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Delegate survey helps prove flaws with integrated co-teaching classes

New York Teacher

Gail Jordan Gold of PS 52 and Kris Siminski of PS/MS 146
Miller Photography

Gail Jordan Gold of PS 52 and Kris Siminski of PS/MS 147, both in Queens, respond on their smartphones to a UFT survey about the implementation of ICT classes.

In the first-ever online survey conducted during a Delegate Assembly meeting, UFT members helped quantify the problems with integrated co-teaching (ICT) classes this school year.

More than a third of the 466 chapter leaders and delegates who responded reported improper staffing, inadequate training and lack of common-planning time for teachers in these classes, which pair a general education teacher and a special education teacher. Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña has championed the expansion of ICT classes as a way to include special education students, once segregated because of physical and developmental disabilities, in general education classes.

“We understand the benefit of moving children to a less restrictive environment — when it’s appropriate,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said during the Dec. 16 Delegate Assembly. “But the ICT programs are not being implemented correctly.”

He shared the troubling data with Fariña after the meeting.

Chapter leaders and delegates received the UFT survey via email and tapped out their responses on smartphones. About 10 minutes later, the results were projected on the screen.

Of particular note: 52 percent said teachers had been asked to modify IEPs in order to minimize the number of ICT classes or subjects for a particular student; 64 percent said no coverage was provided if a teacher on the ICT team is absent; and 68 percent said no professional development specific to ICT had been provided in the current school year.

In other remarks, Mulgrew heralded the significant shift away from high-stakes testing in national and state policy in December. “Think about where we were a year ago,” he said, alluding to insistence by President Barack Obama’s administration that test scores be used in teacher evaluation, and the fight then brewing with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase the weight of high-stakes tests in teacher evaluation and tenure decisions.

This December, Obama signed new education legislation that bars the federal government from requiring the use of tests in teacher evaluation and the Regents voted, with the governor’s support, for a four-year moratorium on the use of state-provided growth scores based on standardized tests in teacher evaluations as the state phases in new learning standards and related curriculum and tests.

Mulgrew praised members for mobilizing to make sure state lawmakers heard their concerns about high-stakes testing and the standards.

“We still face danger,” Mulgrew cautioned. “We will not have the ability to do what we did if the Friedrichs case is successful.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear opening arguments on Jan. 11 in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case, he said. The lawsuit, brought by right-wing groups, challenges the longstanding right of public-sector unions such as the UFT to collect “fair share” fees from workers who do not choose to join the union but are covered by collective-bargaining agreements that benefit them.

The delegates also passed a resolution in support of strengthening state housing laws to protect New York City tenants and to support Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to create 200,000 units of low and middle-income affordable housing by 2024.

Related Topics: News Stories, Union Proud