Saturday, September 30, 2017

Patrick Sullivan, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters to UFT Leaders: We will Address Concerns About Our Data

Funny how no one from the DOE, the City Council or the Comptroller's office have questioned our data or analysis, but if the UFT leadership or executive board would like to invite us to brief them on it, Patrick and I would be happy to do so.... Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters

If the UFT leadership questions the validity of Class Size Matters research, I'd like to hear more about their concerns. I'd be happy to speak to them in my capacity as board president of CSM... Patrick Sullivan, Pres of the Board, Class Size Matters
Comments above posted on NYCEducator blog:  Exec. Board September 25 Takeaway--The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

These comments were prompted by Arthur's post:
I presented research done by Class Size Matters and based on DOE stats. Schoor questioned its validity rather than addressing it. In a way, I don't blame him. Class size is out of control, and overcrowding is epidemic. UFT can form committees and study groups from now until Doomsday and the problems won't go away. It's nice that we placed class size into the contract half a century ago, but an update is long overdue. It behooves union leadership to address this crucial issue and they are failing utterly. (Schoor also claimed never to have heard of the 2014 law requiring de Blasio to pay rent for charters, which pretty much made my eyes roll to the back of my head.) .... Arthur Goldstein, NYC Educator
Arthur has written the following letter to Howard Schoor:
Dear Howard,

Patrick Sullivan, the Board President of Class Size Matters, has offered to address your concerns about the research they put forth. I trust you will invite him to our next meeting so that he can clear up any questions you may have.

I eagerly await your response.

Very truly yours,

Arthur Goldstein

Friday, September 29, 2017

Making Merry at the UFT Citywide Chapter Leader Meeting

This month is the 50th anniversary of my membership in the UFT -- I've paid so much dues I own a piece of 52 Broadway -- so when Unity people try to stop me from going upstairs I point this out. But that's a story for later.

Before I begin, I was saddened to hear that long-time union official Bob Astrowsky died. I knew Bob for over 40 years back to the 70s when we sparred with each other. In recent years Bob was in charge when we held election position drawings and we had a lot of laughs at those events or at vote counts. A man with a great sense of humor, we never failed to have a laugh over something when we ran into each other at DAs or conventions in other cities, especially if he was wearing a METS cap. Bob ran the Brooklyn office and was always available. Bob was a big man in size and in heart. There's a story about Bob in the NY Teacher, I believe on p. 14.

Now on to business.
Once a year, in September, the UFT/Unity Caucus leadership holds a chapter leader meeting -- Delegate Assemblies which actually have some rules attached - which Unity feels free to break at will but the process requires some kind of voting and that can be inconvenient - don't start until October -- late October. A CL meeting is more cozy -- Mulgrew can talk even longer than he does at DA's and then take a few questions.

This report is on what happened outside the meeting but my personal experiences on Wednesday provide some insight into what is good, bad and ugly in the UFT. You can read Arthur's report of the meeting here.
Chapter Leader Citywide Meeting -

These are not very well attended meetings because most delegates don't come. But some do - and find that they are not allowed in -- to which I say - holy shit -- are you guys crazy? Half the room is empty, delegates made the trip down and are turned away? More on this idiocy later.

Well, anyway, I always show up to hand out something or other, either from Ed Notes, GEM (in the pre-MORE days), and MORE - when it has something to hand out that I think is worthwhile -- but more on MORE later in this report. I can't get into either CL or DA meetings because security is tight -- ISIS, you know, might try to sneak in.

I took the ferry from Rockaway - one of my favorite ways to travel nowadays. I was there early and the first people I ran into was a crew of retirees from New Action who had a fairly nice two-sided leaflet and a plan to ask CLs going in if they would distribute New Action materials in their schools. A Good idea -- a few years ago they signed up 200 CLs and during the election that helped get material into mail boxes. Why MORE doesn't have such a good idea is beyond me but many MOREs often have their heads in different places than a mundane UFT chapter leader meeting. You know I always had issues with New Action, not only because of the dirty deal they made with Unity for a dozen years but also because of the approach they took to Unity even before the deal - and even to some extent now -- but let's not get into all that -- we've had a good working relationship and are doing some joint projects. So I was glad to see they are still engaged, even if their most active people seem to be retirees.
New Welcome Center in back of lobby

Having some time, I strolled into the brand new Welcome Center in the back of the lobby which was staffed by some heavy hitters of UFT officialdom, who posed for some photos on the condition they appeared in Ed Notes. Someone told me "they spent $70,000 alone furnishing that space when a desk is available right next to security." The price of balloons has certainly been going up.

I was glad to see they look pretty happy.

Someone is apparently not so happy and sent me this complaint that they are "Pressuring UFT workers to staff the welcome center during regular work hours and extending work days without pay." I pointed out that people like David Hickey and Janella Hinds seem to be there but this insider claims the staffing is often from the lower paid employees and comes from "An operator from administrative services, MBO and membership staff, accounting staff, David Hickey's secretary, print shop staff, IT staff ---- the big wigs usually have the administrative staff cover for the shift assigned to them." I have no real knowledge of who is staffing and if readers know more leave a comment.

[I was also told that the union is spending a lot of money to set up more conference rooms next door at 50 Broadway. I asked David Hickey about that and he said the union needs more space because the activity level is so high and also that it had rented out some space next door so money was coming in.]

I kept running into people I knew so didn't get into the other lobby to the meetings where we give out lit and even have a table reserved for our lit. They always have someone by the steps checking cards and also someone by the elevators to make sure those ISIS people don't get upstairs to the 2nd floor. Visitors like me are supposed to go to the 19th floor, which is ridiculous.

