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New York TeacherFebruary 15, 2024

Volume LXV, Number 4

The Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence program is marking its 10th anniversary this school year. Read about the celebration and two schools that have used the initiative to reimagine old practices and pursue deeper, more engaging units of study.

Cover Story

People talking on stage

'Giving control to the people doing the work'

The Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) program, which affords schools the freedom to experiment and innovate, is marking its 10th anniversary this school year. Nearly 300 teachers, chapter leaders and principals from the now 217 PROSE schools citywide gathered at union headquarters on Dec. 12 to celebrate.

PROSE was established as part of the 2014 DOE-UFT contract to give schools with a proven record of collaboration between administration and faculty additional flexibility with DOE and state regulations and contractual provisions. They use this latitude to rethink tradition and redesign aspects of their schools to meet their school community’s specific needs.

The proposed changes are teacher-driven. “We’re giving control to the people who are actually doing the work,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who moderated a panel discussion of…

Latest News

UFT lawsuit takes on mayors budget cuts
News Stories

UFT lawsuit takes on mayor’s budget cuts

UFT President Michael Mulgrew told union delegates at the Delegate Assembly on Jan. 17 that the UFT is moving full steam ahead with its lawsuit to stop Mayor Eric Adams’ school budget cuts. He said the mayor’s budget restorations in mid-January amounted to only a fraction of the overall cuts.

Delegate voting using a clicker
News Stories

Union in a budget fight on two fronts

UFT President Michael Mulgrew told delegates at the Delegate Assembly on Jan. 17 that the union faces both a city and a state budget fight this spring.


Feature Stories

Teacher gives instruction on how to use a bag valve mask

Queens swim coach saves drowning student

“Twenty eyes are better than two” is a refrain that swim team members at John Adams HS in Queens hear from their coach, physical education teacher Alex Navarrete, encouraging them to watch out for one another’s safety. They found out how true it is one afternoon in December 2023 when their attentiveness helped Navarrete save a teammate’s life.

“One of my students said, ‘Coach, he’s underwater,’ and I was able to jump in and get him right away,” explained Navarrete. “Every second counts when you’re underwater. Five seconds more could have been…

Students check aquarium temperature

Time for projects

Central Park East II, which has participated in PROSE for all 10 years of its existence, has used the freedom that the program affords to embrace project-based learning, change its teacher evaluation system and more.

Teacher in front of a slide projection

‘A game-changer’

Thanks to the PROSE program, Concord HS, a transfer high school for students ages 16 to 21 on Staten Island, has been able to revamp its school hours to meet the needs of its unique student population, who have not thrived in a traditional high school. That flexible schedule means that students don’t have to choose between school and shifts at Amazon or other work.

Member Spotlight

Shawnequa Holt-Pate
What I Do

Shawnequa Holt-Pate, supervisor of school security

Shawnequa Holt-Pate supervises close to 60 school safety agents on Staten Island and coordinates between an NYPD precinct and the schools within it. She belongs to the UFT’s Supervisors of School Security Chapter.

Catrina Como
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Catrina Como, PS 376, Brooklyn

When Catrina Como became chapter leader at PS 376 in Brooklyn, she faced a tricky situation: The principal was demanding, and staff did not know their rights and were reluctant to speak up for themselves. “I work with a lot of amazing teachers who just want to do their jobs,” she said. “I needed to make sure that they were in an environment where that could be accomplished.”


Around the UFT

CTE Divisions Impact on Achievement

CTE Division’s Impact on Achievement Conference

The UFT Career and Technical Education Division’s Impact on Achievement Conference, which was held virtually on Jan. 29, focused on artificial intelligence in the classroom and in the professional sectors for which CTE education prepares students.
African Heritage Committee awards dinner
Awards & Honors

UFT African Heritage Committee’s awards dinner

The 20th annual UFT African Heritage Committee’s awards dinner, held on Feb. 2 at Antun’s of Queens Village, was bigger than ever this year, befitting its landmark anniversary.
Clinicians Appreciation Day

Clinicians Appreciation Day

About 400 school social workers and psychologists gathered at UFT headquarters, and another 900 joined remotely, for a day of professional development to mark Clinicians Appreciation Day on Jan. 12.
UFT holiday party and toy drive

UFT holiday party and toy drive

The UFT decked the halls with joy and toys when it invited 100 students from 10 city shelters to UFT headquarters on Dec. 16 for its annual holiday party in partnership with the Coalition for the Homeless.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits
Gavel

UFT Legal Services Plan

When you need legal assistance, it can be costly and stressful. That’s why the union created a Legal Services Plan exclusively for UFT members that provides in-service members with access to attorneys who will assist them for free or at discounted rates.

Know Your Rights
Students playing B-Ball

Per-session activities

Teachers, paraprofessionals, and school social workers and psychologists can apply for these “per-session” activities that are done either before or after school, on the weekend or holidays, or during the summer. This Know Your Rights column details the most important rules and procedures govering per-session work.
Your Well-being
Flower

Acts of kindness

If you dwell on the negative, reliving frustrations and anger, you can feel trapped inside those emotions. Conversely, when you focus on the things you are grateful for, it can have a ripple effect on your mood and your entire day.

