Saturday, June 14, 2014

UFT Contract Toxic PD Spillover: Parents Unhappy - at DOE and UFT

The calls have been coming in from parents and their reps who are beginning to realize how the new contract will change their lives as the school day gets readjusted in many schools. "WTF," is the basic message.

Can Mulgrew clean up the toxic spillover?
They tell me there is growing outrage as word spreads. And since parents are being told that teachers are supposed to vote on SBOs in the schools, some parents are placing the blame squarely on the teachers and the UFT - even more so than on the DOE and the principals, who often just plain lie to the parents, saying that teachers voted that way.

In one case, the UFT district rep told parents the entire district was using the default model of 8AM start time and 2:20 end time so the teachers can get their PD in by 4PM. WTF. Do parents give a shit about PD? Do teachers?

Let me say this as I have been and will continue to do: When the UFT goes along with the Farina (and most ed deformer) mantra that the key to improving education is Professional Development, they accept the "teacher blame" argument. Of course everyone can improve -- and the best PD is watching others teach -- but blanket PD is like expecting a gourmet meal at a UFT retiree function at The Hilton.

Then there are stories where the chapter leader didn't even offer teachers the option of an SBO and just did what the principal wanted. So the teachers feel screwed too -- but it is really their fault -- maybe a lesson for those who have their heads in the sand.

At the June 11, 2014 Delegate Assembly, Mulgrew spoke about the Vergara decision. How important it was to work with parents and how proud he was of the work the UFT was doing with parents. If the Unity/UFT leadership didn't have a tin ear they would have figured out a way to get some parent leaders, at the very least, involved in proposed negotiations. But they didn't even get regular teachers involved, so this is the spillover of closed door contract negotiations.

OK. Maybe it is a relatively small group of parents who feel they have been totally shut out of the process. I wonder where they'll stand when we see Vergara, coming soon, to New York?


Anonymous said...

One of the reasons this sham of a contract passed was the so-called "end" of extended day. And while I, too, am utterly fried at the end of the regular instructional day, there is no way I can possibly justify taking small group instruction away from our neediest students.

As I told my co-workers: if any of them believe that we won't be working with kids after school for the duration of this contract, they should have their heads examined.

Anonymous said...

Teachers in NYC who voted for the contract got what they deserved for failing to heed the reasoned arguments presented by many concerned individuals.

Anonymous said...

Hi Norm,

As a teacher and as a Chapter Leader I am NOT not happy about our struggling students losing extended day. That was the first thing I complained to Mulgrew about after the DA vote on the contract. He suggested we do an SBO vote if we wanted to change the schedule.

I tried to come up with a solution that would make everyone happy... like maybe continuing Ext.Day for 2 afternoons a week, using the third afternoon for parent engagement and professional duties and trying to schedule some 1/2 days for teachers to have PD (Remember before Bloomberg/Klein we had full or half day PDs built into the school year calendar?) My principal seemed open to discussing it but we weren't sure if the 1/2 day idea was even possible. In the end, we weren't able to come to a consensus and classroom teachers, overwhelmed with paperwork and data, are reluctant to give up the time they're being given to do those things on Tuesdays.

At our June SLT committee meeting I told the parents that the new schedule meant no more ExtDay for the students. Some were concerned, but they don't blame me or our teachers for it. They don't even blame the UFT or the DOE because they KNOW that paperwork is killing our teachers and leaving them less time to plan lessons, meet with parents and do other things they used to be able to do We all argreed that we hope the DOE will provide funding for more after-school programs on Wednesdays-Fridays or Saturdays or perhaps additonal funding for AIS services that can be provided during the regular school day. Another option is for our after-school program provider to increase the focus on academic skills rather than enrichment activities.

I don't know if it's true but I heard that the 80 minute Monday PD was not something that the DOE was likely to allow us to change, flexibility would be with the 75 minutes on Tuesdaywhich could possibly be split into 2 days which could be used for ExtDay. Again, I don't know if that's true but when I asked my DR if any SBOs changing the Monday PD were approved as of June 11th, she said no.

So, even though Mulgrew said at the DA that the SBO deadline has been extended, the members in my school have pretty much decided that for this school year we will just go with the default, see how it works out and possibly consider how we could make it better in the 2015-16 school year. Again, not MY decision, but theirs. My principal gave us time to hold a chapter meeting during BQ day which was well attended and I asked straight out "Does anyone want to suggest an SBO to change the time configuration?" Not one person responded.. and I think you've realized w that I am not an intimidating person, I'm always open to and encourage all sides of a debate.

Our school's final PTA meeting will be on June 24th. I'll be there to listen to what parents have to say and maybe someone will have some suggestions we haven't thought of. I'll also encourage parents to attend the Contract for Excellence meeting on the 26th to make their voices heard on class size. If class sizes weren't so big, maybe we wouldn't have so many students in need of Academic Intervention Services in the first place.

So I can't say what's happening in other schools, but I know in my school and most likely at many other schools similar to mine, things are not as you decsribe.

Mary Ahern

Anonymous said...

A few typos... first line should read "... I am NOT happy about our struggling students losing extended day." Second "not" was a mistake and would imply that I am happy which is not true. Other typos include a few stray characters here and there.


Anonymous said...

The cynic in me suspects that DOE and UFT's shared enthusiasm for even *more* PD means that people on one or both sides have figured out to cash in.

C'mon, now. Don't act like we haven't seen that before.

Anonymous said...

Classroom teachers have an overwhelming amount of paperwork so it's understandable that they want to keep the Tuesday additional time to take care of it. And since the DOE won't budge on PD Mondays, the default is the best option for them. PD is not the cure for what is ailing our school system but since PD is what Farina wanted, Mulgrew made sure she got 80 minutes of it while his dues paying members got a lousy 35 minutes for professional work.. Also....regarding Mary Ahern not being intimidating when asking her members for their's not about the CL being intimidating. It's about teachers feeling intimidated in general and fearing that their administrators may hear of their opposing views since there's always a rat in the room at a union meeting....that's been my experience. In fact just recently my principal commented on what was discussed at a union meeting but this time the rat also made something up. So when my principal stated that one of us accused her of something I interrupted and asked, "who said someone made an accusation....what accusation?" But I'm not the average teacher, am I? I refuse to let anonymous wimpy rats spread rumors without confronting them head on. The average teacher is intimidated regardless of whether they have a corrupt CL or an honorable CL so it's no surprise that no one opened their mouths at Ms. Ahern's union meeting. Some people are afraid to speak at union meetings in my school and we have a good CL and a reasonable principal who isn't trying to ruin anyone's career. I can only imagine how fearful teachers are in schools with scum for admins and corrupt CLs. Fear seems to have become part of most teachers' DNA thanks to a weak union that allows abusers to remain in leadership positions while tormenting dues paying members. We have them in my school ...some of our APs are abusive and they have been challenged by some very brave teachers who won't take it. Also, I suspect many people voted yes so they don't have to teach the tutorial....they got suckered since we can revert back to the old schedule next year if the DOE wants it. We can spray all the deodorizer we want...this contract is still a pile of crap. Roseanne PS8x.