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Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for Dec. 6, 2019

Photo of the Week

Photo of the Week - Dec. 6, 2019

MUSIC FOR A GOOD CAUSE: LaGuardia HS Chapter Leader Paula Washington joins members of the school’s string quartet as they prepare to perform at the UFT’s LGBTQ Youth Empowerment Dinner at UFT headquarters on Nov. 21.

This Week's Focus

UFT calls on Albany to give schools the funds they are owed

UFT President Michael Mulgrew, the UFT’s state affiliate NYSUT and education advocates this week called for full funding for education in the upcoming state budget. Mulgrew and NYSUT President Andy Pallotta were part of a panel on Dec. 3 calling on Albany to raise new revenue and then pay the funds owed high-needs school districts such as New York City. “If I’m a teacher in a classroom and I have kids speaking four different languages and six kids in that class who are also homeless, how do you expect me to do my job and meet the needs of my students if you’re not funding properly?” Mulgrew asked lawmakers. New York City public schools are owed $1.1 billion in additional education aid from the state, according to city Department of Education estimates. Educators and advocates argue the funds are owed as part of the 2007 Campaign for Fiscal Equity court case ruling that found the state’s existing education funding streams shortchanged schools, particularly high-needs school districts. Pallotta said 400 school districts across the state are owed a collective $3.4 billion — with $2.3 billion owed to high-need schools — as a result of this still-unmet promise. He recommended starting this year’s budget process with a $2.1 billion increase statewide for education. “I believe the time has come for us to really stand together with advocates and say, ‘Why would we be in this position year after year?’” Pallotta said. The hearing was called by the New York State Senate’s education and budget and revenue committees. Read the full testimony on the UFT website.

State shares literacy briefs on Next Generation Standards

The UFT wants to make sure that teachers have the information and professional learning opportunities they need to teach to the Next Generation Learning Standards. In 2021, the state will introduce new K–8 state tests measuring those standards. Please ensure your members know about these tools that are available to support them. As part of this effort, the New York State Education Department has prepared a series of eight topic briefs related to literacy instruction to help public school educators implement the new standards. These briefs offer a deeper explanation of the Next Generation Standards and provide guidance to educators, particularly those serving English language learners. Educators know teaching a class of students with different levels of skills and understanding can be challenging. The State Education Department believes this set of briefs will help educators meet that challenge. Chapter leaders, please share this information with your members as well as speak with your school-based professional development committee about how to use these briefs as the basis for professional learning opportunities at your school.

Nominate a colleague for a Team High School Award

Our sixth annual UFT Academic High School Awards honor the unsung heroes who deserve to be recognized for going above and beyond to connect with students, communities and the union. Please nominate a colleague, a school-related professional or school whose work you appreciate and whose contributions to our union and commitment to our school communities may be hidden from your colleagues. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Dec. 20. Post the UFT Academic High School Awards Nomination flier on your UFT bulletin board. Read the award descriptions and use the online form to submit a nomination. The 2020 Academic High Schools Celebration will take place on Friday, April 24, 2020. If you have questions, contact Angel Valentin at

UFT podcast on the teacher-led labor resurgence

Teachers across the country are leading a labor resurgence as they fight for their students, their schools and their profession. Hear UFT President Michael Mulgrew and former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse discuss this movement as they talk about Greenhouse’s new book, “Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present and Future of American Labor” on the latest episode of “On the Record with Michael Mulgrew.” Subscribe and listen to “On the Record” via your favorite podcast platform.

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Your Chapter Leader Checklist

