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published September 7, 2017
Welcome to the 2017–18 school year. However you spent your summer break, I hope it was productive and fulfilling.
I am happy to announce that thanks to the UFT, we are now officially called the School Counselors Chapter. We’ve been waiting for this change for a while and it is indicative of our role in schools and of our state certification. I want to tell you a few more things you should be aware of this fall.
- Fill out the school counselors questionnaire: We are governed by Article 7B of our contract, which states that counselors do not cover classes, or perform lunch or dismissal duty. In addition, administrative duties are a violation of our contract. They are not your responsibility, and we cannot allow other types of work to take away from our roles as school counselors. If you are performing these duties, fill out the school counselors questionnaire if you haven't already done so and let me know. We've updated it to make it easier for you to tell us what administrative tasks (if any) you've performed that are separate from your duties as a school counselor. Fill out the questionnaire about administrative duties »
- Teacher's Choice funding for school counselors: I want to remind you that thanks to our union's advocacy, school counselors will each receive $100 this school year. To receive reimbursement through Teacher's Choice, you must submit receipts as proof of purchase. These receipts must accompany a Statement of Purpose/Accountability form, which you should submit to your school's principal by Jan. 19, 2018. Purchases must be made between Aug. 1, 2017, and Jan. 14, 2018, to qualify for Teacher's Choice.
- Professional development opportunities for counselors: The DOE's Counseling Support Portal has a wide range of programs and PD opportunities. I encourage you to participate to keep abreast of new practices. Access the portal online by logging in with your username and password. Select "Professional Development" under the What's New section to see a complete list of upcoming training sessions. In addition, if you would like more PD, you can reach out to school counseling managers at Borough Field Support Centers throughout the city. Your school counseling manager is your direct contact at these centers. If you don't know who your manager is, visit the DOE's Office of Counseling Support Programs page and contact a senior administrator. You need your supervisor's approval to attend PD events in New York City and you must submit the OP 201 application. If you plan to attend a PD event outside New York City, you must submit the information on TRAC. NOTE: School counselors are not required to obtain Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) hours to maintain certification at this time.
- UFT School Counselors Conference: Save the date for our 14th annual School Counselors Conference on March 10, 2018. If you would like to get a head start on submitting your proposal for this year's conference, our call for proposal form is on our chapter website. I will send more details about our call for proposals at a later date.
- Other upcoming conferences for school counselors: Please mark your calendar for the New York State School Counselors Association conference on Nov. 17-18 at the DoubleTree Hilton in Syracuse, New York. I also want to let you know about the American School Counselor Association conference on July 14-17, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. The theme next year is "Reach for the Stars."
- Don't miss the Guidance Expo: This year's Guidance Expo will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York. This event will be an exposition of guidance and counseling ideas and activities. If you haven't already joined us, I encourage you to attend. The UFT School Counselors Chapter will have a table, so feel free to stop by and network with your colleagues.
- A reminder about involvement in guidance-program planning: You should be mindful of Article 7G in our contract, which states counselors should be involved in the planning of their school's guidance program. Counselors in the department, and union-designated committees of counselors in the district, program and high school superintendency should be consulted in planning the agenda for their staff meetings.These guidelines benefit our students, and therefore we should follow them accordingly throughout the year.
- Improving communication this year: I want to ensure that I am providing you with the most comprehensive and useful information possible. This means changing the way we communicate just a little. I am pleased to announce that you will receive regular chapter updates this year. These new updates will include information about issues for which we're still fighting as well as improvements we've won. I'll also update you about chapter news and events via text message, so if you haven't already, sign up for text messages. UFT text messages are only occasional, and most news will still be disseminated via email. In addition, if you have any information that would be of assistance to other school counselors, I encourage you to send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can add it to the resources on our chapter website or include it in our newsletters.
As we embark on another year, we also have a lot of work to do as unionists. New Yorkers go to the polls on Nov. 7 to vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention. It is vital that we vote NO on this issue. Anti-union forces are committed to destroying our pensions as well as our right to organize and collectively bargain. Tell your family and friends to join you at the polls and vote NO!
Read more about why we must vote down a constitutional convention »
Watch this video about the dangers of a convention »
Public employee unions are facing an enormous challenge this year: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Janus v. AFSCME court case that seeks to debilitate unions by declaring fair-share or agency fees unconstitutional. These fees cover the costs a union incurs representing and providing services for people who do not choose to belong to a union.
As we brace for this decision, we need every single one of you to remind your colleagues about the benefits of belonging to a union: a defined-benefit pension, employer-paid health insurance, due process rights, tenure, a grievance process, and a voice in how schools are run. Unions, through our voluntary donations to COPE, also provide us a place at the table in Albany as well as at the City Council.
Help us keep our union the strong force it’s been for more than 50 years! Have a great year and keep in touch.
School Counselors Chapter Leader
Where would you most like to take students on a spring field trip?
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Alley Pond Environmental Center
Snug Harbor Cultural Center
Total votes: 22