When I entered the lobby there was an officious looking young fellow who told me all materials must be distributed outside. Now I've been told this before and always refuse to follow that rule and they Unity crew always end up backing down because I will sit down on the floor if I have to and force them to call security to have me removed. I have insisted on having a table for alt lit since they ban our materials from their tables. I pointed "our"table out to him and sat down.

A few other MOREs showed up to hand out whatever material MORE might have but nothing arrived so I sat with a delegate at the table waiting and nothing came so we chatted and greeted people. One lady came over upset over the fact they weren't lettign her in because she was "only" a para rep. She was pissed because she had shlepped down and her CL couldn't make it. She had to track down her district rep to get in.

I told the delegate from MORE to go up since her CL was there but she said she was told she wasn't allowed in. I was astounded. You could see that not a lot of the 1800 CLs were showing up and here they were keeping even elected union people out -- yeah, I get why people like me are kept out.

Finally, around 5PM with nothing to hand out I decided to take the elevator to the 2nd floor to use the bathroom, get a cup of coffee and watch the proceedings on TV -- which is what I do at every meeting even though I am supposed to go to the 19th floor. Fact is I go to the 2nd floor so I can socialize with people I know who work for the union and also some of the CLs I know. I think the 19th floor rule is stupid --
especially when you can see there are a lot of empty seats in the main hall. But I don't ever try to go in there anyway.Well I tell the delegate to come up with me and we can watch on TV and the Unity guy tries to stop me and I ignore him but the delegate says she doesn't want a confrontation and decides to go home --- imagine -- she schlepped to the meeting and can't get in and that pisses me off. I go up to the 2nd floor and someone asks me for my card and I say I ignore her. Down the hall they are giving out
convention lawn signs and low and behold, one of my former students, who has worked for the UFT for 20 years is there. Jessica shows me a photo of her baby whose dad is also a former student - sadly his brother who was also my student died this past summer at the age of 50. I also had Jessica's older brother in my class and her mom was one of my favorite parents (and not just because she was one of the most beautiful too).
By the way -- follow what Jessica and her pal are urging you to do ---

Well, anyway it turns out that the Unity guy had actually followed me and now wanted me to leave. I was astounded at how well this guy was following orders. I proceeded to give him a lecture on following stupid orders and why so many people will leave the union post-Janus due to this idiocy of not letting delegates into the chapter leader meeting- and also mindless order followers.

I ran into Amy Arundell who many of us who deal with her a lot happen to like and feel she is competent - I told her to kick ass in her new job running the Queens borough office which has been considered one of the worst. We had a very nice chat about lots of stuff.

I watched Mulgew's spiel and on TV he did seem to have vigor and verve and some passion. Arthur and I went out for a bite and he also felt that Mulgew at the EB meeting Monday and at this meeting was not bad - on the surface -- but if you scratch - esp about the ratings system for teachers ---well, read the commentary at Arthur's and at the ICE blog.

Now I have to run down to a hearing or a principal they are trying to fire--- usually I wouldn't give a shit but this one looks like a witch hunt. Maybe more on that later.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

MORE EB Member Arthur Goldstein Sends Letter to UFT Leadership Asking for Office Space

Referencing this story from the Sept. 25, 2017 UFT EB meeting:

Unity Caucus at the Ex Bd Meeting: Tears of Woe Over Not Having Time to Think of Ways to Oppose Our Resos

Arthur Goldstein sends a letter to UFT leaders:
Dear LeRoy, Janella, and Howard,

Since you’ve decided to not allow us to bring resolutions without distributing them 30 minutes beforehand, we are at somewhat of a loss. Unlike you, we all teach full time. We are able to meet at the lobby at 52, but since we all teach we are often unable to get together earlier than 5 or 5:30. Furthermore, we are not allowed into the actual building until at or very close to 5:30.

Unlike all of you, we have no staff. We have no one to make copies.

Therefore I’m certain that you’ll have no issue giving us an office in which to meet whenever we need to, along with a copying machine. I’m certain you’ll have no issue granting us the use of staff to distribute whatever resolutions we come up with.

Thank you so much for your kind consideration.

Very sincerely,

Arthur Goldstein 
Let me point out once again -- that our tiny portion of Ex Bd people have been able to make the EB meetings a focal point of bringing the concerns of rank and file teachers to the attention of the leadership -- so many stories of them being ignored until our people have started working with them. Key to it all is Arthur's taking notes and publishing them with commentary on the blogs --- in other words, Unity would continue to ignore us, as they did New Action a (which did not publicize the outcomes of EB meetings) all those years they were on the board -- due of course to the support of Unity. Arthur Goldstein, who often works hand in hand with UFT officials, is also unsparing in his criticism when he feels it necessary.

Councilman Danny Dromm Hearing on Adult Ed Issues

Betty Gottfried—Adult Ed. ex CL—speaks of fight in adult ed., says union has given good attention. Says 12 teachers who were pushed out have testified, urges leaders to watch video. Says teachers were magnificent. Says Danny Drumm watched and complimented teachers. Says Sterling Roberson wants more input from adult ed. teachers and that is a very welcome statement.  Reads statement from 1992 as example of participating chapter, asks for return to that. Thanks Mulgrew for involvement. Says he listens..... Arthur Goldstein notes from Sept. 25 EB meeting
I like Betty. But she is being generous about the response of the UFT, which has put one of the worst reps in charge of Adult Ed. [I have another blog post coming with more details.] I seem to be one of the few who want to call out UFT people who fuck up -- the leadership joined the teacher "accountability" bandwagon -- they should be held to even stricter standards.

UFT leadership has refused to publicize adult ed issues until MORE and bloggers began to partner with them in getting the story out. Here is one more as the heat on the DOE rises.