  • New The UFT mobile app can save you money during the holidays: Remind your members that UFT-Mobile unlocks special member-only discounts for apparel, entertainment, travel, school supplies and more to save money on holiday shopping. Members can download the app for Apple phones or the app for Android phones, if they haven’t already done so, using the same username and password that they use for the UFT website.
  • New Paint condition survey to start next week: The Division of School Facilities strengthened its lead-paint inspection protocol to include three paint-condition surveys each school year in any classrooms with students under 6 years old. The first survey should have been conducted by custodial engineers before the first day of school. The next round of surveys will begin on Monday, Dec. 9. The third survey will take place in June. Any areas identified with damaged paint will be cross-referenced with the previous database to determine if the paint is lead-based. If there is no prior data, a third-party environmental contractor will test the paint. Any repair work to deteriorated lead-based paint will be addressed by Division of School Facilities contractors. Be aware that if damaged lead-based paint cannot be isolated, rooms may be closed immediately pending repairs. Following any repair work, another third-party contractor will take dust-wipe samples to ensure the room is safe for re-occupancy.
  • New Maintain an up-to-date UFT bulletin board: Do you have a UFT bulletin board in your school? It’s your contractual right. The UFT bulletin board is a good place to hang information regarding health benefits, helpful UFT phone numbers and fliers for upcoming events such as the Elementary School Division’s current toy drive (see below). Make sure the union is always visible in your school. Check out these photos of UFT bulletin boards in schools across the city.
  • Wear something ugly to the Dec. 11 Delegate Assembly: Pull out your ugliest shirt or holiday sweater and wear it proudly to next week’s Delegate Assembly. Don’t have anything ugly in your closet? Drop by a thrift store between now and Dec. 11 and find something on the rack that makes you cringe. Let’s have some fun!
  • Follow the UFT on social media: Take the opportunity to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We are posting news and photos on these platforms virtually every day.

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Share with Your Members

New UFT Academic High School Awards Nomination flier

Kwanzaa 2019 flier

2019-20 Social Work and Licensed Mental Health Counselor Continuing Education Course Outline flier

Toy Drive flier

Caregiver Support Group flier

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You Should Know

English Language Learners

New Workshop for paras who work with ELLs: Paraprofessionals who work with English language learners are invited to “Speaking their Language: Supporting ELL Students,” a workshop designed especially for paraprofessionals and presented jointly by the UFT's Paraprofessionals Chapter, the UFT Teacher Center and the Department of Education. This training will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the UFT's Brooklyn borough office, 335 Adams St., 24th floor. Participants will learn about inclusive practices that create a culture that is advantageous to the social, emotional and academic growth of English language learners. The cost to attend is $15 for paraprofessionals seeking CTLE hours and $10 without CTLE hours. Space is limited, so register online as soon as possible. The deadline to register is Friday, Dec. 13. If you have any questions, contact the DOE’s Office of Scholarships, Incentives and Speech Programs at 718-935-4549.

Read about translation services for parents: Teachers of English language learners can read the DOE’s language access policy on its website. This document describes the translation and interpretation supports that are available to parents with limited English proficiency. Services include translations of all DOE documents and over-the-phone and on-site interpreters.

Functional Chapters

New Guidance on re-staffing for OT/PTs on a leave: As a result of the 2018 DOE-UFT contract, occupational therapists/physical therapists on a leave have the right to return to their school if the leave is for one year or less. A therapist on a leave should reach out to their supervisor at some point during their leave to confirm their approved return date or whether they will be changing the date of their return (in that case, they will also need to modify their leave). The supervisor then must enter the member’s name and employee ID as a transaction in Sharepoint (Cybershift timekeeping) in order to get re-staffed and back on payroll in a timely fashion. The UFT is continuing to work with the DOE to help put a more automated procedure in place to smooth the re-staffing process.

Social workers can register for Continuing Education credit workshops: LearnUFT, in partnership with the UFT’s Member Assistance Program, is calling all social workers to enroll in its 2019–20 Social Work series to earn Continuing Education credits. The program recognizes the importance of lifelong learning to the social work and mental health counseling profession. It provides professional development courses on a variety of topics that social workers can use in their schools and their careers. Course topics include the effects of social media, teenage dating violence, cyberbullying and treating eating disorders. The fee for most courses is $50, and participants receive two CE credits. For a full list of upcoming sessions and to register online, see the LearnUFT Courses for Social Workers page on the UFT website or the 2019-20 Social Work and Licensed Mental Health Counselor Continuing Education Course Outline flier.

