Sunday, October 22, 2017

Emily James, Parental Leave in Daily News, Contacts 80,000 Supporters, Day of Action Planned for International Woman's Day

Emily James and Susan Hibdon

Emily James
New York, NY
OCT 22, 2017 — Please read and share with all your co-workers. We made this happen together!

Over 80,000 of you signed our petition to calling on on UFT President Mulgrew to fight for this.

Pres. Mulgrew had been in contact with city officials, but this needs to happen now!

Everyday that goes by is another parent having to use their days, and not getting paid after they run out.

We are planning a DAY OF ACTION for March 8th, which is international women's day. It is a really great chance to get a large group of people together to support paid family leave for UFT members.

If you have ideas or would just like to join in, please contact us at

The more help we have, the better our chances for an actual change.

You guys are amazing.
Emily James and her 80,000 supporters have been a revelation. When she appeared the UFT executive board meeting a few weeks ago with her colleague Susan Hibdon, which was reported in the mainstream press at Politico  - as we reported here - What Emily James Said to Mulgrew at the UFT Ex Bd on Parental Care -  she got a response from Mulgrew who seems to be trying to jump on the bandwagon. MORE also wanted to jump on the Emily bandwagon and add the 3000 signatures they gathered last year -- every little bit helps. Emily has proven she is doing fine as is that even though she is not a long-term activist - she has been featured in the press at Chalkbeat, NY1's Lindsay Christ (a former teacher and one of the best ed reporters in the city) also interviewed her (sorry I don't have all links.)

James Eterno has a comprehensive piece on the

Her original petition is here -
Emily and family (photo by Norm Scott)

Her op ed appeared in the Sunday Daily News. (Reprinted below the break.) 
Emily has send an email to the petition signers asking for those who want to do more than sign the petition to get in touch at this email:

 Daily News op ed:

Brand new mothers, forced back to class


`Miss, why are you here? You need to go home." These are words my students have said to me many times, on days when I sit at my desk, suffering from strep throat or an infected wisdom tooth, incapacitated, but out of sick days and unable to afford to lose a day's pay.
Am I chronically ill? No. I am a teacher and a working mother in a New York City public school.
In a profession made up of roughly 75% women, here is the New York City Department of Education's maternity leave policy: Following the birth of a child, we must use our sick days (if we have any left) in order to be paid for up to six weeks, and eight weeks for a C-section.
By the time I had my second daughter, I only had enough days to be paid for one week after her birth.
In case you aren't aware, this is an emotionally and physically taxing job. Each morning, we walk into a room of 32 kids, and leave our own selves, our own needs on an invisible coat rack at the door. We spend eight hours on our feet, doing tiny relay races with papers and questions, and explanations and discipline and words of kindness and colored pens.
We stand on shaky chairs to staple bulletin boards, spend hours calling parents, meeting with them, standing in for them all day long. We give children our real jackets when they don't have their own. We comfort them when they are crying, or yelling, or in despair.
We give them the foundation to be lifelong learners, show them books that they can't help but love, problems that they can't help but solve. We become second mothers to them. The system expects that from us, and we deliver.
But to this day, when the people who dedicate their lives to taking care of other people's children decide to start a family, they are left on their own.
As a 10th year, highly effective teacher in New York City, I am done having children. But the inequity -- the sheer stupidity -- of the current system makes me want to fight for the tens of thousands of women and men, just like me, who will need help if they are ever going to be teaching parents.
So one night in May, when my children were asleep, I created a petition on calling for New York City public schools to offer family leave to its educators. All I had was the truth: a shortened story of my own struggle.
Almost immediately, hundreds of working parents began reaching out to me.
One woman had premature twins in September and couldn't afford to be off payroll, so she will be returning to work with two premature infants at home.
Another saved her days for seven years in order to have her first child, then had to wait six more years before she could try for a second, because she needed to accrue more days to afford another birth.
One mother, who is currently trying to conceive, has been working a second job for a year to try to save money so she will be able to afford her home payments after she gives birth.
Another wrote that she would have to choose between her career and having a second child, because she just could not handle the financial strain again. She chose her career.

Public schools' cruel and backward maternity leave policy for teachers

A mother who had a child born with an undetected congenital heart defect resorted to taking handouts from a local Long Island charity in order to make her mortgage payments while she stayed with him through his open-heart surgery.
An adoptive parent saved 30 sick days before she brought home her newborn son, then found out she was not eligible to use them and had to take time off unpaid, through the Family and Medical Leave Act.
In only a few months, some 80,000 people had signed the petition.
We should not have to argue how studies have shown time and time again that babies benefit from being home with their mothers in their first year of life. This is 2017, and we are supposed to be living in the progressive heart of the world. We need a real parental leave policy, and we need it now.
Sending a mother of a sixweek-old back to lead a classroom -- financially strapped, ridden with anxiety, exhaustion, and often times illness -- isn't just bad for that mother. It's bad for everyone.

James is an English teacher at Brooklyn Preparatory High School.

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