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Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for Jan. 3, 2020

Photo of the Week - Jan. 3, 2020

OLD SCHOOL MEMORIES: UFT retiree Marty Raskin proudly shares some of his vintage New York City public school memorabilia — including gym uniforms, photographs, school badges and report cards — in a special exhibit unveiled at UFT headquarters on Dec. 17.

This Week's Focus

Talk about the 2020 U.S. Census at your January chapter meeting

The federal government will collect data for the 2020 Census from March through the end of July. The UFT is making a big push to maximize New York City’s participation rate in the Census so our families, schools and communities get their fair share of federal funding. New Yorkers have been undercounted in past censuses — 10 years ago, New York City had a 61% response rate for the Census, below the national average of 74%. This lack of participation has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars in federal funding that should have gone to New York schools, subways, roads, hospitals and much more. We are asking chapter leaders to make the Census a top agenda item in their chapter meetings this month. In the coming weeks, we’ll provide you with tools to engage and inform your members and the broader school community about the Census. Read our Census Q&A in the New York Teacher to learn the basics about the Census so you can help lead our efforts in this important campaign.

Speak up for career and technical education funding

This year, many career and technical education high schools lost federal Carl D. Perkins funding or vocational and technical funding partly due to a Trump administration policy change that now requires state approval for all CTE programs. The union is hosting the final public hearing to gather input on the New York State Education Department’s Perkins v. CTE Plan on Tuesday, Jan. 7, from 4 to 7 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. We want to ensure that the State Education Department hears your voice and your recommendations so we can strengthen career and technical education programs and make sure that they are funded. To submit a question or oral testimony at the hearing and for more information, see the career and technical education Public Hearing form. To register, use the online form.

Teacher’s Choice receipts are due Jan. 17

Remind your members that they have until Sunday, Jan. 12, to make Teacher’s Choice purchases. You must save the receipts for purchases made between Aug. 1, 2019, and Jan. 12, 2020, and submit them to your payroll secretary by Friday, Jan. 17. These receipts must accompany a Statement of Purpose/Accountability form. If you received 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 job title and other valuable information about the program, go to the Teacher’s Choice section of the UFT website. Members eligible for Teacher’s Choice should have received the money in their Nov. 29 paychecks. If you need assistance, call the DOE at 718-935-4000 or speak with your payroll secretary.

Know your rights about paraprofessionals’ responsibilities

Paraprofessionals have challenging and rewarding jobs working as part of a team providing educational and support services to children. Here are some of the rights and responsibilities paras should know about. With few exceptions, paraprofessionals must not be left alone in a classroom without a teacher when the teacher is called away for a meeting or is absent for the day. Paras must be under the direct supervision of a licensed teacher in a classroom or outside it. Paraprofessionals have well-defined lunchroom roles and they are entitled to a duty-free lunch period. One-to-one paraprofessionals should only be with their students while the students are having their lunch if it is mandated on the student’s Individualized Education Program/504 plan. In that case, the para should have a duty-free lunch at some other point in the workday. Administrators cannot ask paraprofessionals to supervise the lunchroom. In the 2018 DOE-UFT contract, paraprofessionals gained important due process rights similar to those of teachers. With rare exceptions, paras can no longer be suspended without pay for long periods while their cases are being investigated. For more information, read the New York Teacher Know your rights column on the UFT website.

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Your Chapter Leader Checklist

  • New Make sure your members have conflicts-of-interest training: Under New York City law and Chancellor’s Regulation C-110, conflicts-of-interest training is mandatory for all DOE employees every two years. Speak with your principal about scheduling this training through the ethics officer or superintendent if your staff has not received it in the last two years. The training, which can be conducted at your school, covers common conflict issues such as outside employment and activities; private tutoring; and accepting gifts from students and parents.

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Share with Your Members

New School Secretaries Seminar flier

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

Caregiver Support Group flier

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You Should Know


New Certification program for health teachers: The Office of School Wellness Programs and the Office of Teacher Recruitment and Quality, in collaboration with Lehman College, are offering K–12 health education teachers an opportunity to apply for an 18-credit program leading to the Advanced Certificate in Health Education. The program will cover the cost of tuition and fees. Applicants must have a master’s degree in any subject area with a GPA of 3.0. Coursework, which is primarily online, begins in June and concludes in spring 2021. For full eligibility requirements and to apply, see the Advanced Certificate in Health Education form. The application deadline is Monday, Jan. 27.

