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DA Report

Mulgrew: #PublicSchoolProud campaign remains important

President's report

Anthony Valentino of PS 139 in Queens asks a question about prep periods. Miller Photography

Anthony Valentino of PS 139 in Queens asks a question about prep periods.

Four resolutions approved

The UFT delegates on April 19 passed resolutions to:

  • embark on a voter registration campaign for eligible students in New York City public high schools and others;
  • back the Home Stability Support proposal in the state Assembly to keep people suffering from financial hardships in their homes and save taxpayers the hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost to put them in hotels;
  • educate and mobilize members to support universal health care for all; and
  • endorse the election of Eric Gonzalez for Brooklyn district attorney and the re-election of Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Read the resolutions »

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said it’s time to reboot the union’s #PublicSchoolProud campaign to combat the bad news and actions that continue to come from Washington, D.C.

“All the proposed federal budget cuts are still there, and we have a new Supreme Court justice,” Mulgrew told the Delegate Assembly on April 19 at the start of its monthly meeting in Shanker Hall. “It gives us a clear path of what we’re going to have to do.”

Mulgrew said the work the union and its members did to help shape the state budget should help protect New York City public schools from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her privatization agenda.

But celebrating the great work done in New York City public schools in the #PublicSchoolProud campaign will provide additional safeguards, he said.

“We need to do a lot of grassroots school-based and borough-based events the rest of this school year to celebrate the great work that’s going on,” he said.

The more examples that illustrate the joys of teaching and learning in public schools, Mulgrew said, “the more we box them in at the federal level when it comes to these crazy policies.”

The key, he said, is to tap into the passion that public school communities across the nation have for their public schools. Texas educators and parents, he noted, have run with the UFT’s #PublicSchoolProud campaign and now “have a sustained campaign across their state.”

“Parents love their public schools,” he said. “Does Washington really want to get into a political fight with every PTA in the United States?”

In his report, Mulgrew also informed the delegates of the latest gaffe by DeVos, who eliminated all the regulations from the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law passed in 2016.

“They get rid of the regulations, but tell all the states you have to finish all your regulations related to the federal law,” Mulgrew said. “The states ask: How are we supposed to write our regulations without the federal regulations? They say: Use the old ones. The states say: The ones you just threw out?”

He also noted that AFT President Randi Weingarten would be taking DeVos to a public school in Ohio the following day.

“It’s the first time she’s actually visiting a public school,” Mulgrew said.

Mulgrew told delegates to expect Janus v. AFSCME, the court case that has replaced the Friedrichs case, to land on the Supreme Court docket in September. The Janus lawsuit is the latest challenge to the “fair-share” fees that public-sector unions collect from workers who don’t become members. With Trump pick Neil Gorsuch filling the vacant seat on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the ruling in the new case has a better chance of going against the unions, he said.

Mulgrew also reiterated to the delegates the importance of voting in November against holding a constitutional convention, which could put many hard-fought rights and benefits, including public employee pensions, at risk.

“The AFL-CIO is starting a campaign to have all unions engage and educate their members on this issue,” Mulgrew said. “We will be doing a heavy-duty campaign on this when the school year starts next September.”

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