Health and Safety

New The UFT can offer support in times of need: The UFT has designed a number of programs to help members facing a variety of life circumstances and challenges. The Member Assistance Program offers mental health individual consultations, support groups and outside referrals to members dealing with issues such as substance abuse, trauma, bereavement and domestic violence. The Victim Support Program, co-sponsored by the UFT and the DOE, provides psychological support and practical assistance for staff members who are victims of workplace violence. The Victim Support Program’s clinical crisis team also provides immediate onsite psychological first aid to staff members who experience a school-related crisis (such as violence, school accidents or the death of a student or a staff member). The Victim Support Program offers further counseling support at union headquarters to those affected by crisis. The UFT Welfare Fund’s Health and Cancer Helpline provides free, confidential assistance for members affected by medical and behavioral health illnesses, and it guides callers to resources, support groups and health care professionals. Find out about the full array of help services for members on the UFT Member Help Programs page of the UFT website.

New UFT members can access a new program for Hepatitis C treatment: The UFT Welfare Fund has negotiated a new and innovative program with EmblemHealth to help UFT-represented employees suffering from the Hepatitis C virus. The program gives access to best-in-class care, while eliminating the hundreds of dollars in drug copays normally associated with Hep C treatment. This benefit is available to all UFT-represented in-service employees and their dependents who receive prescription drug coverage through the UFT Welfare Fund. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, members who choose to be treated for Hepatitis C at NYU Langone Hospital's Hepatitis C Clinic will have access to world-class treatment by a renowned care team that develops treatment plans tailored to each individual patient's needs. Patients will have no drug copay with free at-home delivery of the associated treatment drugs and the NYU specialty pharmacy team will be available to answer calls 24/7. You can call NYU Langone Hospital's Hepatitis C Clinic now at 212-263-3643 to schedule an appointment for after Jan. 1, 2020, when this benefit goes into effect. If you have any questions, please contact the UFT Welfare Fund at 212-539-0500. For more information, read the article on the UFT website.

New Members

Attend a tenure workshop: Probationary teachers should be on the lookout for an email invitation from the UFT to attend a district-based workshop about the tenure process. Getting tenure is an important milestone for new teachers. Having tenure protects you from termination without due process and entitles you to a hearing before an independent arbitrator if charges are brought against you. The UFT is eager to support you during your first years of teaching. Join your fellow probationary teachers at these information sessions to help you prepare for the tenure process.


New Kids go free on Kids’ Night on Broadway: Tickets are on sale for Kids' Night on Broadway, sponsored by the Broadway league. Kids 18 and under can see a participating show, including “Frozen," "Mean Girls" and "To Kill a Mockingbird," for free on Tuesday, Feb. 25, when accompanied by an adult paying full price for a ticket. A Kids' Night on Broadway ticket also includes restaurant discounts, parking discounts and more. Select shows will offer in-theater activities for kids, including talkbacks and activity books. Use promo code KNBWAY20.

Apply to become a PROSE school: The PROSE panel is now accepting applications from schools interested in becoming PROSE schools beginning in the 2020–21 school year. PROSE is driven by collaboration and innovation, and the schools that become PROSE schools have opportunities to implement new ideas, share their work with other schools and develop sustainable cultures that respect teachers and all members as professionals. If the members at your school are interested in participating in PROSE, send an email to to get more information about the application process. The deadline for applications is Jan. 24, 2020. For more information about the program, see the PROSE section on the UFT website.

Celebrate Kwanzaa with the UFT on Dec. 19: Members are invited to learn about Kwanzaa and experience its joy at the UFT African Heritage Committee’s annual Kwanzaa celebration on Thursday, Dec. 19, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the UFT’s Brooklyn borough office, 335 Adams St. This event will feature door prizes, a light dinner and a performance by steel pan drummers. The registration fee is $35. For more information and to download the mail-in registration form, see the Kwanzaa 2019 flier. The registration deadline is Dec. 12.

Professional Learning Opportunities

New UFT Teacher Center workshop on lesson design for students with disabilities: All educators are invited to Blueprint for Improved Results for Students with Disabilities, a workshop presented by the UFT Teacher Center in which participants will explore how to close the student achievement gap and design instruction that provides access to the Next Generation Standards to all students. The training session will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Breakfast will be served. Participants will earn CTLE hours. For fee breakdown and to register, use the online form. For more information, see the Blueprint for Success flier.


