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New York TeacherSeptember 7, 2023

Volume LXV, Number 1

UFT members started the 2023-24 school year with a new contract in place that provides more money and improves their working conditions. Now, they must exercise their new contractual rights and use their collective voice to speak out if the new contract is ever ignored.

NY Teacher
Shantae Jones
Justine Shishkoff of PS 135 in Queens drops her ballot in the box during the chapter’s UFT contract vote last June.

Cover Story

Educators at PS 135

Contract ratified by wide margin

The UFT’s new contract with the city Department of Education was ratified with 76% of the vote.

More than 96,000 UFT members cast ballots, the largest turnout in the union’s history. The independent American Arbitration Association did the count.

Among the 66,508 teachers who cast ballots, 75% voted to ratify their contract. Among the 19,871 paraprofessionals who voted, the approval rate was 72%. The contracts for school secretaries, school counselors and most of the union’s other DOE and city job titles were also approved by wide margins,…

Latest News

Security Breach
News Stories

Update on DOE and TRS data breach

The DOE recently notified the approximately 130,000 in-service UFT members and 36,000 former employees whose confidential information might have been exposed in a large data breach in June.

News Stories

The future is already here!

As part of its contract negotiations with the UFT, the DOE revised the 2023-24 school year calendar in late June to add four more days off for students and educators and issued calendars for the following two school years at the same time.

Feature Stories

Revolutionary learning experience

‘Revolutionary’ learning experience

The Harbor Defense Museum at Fort Hamilton, with its collections of weaponry, uniforms and memorabilia from the American Revolution to World War II, is an interesting destination for a class trip.

Cultivating Gratitude

Cultivating gratitude

The garden at PS 146 in Howard Beach, Queens, is a place of learning and encourages gratitude, and therefore responsibility, for the natural world.

Member Spotlight

Beverly Greend
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Beverly Greene, PS 55, Bronx

As a math coach, Beverly Greene knows every problem has a solution. And that’s been her motto in her role as the chapter leader at PS 55 in the Bronx.

Nadhilis Rojas
What I Do

Nadhilis Rojas, bilingual school psychologist

As the psychologist at Gotham Collaborative HS in the Bronx, Nadhilis Rojas assesses students’ needs, refers them for services and tracks their progress. As a fluent English and Spanish speaker, she can more effectively serve her diverse school community.

Around the UFT

60th anniversary of the March on Washington

60th anniversary of the March on Washington

Eleven busloads of UFT members and school community members were among the tens of thousands of demonstrators who gathered at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, Aug. 26, to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Harlem Week 2023

Harlem Week 2023

UFT members and staff handed out books, backpacks, school supplies and other goodies to students and their families at the Harlem Week Children’s Festival at Howard Bennett Playground on Aug. 20.

Staten Island supplies giveaway

Staten Island supplies giveaway 2023

The UFT Staten Island partnered with local elected officials and organizations to provide backpacks and other supplies, food and fun for more than 400 families during its annual supplies giveaway on Aug. 2.

Dominican Day Parade 2023

Dominican Day Parade 2023

UFT members, family and friends celebrated Dominican culture and community on Aug. 13 by marching up Sixth Avenue or waving from the UFT’s blue-and-white float in the Dominican Day Parade.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits
New York City MTA select bus

Transit programs

If you travel to work by public transportation, you can save money by taking part in the City of New York Commuter Benefits Program, which covers the city and the tri-state area. This city benefit enables UFT members to pay for allowable commuting costs with tax-free funds.

Know Your Rights
Absences for paraprofessionals

Absences for paraprofessionals

If you are a paraprofessional, the DOE-UFT contract establishes rights and obligations in terms of when you can be absent from work. Learn about how you accumulate and can use sick days and about excused absences.

Your Well-being
Generic Two women talking over coffee

Healing from burnout

Burnout is a real risk for professionals in the helping professions, which include UFT members in education and health care. If you feel dread at the prospect of going to work, you may be suffering from this condition.

You Should Know

Grants, Awards & Freebies
A teacher with young students

Grants, Awards & Freebies

See our list of current opportunities for educators to receive funds and recognition for their hard work and dedication. 

For Your Information

COVID protocols for this school year

The Department of Education’s COVID-19 protocols for the 2023-24 school year align with current CDC guidelines. They are similar to the policies that were in place for the 2022-23 school year.

