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New York TeacherJanuary 4, 2018

Volume LIX, Number 5

Cover Stories

Volunteers join the Santas for a Christmas portrait.

Winter wonderland for homeless kids

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas as the winter’s first snowfall dusted the shoulders of the 150 homeless children from across the city arriving at UFT headquarters on Dec. 9 for the biggest and most exciting holiday party of the season.

Like guests at a posh city restaurant, the children’s coats were taken and they were shown to their reserved tables by the scores of volunteers from the UFT and the Coalition for the Homeless that together host the annual celebration.

And what to the guests’ wondering eyes should appear but Shanker Hall transformed to a party wonderland, with dazzling decorations and a DJ playing seasonal music.

Clutching gift bags they were eager to explore and smiling ear to ear, the children settled in at each table. As their initial awe and shyness wore off, the party moved into high gear as the kids jumped up to explore the games and activities set up…

Hands held high, strong in solidarity
Know Your Benefits

Union Proud: Your benefits

Using its strength in numbers, the UFT has negotiated comprehensive health benefits that are valuable — and increasingly rare — in today’s economy. Thanks to the union, members also can look forward to a secure retirement, have opportunities for professional growth and can get help when they are struggling or in crisis.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew watches delegates react to an anti-union video.

Membership teams form at schools, worksites

The UFT is putting together a membership team at each school or worksite to speak with members and make sure they are aware of what’s at stake in the anti-union Janus case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Latest News

Administrative ed officers and analysts ratify first contract

Administrative education officers and analysts on Dec. 7 overwhelmingly ratified their first collective-bargaining agreement with the city Department of Education.

The union advantage - when unions decline inequality rises

The union advantage

With working people under attack from Republicans in Washington, D.C., and pervasive anti-labor sentiment, there's no better time to take stock of the benefits you have as a union member — benefits worth fighting to protect.

What you need to know about functional chapters

Although the union is called the United Federation of Teachers, the membership has grown to include many other types of educators and professionals who serve the children of New York City in a variety of ways.These Department of Education-employed members have functional chapters of their own to address common issues and concerns.

Frank Brogan

Trump names top K–12 education official

President Donald Trump has appointed Frank Brogan as assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, the top Education Department position overseeing K–12 policy.
Preschool age children (generic)

Study: Community schools can improve academics

A new report, released on Dec. 14 by the Learning Policy Institute, found that academic outcomes for high-poverty schools can be improved if they become community schools.

Feature Stories

The books in the series are on display.

The magical world of words

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It’s common knowledge that Muggles — nonmagical people — aren’t permitted to visit Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But if there’s an exception to the rule, the students in Alessandra Giuffre’s class at PS 140 in the Bronx couldn’t be more deserving.

Giuffre has been reading the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling to her 12 students, a mix of 4th- and 5th-graders with disabilities, every morning since September 2016.

“When I was in 5th grade, I hated to read,” remembers Giuffre. “Then ‘Harry Potter’ came out, and I got hooked.”

She thought the same might be true of her students, many of whom were reluctant readers and writers.

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“So many people think they wouldn’t be able to handle the complexity of a story like this. But we stop and talk about it, we make thinking maps to organize our thoughts,” she says. “I’m so proud of them and what they’ve…

Students review photographs of the neighborhood taken by photojournalist Jacob R

History in their own backyard

PS 126 teacher finds inspiration for his social studies lessons in the rich history of his Manhattan school's Lower East Side neighborhood.

Math teacher Brittany Clark summarizes strategies for dealing with student behav

New teachers don’t have to go it alone

Coordinator Teresa Devore has worked tirelessly to make the Teacher Center at John Dewey HS a place where teachers can come for advice, resources and support. She focuses in particular on newer teachers, who make up about a third of Dewey’s teaching staff. 

Member Spotlight

Michele Singer
What I Do

What I do: Michele Singer, director of alcohol and substance abuse

With 42 years in the school system, first as a teacher and now as the senior member of the team of drug directors represented by the UFT, Michele Singer works to ensure students stay safe in the midst of the opioid crisis.

Franco Scardino, Townsend Harris HS, Queens
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Franco Scardino, Townsend Harris HS, Queens

As the chapter leader at Townsend Harris HS in Queens, Franco Scardino was the linchpin in mobilizing staff, parents and alumni to prod the Department of Education to remove a principal who violated the contract and harassed teachers.

Around the UFT

Kotler works with a student as he creates his shirt.