MORE was sent this from an Adult Ed teacher re: the Dromm hearing:
Council Member Danny Dromm from Queens held a hearing on adult ed and our infamous superintendent Mills' boss, Laura Feijoo, was there. CM Dromm did an excellent job interrogating Ms. Feijoo and she and Mills' data guy, Vernon Kellman, were not equipped for the questions and confrontation.

We thought you might enjoy the hearing. We certainly did. 9 people came out publicly about the mismanagement of the OACE at the hands of Mills. And several more wrote anonymous written testimony to Dromm's office. We are hoping this is the beginning of some much needed changes within the OACE.

Thank you for all your support along the way. It was invaluable to us.

Please watch!
Hello you all, that was amazing!!! In case you haven't had enough, here is the video, fresh off the presses. Sorry everyone couldn't be there. I counted 14. Dromm said it's the most he's ever had. Thanks to EVERYONE who played a part in this. xoxox to you all and anyone who hasn't yet sent in testimony, you still have 5 days from today!


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Farina Tries to Cover Her Ass in Student Slaying in Bullying Incident; Elementary Parent Outrage at CoLoco

This is was co-located school that contained a high school and an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. This tragic event shows that co-locating high schools with elementary schools is a horrible concept. Just imagine if this stabbing incident took place in an area of the school where elementary students were and one of them got hurt. End co-locations of high and elementary schools now!...
.....Building not designed for a high school. Building not designed for collocation of elementary school with high school. Building does not have elevator. Building does not have scanners. Building is inaccessible for folks with disabilities. DOE gets an F for resource management.

.....The horrific tragedy is a direct consequence of the egregious mismanagement of facilities by the DOE, as in Superintendent Carmen Farina. As a senile sycophant retained from the Bloomberg era, she is a failure as a Superintendant.

...... One look at the arrested kid told me he was tormented for being gay. No one did anything. No metal detectors. No suspensions. No consequences for anything from anyone.

....... If there were metal detectors this wouldn't have happened. If there were suspensions the kid wouldn't have been constantly bullied. If the staff was trained to do anything to stop bullying this wouldn't have happened. This is all on the NYCDOE because it has made metal detectors optional, pulled them out, stopped suspensions and arrests and hasn't trained its staff on restorative justice or anti-bullying procedures.

The safety of students and staff always comes first and we rely on our safety protocols, our staff, and our partnerships with students, parents, families, and communities to ensure the safety of all school buildings.
Principals and school staff should review information on the Principal’s Portal:
...... Carmen Farina
Is the email Farina sent out today to teachers and supervisors, an attempt at blame shifting?

81% teachers at school said order and safety not maintained.
Bullying a factor - did school intervene?

One response came in an email from a teacher:
.....and the DOE and the NYPD are working to conduct a thorough investigation.

......we rely on our safety protocols, our staff, and our partnerships with students, parents, families, and communities to ensure the safety of all school buildings.
This is a threat. This is a clear threat. This is a message saying to every staff member in the DoE that, if anything happens in one of the schools. they will bring the investigators and will assume the tragedy is the fault of the staff.

Please notice, they do NOT state that they rely on their own oversight nor on their $250 million worth of bloated Tweed bureaucrats to supervisor and ensure the schools are safe.

They rely only on school staff (thats' you and I) following all of their 'protocols'. The assumption here is that, if someone is hurt, then OF COURSE there was a protocol and AND COURSE the protocol wasn't followed by a member of the staff.

This is bullsh___

UFT ExBd: Susan Hibdon Calls Out Union Leaderhip on Parental Leave

My message to you tonight has two parts: One, our union needs to get serious about paid parental leave. Two, our union needs to actively seek out our input, AND to be transparent.... We know it’s complicated, we know it takes sacrifice. We are willing to give something up. I’m not having any more kids, but I’m willing to give up. ..... Not surprised UFT doesn’t know how important it is. UFT has never asked. Didn’t even know these meetings happened until last week.  My union doesn’t know what my interests are. We want three things.
  • We want this on agenda at next meeting.
  • We want it on website so members know.
  • We need to know what members want. UFT should survey. I’ve never seen one.
We feel like there’s little effort. Maybe you’re doing something, but we don’t know what. Coming back in two weeks to check....... Susan Hibdon
As a follow-up to the Emily James post (What Emily James Said to Mulgrew at the UFT Ex Bd on Parental Care), here is her colleague Susan Hibdon. J

ust a note re: the comparison to parking permits. Fact is since Bloomberg tampered with the parking permit issue, this is a very important issue to a lot of  people, and possibly more so for people with children -- more of them probably live further away and need to take their cars and when there is no parking it is a nightmare. I'm heading down to the UFT's first chapter leader meeting of the year, where we might hear more on this issue.
Emily and Susan

Susan Hebdon
Emily and I, like many, many others in the DOE, have complained for years about our utter lack of parental leave. We have spoken to our UFT rep, we have written letters, we have sent emails, and we’ve never gotten a meaningful response. What finally set us off and prompted us to start a petition was the UFT’s announcement last spring that it had negotiated a deal with the city so that all teachers would now be able to receive...parking permits. Our initial response was, how our union so tone-deaf and out of touch that they think parking permits are what we want? Clearly, all of our attempts to communicate had not been effective. Not knowing about the existence of these executive board meetings, or any other way to get our message to the ears of the UFT, Emily started the petition that night.

My message to you tonight has two parts: One, our union needs to get serious about paid parental leave. Two, our union needs to actively seek out our input, AND to be transparent.

On the first point: We NEED paid parental leave for all employees who become parents, whether through birth or adoption. The UFT has had years to negotiate a deal with the city, and the Mayor is clearly willing to find a solution; our union needs to step up and make a deal. With every day that you wait around for a better deal, another mother who is still physically recovering from birth is forced back to work after six weeks; another father who wants to be involved in family life is forced back to work after three days, no matter how many CAR days he has saved up; another adoptive parent who has barely even met his or her child is forced back to work after only three days. Waiting for a better deal is a bad deal for all of us.

