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New York TeacherMarch 1, 2018

Volume LIX, Number 7

Cover Stories

MS 51, Brooklyn, teachers (from left) Rachel Rear, Julie Gibson and Joanna Santa

Supreme Court hears Janus arguments

The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26 heard spirited arguments in the Janus v. AFSCME case, a lawsuit aimed at starving public-employee unions, including the UFT, of the funding they need to provide services to and advocate for workers.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor summed it up after the Janus attorneys argued to the court that all collective bargaining in the public sector is political. “You’re basically arguing to do away with unions, because you are ... saying every single employee decision is really a public policy decision,” she said.

The lawsuit is the culmination of a decades-long, coordinated campaign by conservative groups to debilitate unions, one of the few strong advocates for workers. 

“The Janus case is bankrolled by right-wingers who want to cut salaries, dictate working conditions and roll back 50 years of hard-won civil and workers’ rights,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “That’s why they are going after one of the remaining institutions that stands up to them —…

Members from Communications Workers of America Local 1180, a union representing

Fighting back after losing it all

AFT Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas told her story, about what Wisconsin public school educators gave up when they lost collective bargaining rights, at a series of meetings with classroom teachers, UFT staff and press and at a packed Delegate Assembly during a recent two-day visit.

Educators at PS 28 in Brooklyn show they are #UnionProud and #PublicSchoolProud

True love

Thousands of UFT members at schools across the city wore the color on Valentine’s Day to show their love for their union.

Latest News

Education reaching new heights — and CTE leads the way

Dozens of CTE educators were recognized on Feb. 15 for teaching 21st-century skills and preparing students for college and careers.

Join together - cooperation - generic

Chicago’s public and charter school unions merge

The Chicago Teachers Union announced on Jan. 29 that its members had voted to merge with the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff.

Closed - Generic

Families for Excellent Schools to disband

The pro-charter group Families for Excellent Schools announced Feb. 5 that it will cease operations after its founder and CEO, Jeremiah Kittredge, was terminated for “inappropriate behavior.”

Locked Fence

U.S. Education Dept. locks out teachers unions

AFT President Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the National Education Association, were met with locked doors at the U.S. Education Department on Feb. 8 when they attempted to deliver more than 80,000 report cards grading Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on her first year in office.

Koch network spending big to erode public education

Billionaire Charles Koch and his allies are pouring money into a massive campaign to transform education in the United States from a fundamental right to a commodity.

Feature Stories

A woman wearing a purple tutu hugs a man wearing a green tutu in a classroom.

Shattering stereotypes

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Michael DeShields doesn’t usually wear an aqua tutu, unless it’s Tutu Tuesday at PS 3 in the West Village.

When the 1st-grade teacher read a story about a school that encouraged students to try on tutus to explore assumptions about gender, he knew he had to bring the program to his classroom.

Now, Tutu Tuesday is a weekly opportunity for PS 3 students to challenge dominant gender norms, learn more about themselves and build a supportive environment for transgender students.

“It doesn’t matter what people wear or look like, they’re still the same person,” DeShields, the school’s chapter leader, said at Tutu Tuesday on Feb. 6. “We need, as a community, to support each …

The staff of PS 239 in Ridgewood, Queens showed their love for public schools.

Pride and prejudice

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of Betsy DeVos’ appointment on Feb. 7, UFT members across New York City celebrated their public schools during National Public School week Feb. 5-9. Many used the hashtag #PublicSchoolProud on social media to show off pictures of their celebrations.

Salguero, at the piano, leads her students in song.

Striking a chord

For her exemplary blending of science and music instruction, Salguero won the 2018 Grammy Music Educator of the Year award.

Member Spotlight

Freddie Cole, P 754, the Bronx
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Freddie Cole, P 754, the Bronx

When his principal unilaterally increased the teaching load of teachers of severely emotionally disturbed students in his multi-site high school, P 754 Chapter Leader Freddie Cole immediately filed a grievance — and won.

Hannah Brancato
What I Do

What I do: Hannah Brancato, teacher team leader

Brancato, a member of the UFT’s Teacher Assigned Chapter, supports 24 teacher leaders — new positions created in the 2014 UFT-DOE contract — in 11 schools in Brooklyn’s District 14.

Around the UFT

Students and staff welcome the Sing for Hope piano to its new home at Pathways t

Pathways to Graduation HS gets Sing for Hope piano

A colorful Sing for Hope piano, which spent the summer in Brooklyn Park, now has a home at Pathways to Graduation HS, where it "fills a desperate need for a positive focus and helps our music program grow,” says one teacher.

