UFT President Michael Mulgrew announced at the Delegate Assembly on Jan. 15 that the union is working to ensure that all New York City schools have curriculum aligned to the state’s Next Generation Learning Standards for math and English language arts.
The lack of standard approved curriculum aligned with learning standards is an issue that has dogged New York City schools for decades.
The UFT is working closely with the city Department of Education and the principals’ union this spring to make sure teachers have both the curriculum and the professional learning opportunities they need to teach to the new state standards, Mulgrew said.
The focus initially is on elementary and middle schools since students must be prepared for the new state tests for grades 3–8 aligned to the Next Generation Learning Standards in spring 2021.
“Every school needs ELA and math curricula — and professional development — aligned to the new standards,” Mulgrew told the delegates. “This has never been done, ever.”
Mulgrew said it was critical that the school system avoid a steep drop in test scores in 2021, because school privatizers would use that as an excuse to undermine public education.
When scores plunged on new tests aligned with the Common Core standards in 2013 during the Bloomberg administration, teachers were infuriated that they didn’t have the curriculum and professional development to help their children succeed on the more difficult tests.
Starting in February, the UFT will conduct a comprehensive inventory of the curricula that schools are currently using. Chapter leaders will report the curriculum used at their schools on a survey in the new online chapter leader community.
Following the curriculum inventory, Mulgrew said, the next step will be to create lists of approved materials from which each school can choose.
The goal is to ensure that by September 2020, schools have curricula aligned to the Next Generation Learning Standards and the New York State Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education framework, as well as developmentally appropriate curricula accessible to all students including multilingual learners and students with special needs.
“The days of every school figuring it out on its own are over,” said Mulgrew.
In addition, he said, the state Board of Regents has determined that each community school district must have a professional development team composed of a majority of members chosen by the union.
“In the end, the administration chooses the curriculum,” Mulgrew said. “But we help shape the professional development.”