We know this is a complicated issue, but it is also a solvable one. Many other school systems with fewer resources than the NYC DOE have found ways to offer parental leave (Look at Prince George’s County, MD, or California). Not only is it possible to solve it, it’s necessary. About 76% of DOE teachers are women, and about half of those are under 40. That’s a lot of potential babies. Some might argue that the proportion of teachers who are women in child-bearing years makes the problem more difficult to solve, but it also means that the problem is more important to solve and that the UFT's members are more willing to work with the city to find a solution. We know it won't be free, we know we'll have to give something, and we are willing to do that because this is so important.

On the second point: I’m not necessarily surprised that the UFT doesn’t know how important this issue is to its members, or that the UFT doesn’t know that its members are willing to make sacrifices to make paid parental leave a reality. How would you know? You’ve never asked. I’ve never gotten a survey from the UFT. I didn’t know that these board meetings existed until last week, because the UFT doesn’t publicize them. My union--which is supposed to represent me--which exists to represent my interests--has no idea what my interests are. Not only that, I don’t see any sign that my union is trying to find out what my interests are.

At your next executive board meeting, the issue of paid parental leave needs to be an agenda item. In fact, it needs to be the only agenda item. That meeting, like every executive board meeting in the future, needs to be publicly announced on the UFT’s online calendar of events so that members know they can attend and have their voices heard. And the UFT needs to actively seek to know what its members want, what our priorities are, and what we are willing to give.

You can see that we are frustrated--partially with this seemingly endless battle for parental leave, and partially with a lack of effort on the part of our union. Maybe you’re doing something for us, but we’re not seeing it.
If you haven't started yet, watch the must see PBS Ken Burns series on Vietnam --- amazing how similar to today's times. Nixon can make Trump look normal.

Also I was thinking -- I am more and more satisfied that I voted for Hillary instead of 3rd party every day despite my many anti-Hillary feelings. I am less and less willing to fall in the left line that she would be only marginally better. I wonder when the day comes that Bernie people who voted for Trump smack themselves in the head and say "What have I done?"

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What Emily James Said to Mulgrew at the UFT Ex Bd on Parental Care

This should not be a thing! It should not be a choice for women to be excellent teachers to the students of NYC or to be mothers for their own children. ..... We pay you our dues dutifully month after month, year after year. You are the only voice we have. We are here in numbers, 80,000 strong, demanding in the most polite way we know how,  that you stop ignoring us, that you help us begin this fight, and don’t stop fighting for us until we make the situation right.  ... Emily James
Call Emily James wonder woman for flushing Mulgrew into the glare of the 10 minute pre-meeting open mic where classroom
Emily and family at Ex Bd
teachers often share their voices. Mulgrew makes sure to miss this part of the meeting  - in fact most of the rest of the meeting other than his own report. I imagine it was the publicity in the press - and Emily's 80,000 petition sigs garnered over a few months.

Mulgrew made a  statement declaring that the city wants a pound of flesh for getting this leave and he will not sell us down the river. I excerpted from Arthur's notes and you can read them at the end of this posting.

Emily and Susan
Her colleague, Susan Hibdon, a mother of three, joined Emily and also made a strong statement calling the UFT leadership on accountability. I'll publish Susan's comments in the next post. Note that neither Emily nor Susan plan on having more children - so this is not for them but for others to follow.

Unity Caucus at the Ex Bd Meeting: Tears of Woe Over Not Having Time to Think of Ways to Oppose Our Resos

Arthur Goldstein—MORE—I am flattered that the 95 of you are so confounded by the seven of us that you need to curtail the few privileges we enjoy. I regret you are unable to muster persuasive responses when we raise resolutions. We are prohibited from electing our own Vice President, and this is just one more example of anti-democracy. Resolutions are regularly handed out on the spot at the DA and there are far fewer people here. This is not the way to go in the age of Janus. ..... NYC Educator responding to Unity Caucus reso
UFT Executive Board September 26, 2017--We Support Adult Ed., Maternity Leave, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas. Overcrowding? Class Sizes? Democracy? Meh.  
RESOLVED, that all ad hoc resolutions for consideration by the UFT Executive Board not listed on the printed agenda for the day's meeting will be published and available on the agenda table at least one-half hour prior to commencement of the meeting, except for resolutions where circumstances arise within hours before or during the meeting that would require immediate discussion and action.... Reso passed with unanimous Unity Caucus support at Sept. 25 Ex Bd meeting.
......Unity reso presented at UFT Ex Bd meeting, Sept. 25, reso opposed by MORE reps.
Unity Caucus on the move
I gave a preliminary report on the UFT Ex Bd meeting early on Monday - Child Care Leave Issue Front and Center at UFT Ex-
but there's no way to properly describe some of the goings on there --- it is worth the price of admission. I will get to the adult ed and parental leave issues in a follow-up. Arthur and James did prelim reports on the meeting here and here.

But the reso put forth by Unity last night was so hilarious I can't pass up a separate post about it.
Many Unity people at EB meetings come off as hacks
Let me explain what this is all about. Since MORE got elected last year, our reps have used the EB meetings to raise resos -- sometimes they send them to the leadership in advance, sometimes they don't --- often last minute ideas come up and people sign the resos at the pre-meeting. When they raise the ad hoc resos it is a given that Leroy Barr - since so few in Unity are capable of even mustering a valid argument - will speak against it or amend it - and the rest of the Unity crew will vote the way they are told.

