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Chapter Leader UpdateFeb. 17, 2022



SPECIAL HONOR: Diamond Skinner (center), a special education teacher and the chapter leader at MS 245 in Manhattan, received the Mary McLeod Bethune Award for Excellence in Teaching at the UFT African Heritage Committee’s 19th annual dinner dance on Feb. 4. She celebrated with her husband and her friend. (Erica Berger)

SPECIAL HONOR: Diamond Skinner (center), a special education teacher and the chapter leader at MS 245 in Manhattan, received the Mary McLeod Bethune Award for Excellence in Teaching at the UFT African Heritage Committee’s 19th annual dinner dance on Feb. 4. She celebrated with her husband and her friend. (Erica Berger)

This Week's Focus

Teachers may apply to become teacher leaders

The city Department of Education is accepting applications through Monday, March 7, for teacher leader positions, which provide opportunities for teachers to grow their own professional practices, assume leadership roles in schools and collaborate with colleagues to share their instructional practice, all while remaining in the classroom. Teacher leaders receive an additional stipend ($7,500 for model teachers and $12,500 for peer collaborative teachers) and year-long professional learning, including opportunities to collaborate and network with other teacher leaders in their community. For eligibility requirements and more details about the positions, see the DOE’s Teacher Leadership Application Platform. When you are ready to apply, you can access the application form here. Learn about all the teacher career pathways available to teachers.

At-home test kits for return from midwinter recess

Your school should distribute an at-home rapid test kit to every staff member and student on Friday, Feb. 18. Staff should receive this additional test kit even if they received a test kit earlier in the week. Students and staff should test themselves on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 26, and again on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 27, before returning on Monday. While all staff and students are strongly encouraged to use an at-home test before returning to school on Feb. 28, testing is voluntary. Staff and students are not required to show proof of a negative test result to return.

Tell policy makers what our schools need

Everyone loves telling public school educators what to do, especially those who have never worked in the classroom. Too often, educational policies are made without the input of the people doing the work. But our voices should inform and shape conversations on education policy. That’s why the UFT is gathering policymakers, government officials and school system leaders to be advised by a panel of our members, and we want members to apply to be a part of the discussion. Please apply yourself and encourage your members to apply to be a part of “Listen Up,” a panel of educators who will let top education officials know exactly what we’ve faced and what we need to be successful moving forward. Members’ ideas, insights and expertise may also be featured in our other channels, including the website, the New York Teacher and our social media platforms.

Apply now

Part 3 training for new chapter leaders

Chapter leaders with five or fewer years in the role are invited to attend Part 3 of the union’s training series on March 5 and 6. Due to COVID restrictions, the in-person slots at the Westchester Marriott were limited and they are now full, but new chapter leaders are still welcome to sign up to join the event remotely. They will hear from UFT President Michael Mulgrew and learn about special education issues, how to use social media to organize their chapter and more. New chapter leaders are encouraged to attend all four training sessions, but they can still attend Part 3 even if they missed one or both of the prior sessions. 

Register now

Chapter Leader Checklist

  • Help members find union dues for taxes: Now that tax season is upon us, many members will be looking for how much they paid in union dues in 2021. Dues information is available on the UFT website and on page 34 of the Feb. 17 issue of the New York Teacher.
  • Secure personal items and equipment during mid-winter break: Remind members to protect themselves against theft. Members should secure all personal belongings and valuable school equipment such as laptops and projectors during the break.
  • Fliers to share with members: Here are two fliers you can print and distribute in member mailboxes or post on your school’s UFT bulletin board.

