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Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for Oct. 18, 2019

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week - Oct. 18, 2019

PRETTY IN PINK: Shante Wilkerson and her daughter, 3rd-grader Chayse, pose in pink at a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event at PS 536 in the Bronx on Oct. 16.


This Week's Focus

Far fewer oversize classes thanks to new class size procedure

As of Oct. 18, only 83 schools with no history of chronic class-size problems had classes reported as oversize — thanks to new class-size reduction provisions negotiated as part of the 2018 Department of Education-UFT contract and implemented citywide this September. A year ago, more than 400 schools and more than 2,000 oversize classes on the 10th day of the school year went straight to arbitration, a process that took until April to resolve in many cases. By Day 10 this school year, there were only 350 schools with a total of 1,570 oversize classes, and superintendents and UFT district representatives fixed hundreds more over the next 10 days. “This looks like our most effective tool so far in knocking down the problem of oversize classes,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “The new process we negotiated in the 2018 contract has empowered our chapter leaders to create a better teaching and learning environment in our schools.” Schools with a history of oversize classes also got faster relief. Out of 113 chronically out-of-compliance schools, 51 had no oversize classes by the second week of October. Read the full news article on the UFT website.

New fall Student Debt Relief Program seminars

Members who are concerned about unmanageable student loan debt will want to know about the UFT’s Student Debt Relief Program, an exclusive UFT member benefit that has helped many members to lower their student debt. As an educator working in public service, you may be eligible to participate in the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness and federal Title I Loan Forgiveness programs. Navigating your options and applying for the right programs is complicated, but we can help. We are offering in-person information sessions throughout the fall to give pedagogues and paraprofessionals an overview of the range of debt forgiveness programs. Use the online form for teachers and online form for paraprofessionals to register for remaining fall sessions. We are also offering this service in webinars that you can view conveniently on your personal computer. After viewing a webinar or attending an information session, you may make an appointment to speak by phone with a loan specialist to discuss your individual needs and create an action plan. Use this online form to sign up for a webinar. For more information, see the Student Debt Relief Program page on the UFT website.

Last chance to apply for a spring sabbatical

Eligible teachers who want to study to enhance teaching skills have until this coming Wednesday, Oct. 23, to apply on SOLAS for a study sabbatical for spring 2020. The deadline for a principal’s recommendation to a superintendent is Wednesday, Oct. 30. Coursework must be rigorous and related to your teaching assignment. All teachers are eligible for a one-year study sabbatical after 14 years of service. Junior high or high school classroom teachers with seven years on the job may apply for a six-month study sabbatical for the spring semester only. Teachers earn 70 percent of their salary during a full-year sabbatical and 60 percent of their salary during a six-month sabbatical. Members can read guidelines and eligibility requirements in the DOE Sabbatical Memo. Read more about sabbatical leaves on the UFT website.

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Your Chapter Leader Checklist

  • New File your October consultation summary form: Have you filed your consultation summary report for October yet? If not, please complete it right away. Your consultation committee meeting summaries are important because they inform district- and chancellor-level consultation meetings about issues being raised in schools. You may escalate an issue to your UFT district representative as well. Chapter leaders can find the form in My Account at the top of the home page, on the main page of the chapter leader-only section of the UFT website and via the UFT app. The UFT has created a handy guide with screenshots that show you how to get to the form in each location.
  • New Be active on social media during Strides: Are you participating in a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk this Sunday? Please take photos with your colleagues and post them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag #UFTStrides with your posts. Send your best one or two photos (large size with caption information) to so the UFT can use those photos in the New York Teacher or its own social media posts. Please do not send collages.
  • New Participate on your school leadership team: The school leadership team develops the school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan and makes sure it is aligned with the school-based budget. You as chapter leader or your designee are a required member of your school’s school leadership team and attend its monthly meetings.
  • Spread the word that early voting begins on Oct. 26: Did you know that early voting begins on Saturday, Oct. 26, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 3? Thanks to a push by the UFT and other voting rights advocates seeking to make it easier for New Yorkers to get to the polls, all registered New York State voters can now cast their ballots in person at a polling place before Election Day on Nov. 5. Because a number of early voting sites are in New York City public schools, chapter leaders are encouraged to consult with their principals to ensure smooth implementation. Early voting sites are often different than your typical Election Day site. See the list of New York City early voting locations on the Board of Elections website. UFT members should also be made aware of this opportunity to cast their ballots early. See the official early voting information and sites for Westchester County, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Orange County and Putnam County on each Board of Election’s respective website.
  • Election Day professional development for deans: Please encourage deans in your school to attend a citywide training for deans on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Participants will learn about procedures for SAVE rooms and student removals; emergency readiness and threat assessment for school staff; investigations; suspension hearings; gang awareness; arrests in schools; and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Deans must get permission from their principal to attend this event. Register online.
  • Donate winter clothing for homeless students: Please bring your school’s donations of new winter coats, sweaters, scarves, mittens, gloves and hats for homeless children to the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, Nov. 20. You may also drop off donations at any UFT borough office or at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 14th floor. The union can accept only NEW articles of clothing. The garments may range in size from toddler to adult. For questions, contact Kim Polite at Please post the Flier for Thanksgiving Coat Drive for homeless students on your UFT bulletin board if you haven’t done so already.

