Chapter Leader UpdateFeb. 24, 2021
Chapter Leader UpdateFeb. 24, 2021
Join the UFT’s virtual Lobby Day on March 12
UFT members will not travel by bus to Albany this year, but member advocacy on behalf of public schools is more important than ever as New York State faces a massive pandemic-triggered budget deficit. We need to encourage state lawmakers to increase funding for public schools and support the rest of the union’s legislative agenda. If you or other members from your school would like to participate in this year’s virtual event on Friday, March 12, please reach out to the political action coordinator in your UFT borough office. We are still working out the details with the DOE about the time commitment and release time.
States must resume annual tests this year
The Biden administration said on Feb. 22 that states must do some sort of standardized assessment of student learning this year, but schools won’t be held accountable for the test results. The test results will only be used to gauge student learning so resources can be targeted appropriately to deal with educational inequities. These tests will not be used in teacher evaluations. “To be successful once schools have reopened, we need to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on learning and identify what resources and supports students need,” U.S. Department of Education officials wrote to the states. The new guidance also made clear that no child should be made to come to school to take this assessment. New York State Education Department responded that it was exploring all possible options. State education officials said they planned to amend regulations at their next meeting so Regents exams would not be required to meet graduation requirements and they planned to cancel any Regents exam not required by the U.S. Department of Education.
Save the date for our virtual Spring Education Conference
The UFT’s annual Spring Education Conference, which will take place this year on Saturday, May 15, celebrates, supports and inspires our work as public school educators. New York City educators have truly been heroes without capes this year. Our free virtual conference will offer CTLE workshops at no cost as a small thank-you. The conference will feature a town hall and the presentation of the John Dewey Award for Excellence in Education. Conference participants may attend an Ed Talk workshop on the importance of social-emotional learning during a pandemic or a workshop on a holistic approach to social-emotional support for students and teachers. There will be raffle prizes as well. Registration will open soon on the UFT website.
We Feed NYC raised nearly $300,000 to combat hunger
We Feed NYC, our Feb. 13 virtual fundraiser for families in need, was a huge success! Our community came together and helped those in need — beyond our expectations. We shattered our fundraising goal of $250,000. Every dollar of the nearly $299,000 in donations is going to support community-based food pantries in the highest-need neighborhoods. You can still make a donation to this worthy cause. You’ll receive a We Feed NYC tote bag with a donation of $100 or more. All contributions are tax-deductible.
- Review absence codes for COVID-19 vaccine leave with your payroll secretaries: The DOE provided specific vaccine leave codes for time off for members to get the first and second vaccine shots. Please review the guidelines and absence codes with your payroll secretaries. Remind your members to notify their school or office supervisor at least three workdays before the administration of each vaccine if possible to arrange necessary coverage. The employee must provide documentation of the scheduled vaccination at the time of notification and provide documentation of the receipt of each required vaccination during the workday.
- Save the date for the March 24 Delegate Assembly: As your school’s elected union representative, your participation at Delegate Assembly meetings is a crucial part of the UFT policymaking process. And now that these meetings are virtual, attending is more convenient than ever.
The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:
- Lobbying the state to pass an early retirement incentive for New York City educators
- A simple and fair teacher evaluation system for this school year
Grievance process resumes for salary and leaves
The union’s grievance process, which was suspended last spring in place of an expanded operational issues process, is resuming for certain types of grievances. The grievance process reopened on Feb. 8 for paraprofessionals, school nurses and therapists who are terminated for cause — not due to certification. This week, the UFT and the DOE reopened the process for grievances concerning salary and leaves. For those types of cases, chapter leaders should now follow the standard procedures and direct members wishing to file salary grievances through their borough office. Please inform your members that these procedures are now open.
Health and Safety
Report any safety issues at middle schools
Middle school classrooms reopen on Feb. 25. Every school must continue to follow the comprehensive building safety plan the union established in the fall. Your school’s COVID-19 building response team is responsible for ensuring that your building is adhering to these rigorous safety and health standards. Please report any safety issues, including insufficient personal protective equipment or unsanitary conditions, to the UFT immediately at our dedicated safety hotline at 212-331-6317. We will relay your information to the city and the DOE so they can get to work immediately on fixing the issues we identify. Also, please keep your district rep informed about any issues you encounter.
Free CTLE workshops offered by Apple and the UFT
Apple, in collaboration with the UFT, is offering free workshops for CTLE credit every weekday throughout the school year. In this wide range of workshops, UFT members can learn and explore how to get the most out of Apple technology to support great learning and teaching. In “Create Content for the iPad,” for example, teachers and paras will learn how to digitize handouts, make interactive worksheets and create video newsletters. These hands-on sessions run for about 60 minutes and are offered multiple times daily in the afternoon and evening from Monday through Friday. Tell your members they must use a personal, non-DOE email to register. Members can earn two CTLE credits per session. Dates and times for specific sessions can be found at the Apple registration link.
Sen. Schumer pushes for more federal funds for schools
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer joined UFT President Michael Mulgrew at a UFT virtual town hall in February to talk about the new administration’s priorities, flipping the U.S. Senate to Democratic control and the Democrats’ commitment to use COVID-19 relief funding to provide public schools with the resources they need to deal with the trauma of the pandemic. If you missed the town hall, listen to “On The Record with Michael Mulgrew" on your favorite streaming service. Subscribe to the podcast so you don't miss any of the upcoming episodes.
Don’t miss the next UFT mayoral town hall
All UFT members are invited to join UFT President Michael Mulgrew for the union’s third virtual mayoral town hall on Tuesday, March 9, at 5:30 p.m., These town halls are designed to introduce to our members some of the candidates who are running for mayor in 2021. The UFT wants members to hear from candidates on the issues so they can cast an informed vote in the June 22 primary. Visit the UFT NYC 2021 website.
DA endorses 15 City Council candidates in February
The UFT Delegate Assembly approved a resolution to endorse 15 City Council candidates seeking to fill vacancies on the City Council this year at its virtual meeting on Feb. 10. The candidates submitted the union’s City Council candidate questionnaire and participated in candidate interviews hosted by interview committees made up of UFT members who work and live in the districts the candidates seek to represent.
Salary and Personnel
Apply for a study sabbatical by March 17
Teachers may apply for a 2021-22 sabbatical to enhance teaching skills, restore their health after an illness or earn state certification in a shortage area. Eligible teachers must submit an application on SOLAS by Wednesday, March 17. The deadline for principals to submit a recommendation is Wednesday, March 24. 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 experience or more may apply for a six-month study sabbatical for the spring semester only. During a sabbatical, teachers earn 70 percent of their salaries. Members can find out more on the sabbatical leaves section of the UFT website or read this year’s DOE sabbatical memo.
Submit a nomination for Better Speech and Hearing Month
Speech teachers may nominate their students and/or colleagues for the UFT Speech Chapter’s 15th annual Better Speech and Hearing Month Awards. The chapter is accepting member nominations for digital student projects and artwork as well as nominations from chapter members who published a professional article, received a grant, participated in schoolwide projects or website creation or presented at a school, district or professional conference. The deadline for submissions is March 31. Use the online nominating form.