for untenured teachers b/c currently, UNITY is NOT enforcing Article 8J and other rights afforded to them!! There are MANY untenured teachers being abused by principals and NO HELP is given to them by this union!! CAMPAIGN and tell us what you plan on doing for for ALL teachers, not just TENURED teachers!!


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