Chapter Leader Shoutout to Tanya Pragados: Congratulations to Tanya Pragados, the chapter leader at PS 175 in Harlem, for standing her ground against her principal when she tried to unilaterally departmentalize two 3rd-grade classes without the contractually required school-based option vote. Pragados called an emergency consultation committee meeting with the principal to raise the matter, but the principal refused to rescind the decision. With the support of her full committee, she called an SBO vote to demonstrate the unity of the chapter. Forty of the school’s 44 UFT members participated in the SBO vote, with 31 voting against departmentalizing the 3rd grade. “The numbers speak, the union speaks and we are standing tall,” Pragados said. You can read more about Tanya Pragados’ accomplishments on the UFT website.

Salary and Personnel

New Some teachers may receive a salary step adjustment: Some pedagogues who were rated through the DOE’s Advance System for the 2018–19 school year will notice a salary step adjustment in their Dec. 16 paycheck. These employees will have their current salary step frozen, continued frozen or restored, depending on their category and ratings history. Employees affected by salary step adjustments should receive a detailed notification letter from the Department of Education in their DOE email next week. 

Teacher’s Choice spending window ends Jan. 12, 2020: Members eligible for a Teacher’s Choice allocation should have received it in their Nov. 29 paychecks. You must save the receipts for purchases made between Aug. 1, 2019, and Jan. 12, 2020. These receipts must accompany a Statement of Purpose/Accountability form, which must be submitted by Jan. 17, 2020. If you receive the Teacher's Choice funds in your paycheck and do not file an accountability form with required receipts by Jan. 17, you will be obligated to refund the money to the DOE. To find out the allotment by title and other valuable information about the program, go to the Teacher’s Choice section of the UFT website. If you need assistance, call the DOE at 718-935-4000 or speak with your payroll secretary.

Upcoming Student Debt Relief Program information webinars: 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 also offering this service in webinars that you can view conveniently on your personal computer. The next webinar will be on Thursday, Dec. 12. 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.

Special Education

Read the new DOE guidance on changes to IEPs: New York City is under a state-ordered Corrective Action Plan for special education violations. Federal and state laws require that decisions about IEPs be made on an individual basis — not based on the needs of the school. Educators of students with disabilities should be aware the DOE has given principals new guidance for implementation of IEPs. Specifically, the DOE said that all IEP recommendations must be determined by, and designed to address, the student’s individual needs. Recommendations cannot be based on the services currently offered in the school, budget considerations, availability of staff or space limitations, if those services do not meet the student’s needs in their least restrictive environment. Each student’s IEP recommendation must be made by a duly constituted team, whose members may not be selected for the purpose of ensuring a particular recommendation or discouraging IEP team members from expressing their opinions on the student’s needs. See the full DOE guidance on implementation of IEPs on the UFT website to read the full DOE statement. See the DOE’s Standard Operating Procedures Manual for special education for more information. Please use this online form to report to the UFT about mass changes to students' IEPs and directives by administrators or staff that restrict the decision-making responsibilities of IEP teams.

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This Week in Education and Labor News

Enrollment drop in teacher prep programs nationwide: Teacher preparation programs have experienced sharp enrollment declines over the last eight years in nearly every state across the country, according to U.S. News and World Report. That translates to approximately 340,000 fewer students enrolled in teacher preparation programs today than in 2010. Researchers found that the number of black and Latino students enrolled in teacher preparation programs had decreased by 25%. The teacher workforce, in which 80% of educators are white, 9% are Latino and 7% are black, is already less racially diverse than the overall U.S. labor force.

Hearst directs anti-unionization efforts: Employees at Hearst Magazines have experienced a swift backlash from management following their attempt on Nov. 11 to form a union, reports Vice. The publisher has launched an anti-union campaign that includes pressure to revoke the union cards that employees have already signed and attend “captive audience” meetings where workers are warned of losing job rights and paying outsize fees to their union.

Harvard graduate student workers strike: More than 4,000 Harvard graduate student workers went on strike on Dec. 2 seeking higher pay and other improvements, according to USA Today. Striking employees include teacher assistants, teaching fellows, tutors and researchers at Harvard’s many labs and academic departments. Union members are asking for a $25 minimum wage for hourly workers, expanded health care benefits including mental health coverage and stronger protections against sexual harassment and discrimination. Harvard's latest proposal would raise the minimum hourly pay rate to $15 for nonsalaried student workers and $17 for hourly instructional workers. 