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Share with Your Members

Flier for Toy Drive

Flier for Thanksgiving Coat Drive for homeless students

Flier for Dial-A-Teacher

Flier for LEAP to Teacher Open House

Flier for Partners through Experience


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You Should Know

Community Service

Take Action Support college students affected by Hurricane Dorian: The UFT Disaster Relief Fund requests your help on behalf of Bahamian college students displaced by Hurricane Dorian who are now attending Hampton University in Virginia. Hampton University is providing free tuition, room and board, and books to these students. But the students need additional items, including laundry detergent, international phone cards and winter clothing during this difficult transition. Show your support by making a personal donation or organizing a collection of these items at your school or work site. Items may be left at a UFT borough office no later than Friday, Nov. 1. Please label your donations to the attention of the following UFT staff: Katrina Foye, Brooklyn; Dana Falciglia, Bronx; Jamie Polzin, Manhattan; Angela Artis, Queens; and Tanisha Franks, Staten Island.

Take Action Help refugee families at the border: The Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, provides refugee families crossing the border into the United States with warm meals, showers, medicine and other supplies. Founded in June 2014, the center has since served 100,000 refugees. The UFT Disaster Relief Fund is asking UFT members to help these refugees. Your donation to the UFT Disaster Relief Fund will support Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley as it works to provide humanitarian relief. Please consider making an online donation.

Contract empowerment

Safety is an operational issue: Last spring, the DOE issued new systemwide standards for safety that incorporate existing rules and regulations on school safety. You are encouraged to learn about and use these standards. These safety issues can be resolved at the school level. You can submit an online operational issues report (you must be logged in to the UFT website to access it) the day you attempt to resolve the violation of any of these safety standards with your principal through a one-on-one conversation, an email or UFT consultation committee. As with paperwork and other operational issues, your principal has five days to rectify the issue. If the issue remains unresolved, the issue may be escalated to the borough-based safety committee. If it remains unresolved at the borough level, the central committee will attempt to resolve the issue. The UFT can take any unresolved safety issues to the UFT president and the schools chancellor or their designees. Here’s the School Safety Meeting Summary template. Please contact your UFT district representative with questions.


Listen to UFT President Michael Mulgrew discuss teacher observations: How can we make teacher observations less intimidating and more meaningful? In this season’s first episode of our podcast series “On the Record with Michael Mulgrew,” Mulgrew talks with three city public school educators about how teachers can take more control over their observations. The UFT recently negotiated needed changes to the teacher evaluation process including reducing the minimum number of observations for most teachers to two a year. But real change, say Mulgrew and his guests, will come only when we change the culture around observations — when we see observations as an opportunity for two professionals to have a conversation about education practices. "On the Record with Michael Mulgrew” is available on the UFT website, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Sticher or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Health and Safety

Enroll now for city programs to help defray medical, drug and child care costs: The city’s Health Care Flexible Spending Account Program and the Dependent Care Assistance Program allow you save some of your pay before taxes for certain out-of-pocket medical, drug and child care costs. When enrolling in these two programs, participants elect a yearly contribution amount, and deductions are withheld from the participant’s paychecks throughout the year to meet that amount. It is important that you estimate your annual expenses carefully prior to choosing this annual contribution amount for the coming plan year because you lose any money you don’t use. (The Health Care Flexible Spending Account Program has a short grace period.) You can enroll in either of these two programs until Friday, Nov. 15, for plan year 2020. Read this article for further information. Detailed information and enrollment or claim forms are available at the Flexible Spending Accounts Program website, or you may contact the program at 212-306-7760.

Open enrollment period for health benefits is in November: This fall’s open enrollment period for health benefits for in-service members has changed. In-service members can enroll anytime from Friday, Nov. 1, to Saturday, Nov. 30. All changes are effective Jan. 1, 2020.

