Skip to main content
Full Menu

Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for May 13, 2019

Photo of the Week

Anti-Bullying Conference
Jonathan Fickies

BE BRAVE: A middle school student shares his thoughts about bullying at the UFT’s Anti-Bullying Student Conference on May 9 as fellow students and Miss New York Rahmeka Cox listen.

This Week's Focus

Listen to Michael Mulgrew discuss the Student Debt Relief Program

Saddled with student loans? Unable to navigate the many loan forgiveness programs out there? You aren’t alone. The UFT has partnered with a new service and reputable law firm to help guide members every step of the way. UFT President Michael Mulgrew walks listeners through the Student Debt Relief Program, a new benefit for UFT members only, in the latest episode of On the Record with Michael Mulgrew, found on the UFT website, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

UFT asks City Council to fund Teacher’s Choice and four other key programs

The union urged New York City Council members attending the UFT’s May 8 legislative breakfast to continue backing Teacher’s Choice and four other UFT-led education programs: the United Community Schools initiative, the Positive Learning Collaborative, the BRAVE anti-bullying program and the Dial-A-Teacher homework helpline. UFT President Michael Mulgrew explained why these programs are an effective use of city funds. “That money is actually getting into the community,” said Mulgrew. “It’s getting to the students, to the teachers, to the parents, into the classroom.” The elected officials heard success stories from representatives about each UFT program. Council Speaker Corey Johnson praised the UFT for the success of these initiatives. “These are all programs that we know work, that are proven, that make a difference in the lives of children,” said Johnson. “The Council is going to continue to work with you hand-in-glove together.” The city budget must be passed by July 1.

Join the UFT campaign to keep the charter cap

The charter school lobby is making a big push this spring in Albany to raise the cap and increase the number of charter schools in New York City. We are asking you to join us in a #PublicSchoolProud campaign to keep the current charter cap and to demand more transparency and accountability from the charter industry in New York State. The DOE is already spending more than $2.1 billion on charter schools in the five boroughs and the city’s bill for providing free rent to charter schools is estimated to jump from $57 million in fiscal year 2019 to $89 million in the coming fiscal year. Yet even as the share of public dollars sent to charter schools grows, the New York charter sector resists any efforts to hold it accountable. Charter school operators, including Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, balk at all attempts at government oversight. They refuse to accept and keep all students or to give the public a full accounting of how they spend their billions of dollars. For more information, read UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s op-ed in the New York Daily News about charter schools and his New York Teacher column about charter school accountability.

Come to Student Debt Relief Program session at May 18 Spring Conference

Online registration is available for the Spring Education Conference, the UFT’s signature annual conference that celebrates, supports and inspires members’ work as public school educators. This year’s event is on Saturday, May 18, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the New York Hilton, 1335 Sixth Ave., in Manhattan. Participants may choose to attend a two-hour Student Debt Relief Program clinic during the workshop time slot. The Student Debt Relief Program is an exclusive UFT member benefit for educators who are struggling to pay off student loans. Full-time educators working for the Department of Education may be eligible for the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Members with certain licenses may also be eligible for the federal Title I forgiveness program. These programs may help educators reduce their student debt and lower their monthly payments. The Student Debt Relief Program helps members navigate their options and apply for the right programs. For more information about the conference, see the item in the Events Calendar.