So the fact that they are calling in this reso for us to have our resos on the table a half hour before the meeting -- ie. 5:30 - when no one is there -- most don't come until 6 anyway -- is a joke. What they want is to give Leroy more of a heads up to prep his opposition - or to prep someone else to oppose it with at least a rational argument of some sort.

I often comment as our people are making their reso that we should give Leroy a chance to speak against it BEFORE we bring up a reso. In fact how about this alt to the Unity reso:

RESOLVED, we will oppose any reso coming from MORE. I mean why do they need time to come up with reasons? Just say you oppose and the Unity hacks will vote against since they don't need no stink'n reason.

Jonathan Halabi and New Action's approach to this reso was that they could live with this as long as Unity followed their own rules by not springing memorandums of agreement, etc on us in the future. I still feel New Action compromises too much.

Other than Arthur Goldstein, no one in MORE/NA called out Unity about the real purpose of this reso -- and what it exposes --
  • that they will vote against a MORE/NA reso unless they are told to vote for it 
  • that they can't think on their feet fast enough to respond and are embarrassed time and again when we report their response. 
Arthur expressed the outrage many of us feel about Unity, which was attacked extensively by rank and file teachers at the mic during the pre-meeting. The rank and file are all too often ahead of the leaders of the opposition in their instincts. Arthur is different. He is not trapped in the bubble.

Here are some other reports on the meeting. More to come from me later.

UFT Executive Board September 26, 2017--We Support Adult Ed., Maternity Leave, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas. Overcrowding? Class Sizes? Democracy? Meh. -  

MULGREW SHOWS UP FOR OPEN MIC TO HEAR PAID FAMILY LEAVE PETITION PRESENTED AT EXEC BD - Michael Mulgrew, the UFT President who almost never shows up to hear members under attack pleading their cases at the open mic before Executive Board meeti...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Child Care Leave Issue Front and Center at UFT Ex Bd - Come see the show

SPOTLIGHT ON THE UFT'S MATERNITY LEAVE POLICY: Later today, New York City schoolteacher Emily James will attend the United Federation of Teachers' executive board meeting deliver a petition with around 78,000 signatures calling on the union to implement a maternity leave policy. 

NY1 reporter Lindsey Christ laid out the current policy in a series of tweets: "Policies that assume only women should care for infants are inherently sexist, negatively impacting working women (and parenting fathers!) ... And here is city and @UFT policy: Only women who physically give birth are even allowed to use their own sick days. And only for six weeks ... Female, straight teachers with no fertility issues try to plan pregnancies so children are born in the summer. Everyone else is out of luck." Even the Department of Education's own LGBT community liaison, Jared Fox, criticized the policy on Twitter, writing, "This very much affects same sex couples. I encourage LGBT UFT members to join this effort." See the petition here.....  Politico, morning NY ed report
I'm heading over to the UFT Ex Bd meeting later. Emily James is the heroine of the day - she has managed on her own to garner super attention to this issue.

Kudos to MORE's Mike Schirtzer for contacting her and telling her about the UFT Ex Bd option for speaking time before the meeting and also for offering the services of the MORE/NA EB people for follow-up. Two weeks ago MORE people did bring this up and the UFT leadership responded --- First UFT Ex Bd Meeting of Year - A Stephen King H...

I'll have more on this after the meeting but here are some notes for now.

One comment in a school was from a man:
I think mothers definitely deserve paid maternity leave.  However, what greatly concerns me is that fathers are left out of this petition.  As a father who wants to share the responsibility of parenting, I have found it extremely difficult.  It is a travesty that mothers have to borrow days after exhausting their CAR, but what is also terrible is that fathers don't even have that option.  Fathers are allowed the three personal days, and that's it.  Schools with understanding principals might find a work-around, but the work-arounds certainly don't eliminate the job-stress during a very stressful time.
(Obviously, both mothers and fathers have access to FMLA, but who can honestly afford that?)
I don't know about you, but I am all on board with the deal the rest of the state got.  I would love to pay more into disability and then use that when necessary to take care of my healing wife and newborn child.
I signed the petition, but maybe we can broaden its horizon?
Mike replied:
When we speak on executive board, we always discuss it as family or parental leave. The UFT leadership has been using the terminology "family leave". Emily James who created the petition that went viral, she and her colleagues are women elementary school teachers and moms- they are not affiliated with any caucus. She is presenting this on behalf of the nearly 80,000 that signed- MORE/NA will support her in any way we can, as we hope our brothers and sisters in Unity caucus will do the same. We will also bring up the other petition. (MORE garnered 3000 sigs last year).
On the second point -I do think we disagree that the deal the others got is acceptable- I would read this great analysis by member and friend James Eterno

I would sum it up as our position is there should be no givebacks, parental leave in a membership that is over 75% female and a majority are primary caregivers should have already happened, needs to happen now, and come without give back of wages or days. - ms
Also see:

Please support the signers of the petition who will present to the UFT Executive Board.
6:00pm at 52 Broadway NYC.

Share the petition on your social media and in your chapter 

Read more about it here

From the petition:

New York City Department of Education currently offers their teachers who have just become mothers NO PAID maternity leave. These are women who devote their lives to helping raise other people's children.
After getting pregnant in 2012, I went to a maternity workshop to help understand my maternity benefits. It began as a room full of bubbly, pregnant women, and ended with many of us in tears.
  • Here is what we learned: In order to get paid for up to SIX WEEKS (you read that right-not months, weeks) we would have to use our own small number of saved sick days. If we had none, or few (which was the case for most of us, being around children all day long) we learned that we could borrow up to 20 days that we would eventually have to repay or rebuy.  
Most women never make it out of their negative balance. If you have more than one child, forget it! You have likely borrowed all you can for the first.  When I had my second daughter, even after two years of excellent attendance, I only was able to get paid for seven days after I gave birth.
This is completely common among teaching mothers. 
For all our union fights for, I'm asking Michael Mulgrew, our Union President: When will the fight begin for our teaching mothers? As an education system, we are well aware of the importance a parent's presence has on his/her child. Yet why don't we value that? Why do women who spend day in and day out educating, nurturing, and supporting other people's children, continue to suffer for having a family of their own? We are the teachers and the mothers of this city-- a city that prides itself on being one of the most progressive and socially conscious cities in the world- and we deserve to be fought for.