Teacher Trish Strombeck of Curtis HS on Staten Island shares an “aha” moment wit

Braille Challenge

More than 20 blind and visually impaired students ages 5 to 21 competed in the third annual New York City Braille Challenge on Feb. 10 at P 721 in Elmhurst, Queens, hoping to score enough points to move on to the final round in California in June.


UFT-AFT student debt clinic

For the third year in a row, the UFT and the AFT teamed up to offer student debt clinics in each of the UFT’s borough offices this winter.

UFT African Heritage Committee Awards Dinner

“Don’t be asleep when it comes to the political climate we’re engaged in,” said Anthony Harmon, the UFT director of parent and community outreach and the event’s organizer, explaining the Stay Woke theme of the 15th annual UFT African Heritage Committee Awards Dinner on Feb. 2.

Keeping the conversation going are (from left) Rosie Cortijo, the corresponding

School Secretaries Seminar

School secretaries had a chance to network with colleagues from throughout the city and enjoyed workshops presented by the UFT and the city Department of Education at their annual seminar on Jan. 27 at UFT headquarters in Manhattan.

More in Around the UFT

You Should Know

You Should Know

NYSUT journal seeks articles

The 12th volume of NYSUT’s academic journal Educator’s Voice is seeking proposals for articles that showcase practices or programs in any grades on the topic of culturally responsive teaching. The deadline is June 15.

You Should Know
9/11 memorial group tour

9/11 Tribute Museum seeks educators

The 9/11 Tribute Museum in Lower Manhattan is seeking 9/11-connected educators to share their stories with visitors in the museum and on walking tours on the Memorial Plaza.

Q&A on the Issues
Supreme Court building

What you need to know about the Janus case

This Q&A gives you the information you need to know about the Janus case before the Supreme Court and its ramifications for UFT members.

Secure Your Future
UFT Pension Materials

Superlative retirement benefits for members

Retirement is life-changing and the UFT has many resources to help you navigate this new phase in your life and make educated financial decisions.



Helping to close the gender gap in tech

At one middle school in Queens, a unique program is fostering a culture of empowerment aimed at these young girls. Girl power is not only alive but vibrant at MS 125 in Woodside, thanks to Girls Who Code.

President's Perspective
MS 51, Brooklyn, teachers (from left) Rachel Rear, Julie Gibson and Joanna Santa

Protecting our rights after Janus

Kim’s story of what happened to teachers in Wisconsin after the Republican governor gutted collective bargaining rights for public employees is a wake-up call to anyone thinking “it can’t happen here.”


Follow the money

The organization known as Families for Excellent Schools shut down suddenly in February, shortly after its founder and CEO was removed for “inappropriate behavior.”


Student power

In the immediate aftermath of the Florida school shooting on Feb. 14 that took 17 lives, many people were shocked and tearful — and resigned to nothing changing with respect to gun laws.


Teaching Resources

Linking to Learning
Google classroom - generic

Pros and cons of Google Classroom

Google Classroom is an online learning management system designed for schools. Let’s examine some of the pros and cons of using it.

Research shows

Kids in doubled-up housing risk low grades

Living doubled-up with friends, extended family members or others is a form of homelessness that can go undetected by schools, yet the toll it takes on students is significant, new research finds.

Teacher to Teacher

Protocols that foster student interaction

It’s a challenge to make sure students are doing meaningful work while also giving them opportunities to engage with one another. Throughout my career as a history teacher, I’ve found success using educational protocols to help my students interact.

Building Your Career

Building Your Career

National Compliment Day

To celebrate National Compliment Day, each student thought of a compliment to write about a friend during our morning meeting.

New Teacher Diaries
School Chorus

Sing a song of student engagement

My favorite way to study the art of teaching has been to watch other teachers in action. I sit in the back of their class, taking meticulous notes. One day, I went to watch my school’s chorus teacher.

Retired Teachers News

Challenge - generic

Facing our latest challenge

Two years ago, public employee unions and all of organized labor narrowly escaped a bad decision by the Supreme Court in the Friedrichs case when Justice Antonin Scalia died. But as my predecessor Tom Pappas always reminds us: “The bad guys never go away.”

Now, as part of the ongoing national nightmare and with the appointment of conservative Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch to fortify the right wing of the Court, we are anticipating the worst in the Janus v. AFSCME case.

Janus, an Illinois public employee backed by conservative organizations, objects to paying union dues, challenging the long-established fair-share doctrine of labor law affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Abood decision of 1977.

That decision affirmed that any member of a collective bargaining unit who benefits from a contractual agreement must pay his or her fair share of the costs incurred by the union in procuring such worker benefits. That individual is called an agency fee payer…