After decades of advocacy, the UFT won automatic enrollment in the Teachers' Retirement System for full-time paraprofessionals while, in a battle that will continue, the union came closer than ever to winning smaller class sizes. Learn about these campaigns and other union news and information in the last New York Teacher digital edition of 2021.
Thousands of UFT members and parents came together this fall to press the City Council to pass groundbreaking legislation that would reduce class sizes in city public schools by a quarter to a third.
Large class sizes have been a pressing concern of city educators and parents for decades. The union and school communities saw an opening with the COVID-19 pandemic to approach the issue from a new vantage point this year: setting stricter occupancy limits for classrooms to help prevent the spread of disease.
“If we cannot finally agree as a city in the middle of a pandemic that we need a plan to lower our class size, I don’t know where we’re ever going to get to it,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew testified at a City Council…
Decades of UFT advocacy bore fruit for the union’s paraprofessionals on Oct. 29 as a newly enacted state law guaranteed all UFT-represented full-time paraprofessionals — on the job now and in the future — will automatically become members of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). After they retire, TRS members receive a monthly pension for the rest of their lives.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew told delegates at the Delegate Assembly on Nov. 17 that the union plans to seek extensive member input to help shape priorities for upcoming negotiations on the next contract and health care.
Curtis HS on Staten Island has a dance program, and students who participate remove their shoes. One day, a student asked school counselor Robin Chapman-Rodriguez if she had any socks. “Why?” she asked.
He said, “because I have to dance and I don’t have on clean socks.”
“That broke my heart,” Chapman-Rodriguez said. She bought a big package of socks to keep in her locker, and the student occasionally asks for a pair. “He loves to dance, but he refused to take his shoes off,” she said.
Some of the UFT’s 32 United Community Schools have laundry facilities on site, but a new six-month pilot program and partnership between UCS and Clean Rite laundromats will allow students and their families at five schools in four boroughs, including Curtis, to do laundry in their own neighborhoods. UCS will use City Council funding to pay for laundry cards that can be used at Clean Rite locations, where families can do…
Teacher Tisha Gomez and the students in the vision technology program at the School for Cooperative Technical Education in Manhattan give the gift of sight, free of charge, to students and community members every day, producing eyeglasses in their fully equipped career and technical education facility.
Madeline Velez-Vazquez, a bilingual school counselor at PS 58 in the Bronx, says school counselors are needed “now more than ever to help students succeed.” She says, "I’m seeing both extremes: children who are more hypervigilant about the pandemic and then those who are completely aloof."
Alaa Yousef was elected chapter leader at Park Slope Collegiate in Brooklyn this October, and in her first action in that role, she used the operational issues complaint process to get her members paid for instructional lunch periods. When those payments stopped, she resumed her fight.
The courage and hard work of members during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was recognized on Nov. 7 at the UFT's annual Teacher Union Day celebration, held in Shanker Hall at UFT headquarters in Manhattan and online via Zoom.
Cogen Award winner Ellie Engler made a habit of keeping UFT members safe, from her work with the union’s Safety and Health Department, where she created the Health and Cancer Helpline and the Member Assistance Program, to her early warning about the danger of COVID-19.
The UFT hosted an afternoon of food, fun and free coats for students experiencing homelessness at its Thanksgiving Luncheon on Nov. 20, when more than 130 children filled Shanker Hall at UFT headquarters in Manhattan.
Nearly 400 school psychologists attended this year’s Psychologists Appreciation Day on Nov. 12, the chapter’s first hybrid event featuring workshops on assistive technology and intelligence assessments.
The Federation of Nurses/UFT's Professional Issues Conference, held virtually on Nov.19, gave members valuable information about COVID-19 and its psychological impact, congestive heart failure and social media as it applies to nurses.
When you need legal assistance, it can be costly and stressful. That’s why the union recently introduced a Legal Services Plan, which provides in-service UFT members with access to attorneys who will assist them, for free or at discounted rates.
It's important to set and maintain personal boundaries, or the limits and rules we set for ourselves in our relationships with others or with work, in order to keep relationships healthy. Here are some strategies to help you.
UFT Vice President for Special Education MaryJo Ginese writes that we have seen how so many of our students with disabilities have lost ground since the pandemic hit. This fall, we have been confronted with the rocky rollout of the DOE’s Special Education Recovery Services program that was supposed to provide targeted help to these students.
We’ve known for decades that smaller classes enhance teaching and learning. But the pandemic drove home that class size is also a public health issue. We are pushing for legislation that would change the health section of the city’s administrative code to mandate minimal square footage of 28 to 35 square feet per student.
High-stakes teacher evaluations, which leaned heavily on student test scores, had no discernible impact on improving student achievement or student test scores, according to a report by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. That comes as no surprise to anyone who has spent time in a classroom.
With the number of COVID-19 cases across the city on the rise, the increase in breakthrough infections and the threat of the new Omicron variant, in-school testing of unvaccinated students only was clearly no longer not enough. That’s why the UFT called on the city to resume testing vaccinated adults in school buildings.
After a year in which instruction was disrupted by the pandemic, that back-to-basics approach of phonics-based reading instruction may be especially important to help struggling readers take concrete steps toward progress.
Bringing visitors into your classroom to speak to students can be a powerful vehicle for learning. And though New York may have the highest number of experts per capita, a remote visit allows you to hear from people around the country and the world.
"The decor and ambiance in my classroom have little touches to make it feel like home — things like curtains on the windows, beanbag chairs in our carpeted area and decorative lights. I try to address all five senses, like using air freshener to make sure it smells good. I like the classroom to be clean and organized, and my students have jobs, like engineer and janitorial staff, to help us maintain that organized environment."
New teacher Gabrielle Vega was drawn to her 8th-grade social studies teacher's flair for the dramatic, and her affinity for theatrics is serving her well as she teaches that subject at MS 936 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a District 20 middle school dedicated to the performing and visual arts.
Reviewing end-of-year Retired Teachers Chapter events brings to mind my sophomore geometry class. A theorem jumps out at me: The whole is equal to the sum of its parts. Let's add up those parts as they apply to us.
We opened 2021 buoyed by Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election and rattled by the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. Those events infused us with a sense of optimism mingled with concern.
Several factors shaped the rest of the year: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the growing availability of vaccines and the vaccine mandates in many workplaces; the New York City Medicare Advantage Plus Plan; the enhancement of the UFT's Supplemental Health Insurance Program (SHIP); and local elections…
Under the supervision of a state court judge, the city and the administrators of the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan have been working hard to improve the flow of information to city retirees and medical providers about the new plan’s procedures and benefits. The judge ruled on Dec. 14 that the new plan will take effect on April 1.
Building an RTC section can take time, but there are ways to make sure the building blocks are in place. Judy Rosenstein, coordinator of the New Jersey section, says the Si Beagle courses are an important part of the process.