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New York TeacherDecember 21, 2023

Volume LXV, Number 3

Even though the city economy is in decent shape, Mayor Eric Adams is threatening to make three successive 5% cuts to education funding between December and June in what would be a terrible blow to New York City public schools still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cover Story

Not the time for budget cuts

‘Not the time for budget cuts’

In a terrible blow to New York City public schools still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Eric Adams plans to make three successive 5% cuts to education funding between December and June.

To absorb the first 5% cut, the city Department of Education will reduce funding for after-school programs, per session work, substitutes, 3-K and pre-K and community schools, among other things. The hours, days and ages for next year’s Summer Rising program will be reduced, too. To save $286 million, funded DOE positions that are currently vacant will be eliminated.

The mayor has asked the DOE to prepare a plan for another round of 5% budget cuts in January, and yet another 5% reduction before the fiscal year ends on June 30.

More than 4,000 UFT members and parents have sent emails to their Council members asking them to intervene to stop the cuts. So far,…

Latest News

Fix tier 6
News Stories

It’s time to ‘Fix Tier Six’

The UFT is launching a Fix Tier Six campaign in an effort to improve the pension benefits of its more than 50,000 members who have joined the New York City pension system since April 2012.

managing the newcomer crisis
News Stories

Managing the newcomer crisis

Some 30 educators, academics, activists and representatives from community-based organizations gathered together on Nov. 29 for a Summit to Support Newcomers to discuss how to best assist educators confronted with the thousands of asylum-seeking children that have recently arrived in public schools.

Feature Stories

He showed them the way

He ‘showed them the way’

Ninety-nine-year-old Thomas Naegele retired from teaching commercial art at the HS of Art & Design in Manhattan 32 years ago, but his legacy lives on in two generations of art teachers that he inspired in his wake.

Naegele said what he most enjoyed as a teacher during his 32 years at the school were the relationships he built with his students. “They listened to me, they allowed themselves to be helped, they came to the classroom enthusiastically and left that way, and they didn’t mind having to stay overtime or come in on a Saturday,” he said.

Naegele said his primary goal as a teacher was to help his students become employable and self-supporting, with or without a college education.

“It had worked for me, and I believed in the mission that the city of New York, with all its industrial business, was a unique market that not only needed these young people but owed them in advance this kind of…

a place to heal

A place to heal

There is a room at IS 391 in the Bronx with color-changing lights, soft bean-bag chairs, a gurgling fountain, books and fidget toys.
“We needed a calming place where students could come for counseling, and students and staff could just sit and self-regulate,” said school social worker Michelle Jervis.

Heather Simms
Noteworthy Graduates

Noteworthy Graduate: Heather Simms, Broadway actor

Actor Heather Simms is playing Missy Judson in the current Broadway revival of Purlie Victorious. She made her stage debut in 2nd grade at PS 243 in Crown Heights, hamming it up as the mother in “Hansel and Gretel.”

Member Spotlight

Katie Garfield
What I Do

Katie Garfield, hospital schools program teacher

As a teacher at a hospital clinic, Katie Garfield instructs K–12 students while they receive treatment for cancer and blood diseases including sickle-cell anemia.

Sonja Hill
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Sonja Hill at PS 41, Brooklyn

The UFT’s COPE — Committee on Public Education — program is one of the benchmarks of Sonja Hill’s chapter leadership.
Hill, a 5th-grade teacher in her 31st year at PS 41 in Brownsville, Brooklyn — and the school’s chapter leader for more than half of those years — stresses the program’s importance to members.

Around the UFT

teacher union day
Awards & Honors

Teacher Union Day 2023

UFT members celebrated past, present and future union leaders on Teacher Union Day by mourning founder George Altomare on the anniversary of the union’s first strike and honoring the new school-based Contract Action Teams and others who carry on his legacy.

Fireside chat with Norman and Velma Murphy Hill

Fireside chat with Norman and Velma Murphy Hill

UFT members had the rare opportunity to hear a first-hand account of the creation of the Paraprofessionals Chapter more than 50 years ago from Velma Murphy Hill, the chapter’s founder and first chair, and her husband Norman Hill.

spreading awareness

Parent conferences

The three UFT parent conferences offered in the fall shared an organizing aim: to make sure parents are aware of the state law to lower class size and the importance of getting the Department of Education to comply with it.

Time to enjoy after meeting

New Retiree Luncheon

More than 500 newly minted retirees gathered to celebrate at the union's New Retiree Luncheon at the New York Hilton Midtown on Nov. 21.

Nurses UFT Professional Conf

Federation of Nurses/UFT Professional Issues Conference

As they learned about the latest treatment protocols and other workplace issues at their annual union conference, Federation of Nurses/UFT members vowed they would continue fighting to make the state enforce the landmark 2022 safe staffing law and hold hospitals accountable.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits
victim support program

Victim Support Program

Did you know there’s a place to turn for support — both at and away from your work site — when tragedy strikes? It’s the Victim Support Program, co-sponsored by the UFT’s Safety and Health Department and the city Department of Education. 