New Apply for an Albert Shanker Grant for National Board Certification: Teachers seeking their first National Board Certification may apply for an Albert Shanker Grant to help defray costs associated with the certification process. Candidates for the grant must be employed as a tenured, full-time teacher in a public school; hold a valid New York State teaching certificate; commit to and complete the entirety of the initial National Board for Professional Teaching Standards candidacy effort; and continue to be employed as a full-time teacher in a New York public school for at least one full school year following completion of the initial grant period. The application deadline is Friday, Feb. 28. Find out more information about the Albert Shanker Grant Program on the New York State Education Department website. To apply for the Albert Shanker Grant and for full eligibility requirements for National Board Certification, see the online application form.

Community Service

Seniors may apply for the UFT’s Albert Shanker college scholarship: Make sure your high school seniors apply for a $5,000 Albert Shanker college scholarship. The deadline is Jan. 31. Each year, the UFT awards $1 million in scholarships to academically excellent and financially eligible city public high school seniors through the Albert Shanker College Scholarship Fund. Please reach out to your school’s college advisers and school counselors to make sure eligible seniors apply for these scholarships. If you do not work in a high school, please reach out to family, friends and community members who may qualify for this award. To receive a $5,000 scholarship, candidates must be accepted in a full-time, matriculated, degree-granting program at an accredited college or university. You can get more information on the scholarship and application materials on the UFT website.

English Language Learners

New Resources for ELL educators: Educators of English language learners are encouraged to visit the Colorín Colorado website, which offers many resources for teachers working to support students striving to meet graduation requirements and standards for college and career readiness.  

Free resources to support immigrant students: Educators can find a free reference guide and a series of four short videos to help them create a safe and supportive space for their immigrant students. The videos include general information for educators as well as ways to address immigration issues in both elementary and secondary schools. The accompanying guide provides fiction and nonfiction titles for Pre-K–12, curricular materials, a film list, posters and handouts, information about advocacy groups and resources for families as well as supports for undocumented students applying to college. These materials are provided by CUNY and funded in large part by a grant from the State Education Department. You can access these resources on the Supporting Immigrants in Schools page of the CUNY website.

Functional Chapters

New Annual seminar for school secretaries: Members of the UFT’s School Secretaries Chapter are invited to the chapter’s annual seminar on Saturday, Jan. 11, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, second floor. This year’s theme is Networking and Growing Together. This free event is an excellent opportunity to connect with fellow chapter members and receive useful information on three important topics: paid parental leave benefits, the new version of Cybershift and the UFT's Empower, Organize, Engage campaign. To register, use the online form. For more information, see the School Secretaries Annual Seminar flier.

Assistance for paraprofessionals who have received termination notices: The DOE recently sent termination notices to paraprofessionals who have not completed their certification requirements. Paraprofessionals who received this notification should log into their TEACH account on the State Education Department’s website and find out what they are missing. Paraprofessionals who have received notice of termination for lack of college credits can apply between Feb. 1 and March 31 for the Career Training Program for the summer semester. The program pays tuition for from three to six credits per semester for undergraduate study at participating colleges and universities. Two and a half hours per week of release time and/or a summer stipend are also provided to support study. Paraprofessionals who have received a notice of termination and have specific questions should contact the UFT’s team of certification specialists — Monica Christie, Jeremiah Bornemann or Stephanie Forbes — at 212-331-6311.


Attend a Jan. 9 PROSE information session: If you work in a school that is highly collaborative and has innovative practices, you may be interested in becoming a PROSE school. PROSE offers schools the ability to make changes to the UFT contract and DOE regulations to allow teacher-led innovations. Schools interested in learning more about PROSE are invited to attend the PROSE Panel’s informational session on Thursday, Jan. 9, at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, from 4 to 6 p.m. Participants will learn about the PROSE application process and how PROSE schools use their enthusiasm and imagination to implement new ideas and develop sustainable cultures that respect all members of the school community. The session is open to all school staff, as well as administrators and families. Please register online. For more information about PROSE, including the PROSE application, see the PROSE section on the UFT website.