Work in progress

The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate: 

  • Due process rights for the unvaccinated who were terminated
  • Resolving spring break 2020 dispute over vacation days for members with low CAR balances
  • Fighting for state funding for UFT initiatives and other education priorities

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You Should Know


Know your rights on program preference and professional activities

The DOE-UFT contract’s provisions regarding teaching programs and professional activity assignments give teachers a voice while providing for a more objective selection process. Each spring, all teachers should receive a program preference sheet to indicate the program (including grade/subject) they would like to teach in priority order for the following school year. Special education teachers should include grade/subject and type of class — such as integrated co-teaching, self-contained or SETSS — along with age range for each class. All teachers should ask for assignments in their license area; this is especially important for probationary teachers, who could have their tenure delayed if they teach out of license. Most secondary school teachers and eight-period-day elementary school teachers are programmed to have one or more professional activity periods. In an eight-period elementary school, teachers should be programmed for one professional activity per week. Middle school and high school teachers are usually programmed for five professional activity periods per week. By April 15, your school’s chapter leader and principal should meet and consult on the professional activities that will be on the professional activity menu at your school. Read our Know Your Rights column on this topic for examples of professional activities and further details on the preference sheet process.


Second vaccine dose reminder

Any member who received only a single dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in the fall should prioritize getting the second dose so that the DOE does not take action against them. Failure to be fully vaccinated could lead to termination.


Apply for a study sabbatical by March 18

UFT members who are teachers may apply for a sabbatical leave to enhance their teaching skills. Eligible teachers have until March 18 to submit an application on SOLAS for a study sabbatical for the 2022–23 school year. March 25 is the deadline for a principal’s recommendation to the superintendent. Coursework must be rigorous and related to one’s 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 also apply for a six-month study sabbatical for the spring semester only. During a study sabbatical, whether six months or a full year, teachers earn 70 percent of their salary. Throughout the year, eligible teachers may also apply for a sabbatical leave to restore their health if they are ill or achieve state certification in a shortage area. During a yearlong sabbatical for restoration of health, teachers earn 70 percent of their salary, too. Find out more in the sabbatical leaves section of the UFT website. Members can read the current guidelines and eligibility requirements in the DOE sabbatical memo, which the DOE updates and reissues each spring, and Chancellor’s Regulation C-650 on Sabbatical Leaves of Absence.

Register for spring pension workshops

The UFT Pension Department regularly offers virtual workshops to inform members about their valuable pension benefits. The first spring workshop is on how to read the TRS Annual Benefit Statements and Member Death Benefits on Wednesday, March 9. A workshop on Tier 4 pension calculations will take place on Thursday, March 17. A workshop on Tier 6 pension calculations is set for Tuesday, March 22. And a workshop on Continuing Options and the TDA will take place on Wednesday, March 30. While you may register for individual workshops, the UFT Pension Department encourages you to attend the series. All workshops are held online and begin at 4:15 p.m.


Mailbox access for campaign materials

As a reminder, retired DOE employees and active DOE employees should be allowed access to disseminate union election material in member mailboxes in accordance with the DOE policy memo outlining allowed election activities.

UFT election candidate petitions due on Feb. 18

Friday, Feb. 18, is the deadline to submit completed candidate petitions for the upcoming UFT elections. Nominating petitions are available on the UFT elections page on the UFT website. Electronic signatures are not accepted.


Register for the UFT’s Early Childhood Conference on March 19

Educators in 3K through Grade 2 are invited to attend the UFT’s 14th annual Early Childhood Conference on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Members may attend in person or join online. Register now. (The registration link we included in the previous Chapter Leader Update was incorrect.) Participants can earn four CTLE hours by attending the plenary and two workshops on evidence-based practices for engaging our youngest learners. The cost is $35 for teachers and $25 for paraprofessionals. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, participants must register in advance for in-person or virtual attendance and bring proof of vaccination.

Join HERstory, the UFT’s salute to women in labor

The UFT’s annual HERstory event honoring women in labor will be held online on Friday, March 4, at 4 p.m. This year’s theme is “Strength, Courage and Wisdom.” We have an exciting slate of speakers including labor leader Jolene DiBrango, NYSUT’s executive vice president. HERstory is part of the union’s celebration of Women’s History Month in March.

Register now

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