Back to top

Your Chapter Leader Checklist

  • NewProfessional activity periods: To empower chapter leaders, the UFT’s Contract Empowerment Department, in consultation with the Grievance Department, created a professional activity fact sheet for elementary schools and a professional activity fact sheet for middle and high schools. Each bulleted item on the fact sheets cites the relevant contract article, circular or arbitration. Please refer to these fact sheets to guide you as you consult with your principal on professional activities. The new contract allows chapters to add menu activities through the SBO process. If a chapter leader disagrees with the number of administrative positions or a teacher does not agree with the professional activity assignment selected by the principal, an appeal can be filed. Chapter leaders may request that the union file an appeal regarding the number of administrative positions and members may request that the union file an appeal regarding the selection of the professional activity assignment by completing the online professional activity appeal form. If you have questions, contact your district representative or Debra Poulos, the director of the union’s Contract Empowerment Department, at
  • NewGuidance for departmentalization in elementary schools: Many elementary school chapter leaders have reached out with questions and concerns about the procedures for departmentalization in their schools. The UFT filed a union-initiated grievance in 2017 and went to arbitration. The Department of Education has agreed to specific terms and conditions for departmentalization. Grades K-3 are not to be departmentalized unless a school properly ratifies and approves a school-based option (SBO). Schools that wish to departmentalize English language arts and/or math only in grades 4, 5 and/or 6 may do so only by posting an ELA and/or math position to teach these subjects for a particular grade or grades. All postings must be done in accordance with the contract. Any other departmentalization in these grades (or math/science, ELA/ social studies) requires a properly ratified and approved SBO. Decisions about departmentalization must be made prior to teachers filling out preference sheets so that teachers are aware of the options. Like all other SBOs, an SBO on departmentalization must have the support of both the principal and the chapter leader, and an SBO cannot be adopted unless 55 percent of the UFT members who actually vote — not 55 percent of all members at the school — vote to support it.  See the departmentalization stipulation, the recent departmentalization Algebra For All posting for 5th grade and departmentalization SBO templates. If you have any questions, please contact your district representative.
  • Guidance on the SBO certification and ratification process: By now, the process for considering any school-based options (SBOs) in your school should be well underway. Before scheduling an SBO vote, chapter leaders should have a chapter meeting to discuss possible SBOs. You should then consult with your principal and conduct a survey to gauge whether the chapter wants to ratify any proposed SBOs. You should only conduct an SBO vote if your survey indicates that an overwhelming portion of your membership wants to ratify the SBO. Only the chapter leader can determine whether to conduct an SBO vote. A principal or other administrator cannot conduct an SBO vote. Before scheduling the vote, ask your district representative to approve the ballot. You can review new sample SBO ballot templates on the UFT website. Remember that an SBO can only be adopted if 55 percent of the voting UFT members — not 55 percent of all members at the school — vote to support it. Once your ballot(s) have been approved by your district representative and a ratification vote has been held, contact your district representative to obtain the hyperlink for the UFT’s online SBO submission form. This year, there will be one SBO form for all SBOs. You can submit up to five SBO modifications and ballots on one form. The vote on SBOs and the online certification and ratification form should be completed by June 10. For complete information, see the School-Based Option page and SBO Ratification Process and Timeline page on the UFT website. You can also consult the newly revised SBO Manual and the SBO PowerPoint. Make sure to keep your district representative informed at every stage of the process.
  • Talk about why the union matters at your May chapter meeting: In this post-Janus environment where our enemies are running anti-union ads on social media telling members to “give yourself a raise,” we need to stay united and strong as a union. That is why we are asking you to hold a discussion at your next chapter meeting about the value of the UFT and the importance of union membership. Remind members of our recent victories in defeating the constitutional convention proposal, winning paid parental leave and bargaining a new DOE-UFT contract that gives members more voice in the workplace and much more. To build union spirit at your school, encourage groups of members to attend UFT events such as the 5K Family Walk/Run, the Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk, the UFT Pride Committee Scholarship Brunch and the Spring Education Conference.
  • The Update is online: The Chapter Leader Update is posted on the UFT website every week in the Chapter Leader section and will remain online for your reference. You’ll need to sign in and click on “Chapter Leaders” on the home page to view the Update.  

Back to top

Share with Your Members

Labor History Month 2019 poster of events

UFT Pride Committee Daniel Dromm Scholarship Brunch flier

Back to top


You Should Know

Functional Chapters

Workshop for social workers and licensed mental health staff: School social workers and licensed mental health staff are encouraged to attend mental health workshops presented by the UFT Member Assistance Program and LearnUFT. The sessions will take place at the UFT’s borough offices. The next session is on Wednesday, May 16, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the UFT’s Brooklyn borough office, 335 Adams St., 24th floor. The registration fee is $50. Participants earn two Continuing Education hours upon completion. These classes fill up quickly so sign up soon. For complete course descriptions and to register online, see the LearnUFT Courses for Social Workers page on the UFT website or the Calling All UFT Social Workers and Licensed Mental Health Counselors flier.