Celebrate Three Kings Day on Jan. 6: All members are invited to join the AFT National Latino Caucus to learn about Latin American culture and history at a Three Kings Day celebration on Monday, Jan. 6, at Acri Café, 1315 Commerce Ave., Bronx. This event begins at 5 p.m. and includes food and drinks. The ticket price is $25 per person. To register, use the online form. For more information, contact Dana Falciglia at or see the Three Kings Day flier.

Political Action

Take Action March against anti-Semitism on Sunday, Jan. 5: In response to the recent spate of anti-Semitic violence in Brooklyn, Rockland County and New Jersey, the UFT is joining the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, the Jewish Community Relations Council-New York and other groups this Sunday, Jan. 5, to march in solidarity and to say no to hate and fear. The UFT contingent will meet at Foley Square at 11 a.m. and march across the Brooklyn Bridge to a rally in Columbus Park (near Cadman Plaza). When any community is threatened with acts of hate-filled violence, all communities are at risk. The UFT is an inclusive body that values its diverse membership and condemns all forms of racism and discrimination. For more information about the march, see the UJA Federation website.


Jan. 10 deadline to nominate a colleague for a CTE award: Time is running out to nominate a colleague who works in a career and technical education school for one of the UFT’s 2020 CTE awards. Nominations must be submitted by Friday, Jan. 10. Nominees should be outstanding CTE teachers recognized by their peers for their commitment, dedication and service to their students, high school and community. Winners will be honored at the union’s CTE Awards Ceremony on Friday, Feb.7, at UFT headquarters. For more information, including nomination guidelines, see the online CTE 2020 Awards Submission Form.  

Salary and Personnel

New Financial wellness workshop: UFT members are invited to a financial wellness workshop, Money Moves, on Tuesday, Jan. 14, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the Staten Island borough office, 4456 Amboy Road, and on Thursday, Jan. 23, from 4 to 6 pm. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, second floor. Participants will learn how to live within their means and save for short- and long-term financial goals. Topics include budgeting, getting out of debt, investing basics and saving for retirement. Register online for the location most convenient to you: Staten Island or Manhattan.

Borrowing from your retirement funds: As a UFT member, you have two sources from which to borrow money. If you are in pension tiers 3, 4 or 6, you may borrow from your Qualified Pension Plan against your Member Contribution Accumulation Fund and against part of your additional member contributions. You may also borrow from your Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) account. The maximum amount you may borrow is $50,000 provided you have sufficient funds in those accounts. Loans from both accounts are normally available within two weeks after you apply and under normal circumstances are not taxable. Both have convenient repayment plans. The interest rate for TDA loans is 7% per year and the interest rate for QPP loans is 6% per year. Borrowing money is a serious financial decision. Be sure to compare the terms of TRS/BERS loans to other loans to understand all of the ramifications. For more information, see the Teachers’ Retirement System website. 

Teaching and Learning

New Attend a virtual conference with the AFT: All K–12 educators can hone their teaching skills from the privacy of their own computers by attending the AFT’s Share My Lesson Virtual Conference from Tuesday, March 24, to Thursday, March 26. Participants may access more than 30 free webinars filled with actionable strategies for collaboration. The webinars feature speakers including AFT President Randi Weingarten, who will address the state of public education in 2020, and Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the Learning Policy Institute, who will discuss equity and justice. For more information and to receive notification when registration opens, see the online form. You may also submit a proposal to Share My Lesson. The deadline for proposals is Wednesday, Jan. 22. Please note that you cannot earn CTLE hours for participating in these conference webinars.

New Attend the Youth Climate Summit: The DOE Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Wild Center, will host its second annual Youth Climate Summit, a daylong sustainability event for teachers and students on Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. Participants will develop critical leadership and problem-solving skills through experiential learning in workshops, expositions and keynote speakers. Students will gain climate action knowledge and build peer networks to expand sustainability in their schools and communities. Teachers can use the online registration form to enroll students in this event. For more information, see the NYC Youth Climate Summit flier.