For Your Information
Health Insurance Claim Form on a clipboard with a calculator and credit card

Catastrophic major medical insurance

The Catastrophe Major Medical Plan, sponsored by NYSUT Member Benefits, offers additional coverage for expenses that a basic health plan might not. In-service members may enroll between Sept. 8 and Oct. 13, 2023.


Q&A on the Issues
Salary Generic

Money included in the new contract

The DOE-UFT contract, ratified on July 10, includes a ratification bonus and new annual retention bonuses in addition to regular across-the-board wage increases. It also boosts reimbursement payments for medical expenses related to an injury on the job and loss of personal property. Here’s what you need to know about these new pocketbook provisions.

Secure Your Future
Welcome to pension

It’s a good time to review your pension

The start of a new school year is a good opportunity to review the basics of membership in the Teachers’ Retirement System or the Board of Education Retirement System.


President's Perspective
Making educators work

Putting our contract into action

Contract enforcement all starts with understanding what the new agreement entails. Everyone should read the new contract — it’s the most important living document we as UFT members have. 

Mary Vaccaro

Changing how we teach kids to read

UFT Vice President for Education Mary Vaccaro writes that the DOE will require the use of one of three evidence-based literacy programs grounded in phonics in all elementary schools by September 2024. The UFT Teacher Center is committed to doing everything it can to support educators as they make the transition.

Our kids need smaller class sizes

Honor class-size law

Lowering class sizes in New York City is not an experiment, a wish list item, an “unfunded mandate” or just another expenditure competing for city Department of Education funding. It’s the law. 

UFT members pose in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial

Fight’s not over

On Aug. 28, 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. captivated an audience of 250,000 people at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with his soaring “I Have a Dream” speech. Sixty years later, the dreams invoked that day by these civil rights icons have not been fully realized. 

Editorial Cartoons

George Altomare is here!

UFT founder George Altomare, who died in August 2023, is greeted by fellow UFT members in heaven.

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve
Attaining National Board

Attaining National Board certification

Officially known as the second differential (C6 + PD), most members achieve the salary differential with the highest pay scale by taking 30 course credits beyond their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. But a lesser-known path to the top differential is to receive certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Linking to Learning
Teaching mindfulness

Mindfulness digital resources abound

Between the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of social media, many students are dealing with anxiety, lack of focus, tumultuous emotions or depression. There’s a proven strategy that can help: mindfulness. Here are some digital resources that can help teachers bring mindfulness practices into the classroom.

Teacher to Teacher
Blob Tree

Building relationships with your students

I have developed five simple strategies for building genuine and affectionate relationships with my students quickly and efficiently early in the school year.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career
Fostering Pride

Fostering pride in creativity

Jennifer Figueroa believes that anyone can be an artist. And the Bronx native, now in her third year of teaching art at PS 178 in Co-op City, knows that an expansive definition of "artist" helps kids take pride in all kinds of creativity.

Building Your Career
Inside my Classroom

Inside my classroom

Second-grade teacher Candace LeDoux has her students write a daily affirmation each morning. She believes this small investment in positive thinking can have a big impact on her students’ well-being.

New Teacher Articles
creating a welcoming classroom

Creating a welcoming classroom

Having a warm and inviting learning environment will help you connect with your students, especially those who are new to the school or even the country. Here are some suggestions for how to make your students feel welcome in your classroom from the start of the new school year.

Retired Teachers News

Enroll in the RTC
RTC Service

Enroll in the RTC to access membership benefits

From Si Beagle courses and social services to legal advice and supplemental health care, membership in the Retired Teachers Chapter offers many benefits.

But membership is not automatic: You must enroll in the UFT’s Retired Teachers Chapter after you retire to remain a UFT member.

The founders of the UFT created the RTC more than 60 years ago to continue supporting members into retirement. It is considered the nation’s best retiree program for public school educators and health care providers.

“The RTC is the go-to place for the next phase of your lives,” Chapter Leader Tom Murphy says to new retirees.

The union and the UFT Welfare Fund’s Department of Retiree Programs offer an array of…

African American senior
RTC Information

Bringing retired paras into the UFT fold

The UFT has initiated an outreach program to determine how the union can best support retired paraprofessionals. The Retired Teachers Chapter includes approximately 7,600 paraprofessionals.

Tom Murphy
RTC Chapter Leader Column

Happy and busy ‘new year’

Over the summer, RTC members helped their teachers union colleagues in Florida reach new state-mandated union enrollment thresholds and helped the United Farm Workers union organize migrant farmworkers in New York State.