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Agreement reached to ease paperwork burden

The UFT and the DOE reached agreement on Sept. 3 on systemwide, enforceable paperwork standards that should ease the excessive and burdensome paper and electronic demands imposed on educators in recent years.

A joint UFT and DOE central paperwork committee negotiated the first set of standards, which took effect immediately, as part of the new contract. The committee expects to hammer out more standards in the months ahead.

The intent of the standards is to free up time that teachers need to devote to teaching while putting a brake on the paperwork requirements the Bloomberg administration kept adding to teachers’ workloads as part of its embrace of data that served no instructional purpose.

“These new citywide standards will free UFT members from unnecessary paperwork in three key areas: the quality review, data binders and progress reports,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

The new standards ensure:

  • Educators cannot be asked to create documents specifically for purposes of the quality review. Those conducting the quality review will make their assessments based on what they see and hear that is part of the normal course of teaching and learning.
  • Educators and related service providers cannot be asked to create data binders or print information that is in an accessible electronic database. (Teachers are, however, responsible for complying with reasonable requests for printing documents for parent interactions/communications and professional conversations with supervisors.)
  • Schools may use only one school-based attendance system in addition to the DOE system (not including the Special Education Student Information System).
  • Each school will continue to engage with all SESIS users to provide adequate time and computer access to complete SESIS-related tasks.

The central paperwork committee, which established the standards, and the district paperwork committees in each community school district and high school superintendency as well as Districts 75 and 79 are responsible for ensuring that the paperwork standards are properly implemented in every school. These committees are made up of equal numbers of representatives selected by the UFT and the DOE.

School-specific paperwork issues raised by a member can be brought by a chapter leader to the district paperwork committee. If the issue is not resolved there, the union may bring it to the central paperwork committee for adjudication. If the issue remains unresolved at that level, the UFT can file a grievance.

Mulgrew has noted that the new standards are just a beginning. “The reduction of unnecessary paperwork remains a top priority, and as our joint committee continues to meet, additional standards will be forthcoming,” he said.

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