New Members

NewExtensions of probation: If a principal wants to extend a UFT-represented teacher’s probation, the teacher does not have to immediately sign that extension. Probationary teachers who are members have a right to have a union lawyer review it first. Every member should submit every extension of probation to the UFT for a union attorney to review before the member signs. Contact your district representative each time a UFT member receives an extension of probation. If the principal is insisting that the member sign the extension without the proper time for union review of the extension agreement, advise the member not to sign and immediately contact your district rep or borough office.

Teaching certificate about to expire?: With summer just around the corner, it’s crucial to meet upcoming deadlines for certification if your current teaching certificate is near its expiration date. If you’re a teacher in your fifth year of teaching under an initial certificate, you should apply for your professional certificate before your initial certificate expires on Aug. 31. Read more about how to keep your certification in order as you start your teaching career. The UFT is here to provide new members with clear, reliable answers. When in doubt, reach out to an educational liaison in your UFT borough office or a certification specialist at UFT Certification Services at 212-420-1830.


Exhibit highlights struggle of labor movement: May is Labor History Month and a reason to spend time learning about past union activists who gave us so much. A new exhibit, “City of Workers, City of Struggle: How Labor Movements Changed New York,” at the Museum of the City of New York examines the fight for workers’ rights and its roots in 19th-century industrialization. The exhibit includes the recent battle over Amazon’s now-halted plan to build a new headquarters in Queens. For more information, see the Museum of the City of New York website. Throughout Labor History Month, you can attend panel discussions, live performances, film screenings and more. Many of these events are free or low cost. For a comprehensive list of citywide labor history events, see the Labor History Month 2019 Poster of Events.

2019 Japan-U.S. Information and Communication Technology Teacher Exchange Program: Teachers of grades 7-12 are invited to apply for the Japan-U.S. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Teacher Exchange Program. This program provides 15 U.S. teachers with the opportunity to travel to Hawaii to learn about ICT efforts and strengthen ICT curricula in both the United States and Japan. The application deadline is Thursday, May 23. Please contact with any questions. For more information and to apply, see the Institute of International Education website.

Political Action

Take Action Vote for Farah Louis in special election: There is a special election on Tuesday, May 14, in Brooklyn City Council District 45 for the seat vacated by Jumaane Williams, who was elected public advocate. The UFT has endorsed Farah Louis, Williams’ former deputy chief of staff, because she has worked tirelessly to address issues involving equity and excellence in education. As a graduate of public schools, Louis understands the needs of students and teachers and has pledged to advocate for both by fighting for increased funding for traditional public schools and opposing charter school expansion. If you live in Council District 45, please take the time to vote. Polls will be open on May 14 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can find your polling site online. If you are interested in helping the UFT elect Farah Louis, please reach out to the UFT's Brooklyn borough office at 718-852-4900.

Take Action Make your voice heard in the 2020 election: The American Federation of Teachers, the UFT’s national affiliate, has announced a new endorsement process for 2020 presidential candidates. The process is designed to ensure unprecedented member input and engagement with respect to who will receive the AFT’s support. AFT President Randi Weingarten is calling on members to help elect a president who believes in living wages, public education, higher education and health care as a right, not a privilege. The AFT is asking its members to fill out its Presidential Endorsement Survey to find out the issues members believe presidential candidates should be discussing.

NewUFT to encourage members to “stand up and run” at UFT Spring Education Conference: At the upcoming UFT Spring Education Conference, the UFT will hold a special morning Town Hall session aimed at energizing educators to “stand-up and run” for elected office. The speakers will discuss how they followed the path to public service. The conference is on Saturday, May 18, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the New York Hilton, 1335 Sixth Ave., Manhattan. You can register for the conference using this online form.


