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New York TeacherDecember 7, 2017

Volume LIX, Number 4

Cover Stories

Members (from left) Melody Anastasiou, Stephanie Seidmen Zedner, Meghan Conway a

The fight for paid parental leave

Luisa Ayala should have been thrilled to be pregnant with her second daughter in December 2016. But having given birth to her first child just over a year earlier, she found herself in a wrenching predicament.

The Department of Education’s current parental leave policy provides up to six weeks of leave, but new mothers must effectively pay for any days they take using the days in their Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR). Because Ayala, a paraprofessional at Pelham Academy of Academics and Community Engagement in the Bronx, used up most of her CAR days after her first pregnancy and felt she couldn’t afford to go unpaid, she returned to work just 10 days after her second daughter’s birth.

Two days later, she was admitted to the hospital with a deep vein thrombosis in her left leg and a pulmonary emb…

Long Island City HS secretaries hit the pavement.


New Yorkers had their say, and they said no — resoundingly — to a state constitutional convention on Nov. 8. “The Vote NO campaign was a case study in how engaged and informed union members can mobilize to protect their rights and benefits,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

School duo among first responders to terror attack

A school nurse and her daughter, a substitute teacher, were thrust into the scene of the deadliest terror attack in New York City since 9/11.

Latest News

PS 24 was well-represented by parents at the Nov. 18 Queens conference.

‘Every year, I learn more and more’

Strategies to help New York City’s public school children become socially and academically successful were the focus of the eighth annual UFT Parent Conferences held in each borough and the thousands who attended them in the fall.

National Labor Relations

U.S. Senate confirms union foe to head labor board

President Trump’s nominee for the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel, Peter Robb, received U.S. Senate confirmation on Nov. 8. Robb is a labor lawyer with a long history of backing management against unions and workers.

AFT helps Puerto Rico obtain clean water

Hurricane Maria left nearly one million Americans in Puerto Rico without clean drinking water, and the American Federation of Teachers is stepping up to help.

Gothamist and DNAinfo shut down for unionizing

New York local news staples Gothamist and DNAinfo were shut down by their billionaire owner, Joe Ricketts, on Nov. 3 — only a week after their workers voted to form a union.


Anti-voucher school board candidates win in Colorado

The school voucher program in Colorado’s Douglas County is on thin ice after voters on Nov. 7 ushered in an anti-voucher slate of candidates by huge margins.

Feature Stories

Hands held high, strong in solidarity

Union Proud: Your rights

You can click on the headlines in the tree below to learn more about each right that you have as a UFT member.


The UFT-Department of Education contract empowers us and helps ensure we have the resources, support and structures in place we need to provide a quality education to New York City public school students. These are just a few of the many rights you have because you have a strong union that can bargain and work on your behalf.

More money Negotiated pay increases Lump-sum payments in 2015–20 for money owed Salary differentials for credits earned beyond a bachelor’s degree Salary steps based on time on the job for most titles A guaranteed rate of pay for work beyond regular school hours Extra pay for teachers when they are asked to cover a class more than once per term or teach an extra class School secretaries can receive per-session pay…

Looking to pitch to a teammate

Rugby scores at Park Slope school

At Brooklyn middle school, academics is a team player in championship rugby program.

Noteworthy Graduates

Noteworthy graduates: Harvey Araton, sportswriter

Harvey Araton had never seen The New York Times until a high school English teacher had his class read it each day. Now, after more than 25 years as a sportswriter and columnist there, Araton's writing has earned him a place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Member Spotlight

Chapter Leader Shoutout
Bennett Fisher

Kudos to Bennett Fischer, PS 231 @ PS 54, Brooklyn

Bennett Fischer, the chapter leader at PS 231 @ PS 54 in Brooklyn, seized on the UFT’s new protocol to confront redundant and excessive paperwork to address three big paperwork issues at his District 75 K–8 school.

Around the UFT

Murrow HS students and staff prepare to celebrate their pride in diversity.

Human wave at Edward R. Murrow HS, Brooklyn

Staff and students at Edward R. Murrow HS, one of the most diverse high schools in New York State, took part in a great human wave to celebrate that diversity on Oct. 24.

Madison HS teacher Lorraine Deacy, in her first year as a high school teacher, p

Three M New Teacher Event

New members at three large high schools in Brooklyn had the opportunity to learn more about their union on Oct. 25 at Madison HS.

Character Day Parade at PS 165, Brooklyn

It’s not often that Little Red Riding Hood gets together with Batman and Tinkerbell. But at the annual Character Day Parade at PS 165 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, anything can happen when students dress up as their favorite storybook characters on Halloween.

10th anniversary at PS/IS 295, Queens

Delissa Walker-Belfon, a kindergarten teacher at PS/IS 295 in Queens Village, remembers when the school opened its doors 10 years ago.

Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series

Herb and dietary supplement safety was the focus of the Nov. 9 UFT Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Rights
Handicapped Students

Paraprofessionals’ responsibilities

UFT paraprofessionals have challenging and rewarding jobs working as part of an educational team providing educational and support services to children. Here are some rights and responsibilities of paraprofessionals that paras should know.

Your Well-being

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many people experience the “winter blues” in response to the change of seasons. Research over the past 30 years has identified this as a true medical condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

You Should Know

Secure Your Future
Happy mature couple dancing (generic)

TRS benefits that protect you and your family

The Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) provides benefits if you become disabled, die or leave service before retirement age. Some of the benefits depend on choices you make now. 



Educational excellence is unionism

Educators' pursuit of scholastic excellence for their students and themselves and the advancement of their profession through trade unionism as UFT members are not mutually exclusive.

President's Perspective

All our children

UFT members spend their days nurturing and supporting other people’s children, yet the Department of Education’s current parental leave policy forces them to choose between their newborns and earning a paycheck that is critical to the wellbeing of their families.


Killing the news

Why would the owner of DNAinfo and Gothamist suddenly pull the plug on Nov. 2 on two news sites that were filling a huge void in local coverage?


Beyond the con: Janus

The next challenge we face is the upcoming ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. In the coming months, we’ll need all hands on deck to get the message out about the importance of union membership and the critical difference it makes in our standard of living.

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve
In Lianne Erosa’s 1st-grade class at PS 72, students work to design a bridge tha

A new approach to gifted education

Educators in the Bronx’s District 8 are embracing a new approach to gifted education. Known as the “schoolwide enrichment model,” it focuses not on classifying gifted individuals but rather on developing and nurturing gifted behaviors in all students.

Research shows
Para or teacher and child

Teacher say in school decisions aids students

Students perform better in schools where teachers have input into key school decisions, according to new research funded by the Carnegie Corporation.

Teacher to Teacher
Preschool age children (generic)

Parental involvement and special-needs students

When working on my doctoral degree in educational psychology, I embarked on a journey to explore the home-school connection for students with special needs, its challenges and the most effective ways to initiate it.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

A growth mindset

My students came up with amazing ideas of what people with a growth mindset might say.
New Teacher Articles

You’ve made it to December! Now what?

Now that the newness of the school year has worn off, you may find yourself hunting for fresh strategies for motivating students to try out as the winter looms.

Retired Teachers News

SHIP 2018 Premium Notices

The Supplemental Health Insurance Program’s 2018 premium notices will be sent in early January to retirees who have not elected to pay premiums via automatic pension deduction.

Retiree Stanley Albritten asks Ost a question.

Labor must show the way

Early in the last century, when icebergs threatened North Atlantic sea lanes, a London newspaper suggested placing two or three members of the same political party who had different points of view on the icebergs so the heat of their vicious arguments could melt away the frozen shipping hazards.