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Team High School Newsletter - June 2014

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A proverb from the Seneca nation of Native Americans says, “He (or she) who would do great things should not attempt them alone.”

Together, we serve as the backbone of our city’s 500-plus high schools. In the same way that education is the cornerstone of our democracy, our work helps to the lay the foundation for the future of our city and our nation. This is a great responsibility that we uphold daily with professionalism and care.

We see the evidence of our work every day as we watch our students learn and grow, as we note their achievements in our courses and on Regents and CTE exams and as we celebrate with them at this week’s graduation celebrations. The end of the school year is a time of great transition for our students and our school communities and also one to recognize our students’ and our accomplishments.

And, now, on this last day of school, the time has come for us to recharge and restore. Over the coming months, we hope you all take the time to do just that.

A heartfelt thank you for everything you do on behalf of our high schools and profession. Enjoy a well-deserved summer vacation.

See you in September!

In solidarity,

Janella Hinds, Vice President of Academic High Schools
Sterling Roberson, Vice President of Career and Technical Education High Schools


500 steps backward: California rules teacher tenure unconstitutional

H.L. Mencken once quipped that for every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong. Such would be a polite way of explaining a recent court ruling in California that declared teacher tenure unconstitutional. The lawsuit was brought by Students Matter, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch. This decision is going to be appealed, and we think there is a good chance it will be overturned.

And as you have probably seen reported, a group now plans to file a similar lawsuit against tenure in New York State. Read more from the Wall Street Journal »

We are greatly concerned by this assault on public education and by the notion that anything other than a real commitment to support public schools and educators will bring about the substantive changes needed in our schools. The UFT and NYSUT are on top of this issue as we work together to preserve the crucial protections that allow us to effectively educate all of our city’s children while at the same time fighting with labor and allies to address structural problems such as economic inequality that deprive our students of realizing their fullest potential.

Contact the UFT to discuss organizing time in your schools

Whether you are in a single- or multi-session high school, it is critically important that all of us at the school level get informed and organized to advocate effectively for structuring  time and resources in a manner that most benefits our students. Contact your union and visit the Team HS webpage for a sample of SBOs and schedules and with any requests for assistance to ensure consultation committees are functioning as efficiently as possible. Also please contact us to ensure Professional Activity (C6) options are being assigned correctly and with any evaluation or other concerns.

Final programs

You should have received your program by yesterday, June 25. We have until two days after receiving programs to file any reorganization, or right to preference, grievances  Contact your chapter leader, district rep or union office as soon as possible with any questions or concerns.

Set up your PD and consultation committees

Now is the time to establish a school-based professional development committee to determine how PD is chosen, delivered and assessed in your school. Please contact Team High School if you need ideas. One suggestion we have is to use your initial meetings to begin working on creating a trusting and supportive community where adults are allowed to learn from one another. Also, remember that a vital element in school-based advocacy is to hold monthly consultation committee meetings.  

Got summer plans? Attend two Team High School summer seminars!

Interested in teaching your students about human rights, social justice and documentary filmmaking and engaging students in activities with deep personal meaning and impact? You are invited to apply to two free Team High School summer workshops.

The first summer workshop on Aug. 19 and 20 will explore a new social studies framework that makes learning real and relevant for our students. Email for an application. The deadline to apply is July 15.

You are also invited to apply for a three-day workshop at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway from Aug. 19 to 21. This summer seminar will be hosted by the UFT and Speak Truth To Power, a program of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. The workshop will focus on Speak Truth to Power, a global initiative that uses the experiences of courageous human rights defenders from around the world to educate young people about human rights and urge them to take action through documentary filmmaking.

For more information, view the flier on the UFT website »

Quote of the month

"The one exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power or teaching."

— Aristotle

2014-15 Team High School citywide division meetings

Please plan to attend the monthly THS citywide high school division meetings. Join us as we discuss the latest issues affecting our high schools and engage in honest conversations regarding the best course for our union and profession.

UFT Team High School citywide meetings

You are invited to meetings of the academic high school and career and technical high school committees. These meetings are designed to help members organize and get information pertinent to our high schools.

Forever Young

Long Island City HS today honored Ralph Laucella, an 86-year-old World War II and Korean War veteran who received his high school diploma during the school’s commencement ceremony at Queens College. Mr. Laucella was not able to graduate after he was called into service into 1944. After returning home for WW II, he worked to support his parents and a younger brother and was drafted again in 1952. Mr. Laucella received his diploma in the same ceremony Thursday as his grandniece, Amanda Nero. John Garvey of the UFT Veterans Committee, who teaches at Long Island City HS, helped to arrange the award of a diploma to Mr. Laucella and was at the ceremony.