NewChapter leader shoutout to Melissa Alvarez: Congratulations to Melissa Alvarez, the chapter leader of John Bowne HS in Flushing, Queens, for using the new dispute resolution process in the DOE-UFT contract to get a speedy response to a safety violation: no teacher had been assigned to the high school’s SAVE room. Alvarez had spoken to the principal several times about the staffing issue with no result. That’s when she filed a report with the UFT, giving the principal five days to address the issue before it escalated to the superintendent and the district representative. Her principal promptly assigned teachers to staff the SAVE room. You can read more about Melissa Alvarez’s achievements on the UFT website.

Special Education

Guidance on 2019-20 IEP-intervention teacher job postings: IEP-intervention teacher positions for the 2019-20 school year will only be posted in schools with a centrally funded IEP-intervention teacher position for the current school year and if a vacancy exists or is anticipated for the coming school year. The link for the job posting will be sent to principals at eligible schools within the next week or two. The DOE reassesses the school allocation for IEP-intervention teacher positions every three years to account for enrollment trends, school openings and closings, etc. Next spring, the position will be posted for the 2020-21 school year in those schools that remain eligible or are newly determined to be eligible for the position. All IEP-intervention teachers must attend training on reading interventions appropriate for the grades of students they serve. Teachers can register online for this training. If you have any questions about your school’s eligibility for an IEP-intervention teacher position, see the DOE’s Fiscal Year 2018 School Allocation Memo.

Teaching and Learning

NewLessons on the mind-body connection: The AFT’s Share My Lesson website can help students learn about the mind-body connection. Elementary students can do yoga with characters from Sesame Street. Middle school teachers can learn how to incorporate physical activity into the classroom. High school students can engage in a debate about diet and exercise. You can find more lessons and webinars on the Share My Lesson website.

Back to top

This Week in Education and Labor News

Oregon teachers stage one-day strike in 25 districts: More than 600 Oregon schools closed on May 8 as teachers demonstrated across the state to protest bulging class sizes and other workplace issues, reports The Oregon Education Association also demands more school counselors, nurses and librarians, and a restoration of art and music programs slashed in budget cuts. The union says it’s not backing down until the state guarantees more resources for students.

Ride-share drivers turn off app: Uber and Lyft drivers in cities across the country on May 8 took part in a one-day strike for better pay and working conditions, according to Vox. Each city’s drivers coalesced around their own particular demands, although most focused on a living wage, job security and better treatment. A study by the executive director of Stanford’s Center for Automotive Research found more than half of Uber and Lyft drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their states. Median profit is just $8.55 an hour, and when vehicle expenses are taken into account, 8 percent of drivers actually lose money. In New York City, ride-hailing companies have to pay their drivers about $17.22 an hour.

South Florida passes charter-friendly tax package: Florida state legislators on May 3 approved a tax package requiring school districts to share revenue raised through future voter-approved tax increases with charter schools, reports the Sun Sentinel. Lawmakers agreed not to touch money approved in referendums in 2018 in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties that provided money for teacher raises at traditional public schools but not charter schools.

Back to top

Events Calendar


Saturday, May 11: The sixth annual Middle Schools Division 5K Family Run/Walk takes place from 8:30 a.m. to noon at MCU Park, 1904 Surf Ave., in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Onsite registration is available. Here is a map of the route.

Saturday, May 18: The UFT Spring Education Conference will take place on Saturday, May 18, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the New York Hilton, 1335 Sixth Ave., Manhattan. The event includes breakfast, a morning town hall, a large exhibit fair featuring CTE programs, workshops and a gala luncheon. Participants may attend a two-hour workshop of their choice. You can read detailed descriptions of the six workshops. Register online.

This Week

Monday, May 13: The School Counselors Chapter’s Executive Board meets from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor.

Wednesday, May 15: The academic high schools citywide meeting takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor, room G.

Wednesday, May 15: The School Secretaries Chapter’s Executive Board meets from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 19th floor.

Wednesday, May 15: Student Debt Relief Program information sessions take place at the UFT’s Bronx and Brooklyn borough offices. See the Student Debt Relief Program page on the UFT website for more information and to register for these and upcoming sessions.

Wednesday, May 15: The Administrative Education Officers/Analysts Chapter and Education Officers/Analysts Chapter meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the UFT’s Brooklyn borough office, 335 Adams St., 24th floor.