NO PAID MATERNITY LEAVE FOR NYC TEACHERS — Chalkbeat's Christina Veiga: "Susan Hibdon opened her front door and saw nothing but white. It was a day that would go down in tabloid headline history after schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña declared it 'absolutely a beautiful day,' despite a forecast calling for 10 inches of snow. For Hibdon, a Brooklyn high school teacher, it was memorable for a different reason. It was exactly six weeks after she had given birth, which meant it was time to go back to the classroom." Read more here.

Leonie Haimson on Loss of Thousands of Classrooms: What Role Did Charter Influx Play? Where is UFT, Chalkbeat?

Leonie Haimson:  Unfortunately, very few news outlets carried stories about the report, including those that repeatedly report on the non-newsworthy complaints from the charter lobby every time they hold a press conference or send out a press release.  The Walton Foundation and hedge-funder backed charter including Families for Excellent Schools, Students First, and other astroturf organizations, constantly and erroneously repeat the refrain that charters are unfairly deprived of their fair share of space. Why this lack of interest on the part of NYC reporters?  I could speculate but choose not to.... Leonie Haimson
Leonie doesn't name names and reporters but we know she is talking about astro-turf journalism from Chalkbeat which given its other reporting leaves this one alone.
I dare anyone from the press to show this chart

Astute observers of the NYC ed scene know that Leonie Haimson through Class Size Matters has often done the work the UFT should be doing. Here is another example of the wonderful work Leonie has been doing for the past 15 years. Did Bloomberg et al funnel most available seats to charters? Hell yes - don't need no stinkn data to tell us that.
NYC Public School Parents  
How many thousands of school seats were lost during the past decade, how did this contribute to overcrowding and how many went to charter school students?

Last  week Class Size Matters released a new report entitled Seats Gained and Lost in NYC Schools: The Untold Story.  For the first time, this study documented that more than 50,000 NYC public school seats were eliminated during the decade of 2004 to 2013.

These seat losses, mostly because of lapsed leases, the removal of trailers and the elimination of annexes, were identified using data from the annual DOE School Capacity and Utilization Reports, known more familiarly as the Blue Books.

Rather than creating net 100,000 seats during this period, as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Mayor's Management Report claimed, the real figure was less than half that number — only about 45,000, when seat loss is taken into account.

Moreover, of these net seats, the vast majority were filled by charter school students in public school buildings, with only 2,357 net seats filled by district public school students during this decade.
These findings help explain the worsening overcrowding that has plagued New York City schools, especially in the elementary grades, with the number of overcrowded elementary school buildings increasing by 17 percent and the number of students in these buildings increasing by 29 percent between 2004 and 2012. 

Meanwhile, the total number of students last year in overcrowded school buildings of all kinds was more than 575,000 --- according to the DOE's own "target" methodology.
In fully half of all districts, elementary school buildings lost net capacity during this period.  Of the 19 districts that experience growth in elementary school enrollment, in only three districts did the net new capacity exceed growth: in districts 2, 11, and 22.  If you'd like to see how many seats your district lost during this period, check out the report here or below.

The report also points out several factors that may make seat loss an even more important concern in the future.  This includes the DOE’s plan to accelerate the planned removal of TCUs or trailers, and the fact that there are no funds allocated in the five-year capital plan towards replacing their classrooms.  Moreover, the amount of funding in the capital plan dedicated to replacing lost leases has sharply declined since 2009.

We suggested some  proposals that the DOE could use to stem the loss of seats and to make the process of school planning more transparent and efficient, so that the problem of overcrowding doesn't worsen,  given the boom in residential development throughout the city and the Mayor's focus on increasing the number of affordable and market-rate housing units.

We also urged an end to any further co-locations, which exacerbate overcrowding; and our figures showing that the vast majority of net new seats went to charter school students over this decade provides an important factual counterbalance to the constant demand from the charter school lobby for more space within our already overcrowded school buildings, and the claim that they have been deprived of their fair share of classrooms. 

Unfortunately, very few news outlets carried stories about the report, including those that repeatedly report on the non-newsworthy complaints from the charter lobby every time they hold a press conference or send out a press release.  The Walton Foundation and hedge-funder backed charter including Families for Excellent Schools, Students First, and other astroturf organizations, constantly and erroneously repeat the refrain that charters are unfairly deprived of their fair share of space. Why this lack of interest on the part of NYC reporters?  I could speculate but choose not to.

Instead, please take a look at the report yourselves, and please let me know what you think in the comments below.  thanks!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Memo From the RTC: Don’t Feed The Elephant Man and an Upcoming Benefit October 7

Memo From the RTC:  Don’t Feed The Elephant Man and an Upcoming Benefit October 7
Sept. 22, 2017
By Norm Scott
“We are inspired by the beauty of John  Merrick’s life.” ­– Frank Caiati, Director’s Note, Rockaway Roster, Post Theater, Fort Tilden.

New York's Greatly Hyped Success Academy Tainted by Racist Board Members and Radical Right-Wing Money | Alternet

Yet another Success Academy Board member has a long history of making incendiary racial comments.
Here's a link to an article on Eva you won't see posted on Chalkbeat.

