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Today's history lesson

Jan. 18, 2012: The fight to save closing schools

New York Teacher

The UFT went toe-to-toe with Mayor Mike Bloomberg in 2012 to save the jobs of its members in struggling schools. In a clear maneuver to get around the contract, the mayor vowed to “close” 33 low-performing schools, excess all the staff and make them reapply for their positions.

More than 1,000 angry UFT members descended on a Jan. 18 meeting of the city’s Panel for Educational Policy at Brooklyn Technical HS, disrupting the proceedings with whistles and chants before walking out in protest. And they didn’t let up. March 15 saw a Day of Solidarity throughout the city, as outraged educators, parents, students and community leaders rallied in every borough to protest the decade-long mismanagement of the city’s schools by the Bloomberg administration. By April, in the face of the outcry, the mayor had trimmed the list of targeted schools to 24.

The union then took the battle to court. In July, a state judge upheld an arbitrator’s decision that the Department of Education did not have the right to excess all staff in these schools and make them reapply for their positions. “We stood firm in this fight because we knew, from day one, that the DOE was wrong in its interpretation of our contract — and because we could not sit idly by while thousands of good teachers were unfairly forced out of their positions by a mayor intent on maligning our profession,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.