Thursday, May 16: Bronx-based members are invited to a maternity workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. at the UFT’s Bronx borough office, 2500 Halsey St., rear entrance. Participants will get answers to all parental, maternity and leave questions. Register online. For more information, see the Baby On the Way Workshop flier.

Thursday, May 16: Student Debt Relief Program information sessions take place at the UFT’s Manhattan and Brooklyn borough offices. See the Student Debt Relief Program page on the UFT website for more information.

Save the Date

Saturday, June 1: The second annual UFT Pride Committee Daniel Dromm Scholarship Brunch takes place at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor, from noon to 3 p.m. The registration fee is $75. For more information and to download the mail-in coupon, see the Daniel Dromm Scholarship Brunch flier.

Upcoming LearnUFT workshops

LearnUFT, the UFT’s professional development institute, offers an array of affordable workshops and professional learning opportunities for UFT members. The cost to register, unless otherwise indicated, is $30 for teachers seeking CTLE hours and $15 without CTLE hours. The cost for all paraprofessionals is $15. Participants will earn two CTLE hours for each workshop, unless otherwise specified.

These workshops will take place at UFT borough offices, unless otherwise indicated:

See LearnUFT courses in the Bronx »
See LearnUFT courses in Brooklyn »
See LearnUFT courses in Manhattan »
See LearnUFT courses in Queens »
See Learn UFT courses on Staten Island »

For a full listing of upcoming LearnUFT workshops, see the LearnUFT page on the UFT website.

For more events, go to

Back to top

In Case You Missed It

New York Daily News Op-Ed by Michael Mulgrew: Stop adding new charter schools

Press Release: UFT analysis reveals 50,000 charter seats now approved but not filled; union calls for freeze on charter expansions

UFT testimony regarding the admissions process for NYC's specialized high schools

Video clip: Students express their appreciation for their teachers

Resolution on domestic violence in the wake of the murder of UFT member Jeanine Cammarata

Resolution to modify the DOE student enrollment form to include parental/guardian veteran status

Resolution on appropriate accountability measures for transfer schools

Resolution to oppose the use of weapons in school-based safety drills

Resolution reaffirming the UFT’s support for expanding admissions policies to specialized high schools to include multiple measures

Resolution in support of 2019 May Day

Union Proud testimonial: Lauren Friedman on how the union resolved an environmental health issue in her classroom

Photo Gallery: District 12 Scholarship Committee Breakfast

Photo Gallery: Meet the President for District 18, District 23 and Brooklyn high schools

Photo Gallery: School Nurse Recognition Dinner

Photo Gallery: District 11 Scholarship Dinner

Retired Teachers Chapter News: Medicare Part B / IRMAA

Family Child Care Providers Chapter Newsletter May 2019

Back to top

Professional Committees

UFT Professional Committees offer a wide range of workshops, presentations and exchanges, enabling all members to take an active part in their professional growth. Unless indicated, meetings are at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, Manhattan. Check in the lobby for exact locations. For further information, contact us at 212-598-7772 or visit us online.

Capably Disabled

New York City Art Teachers Association and Math Teachers Committee

  • Tuesday, May 14, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., Exploring ArtMath/MathArt Connections: “Knitting/Crocheting the Fibonacci Sequence.”

Back to top

Send us your feedback

We are committed to making the Chapter Leader Update as interesting and relevant as it can be. Please fill out this online form to let us know what you found most valuable in this week's newsletter and how we can improve the Chapter Leader Update.

Editor: Peter O’Donnell

Executive Editor: Bernadette Weeks

Contributors include: Karen Alford, George Altomare, Amy Arundell, LeRoy Barr, Jackie Bennett, Hannah Brown, David Campbell, Evelyn DeJesus, Crystal Deoraj, MaryJo Ginese, Anthony Harmon, Sarah Herman, Janella Hinds, Joe LoVerde, Richard Mantell, Samantha Mark, Deidre McFadyen, Michael Murphy, Gabriel Nott, Suzanne Popadin, Debra Poulos, Cassie Prugh, Nadine Reis, Michael Sill, Anne Silverstein, Rosemarie Thompson and Liz Truly.