Bronx Engineering and Technical Academy Chapter Leader Yvonne Reasen used the new expedited resolution process for operational issues, negotiated as part of the 2018 DOE-UFT contract, to get the basic instructional supplies desperately needed by science teachers at her school.
Teachers submitted the list of supplies —microscopes, scales, safety goggles, gloves and paper — at the end of the 2018 school year, but they did not arrive in September. The school’s new principal “denied or ignored” the requests, said science teacher Nathaniel Query.
Reasen said she raised the issue again at the November consultation committee meeting and was told by the principal that there wasn’t an endless amount of funds. Efrain Colon, the chair of the science department, said the chapter leader put “heat” on the administration, but her efforts fell on “deaf ears.”
A history teacher for 21 years, Reasen decided in 2018 to become chapter leader “to bring positive change.” She faced her first challenge from the principal head on. When Reasen was unable to resolve the lack of science supplies at the school level, the issue was escalated first to the district level and, when it was not resolved there, to the central level.
Reasen said her report prompted her principal to retaliate. “The complaint lit a fire under her to act but it fueled retaliatory actions,” Reasen said. “Increased drop-in observations began in the science department, and I went from Highly Effective/Effective to Ineffective/Developing over the year.”
Reasen even took her case to the UFT Executive Board at its February meeting.
By the end of March, the supplies began to arrive. “Ironically,” Reasen said, “it took a massive army of UFT supporters, students, parents and teachers coming together in solidarity to win our fight to get basic science supplies for a STEM school.”
Query praised the chapter leader for defending members’ contractual right to “appropriate and sufficient basic instructional supplies.”
“Reasen was very effective in painful meetings with administration and in communicating with staff,” Query said. “Not many people could have taken the petty retribution, but she did.”