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New York TeacherApril 22, 2021

Volume LXII, Number 5
With a historic boost in state aid for New York City schools and tens of thousands of UFT members vaccinated against COVID-19, there is finally hope that we can leave behind these challenging times. Our near-term future includes a 3% pay raise for DOE-employed members and a new schools chancellor who rose through the ranks.

Cover Stories

Teacher Garfield Reid of JHS 123 in the Bronx gets vaccinated
News Stories

Thousands vaccinated through UFT program

As of April 7, about 35,000 UFT members employed by the city Department of Education had been matched with vaccine providers in the UFT vaccine program, which supplements city and state vaccination programs.

Budget Generic
News Stories

Historic funding increase for schools

New York City public schools will receive a historic boost in state aid in the budget passed by the state Legislature in Albany on April 7.

Latest News

Coronavirus Covid-19
News Stories

UFT: Federal COVID funds must help students recover

Calling for more than $1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds to be dedicated to the needs of students recovering emotionally and academically from the ravages of the pandemic, the UFT laid out a five-point recovery proposal.

Green bag of money being held in palm of hand
News Stories

3% salary increase on May 14

The salaries of UFT-represented DOE employees will increase by 3% effective May 14, with the increase reflected in paychecks on May 28 for pedagogues, H-Bank employees and all paraprofessionals.

Feature Stories

Kids in a class doing STEAM
Awards & Honors

Learning by doing

“I love the chair, but it’s a hazard,” teacher Emama Akhter observed as she eyed a desk chair that a student had hoisted atop a classroom table.

“It’s supposed to be a hazard!” the student protested.

Akhter, the winner of two 2021 UFT career and technical education awards, had tasked her students — seniors at the Brooklyn STEAM Center, a career and technical education training hub for 11th- and 12th-grade students from across Brooklyn — with constructing an obstacle course for drones. On one side of the glass-walled classroom inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard, students were taping directional arrows on the floor to chart the drone’s path; on the other side, a loud buzzing noise filled the air as students piloted their drones using an iPad app.

“Hey, I did it. Sweet,” one student said with satisfaction as he gently landed his drone atop a stool.

It was just the sort of engaging, immersive lesson on which Akhter, a lead instructor in the computer science and information …

Students from Kingsbridge International HS “arrive” on Mars in this photo composite with NASA’s Perseverance rover.

Mission to Mars

Students from a 2019 astronomy class at Kingsbridge International HS in the Bronx were part of the historic Mars landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover in February.

'Hope' illuminated with NYC in the background
Awards & Honors

Spotlighting ‘Hope’ amid pandemic

More than 30,000 lights, spelling out the word “HOPE,” shined a spotlight on the number of New York City lives lost to COVID-19 in an initiative of the Urban Assembly School of Emergency Management in Manhattan from March 12 to March 14.

Member Spotlight

Ruth Caballero
What I Do

Ruth Caballero, home care nurse

Ruth Caballero is a Registered Nurse who works for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, a certified home health agency whose employees are represented by the UFT. She provides home health care services in its adult care program.

Sandra Leiser
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Sandra Leiser, PS 44, the Bronx

Sandra Leiser, the chapter leader at PS 44 in the Bronx, won compensation for her staff after an operational issues dispute with the principal, who arbitrarily shortened the staff lunch period at the start of the school year.

Around the UFT

UFT Members meet via Zoom with State Sen. Jabari Brisport
News Stories

This year’s Lobby Day a virtual success

The coronavirus pandemic couldn’t stop 430 UFT members from virtually joining the union’s annual Lobby Day to advocate for funding for public schools and the union’s own education initiatives in the state budget.

Zoom Screen from the CTE Awards
Awards & Honors

Career and Technical Education Awards

The 2021 UFT Career and Technical Education Awards recognized educators who have shown great ingenuity and perseverance while facing the unprecedented challenges created by the pandemic.

Early Childhood Conf.

Early Childhood Conference

Early childhood educators have always strived to find the joy in learning. So it’s no surprise that even in this difficult school year, the more than 300 educators who attended the UFT’s annual Early Childhood Conference remotely on March 13 treasured the time they spent improving their practice and connecting with colleagues.

School Counselors Conf.

School Counselors Conference

More than a year ago, the School Counselors Conference was the last UFT conference held before COVID-19 shut down school buildings. This year’s event, held on March 20 on Zoom, found school counselors grappling with a new set of challenges as the end of the pandemic slowly comes into view.

We feed NY Logo
News Stories

We Feed NYC telethon

In a four-hour We Feed NYC telethon on Feb. 13, the UFT raised more than $310,000 from its members and corporate donors to feed New York families struggling with food insecurity as a result of the pandemic. 

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits

Prescription drug coverage

All eligible in-service UFT members and their dependents have prescription drug coverage through the UFT Welfare Fund. There are no waiting periods for this coverage, and members have options to pick up or get delivery of most medications.