New Members

New New teachers and clinicians in shortage areas can apply for loan forgiveness: Newly hired teachers and school clinicians in certain shortage areas in select districts may be eligible to have their student loans repaid through the Department of Education Loan Forgiveness Program. You must have been hired by the DOE between Sept. 3 and Nov. 15 of the current school year. Eligible loans include Perkins and Stafford loans. After six years of satisfactory service, you can be awarded as much as $24,000. Applications are due by Nov. 15, 2019. For more information, see the DOE Loan Forgiveness handout. Use this online form to apply. If you have any questions, email

New Resources for new teachers: Encourage teachers in your school with one to three years of experience on the job to review the available resources in the new teacher section of the UFT website. This section contains information about mentoring, certification and licensing, the New Member Handbook, and much more.


Apply for a sustainability mini-grant: The city Department of Sanitation and the Citizens Committee for New York City invite all K–12 schools to apply for Green Team mini-grants of up to $1,000 for recycling and garden projects, T-shirts/uniforms, school sustainability events and eco-friendly giveaways. For full program information and to apply online, see the Zero Waste Schools website. The fall deadline is Friday, Nov. 8. Please email if you have any questions.

Professional Learning Opportunities

New Teacher Center math conference: The UFT Teacher Center is offering a citywide math conference titled Soaring to New Heights: High Expectations for All Students in the Mathematics Classroom on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. This interactive four-hour conference will provide K–12 educators with opportunities to examine research that supports strengthening the instructional core in the mathematics classroom. Participants will explore strategies that foster meaningful interactions between teachers and students that are inclusive, engaging and convey high expectations. The integration of high expectations and rigorous instruction will provide a solid foundation for the mathematical achievement of all students. To find out more about the conference and to register, please visit the registration page of the Teacher Center website.

Salary and Personnel

New Work hours for substitute teachers: The workday of a substitute teacher is fixed at six hours and 50 minutes, inclusive of lunch, Monday to Friday, regardless of a school’s professional development or parent engagement schedule. Substitutes may not leave before they have worked six hours and 50 minutes, even if students have been dismissed. During the extra 30 minutes when students are not in attendance, the DOE’s expectation is that you will attend 30 minutes of the offered professional development sessions or, on non-PD days, spend the time leaving an account for the teacher you covered, planning for the following day, reflecting on the day, returning and organizing class materials, reviewing records for accuracy, meeting with colleagues to obtain feedback, or carrying out other instructional/classroom administrative tasks that might be assigned to you. The daily rate of pay, effective Feb. 14, 2019, is $188.75.

New Work hours for substitute paraprofessionals: Effective Feb. 14, 2019, the daily pay rate for a substitute paraprofessional is $157.87 based on a workday of 6 hours and 50 minutes, inclusive of lunch. The student day ends after six hours and 20 minutes. The school to which the substitute para is assigned has the discretion to decide whether the substitute must remain past the end of the student day. If the school requires the substitute to remain beyond the end of the student day, the substitute should be assigned to duties such as working with the classroom teacher, reflecting on the day, or attending a professional development session. If a principal chooses to release the substitute para at the end of the student day, the pay will be prorated based on a six hour and 20 minute workday.

Electronic delivery of tax forms: Department of Education employees may choose to receive their W-2, 1127 waiver and 1095-C forms electronically instead of on paper. Electronic delivery is voluntary, secure and accurate. To choose electronic delivery, log in to your NYCAPS Employee Self-Service NYCAPS ESS account and complete the online form. You will receive an email by mid-January each year with instructions for accessing electronic W-2, 1127 Waiver and 1095-C forms. The electronic version may be printed or saved to your computer. If you have previously chosen electronic delivery, you do not have to re-enroll. The enrollment deadline to receive electronic delivery of 2019 forms is Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. For more information, see the DOE memo.

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This Week in Education and Labor News

Chicago teachers strike prompts school closing: Chicago public schools were shuttered on Oct. 17 as teachers hit the picket lines after reaching an impasse on contract negotiations, reports the Chicago Tribune. At issue is a demand for smaller class size and more social workers and other staff who can assist thousands of schoolchildren who don’t have a permanent residence. The union also asked for a 15 percent raise over three years. Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said teachers and school support staff deserve “pay and benefits that give us dignity and respect." Schools will remain open during the strike for students who need a safe place to go.

UAW reaches contract agreement for auto workers: The United Auto Workers’ union on Oct. 16 reached a tentative agreement that, if approved, could end a month-long strike against General Motors, according to the Detroit News. The contract would deliver base-wage increases, uncapped profit-sharing and $9 billion of investment and create 9,000 jobs. The strike is the longest national strike against GM since 1970.

Later school start for some California students: California will become the first state in the nation to mandate later start times at most middle and high schools under legislation signed into law on Oct. 13 by the governor, reports the Los Angeles Times. The legislation will take effect over a phased-in period, ultimately requiring public middle schools to begin classes at 8 a.m. or later while high schools will start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The law does not apply to optional early classes.

