The UFT’s legislative breakfast on May 18 provided a forum for union leaders to ask City Council members to fund UFT education programs and initiatives.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew appealed for the Council’s support for Teacher’s Choice, Community Learning Schools, the Positive Learning Collaborative, the BRAVE anti-bullying program, the Dial-A-Teacher homework helpline and free school lunches.
These programs, he said, contribute to the success of New York City public schools, creating a powerful bulwark against the privatization schemes of the federal government.
“Their whole strategy is based on the lie that public education is failing,” Mulgrew said. “Our school system is at its highest point ever in achievement.”
Echoing Mulgrew, Councilman Danny Dromm, the chair of the Council Education Committee, called on his colleagues to increase funding for “these vitally important services.”
Dromm highlighted the benefits of the UFT’s Community Learning Schools Initiative. “Having social services available in the school; providing kids with eyeglasses — how do you take a reading test if you don’t have glasses?” he asked. “That’s what this UFT model does.”
Representatives from the Community Learning Schools, the Positive Learning Collaborative, BRAVE and Dial-A-Teacher spoke about their successes, with stories of the children they help every day.
Christine Chavez, the principal of PS 45 on Staten Island, shared how her school has benefited as a result of its participation in the Positive Learning Collaborative, a joint UFT-Department of Education program to create safe and supportive learning environments by providing educators with strategies to respond to and head off challenging student behavior.
“We gave the students extra recess time” during stressful math testing, said Chavez. All on their own, a group of students used the recess time to create a “community circle” to resolve conflicts, she said.
The school climate at PS 45 has been transformed. “There was no yelling; there was no fighting,” Chavez said. She said suspensions have dropped to zero as a result of the restorative practices.
Mulgrew stressed to the 35 Council members in attendance that, in the current political climate, it was more critical than ever to continue to support successful public school programs and initiatives.
“Our public school system is the shining example of what all public schools should be,” he said.