An excerpt:
Board member Charles Strauch has had a blog for years that specializes in right-wing race baiting and recycled conspiracy theories from the dregs of the Internet, many with a racial tinge.Strauch’s blog, Wealth Creates Good, was taken down on September 5th, not long after I began Tweeting excerpts of his posts to Success, asking for a response. (An archive of some of Strauch’s post can still be viewed here.) 
Go ahead and try to get info about these characters as they declare themselves private when inconvenient - one of the best arguments to make for why charters should not exist.

Harris Lirtzman found a nugget in a CB link that touches on this transparency issue.
We can regret Chalkbeat's place in the media solar system but it still breaks interesting stuff:  A classic example of CMO executives claiming 'public school' status for political purposes while wrapping themselves in 'private school' protections when they're useful ....

Diane Ravitch reports on the same issue:

Eva Moskowitz to Chalkbeat: Buzz Off! We Are a Private Corporation, Not Public!

by dianeravitch
Chalkbeat thought that it would be interesting to gain access to the email correspondence of Success Academy Network to find out how they handled the Dan Loeb crisis. It's reporter filed a Freedom of Information request. Dan Loeb is the billionaire who is chairman of the SA board who made a racist comment, writing that the leading African American legislator in the State Senate did more damage to black children than the KKK. The SA Network refused to release any records because they are private, not public. Public records laws don't apply to them, they said.
CB today does link to a a review of Eva's book:EVA'S EDUCATION The latest review of Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz's new memoir calls it "the most intimate look to date into ... a woman who is as infamous as she is admired." The AtlanticChalkbeat 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chalkbeat As Astroturf Journalism

Chalkbeat: Softball Interview With Success Academy attorney
The interviewer asks not a single question about the numerous charges vs. Success; their push out and disciplinary policies; and the numerous court cases/civil rights complaints and confirmed privacy violations at Success that Kim as the attorney for Success allowed to continue and defended time after time..... Leonie Haimson

True reformers have been growing increasingly critical of the constant pro-deform drum from Challbeat's so-called "journalism." Leonie nails them on this interview with former Success Academy lawyer Emily Kim: Chalkbeat
Success Academy's former lawyer is trying to start her own charter network. We sat down with her to hear her vision for schools.
A pushed out parent had these comments about Kim in Leonie's post:
Emily Kim had a personal hand in making sure my son's IEP was not met. This happened continuously from first to third grade. She conducted herself unprofessionally in meetings, emails, and during phone conversations. On more than one occasion I had to not only seek but retain legal counsel to try to protect his civil rights and to obtain his mandated services as required by his IEP. 

When I was banned from entering the school, Emily personally enforced the ban with no evidence of any misdeed on my part, and instead offered to find a new school for my child. The ban wasn't lifted until I appeared at a press conference with the Public Advocate Letitia James, in which Ms. James asked SUNY to investigate the abuse of special needs children.

Here is another example of Chalkbeat duplicity - publishing a link at another biased "journalism" site run by Campbell Brown - this biased anti-public school teacher absentee "study"
CHRONICALLY ABSENT Teachers in traditional schools are more likely to be chronically absent than teachers in charter schools, according to a new study by the Thomas F. Fordham Institute. The 74
The argument is that less sick days for teachers is better for students. And charters of course have less benefits -- not that charter school teachers have to come in when they are sick because they fear being fired. And by the way -- many new public school teachers without tenure also fear taking sick days. And also -- why believe any data coming out of charter schools?

Before it became Chalkbeat it was Gotham Schools. They used to have a party every year. At one of them Eva and her hubby showed up - I bet with a donation.

Arthur has been doing a number of pieces on what he terms "reformy" Chalkbeat. A quote from a recent piece:

Reformy Chalkbeat Peddles the Moskowitz Book

After reading a story by Juan Gonzalez, instead of asking, "Holy crap, how does she get away with this?" reformy Chalkbeat wonders why everyone is ganging up on poor Eva Moskowitz. That's the kind of coverage you get when Gates and Walmart subsidize the education press. You get "theories" as to why Moskowitz might be a controversial figure.
 Another piece by Arthur:

Reformy Chalkbeat Still Sucks

And if you haven't been following another Chalkbeat fave, super astroturf Families for Excellent Schools which will get 10 people out to some anti-teacher, anti-union event and get coverage from CB as if they were a legit organization instead of being funded by the same people who fund CB:

Authorities Close In On Pro-Charter School Nonprofit For Illicit Campaign Contributions

Monday, September 18, 2017

Support Charter/Spectrum Workers on Strike

If you were a Time-Warner subscriber, the sale of that company to Charter Cable/Spectrum was not a good thing for the workers and I bet ultimately the customers. I'm going to try to make this event.

Brothers & Sisters,
We are ONE day away from coming together as NYC Labor to to march across the Brooklyn Bridge and rally in Foley Square with IBEW Local 3. 1,800 cable workers at Charter/Spectrum have been on strike for six months, and we are with them in their fight for a fair contract.

AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson will join Local 3 Business Manager Chris Erikson, NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, NYC CLC AFL-CIO President Vinny Alvarez, and labor leaders and union members from across NYC to stand up for our striking sisters and brothers.  We are asking you to stand with Local 3, too.

We'll assemble in Cadman Plaza and march across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan for a rally at 4PM in Foley Square.
Find out more about Monday's march and rally here.

Adult Education Teacher to UFT Exec Bd

The Adult ed chapter of the UFT has been under assault since Supt Rosemary Mills took over. A group of teachers attended the UFT Ex Bd meeting last week, as I reported the other day, First UFT Ex Bd Meeting of Year - A Stephen King Horror Movie.