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Events Calendar

This Week

Tuesday, Dec. 10: The paraprofessional representatives meeting will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Register online.

Tuesday, Dec. 10: Queens-based parents are invited to a workshop presented by the UFT and the Hey There Beautiful Foundation about how to support your child and yourself in gaining confidence. This event will be held at the UFT’s Queens borough office, 118-35 Queens Blvd., 7th floor, Forest Hills, from 6 to 8 p.m. Child care and dinner will be provided. Register online. For more information, see the Confidence Workshop flier.

Tuesday, Dec. 10: REGISTRATION CLOSED — Money Moves: A Financial Workshop for UFT Members will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the UFT Brooklyn borough office, 335 Adams St., 25th floor. 

Thursday, Dec. 12: Members who are concerned about paying student loans can register for a Student Debt Relief Program webinar, which will be streamed at 6 p.m. After you have registered using the online form, you will receive information about how to log into the webinar from your personal computer. For more information about the UFT’s Student Debt Relief Program, see the item in Salary and Personnel.

Save the Date

Saturday, March 7: The 16th annual UFT School Counselor Chapter Conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. This year’s theme is School Counselors Create Positive Change. More information, including the online registration form, will be available soon.

Saturday, March 21: The seventh annual Middle School Conference will be held at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. More information, including the online registration form, will be available soon.

Saturday, March 28: The 13th annual Early Childhood Conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. This year’s theme is Lighting the Future. Participants will have the opportunity to attend two workshops for CTLE credit. A hot lunch will be served. For more information, see the Early Childhood Conference flier

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In Case You Missed It

Union Proud testimonial: Kathy Lafontant on how the UFT helped her confront a bad principal

Photo Gallery: Thanksgiving Luncheon for Homeless Students 2019

Photo Gallery: Federation of Nurses/UFT Professional Issues Conference 2019

Photo Gallery: New Retiree Luncheon 2019

Photo Gallery: Queens Parent Conference 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.

Jewish Heritage Committee

  • Wednesday, Dec. 11, 6 p.m., monthly membership meeting.

New York City Art Teachers Association

  • The New York City Art Teachers Association/UFT will be holding elections for executive officers for the September 2020 to June 2022 term. The NYCATA/UFT officers are: president/chairperson, executive vice president, secretary and treasurer. Note that the office of president and vice president may only be held by a current or retired UFT art educator. If you are interested in running, please send your name, present professional position, education and a statement of no more than 250 words outlining your significant professional experience, vision for NYCATA/UFT art education and the office you are interested in. Mail to NYCATA/UFT Elections, UFT, 50 Broadway, 10th floor, New York, NY 10004 by March 1, 2020.
  • 2020 Student Exhibit Opportunity, Inside/Outside: Young Artists Unite Against Bullying IV. The submission deadline for images and statements is March 5, 2020.

New York City Coaches Association

Science Committee

  • Friday, Dec. 13, 7:15pm, “What 10 Thinkers Can Teach Us about Science and Authority.” For more information, see the Science Committee flier.

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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, George Altomare, Nancy Aromando, LeRoy Barr, Jackie Bennett, Hannah Brown, Tom Brown, David Campbell, Joseph Colletti, Rita Danis, Evelyn DeJesus, Crystal Deoraj, Brian Gibbons, Alison Gendar, MaryJo Ginese, Anthony Harmon, Sarah Herman, Janella Hinds, David Kazansky, Katherine Kurjakovic, Junior Linton, Jennifer Long, Joe LoVerde, Samantha Mark, Deidre McFadyen, Michael Murphy, Gabriel Nott, Frank Panebianco, Marisol Pena, Suzanne Popadin, Debra Poulos, Jeffrey Polalitis, Tina Puccio, Nadine Reis, Hector Ruiz, Robin Sentell, Melanie Sepulveda, Michael Sill, Anne Silverstein, Geof Sorkin, Liz Truly, Miriam Vega and Betty Zohar.