You Should Know

Grants, Awards & Freebies
A teacher with young students

Grants, Awards & Freebies

See our list of current opportunities for educators to receive funds and recognition for their hard work and dedication. 

For Your Information
Tax deductions for educators

Tax deduction for educators now $300

Eligible educators can deduct from their federal income taxes up to $300 of unreimbursed expenses from 2023 for books, supplies, computer equipment and other materials they use in the classroom. The agency raised the deduction from $250 to $300 for tax year 2022.

Q&A on the Issues
Meeting graphic

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)

This Q&A answers many common questions regarding IEP planning and meetings, including updates from the 2023 DOE-UFT contract.
Secure Your Future
Pension options

Your pension options

As a member of TRS or BERS, you have options for the distribution of your retirement allowance under the Qualified Pension Plan. As with other major financial decisions, the choice depends on your situation and your finances at retirement.

Opinions

President's Perspective
fix-tier-6-banner

The fight to eliminate Tier 6 inequities

One of the greatest benefits of UFT membership is having a guaranteed retirement allowance when you retire. But for members who joined the retirement system after April 12, 2012, their defined-benefit pension is not equal to what more veteran members enjoy. That's why we have launched a campaign to fix Tier 6.
VPerspective
Richard Mantell

If you want to help a student, ask a teacher

The holidays may be long over, but the giving is not. It’s what we educators do. We provide our students with the resources they need to succeed in life, whether it’s educating them in the classroom, giving them extra support or that nudge, or acting as a cheerleader or a coach.

Editorials
Red light traffic - congestion pricing - generic

Halt ‘congestion’ plan

In their zeal to implement a project that promises to generate about $1 billion a year in revenue, agency officials failed to consider how congestion pricing simply shifts who pays the environmental costs.
Editorials
election

Voting site concerns

Early voting has been a welcome development in New York City since it was first implemented in 2019. But for the educators and students at the 33 public schools in Staten Island, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan that serve as early voting sites, early voting has posed a range of concerns.
Editorial Cartoons
Cartoon of Mayor Adams sitting on a bag of money

The city is broke. (Not!)

Mayor Eric Adams makes mid-year cuts to school budgets even though the city has reserves of more than $8 billion, a new record high.

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve
Teacher with latino students

Strategies to help new immigrant students

The influx of students from new-immigrant families these past few years has presented many challenges for New York City public school educators. Here are some proven strategies to support them.
Linking to Learning
Online resources to support newcomers classroom

Online resources to support newcomers

See exemplary teaching strategies and instructional tools to support newcomers. 

Teacher to Teacher
Lanyards hanging from a wall

Collaborative roles key with small groups

The Department of Education has recently encouraged special education and integrated co-teaching teachers to prioritize targeted small-group instruction, including station teaching. That shift has meant that I’ve had to learn new classroom management and pedagogical strategies for my 12:1:1 special education class for 3rd- and 4th-graders.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career
People standing graphic

‘Wall of silence’ cracks

I felt guilty that I was not able to understand or communicate with my pre-verbal students in District 75. I was pouring my heart and soul into lessons, only to be met with silence. The weight of these challenges pressed down on me, and depression crept in. I was lucky to have a support network to help me through.
Inside My Classroom
Bobblehead president dolls

Bobbleheads of U.S. presidents

Michael Frank, a history teacher at the HS of Environmental Studies, has bobbleheads of most of the U.S. presidents in his classroom to make the content come alive.
New Teacher Articles
Screen displaying the Teach System

Fulfilling professional state certification

If you’re like many new teachers, you’re working under an Initial, Internship or Transitional B teaching certificate that will eventually expire. With the school year half over, now is a good time to take stock of the progress you’re making toward your Professional state certification.

Retired Teachers News

Hands handling money
RTC Service

Getting in SHIP-shape will cover out-of-pocket costs

For $120 a year, UFT retirees who are members of the Retired Teachers Chapter can obtain supplemental benefits that reimburse them for some out-of-pocket expenses, including ambulance rides, dental work, hearing aids and private-duty nursing.

To obtain the special package of 15 benefits, which the RTC developed more than 40 years ago, members must enroll in the Supplemental Health Insurance Program (SHIP) within one year of retiring. There is no requirement for a medical exam to join. The maximum lifetime benefit for any SHIP participant is $100,000.

Enrollment in the program continues to increase. It currently covers 89,987 UFT retirees and spouses, who are eligible for the same benefits for the same fee. SHIP processed 20,547 claims in 2023.

“The UFT’s health care, social services and Si Beagle Learning Center programs for retirees are like stars in the firmament of earned benefits,” said Tom Murphy, the RTC chapter leader. “SHIP shines brightly for…

Tom Murphy
RTC Chapter Leader Column

Remember the achievements

William Faulkner famously said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” In our politically forgetful society, many forget what happened in politics last month, let alone what happened two or three years ago. 

UFT Florida Center
RTC Information

Florida Center wants you — in person!

The UFT Florida Center in Boca Raton is now open each weekday, and members can stop by any time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.