Studying the book and movie ‘Wonder’ at PS 117, Queens

The “Choose Kind” theme was embraced by the 5th-graders at PS 117 in Briarwood, Queens when they read the book "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio in December in anticipation of the movie’s opening.

UFT Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series

UFT members learned about the latest findings in breast cancer research and treatment at union headquarters on Dec. 12, as part of the UFT Welfare Fund’s Medical Learning Series.

Sing for Hope piano donated to PS 196, Brooklyn

Excited children packed the auditorium at PS 196 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to learn about their school’s new hand-painted piano, donated by Sing for Hope, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 17. 

Diverse early school aged children sitting in a circle learning a lesson

Multicultural festival at District 20 Pre-K site in Brooklyn

Students learned the value of cultural diversity and respect at a multicultural celebration at the District 20 Pre-K site at Bay 11th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, on Oct. 26.

Vera Stasny (right) presents flowers to hostess Reichert as Joan Derwin looks on

Retirees from PS 1, Brooklyn, mark 50-year anniversary

Retirees from PS 1 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, mark 50 years of friendship.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits
Hearing aids (generic)

Hearing aids

The UFT Welfare Fund, which provides an array of supplemental health benefits to eligible UFT members, provides a hearing aid benefit of $1,000.

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. 

You Should Know
Teacher's Choice supplies

Teacher’s Choice receipts due Jan. 14

Jan. 14 is the deadline for spending Teacher’s Choice funds and submitting receipts for purchases.

Secure Your Future
Retired couple with financial advisor

Difficult conversations made a little easier

We urge you to speak with your family about what to do in the event of a debilitating illness or death. Here is a list of topics you should discuss with family and the legal documents you should have.


President's Perspective

Good deeds to build on

We often talk about how the union provides concrete value— the many rights and benefits that we enjoy as UFT members. But you also belong to a community of public school educators and other professionals who are motivated to help others and whose good deeds ripple far beyond the classroom.

Evelyn DeJesus OA 07.jpg

Giving ‘life’ to Puerto Rico

Operation Agua is committed to delivering 100,000 water purifiers to Puerto Rican residents and businesses.

Tax return generic

A lousy tax plan

The Republican tax overhaul is dreadful in ways old and new. It will be horrible for millions of families and individuals in 12 Democratic states, including New York and New Jersey, because the tax plan’s cap on deductions of state and local taxes will mean higher federal taxes and less money in their wallets.
While Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz continually asks for more public sch

Question authority

“The Education of Eva Moskowitz: A Memoir,” released in December, has been extensively reviewed. Whether they favored her Success Academy methods or not, most critics made mention of Moskowitz’s self-righteousness and long memory for long-ago battles. As one reviewer noted, do we want someone with such venom in charge of students? Good question.

Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning

Using a 3D printer in your classroom

You may be curious about how to integrate a 3D printer in your classroom. But aren’t they expensive, difficult to learn and only for the most tech-savvy teachers? The answer is no, at least not anymore.

Research shows

Weaker union hurts test scores in Wisconsin

The weakening of teachers’ unions in Wisconsin led to a drop in math and science test scores in the state’s already struggling schools, according to new research published by the Social Science Research Network.
Teacher to Teacher
Stone, peace - generic

‘Peace Place’ a calming option

I help my students learn to advocate for themselves when they need time, space and quiet to process feelings or calm themselves. One strategy I’ve used with success is to create a Peace Place in my classroom.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

Nonfiction mentor texts

My co-teacher and I created a basket of different kinds of nonfiction mentor texts that we use to teach informational writing to our 2nd-graders.
New Teacher Profiles
Gehan Habashy helps students create self-portraits overlaid with identity poems

She teaches by example

Immigrant students at the International HS for Health Sciences in Queens can relate to visual arts teacher Gehan Habashy, who was born and raised in Egypt.

Retired Teachers News

Tax calculator - generic

Tax plan would hurt middle class

The Republican Congress’ tax bill, one of its highest priorities, seemed to be on its way to becoming a reality at press time.

Under congressional budget and taxation legislative procedures, it only requires a simple majority for passage of the bill. Thus the Senate’s filibuster 60-vote rule does not apply. We should note that political parties out of power favor filibuster protections while those with narrow control of that body favor a simple majority vote. So, if you think the arguments between Democrats and Republicans of a few years ago have flip-flopped, you may be asking “Who’s on first?”

As an old political friend of mine used to say, “It depends on whose ox is being gored.” Politicians use whatever tools and…