The fact that the UFT has allowed the chapter itself to flounder is not an insignificant factor -- like a UFT official sitting there quietly whole Rosemary Mills berated a UFT member at a meeting. I suspect, based on my instincts of how some of the UFT hacks have operated in the past, that if you are not viewed as a Unity Caucus loyalist you are under suspicion. I am told there is no chapter leader at this crucial time and people have been forced to do things ad hoc. The UFT's Patti Crispino is supposed to be on the case. If you knew Patti like I knew Patti --- don't expect much.

Note this comment from Fran Myers:  Mills knows what’s going on in chapter more than we do. We need info on discontinuance and percentages to strategize. Demand transparency.

Peter Romani read the following statement at the first UFT EB Meeting of the year:
To the Executive Committee of the UFT,

The steering committee of the Adult Education Chapter has formed the Adult Ed Action Committee. Our chapter has been under attack by Superintendent Rose Marie Mills of the Office of Adult and Continuing Education for close to 5 years.

Having consolidated her power through her close colleagues at the highest levels of DOE, she has been empowered and enabled to supervise a decades old program with 150 full-time adult education teachers and hundreds of per session K-12 teachers with absolute impunity. Noteworthy that our numbers have been shrinking every year, not by accident.

As a result, she has successfully overwhelmed every successive chapter leader with hostility, intimidation, and by running them ragged all over the 5 boroughs in this city-wide program which serves 35,000 adult students. The disciplinary hearings have increased exponentially and the paperwork redundancy and petty policies are designed in part to render any chapter leader ineffective and exhausted. We have lost yet another chapter leader this summer, retiring from the position after one year and from DOE in disgust and frustration. You may be aware that this past June we saw 20 – 30 annual “U”ratings, along with several discontinuances of vulnerable teachers. Out of 150 or so full-time teachers, this is an alarming percentage of U ratings. The observation process under Mills has become nothing more than a tool to meet quotas of harassment, hostility, early retirements, and terminations.

The Adult Education Action Committee has been formed out of a desperate attempt to continue advocating for this once proud program and the chapter members, as Ms. Mills now breaks or bends every rule, policy, or protections she arrogantly believes she can get away with. We feel let down by our union and betrayed by Chancellor Farina, Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson, and Senior Superintendent Laura Feijoo.

We are concerned that there will continue to be a vacuum in the chapter leadership and that Superintendent Mills will surely try to discreetly install a candidate of her choosing, knowing that there are few if any left in the chapter who would willingly run for this position. We strongly urge our UFT leadership not only to intervene meaningfully on our behalf, but to implement the following common sense remedies:

• Reconfigure and expand the chapter leader position to allow for multiple chapter leaders, perhaps one per borough citywide, in order to meet the inordinate time demands and duties of this chapter.
• Provide for a mechanism whereby the Adult Ed Action Committee can schedule meeting space on a regular basis at UFT headquarters for chapter-related business.
• Assign a separate District Representative dedicated solely to this superintendency and the needs of the Office of Adult & Continuing Education exclusively.

We understand that the political winds of public education are not blowing in our favor, but no one should have to suffer for so long in this manner at the hands of a superintendent with unchecked power, zero accountability, and the arrogant abuse of power that naturally follows from the blind, entrenched, backing of the Department of Education.

--- Peter Romani

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Memo From the RTC: Elephants and Tap Dancers in the Closet

We talked a lot about the visa process. What is going on really does hit home when you meet people in that situation.

Welcoming dancers from Japan to Rockaway at Tony's barbecue (without the tap dancing)
For the Sept. 15 edition of The Wave.

Memo From the RTC:  Elephants and Tap Dancers in the Closet
By Norm Scott

I’m looking forward to Friday’s opening of “The Elephant Man” at the Rockaway Theatre Company in Fort Tilden. I never saw the play because at the time it won the Tony the subject matter wasn’t interesting to me. But this time I am excited because any production directed by Frank Caiati will be worth seeing. or call the ticket hotline at 718-374-6400.

I used to be an occasional theater goer, going mostly because my wife wanted to go. But since getting involved in the RTC and learning so much about so many aspects of the theater on the stage and behind the scenes, my interest has perked up and I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of the theater experience (except being squeezed into tight seats with my knees pressed against the seat in front of me – and people with big heads.) Now I notice the lighting, the sound and especially the sets and how they are manipulated, often with the thought of how RTC master builder Tony Homsey would manage to do it, expecially given our stage size limitations and the lack of our ability to make things rise from underneath of have things fly in from the top or the wings. We got a tour of a Broadway theater backstage a few years ago and the amount of space was astounding. So the limited space at the RTC makes for some very creative approaches to making the sets work. Last year the RTC invested in two more sets of curtains set back from the main curtain, thus providing some flexibility. But space limitations don’t offer room for a lot of tricks. Very often set pieces have to be moved in and out the side doors. Due to some creative set design, that doesn’t have to happen this time. One more treat is having Suzanne Riggs back to stage manage the show.

Another treat of being part of the RTC is getting to meet so many new people, sometimes from far away. Over the past few years we’ve had some native Japanese actors studying dance in New York who have found their way to our theater for various shows. And through them we have been introduced to some of their friends, many of them dancers too. Recently, we were paid a visit by tap dancer Makiko Kuri, whom we met in Guys and Dolls. Makiko, who comes from the city of Kobi (of Kobi beef fame), brought along two  friends who were visiting from Japan. All three ladies are studying or teach tap and have lived and worked in New York at various times. Tony hosted them at his house in Breezy for a steak barbecue (but not Kobi beef) after they came back from whale watching. He will deny it but I believe the supposed stage shy Tony was hoping to pick up some tap dancing tips so he can lead the tap line in a future show. After the delicious barbecue feast Tony put together, none of us could get off the ground.

Norm often taps his feet while doing his blog at

Photo credit: Makiko Kuri
Caption: East meets west  at Tony Homsey’s kitchen table.