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Events Calendar


Saturday, Oct. 19: ExcELLing, the fourth annual UFT conference on effective instruction for English language learners, runs from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. The UFT hosts this conference for all educators to learn how to help English language learners reach their full potential.

Sunday, Oct. 20: REGISTRATION CLOSED— See you at Teacher Union Day on Sunday, Oct. 20. The UFT, as part of the American Federation of Teachers’ presidential endorsement process, will host Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at the event. Teacher Union Day celebrates our members’ recent accomplishments while remembering the brave educators who put everything on the line in the 1960 strike that forged the union and provided the impetus that made the UFT the force it is today. This event takes place at the New York Hilton, 1335 Sixth Ave., in midtown Manhattan, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 20: The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks take place in all five boroughs and on Long Island at various locations. Visit to sign up for a walk.

Tuesday, Oct. 22: REGISTRATION CLOSED—Middle school students will be attending the UFT’s 3rd annual anti-bullying conference. This event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway.

Thursday, Oct. 31: REGISTRATION CLOSED—10th and 11th grade students, accompanied by their teachers, will be attending the UFT’s college fair, Future in Focus: Exploring Unionized Careers, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, 2nd floor. Registrants who have questions may contact Team High School at 212-598-9217 or email

This Week

Wednesday, Oct. 23: Bronx-based paraprofessionals are invited to What’s Your Style? Collaborative Communication, a workshop at the UFT Bronx borough office, 2500 Halsey St., rear entrance, from 4 to 6 p.m. Participants will examine their own personal communication styles to develop and practice strategies for collaboration in an educational setting. The registration fee is $15. Register online. For more information, see the Para Academy flier.

Wednesday, Oct. 23: A free informational support group focusing on gambling will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m., at the UFT Queens borough office, 118-35 Queens Blvd., 7/8th floor, Forest Hills. This session, presented by the UFT Member Assistance Program, is part of our series, Weathering the Storm. The session is led by trained mental health professionals. Register online. For more information, email the Member Assistance Program at or see the Weathering the Storm flier.

Wednesday, Oct. 23: The UFT’s Member Assistance Program is inviting all members in years 1-3 to an art therapy group. No artistic talent is required, just an openness to explore and participate in a group setting with your colleagues. This event will take place at UFT headquarters, 50 Broadway, 2nd floor, from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. The registration fee is $10. Register online.

Wednesday, Oct. 23: High school-based members are invited to attend the Team High School monthly meeting at the Museum of the City of New York to explore the current exhibition, “City of Workers, City of Struggle: How Labor Unions Changed New York.” We will also hold a meeting to discuss issues that affect our high school members. Please register online. For more information about the exhibition, see the Museum of the City of New York website.

Thursday, Oct. 24: Members concerned about paying student loans are invited to attend an information session presented by the UFT Debt Relief Program, an exclusive member benefit brought to you by the UFT. Participants will learn about the benefits of the program. This session will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at the UFT Staten Island borough office, 4456 Amboy Road. Register online.

For more events, go to

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In Case You Missed It

Union Proud testimonial: Kelly Finlaw on how the union empowered her when she was denied student loan forgiveness

Team High School newsletter – October 2019

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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.

Humane Education Committee

  • Saturday, Oct. 19, 9:30 6 p.m., trip to Skylands Farm Sanctuary and Rescue. For more information and to register, see the Humane Education Trip flier.

Math Teachers Committee

New York City Art Teachers Association

  • Saturday, Oct. 26, 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., 38th annual All Day Art Education Conference. For more information, visit the website.

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Calling the UFT

The UFT’s new contact center is open and can provide support with all your union rights and benefits. Call the following numbers with any questions or for assistance.

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Editor: Peter O’Donnell

Executive Editor: Bernadette Weeks

Contributors include: Karen Alford, Shelvy Young-Abrams, George Altomare, Nancy Aromando, LeRoy Barr, Jackie Bennett, Hannah Brown, David Campbell, Joseph Colletti, Evelyn DeJesus, Crystal Deoraj, Alison Gendar, Brian Gibbons, MaryJo Ginese, Christopher Grandison, Anthony Harmon, Sarah Herman, David Hickey, Janella Hinds, David Kazansky, Lynne Kilroy, Katherine Kurjakovic, Junior Linton, Joe LoVerde, Rich Mantell, Samantha Mark, Deidre McFadyen, Michael Murphy, Gabriel Nott, Marisol Pena, Suzanne Popadin, Debra Poulos, Cassie Prugh, Tina Puccio, Briget Rein, Nadine Reis, Nanette Sanchez-Rosario, Robin Sentell, Michael Sill, Anne Silverstein, Geof Sorkin, Liz Truly and Miriam Vega.