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New York TeacherJuly 5, 2018

Volume LIX, Number 11

Cover Stories

UFT ‘will remain strong’ despite Janus ruling

The conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27 ruled against public sector unions nationwide in a decision that will make it more difficult for them to raise the funds necessary to support and advocate for the employees they represent.

In a 5–4 decision, the high court declared unconstitutional the agency or fair-share fees that nonmembers pay to offset the union’s cost of negotiating contracts that cover all workers, regardless of whether they are union members.

“The Janus decision reflects years of scheming by forces desperate to destroy workers’ rights and to undermine public education,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “These people think that their money, power and privilege give them the right to rig the system in their favor. But our union will remain strong, and we will not be silenced. Everything we have been able to accomplish for our members and our students has come from our ability to work together, and we will continue t…

UFT President Michael Mulgrew (center) stands with members, their spouses and ch

Special delivery

After months of intense negotiations and a public campaign by UFT members, the union and the Department of Education have reached an agreement that will provide paid parental leave for UFT members.

Janus Supreme Court rally protest

Union-hating billionaires bankrolled case

The plaintiff in the anti-union Supreme Court case known as Janus v. AFSCME was Mark Janus, a child support specialist for the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services. But Janus wasn’t fighting alone. 
The case against the union representing Illinois state workers has been bankrolled by anti-union billionaires.

Latest News

Emily James, with daughters Natalie (left) and Alessandra, and husband, Lenwood,

Winning ‘our fight together’

In May 2017, Emily James, a mother of two and a teacher at Brooklyn Preparatory HS, decided to publish a petition on calling on the UFT and the DOE to implement a paid parental leave policy. In just a few months, James’ petition garnered more than 80,000 signatures and thrust the UFT’s efforts to negotiate a parental leave policy into the spotlight.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew (right) and NYSUT President Andy Pallotta discuss

Court: Charters can't shortcut certification

The UFT and its state affiliate, New York State United Teachers, won their battle to maintain rigorous certification standards for teachers when a New York State Supreme Court justice on June 19 struck down less stringent regulations established last October by the State University of New York. The union victory was a setback for the charter school lobby, which had pushed for the new rules.

Puerto Rico flag

Judge halts school closures in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s plan to close 265 public schools has hit a roadblock after a judge on June 11 ordered that the island stop the closure of at least nine schools.


Washington State court ends school funding case

The Washington Supreme Court ruled on June 7 that the state has at last complied with a court-ordered mandate to fully fund its education system by September of this year, ending a decade-long case known as the McCleary lawsuit.

Betsy DeVos

DeVos’ school safety group won’t look at guns

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos revealed on June 5 that her commission to study school safety, established in the wake of this year’s series of school shootings, will not study the issue of guns.

Feature Stories

Jennifer Aiello, a teacher at PS 22 on Staten Island, helps a 3rd-grader get int

Soap Box Derby

Four years ago, science teacher Pat Lockhart was looking for a new way to teach simple machines to her 3rd-graders at PS 57 on Staten Island. She did it by utilizing something that’s been around since 1934. “I was talking about building go-carts from my childhood,” she explained. “So I went online and found the website for the All-American Soap Box Derby.”

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These days, the Soap Box Derby is not just a staple at her school, but is spreading to others across New York City, as teachers are using the connected curriculum to help teach science, technology, engineering and math as well as develop critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and team building skills — all while having fun. “The race is a culmination of the program,” Lockhart said of the June 10 event at the Petrides School complex on Staten Island, where some 80 cars built by students representing 40 schools competed for six spots in the national event this July in Akro…

90-year anniversary at PS 117, Queens

PS 117 students on June 8 joined past and present teachers and administrators and former students for the Queen's school's 90th Anniversary celebration.

It’s the 2nd-graders’ turn to perform at the PS 91 spring concert on May 24.

Hitting all the high notes

Music is lifting up students at PS 91 in University Heights in the Bronx — not just emotionally but academically, too.

Member Spotlight

Michael Ferruso, Hillcrest HS, Queens
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Michael Ferruso, Hillcrest HS, Queens

This year’s opening of a UFT Teacher Center at Hillcrest HS — where the school’s 240 educators now can earn CTLE hours at on-site workshops and gather for professional conversation and collaboration — may be the most celebrated achievement in Chapter Leader Michael Ferruso’s efforts to rebuild his chapter.

Jennifer Brenon
What I Do

What I do: Jennifer Brenon, preschool teacher

Jennifer Brenon recently finished her second year at the Stanley S. Lamm Preschool for students with special needs in Windsor, Brooklyn. The school’s 40 staff members joined the UFT in 2008.