New Top lessons of 2019: The AFT’s Share My Lesson website has curated lists of the most downloaded and shared lesson plans, activities and webinars of 2019 from educators, parents and school staff. Elementary school teachers can learn about differentiation without lowering rigor. Middle school educators can access a study guide for the Young Adult version of Sonia Nazario’s award-winning bestseller, “Enrique’s Journey.”  High school teachers can learn strategies for developing empathy in the classroom. You can find hundreds of educational resources on the Share My Lesson Website.

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This Week in Education and Labor News

Vaccinations mandatory for Seattle public school students: Seattle Public Schools has informed parents that unvaccinated students will not be allowed to return to class after a Jan. 8 deadline, reports USA Today. The district cited Washington State law and the state’s recently passed bill that removes personal and philosophical options to exempt children from the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Free clinics will be available to get students' immunization records up to date. More than 2,000 of the district’s almost 54,000 students are in need of vaccinations.

Kentucky governor overturns ruling against striking teachers: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Dec. 30 declared more than 1,000 public school teachers did not break the law when they participated in protests that shut down some schools, reports Beshear, a Democrat, is reversing a finding by the previous Republican administration that the teachers engaged in a work stoppage that was “improper and contrary to law” when they called in sick in order to go to the Capitol in Frankfort and protest. Some schools were forced to cancel classes because they did not have enough personnel. Beshear said, “Our teachers and educators never broke the law and are welcome in Frankfort.”

Google cafeteria workers join union: Around 2,300 cafeteria workers at dozens of Google campuses in the Bay Area of California have unionized, according to Vox. The workers, who include dishwashers and food preparers, voted in November to form a local chapter of the union Unite Here after a two-year campaign. The workers earn wages that start at around $35,000 a year but don’t receive all the benefits such as retirement plans that are standard for full-time Google employees.

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Events Calendar

This Week

Tuesday, Jan. 7: All members are invited to attend a public hearing to advocate for federal funding for career and technical education programs. This event takes place from 4 to 7 p.m., at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway. For more information, see the item in This Week’s Focus.

Wednesday, Jan. 8: CANCELED — The CTE high schools monthly meeting has been canceled. Members are instead encouraged to attend the public hearing for federal funding for CTE programs on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

Wednesday, Jan. 8: Staten Island-based members may attend a Pathways to Parenthood workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. at the UFT's Staten Island borough office, 4456 Amboy Road. Participants will learn about the following types of leave: paid parental, maternity, child care and FMLA. This event is for birthing parents in their third trimester. Register online. For more information, see the Staten Island Pathways to Parenthood Workshop flier.

Wednesday, Jan. 8: Bronx-based schools counselors are invited to a chapter membership meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Bronx borough office, 2500 Halsey St.

Wednesday, Jan. 8: Bronx-based members may attend a Pathways to Parenthood workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. at the UFT's Bronx borough office, 2500 Halsey St. Participants will learn about the following types of leave: paid parental, maternity, child care and FMLA. This event is for birthing parents in their third trimester. Register online. For more information, see the Bronx Maternity/Parental Leave Workshop flier.

Saturday, Jan. 11: School secretaries are invited to the annual School Secretaries Seminar from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, second floor. To register, use the online form. For more information, see the item in Functional Chapters. 

Saturday, Jan. 11: Register for a Student Debt Relief Program webinar streaming at 9:30 a.m. After you register online, you will receive log-in information for the webinar.

Save the Date

Saturday, March 7: The 16th annual UFT School Counselor Chapter Conference takes 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 may attend two workshops for CTLE credit. A hot lunch will be served. For more information, see the Early Childhood Conference brochure.

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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.

African Heritage Committee

  • Tuesday, Jan. 14, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., 50 Broadway, second floor, room A, general membership meeting.
  • Friday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m., annual dinner dance at Antun’s Queens Village. For more information and to register, see the Stand Up and Be Counted flier.

Asian-American Heritage Committee

  • Wednesday, Jan. 8, 4 to 6 p.m., general membership meeting.

English Language Arts Committee

Jewish Heritage Committee

  • Wednesday, Jan. 15 — CANCELED — general membership meeting.

New York City Art Teachers Association

  • The New York City Art Teachers Association/UFT will hold 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: 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 and 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 Sunday, March 1.
  • 2020 Student Exhibit Opportunity, Inside/Outside: Young Artists Unite Against Bullying IV. The submission deadline for images and statements is Thursday, March 5.

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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.