Know Your Rights
Three people sit at desks in a classroom all wearing masks

School safety during the pandemic - Spring 2021

The stringent safety policies in areas such as testing, ventilation and social distancing that the union ensured were in place in September have kept the percentage of staff and students who test positive for COVID-19 within New York City public schools low all year.

Your Well-being
Cubes covered in social media logos

Social media tips

Social media can be a positive or a negative force in your life, depending on how you use it. Scheduling social media time, sticking to your purpose and thinking twice before posting are some of the ways to help avoid the harmful consequences.

You Should Know

For Your Information
Open Market DOE Login page

Open Market Transfer Plan period underway

From April 15 through Aug. 9, UFT members do not need a release from a principal to change schools, and the Open Market Transfer Plan offers all pedagogues and paraprofessionals access to citywide job openings.

Q&A on the Issues
Voting in your chapter

Voting in your chapter elections

This spring, UFT members will elect union representatives at the school level and for functional chapters. We answer many common questions about how school chapter elections are run and how to cast your vote.

Secure Your Future
Looseleafs labeled Retirement plan and Pension

Pension options to consider

Experiencing a pandemic can be life-changing, especially for essential workers like UFT members who face its challenges every day. Sometimes that kind of experience makes people reevaluate their lives and their goals. They move, they reconnect with family and friends, they change jobs and sometimes they retire sooner than planned.


President's Perspective
UFT members from northern Manhattan, led by District 5 Representative Zina Burto

A new level of investment

There is a new level of investment in public schools and it didn't happen by accident. It's a reminder that at every level, elections matter. Your voice matters. When we pull together, we can shift public policy in meaningful ways. That's our power as a union.

Janella Hinds

We hear you — your voice matters

High school members from across the city joined forces with the union’s academic high school team in five safe spaces to talk about what works and what obstructs, to uncover better practices, and to find solutions to our challenges.

Kids working on homework

'Equity' at last

The New York State budget provides an unprecedented windfall for New York City schools — an additional $1.3 billion — but no one should consider it a gift.

Solar Panels

Push for solar

Great environmental strides have been made since the first Earth Day was celebrated 51 years ago. And now the moment to take another great stride forward has come.

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve
Bullet board with colored post it notes and text

The power of identity teaching

Culturally relevant pedagogy can give students the skills, knowledge and dispositions to change systemic inequities. So teachers should examine and encourage ways to imbue their students with a sense of their own identities.

Linking to Learning
Father and son looking at laptop screen

Changes to Google for Education platforms

With its education users having increased by four times during the pandemic, Google has announced upcoming changes to its education apps that will debut over the course of 2021 to better meet the needs of both students and educators.

Teacher to Teacher
Cassia Brereton PS8M

Empower students through real-world events

We can help students develop a better understanding of both the world and their place in it by using the world around us to teach in a way that invites critical thinking, draws on multiple perspectives and reflects who we are in the 21st century.

Building Your Career

Inside My Classroom
Elizabeth Felix class

Inside my classroom

I joined a Facebook group called Teaching with Neons, where teachers come together and share virtual Bitmoji classrooms or various themes for us to edit and use. Our schoolwide Brain Power program inspired me to bring this brain break room to my virtual classroom.
New Teacher Articles
Smiling teacher in classroom

Seek out fellow teachers for professional support

For newer teachers, the advice and support of more experienced colleagues can be life-changing. One U.S. Department of Education study found that teachers who were assigned a mentor in their first year were more likely to remain in the profession long term than those who were not.

New Teacher Diaries
It pays to plan

It pays to plan for the unexpected

A young teacher discovers that, while students may forget what educators say, they will never forget how they made them feel.

Retired Teachers News

Tom Murphy
RTC Chapter Leader Column

It’s election time again

With the RTC leadership election coming up, I have asked Election Committee Co-chairs John Soldini and Nina Tribble to write this month’s column.

— Tom Murphy

RTC elections usually follow a predictable pattern. First, a bipartisan election committee is created to develop and publicize the rules of the election. That committee was created with the publication of the election notice in the New York Teacher in February.

The process is usually simple, straightforward and transparent and has never been challenged.

But we are conducting this election while the pandemic traumatizes a nation that is deeply divided and where democratic institutions and validated election results are challenged. That context prompted the RTC election committee — the two of us, plus Robert Greenberg and Vince Gaglione — to not only establish a process to overcome the technical problems created by the pande…

RTC remains connected to members worldwide
RTC Service

RTC remains connected to members worldwide

The Retired Teachers Chapter goes the distance to stay connected to its members — 71,097 retired UFT members who live all over the country as well as in Puerto Rico and Israel.

 Linda Horton shell
RTC Second Act

Paddling through retirement

“Kayaking is my happy place,” says retired school secretary Linda Horton. That includes kayaking under sunny skies on quiet Lake Mahopac in Putnam County, New York, where Horton lives, but also much more.