Around the UFT

Award winner Louis Morel of Bronx Aerospace HS shares his happiness with (from l

Bronx HS District and Pathways to Graduation Scholarship/Recognition Awards

Thirty-one Bronx high school seniors will begin their freshman year of college in September with laptops and printers presented to them at the second annual Bronx High School District and Pathways to Graduation Recognition Awards ceremony held at the UFT’s Bronx borough office on June 19.

Speech Teacher Chapter Leader Mindy Karten Bornemann (right) is passing the bato

Speech Improvement Chapter retrospective

A retrospective of the UFT’s Speech Improvement Chapter, which was founded in 1991, was a highlight of a May 30 event that drew more than 100 members of the chapter, past and present, to UFT headquarters.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew presents the Annette Carlucci Celebration of Life

Fitting sendoff for chapter leader

School secretaries have many responsibilities. But for Mona Gonzalez, who is stepping down as chapter leader, the job will always be about relationships. “The relationships and memories will last a lifetime,” she said after accepting the Annette Carlucci Celebration of Life Award at the union’s 32nd annual School Secretaries of the Year Awards Luncheon on June 2.

Retirees boasting 50- and 60-year UFT membership rise to be recognized.

We will always ‘watch out for each other’

History and politics topped the menu for the record crowd of 570 retirees attending the 55th annual UFT Retired Teachers Chapter Luncheon on May 29 at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan.

UFT Players (from left) Magaly Picard, Silvia Bodden, Donna Coles and Marjorie B

UFT Players’ 20th Anniversary Celebration

More than 80 UFT members, retirees, family and friends took part in the UFT Players' 20th Anniversary Celebration on June 1 at union headquarters.



You’ve earned this time to recharge

Staying in fighting shape takes self-care. As educator and activist Audre Lorde reminded us, “You can’t fight from a place of fury all of the time.”

President's Perspective

Strength in unity

That’s the power of the union — nothing less than a fully engaged membership taking on an important issue and not giving up.

Bubble Test

Windy City wisdom

“Testing is not the be-all and end-all.” That statement would not be surprising coming from a teacher who sees subject mastery in a student’s class performance and work portfolio or from a parent in the opt-out movement. Both know that a child is more than a score on a high stakes test.


Is this Success?

Success Academy was awash in celebration in June when it graduated its first high school seniors. Founder Eva Moskowitz reportedly shed tears of joy. She had so much to be proud of! Twelve years after opening its first school, the city’s largest charter network was sending all of its first high school graduating class to college. All 16 of them.

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Best face-to-face PD opportunities

While online technology courses are convenient, face-to-face opportunities are still important. Meeting and establishing connections with colleagues can help build community and allow for networking and camaraderie — outcomes not easily achieved when communicating over a screen.

Research shows
Dialogue between two people

Students gain from having same teacher twice

Elementary school students reap academic benefits when assigned to the same teachers for two years in a row, according to new research in the journal Economics of Education Review. 

Teacher to Teacher

The importance of character education

There is a profound connection between developing good character and achieving academically. For this reason, our committee of educators launched a character education program to highlight skills that might promote good character in our students. 

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Growth stars

It’s so important to celebrate growth as well as achievement, especially as we work to instill a growth mindset in our kids. This little board is one way I do that.

New Teacher Diaries
Generic classroom photo - Spanish/ELL

Learning new language, keeping their culture

When we first met in September, BiBi was an entry-level English language learner and I was a new English as a New Language teacher. BiBi, a 5th-grader, was reluctant to learn, to speak a word of English or even to go over the English alphabet. She wanted to hold on to her home language. I totally understand this. Why should a child be stripped of her identity just because she is in another country? 

Retired Teachers News

Christine Rowland and Joe Sicilian take part in a training sessions

Our retirees remain on the front lines

Summer vacation for retirees can be any month just as retiree weekends can be any two days ending in y. Because so many retirees have committed the free time that retirement provides to union organizing and political activities they have become known as the UFT’s Daytime Army and they are mobilizing all across the country.

New Arizona UFT/RTC Section Coordinator Jerry Weissman and the more that 300 retirees now living there supported the ferment when that state’s teachers took a lead from those in West Virginia, Oklahoma and elsewhere who decided to stand up for their professional and economic well-being. UFT Arizona resident retirees watched events like the rally in Phoenix, the state capital, and the passionate lobbying efforts of their brothers and sisters through th…