Know Your Rights
Resolving workplace issues

Resolving workplace issues

The DOE-UFT contract gives educators an expedited process for addressing many workplace problems: the operational issues resolution process. In the 2023 contract, the paperwork and operational issues process was expanded to address even more workplace issues. 

Your Well-being
MAP wellness article - holiday blues

Better holiday habits

As we enter the holiday season, remember to make yourself a priority as well. The end of the year is a good time to reflect on decisions made during the past year: what worked and what didn’t, and how to build better habits. 

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. 

Q&A on the Issues
school safety

School safety

School safety is a prerequisite for teaching and learning. The UFT’s Safety and Health Department is dedicated to protecting all UFT members from safety threats that can confront them in schools. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about school safety that UFT members ask.

For Your Information
Blue hexagon with symbol of head and light bulb

UFT functional chapters

The city DOE employs many types of educators and professionals who work with New York City public school students in a variety of ways, from counseling high school seniors about college to offering physical and occupational therapy to special needs children.

Secure Your Future
Looseleafs labeled Retirement plan and Pension

History of the UFT pension plan

New pension plan tiers come into existence when the state Legislature enacts new laws that change benefits, contribution rates and service requirements. But a pension tier is never set in amber. Over the past 40 years, legislative amendments to each pension tier narrate a tale of continuous advocacy by the UFT, NYSUT and other public employee unions.


President's Perspective
A woman speaks with a large crowd behind her showing support

A chance to speak out on mayoral control

For too long, we have been at the whim of whatever agenda the current mayor decides to pursue. The school budget cuts we are now fighting is a perfect example. What our schools need is not always aligned with what the mayor wants. What is the purpose of having a citywide Panel for Educational Policy if a majority of the panelists are mayoral appointees who vote the way the mayor asks them to?

Giving back to communities

Giving back to communities year round

UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford writes that our schools are more than academic institutions. They are caring institutions and, as educators, we understand that caring for the communities we work in is part of teaching and learning. We hope to create a ripple of hope, advocacy and support through all our endeavors as a union. 

Mayoral control

Mayoral control

It is simply not acceptable that one person has blanket authority over the country’s largest school system.

Stop evictions

Unfair evictions

As we enter the coldest months of the year, many asylum-seeking families who endured great hardship to reach New York City are facing additional trauma as Mayor Eric Adams’ administration prepares to evict them from emergency shelters.

Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve
The hard facts about soft skills

The hard facts about soft skills

Skills such as communication, collaboration, problem-solving and emotional intelligence are crucial and in-demand and helping students acquire them is much needed, but where should teachers begin?

Linking to Learning
Linking to Learning Dec. 2023 - squirrel data pie chart

Data literacy essential

Understanding and interpreting data is a fundamental skill of modern life. Learn how to teach data skills using engaging, student-centered strategies and resources. 

Teacher to Teacher
Informal assessment

Three informal assessment options

Sometimes, informal assessments can be more meaningful and less anxiety-provoking than traditional tests for students. Three informal assessments I use in my high school chemistry classes are 10-Point Bingo, a whiteboard activity and “I Can” statements. 

Building Your Career

Inside My Classroom
inside my classroom

Books in English and Spanish

ENL/ELA teacher Eva Dejesus divides her library, which has books in both English and Spanish, by genre. "Students start in their native language, because we know that development of the first language supports development of the second," she says.

New Teacher Articles
Pay raise - dollar sign - generic

Money-saving tips for classroom supplies

It is possible to finance classroom projects with grants, donations and other money-saving strategies. Here are some avenues.

New Teacher Profiles
Queens teacher keeps his students wired

Queens teacher keeps his students wired

Louis Pichardo brings his twin passions for teaching and electrical work to his job teaching electrical installation to career and technical education students at Queens Technical HS in Sunnyside. Pichardo, a third-year teacher, asks his students to be active participants and investigators.

Retired Teachers News

what you need to know
RTC Service

What you need to know about your TDA and RMDs

UFT retirees know that their defined-benefit pensions and Social Security checks come every month and the amount of each check will increase regularly as a result of cost-of-living adjustments. Pensions are taxed, as is Social Security above a certain amount.

But rules for tax-deferred annuities, which 75% of UFT members also have, are different.

When you retire, you must make a decision regarding the distribution of your TDA funds. You have the following options: Elect TDA deferral status to maintain your TDA balance during retirement. Receive your TDA funds as a monthly annuity, which is separate from your Qualified Pension Plan retirement allowance. Generally, annuities are subject to federal taxes and may be subject to state and local taxes, too. Withdraw your TDA funds, or roll them over to an eligible…

Tom Murphy
RTC Chapter Leader Column

Our growing role at the AFT

While the national union may seem distant from our activist local in New York City, we are, in fact, an integral part of the AFT. The AFT’s bird’s eye view keeps us involved in national issues and policies that affect the wider labor movement and working families.

Dancing to his own drummer
RTC Second Act

Dancing to his own drummer again

When Roy Fialkow retired in 2019 after a 29-year career as an adaptive physical education teacher, his life came full circle: He returned to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, where he had been a dancer in his 20s, as the nonprofit’s education manager.